Devizes; an LGBTQ+-Friendly Community, a Devizes Pride?

As a new local Facebook page for the LGBTQ+ community, Devizes Lgbtq+ springs to life, I’m left wondering exactly what social and counsel interactions are readily available in Devizes today. So, I’m chatting with the page’s admin, Oberon, about his group’s aims and goals.

What I think was most interesting about it, while I dug for negativity, I’d suspect will be evident in our local community towards LGBTQ+, Oberon simply didn’t take the bait, and remained positive throughout our friendly chinwag. Sorry if you came here looking for controversy, this is just a plug for the page and hope it’ll strength both the community and opinions of others towards it.

Firstly, someone shared an already existing Facebook group for LGBTQ+ in Devizes. I supposed having a page rather than a group is less exclusive and not as restricted being it can make looser, more general connections. “I agree,” Oberon started, “a page is much broader and will be easier to reach out to a wider range of people, which will make it easier to advertise, make connections and get the word out.”

As I understand it, Devizes School has an excellent program to deal with the issue, but suppose once pupils leave, there’s little else in town, no real places to feel like a community. “I’m very glad Devizes School have a good programme to help their pupils!” he continued. “As far as when they leave goes, as the LGBTQ+ community grows I’d be happy to say that there will be a place to be a community online and, once the community has found its feet, offline and in person too. The sooner the better I say!”

But is a group like this is more important in a smaller town like Devizes, than say, a city, where there’s already more in place to bring together like-minded people? “I do think an LGBTQ+ community is very important in small towns,” Oberon expressed, “just as much as a city. Many people don’t live in cities or grow up in them, myself included. For a small town to be just as proud and just as accepting is important because it helps to reach everyone. Even if there are a smaller group of LGBTQ+ residents in Devizes it helps to create a safe, inclusive space for us and stops the feeling that small towns don’t ‘understand’ or ‘accept’ as much as larger places do. Furthermore, it can show people that aren’t LGBTQ+ what we’re all about and hopefully help them get a greater understanding of who we are.”

And there’s a thing, causing me to mention Pride. Pride is supported by many people outside the LGBTQ+ community, and that’s probably more important than just being there for those who are, because it’s about casting negative opinions of yore aside, especially in a smaller community like here. Because, and here’s the crunch, being honest, I do think there’s a number of insular people here who simply refuse to shake off the old stereotypes, maybe more so than urban environments.

We’ve come a long way even in my own lifetime, I suggested to him, flagrantly showing my age by citing the awareness in the eighties by singers like Boy George, Jimmy Somerville et all! As while they made it a recognisable subject and broke the taboos we now see in our society, at the time people were still hiding in shame, you still wouldn’t have same sex couples on tv shows like you do today.

The fear is, I do however think we’re in danger of letting that progress slip backwards, as all prejudices seem to be at the forefront and a right wing, or far right-wing gains popularity. I mean we only have look at the onslaught of negative comments when Wiltshire Police added a rainbow flag back in February.

Oberon replied admirably, I must say! “Every human being is an individual with their own beliefs and views, my aim isn’t to change people, it’s just to show them a greater understanding of things, and be who we are. I agree, we have come a very long way and, as with everything, there will always be a negative and a positive side of things. I choose to focus on the positive and that’s the light I aim to share.”

Okay, given that, let’s go for it; imagine, a Devizes Pride! At least, some smaller events, or a physical club would be a great start.

A Devizes Pride would be fantastic and of course that wouldn’t happen overnight,” he replied, which is just as well, as it’s past my bedtime already!

“I aim to start off with smaller events,” Oberon suggested, “community outreach and fundraisers. Physical clubs, meet-ups and youth groups are also something I’d like to get started, as I think they’ll help LGBTQ+ people find one another, in a safe space, and grow a strong community together.”

Still, he didn’t rule out the possibility of a Devizes Pride. “Devizes having its own Pride celebration is an avid goal of mine, amongst others! I believe that the stronger the representation of LGBTQ+ people in Devizes the more that people will have a greater understanding of who we are and what we’re all about. Devizes is a town with a strong community and I am for the LGBTQ+ community to have a ‘louder voice’ as it were.”

But, like any new venture, it would need the support behind it, and all this costs, at this stage is to “like” the page on the Book of Face, and join the separate entity group too, if you wished. It was nice chatting to Oberon, on what can be a touchy subject we need to open up to and address.


Trending……

Planks Dairies Introduces Locally Sourced Organic Dairy Range

Now, I know what you’re asking; aren’t you in someway affiliated with Planks’ Dairies, in which case isn’t this a shameless advertorial? Yes, and no, respectively. The historical truth behind the former is next-door neighbours would knock at my door when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, to return our half-filled milk bottles, which I took from our own fridge and delivered to their doors in want to be a milkman! And now, well, ask me again when it’s snowing for a slightly differing opinion, but I’m living the dream!

The answer to the latter is not really, no, you get paid for advertorials, I’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart, the circulation of news and the slim possibility they’ll chuck a yogurt at me, most likely at the head!

If Planks have been delivering milk and products around the area since 1936, you’d be fooled into thinking nothing has changed. Agreeably not much has changed, and they pride themselves in upholding the traditional door-to-door milk delivery services, which is something of an obscurity in other areas of the UK. So much so, tourists tend to take photos when the milk-floats pass through town, and I’m likely having a bad hair day!

However, just like the eighties when Stewart Plank introduced the electric fleet we know, love and occasionally get stuck behind today, times are changing at the legendary dairy. Hold the front page, we have a website! Click here, if you don’t believe such an oddity is possible!

But the really great news is, in line with current trends, a new, locally sourced from Berkley Farm in Wroughton, organic range is heading our way. Delivered to your door in larger, returnable glass bottles, as is the sustainable living ethos Planks adopt, what with electric milk-floats and all, organic milk has never been this good; you don’t even have to change out of your jimmy-jams!

Other than the PJs part, there are many benefits to buying organic, including higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, more antioxidants, and more vitamins than regular milk. We’ve even got organic, or regular milkshakes. There’s a half price offer on your first order of the new organic range, whether you are a new customer or just changing your regular order.

The delivery areas are Devizes, Melksham, Corsham, and Pewsey, and most surrounding villages from Poulshot, Potterne, Rowde, All Cannings, Urchfont, Chirton, Woodborough, Wilcot, Seend Cleeve, Bromham, Box, Colerne, Easterton Market Lavington, Great Cheverell and many others.

By the way, as well as soya and lactose free milk, bread, butter, eggs, yogurts, juices (including a fine bottle of a’Becketts apple juice), seasonal potatoes, and yes, those broken biscuits you used to love as a kid, can be delivered too!

And that’s it, contact the dairy-ologists and you’re one step closer to opening your door in the morning to find milk on the step, the way it has always been, prior to supermarkets undercutting dairy farmers, and the way it will continue at Planks. There’s nothing more for me to say, other than perhaps a milkman joke; why don’t cows wear flip-flops?

Because they lack-toes!

Okay, I’ll get my coat….


Full Steam Ahead for The Collected Grimm Tales at The Wharf Theatre

Despite the gloomy pushback to the 19th July for step four of the roadmap to reopen venues, government announced plans to pilot test live theatrical performances with increased capacities, as it has already done for music festivals and sports events.

While this will delight larger city venues, our Wharf Theatre in Devizes must continue with a limited socially distanced capacity for its reopening performance of The Brothers Grimm. All the more reason to book early for this delightful sounding family-orientated presentation!

Collected Grimm Tales runs from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th July, with doors opening at 7.30pm.  It’s adapted by Carol Ann Duffy of the Young Vic Company, dramatized by Tim Supple and directed by Debby Wilkinson.

In this acclaimed adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and more are bought to life by a small adult cast using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  It will take you on a journey into the world of imagination, as you discover the elusive paths that wind through the dark woods of fairy tales and invite you to experience again the living power of theatre.

Tickets can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk and at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street.

The fitting with the prince onlooking, illustration in Les Contes de Perrault by Gustave Doré, 1862

Lions, be on the Green!

Though for trade description purposes, there were no actual lions on the Green, (not this time, it’s not 1980) if I had to sum up The Lions on the Green in a word today it would be; blooming marvellous, which I know is two words, but allow me thus, the heat is getting to me.

Under a scorching 30-degree sun, Devizes came out in full colour for something we’ve truly missed. Any kind of gathering right now is a blessing, but I have to commend and thank the amazing effort at creating a bonza family-orientated occasion. Devizes Lions pulled out all the stops with a car show plus.

Fantasy Radio provided the soundtrack, there was a great selection of hot food and a bar with seating half in the shade of the trees, doughnut and ice cream vans, kids fairground rides, and a variety of stalls from Julia’s House tombola, Jeanette Von Berg’s Wiltshire Air Ambulance toy stall, local crafts, Rutts Lane Cider (I swear that guy is following me around!) Wiltshire Museum with their jack-in-the-box, and lots more to see and do for everyone.

People flocked, to browse the vintage cars, and oh yes, Bertie the Bus, in the glorious sunshine. I’m not one for bragging my infinite knowledge of the mechanics of motor vehicles, but I appreciate perusing their splendour, imagine myself donning leather gloves and racing goggles, and revving them for a burn-out, or pondering the backseat space of, in particular, those American beauties; “take me home, Charles, I’m not that kind of girl!” Ah yes, that kind of ye oldie face-slapping scenario.

In true community spirit Devizes should be honoured today, and glad to have the dedicated organisation Devizes Lions at hand. A town where even our post boxes wear knitted tams, there’s a buzz in the air, a pride we can’t hide. Well done to all!


Liddington Hill Celtic Punk!

Sometimes, and quite a number of times I might add, nothing fits the bill quite like a bout of pounding bibulous Celtic punk, by a band with a girl donning a cow’s head as a mascot. But how far would you expect to trek to find such a group of misfits, Wales, Ireland?

Suggested in the name, Liddington Hill, the beautiful down overlooking Swindon, with the Ridgeway traversing and its iron age hillfort, is local enough. Not since the days of the Blitz, when the area was used as a “Starfish” decoy bombing bunker, has it been so explosive.

