Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

The last thing Robert Hardie wants is to be portrayed as villainous, or condoning mass trespass, though he accepts some might interpret breaking over the fence at Stonehenge as such. Chatting to this veteran on the phone this morning, he described the exhilaration and sensation of wellbeing, wandering between Wiltshire’s legendary stone pillars, but expressed he doesn’t wish to encourage others to follow his example, only to raise awareness of his crusade.

Frustration with English Heritage was the prime motive for taking the leap, displayed in his video doing the rounds on social media. But one half of Salisbury folk-rock indie duo, Duck n Cuvver has been fundraising for over three years to be able to shoot the final part of a music video inside the stone circle. “Initially,” he said, “English Heritage said it would cost £750, then they suddenly upped it to £4,500.” I asked Rob if they gave an explanation, a breakdown of what the costs involved to them would be. He replied they hadn’t.

My musing wandered over the occasion two years ago when local reggae band, Brother from Another pulled a publicity stunt recording themselves atop Silbury Hill, to wide criticism, but how The Lost Trades recently played around Avebury stone circle without trouble. Rob and Ian cannot call a compromise though, being the subject of the song, Henge of Stone, is as it says on the tin. As he explained to the Salisbury Journal back in 2019, “This video will make history – singing about Stonehenge in Stonehenge.”

Clearly enthusiastic about covering our ancient local landmarks as song themes, Rob told me he’d written about Avebury too, and how he played them to the solstice crowd there. This part of our conversation ended with him reciting a few verses in song, and expressing the feeling of joy as the crowds sang them back to him.

While he didn’t rule out this was a publicity stunt too, we discussed the necessities of the project. Rather than being a colossal movie production, with the atypical entourage, trailers and crew, all that’s needed is his partner in crime, Ian Lawes, and possibly the accompanying musicians, Chris Lawes, Jamez Williams, Louis Sellers and Paul Loveridge, a cameraman and a few instruments. The mechanics of shooting the footage would be simple, it’s unplugged, being there’s no electricity on site, and Rob explained how mats would be provided to protect the grass. Besides, if EH’s concerns were for the welfare of the site they’d simply say no, surely, not put a price on it.

There’s therefore no justice, in my mind, really, on the exceptionally high price tag. Only to assume English Heritage is out to profit. Contemplating on recent outcries concerning activities around Stonehenge; the solstice parking debacle, closing for winter solstice and of course the tunnel, which we mutually dismissed as ludicrous on the grounds excavating there would obviously turn up some ancient findings and archaeological digs, and protection rights would whack the project way over budget, it feels the quango run agency is not the best method to protect our heritage sites, if the conservative ethos is revenue driven rather than insuring it’s splendour is for all to enjoy and savour. As Rob points out in the film, “Stonehenge belongs to fucking us!”

Ah, story checks out; even English Heritage states similar on their website, if not quite so sweary! “The monument remained in private ownership until 1918 when Cecil Chubb, a local man who had purchased Stonehenge from the Atrobus family at an auction three years previously, gave it to the nation. Thereafter, the duty to conserve the monument fell to the state, today a role performed on its behalf by English Heritage.” It’s basically one extortionate babysitter, calling the shots.

I enjoyed chatting with Rob, even if my plan to record the dialogue backfired due to my poor tech skills! I apologise to him for this improv article.

I’m surprised to not have previously heard of Duck n Cuvver, we tend to get vague coverage of the Salisbury area; something I need to work on. We did rap about our mutual friend, the pianist prodigy, young Will Foulstone, among other things.

The duo are sound as a pound, though, real quality folk rock come indie sound, the song is cracking, proper job. Which is why they’ve supported the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and The Feeling, and recently performed at the National Armed Forces Day. Ardent about his music, this veteran explained his service inspired the band name, and continued to express his passion for this particular song, something which has been evolving over five years, and it shows. He described it as a “celebration of life,” dedicated to a friend who passed away, from cancer.

Both members of the duo are good, charitable folk, and if Rob did climb the fence at Stonehenge recently, note he lives within the restricted range of it to constitute it being his daily exercise. From our phone call alone, I could tell they’re not the sort to abuse the trust, if it was given to them, to perform at Stonehenge, that’d be a magical moment, and, well, we could do with a magical moment right now. So, if you can help fund their campaign, you’ll find a link to do so here.

I’ll pop the song which is kicking up all the fuss below, and leave with a thanks for the natter, Rob, and I wish you all the best with the crusade; Stonehenge or bust!

    


Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.


  • Song of the Day 4: Girls Go Ska

    Hi, yeah s’me, keeping up the Song of the Day feature like dedication was as word I know the definition of!

    No excuses not to, I mean I am of the generation when Roy Castle clasped his trumpet weekly, ready for the signing off of “Record Breakers.” No, it’s not a euthanasim, Google it whippersnappers.

    Might also explain my fondness for brass. Brass is class, and a vital element of ska. Yep, four tunes in and I couldn’t resist sharing some ska with you.

    It’s a commonly misguided notion that ska is a retrospective cult here in England. It tends to convey a bygone era of Two-Tone records, boots and braces.

    Yet today, while said stereotype has a grounding, ska is an international phenomenon, particularly in South America. I did write a piece about this region’s love for ska, and how it’s roots out of Jamaica bare a different tale from our own.

    To show you how fresh it can be elsewhere in the world, and it’s not a reminiscence for a
    load of overweight balding pensioners as perceived in the UK, here’s all-female bar one Mexican band, Girls Go Ska, who I’m secretly in love with, (so secret they don’t even know themselves….until they use Google translate!) doing an instrumental jam.

    https://youtu.be/ZJEfM3iuS7Q

    Girls and ska; what’s not to like? Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….


  • Song of the Day 3: Harmony

    Look, right, I’m not at the top yet, but it’s in clear sight. A round number, of the half century kind, awaits me atop the hill, and there’s no stopping the ride to get off.

    I guess reaching these milestone ages causes you to analyse your life somewhat, and if there’s one thing I do know in all my years, it’s that I’ve told some colossal pork pies. Some real stinkers. I don’t know why, other than occupational hazard as a journalist, I’ve no excuses, not one which will wash with you clever lot.

    Whether it be for the prestige, the glory, or, sometimes just for the sheer hell of it, just because the golden opportunity arose and I couldn’t stop myself, they just slipped out.

    I’m not proud, just saying, you know, get it off my chest. Not compulsively, though, I’d go as far to say the majority of what I say is true.

    Why do people say, “I’ll be honest with you…” ? Well duh, I sincerely hope you do anyway, it should go without saying. But the phrase immediately raises the alarm; I’m guessing a whopper is on its way. I never use that phrase on principle. The principle I don’t trust myself to keep to it.

    See, what with the whopper, the real damaging kind of fib. I consider my track record on that quite good, I tend to lie to big myself up, but not to put others down. I tend to lie to make light of a situation, rather than darken the notion. I tend not to lie to anyone I trust not to lie to me, and I’ve seen too many of them backfire anyway, so, I’m done with lies, filled my quota but retain decency in not being overly destructive with them; quantity not quality!

    And anyway, I don’t lie here, cos I trust you all, I really do. This isnt a tabloid, this is me. Clearly you get what you see, which might be a waffling clown but, hey.

    So, Harmony, from Chippenham, on the subject of liars; she’s not singing about me, no sir, not when I say with all the honesty left in me, this young singer-songwriter I’ve discovered via Sheer music, has got something really special. And even if I was lying, which I’m not, I’ve shared the video, to prove it.

    https://youtu.be/jYSorLd5Fao

    And that’s Song of the Day, for the third day. It’s become a popular feature, overnight, honest.

    Should you choose to believe that!

    Have a lovely rest of your day. Very good. Carry on….

  • Ain’t Nobody’s Business but Ruzz Guitar and Pete Gage’s

    I’ve said it before, said lots of what I’m going to say before, in fact, but I reserve the right to say it again. And you can’t blame me, it’s this Groundhog Day thing, this exasperating lockdown. I perpetually revert my mind back to the last night of live music I attended, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue at Devizes Sports Club with Peter Gage, Jon Amor and Innes Sibun. How I suspected walls could come crashing down, but didn’t want accept it, neither at the time acknowledge it would be so soon. Still, optimistically, what a blinding night; least we went out with a bang.

