Bromham Girls Help the Homeless This Christmas

A commendable effort by two Bromham girls to give fifty goodie bags to the homeless this Christmas is quickly growing worthy attention. A massive congratulations goes to these kind year 6 girls, Greg and Al, for such a wonderful thought and their determination to organise this.

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Still, they need donations of many items on their homemade list, including cosmetic products like toothbrushes, deodorant and soap, to warm clothes, torches and treats such as chocolate! In fact, I think they’ve thought of a number of valid items most us probably wouldn’t have!

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They’ve set up a Facebook page for their campaign, with details on how to donate. Collections are possible, but the girls have set up donation stations at St Nicholas in Bromham and at Beezes in the Ginnel, Devizes. They also sought other possible places for these stations in various local villages.

So, can we give this wonderful idea a boost? I know we can! Start by giving their Facebook page a “like,” and see what you are able to donate, please. Thank you! We wish all the best with this brilliant idea, girls and hope that you will tell us how it went after Christmas; you are both on the good list, that’s for sure! Remember though, have a great Christmas yourself too!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Back Wood Redeemers Squash into the Southgate

Yet another blinding night’s entertainment at the Southgate, as Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers came, saw and kicked ass….

 

His banjo to one side for a beer break, Flounder Murray perched on the step as I defined the live music scene in Devizes as thriving. As most Saturday nights we were spoiled for choice; People Like Us, I explained, popular locally, playing the Three Crowns, and there’s Britpop trio Billy Green 3 heading the Crown, rock n roll at the Rotary’s sixties-themed Presidents Night at the Cons Club, an Elvis tribute at the Cavalier and a gin and bourbon festival at the Corn Exchange. Not even touching upon various village gigs, such as Splat the Rat who played the Cross Keys in Rowde. I really need a clone, or five!

The area’s population is approximately 31,000, I’ve researched now, but returned the question on the night with a blank stare. Inevitable if you’ve not heard of Frome’s Back Wood Redeemers, this one passed you by. Alas, you missed out on what was a no-brainer for me, since Flounder last appeared here as part of the band The Boot Hill All Stars and blew the roof off with an original blend of grinding, upbeat folk and gypsy ska. It was one sweaty night. Though a quieter Saturday at the trusty Southgate didn’t damped the atmosphere, just rather more intimately contained.

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An altogether unusual seven-piece band squeezed into the tight space, I expected no less then crusty beards, the circus attire of vintage suits, bowler hats, clown trousers and stripy tights and anything goes. Armed with an electric guitar, harmonica and drums, nothing unusual there I’ll grant you, but throw in a banjo, two, yes two double basses, a pink electric mandolin made to look like a mini guitar, and a fellow propped in the alcove with a trombone, might just invoke an appropriate image as to how bonkers it was; might.

Described as “songs of dark country, twisted blues & religious fervour,” BWR did what it said on the tin. The mood on my entry was melodically paced; on asking Flounder the difference between them and the Boot Hills he expressed the hunt for vintage blues or country songs, even gospel and the ethos of twisting them into this west country folk. We talked of ska and how it developed in a similar manner as rock n roll, those rhythm and blues rarities very much standard radio airplay across the Americas. Yet Flounder pronounced the need to cover artists such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave too, and with his archetypical gritty vocals these artists are apt.

Flounder though did not front all the tunes, the band clearly a collective as the double-bass man in tights straddled off his instrument to parade around like Bez of the Happy Monday’s, singing fervently with an expressive dance routine to boot. The second half promised to be dirtier, faster and grittier, and did just this. Through the promised murky country tunes, those Somerset folks threw everything at this original blend. Think of a Wurzels-Levellers combo as a Northern Soul band at the Hacienda’s Madchester era trying their hand at jump-blues, you might come somewhere near! Yet whatever pigeonholes you care to throw at it, in the jest of this band who daren’t take themselves seriously, it’s lively, crazy and highly entertaining.

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Danceable too, once a Nick Cave song finished, the Train to Skaville riff teased the audience, and Flounder bounced into Toots & The Maytals’ 54-46, only for a melody of Tainted Love and the Cure’s Love Cats to follow. Yet aside the crowd-pleasers, it’s the proficient general skulduggery of instrumentation and upbeat sound which fuses the frenzy of the Back-Wood Redeemers and makes them so appealing. The finale Bound to Glory being the icing on the cake, and perhaps more apt for the band’s description than those known pop tunes; but either way, all were executed sublimely and originally. It was, in short, a crazy, crazy night Kiss fans wouldn’t dream of.