What’s the link to Liddington with this scorching five-piece band, who have just released their debut EP, Cow after a few singles, I felt imperative to ask? “We all lived in Swindon at the time we started,” fiddle and vocalist Matt told, “our singer grew up around the area and went up to Liddington Castle a lot as a child. It seemed to be a bit of a landmark and with the Ridgway close by had great links to the past, so I guess it just seemed like a good name.”

Two members remain in Swindon, the other two now live in Oxford, and drummer Chris hails from Chippenham. With fiddles and a bodhrán meshed with electric guitars, the line between punk and traditional Celtic folk cannot be yanked apart, not that there’s any good reason to try to.

The bobbing theme of a band drinking excursion to Oxford, Pub Crawl, follows a dynamic and unique slide-guitar take of the folk sea shanty, Whip Jamboree.

An almost new-wave post-punk feel is implemented into the melting pot with the third tune, Marshlands, an original song about lead guitarist Liam’s Grandfather in Ireland, “who wouldn’t ride a horse,” Matt explained, “but insisted on riding a cow!” Hence the cow symbolism, I’m best guessing.

The EP ends traditionally, with Joseph B. Geoghegan’s anti-war music hall classic, Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, and Liddington Hill bless the folk feel with their brand of punk, making for a perfect finale. While it might not be as authentic as The Pouges, or as aggressive as The Levellers, with bands like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys storming success in the US, there’s a huge market for this beguiling genre, yet a scarcity on the local scene, and Liddington Hill pack a punch.

It’s a grower, and I’m loving this, anticipating possibility of an album to greater extend their scope, but as far as energetic presence is concerned, it’s kick-ass. Branded subtly, though, to suit a pub environment, so a live show, fingers crossed for their definite return, would be something highly memorable and I’d recommend landlords book them in; certainly, it’d push up the beer sales!


Trending…

Song of the Day 39: Kirsty Clinch

Song of the day this fine Friday evening… got to be Kirsty, enough said! And that’s my song of the day!! Very good, carry on…..

Devizes Wharf Theatre Launch Youth Theatre

Have you any young budding actors in your family? Drama kings and queens?! You might like to know Devizes Wharf Theatre have just launched a Youth Theatre. See I could have done with this when I was knee-high to a grasshopper, as I liked to act. Okay, you got me, that was act the fool. I’d think myself lucky if I got the rear-end role of the pantomime horse!

In the past, The Wharf Theatre has produced some amazing youth productions, if you remember the hugely successful Legally Blonde Junior in the summer of 2019, for example.

Wharf Theatre

“We have long felt and recognised that to safeguard the future of the world of theatre it is vital to inspire and encourage the next generation and have been working, behind the scenes, to create a group especially dedicated to them,” they say, announcing two youth theatre directors now in a position to officially launch The Wharf Youth Theatre, ready for September. Here are the details:

Senior Actors Company

Friday 6-8pm. Sept 24th – Oct 22nd/Nov 5th – Dec 3rd

For school years 10-13 (as of September ‘21)

This group will be led by Lou Cox.  Lou’s career highlights include theatre tours, The Edinburgh Festival, singing professionally at Glastonbury festival and stand-up comedy. Lou is now a freelance drama teacher at various schools in the area and is a LAMDA examiner. She also directs and has recently started exciting projects with Barnardo’s adoption agency, using drama as a training tool for adoptive parents and a refugee charity in Swindon.

This Company bridges the gap between school drama offering you further practitioner knowledge, a chance to develop your performance skills and many opportunities to perform in our very own theatre. It is a chance to work with like-minded people once a week who share the same passion for drama. You will explore theatre through the ages, engage in practitioner acting theories, work with text and devise your own work. There will be opportunities for students to compete in performance festivals, perform a live play to a paid audience and most importantly have fun!

10-week term £90. (Concessionary places available – please contact; artisticdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lou at: senioryouthdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk

Junior Actors Company

Thursdays 4.30-6pm Sept 23rd – Oct 21st/Nov 4th – Dec 2nd

This group is for school years 6-9 (as of September ‘21)

This group will be led by Lucia Pupilli.  Lucia studied at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and has worked professionally in various theatre and film productions including ‘White collar hooligans’ directed by Paul Tanter in Rio de Janeiro and ‘His and Hers’ directed by Lisa Spirling at The Egg theatre in Bath. Lucia has performed in clubs and restaurants as a cabaret singer and has also worked as a Primary School teacher for five years in Wiltshire. She founded ‘Music with Lucia’ teaching instrumental lessons on Piano, Flute and Voice and, in addition, enjoys performing with ‘The Invitation Theatre Company’ and The Fulltone Orchestra.

10-week term £75. (Concessionary places available – please contact:artisticdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk)

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Lucia at:

 junioryouthdirector@wharftheatre.co.uk

Bookings for Autumn Term Opening Soon

In order to book please find details of the membership system on their website: wharftheatre.co.uk

Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre’

Wharf Theatre

The concentration will be on fun at the junior actor’s school workshops, building confidence and gaining skills through drama, games and improvisations. They’ll be rehearsing and performing scenes from plays and devising their own. The aim is to put on an annual show as they progress.

The workshops are not only an opportunity to develop acting and drama skills but also to make friends and become confident young adults. The Wharf encourage all children to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive environment.

In addition to the fuller workshops of these new youth companies, the Wharf are also offering two Summer Workshops this year. These will offer an opportunity to have fun and participate in various drama activities.  Whilst they will give you a flavour of the work you could be exploring over the forthcoming terms these are stand-alone sessions and are open to all.

Senior Actors with Lou

Wednesday July 28th 10am-1pm

Wednesday August 11th 10am-1pm

Junior Actors with Lucia

Wednesday August 4th 2-5pm

Wednesday August 11th 2-5pm.

Each 3-hour workshop costs £15.

Bookings can be made on Ticketsource via their website wharftheatre.co.uk .  Look under ‘get involved’ and click on ‘wharf youth theatre.’ Places are limited but they will be operating a wait list system if groups are full.

Me? I’m passed it now, I’m afraid, but I’ll always have my moment in the spotlight, my Shakin’ Stevens impression on my cub scout pack-holiday. You had to have been there…..or not!


Trending….

Opinion: Kruger Perpetrates Local Rise of Condemnation for Travellers, Focused in Bromham

In a press release dated 24th September 2020, MP Danny Kruger claimed Boris Johnson had called upon him to report for government calls for a new era of ‘community power.’ This included “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown.” He christened his paper, “Levelling up our communities,” a vision for “a more local, more human, less bureaucratic, less centralised society in which people are supported and empowered to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.”

As shpil it sounds a-okay, a far cry from a Conservative Party of yore set against the people it’s supposed to serve, a Conservative Party which, on 1st June 1985, ordered police to viciously attack a Peace Convoy, setting up the 1985 Stonehenge Free Festival. History recalls it “The Battle of the Beanfields,” any witness could better perceive it as a politicide massacre. Its aim, to eliminate categories of people who either chose to live their life on the road, happened to stumble across this way of life by unpreventable circumstance, or grew up nurtured in such an environment, for political advantages. As a blanket term we call them travellers.

But that’s all it is, a blanket term, there is no organised grouping anymore than people who own a home are assembled, therefore there is no reason to presume any individual classed as such is part of a joint ethos, a collective philosophy or tenet. Attitudes and opinions of such a grouping differ as vastly as those who live in a house, or a bungalow, or a flat. To note someone who lives in a flat breaking the law, is ludicrous for bungalow dwellers to make a sweeping generalisation that, ergo everyone who lives in a flat is therefore a law-breaker. Yet prejudge typecasting seems to be systematically accepted, ingrained and encouraged when focussed on travellers.  

Hard to define exactly as an ethnic group, as while Romany Gypsies are bound into the stereotype, not all are such, so, calling the racist card is unwarranted, but it is a definite form of prejudice, which aimed at other groupings would be frowned upon. Yet how does Danny Kruger remember the Battle of the Beanfields on its anniversary this week? His office, fronted by, I might add, Rebecca Hudson, the journalist who first broke the news of the Salisbury poisonings and therefore a far more articulate professional than the mere meanderings of a milkman, put out a Facebook post condemning the actions of a traveller site in Bromham. Despite Bromham isn’t his jurisdiction, it is in the division of Wiltshire councillor Laura Mayes, though.

I asked Laura why it’s necessary for Danny Kruger to get involved with, what seems to me, to be a simple planning permission issue. After all, planning permission disputes must be a regular occurrence in the county, and there’s never a need to involve an MP. Laura responded, “the problem is that the planning activity is illegal – there is an Enforcement Notice and an Emergency Stop Notice and the owners have ignored them.”

Danny’s post included the explanation, “deliveries of hardcore were made to the field, breaching the Enforcement Notice. The clear expectation is that an illegal Traveller encampment is being created and an influx of caravans is now expected.” Hardly an “expectation,” rather speculation; a big difference. A speculation driven by the aforementioned ingrained prejudge, is my “expectation.” Fair game by his own criteria?  

In discussion with Gazette & Herald reporter Kirsten Robertson, The Ward family say the delivery of hardcore is to form a bund, an embankment to control the flow of water. Face it, evidence that it’s not a plan to expand the site or allow more travellers onto it. In a heartfelt plea for peace Bridget Ward, 21, told the Gazette, “We just want to live in peace and become part of the community.”

Yet negative, often offensive comments and name-calling slurs flood social media coverage of the simple planning dispute. It doesn’t help bridge the divide when the council “recommends the public stay away from the site.” Neither does it help when an MP lashes out, the post calculatedly shared on only one local Facebook group, known for an absence of admin regulations and therefore being a highly opinionated group.

We should note, they are not residing illegally, the land was bought in 2014, with an article 4 direction on it, which makes it unsuitable for development anyway. Any attempt to improve the site has been refused permission, the adding of fences, planting of trees and creation of an equestrian area. Constant refusal of simple improvement plans, the hostility against them verbally, constitutes the notion they’re simply not wanted there. Where in Wiltshire would they be welcome?