    I mean, I know and I’m eternally grateful to everyone who acted to do what they could immediately after the first lockdown, the afternoon sessions at the Southgate, and our own outing for Devizes;IndieDay, but as good as they were, as Ray Charles said, the night time is the right time. Ode to the gig, the gathering and the celebration, how we miss it so. Are you with me? You are, right?

    Faced with the unwelcome likelihood of the first anniversary of the occasion coming around and still, no live music, I have to ponder how far to the light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. And to rub salt into the wound, Ruzz has released a new track, featuring the very same blues legend Peter Gage! But as far as salt goes, upon hearing this tune I’m like a halophile (a salt-loving organism; look it up, people) living on the back of a saltwater crocodile, basking at the shore of the Dead Sea.

    A cover of Jimmy Witherspoon’s tune Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Ruzz explains, “we’ve taken the B.B. King and Freddie King versions, mashed them together and added an RGBR flavour into the mix! We’ve been working hard on this track since Christmas and we’re all very excited to release it.”

    And so, they should be, it’s sublime, as ever. Habitually, I favour Ruzz and the Blues Revue when they work up a frenzy, but this is smooth, this is blues, the kind of blues you need contemplating the anniversary of the gig ban, and if you attended, it will remind you of it too. If not, it doesn’t matter, it just breezes over you, as all virtuous blues should.

    I mean, right, the guy was from The Sloane Squares, headhunted by Shadows bassist Jet Harris upon them supporting Hendrix, and that’s just the beginning of his extensive profession. Pete’s proficient vocals, gives it that edge of aforementioned BB King influence, the arrangement and tightness of this collaboration are like the chimes of seamless bellringing, here’s the Blues Revue on top form, adding guests of calibre and concluding as perfection; quid well spent.


  • Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

    The last thing Robert Hardie wants is to be portrayed as villainous, or condoning mass trespass, though he accepts some might interpret breaking over the fence at Stonehenge as such. Chatting to this veteran on the phone this morning, he described the exhilaration and sensation of wellbeing, wandering between Wiltshire’s legendary stone pillars, but expressed he doesn’t wish to encourage others to follow his example, only to raise awareness of his crusade.

    Frustration with English Heritage was the prime motive for taking the leap, displayed in his video doing the rounds on social media. But one half of Salisbury folk-rock indie duo, Duck n Cuvver has been fundraising for over three years to be able to shoot the final part of a music video inside the stone circle. “Initially,” he said, “English Heritage said it would cost £750, then they suddenly upped it to £4,500.” I asked Rob if they gave an explanation, a breakdown of what the costs involved to them would be. He replied they hadn’t.

    My musing wandered over the occasion two years ago when local reggae band, Brother from Another pulled a publicity stunt recording themselves atop Silbury Hill, to wide criticism, but how The Lost Trades recently played around Avebury stone circle without trouble. Rob and Ian cannot call a compromise though, being the subject of the song, Henge of Stone, is as it says on the tin. As he explained to the Salisbury Journal back in 2019, “This video will make history – singing about Stonehenge in Stonehenge.”

    Clearly enthusiastic about covering our ancient local landmarks as song themes, Rob told me he’d written about Avebury too, and how he played them to the solstice crowd there. This part of our conversation ended with him reciting a few verses in song, and expressing the feeling of joy as the crowds sang them back to him.

    While he didn’t rule out this was a publicity stunt too, we discussed the necessities of the project. Rather than being a colossal movie production, with the atypical entourage, trailers and crew, all that’s needed is his partner in crime, Ian Lawes, and possibly the accompanying musicians, Chris Lawes, Jamez Williams, Louis Sellers and Paul Loveridge, a cameraman and a few instruments. The mechanics of shooting the footage would be simple, it’s unplugged, being there’s no electricity on site, and Rob explained how mats would be provided to protect the grass. Besides, if EH’s concerns were for the welfare of the site they’d simply say no, surely, not put a price on it.

    There’s therefore no justice, in my mind, really, on the exceptionally high price tag. Only to assume English Heritage is out to profit. Contemplating on recent outcries concerning activities around Stonehenge; the solstice parking debacle, closing for winter solstice and of course the tunnel, which we mutually dismissed as ludicrous on the grounds excavating there would obviously turn up some ancient findings and archaeological digs, and protection rights would whack the project way over budget, it feels the quango run agency is not the best method to protect our heritage sites, if the conservative ethos is revenue driven rather than insuring it’s splendour is for all to enjoy and savour. As Rob points out in the film, “Stonehenge belongs to fucking us!”

    Ah, story checks out; even English Heritage states similar on their website, if not quite so sweary! “The monument remained in private ownership until 1918 when Cecil Chubb, a local man who had purchased Stonehenge from the Atrobus family at an auction three years previously, gave it to the nation. Thereafter, the duty to conserve the monument fell to the state, today a role performed on its behalf by English Heritage.” It’s basically one extortionate babysitter, calling the shots.

    I enjoyed chatting with Rob, even if my plan to record the dialogue backfired due to my poor tech skills! I apologise to him for this improv article.

    I’m surprised to not have previously heard of Duck n Cuvver, we tend to get vague coverage of the Salisbury area; something I need to work on. We did rap about our mutual friend, the pianist prodigy, young Will Foulstone, among other things.

    The duo are sound as a pound, though, real quality folk rock come indie sound, the song is cracking, proper job. Which is why they’ve supported the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs and The Feeling, and recently performed at the National Armed Forces Day. Ardent about his music, this veteran explained his service inspired the band name, and continued to express his passion for this particular song, something which has been evolving over five years, and it shows. He described it as a “celebration of life,” dedicated to a friend who passed away, from cancer.

    Both members of the duo are good, charitable folk, and if Rob did climb the fence at Stonehenge recently, note he lives within the restricted range of it to constitute it being his daily exercise. From our phone call alone, I could tell they’re not the sort to abuse the trust, if it was given to them, to perform at Stonehenge, that’d be a magical moment, and, well, we could do with a magical moment right now. So, if you can help fund their campaign, you’ll find a link to do so here.

    I’ll pop the song which is kicking up all the fuss below, and leave with a thanks for the natter, Rob, and I wish you all the best with the crusade; Stonehenge or bust!

        


  • Song of the Day 2: The Big Ship Alliance and Johnny2Bad, featuring Robbie Levi and Stones

    Newly-formed just a year ago, this Birmingham-based seven piece reggae band, Big Ship Alliance started out as possibly the only tribute act to reggae legend Freddie McGregor, but on track to record their own material they’ve teamed up with the outstanding UB40 tribute act, Johnny2Bad for this gorgeous topical debut single.

    Featuring Robbie Levi and Stones, aside from my love of all things reggae, the song’s positive message of togetherness and unification during this era of the pandemic makes it more than apt for my second “song of the day” post. Though I did say I wasn’t intending to write anything like a review on this feature, just let you enjoy the tunes, and this is kinda heading a little bit “reviewy.” Probably cos it’s such a nice tune.

    I also promised not to waffle; but I’m here now. Something about having your cake and eating it goes in rather appropriately at this point!

    More so than being my song of the day, I believe this should be, as the Big Ship Alliance say themselves, “the anthem for 2021!”

    https://www.facebook.com/Bigshipalliance/videos/406168750643466/

    Determined to make this feature a goer, as of yesterday’s pledge to add a song each day, ingeniously titled “song of the day.” I know, right, it scares me at times, I’ll be honest!

    So, enjoy this fantastic tune, let the good vibes roll and have a great rest of the day. Same time tomorrow then?

    Very good. Carry on….

  • Song of the Day 1: Atari Pilot

    Irregularly I share a music video to our Facebook page with the status “song of the day,” or week, or whenever, as if it’s a daily occurrence. When the reality is it’s a big, fat fib on my part, it’s only when I happen to find such a video and can be arsed to share it. What-cha gonna do, sue me?

    So, just in case your lawyer says you have a case, I thought I’d streamline this sporadic idea for 2021, make it an actual feature on the site rather than a Facebook post, and show off that I know what long words like “sporadic” mean.

    Little more gone into it than this, you should be used to it by now. I’m not going to review them, just embed them here for your own appraisal and entertainment purposes. Potentially, it’ll be a groundbreakingily breif post, a simple but effective phenomenon, and something I can do without missing the Simpsons.