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As it’s been said, hats, and many of them, off to the Southgate, who, while the others tend to provide us with safe options of tributes and locally renowned acts, and there’s nought up with that, The Southgate strive to hunt for something different, and bring alternatives to town. With the attitude of providing free live music every weekend, of course, there is also plenty room for our local favourites too and while these make the best and most crowded nights here, when The Back Wood Redeemers are back around this zone, you’d be a fool to miss them.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Gate-crashed The Lawrence Society of Art’s Annual Exhibition!

Nipped into the Town Hall earlier, imagine, me, in the Town Hall. The Guardians will want me on their head chair before you know it; they should be so lucky! Ah, but there’s milling around The Assembly Rooms, few things still in boxes and a few ends to tie as The Lawrence Society of Art prepare for their annual art exhibition.

I’m informed I’m rather early, all will be running for the preview evening tonight, Wednesday 13th November, where all are welcome, from 6pm onwards. I sneaked a preview; you know me by now, just barge in uninvited, start randomly snapping phone photos and bust out of there like Billy Whizz on a promise, leaving everyone inside wondering “who was that guy with the chin?”

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The show ends on Saturday 16th November, I’d advise paying it a visit, for to my pleasant surprise, the range of paintings are diverse and the standard is outstanding. All local artists, members of the society, with the furthest away coming from over Trowbridge yonder, I’m told. For sale or browsing, I note our good friend Clifton Powell has a selection from his Africa series, and spotted some brilliant sketches from Rowde’s Alan Watters too. But more enlightening was the quantity of contributors I’ve yet to discover. From cubist to landscape, and abstract to fine art, the range is sundry with no apparent theme. I like this approach though, nothing open to interpretation.

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Proudly I’m informed the Lawrence Society of Art was formed back in 1953, and has actively fostered an interest in art with lectures, demonstrations, classes, outings, workshops and this major Annual Exhibition consistently since. The productivity of such an established association shows here today; my few pics will not do it justice.

The other major event of the society is usually in August. Their Art Trail, where participating shops and venues have a trail map, and there are about 30 shops in town showcasing members work, many available to purchase.

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Named after child prodigy Sir Thomas Lawrence, a leading English portrait painter and the fourth president of the Royal Academy, who picked up sketching aged ten while his Dad was proprietor of the Bear Hotel, The Lawrence Art Society has an annual membership fee, for regular meetings and workshops. If you dabble, this exhibition could be the perfect introduction, if you just fancy a browse, I’ll say it’s very worthwhile. The opening times are: 14th November 9.30 am – 5.30 pm, 15th 9.30 am – 5.30 pm and 16th November 9.30 am – 12.00 pm.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Live Album at the Louisiana with Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue

A cheetah can achieve motorway speeds, but not long enough to get off the slip road; worthless trivia, unless you’re an antelope. I like to think cheetahs listen to rock n roll; no, hear me out. Akin to this feline fact, those RnB and rock n roll classics are one short burst of energy. Fortunately for the artists the 78rpm record lasted a maximum of five minutes, and for radio play they’d cut it to little over three, any longer they surely risk congestive heart failure.

As the era passed to late sixties, psychedelia stretched recorded music to live and extended dimensions Little Richard could never maintain. Mellowing tendency matured rock, but arguably robbed its dynamism. Ah, come the eighties twelve inch single and the mega-mix, prompting the question; why didn’t Glenn Close choose the Jive Bunny to boil?

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Image by 
Jerry Tremaine Photography

Rare then it is, to hear a frenzied traditional rock n roll sound encompass ten minutes; welcome to Ruzz Evans’ world. Embodiment of Johnny B Goode, Ruzz can pick guitar like he’s ringing a bell, for an astounding period too. Due for release on 10th February, but available for pre-order from December 1st, I’ve been adoring this album recorded live at the Louisiana in Ruzz’s hometown of Bristol.

Forgive me for sustaining the rock n roll pigeonhole, for Ruzz has the quiff and is photographed in a teddy boy drape jacket. With backing from an incredible band including drummer Mike Hoddinott and upright bassist Joe Allen, the panache of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue straddles rock and its namesake blues. Since 2016, when they added an awesome horn trio to the roster, we can add big band jazz to their style. That’s my thoughts while absorbed in this, of what Miles Davis did to jazz, or Pink Floyd to prog rock, Ruzz does to traditional rhythm and blues come rock n roll; the result is breath-taking.

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Bearing in mind his voice isn’t growling Tennessean, yet neither was Gene Vincent’s, rather quirky Bristolian, the vocals are sporadic, instruments reign. There’s an amusing conclusion to “Under Your Spell,” where 10 minutes of detonating electric blues is broken by a genuinely surprised thank you from Ruzz in said accent. This often amuses me, pondering, no, thank you, mate, I just clapped, you’ve just held me spellbound for ten minutes, the pleasure is all mine!