Wiltshire Council own and manage just three residential Gypsy and Traveller sites, with a total capacity to accommodate fifty-one families, who, in contrary to popular belief, are subject to rent charges, Council tax and service charges for site, water and electricity. Across a whole county, it’s a failure compared with Essex, with twelve sites accommodating 188 families, Somerset has eighteen sites, seven sites in Berkshire, the list continues not forgoing Wiltshire Council looks to possibly sell the three sites they do own under part of the recently concluded Regulation 18 consultation to prepare a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document.

While we should respect permissions for planning need to be made, and upheld, little is done to provide a legal alternative for travellers in the county. Coupled with the ramifications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which could see travellers facing a fine or prison if they set up unauthorised encampments rather than currently being a civil offence, Danny Kruger’s “levelling up our communities,” constitutes of the eradication of a way of life which has operated for centuries. In fact, pre-Neolithic age, we were all nomadic. Chew on that fat for a moment.

One comment added, “we don’t live in a lawless country,” yet when Danny illegally posted his campaign posters around polling stations, when he ignored lockdown regulations by failing to wear a mask on the train, when he allowed his dog to attack deer on Richmond Common, we brushed them under the carpet, I even defended the latter as an accident.

What about when the High Court said government acted unlawfully by failing to publish details of more than 500 Covid contracts, or abolishing the permit-free training scheme for doctors who qualified outside the United Kingdom or the rest of the European Union without proper consultation, or the case where it departed from the UK’s longstanding policy on opposing the death penalty in all circumstances? Need I continue? Why then, can we not give a little leeway here? Is a delivery of some hardcore to create a bund somehow more damaging to society as the examples given above?

The fact Danny’s offending Facebook post had a grammatical error I’d forgive a primary school pupil to overlook, “and a influx of caravans,” suggests this was not the calculated penning of a skilled journalist, rather a knee-jerk reaction handsome-faced Danny K needs to take a chill pill from before the silver spoon launches from his mouth.

And I say this because, the issue at hand is clearly overexposed by our prejudice, a presuppose striking fear into a family with a young child, for crying out loud, take a look at yourself! I plead you put the political matter aside for just a moment and think outside the box, would you try defend yourself given such hostilities towards you? Is it any different from Afrikaans erecting steel gates and barbed wire to protect their property in apartheid-era Johannesburg? How you can expect travellers not to be slightly anarchic when faced with such exacerbation against them?

Especially in this, quite honestly, trivial instant, far from the given stereotype, where we have a local family simply pleading to blend in and be part of a community. Bridget tells me, “I asked him [Danny Kruger] to stand up for us, against the hate and racism, and to sign the pledge card, but he has just ignored that. We just feel helpless.” This isn’t about hardcore delivery at all, is it?

What do you get out of this Danny, a permit to touch Pritti’s petticoat?! Hardly the “proposals to sustain the community spirit we saw during the lockdown,” is it, mucker?!


Devizine Proudly Presents Various Artists 4 Julia’s House; Here’s the Track Listing!

Sleeve Notes for our Album 4 Julia’s House

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, I hope! The track listing and details of all our wonderful songs presented on our forthcoming album, Various Artists 4 Julia’s House. Read on in awe….

Pre-order album on Bandcamp here!

Released: 29th June 2021

1. Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

2. King Dukes – Dying Man

3. Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey view

4. Timid Deer – The Shallows

5. Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

6. Strange Folk – Glitter

7. Strange Tales – Entropy

8. Paul Lappin – Broken Record

9. Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

10. Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

11. Wilding – Falling Dream

12. Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

13. Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station

14. Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

15. Will Lawton – Evanescence

16. Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

17. Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

18. Richard Wileman – Pilot

19. Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

20. Kier Cronin – Crying

21. Sam Bishop – Wild Heart (Live Acoustic)

22. Mr Love & Justice – The Other Side of Here

23. Barmy Park – Oakfield Road

24. The Truzzy Boys – Summer Time

25. Daydream Runaways – Light the Spark

26. Talk in Code – Talk Like That

27. Longcoats – Pretty in Pink

28. Atari Pilot – When We Were Children

29. Andy J Williams – Post Nup

30. The Dirty Smooth – Seed to the Spark

31. SexJazz – Metallic Blue

32. Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue – Hammer Down

33. The Boot Hill All Stars – Monkey in the Hold

34. Mr Tea & The Minions – Mutiny

35. Cosmic Shuffling – Night in Palermo

36. Boom Boom Bang Bang – Blondie & Ska

37. The Birth of Bonoyster – The Way I Like to Be

38. The Oyster – No Love No Law

39. The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show – Ghosts

40. Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves – This Time

41. Cutsmith – Osorio

42. The Tremor Tones – Don’t Darken my Door

43. Big Ship Alliance – All in this Thing Together

44. Neonian – Bubblejet

45. First Born Losers – Ground Loop

I’ll tell you what though, kids. This has been a lot more work than I originally anticipated! Yeah, I figured, just collect some tunes, let the artists do all the hard work and take the credit! But no, mate, wasn’t like that at all. The most important part for me, is ensuring the artists are properly thanked, so, just like those Now, That’s What I Call Music albums, I wanted to write up a full track listing with sleeve notes and links. Please support the artists you like on the album by checking them out, following and liking on social media and buying their music.

But to list all 45 tunes in one article will blow the attention span of the most avid reader, and if, like me, you’ve the attention span of a goldfish, find below the first twenty, and then the next 25 will follow as soon as my writer’s cramp ceases! Just putting them onto the bag was tedious enough, but worth the effort.


To all the artists below, message me if links are incorrect or broken, or if there’s any changes to the details you’d like me to edit, thanks, you blooming superstars.

1- Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall – Julie

Not so much that Julie is similar to Julia, there could be no song more apt to start the album. Something of a local musical legend is Pete Lamb, owner of The Music Workshop, producing and recording local, national and international artists. His career in music stretches back to the sixties, creating such groups as The Colette Cassin Quintet and Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats. Yet it is also his aid to local music which makes him a prominent figure, Kieran J Moore tells how Pete lent him equipment for the first Sheer Music gigs.

Pete Lamb

A wonderful rock n roll ballad with a poignant backstory, Julie was written in remembrance of Pete’s daughter who passed away in 2004 to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was featured on an album for the charity Hope for Tomorrow. The song also features Cliff Hall, keyboardist with the Shadows for many years, playing piano and strings.

Cliff Hall

2 – The King Dukes – Dying Man

Formed in Bristol in April 2019, a merger of a variety of local bands, including Crippled Black Phoenix, Screamin’ Miss Jackson and the John E. Vistic Experience, The King Dukes combine said talent and experience to create a unique, authentic sound, dipped in a heritage reuniting contemporary slices of British RnB with a dollop of Memphis soul.

Dying Man is a prime example, taken from the album Numb Tongues which we fondly reviewed back in the October of 2019. The brilliance of which hasn’t waned for me yet, and isn’t likely to.

The King Dukes

3- Erin Bardwell – (Like the Reflection on) The Liffey

One cannot chat about reggae in Swindon without Erin’s name popping up. Keyboardist in the former ska-revival band, The Skanxters during the nineties, Erin now operates under various guises; the rock steady outfit Erin Bardwell Collective chiefly, experimental dub project Subject A with Dean Sartain, and The Man on the Bridge with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton, to name but a few.

(Like the Reflection on) The Liffey is an eloquently emotive tune, staunch to the ethos of reggae, yet profoundly unique to appeal further. It is taken from the album Interval, one of two solo ventures for Erin during lockdown.

Erin Bardwell

4 – Timid Deer – The Shallows

My new favourite thing, after noting Timid Deer supported the Lost Trades debut gig at Trowbridge’s Pump. Though self-labelled indie, I was surprised how electronica they are, with a nod to the ninety’s downtempo scene of bands like Morcheeba and Portishead, hold the trip hop element. This Salisbury five-piece consisting of vocalist Naomi Henstridge, keyboardist Tim Milne, Tom Laws on double bass, guitarist Matt Jackson and drummers Chris and Jason Allen have created such an uplifting euphoric sound, hairs stand tall on the back of your neck.   

Taken from the 2019 album Melodies for the Nocturnal Pt. 1, I’m so pleased to present this.

Naomi Henstridge


5- Duck n Cuvver – Henge of Stone

Yes, enthralled to have the song frontman Robert Hardie of Duck n Cuvver refers to as “his baby.” This is Salisbury Celtic roots rock band so aching to film part of their video for Henge of Stone inside Stonehenge, they’ve campaigned for the funds to do it, ending with Rab breaking into the monument to promote the campaign!

With references to the importance of solstice and the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, what other song could be so locally linked?

Duck & Curver

6 – Strange Folk – Glitter

A dark west country folk band in the realm of a beatnik time of yore, with a serious slice of gothic too, Strange Folk came to my attention playing the Vinyl Realm stage at the Devizes Street Festival. Hailing from Hertfordshire, band members also now reside in Somerset, Strange Folk is comprised of four songwriters; vocalist Annalise Spurr, guitarist David Setterfield, Ian Prangnell on bass and backing vocals, and drummer Steve Birkett. Glitter features cello by Helen Robertson, and is a name-your-price gift to fans during lockdown, a wonderful teaser which if you like, and I can’t see why you wouldn’t, you should try the 2014 mini-album Hollow, part one.

Strange Folk

7 – Strange Tales – Entropy

With singer Sally Dobson on the Wiltshire acoustic circuit and the synth/drum programming of Paul Sloots, who resides in West Sussex, catching this duo, Strange Tales live would be a rare opportunity not to be missed. Though their brilliance in melodic, bass and synth-driven goth-punk is captured in the 2018 album Unknown to Science, in which our track Entropy is taken.

Their songs relate baroque cautionary tales drawn from the murkier corners of the human psyche, while retaining a pop sensibility and stripped-down, punk-rock approach. Fans of the darker side of eighties electronica, of Joy Division and Depeche Mode will love this. You can buy this album at Vinyl Realm in Devizes.