    The challenge is consistency; whether I actually stick to the idea or, like others, it’ll be a flash in the pan. Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful, this could be the thing they’re talking about in decades to come. A holographic Ken Bruce could be asking “what was the very first Devizine Song of the Day” in a Pop Master 200 years from now.

    And you can answer it with who I bestow this honour, Atari Pilot. They’ll be revelling in the triumph of the hour if it wasn’t lockdown, I bet.

    History in the making then, the only issue I foresee is I over-waffle any old crap, which is, incidentally, not what’s happening now and rarely does here; I had to explain myself, didn’t I?

    Okay, I get message; here it is then, enjoy the tune, enjoy the rest of your evening. Good job, carry on.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=T1llsLh3m3I&feature=youtu.be


  • Big Bath Sleep-Out: At Home

    Avoid the irony, sadly this year Bath’s annual big sleep-out event in Alice Park cannot be for obvious reasons. But homelessness during a lockdown is no joke. Julian House and Bath Boules Charitable Trust lay down a more local gauntlet, inviting you to join in with a sleep-out in your garden, on your balcony or your kitchen floor, sticking to your household/social bubble.

    It’s okay, calm down, it’s not until 5th March, when hopefully weather will be more clement, a reality homeless don’t get. So, to stand up against homelessness, challenge yourself to sleep out for just one night at home and help raise vital funds and awareness for men and women forced to do so every night.

    Last year they provided life-changing support to over 1,400 vulnerable individuals who were experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness across Bath, Bristol, and the South West. It’s a grim realisation, that without support like this, the life expectancy of a long-term homeless person is just 45 years. By sleeping out, you can change that.

    On top of everyday challenges, the on-going impact of Coronavirus has had a devastating effect on the men, women, and children in care. Collectively you can help provide the lifesaving services and support they so desperately need right now.

    More details here



  • Very Terry Edwards

    The word “very,” rarely an adjective, as in “it happened in this very house,” or “this is very Terry Edwards,” but commonly worthlessly used as an adverb, as in “it’s very cold today,” or “this is the very best of Terry Edwards.” While the album simplifies it to the ambiguous “Very Terry Edwards,” it’s BandCamp page suggests, “The Very Best of Very Terry Edwards,” which though it’s exactly what it is, it’s also one adverb enough for the most lenient of proof-reader’s red line. Yet, if the usage of very is erm, very worthless, it is the only thing on this album which is.

    The multi-instrumentalist, best known for trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, guitar and keys, marked his sixtieth birthday last September releasing this three-CD best-of box set, and while I should’ve mentioned it last month, between putting batteries in toys and stuffing myself with pigs in blankets things got tardy. Right now, though, I can think of no better outstanding project to kick off our music reviews for 2021. Reason only partly because it ticks all my personal favourite genre boxes, more so because of the range of said genres is far greater than run-of-the-mill best of compilations.

    We need to assess Terry’s biography to understand the reason for this variety. Funky punk and second-gen ska most obvious, as from 1980 he was a founding member of Two-Tone signed band The Higsons, after graduating with a degree in music. But around that time Terry also produced and played on the Yeah Jazz’s debut album, of whom, despite the name, were particularly folk-rock.

    Terry in 1984

    From here the vastness of Terry’s repertoire blossoms, as session musician for a huge range of acts, from Madness to Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and The Jesus and Mary Chain to, particularly notable, The Blockheads. As well as his solo material, with his band The Scapegoats and a stint with dark punk-blues outfit Gallon Drunk, it’s understandable collating this in one reminiscent anthology is a mammoth task and a melting pot. Which is just what you’re getting for your money, a very, as the grammatical disorderly title suggests, worthy melting pot.

    “When the earliest recording here was made the 18-year-old me couldn’t comprehend being 60,” Terry explained, “yet here I am presenting a triple album containing 60 titles recorded between 1979 and 2020, through thick and thin.” Therefore, it must be more tongue-in-cheek than I’d suspect Roger Daltrey’s notion now of My Generation’s lyrics that for the opening track he opted for The Higsons’ “We Will Never Grow Old.”

    “You’d expect an overview of my career to have some odd bedfellows and more than its share of quirks and foibles,” he continued, “but it’s been compiled to flow musically rather than have a chronological narrative.”

    That said, the first four tunes from his original band follow, with all their fervent rawness. Terry covered his tracks though, “I immediately break my own rules by starting with The Higsons’ earliest release and debut single, but redeem myself by following up with the most recent recordings; two ballads recorded with Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Holy Holy) in February 2020. There is more method than madness; groups of songs which follow a theme or genre are found together regardless of when they’re from.” Indeed, we’re then treated to three tunes in a matured, mellowing jazz and blues, the latter of which with the vocally perfected Erika Stucky.

    Then we’re into rock with The Wolfhounds, and a guitar-twanging Christmas blues song with Robyn Hitchcock, plodding jazz with Knife & Fork, post-punk Big Joan, avant-garde jazz with Spleen and rockabilly styled New York New York. While mostly jazz-related, this first disc graduates through genres with finesse.

    Terry is like Georgie Fame with a Mohican, but whatever avenue is explored, you can guarantee quality. The second CD starts with a bang, upbeat mod-jazz with The Scapegoats. There’re more known covers here, sublimely executed Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, a superb solo rendition of The Cure’s Friday I’m in Love, as if Robert Smith wore a Fred Perry, and a hard-rock electronica version of Johnny Kidd’s Shakin all Over with the haunting vocals of Lisa Ronson. Even find an orchestral film score, and a piano solo of the knees-up capital’s favourite, May It’s Because I’m a Londoner.

    Yet if both the quantity and quality on offer here is so vast to make me waffle, it doesn’t waiver for the final disc, rather it’s my favourite. A BBC session outtake of a jazzy Voodoo Chile, with altered title to “Child.” Dunno, can’t be a typo, the dedication to attributing to Hendrix’s masterpiece is no easy feat, lest it be known Terry manages it with awesomeness dexterity, with a saxophone!

    If the last CD continues with on a jazz tip for two tunes, we’re transported to ska via John Holt’s Ali Baba by Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra and other sundry members of Madness, and Totally Wired by Terry’s “Ska All Stars,” and more ska-jazz with Rhoda Dakar. Post-punk follows, featuring The Nightingales with Vic Goddard, Snuff, Glen Matlock and Gallon Drunk. Perhaps my favourite parts being the shouty cover of The Human Leagues’ “Don’t you Want Me Baby,” by Serious Drinking, and the general dilapidation of seriousness with new wave tunes mirroring the unsubtlety of Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

    Here’s a jam-packed box-set brimming with variety which flows suitably and makes a definitive portfolio of a particularly prolific and proficient musician. For many it’ll hold fond memories, for younger, who think Kate Nash created the cockney chat-rap, or jazz wasn’t the same until Jamie Cullum came along, it’s a history lesson they’ll never forget!

    This 60th birthday, 60 track-strong celebration spans over four decades. A triple CD clamshell boxset with 24-page booklet, but more importantly they say, “Very Terry Edwards is a birthday present to himself as much as anything else,” giving it the impression you’re on a personal journey, like a child sitting on their grandpa’s lap while he recites memoirs, blinking exciting ones!

    Buy from Rough Trade: £15.99 or BandCamp: £15 or £8 digital.


  • Wiltshire Council to spend £1.1m on digital devices so struggling families can access remote education

    Wiltshire Council is allocating £1.1m of government COVID-19 funding to buy laptops and digital devices for disadvantaged pupils who currently can’t join classmates learning from home.

    The decision to allocate the funding to buy around 2,500 devices means these children will be able to access their school lessons from home rather than have to attend school to do so.

    Currently pupils who do not have a laptop can attend school alongside children of key workers and vulnerable students. The new approach will help manage school spaces and continue to help prevent COVID-19 transmission.

    Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “It is essential our children and young people can continue to be taught and have an education in these difficult times as well as being able to maintain links with friends and have face to face contact with their teachers. With the news this week that schools will close we are aware there are families and young people out there who are left without the means to access that education and this is not acceptable.

    “By using our government COVID-19 funding in this way we are ensuring families are not disadvantaged and can join their peers working from home. We will be working with our schools to ensure those children who need devices can access them.