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In this instance I’m not even there, merely listening on my headphones, but still entranced. While they’re Bristol based Ruzz and his Guitar’s Blues Revue are no strangers here, and you can catch them at the Southgate (Nov 30th), White Swan Trowbridge (tonight 9th Nov) at the R&B bar in March at Devizes Sports Club. I’m quivering, ashamed after hearing this that I’ve not caught them live yet; an offence I will rectify, you would too if you hear this.

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Live at the Louisiana explodes from the off; the two, Hold It and Baby Please Come Home, for starters envelope all I’ve said, lively jump blues come big band rock n roll. Catchy, you’ll be lindy hopping before your first sip. Yet if Movin On groovily notches to allegro moderato, Back Home to Stay boogie-woogies again, and Sleepwalk is as dreamy as it suggests. The last two tunes, Sweet as Honey and the aforementioned Under You Spell embrace all we’ve so far said, making this release, I reckon, a treasure; fantastic!

With two self-released studios albums already under their big rockabilly buckles, and opening for Dr Feelgood, The BlockHeads, Kirk Fletcher and Bill Kirchen and Darrel Higham, they’re stamping an authority of quality worldwide. Ruzz has been honoured by being officially endorsed by Gretsch Guitars, and that’s what I perceive of him, the kind of obsessive guy who will turn any conversation to his labour of love, but when it’s this proficient, you cannot help but take heed. I’m off to find out what they can do in the studio, but with such a formula I think this live album captures the spirit perfectly.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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REVIEW – Big Dez Blues Band @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 2nd November 2019

Nearly Got My Mojo Working

Andy Fawthrop

Your intrepid reporter had been on the sick/ injured list for most of the past week, and only received his clearance to enter the field of play at the 11th hour after a very late fitness check. Having felt ill, and having suffered the misery of watching England fail to win the RU World Cup, I was feeling pretty low. So what sort of music did I need to fit my mood? Of course there was only one place to head for, and that was Long Street Blues Club.

Not as large an audience as some gigs, but still a very respectable showing. Playing support were acoustic blues guitar duo Mojo Hand, who entertained with a whole string of classic blues covers, including Crossroads, Smokestack Lightnin’, Let’s Work Together, Little Red Rooster, Walkin’ Blues and the eponymous Got My Mojo Working. This was all classic blues stuff from across the spectrum from Chicago right down to the Delta, played straight-up, undiluted and with little fuss and not much chat. Good set from a great pair of musicians.

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The main act were Paris-based Big Dez Blues Band, an extremely tight, competent blues outfit. Of course it was a big notch up on the volume front from the support act, but all the better for that. A great four-piece of drums, bass and twin guitars, this was full-fat, leaded R&B. Both vocals and lead-guitar parts were shared, adding more depth and dimension to the set, which consisted of both originals and covers, again delivered with minimal inter-song chat. The accent was on letting the music do all the talking, and it spoke well. The sound was clean and uncluttered, and the audience certainly warmed to it. The joint was certainly jumping.

Unfortunately, lack of match fitness (and alcohol) on my part led to major fatigue and I didn’t quite make it to the end of the gig, and I had to retire from the field of play. However I certainly felt I’d had my money’s-worth, and wandered off happily to my bed.

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Upcoming gigs at Long Street Blues Club are:

• Friday 8th Nov Ian Siegal Unplugged
• Saturday 30th Nov Gerry Jablonski Band
• Saturday 21st December John Coughlan’s Quo (support from George Wilding)
• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
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The Queen of Alabaster and a Princess

Double-whammy night as I flipped between Alabaster Queen at the Southgate and Lottie J at the Crown, in search of the perfect evening’s entertainment.

Southgate, ah Southgate; hasn’t failed me yet. While the always excellent Long Street Blues Club will understandably ease the quantity of pedestrians hunting live music on a Saturday night in the Vizes, we’re seated seasonally between mid-autumn and the big C, and weather none too clement, it was a quiet start at the Southgate.

Gave me opportunity to become acquainted with an Alabaster Queen from Manchester, prior to her performance. Enthusiastic about her second visit to our gypsy canal favourite watering hole, claiming she thought she was eccentric until she turned up here. I asked her what’s in a tag, and she described her pale complexion attributed to this translucent form of gypsum namesake. The informative explanation which followed delved into marble imitation, statues being immersed in a bath and gradually heated is a process demanding great care; if the temperature is not measured, the stone acquires a dead-white, chalky presence. Yet the patterns created are diverse, relating back to a previous question when I asked what genre we were to expect, and she replied “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.”

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Solo, the unique Alabaster Queen treated us to a series of elated covers, acoustic cabaret style with an air of positivity, confidence and tambourine. Off the starting block with Sympathy for the Devil and marching into Jolene, this queen delivered distinctively and fervently. Unsure if a song she called Jasper was her own writing, but this one wowed with passion. After a trip to bar, I heard a melody of Sweet Dreams and You Spin me Round (like a Record) flowing interesting into Bob Marley’s Pimper’s Paradise, an interesting choice noted when she surprisingly sang the toasted Damien Marley version, and made a stunning job of it.