Strange Tales; Paul Sloots & Sally Dobson

8- Paul Lappin – Broken Record

Imagine George Harrison present on the Britpop scene, and you’re somewhere lost in Lappin’s world. Paul hails from Swindon originally, but resides mostly in the Occitanie region of the south of France, where he wrote and recorded the mind-blowingly brilliant album The Boy Who Wants to Fly, released in October 2020. Our chosen track, Broken Record was a single just prior, in August, and features Lee Alder – bass guitar, electric guitar, Robert Brian – drums, Jon Buckett – Hammond organ, electric guitar, Paul Lappin – vocals, synths, Lee Moulding – percussion, Harki Popli – table.

Music & lyrics by Paul Lappin ©2020. Recorded at Earthworm Recording Studio, Swindon. Produced & Mixed by Jon Buckett. Mastered by Pete Maher.

Paul Lappin

9- Billy Green 3 – I Should be Moved

Now Devizes-based, Bill Green was a genuine Geordie Britpop article, co-creating the local band Still during those heady nineties. Today his band on the circuit, Billy Green 3 consists also of Harvey Schorah and Neil Hopkins, who’s talents can be witnessed in the awesome album this track comes from, also titled Still. Mastered and produced by Martin Spencer and Matt Clements at Potterne’s Badger Set studio in 2020, it’s wonderfully captures the remnants of the eighties scooter scene in reflected in Britpop.

I’m sure you can buy the album at Vinyl Realm, Devizes; I would if I were you.

Billy Green 3

10- Jon Veale – Flick the Switch

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, Flick the Switch, also illuminated Potterne’s Badger Set studio in August of 2020, and it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for the first lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals. Glad to have featured it then, even more pleased Jon contributed it to this album.

Jon Veale

11- Wilding – Falling Dream

What can be said which hasn’t about Avebury’s exceptionally talented singer-songwriter George Wilding? A true legend in the making. Now residing in Bristol, George has the backing of some superb musicians to create the force to be reckoned with, Wilding. Perry Sangha assists with writing, as well electric guitar, loads more electric guitars, acoustic guitar, organ and weird synth things. Bassist James Barlow also handles backing vocals and cous cous. Daniel Roe is on drums.

The debut EP, Soul Sucker knocked me for six back in November 2018, as did this here latest single recorded at the elusive Dangerous Dave’s Den, mixed and mastered by Dan Roe, during October last year.

Wilding

12 – Barrelhouse – Mainline Voodoo

One good thing about preparing this album is to hear bands I’ve seen the names of, kicking around, and added to our event guide many times over, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see at a gig. Marlborough-based Barrelhouse is one, and after hearing Mainline Voodoo, I’m intending to make a beeline to a gig. Favourites over at their local festival, MantonFest, headlined Marlborough’s 2019 Christmas Lights Switch-On, and right up my street!

Formed in early 2014, Barrelhouse offer vintage blues and rock classics, heavily influenced by the golden age of Chicago Blues and the early pioneers of the British blues scene, staying true to the essence that made these tunes great and adding their own style of hard-edge groove. Overjoyed to feature Mainline Voodoo, title track from their 2020 album, which broke into the UK’s national Blues Top 40.

Barrelhouse

13 – Richard Davis & The Dissidents – Higher Station (R. Davies)

Absolutely bowled over, I am, to have Swindon’s road-driving rock band with a hint of punk, Richard Davis & The Dissidents send is this exclusive outtake from the Human Traffic album, out now on Bucketfull of Brains. We reviewed it back in December. Recorded at Mooncalf Studios. Produced by Richard Davies, Nick Beere and Tim Emery. If the outtake is this amazing, imagine the album!

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

14 – Tom Harris – Ebb & Flow

Lockdown may’ve delayed new material from Devizes-based progressive-metal five-piece Kinasis, but frontman Tom Harris has sent us something solo, and entirely different. Ebb & Flow is an exclusive track made for this album, a delicate and beautiful strings journey; enjoy.

Tom Harris

15 – Will Lawton & The Alchemists – Evanescence

Wiltshire singer-songwriter, pianist and music therapist Will Lawton, here with his group The Alchemists. A weave of many progressive influences from jazz to folk, Will recently surprised me by telling me drum n bass is among them too. The latest album ‘Salt of the Earth, Vol. 1 (Lockdown)’, is a collection of original poems embedded in meditative piano and ambient soundscapes. But we’ve taken this spellbinding tune from the previous release, Abbey House Session.

Will Lawton

16- Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective – Dreams Can Come True

Hailing from Essex but prevalent on our local live music circuit, with some amazing performances at Devizes’ Southgate, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective offer us this uplifting country-rock/roots anthem, which, after one listen, will see you singing the chorus, guaranteed. It is the finale to their superb 2020 album, Do What you Love.

Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective rocking the Southgate last year

17 – Kirsty Clinch – Stay With Us

If we’ve been massively impressed with Wiltshire’s country sensation, Kirsty Clinch’s new country-pop singles Fit the Shoe, Around and Around, and most recently, Waters Running Low and anticipating her forthcoming album, it’s when we get the golden opportunity to catch her live which is really heart-warming. This older track, recorded at Pete Lamb’s Music Workshop, exemplifies everything amazing about her acoustic live performances, her voice just melts my soul every listen.

Kirsty Clinch


18- Richard Wileman – Pilot

Incredibly prolific, Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman is known for his pre-symphonic rock band Karda Estra. Idols of the Flesh is his latest offering from a discography of sixteen albums, which we reviewed. Along a similar, blissful ethos Richard Wileman served up Arcana in September this year, where this track is taken from. While maintaining a certain ambiance, his own named productions are more conventional than Karda Estra, more attributed to the standard model of popular music, yet with experimental divine folk and prog-rock, think Mike Oldfield, and you’re part-way there.


19 – Nigel G. Lowndes – Who?

Bristol’s Nigel G Lowndes is a one-man variety show. Vaudeville at times, tongue-in-cheek loungeroom art-punk meets country folk; think if Talking Heads met Johnny Cash. Who? is the unreleased 11th track from his album Hello Mystery, we reviewed in March, and we’re glad to present it here.

Nigel G Lowndes

20 – Kier Cronin – Crying

Unsolicited this one was sent, and I love it for its rockabilly reel although a Google search defines this Swindon based singer songwriter as indie/alternative. Obsessed with the music and the joy of writing, Kier told me, “I once had a dream Bruce Springsteen told me to give it up… So, this one’s for you Bruce!” Crying was released as a single in March, also check out his EP of last year called One.


Lost Trades; The Bird, The Book & The Barrel

Even though they put a man on the moon four years before I was born, I swear it’s the little things summoning me to a care-home for the terminally bewildered. I’m pre-empting what-they-can’t-do-these-days scenarios, but why so soon? All the years of diluting the kid’s squash, I observed they look rather stout of recent. My daughter calls it a ‘senior moment,’ pointing out, it’s double-strength squash. She was right too, says so on the bottle, in huge, unmissable letters.

In a way, it’s kinda like the highly anticipated album from The Lost Trades. Because, if in the past I’ve put them deservedly on pedestals as individuals, when they first joined together, they shimmed said pedestals closer, and nicely complimented each other’s voices. This can be heard in the three tunes which reappear from the earlier EP, Robots, Good Old Days, and Wait for my Boat; the first one being definitively Phil’s song while the latter two have the marks of Jamie. Awesome as these are, it’s the unreleased tunes which I need to draw your attention to, as they’ve balanced the pedestals atop of each other, like a daring circus act; the lines between them as individual performers are now totally absorbed, in both writing and vocals, akin to the double-strength squash, this is triple-strength!

If you’ve never known them as individual performers, you’d be forgiven for mistaking that they ever were, with these new set of songs. And with other tricks up their sleeves, The Bird, the Book & The Barrel exceeded my high expectation. Solving the conundrum of what else to write about a trio we’ve already covered so much on Devizine.

The Bird, the Book & The Barrel, released on Friday, the 4th June, can be pre-ordered, and you get two tracks in advance, if you cannot wait, which is understandable. With a rustic wood-cabin corporate identity they don’t waiver from, the essence of folk-roots of yore are embellished with modern themes, from which they project the perfect balance of vocal harmonies one could only compare to family groups. Save Simon & Garfunkel and The Drifters, who could do it, we have to think from the apt genre, of the Carter Family, to The Carpenters, and The Everly Brothers, but perhaps onto The Jacksons, for in soul their voices harmonised with similar perfection. Yes, it really works akin with the Lost Trades, I’m pleased to announce, and here more than ever.

And in this, the opening tune could be constituted as somewhat boastful about their precision, if not a simple premise of unification; only in sharing one vision will the world be ours for the taking; if you got it, flaunt it! One Voice sums up my own overall thoughts on the album, and makes for a beautiful introduction.

The second track is where the magic really starts. The fleeting romantic interlude of a fast-paced, maybe dodgy, roamer is the theme of Road of Solid Gold, which is as the road, solid and gold. An unusual composition, being the fiddle is habitually played during instrumental breaks, but here it accompanies the vocals. This violin mastery is performed by legend of folk, Peter Knight, a founding member of Steeleye Span, undoubtedly the most renowned group of the British folk revival alongside Fairport Convention, and secretly was Uncle Bulgaria of the Wombles band too! Additionally, this is where we hear the Trades really melding their voices into one, which occurs more frequently as the album progresses.

Elements combine, regardless if one takes the lead, or verses are harmonies too, it’s all a big slice of wonderful. The astute song writing weaves narrative timelessly, be it nostalgic-based such as Good Old Days, unification against the odds like Distance Brings us Closer, both where Jamie leads, and the most poignant, Kingdom Falls, a tale of the pen being mightier than the sword through the eyes of a prisoner of war.

Then there’s lighter subject matter, often where Phil leads, such as the trickling Your Winning Days, but his lead also offers one of most divergent tunes, Robots, an apprehension of automation, in which a steady guiro offers a pertinent clockwork effect.

At seven tracks in one could wonder where’s the girl power, but when Tamsin takes lead on Hope Cove, it’s been worth the wait. A heartfelt romance actualised as a geographical location isn’t an uncommon concept, but you know Tamsin handles it inimitably and spectacularly, like only the finest tunes of her solo album Gypsy Blood. Shanty theme continues with Jamie leading on Waiting for my Boat, equivalent to the sentiment of his classic solo songs, Not Going Anywhere and As Big as You, this is nothing less than sublime.

With just two tunes remaining, Silent Noise of the Mind sums my “triple-strength” notion of the progress of the Trades, fusing the vocals entirely throughout, the beauty of it embraces the air, drifting your mind like a feather in a gentle zephyr. Tree-hugging Oaks light-heartedly polishes the journey off wonderfully, with a ukulele exhaling a Hawaiian ambiance and a cheery whistle, it leaves you knowing you’ve arrived somewhere where you wouldn’t mind travelling to time and time again.

But I’d wager you knew I’d only have good things to say about The Bird, the Book & The Barrel, therefore I implore your faith in my honesty, it’s as amazing as I say, and a little chipping more.


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June: State of the Thing; a Monthly Guide to Last and This Coming Month of Devizine

So, who told the April showers that the lockdown applied to it? Come on, I want names! Last month of lockdown was dry and clement, as soon as things starts opening up again, it phased between drizzle and downpour; you can’t make it up.

Yes, I wrote this too soon; bang on cue, here comes the sun for June.

If May saw a gradual return to normality, pray it continues; June should explode, either way. We started the month with concerns over Calne’s Central Youth & Community Centre, and I attended a small protest in Rowde to save Furlong Close. Not forgetting local election would inevitably send me on the usual rant, but Wiltshire lays all its eggs in the same basket. And then, wham, had to rant twice in one day when Seedy pulled out of the PCC election, you certainly couldn’t make that up!

Save Furlong Close protest in Rowde

Musically, a couple of press releases from Sheer, announcing Salem’s national tour with them hosting Swindon’s Vic gig in October, and Frank Turner at Frome’s Cheese & Grain on both Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th June. But the best Sheer post was more about Kieran’s mum, jumping out of a plane, fundraising for her grandson.

I reviewed Cornish psych-punkers The Brainiac 5’s album Another Time Another Dimension, Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants album A Kitchen Sink Drama. Also, Sam Bishop’s great EP Lost Promises, a single from Stockwell, Storm Jae and Nory’s called Can’t Come Home, and a new track from the Longcoats, Nothing Good. We also did a great interview with Dave Lewis, one half of Blondie & Ska. Reviews in the next few days will be an EP of Celtic punk from Liddington Hill, some awesome punkish blues from Elli De Mon, and the new album from The Lost Trades, due on 2nd June.

Blondie & Ska

I started a new Sunday series, being the last one was so popular. No satire this time, just a reflection back thirty years to the era of the rave, from a personal angle; I’m having lots of fun with this, if it does make me feel old! This continues into June. So, without further to do, here’s what’s occurring in June.

Old Skool Rave

Firstly, staying at home we can entertain you too. I’m gradually working through writing promotional material and sleeve notes for our compilation album, 4 Julia’s House, which, as it sounds, all proceeds will go to Julia’s House. This has proved more work than I anticipated for me, due to the most amazing line up of talent who has kindly donated a song. The penultimate entry was an exclusive rock steady track by Blondie & Ska, and the latest entry is by none other than Richard Davis & the Dissidents. See what I mean now, don’t you? Absolutely fantastic, massively hugely massive this is going to be, over three hours of genre-crossing music; something for everyone on there. Okay, I’ll copy and paste the artists featured; hold onto your jawbone.

Richard Davis & The Dissidents

A mahoosive thanks goes to: Pete Lamb & Cliff Hall, King Dukes, Erin Bardwell, Timid Deer, Duck n Cuvver, Strange Folk, Strange Tales, Paul Lappin, Billy Green 3, Jon Veale, Wilding, Richard Davis & The Dissidents, Barrelhouse, Tom Harris, Will Lawton & the Alchemists, Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective, Kirsty Clinch, Richard Wileman, Nigel G. Lowndes, Kier Cronin, Sam Bishop, Mr Love & Justice, Barmy Park, The Truzzy Boys, Daydream Runaways, Talk in Code, Longcoats, Atari Pilot, Andy J Williams, The Dirty Smooth, SexJazz, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, The Boot Hill All Stars, Mr Tea & The Minions, Cosmic Shuffling, Blondie & Ska, The Birth of Bonoyster, The Oyster, The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show, Julie Meikle and Mel Reeves, Meru Michae, Cutsmith, The Tremor Tones, Big Ship Alliance, First Born Losers, Dutch Money(s), and last but by no means least, Neonian, who is working on a track as we speak.

Phew, so, yes, who is as out-out as Mickey Flanagan in June? I know right, how surreal. I went to a pub, an actual pub, and heard live music last Saturday; down the trusty gate for those Daybreakers. Bloody fantastic it was too. Here’s some things to be looking forward to over this month. Note, this is in no way exhaustive, (which is what I’m going to be trying to keep up to date with it all!) You must continue to check our event guide, for details of all events listed here, updates of events, and even live streamed.

Half term sees us into June, ongoing from Tuesday 1st there’s holiday activities at Wiltshire Museum, which we welcome their reopening, and program of forthcoming events.

Also, back in business is the Nether-Street’s Farm Cookery School, who has a parent and child class called Cake Lady on Thursday 3rd.

The weekend sees The Devizes Lions Sports Coaching Weekend at Devizes Leisure Centre, IndieDay happening across Devizes town centre, meanwhile Devizes Southgate welcomes Texas Tick Fever.

There’s a Court Room Cabaret at Trowbridge Town Hall, Talk In Code play Swindon’s Level 3, with Atari Pilot, and Rude Mood are at The Vic.

Eddie Martin is live at The Bell in Bath, and we wish the Bath Reggae Festival a successful first event, let’s hope it’ll become an annual thing.

While we’re on about festivals, the following weekend, from Friday 11th is Kite Festival at Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire. Closer to home, Trevor Babajack Steger is at The Southgate, Devizes on Saturday, and don’t forget Lions on the Green in Devizes, Sunday 13th; let’s support their brand-new fund-raising event. Joh Griven also has a guided tour of the Heritage Walk of Devizes.

This sounds fun too, Mustard Brass Band live at The Bell in Walcott Street, Bath

Monday 14th there’s an important meeting online, a progress report on Wiltshire Museum’s hopeful move to the Assize Court.

Summer Solstice weekend, (solstice being 4:30 on Monday 21st) kicks off the Bigfoot Festival at Ragely Hall, Warwickshire. Closer to home, as it goes to press, the Kington Langley Scarecrow Festival is still happening. The HoneyStreet Barge presents Troyka, on Saturday 19th, Jon Amor’s King Street Turnaround at The Southgate, Devizes and Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue with the Pete Gage Band at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

There are also two great charity fundraising events, Caroline Lowe as Amy Winehouse at Swindon’s Swiss Chalet, in aid of The Specialized Project, which acts as a fundraising portal for many charitable causes and projects. And at The Rose & Crown in Worton, Chloe Jordan, Mistral and the Celtic Roots Collective have a fundraiser for MacMillan Cancer Support.

To the last weekend of what will, finger’s crossed, be an amazing return to normality, on Saturday 26th, The Southgate, Devizes welcomes Blind Justice, and the brilliant Blondie & Ska play The Greyhound, Trowbridge. But I’m hopefully saddling up and heading east, for geetars and corset swinging fun at the Barge on HoneyStreet, where those Boot Hill All Stars plan to moor up, with Dry White Bones; that one will go off!

 As far as I know, the legendary Black Uhuru at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, and Sunday 27th Blondie & Ska will be at the Royal Oak, Corsham. But as I say, loads more will be listed by the time we know what’s what, and hopefully a summer to remember is on the cards; just have to take responsibility for adhering to regulations and observing social distancing. Have a great June.


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The Daybreakers @ The Southgate: OMG, a Live Music Review!

Shock, horror OMG and other unsuitable internet abbreviations, yes it happened. Like mutated survivors emerging from their underground lair in some post-apocalyptic movie, to snuffle fresh air once again, tonight could’ve been any other night two years ago, but with renewed captivation I sat in a beer garden, an actual beer garden, with a real pint of scrumpy, while the incredible Daybreakers played music. Yes, real, live music, which received not one applause emoji, but real applause, the like of human hands clapping and everything; how surreal.

I don’t ask for much these days, but let me tell you, it was both a relief and joy to feel somewhere back to normal, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate band to be there for the occasion.

Of course, It’s our trusty Southgate, the Devizes O2 arena. A rustic watering hole of sociability, hospitality and scraggy dogs. Fingers and toes crossed future Saturday nights will look like this, as blues-rock Leon Daye Band arrive next week, followed by Trevor Babajack Steger on 12th June and Jon Amor’s King St Turnaround on 19th.

Life isn’t fully repaired, expect table service, adhere to etiquette, remain seated wherever possible, and wear masks while moving around, but it is an awesome beginning. I’ve returned home, loaded up Word to pen a citation, but while it was booting, I worried; it’s been so long since I’ve knocked up live music review, is it like riding a bike?

Ah, bollocks. I was never much cop at either, anyway.

Unlike me, the professionalism of Gouldy, Cath and those Daybreakers, who lost no grip on their skills, played a blinder, seemingly thoroughly loving every minute of it. I arrived to hear the Jam’s Start, which was good start, ba-boom, and they continued through their plethora of wonderful era-spanning covers, from the Cure to The Levellers and OMD to the Specials, and so on; even adding their original song, I think they called The Wait. The masses of optimism in the cool air came to an apex when those Daybreakers burst into Dexy’s Come on Eileen just as it once, always did. And the wildcard, thrown in at the last moment, was a beautiful rendition of Ah-Ha’s Take on Me, believe it or not, yet as they have a tendency to do, they smashed it out of the park.