    “I know schools have already been receiving many requests for laptops and some are sending children into school as under the new government rules you can attend. By providing additional laptops we will be freeing up those school places for other pupils who need to be in school.

    “Across Wiltshire we have some great charity work happening with many community minded charities offering to recycle second hand laptops so they can be used in schools and I would like to thank them for this extraordinary effort.”


    During the summer term Wiltshire Council distributed 1,232 devices provided by the DfE across 138 schools which were designated specifically for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. Currently secondary schools are accessing further allocated devices directly via the DfE and the council is reviewing opportunities to ensure a further reach so children in need have access to the tools for remote learning including tablets, laptops and wifi and data. The DfE has also announced that all primary schools will be able to order laptops and tablets by 15 January and the DfE will contact all primary schools by that date to invite them to order devices.

    Wiltshire Council will also be working with schools following the government news that schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for disadvantaged children and young people who do not have fixed broadband, if they cannot afford additional data for their devices and are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education.

    Schools are also working with families directly to ensure Free School Meals continues. For those families who are not sure if they are eligible for Free School Meals they can check here.  


  • Wiltshire Council Ask Gecko For Road-Crossing Song.

    Not to make you feel old or anything, but Tufty, the safe road-crossing squirrel turns sixty this year, the Green Cross Code Man is not far behind at 51. Not too long before they’ll need some assistance crossing the road themselves, I don’t doubt!

    Popular as retrospection is, Wiltshire Council have rightfully recognised a CJI Tufty makeover might not be best, and the Green Cross Code man is fighting his own conflicting interests between the Sith and Jedi.

    How to teach kids to cross the road safely, needs a fresh approach….

    They assigned Creative Studios to come up with this little masterpiece of a green cross code safety vid, and I couldn’t think of anyone more apt than the mighty Gecko to produce the song.

    https://www.facebook.com/14643711838/posts/10158563295816839/

    Yep, this works on so many levels. “I loved being a part of this project,” Gecko said, “I love the variety that this music life brings.” Well done Gecko, and a great choice by Wiltshire Council.

Wiltshire Council to spend £1.1m on digital devices so struggling families can access remote education

Wiltshire Council is allocating £1.1m of government COVID-19 funding to buy laptops and digital devices for disadvantaged pupils who currently can’t join classmates learning from home.

The decision to allocate the funding to buy around 2,500 devices means these children will be able to access their school lessons from home rather than have to attend school to do so.

Currently pupils who do not have a laptop can attend school alongside children of key workers and vulnerable students. The new approach will help manage school spaces and continue to help prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills, said: “It is essential our children and young people can continue to be taught and have an education in these difficult times as well as being able to maintain links with friends and have face to face contact with their teachers. With the news this week that schools will close we are aware there are families and young people out there who are left without the means to access that education and this is not acceptable.

“By using our government COVID-19 funding in this way we are ensuring families are not disadvantaged and can join their peers working from home. We will be working with our schools to ensure those children who need devices can access them.

“I know schools have already been receiving many requests for laptops and some are sending children into school as under the new government rules you can attend. By providing additional laptops we will be freeing up those school places for other pupils who need to be in school.

“Across Wiltshire we have some great charity work happening with many community minded charities offering to recycle second hand laptops so they can be used in schools and I would like to thank them for this extraordinary effort.”


During the summer term Wiltshire Council distributed 1,232 devices provided by the DfE across 138 schools which were designated specifically for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people. Currently secondary schools are accessing further allocated devices directly via the DfE and the council is reviewing opportunities to ensure a further reach so children in need have access to the tools for remote learning including tablets, laptops and wifi and data. The DfE has also announced that all primary schools will be able to order laptops and tablets by 15 January and the DfE will contact all primary schools by that date to invite them to order devices.

Wiltshire Council will also be working with schools following the government news that schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for disadvantaged children and young people who do not have fixed broadband, if they cannot afford additional data for their devices and are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education.

Schools are also working with families directly to ensure Free School Meals continues. For those families who are not sure if they are eligible for Free School Meals they can check here.  


Will Lawton’s Rhythm Practice

Local music therapist Will Lawton plans to open a Music Therapy practice in early 2021, based at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham. The service will help develop a positive change in the well-being of individuals of all ages through the creative use of music, facilitated by trained music therapists. Can you help Will reach his target?

In total, £8500 is required in order to equip a room with high quality music instruments and equipment. £6000 of this target has already been pledged by the council and a school, leaving an outstanding balance of £2500. This final balance must be found in order to unlock the rest of the grant funding to bring this project to life.

Donate here, thank you


Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!

The last thing Robert Hardie wants is to be portrayed as villainous, or condoning mass trespass, though he accepts some might interpret breaking over the fence at Stonehenge as such. Chatting to this veteran on the phone this morning, he described the exhilaration and sensation of wellbeing, wandering between Wiltshire’s legendary stone pillars, but expressed … Continue reading “Stonehenge or Bust; Duck n Cuvver Scale the Fence!”

@The Southgate

Massimo’s; Locale Pizza Paradiso

Talking Pizza today, why? Why not?

Who remembers BT’s friends & family scheme in the nineties, reducing call charges for five selected favourite phone numbers? If you didn’t submit your favs, BT would select them on your behalf based on calls to the number you made the most. Mine, living in Swindon at the time, I’ll confess, went: 1. my mum and dad, 2. my best mate, and 3. Domino’s Pizza. Four may’ve been a girlfriend, it’s dubious but not impossible!

Some years later I moved to Marlborough, where given Ask, Pizza Express and so many others operate today, you couldn’t get a pizza for love nor money. Enter the incredible, if slightly hazardous, Fronkie Fritzheimer, a legend in his own time. From his own kitchen and later progressing to working out of the football club, a move only the fire brigade grumbled about, he serviced Marlborough’s pizza lovers with, darn it, some of the most heavenly pizzas to have blessed my lips.

Fronkie on the move in the late 90s.

I posted on a Marlborough Facebook group, to see if bods recall his presence, or if I dreamed it, and much to my delight, while Fronkie moved to pastures new some years ago, his memory is stamped as firmly in Marlborough’s cultural history as the Earl of Cardigan. From an A4 photocopied leaflet we’d regularly phone our order, and some weeks after his arrival, the delivery operative arrived at our door with complimentary desserts. “Between you and the rugby club,” they thanked us without jest, “are our best customers yet!” We were honoured, proud we ate as much pizza as an entire rugby club!

My case study justified; trust, I know a good pizza when I see/smell or taste one, from a distance of anything up to three hundred yards. With Fronkie fertig, me now living in the Vizes, and Domino’s, face it, is an acquired taste, there was a social media much ado about nothing concerning news of Pizza Express closing in town, which left me wondering why. I am sorry to hear the news for the sake of the staff, but with mixed reviews in the comments, some moaning of the loss is bemusing to me, and I’d wager to anyone else who has sampled a Massimo pizza.

Pizza Express closing is not the end of the world, as overpriced as the mighty Dominos anyway, unless with the latter you take out an offer, where you’re bundled with a pot of watery coleslaw or barely-cooked fries which droop like an impotent greasy baboon’s todger! I’ve moved on from Domino’s, as you can see by my unpolished comparison, I’ve matured.

No, no, no; Massimos will cost you no more, but it is a house of quality, and I guarantee you’ll taste the difference, heck, you’ll smell the difference through the box! If it wasn’t such a generous portion and the sort of taste you have to savour, making it filling, I’d probably have eaten the box too.

You Beauty!

Look, see here, this is no advertorial, they’ve no idea I’m writing this, much to their surprise. Buying local and all that aside, Massimo makes one tasty, fresh pizza, with topping to die for and even the crust is moreish. He’s undoubtedly stolen my homegrown crown from Fronkie. And lockdown is not stopping them, takeaway is available. It’s a crying shame there’s a ristorante left unopened until a better day, a day I was waiting for until I wrote a review for them, but sadly seems we’ve lost the immediate opportunity once more.

So, think this not as a review, do I look like, Jay Rayner? Actually, don’t answer that. Just saying, I love a Massimo’s pizza, the family does, I’d wager Devizions-in-know do. Treat yourself, there’s a full menu to takeaway, the lasagne, ah, the lasagne, speaks for itself. You can call them 01380 724007, message them on Facebook, or, there’s a little bell at the door in Swan Yard, just ring it when they’re open, 5-8:30pm. They’re fantastically welcoming and will bring you takeaway Ring Donuts, Nutella Donuts, Cartoccio with sweet Ricotta filled, Nutella Croissants, any two for three quid… whoa, I apologise; getting a tad over-excited. But, right, the guy won the coveted Gold Star for 2020 for his own Napoletano sauce; how much more convincing do you need?!

hot dang!