With an abrasive voice characteristically resolute, Alabaster Queen is not about to whisk through an X-Factor final, yet made great work of Born to be Wild, and appeared to love every minute of her performance. The Floorshow was confident, the songs flourishing and therefore, this Queen deserves her crown.

I confess though, I sneaked out at this point, double-booked and on a mission to see Lottie J at The Crown. I passed a few groups either heading home early, or more than likely, heading in the direction of the Southgate, so I hope the audience picked up in the second half. Conflicting performance here, where at just 15 years old, Lottie’s voice is as smooth and silky as, well, smooth silk. The only similar aspect being her desire and passion. Chosen to take the keyboard out of the equation, Lottie used her laptop to provide the backbeat and concentrated on her vocals.

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I cannot fault her voice; it’s perfected at such a young age it’s the envy of all others. My issue is with the surroundings, convinced the Crown had upped its previous rep as a rowdy cattle market of twenty-somethings, was quashed. I felt like a pensioner on a Club 18-30, my stubble too grey to be trendy here, amidst these trimmed beard perfectionists.

I’m not attempting to gripe grumpy old man style, The Crown is lively as always, we need this in Devizes, every town does. But I couldn’t help ponder if a plain ol’ disco would’ve been more apt, being Lottie sang so beautifully, profligate over a crowd hardly noticing her presence through chatter and noise. Likewise, Lottie needs to be pitched into an establishment where punters are appreciative and listen. There then is my dilemma, Lottie, in my opinion needs a session band who will take heed of this intelligent and imminent talent, who can cater for her sound and style, then she would be off the scale amazing. Yet, youth is on her side, and I wait in anticipation of her progress.

Outside my reservations were confirmed, as a young fellow angered at his unsolicited elimination and friends demanded he be allowed to return, despite the accusation he puked over the seats. There was an amicable conclusion without kerfuffle, and the chap wobbled away. I felt need of a scratch of the foresaid stubble, fine and dandy for the adolescent, unfortunately not my cuppa. If it wasn’t for Lottie, I’d rushed back to the Southgate, even if the pub Terrier attacked my shoelace!

Such a shame, with a tired Lottie J after a flight from her holiday, she performed immaculately, comparable with the Alabaster Queen, who in all honesty while she’s a well above average pub circuit act, Lottie I’m convinced is worthy of stardom, and time will tell, but really, The Crown is not the venue she should play.

For want of a grand Saturday, I received a mish-mash, to be honest. A great live music pub with a fairly great act, and a raucous glitzy bar with an extreme talent. To combine the two elements, one heck of a night would’ve been possible, c’est la vie.


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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From Devizes to Disneyland with MACs!

For want of a feel-good story this stormy weekend, what a marvellous opportunity for the kids at MACS Theatre School, as a group performed a musical melody Halloween show on the main stage at Disneyland Paris this week. “Each and every one of them were absolutely fantastic, and a pleasure to take on the trip,” the Devizes theatre school announced.

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A proud moment for the school, and a memory that’ll last a lifetime for the group. Twelve-year old Evie, who performed, said, “I had the best time with MACs last night, attending has given me the confidence I never knew I had.” Many other parents and children have expressed their delight at the chance. It’s an achievement proving what we’ve said before, “Mac’s Theatre School is refining local drama and putting Devizes on the map!”

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With a high quality of standards, Mac’s aim is to “create and produce theatre that excites, entertains but more importantly inspires. Giving young people a chance to shine, to challenge themselves and exceed expectations,” and I think this news goes to show just that, if you’ll pardon the pun!

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“We’re so incredibly proud of them,” said Emily Dodd, assistant director and Mini Mac coordinator, “the show was a huge success!” Held in anticipation since the wonderful “Our House” performance, I asked if she could give us a hint as to what might be next for MACs, or if it’s top secret?!

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“We’re taking a break from big shows this year so we can spend time with our own little mini Mac! However, we will continue with our full membership groups, which run on a Wednesday and our mini Mac’s sessions on a Monday.” Membership fee is just £15 for weekly workshops. Weekly workshops run as Mini Macs (aged 5-10), First Stages Group (aged 11-13) or the Centre Stage group (aged 14-16.) Places are available, contact: macs_theatre@yahoo.com for more information.

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As for me, I’d risk a roller-coaster ride, but I’m not singing and dancing; no one needs to see that, even Mickey Mouse! I’m just wishing all those involved my very best wishes for the future. Well done to all!


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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Fireworks at the New Inn, Coate has been postponed to Sunday!

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