Hats off to them, and of course, Dave, Deborah and staff at the Gate. With their newfound roles of waiters and waitresses, I’m guessing not in the original job description, they catered to everyone promptly, with their charm and wit, and I’d imagine a smile under their facemasks. Here’s to many more perfect gigs at the Southgate.


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Tribute Acts Going the Extra Mile; Blondie & Ska

One surprise track contributed for our forthcoming compilation album for Julia’s House, (yes, it’s going sluggish but well, thanks for asking!) comes from Chippenham’s part-Blondie-tribute-part-ska-covers duo, Blondie & Ska. It’s a solid, rock steady original, with the added bonus it sounds as if it could’ve been an album track from Parallel Lines, Plastic Letters or another Blondie album at the peak of their game.  

It’s given me the opportunity to have a chat with Dave Lewis, one half of the duo, on how they started doing what they do, pondering if you just wake up one morning and think, I know, I’m going to be tribute act. If Blondie & Ska actually see themselves wholly as a Blondie tribute act at all, given they not only record original songs, but in a unique slant, perform classic Two-Tone songs from the same period. But most importantly, answering some conundrums I’ve had since hearing a tune with a similar concept by UB40 tribute Johnny2Bad, about tribute acts going the extra mile and recording tracks in the fashion of their inspiration. I mean, is it deliberate that it sounds akin, or simply natural method given the music is based around imitating the act?

Certainly, Blondie & Ska wasn’t formed on a whim. For a decade prior to forming the duo, Lorraine and Dave were both co-members of various bands on the same circuit. The idea, Dave explained, “occurred over a number of phases,” and expressed, as a mod, his love for The Beat. Anxious not to live up to expectations of his idols, Dave continued, “playing ska, was one of those things, because you love it so much, you don’t want to go that direction, but when we kind of got dragged into it, there was no stopping us, because the more we did it, the more we loved doing it, and there was no reason to be nervous!”

In the band as well, was Steve Edge, who co-wrote our song. “Steve and I used to write back in the nineties,” Dave explained, chuffed to be reunited to write this track specifically for us. “And we performed as an originals band,” he enthusiastically continued.

After the originals band, Dave joined his drummer and played in a local blues band called No Ties, which Lorraine also started in, while Dave concentrated on a secondary band aptly named Band Two, which Lorraine would later join. It was there where Dave suggested the concept of Blondie & Ska to Lorraine, in 2013. “She replied, hum, I fancy having a go at that,” Dave revealed. “It took about six months to get rehearsed. We did our first gig, and thought, why didn’t we do this before?” They’ve been performing weekly as a duo act from Land’s End to Barnsley since, clocking up hundreds or appearances together.

I moved onto the question, given recording originals and this mixture of lateral ska tunes added to the Blondie tribute, if they even classed themselves at ‘tribute act’ in the same light as the run-of-the-mill ones. “It’s weird one,” he admitted, “I kind of call it that Blondie and ska sound. Whatever we tend to do, people say I didn’t expect it to be like that, but that’s way things are. If I’m going to do something, we want to do it in a different way.” It’s also practical, using pre-recorded sections such as drums and horns, Blondie & Ska can accommodate the smallest of venues, unlike a large ska band with a horn section. “The other thing which is difficult, with signature bands, is it’s hard work keeping the bands together,” Dave observed, a notorious hindrance with ska bands in particular.  

Dubious it would work at first, during lockdowns alternate Saturdays have seen regular blossoming live streams from Blondie & Ska. “We had over 10 thousand viewers on one,” Dave delighted, “which is bonkers! I think it was just a sign of the time, everyone was just at their computer!” For your attention, next one is tonight at 8pm (Saturday 22nd May) on Facebook, HERE. “If people don’t know us,” Dave suggested, “it’s always a nice test. We’ve been surprised by the positive feedback.”

There’s the thing with Blondie & Ska, and I put it to Dave without trying to cause offence, that though it’s unique, nothing they’re doing is particularly ground-breaking. They’ve no stars in their eyes, but the niche is they’re two musicians having a whole lot of fun, doing what they love doing. And this is what comes across, and why it sounds so good. “Absolutely,” he agreed, suggesting the original blues band was tiresome. “I wasn’t really up for anything after that, and later wanted to get back into the action. We’re doing it now because we enjoy doing it. The Blondie & Ska stuff, you know, the more we play, the more people ask, and more bookings we get in ska clubs, and our repertoire is pushed in that direction.” I laughed, so prolific was the Jamaican record industry during the ska era, there’s always going to be one trainspotter, like me (!) who comes up and asks for some obscure Coxsone rarity!

But in turn, that’s precisely the ethos of both ska, and seemingly Blondie’s music. Aside the political unrest occasionally portrayed in the Two-Tone ska revival of the eighties, the memorable songs come from a carefree perceptive of jollity, and like Madness and Bad Manners, ska is eternally dance music, from the very roots. Likewise, Blondie rarely, if at all, socially commented about anything more than romance.

Dave was so enthusiastic to chat about the reasoning and history behind Blondie & Ska, about the technicalities of recreating the perfect tribute sound, and appeasing the aficionados, we could’ve chatted forever, but I feel you need to witness them in the arena they love, rather than waffle some!

An interesting story surrounding the chosen name for the duo we finished on, as while setting up for an early gig, the organiser summed up the sound on the blackboard by chalking up “Blondie & Ska,” under the premise a lot of blond girls and a lot of male ska fans had turned up. “I was standing there, looking at the name on the poster,” Dave explained. “Lorraine was saying, can you just get on and set up, cos we’ve got to be playing in an hour?! I said, but look at the name on the poster, and she was going, no, get on with what you’re supposed to be doing!” But Dave approached the guy, knowing him through many past gigs, to ask him if he could use it. “The girls danced to the Blondie songs, and the guys danced to the ska,” he noted. Story checks out, the mix works. Tune into their live streams to find out for yourself, or here’s hoping to catch them at a real gig soon.


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IndieDay is Back in Devizes

With a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross, the non-profit organisation Devizes Retailers & Independents announce a second IndieDay in Devizes on Saturday 5th June. With an aim to spread the word about all the excellent independent retail shops and small businesses in Devizes, last year’s event was well received and enjoyed, at such a crucial time.

Firstly, there will be trail maps, with the chance to win an indie hamper with goodies donated by generous independent retailers across Devizes. You can get one on the day from the Market Place, or pick a map up prior, during the first week of June, from any participating independent shops, or download one here. You need to post your entry form at the post office, at Cositas Bonitas or Tea Inc. by 4.30pm on the day.

Unfortunately, Devizine will not be arranging any live music this time, as we did last year. The need is must for our local musicians to concentrate on obtaining bookings for paid events, and I feel asking them to freely contribute their valuable time at this delicate moment is, quite simply unfair on them. Though we did have a wonderful day last time, and I reach out my eternal gratitude to Tamsin, Jamie, Cath and Gouldy, and particularly Mike Barham for setting it up.

Tamsin Quin, Mike Barham and Sound Affects @ IndieDay 2020

There will be lots of things to do on the day though. Youth Traders at Albion Place in Sidmouth Street, will be giving some young traders the chance to take part and experience running a market stall. Something worthy of supporting. Artist/picture framer Becky Hanney Art will be there, with amazing quality craftsmanship for wood turning and bespoke pieces from Jack Baldwin. Eyah Bakes Cakes brings some amazing cake creations that are like a works of art. With prints and postcards from Harriet’s Crafts & Creations, unique handmade works in wool from Vintage Cyanide Kira, and the promise for more to be confirmed.

Becky Hanney Art

The ever-important face painting still has to be found a space to make me into a lion, as is my preferred choice, or risk my tantrum! But we also have music at various locations throughout the day, organised by Jemma Brown. At 10am in the Market Place Take Five perform, TITCO at 11am, and Segregation 6 Brass at midday.

Will Foulstone

Meanwhile in The Brittox, find Devizes Jubilee Morris from midday. And at The Shambles from 1pm piano and cello with Dominic and Dori, and never to be missed, young Will Foulstone on piano from 3pm. It’s a sterling effort from inDevizes and Devizes Retailers & Independents to encourage local shopping at this tricky junction, but with everyone adhering to social distancing and regulations, let’s hope for a successful IndieDay on 5th June.


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The Lost Promises of Sam Bishop

Five years on from Devizes six-form boy band 98 Reasons, we find vocalist and keyboardist Sam Bishop studying music in Winchester, while former Larkin partner Finely Trusler continues working with cousin Harvey as The Truzzy Boys and has become fresh new frontman for local mod heroes, The Roughcut Rebels.

Last week we were able get a valuable insight into Sam’s portfolio and progress, as he releases a five-track EP of new material across streaming platforms; Lost Promises. Seems education pays off; this is a dynamite of powerful pop, and showcases Sam’s vocal range with much more intricate and often daring arrangements.

But perhaps, what is more, there’s matured themes on show. Opening tune, Below the Surface is evidence enough, an emotionally-driven social issues context of two characters, firstly a young single mum thrown out of the family home and a motherless son turning to drug abuse. The haunting piano gathers a peek to courage against the face of misfortune, and it stings.

Relevance is key in a convincing performance of this style, personal reflection on your own words pulls the heartstrings. “I’m so proud of each and every song on it,” Sam says. “They all relate to a significant point of my life, when I was feeling a certain way. it’s the rawest and most explorative I’ve been as a songwriter.”

Image: Nick Padmore

Fallen Sky we’ve reviewed as a single last year, a dark, moody ambience, backed with a deep bassline, sonic piano and ticking drumbeats; as if William Orbit took boyband to dubstep. It characterises dejected teenage anguish and echoes the passion in early romantic interactions. While it’s a bromide subject at the best of times, Sam rests on it well, as was a time when we wanted Phil Collins to have a broken heart, so his reflection on it would be so powerfully crushing and relevant to our own life.

The back riff of Decide trickles, reminding me of the deep South American riffs of the Graceland shadowed Paul Simon sequel The Rhythm of the Saints, but its pace and catchiness makes it perhaps the most beguiling. As the title suggests there’s a romantic dilemma, again cliché subject, but you know Sam’s vocal penitence has it covered to perfection.

We’re lucky enough to have an acoustic version of the fourth track for our forthcoming charity album; I know, yep, I’m working on it, okay! Largely guitar-based, Wild Heart gives prominence in particular to my observation about trialling in Sam’s vocal arrangements, there’s some complicated measures to handle, and he does. Trust is a continuing notion, which makes a running theme, I guess where the title developed from.

The trick is the balance, and Sam’s a magician, but not without friends he thanks for assistance, “this EP wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of some of the best musicians I’ve had the pleasure to work with,” Sam continues, “Toby, Ellie, Martin, Robbie, Woody and Stephanie.”

As it suggests, The End is the perfect finale, a ballad of missing someone, praying fondness will prevail and it’s not the end. In this track, and in all, there’s a poignant concept, the mainstay of all good pop. Hey, teacher, Sam deserves top marks for this, it’s highly listenable and hauntingly deeper than anything previous, yet retaining freshness of memorable pop. Progress is sweet, and to prove it here’s Sam in his early days with a drumstick up his nostril. Something he’ll annoy for me adding, but honestly bud, you can’t unsee it now!


Wiltshire’s Most Expensive Laugh; Seedy Out of the PCC Race!

Two opinion pieces from me in as many days; you lucky, lucky people! What I wouldn’t give to have two lofty opinion pieces from Devizine thrown at me once in a while!

As the news circulates that hunting bonkers Conservative PCC candidate for Wiltshire, Johnathan Seed is out of the race, we all can have a belly-laugh, especially Basil Brush. But rules are rules, and at this stage, seems WC will need to hold a second election, rather than the obvious, just pick the second-place candidate and roll with that.

I mean, if a horse falls out of the race, the race continues. You wouldn’t stop the race, pick another horse and rerun it, would you?

Without quoting sources at this delicate time, word on the street is another election will cost a cool million squid; who picks up this bill, the taxpayer?

Hinging on two conflicting allegations as to how this story came to light, one being Seedy declared his drink driving offence and suddenly decided he should pull out because of it, and the second that he was ousted when the offense came to light, one could argue if the latter, he, or the Conservative party should be liable for the bill, whereas the first means the electoral roll should’ve picked this up before running the election. Being Wiltshire Council is Tory run, you can bet your bottom dollar, the dollar is coming out of your pocket. In essence, it’s Wiltshire’s most expensive laugh.

Whatever, this does mean there’s time for the Conservatives to draft in a new candidate, which they can do. One who without even having to campaign, will, by current trends walk the show without the slightest insight or experience of the roll. So, if you thought every cloud has a silver lining, no, not in our Tory haven. But I must stress, that’s speculation.

Boom Boom!

If the race is yet to be won, there’s as much convincing as I can to be done, to sway you to consider voting elsewhere. We’ve interviewed Lib Dem Liz Webster, and we’ve interviewed independent Mike Rees. We ran out of time to chat to Labour’s Junab Ali, for which I apologise, but with this news, and depending on the date of the election, perhaps this is still on the cards, and I welcome Junab to chat with us.

Anyway, tonight will see the news break the local social media sites, where’s there’s a general feeling of relief. Johnathan Seed’s campaign has not been particularly popular. And if that has reflected in the current polls, who knows, we may not have to go through all this again.

Here’s what some people are saying online, which is what the Gazelle & Herod do for a quick article, I know, and if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us!

“I’m sorry, but I’m losing no sleep over this one!”

“Apparently they’re going to put up a garden gnome with a blue rosette on it, they’re still convinced it will win.”

“It’s very frustrating, especially as it’s nothing new. He doesn’t seem to have been a popular choice so fingers crossed he doesn’t win and we can bypass another vote.”

“Good. Will Wiltshire Council send him the bill for having to rerun the poll?”

“This will give him more time to spend with the hunt and hounds..”

Right, that’s enough of that, this isn’t a public forum! Go figure!


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A Trowbridge Kitchen Sink Drama; Sitting Tenants

Wednesday, racing down to the newsagent on the corner on my Rayleigh Tomahawk, fifteen pee in sweaty palm. Pick up my Beano, six pence left for halfpenny sweets. The lady stood irritated behind the counter holding a small paper bag, as the kid front of the queue rubbed his chin pondering the crucial quandary. “You’ve got four pee left,” she’d calculate, while the boy finally opted for another flying saucer rather than a fruit salad chew.

If there’s something delightfully everyday about the subjects on Trowbridge’s Sitting Tenants lockdown album, A Kitchen Sink Drama, none more retrospectively thought-provoking than the fifth tune, the Newsagent, which encouraged the placement of this archived memory to my frontal cortex.

Unlike many a lockdown inspired project, this lives on the sunny side of the street, no matter how working-class notion of destitution. A semi-acoustic concept album, all from a shed in Trowbridge, as folk, as best pigeonholed, it’s acutely observational and mostly sentimentally mellow, perfect lazy Sunday afternoon music. Yet it never escorts you down a dark alley. Of people-watching in a back street pub, of a welcomed arrival of a letter from an old friend; subjects are ordinary, with an optimistic air of market town affairs. Even the album sleeve is a line drawing of Trowbridge town centre.

Released on 208 Records, usually reserved for garage mod-revival, still it retains something of that period in sound and particularly subject. Rob himself polished his skill fronting Swindon mod band Roundabout, some twenty-five years past. A band I do recall fondly. But even if you don’t, here is something indie-folky, with a taste of local excellence.

Revived since lockdown this garage-folk band’s fifth album was recorded in Rob’s garden shed, with only bassist Geoff Allwright, and using Ian Hunter’s lyrics. It’s beautifully peculiar, a mite psychedelic in as much as McCartney vaudeville moments on Sgt Pepper, engrossing as Nick Drake, quirky as Pentangle or The Pretty Things. It’s the Kinks jamming carefree on a Sunday, especially on the most upbeat Lincoln Green. It nods to Lionel Bart on the Austerity Street, John Martyn on The Tin Man, and incredibly on the captivating eleven-minute finale, Falling Backwards, where things do get acute, Ralph McTell.

Like a Ralph of Trowbridge, it’s like, why is this down the road but new to me? Why didn’t it post a leaflet through my letterbox instead of a pleading politician?


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Wiltshire Lays all its Eggs in the Same Basket

You’ve done it now, it’s too late for reason. My reaction to the local election results coming in; you really want to hear it?!

It’s not really news, and altogether unsurprising to see early results to the local town/village elections coming in, proving generally the majority population of Wiltshire is unable to consider change, and doesn’t much care for their neighbours. Yep, if you proudly tow the national party line, or if you waffle how the sheer ignorance, dishonourable and incompetent of the Conservative Party nationally doesn’t reflect your own opinions and views, if you painted your election leaflet blue, you more than likely won it by a country mile. Did we seriously expect anything less?

Face it, any other party, or independent candidate wouldn’t have stood a chance even if they offered everyone a free fish finger sandwich for every vote, and everyone, tory or sensible, loves a fish finger sandwich. To those who lost, it’s not a reflection on you, rather the ignorance of the silent majority. Not even mayo on the sarnie would’ve worked.

As impartial as I get, I offer my congratulations to the winning candidates, but it is with great concern for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable, the youth, the working class and usual victims of this totalitarian regime. Even if many themselves fail to see past their Daily Fail, fail to comprehend the buck stops at the top, and their neighbours, or their mass-media driven forged enemies are not to blame for the current balls up this country finds itself in, it is, nonetheless, proof Wiltshire loves to lay all it’s eggs in the same basket.

It’s not even a shiny new basket, it’s the aged wrecked one, where guaranteed the eggs drop out of the bottom and an expectant fat cat waits to lap them up.

I cross my fingers and toes that this sheer stupidity will not elevate to the Police Crime Commissioner role, due to be announced on Monday, but reflecting on today’s results, I’m not holding my breath. The most controversial and malevolent of all tory candidates standing has raised interest in this debatably inconsequential job. It all hinges on what we want from a PCC; a dedicated experienced man in the field, a politically-minded victim’s mother of a callous and brutal attack with an argument to boot, or a one-policy suspected criminal themself, with the financial backing of the wealthiest felons of blood sports in order to encourage police to turn a blind eye to brutally attacking wildlife for twisted kicks. Seriously, you think you’ll get justice for a burglary, an assault or theft, from a fellow whose only objective for the role is to turnaround the hunting act and roam the countryside on horseback yelling tally-ho and smearing the blood of slaughtered foxes on their face? Is that really the future prospective for policing in the county you crave?

Give me strength. There’s a level of blind folly which astounds my tolerance, it really does. Yet historically it’s a given thing, Wiltshire is Tory, always has been since the Cavaliers whipped the Roundheads; you face it head-on and bite your lip, or you follow suit, opt for the selection which takes no brainpower, and place your cross where you always do. Unreasoning contemporary alterations is a dangerous game, having an opposition is vital to democracy. I’m no politician, don’t pretend to be, don’t wish to be, but that much I do know.  

As this reflects national trend, I hope every successful candidate adheres to the lofty pledges and promises of change, rather than submits to the corrupt ethos of the current cabinet. Okay, so you used the blue platform to get to this point, despite bits of Bojo’s rash and forbidding outbursts, like the watermelon smiles, the post boxes, and now the bodies piling higher, don’t match your sentiments, but the motivation is surely to climb further up the ladder, that’s the philosophy of modern conservatism, and for which you need to kiss the rings of those in charge, and they do not accept a midrange, centre-right standing; you watched them get ousted in favour of far right and nationalists from other parties, remember? You are buying into oppression, whether you want to, or not, like it, or not.

There’s nothing wrong with Conservatism per say, as a theory, and one, possibly two Tories I can stomach, for they seem to have morals on the surface. Yet, it’s when there’s a, whatever the collective noun for self-centred arseholes is, they tend to bounce inconsistences to what’s righteous around, garnish them with wonky and selfish agendas, and generally, fuelled by expensive tax-free wine from daddy’s collection, conjure a plan to maintain the wealth for the wealthiest without concern for the trickling down of any leftover faeces for the common man to lap up.

This is good news for most of us here, this is an affluent area. But I urge you, when you next roll your 21reg Land Rover Discovery off your extensive loose chipping track and drive into the real world, stop to observe not everyone’s silver spoon is quite as polished and orally positioned, and everyone who serves you in Marks and Sparks, everyone who delivers your bespoke Lexington four-draw chest for your next refurb, or collects your recycling bin surely warrants a better day too. Enough to go round, isn’t there? Monkeys live in this jungle too, not just organ grinders.

Ah, same shitshow different day. For me it’s a no news day, and I’m waffling. I can’t even raise my optimism for the news the controversial head Wiltshire councillor Phillip Whitehead has resigned, for it’s easy to suspect another one will be along shortly, equally as vexed. I’m more flabbergasted, and slightly upset the sequel to my fictional story series needs a new thinktank, as those comical and sensitive Tories say!


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Save Furlong Close Campaigners Protest in Rowde

Rowde villagers joined for a socially distanced and peaceful protest today, in the centre of the village to show their support for the Save Furlong Close campaign.

More show of solidarity than protest, if “protest” is now a dirty word and standing up for your rights is to be considered illicit. It was good to meet those heading this campaign to deflect the closing of Furlong Close, home to 36 vulnerable adults with learning disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism and epilepsy.

Reflecting on a thought I’d said in previous articles on this campaign, campaign leader Trish specified how the residents of Furlong Close were a big part of the village community and would be missed if it was to close down. We also discussed that while the red tape between Wiltshire Council and the owning charity HFT continues, the opinions of both locals and residents are being ignored.

We’ve covered the tragic plans on Devizine at length, in the past; hearing direct from Mark Steele, a member of the campaign’s steering group, who has family at Furlong Close. The Gazette & Herald ran an edition with a wrap-around page campaign, and over a staggering 44,000 have signed the petition, therefore I do not wish to go over the same ground. We know this is a terrible decision, we are aware the residents do not wish to be dispersed and move into isolated and lonely single accommodations they’re unfamiliar with, we only need a workable solution.

Yet with the backing of many local councillors, Anna Cuthbert and Lib Dem candidate for Bromham, Rowde and Roundway, Mark Mangham in attendance today, the backing of the media, and in particular, the local people, I sincerely hope we can turn this around and end on a feel-good story. The show of hope and solidarity today proves this is possible. Mark said it was, “humbling to be among the campaigners, many related to residents and from beyond Wiltshire. Many Rowde residents are volunteers. This is what community feels like!”


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Fish N Chips Getting Feisty

That’s more like it, proper English spring weather; the drizzle and occasional downpour returns! What better matching tucker could you get other than Britain’s favourite dish? But Britain’s favourite dish has never been this good. I’ve discovered The Feisty Fish, and now there’s no turning back.

The light at the end of the lockdown tunnel maybe in sight, but a little way off. The popularity of mobile popup kitchens isn’t winding down yet. Village and market town folk are still happy to queue, whatever the weather.

What will become of the trend when pubs and restaurants reopen is anyone’s guess, but if it continues, they’ll surely have to up their game. Rob, partner of the newly opened Feisty Fish takes each day as it comes, not ruling out the possibility of aiming the business at the event and festival circuit after lockdown. For while the key for many popup kitchens is to offer something exotic and a little different, The Feisty Fish do the opposite. This is gourmet at its simplest formula, Britain’s favourite, good old fish n chips.  

Chef Mark appeared content, when I rocked up for their first day camped at Calne’s Bug & Spider. After working abroad and on cruise ships, his last jaunt as head-chef on a yacht in Thailand, he smiled to the fact he was his own boss here. I asked him why fish n chips, while others aim for the unusual. “I feel the English are being let down; everyone loves fish n chips,” was the modest explanation, and while sure about the latter part to it, chippies remain packed every weekend across the county. The proof here is in the pudding; who am I but to dip in?

The menu and mobile kitchen are humble, fish n chips, battered sausage, Rowdey Cow ice cream for dessert, the price a mere pound or so above the average chippy, but the taste blows them all out of the water. The expertise of a head chef makes this a whole other ball game. Even the curry sauce is to die for!

Rob is proud to let me know the haddock is fresh daily from Grimsby, and everything, from fish to sauces are freshly prepared; there’s none of those heated cabinets keeping it lukewarm here. And yeah, I raced home with two standard haddock and chips dishes. From Calne the average chip shop chips would’ve greased through the paper and turned to mush upon my return. But presented in this cardboard container, these double or triple-cooked beauties stood the journey, and tasted like the best chips I’ve ever tasted for one outstanding reason, they were the best chips I’ve ever tasted. And if you know me, you’ll know, I’ve tasted chips, blooming loads of ‘em!

The fish was as it claimed to be, fresh, flaky, swathed in golden batter cooked to perfection, and served with a fresh chunk of lemon for my squeezing pleasure. Oh, and tartar sauce comes as standard, and is equally wonderful.

Now comes the killer; peas, the Marmite of fish n chips. Some like ‘em mushy, others like ‘em solid, but be it a north-south divide thing or just personal preference, the disaffected belief is steadfast on both sides of the fence, and no one budges on the issue. Me, I’m a solid pea kinda southern Nancy. Weirdly though, those Feisty Fishers bridge the gap with “broken peas.” Somewhere between the two, I actually munched my way through these, as far from the runny green sauce of mushy, or the pinging off your plate style of solid peas, this just worked, for all. Anyone who can unite the mushy and solid pea militias, thoroughly deserves every positive commendation going!

So, here comes the crunch, lesser than that of those gorgeous chips, but equally important. Even after one visit, I was left thinking, Harry Ram-who’s-dat-now? And I accept Tom Kerridge gave birth to the Michelin star pub grub inclination, but if you book The Hand & Flowers today, your hour-and-half trip to Marlow might happen for a Tuesday lunchtime a decade from now. But while these guys need an outlet on every major high street, this is a local, exclusive club secret I’m letting you in on here.

It’s only their sixth week in existence, and you’ll have to rendezvous at their weekly meeting points. These may change, so spare their Facebook page a like for updates, but for now, you will find them hanging out from 5pm-9pm, Wednesdays at The Bug & Spider, Calne, Thursdays at The Village Hall in Mildenhall, near Marlborough, Fridays at the old Chocolate Poodle in Littleton Panell, Devizes, and Saturdays at Milton Lilbourne’s Village Hall, Pewsey.

Thing is, and it’s a wonderful thing, if you’re not from those places, it’s well worth the drive. You can order online through their website, and get to taste exactly why I’m giving top marks.


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Devizes Town Band in Chippenham

“We’ve been waiting patiently to get back to playing again,” says our town band here in good old Devizes, “but now we are getting excited!”

The reason, with regulations permitting, they’ll be at Chippenham’s John Coles Park, off Malmesbury Road, on Sunday 23rd May, 3pm-5pm, for some free live music, promising to be a “musical extravaganza!” Bring a picnic, “we’ll be using our marquee, so you won’t miss us!”

Devizes Town Band formed in April 1999 as the Alpha Wind Ensemble. Mike Ward of Bratton Silver Band joined as Musical Director a year later, and by 2001 they became the Devizes Town Band and gained permission from the Town Council to use the town crest.

Since then, the band has gone from strength to strength, with various concerts including Proms at Hillworth Park. They’ve raised funds for many local charities, including Alzheimer’s Support, Julia’s House Hospice. They’ve played at Royal Victoria Park in Bath and the bandstand at Bournemouth, via their association with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, but recently reduced to making monthly Zoom videos during the lockdown to keep in practise.

For my best memory will always be the Christmas Light Switch-On and Lantern Parade, when, with cold fingers warming around a cup of mulled wine, the Town Band played a brilliant classical version of Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry; and it’s not yule until I hear that song!

And now, showtime is nearing! Devizine wishes Devizes Town Band the very best of luck for a refreshed season. Until then, thanks to Bill Huntly’s now disbanded Devizes TV, enjoy a memory from the 2014 Proms at Hilworth Park.


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Looking Forward to the Trades’ Road of Solid Gold

Scrub the headline as ‘news,’ here at Devizine Towers, as we look forward to any update The Lost Trades trio throw at us, especially a nice pint in a pub with those guys playing. Which is what we’re building to, fingers crossed, as they pencil in HoneyFest at the Honeystreet Barge on their growing confirmed gig list.

Among them, Frome’s Cheese & Grain, Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, the Couch in Bracknell, Schtum in Box and WeyFest. Proof their exceptional and convivial brand of folk is resounding far and wide. Another validation for the Lost Trade’s reputation is news today the second single from the highly anticipated debut album, out on 7th May, features the violin mastery of the incredible Peter Knight.

A legend of folk, Peter learned his trade at Royal Academy of Music, and not only was a founding member of Steeleye Span, undoubtedly the most renowned group of the British folk revival alongside Fairport Convention, but secretly was Uncle Bulgaria of the Wombles band too! He’s worked with blues legend Alexis Korner and Mary Hopkin to namedrop out of many, and today his occasional big band, Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Band are a unique force in British folk music with high-energy, virtuosic performances appealing equally to traditionalists and to those looking for something experimental.

See, I love a mean fiddler garnish on my folk, and as the Trades say, “as collaborations go, it doesn’t get much more mouth-watering than this.”

Road of Solid Gold – The Lost Trades (featuring Peter Knight) will be released on 7th May, another appetiser for the foresaid album. “When we were recording the song, we knew we had the seeds of something a bit special, but we felt it needed some extra magic. We were thrilled when Peter agreed to add that magic and we can’t wait for you to hear it.” Umm, yes indeedy, and we can’t wait to hear it!


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