@ The Southgate

Devizine’s Review of 2020; You Can’t Polish a Turd!

On Social and Political Matters……

For me the year can be summed up by one Tweet from the Eurosceptic MEP and creator of the Brexit Party, Nigel Farage. A knob-jockey inspired into politics when Enoch Powell visited his private school, of which ignored pleas from an English teacher who wrote to the headmaster encouraging him to reconsider Farage’s appointed prefect position, as he displayed clear signs of fascism. The lovable patriot, conspiring, compulsive liar photographed marching with National Front leader Martin Webster in 1979, who strongly denies his fascist ethos despite guest-speaking at a right-wing populist conference in Germany, hosted by its leader, the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler’s fiancé; yeah, him.

He tweeted “Christmas is cancelled. Thank you, China.” It magically contains every element of the utter diabolical, infuriating and catastrophic year we’ve most likely ever seen; blind traditionalist propaganda, undeniable xenophobia, unrefuted misinformation, and oh yes, the subject is covid19 related.

And now the end is near, an isolated New Year’s Eve of a year democracy prevailed against common sense. The bigoted, conceited blue-blooded clown we picked to lead us up our crazy-paved path of economic self-annihilation has presented us with an EU deal so similar to the one some crazy old hag, once prime minster delivered to us two years back it’s uncanny, and highly amusing that Bojo the clown himself mocked and ridiculed it at the time. I’d wager it’s just the beginning.

You can’t write humour this horrifically real, the love child of Stephen King and Spike Milligan couldn’t.

Still, I will attempt to polish the turd and review the year, as it’s somewhat tradition here on Devizine. The mainstay of the piece, to highlight what we’ve done, covered and accomplished with our friendly website of local entertainment and news and events, yet to holistically interrelate current affairs is unavoidable.

We have even separated the monster paragraphs with an easier, monthly photo montage, for the hard of thinking.

January

You get the impression it has been no walk in the park, but minor are my complaints against what others have suffered. Convenient surely is the pandemic in an era brewing with potential mass hysteria, the need to control a population paramount. An orthornavirae strain of a respiratory contamination first reported as infecting chickens in the twenties in North Dakota, a snip at 10,400km away from China.

Decidedly bizarre then, an entire race could be blamed and no egg fried rice bought, as featured in Farage’s audacious Tweet, being it’s relatively simple to generate in a lab, inconclusively originated at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, rather spread from there, and debatably arrived via live bat or pangolin, mostly used in traditional Chinese medicine, a pseudoscience only the narrowminded minority in China trusts.

Ah, inconsistent pseudoscience, embellished, unfalsifiable claims, void of orderly practices when developing hypotheses and notably causing hoodwinked cohorts. Yet if we consider blaming an ethos, rather than a race, perhaps we could look closer to home for evidence of this trend of blind irrationality. Truth in Science, for example, an English bunch of Darwin-reputing deluded evangelicals who this year thought it’d be a grand and worthy idea to disguise their creationist agenda and pitch their preposterous pseudoscientific theory that homosexuality is a disease of the mind which can be cured with electro-shock treatment to alter the mind inline with the body’s gender, rather than change the body to suit the mind’s gender orientation, to schoolchildren!

Yep, these bible-bashing fruit-bats, one lower than flat earth theorists actually wrote to headmasters encouraging their homophobia to be spread to innocent minds, only to be picked up by a local headmaster of the LGBTQ community. Here’s an article on Devizine which never saw the light of day. Said that Truth in Science’s Facebook page is chockful with feedback of praise and appreciation, my comments seemed to instantly disappear, my messages to them unanswered. All I wanted was a fair-sided evaluation for an article, impossible if you zip up.

Justly, no one trusts me to paint an unbiased picture. This isn’t the Beeb, as I said in our 2017 annual review: The chances of impartiality here, equals the chances of Tories sticking to their manifesto. Rattling cages is fun, there’s no apologies I’m afraid, if I rattled yours, it just means you’re either mean or misguided.

Herein lies the issue, news travels so fast, we scroll through social media unable to digest and compose them to a greater picture, let alone muster any trust in what we read. I’m too comfortable to reside against the grain, everyone’s at it. I reserve my right to shamelessly side with the people rather than tax-avoiding multinationals and malevolent political barons; so now you know.

February

If you choose to support these twats that’s your own lookout, least someone should raise the alarm; you’d have thought ignoring World Health Organisation advise and not locking down your country until your mates made a packet on horseracing bets is systematic genocide and the government should be put on trial for this, combined with fraud and failure of duty. If not, ask why we’re the worst hit country in the world with this pandemic. Rather the current trend where the old blame the young, the young blame the old, the whites blame the blacks, the thin blame the fat, when none of us paid much attention to restrictions because they were delivered in a confused, nonsensical manner by those who don’t either, and mores to the pity, believe they’re above the calling of oppressive regulations.

If you choose to support these twats, you’re either a twat too, or trust what you read by those standing to profit from our desperation; ergo, twats. Theres no getting away from the fact you reep what you sow; and the harvest of 2020 was a colossal pile of twat.


Onto Devizine…. kind of.

For me what started as a local-based entertainment zine-like blog, changed into the only media I trust, cos I wrote the bollocks! But worser is the general obliteration of controversy, criticism and debate in other media. An argument lost by a conformer is shadowed behind a meme, or followed up with a witch hunt, a torrent of personal abuse and mockery, usually by inept grammar by a knuckle-dragging keyboard warrior with caps-lock stuck on; buy a fucking copy of the Oxford Guide to English Grammar or we’re all going to hell in a beautiful pale green boat.

We’re dangerously close to treating an Orwellian nightmare as a self-help guide, and despite fascists took a knockdown in the USA and common sense prevailed, the monster responded with a childish tantrum; what does this tell you? The simple fact, far right extremism is misled and selfish delinquency which history proves did no good to anyone, ever. Still the charade marches on, one guy finished a Facebook debate sharing a photo of his Boris “get Brexit done” tea-towel. I pondered when the idiot decided a photo of his tea towel would suffice to satisfy his opinion and convince others, before or after the wave of irony washed over his head in calling them Muppets.

I hate the term, it’s offensive. Offensive to Jim Henson’s creations; try snowflake or gammon, both judgemental sweeping generalisations but personally inoffensive to any individual, aside Peppa Pig. I wager you wander through Kent’s lorry park mocking the drivers and calling them snowflakes rather than tweeting; see how far you get.

So, the initial lockdown in March saw us bonded and dedicated, to the cause. We ice-skated through it, developed best methods to counteract the restrictions and still abide by them; it was kind of nice, peaceful and environmentally less impacting. But cracks in the ice developed under our feet, the idea covid19 was a flash in pan, akin to when Blitz sufferers asserted it’d all be over by Christmas, waned as we came to terms, we were in it for the duration.

Yet comparisons to WWII end there, lounging on the sofa for three months with Netflix and desperate peasants delivering essential foodstuff, like oysters, truffles and foie gras is hardly equivalent to the trench warfare of Normandy. Hypocritical is me, not only avoiding isolation as, like a nurse, my labour was temporarily clapped as key worker in March, I figured my site would only get hits if I wrote something about Covid19, and my ignorance to what the future resulted in clearly displayed in spoofy, ill-informed articles, Corona Virus and Devizine; Anyone got a Loo Roll? on the impending panic-buying inclination, and later, I Will Not Bleat About Coronavirus, Write it Out a Hundred Times…

The only thing I maintained in opinion to the subject, was that it should be light-hearted and amusing; fearing if we lose our sense of humour, all is lost. Am I wrong? Probably, it’s been a very serious year.

It was my first pandemic-related mention, hereafter nearly every article paid reference to it, no matter how disparate; it’s the tragedy which occupied the planet. But let’s go back, to oblivious January, when one could shake hands and knew where the pub was. Melksham got a splashpad, Devizes top councillors bleated it wasn’t fair, and they wanted a splashpad too. They planned ripping out the dilapidated brick shithouses on the Green and replacing it with a glorious splashpad, as if they cared about the youth of the town. I reported the feelings of grandeur, Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal! A project long swept under the carpet, replaced with the delusion we’ll get an affordable railway station. As I said, convenient surely is the pandemic.

So many projects, so many previews of events, binned. Not realising at the time my usual listing, Half Term Worries Over; things to do with little ones during February half-term… would come to an abrupt halt. Many events previewed, the first being the Mayoral Fundraising Events, dates set for the Imberbus, and Chef Peter Vaughan & Indecision’s Alzheimer’s Support Chinese New Year celebration, to name but a few, I’m unaware if they survived or not.

March


On Music……

But it was the cold, early days of winter, when local concerns focused more on the tragic fire at Waiblingen Way. In conjunction with the incredible Liz Denbury, who worked tirelessly organising fundraising and ensuring donations of essentials went to the affected folk, we held a bash in commemoration and aid down that there Cellar Bar; remember?

It was in fact an idea by Daydream Runaways, who blew the low roof off the Cellar Bar at the finale. But variety was the order of the evening, with young pianist prodigy Will Foulstone kicking us off, opera with the amazing Chole Jordan, Irish folk with Mirko and Bran of the Celtic Roots Collective and the acoustic goodness of Ben Borrill. Thanks also has to go to the big man Mike Barham who set up the technical bits before heading off to a paid gig. At the time I vowed this will be the future of our events, smaller but more than the first birthday bash; never saw it coming, insert sad-face emoji.

We managed to host another gig, though, after lockdown when shopping was encouraged by In:Devizes, group Devizes Retailers and Independents, a assemblage of businesses set up to promote reopening of town. We rocked up in Brogans and used their garden to have a summer celebration. Mike set up again, and played this time, alongside the awesome Cath and Gouldy, aka, Sound Affects on their way to the Southgate, and Jamie R Hawkins accompanied Tamsin Quin with a breath-taking set. It was lovely to see friends on the local music scene, but it wasn’t the reopening for live music we anticipated.

Before all this live music was the backbone of Devizine, between Andy and myself we previewed Bradford Roots Music Festival, MantonFest, White Horse Opera’s Spring Concert, Neeld Hall’s Tribute to Eddie Cochran, and the return of Asa Murphy. We reviewed the Long Street Blues Club Weekender, Festival of Winter Ales, Chris O’Leary at Three Crowns, Jon Walsh, Phil Jinder Dewhurst, Mule and George Wilding at The White Bear, Skandal’s at Marlborough’s Lamb, and without forgetting the incredible weekly line-up at the Southgate; Jack Grace Band, Arnie Cottrell Tendency, Skedaddle, Navajo Dogs, Lewis Clark & The Essentials, King Street Turnaround, Celtic Roots Collective, Jamie, Tamsin, Phil, and Vince Bell.

The collection of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper at the Gate was memorable, partly because they’re great, partly because, it was the last time we needed to refer to them as a collection (save for the time when Phil gave us the album, Revelation Games.) Such was the fate of live music for all, it was felt by their newly organised trio, The Lost Trades, whose debut gig came a week prior to lockdown, at the Pump, which our new writer Helen Robertson covered so nicely.

For me, the weekend before the doom and gloom consisted of a check-in at the Cavy, where the Day Breakers played, only to nip across to Devizes Sports Club, where the incredible Ruzz Guitar hosted a monster evening of blues, with his revue, Peter Gage, Innes Sibun and Jon Amor. It was a blowout, despite elbow greetings, I never figured it’d be the last.

It was a knee-jerk reaction which made me set up a virtual festival on the site. It was radical, but depleted due to my inability to keep up with an explosion of streamed events, where performers took to Facebook, YouTube sporadically, and other sites on a national scale, and far superior tech knowhow took over; alas there was Zoom. I was happy with this, and prompted streaming events such as Swindon’s “Static” Shuffle, and when PSG Choirs Showed Their True Lockdown Colours. Folk would message me, ask me how the virtual festival was going to work, and to be honest, I had no idea how to execute the idea, but it was worth a stab.

One thing which did change, musically, was we lowered our borders, being as the internet is outernational and local bands were now being watched by people from four corners of the world, Devizine began reviewing music sourced worldwide. Fair enough, innit?

The bleeding hearts of isolated artists and musicians, no gigs gave them time on their hands to produce some quality music, therefore our focus shifted to reviewing them, although we always did review records. Early local reviews of 2020 came from NerveEndings with the single Muddy Puddles, who later moved onto an album, For The People. Daydream Runaways’ live version of Light the Spark and Talk in Code’s Like That, who fantastically progressed through lockdown to a defining eighties electronica sound with later singles Taste the Sun and Secret.

We notified you of Sam Bishop’s crowdfunding for a quarantine song, One of a Kind, which was released and followed by Fallen Sky. Albums came too, we covered, Billy Green 3’s Still in January, and The Grated Hits of the Real Cheesemakers followed, With the former, later came a nugget of Billy Green’s past, revealing some lost demos of his nineties outfit, Still, evidently what the album was named after.

Whereas the sublime soul of Mayyadda from Minnesota was the first international artist featured this year, and from Shrewsbury, our review of Cosmic Rays’ album Hard to Destroy extended our presence elsewhere in the UK, I sworn to prioritise local music, with single reviews of Phil Cooper’s Without a Sound, TheTruzzy Boys’ debut Summertime, Courage (Leave it Behind), a new single from Talk in Code, and for Daydream Runaways’ single Gravity we gave them an extensive interview. This was followed by Crazy Stupid Love and compiled for an EP, Dreamlands, proving they’re a band continuously improving.

April

Probably the most diverse single around spring though was an epic drum n bass track produced right here in Devizes, featuring the vocals of Pewsey’s Cutsmith. Though while Falling by ReTone took us to new foundations, I ran a piece on the new blues sounds locally, as advised by Sheer Music’s Kieran Moore. Sheer, like all music promoters were, understandably, scrambling around in the dark for the beginnings of lockdown, streaming stuff. It wasn’t long before they became YouTube presenters! The Sheer podcast really is something special, in an era leaving local musicians as dry as Ghandi’s flip-flop, they present a show to make ‘em moist!

Spawned from this new blues article, one name which knocked me for six, prior to their YouTube adventures, was Devizes-own Joe Edwards. I figured now I was reviewing internationally; would it be fair to local musicians to suggest a favourite album of the year? However, Joe’s Keep on Running was always a hot contender from the start, and despite crashing the borders on what we will review, I believe it still is my favourite album of the year.

Other top local albums, many inspired from lockdown came flowing, perhaps the most sublime was Interval by Swindon’s reggae keyboardist virtuoso, Erin Bardwell. The prolific Bardwell later teamed with ex-Hotknive Dave Clifton for a project called Man on the Bridge.

Perhaps the most spacey, Devizes’ Cracked Machine’s third outing, Gates of Keras. Top local singles? Well, George Wilding never let us down with Postcard, from a Motorway, and after lockdown reappeared with his band Wilding, for Falling Dreams and later with a solo single, You Do You. Jon Amor was cooking with Peppercorn, which later led to a great if unexpected album, Remote Control.

There was a momentary lapse of reason, that live streaming was the musical staple diet of the now, when Mr Amor climbed out onto his roof to perform, like an ageless fifth Beatle. Blooming marvellous.

Growing up fast, Swindon’s pop singer Lottie J blasted out a modern pop classic with Cold Water, and no one could ignore Kirsty Clinch’s atmospheric country-pop goodness with Fit the Shoe.

Maybe though it wasn’t the ones recorded before, but our musicians on the live circuit coming out with singles to give them some pocket money, which was the best news. I suggest you take note of Ben Borrill’s Takes A Little Time, for example.

I made new friends through music, reviewing so many singles and EPs; Bath’s Long Coats, and JAY’s Sunset Remedy. Swindon’s composer Richard Wileman, guitarist Ryan Webb, and unforgettable Paul Lappin, who, after a couple of singles would later release the amazing acoustic Britpop album The Boy Who Wanted to Fly. Dirty and Smooth and Atari Pilot too, the latter gave us to cool singles, Right Crew, Wrong Captain, and later, Blank Pages. To Calne for End of Story and Chris Tweedie, and over the downs to Marlborough with Jon Veale’s Flick the Switch. I even discovered Hew Miller, a hidden gem in our own town.

May

But we geographically go so much further these days, even if not physically much more than taking the bins out. Outside our sphere we covered Essex’s Mr B & The Wolf, Limerick’s Emma Langford, London’s Gecko, and from the US, Shuffle & Bang, and Jim White. Johnny Lloyd, Skates & Wagons, My Darling Clementine, Micko and the Mellotronics, Typhoidmary, Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass, Mango Thomas, Beans on Toast, Tankus the Henge; long may the list continue.

Bombino though, the tuareggae artist really impressed me, but I don’t like to pick a favourite, rather to push us onto another angle. I began reviewing stuff sent via my Boot Boy radio show, and covered a ska scene blossoming in South America. But as well as Neville Staple Band’s single Lockdown, The Bighead, the Bionic Rats, and Hugo Lobo teaming up with Lynval Golding and Val Douglas, we found reggae in Switzerland through Fruits Records, the awesome Cosmic Shuffling and progressive 808 Delavega.

So much music, is it going on a bit? Okay I’ll change the record, if you pardon the pun, but not until I’ve mentioned The Instrumental Sounds Of Ruzz Guitar’s Blues Revue, naturally, Sound Affects’ album Ley Lines, Tunnel Rat refurbing their studio, and Bristol’s freshest new hip hop act The Scribes. Ah, pause for breath.

Oh, and outside too, we did get a breather from lockdown and tiers, all Jamies for me, Mr R Hawkins was my first outing at the Gate and followed by Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective. Sad to have missed Two Man Ting and when The Big Yellow Bus Rocked the Gazebo, but hey, I thought we were out of the deep water.

June

Splashed straight back in again; “tiers” this time, sounds nicer than lockdown. Who knows what 2021 will bring, a vaccine, two vaccines, a mesh of both despite being ill-advised by experts? Just jab me, bitch, taxi me to the nearest gig, if venues still exist, by spring and I’ll shut up about it.


On Arts…..

Bugger, I’m going to need Google maps to find my local boozer. But yeah, they, whoever they are, think we’re all about music, but we cover anything arts and entertainment, you know? We previewed Andy Hamilton coming to Swindon’s Wyvern, Josie Long coming to Bath, The Return of the Wharf Theatre, and the county library tours of Truth Sluth: Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age. Surely the best bit was being sent a private viewing of a new movie, Onus, by the Swindon filmmakers who gave us Follow the Crows.

I shared poems by Gail Foster, and reviewed her book Blossom. Desperate for subject matter I rewrote a short story Dizzy Heights. I featured artists Bryony Cox and Alan Watters, both selling their wares for the NHS, Ros Hewitt’s Glass Art open studio, Small Wonders Art Auction in aid of Arts Together and Asa Murphy published a children’s book, The Monkey with no Bum! I dunno, don’t ask.

July


On Food…

Despite my Oliver Twist pleads, we never get enough on the subject of grub. January saw us preview Peter Vaughan’s Chinese New Year dinner party in aid of Alzheimer’s Support and with music from Indecision, we covered DOCA’s Festival of Winter Ales, and looked forward to the Muck & Dunder’s Born 2 Rum festival, which was cancelled.

From here the dining experience reverted to takeaways, and I gave Sujay’s Jerk Pan Kitchen at big shout, and thought it best to wait until things reopened before singing Massimos’ praise, but I guess for now I should mention their awesome takeaway service next.

The Gourmet Brownie Kitchen supplied my welcomed Father’s Day gift, even nipped over to Swindon, in search of their best breakfast at the Butcher’s cafe, and recently I featured vegan blogger, Jill. Still though I need more food articles, as restaurants should take note, they’re extremely popular posts. Sadly, our while self-explanatory article, “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” did quite well, at third most popular, the earlier “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all; giving a sombre redefining of the term, dying to go out.

Back to my point though, food articles do so well, I’m not just after a free lunch, or maybe I am. But here, look, the fourth most popular article this year was our review of New Society, which was actually from 2019. Does lead us on nicely to the touchy subject of stats this year.

August


On Stats, Spoofs and the Future….

As well as an opportunity to review what we’ve done over the past year and to slag off the government, I also see this rather lengthy article which no one reads till the end of, a kind of AGM. It should be no surprise or disappointment, being this is a what’s-on guide, and being nothing was actually on, our stats failed to achieve what we hit in 2019. Though, it is with good news I report we did much better than 2018, and in the last couple of months hits have given me over the stats I predicted. Devizine is still out there, still a thing; just don’t hug it, for fuck’s sake.

I did, sometime ago, have a meeting with the publishers of Life In, RedPin. You may’ve seen Life in Devizes or various other local town names. The idea to put Devizine into print is something I’ve toyed with, but as it stands it seems unlikely. My pitch was terrible, my funds worse. If I did this it would cease to be a hobby and become a fulltime business, I’d need contributors, a sales department, I’d need an expert or ten, skills and a budget for five issues ahead of myself, and I tick none of those boxes. A risk too risky, I guess that’s why they call a risk a risk, watching the brilliant Ocelot reduced to online, publications suffer, the local newspaper house scrambling for news and desperately coming up with national clickbait gobbledygook, I know now is not the time to lick slices of tree with my wares.

So, for the near future I predict trickling along as ever. Other than irrational bursts of enthusiasm that this pandemic is coming to an end, I’ve given in updating our event calendar until such really happens. And it will, every clown has a silver lifeboat, or something like that.

September

Most popular articles then, as I said, desperation to return to normal is not just me, “Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently,” was our highest hitting of all, whereas “We Cannot Let our Young People go Hungry; those locally rallying the call to #endchildfoodpoverty,” came in third. Nestled between two foodie articles our April Fools spoof came second. As much as it nags me, I have to hold up my hands and thank Danny Kruger for being a good sport. He shared our joke, Boris to Replace Danny Kruger as Devizes MP.

We do love a spoof though, and given a lack of events, I had time to rattle some off, A Pictorial Guide to Those Exempt from Wearing a Facemask, Guide to Local Facebook Groups pt1 (never followed up) The Tiers of a Clown, Sign the Seagull Survey, Bob! and Danny featuring again in The Ladies Shout as I go by, oh Danny, Where’s Your Facemask?! all being as popular as my two-part return of the once celebrated No Surprises columns, No Surprises Locked Down in Devizes.

Perhaps not so popular spoofs were The World’s Most Famous Fences! and Worst Pop Crimes of the Mid-Eighties! But what the hell, I enjoyed writing them. 


On Other News and Miscellaneous Articles……

I was right though, articles about lockdown or how we’re coping were gratefully received, and during this time, a needed assurance we weren’t becoming manically depressed or found a new definition of bored. Devizes together in Lockdown, After the Lock Down, Wiltshire is not Due a second Lockdown, the obvious but rather than bleating on the subject, how we celebrated VE Day in Devizes & Rowde, the Devizes Scooter Club auctioning their rally banner for the NHS, Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities, DOCA Announce Next Year’s Carnival & Street Festival Dates, DOCA’s Window Wanderland, and a Drive-In Harvest Festival! to boot. Town Council making Marlborough High Street a safer place, all came alongside great hope things would change, and pestering why not: The State of the Thing: Post Lockdown Devizine and How We Can Help, Open Music Venues, or Do They Hate Art? Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine.

 If Who Remembers our First Birthday Bash? Saw me reminiscing, I went back further when raves begun to hit the news. Covered it with Opinion: The End and Reawakening of Rave, and asked old skool ravers Would you Rave Through Covid? But we also highlighted others not adhering to restrictions With Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports, it was nice to chat with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs.

October

Controversy always attracts a crowd, but couldn’t help myself highlighting misdoings. From internet scams, like The Artist Melinda Copyright Scam, tolocal trouble, Rowde Villagers Rally in Support of Residential Centre Facility, for instance, Sheer Music’s MVT Open Letter to Government, Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction, important stuff like that. We try to help where we can, honest.

Most controversial though, me thinks, was our poor attempt at coverage of the international BLM issue. I’ve been waffling enough already to get into how I feel personally; been writing this “summary” for what feels like eons, time to shut up and advise you read these articles yourself, because no matter how you fair on the argument, xenophobia affects us all, even in the sticks. We therefore had a chat with BLM in the Stix and did a three-part look at the issue, the third part a conclusion and the middle bit, well, that came in light of Urchfont Parish Council turning down a youth art display; what a pompous notion highlighting the issue on a local level.

But campaigns and fundraising came in thick and fast, despite nought cash in anyone’s pockets to follow them up. I understand, but we featured Go Operation Teddy Bear, Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale, Hero Wayne Cherry Back in Action! Lucie’s Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust, Crusader Vouchers, Julia’s House Gameathon, Devizes for Europe launching “Say #YES2ARealDeal” campaign, and of course, our superheroine Carmella’s ongoing campaigns.

November


In conclusion….

It has, in conclusion, been a hectic year, without the need for live music reviews, though some might’ve been nice! Here’s to a better day. We reserve our right to support local arts, music, and business, whatever the weather, and pandemic. We offered you, on top of the aforementioned; Father’s Day; Keeping Ideas Local, Floating Record Shop Moored on Kennet & Avon, Devizes Town Band Comes to You for Remembrance and Zoom Like an Egyptian: Wiltshire Museum Half-Term Activities! to name but a few in the wake of our move to online events, although they’ll never stream as effectively as being pissed in a pub alcove unable to find the loo.

We also did our easy-reading list type features which are the trend; Top Twenty Local Music CDs For Christmas and Fairy-Tale of New Park Street; And Better Local Christmas Songs! I went on my Devizine Christmas Shopping Challenge, and tried to tweak the website to include podcasts to fund our musicians.

Yeah, that one is put on hold, I couldn’t do it as I saw able to, but it needs work and I’ve another plan up my sleeve, just takes a bit of planning is all, which I guess is why they call it a plan in the first fucking place! You did blag a Free Afro-Beat, Cumbia and Funk Mix out of the deal. Maybe I could do more, but upwards and onwards, Devizine is now operating as both international music zine and local affairs. I maybe could separate them, but this means building a new audience and starting over. I like it as it is, and besides, I’m open to feedback, love to hear what you reckon, and will promise to act on suggestions, which is more than I can say for this fucking, cockwomble-led government; just leave it there shall we?!

The only gripe is that I ask that you have to believe in what I’m trying to do and supply me with the news, what you’re doing, creating or getting narked about, else I don’t know about it; hacked off with Face-sodding-Book, see?

Sure, you could put your trust in a real journalist through all their generalizations and unbiased writings, and grammar errors, or you could try here, where we deliver more than just a pint of semi. Look now at the going back to school debate, you know, I know, we all fucking know, senior school kids can stay at home because they can look after themselves while parents go to work, whereas primary kids can’t, so have to go back to school. It has nought to do with the spread of the virus, and everything to do with what’s best financially, and that, my friends, is not only the way this government have applied regulations throughout, but also not the kind of truths you’ll be reading in the newspapers.

All hail Devizine then, please do; I’m trying my fucking best amidst the wankology of Britain’s governing regime. I’m planning to rock on for another year, trapped in Blighty with flag-waving, panic-buying tossers until we’re queuing for bread or waging war on France like the good old days, namely the dark ages, let’s see where it gets us; with or without loo roll.

No, I’m not bitter; just slightly narked at the difficulties made in making people laugh by these idiots, so I find it apt to aim my satirical guns at them.

December

Chris TT Live at Trowbridge Town Hall 2017

Catching up with more stuff on a quiet(ish) Sunday, this got pushed towards the bottom, I’ve no valid excuses. Taking you back to April 2017, Brighton’s misfit leftist comic poet-acoustic performer performed at Trowbridge’s Town Hall for Sheer Music. It would be a gig on his last ever tour. After twenty years Chris announced he was giving up his music career, and finalised it with an autumn farewell concert in London.

The recording was released on Chris’ Bandcamp page at the beginning of the month. It’s a pay-what-you-like and he waivers all fees to the Music Venue Trust.

Since 2014 the registered charity MVT, was setup to protect the UK live music network by focussing its support on grassroots venues, but since lockdown it’s understandably become essential. Grassroots venues play a crucial role, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. We need them back; we need them open. Hearing this album helps you to understand why, makes you remember what you’re missing.

It’s easy to hear the influence of upcoming artists like Gecko, as Chris weaves unrelated subjects like an observational stand-up comedian, and also, with the same comical timing. His guitar picking is quality and together it makes for a highly entertaining show. Stabs at the establishment come thick and fast, songs randomly seriatim through motorways, anti-hunt rants, gorilla gardening, his own self-worth and musical talent, even a jab at Trowbridge’s political demographic in Love me, I’m Liberal. There’s a beautifully played out winter portrayal, Tunguska, and more intelligently drafted thoughts to boot.

This is folk upfront, with woven narrative and amusing rudiments, chronicles the now, and highlights the passion of the simplest gig, man with thoughts and guitar.    

On the night he was supported by Phil Cooper, and Kyle D Evans, the show recorded by Bromham’s Owl’s soundman Gareth Nicholas. Makes me wish I was bobbing about on the scene at the time, but Devizine was a year behind in the making. Still, albums got a picture of Trowbridge on it, any monies you can give helps a charity, but most of all, this is just the enjoyable and proficient performance we’ve come to expect from Sheer.


Human Traffic; Richard Davies & The Dissidents

Gaining rave reviews and a new European audience, particularly in Spain, I confess I’m a little late for the party. How can I excuse myself, turkey-stuffing, abundance of toy packaging, putting batteries in gadgets and other Christmassy eggnog shenanigans? Nevertheless, Bucketfull of Brains Records released this album, Human Traffic by Wiltshire-based Richard Davies & The Dissidents back in June. I’ve only just caught wind of its timeless rock n roll splendour, anthemic and emotive, and I’m letting you guys know, if you didn’t already.

Not to be confused with a movie about welsh clubbers, Human Traffic is pure road-driving rock. Maintaining a regressive, tried-and-tested rock formulae it never strides into experimentation but rides the eternal recipe with bells on. I’m getting UK-Americana crossover, the classic smooth eighties rockers, of Steve Winwood, Springsteen in all his Darkness/Born in the USA glory, Traveling Wilburys and particularly, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

There’s also a subtle hint of English punk, Heartbeat Smile exemplifies this though upbeat and jubilant, one cannot ignore a rawness of the Clash. My valuation overall comes to a head with Way of The Wild, probably the most beguiling, but this ten-track strong album rarely comes up for air, and never diverts off its chosen path. Ergo, if confident, driving, ageless rocking out is what you want, it’s double-strength concentrate.

If cliché abound doesn’t matter, lyrical subjects matches the music, with long road to hearts, wild ways, getting under one’s skin etc. Yet maintaining the fashion is good, and they do it so, so well; it worked for Clapton, et all. This is why I think you, you with your black band t-shirt in the loft and memories of friendship bracelets up the arm, will love this album, perhaps even more than me. Because it flows, doesn’t jolt metal unexpectedly at you, or push an unwanted genre down your throat with that one oddity, tentative track.

There’s deffo something moreish about this, we want guitarist Richard Davies front and centre again, after years as a collaborator, gun for hire and band member, most notably with London bands The Snakes and Tiny Monroe, this is debut as lead vocalist and principal songwriter, but his background paid off. Also, the perfect band-gel of these “dissidents,” the backing of Davies’ friends, drummer Chris Cannon of Mega City Four and The Snakes, and bassist Tim Emery of Case Hardin and Last Great Dreamers, of whom I’ve not met since our schooldays. Fortuitously, it’s nice to be reviewing something inspiring with a local connection, that’s the principal reason for blogging here.

“Recording this album was something that I’d always wanted to do but never really got round to doing until now,” Richard explained. “Some of the songs are about me, some of them are about other people, but they all capture reality as I see it. I wanted to record an album that was about real life and with all the highs and lows that go with it”.

Richard began his career playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90s, recording several singles, an EP and an album for London Records, touring with The Pretenders, Radiohead and Suede and appearing at the Glastonbury, Reading and T in the Park festivals along the way. Following this, Richard recorded three albums with The Snakes: Songs From The Satellites, Sometime Soon and The Last Days of Rock‘n’Roll , as the band became major players on the UK Americana scene, picking up mainstream national airplay from the likes of Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr.