Zoom Like an Egyptian: Wiltshire Museum Half-Term Activities!

Bangles not required, entertain your saucepans over the half-term with some Egyptian themed art and craft activities at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, which is linked to their current Out of Egypt exhibition.

Tuesday 27 October and Wednesday 28 October you could find out about the Ancient Egyptians through their artefacts? Find out about mummification then create a mummy mask, a golden amulet and hieroglyphic bookmark to take home. Finish your session with the chance to see some of the amazing real artefacts from the Out of Egypt Exhibition.

The museum ensures it is Covid-secure, by putting a number of measures in place; details on their website.

And on Thursday 29 October – 2pm, you can zoom like an Egyptian with a digital event for curious kids. The Museum are offering Curious Kids the chance to engage with the museum and get creative as a family, via Zoom!  The session will also be inspired by their “Out of Egypt” Exhibition from Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Ideal for children ages 2 to 5 (including reception aged children) the session will last 30 minutes and will be broken up into short sections, to focus on your interaction, rather than attention to the screen.

Other craft activities you can do yourself with advice via videos created by local artist, Emma Kerr, is to make your own Egyptian mask using household items such as milk-bottles or from natural ingredients. Visit the website for more craft ideas for all the family.

Details and booking from the website. General entry to the Museum:

•             Thursday, Friday and Saturday – 10am to 4pm (closed 1pm to 2pm)

•             OPEN Sunday 25 October and Sunday 1 November – 11am to 3pm.

Pre-book to ensure entry, as they are continuing to limit numbers.

The exhibition, featuring genuine Egyptian artefacts, including scarabs and mummified animals, mummy masks and wrappings, shabti (a figurine found in many ancient Egyptian tombs) figures and jewellery, Out of Egypt closes on November 1st.


The Return of Wilding; Falling Dreams

It doesn’t hang about, it doesn’t drift dreamily as some previous tracks on the Soul Sucker debut EP, unbelievably near-on a couple of years ago, but it is unmistakably Wilding, this beguiling new tune from George Wilding, back with his band after lockdown. As a frustrating era for all creative groups, it feels as if with “Falling Dreams” they concentrated all their het-up energy, impetus and vigour, directed it into a trunk, padlocked it for a few months, then smashed the deadbolt and channelled it direct into an adroit three-and-half minute explosion.

Excellence is a watermark of Bristol’s Wilding, what initially began as a backing band for our homemade favourite lead singer, George Wilding’s prodigious young solo career, I expected no less. Though, while it’s not excessively upbeat it rocks steady, but Falling Down is a grower, appeal increases with every listen. It fits their self-penned label, psychedelic Britpop, but what is more, unlike Hendrix and Joplin it’s not psychedelia lost in time, similarly with Britpop darlings Oasis or Blur, which are somehow suspended in nineties nostalgia, a more apt comparison would be the Doors, a band with jazz and classically trained elements, and wild frontman poet, their sound is timeless.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

If Soul Sucker received regular rotation on BBC Radio 2 from Graham Norton and burgeoning interest from major labels, here is a natural progression and a multi-layered detonation, compacted into one song. Writer and frontman George, multi-instrumentalist Perry Sangha, bassist James Barlow and drummer Dan Roe have shattered expectations and produced something here to refine their style. If this is a glimmer of what is to come, you had better watch out.

Why? Because, as I said to George, there’s so much good music being released during this troubled time for musicians, if they can get some writing and production out to help fill the shortfall, it’s all good. “I suppose that’s been the upside,” he replied, “everybody has so much time on their hands to create.”

The theme of Falling Dreams is ambiguously defined, as any strong songwriter should allow audience interpretation. To me it feels bitterly like a broken romance theme, but George jests, “they’re usually about girls, but ‘Falling Dreams’ is just about being fucking cool,” adding, “it’s about me…” Herein requires some prior knowledge to his character to fully appreciate, as far from egotistical, George’s charisma lies with tongue-in-cheek witticisms shadowing a selfless good egg. But yeah, he is fucking cool too! They all are, this song verifies it.

To see what I mean, hold out for its release this Friday, 23rd October. If you’re used to George providing entertaining covers on our pub circuit and his sublimely succulent solo EP’s of dreamy indie, this will be a wonderful surprise, but as I said, its skill and catchiness is neither unexpected or unmistakable.


Urchfont Parish Council Turn Down Youth Art Display

Further to my article reflecting on black history month, and our chat with BLM in the Stix organiser Gurpreet Sidhu, I said I had a local issue to raise which could be conceived as the perfect example of the message I’m trying to get across regarding rural racism so ingrained we fail to recognise it, or simply don’t care to consider it as such. I was waiting for a response from relevant sources in order to give an impartial valuation. In the meantime, the good ol’ Gazette & Herald beat me to it!

In all fairness they didn’t make a bad job, but it’s the reactionary and presumptuous comments flowing on social media where the story warps out of all proportion and skewers the facts; keyboard warriors tend to do that.

Urchfont Parish Council’s Chairman, Graham Day explains, “at its meeting on 8th July, Urchfont Parish Council discussed a proposal for a possible use of the High Street telephone box which is owned by the Council. A lengthy debate on this matter took place, with substantial public input both from those present at the meeting and others who had submitted comments to our Clerk.”

As with many rural out of service phone boxes, the community has gathered to find alternative usage for it. Many have become community hubs, noticeboards and others rural self-governed lending libraries. Urchfont’s phone-box was adopted by the Parish Council in 2018, “to protect it and to provide an unusual venue to promote village events and,” here’s the biting point taken from the phone box’s own Facebook page, “showcase work by local groups.”

So, members of such a group, Youth Of Urchfont, moved by recent racial injustices, proposed a display presenting art and literature on the theme of racism. Immediately the goalposts are moved, and the ethos of the phone box altered by councillors, stating, “the telephone box should be used only for local community purposes, as such this proposal covering the wider issue of racism should be rejected.”

For the first few minutes of the agenda’s proposal by the teenagers everything seems to be going well. But as the discussion flowed, it appeared an assumption the idea was linked to black lives matter, which rather than a slogan, is perceived by villagers to be an organised political movement.  Intent to maintain the Parish Council is a non-political body, it rejected the proposal five votes against three.

Spirally out of control, social media comments claimed all manner of fabrications, such as the youth wished to paint the phonebox. It hardly constituted any such vandalism, just a display of art and literature on the subject of racism, rather than a paint job, or even a salute to the BLM movement. What is a given thing for the Parish Council, is that the youth are someway promoting BLM, when really, they’re simply reflecting on racism in general; a fair observation? I asked one of the parents, David Kinnaird.

“They had never suggested painting the phonebox!” he stated. “Neither did they ever suggest any support for the BLM movement. When they first messaged the community bell to say they wanted to do something they immediately said BLM might be too political, and so the kids knew that this was off the table.  Sadly, and predictably, most of the opposition stemmed from perception of what the movement represents, and not to what was actually proposed. In fact, they didn’t really know what they wanted to display, no idea at all really, just wanted to do something. It was lockdown, they hadn’t been to school for months and wanted to do something…”

One of the youths, Polly, explained to the Parish Council, that she is really passionate about the proposed display. She questioned the fact that the kiosk had been previously used for political displays, citing the VE day soldier, for example. Wiltshire Council had expressed solidarity with BLM movement, protests had taken place in Wiltshire highlighting human rights, and racial inequality issues. Polly believed that the display will highlight all of these issues, adding it could link with other charities and be a great show for the Village. The Chairman then closed the meeting for public participation.

Councillor Mr Kemp made a statement outlining the ethos of the usage for the phonebox, including “local residents had an opportunity to exhibit artisan skills, workshops or art work,” and “it supported the interests of the community as a whole.” He strongly objected, virtually pitchforking the idea, stating “BLM, a patently political movement, is clearly the catalyst, a movement that is demonstrably contentious and of itself offers little, to enhance the lives of the Urchfont community. Unfortunately, a mood of ‘if you are not with us then you must be against us’ currently prevails and it can be easier to acquiesce in the face of public demand, against the better judgement of the individual or organisation, when that position is both emotive and forcefully declared.”

“It is clear from additional comments that the BLM movement and the (sometimes offensive) rhetoric associated with it resonates,” he continued waffling, “while these may be the legitimate expressions of personal views, the politically divisive nature underlying the issue as a whole is clear and cannot be ignored.” And, democratically, it wasn’t.

Here comes the opinion part, watch out! Ah, you know me well enough by now, not to possibly or in any way suggest this is concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, and allow you to be the judge of if it’s concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism, or not, though it’s certainly possible it could be conceived as concentrated prejudice on two parts, race and agism.

The irony is, rather than allow a display organised by enthusiastic youth of their own village, encourage and support free-thinking from young people in an idyllic but humdrum Wiltshire outpost detained in lockdown, the alternative is nothing, and the phonebox currently and since the time it was suggested back in June exhibits such, absolutely nought, nothing, nada.

Nothing until these last few days, where the annual event “candles around the pond,” was reduced to “candles in the phonebox,” and raised funds for the church. And there was me thinking in Christianity the candle represents the light of God, and their ethics endorsed virtuous behaviour within its moral theology, as is their duty put in Leviticus 19:18 to love thy neighbour as thyself, and extend an unconditional hand of friendship that loves when not loved back, that gives without getting, and ever looks for what is best in others.

And here, their own children were rejected an art display as if they were suggesting a riot. To me, that is a sad reflection on today’s blinkered and hypocritic rural society and the very reason we need to openly discuss an issue most would wish to be eradicated many moons ago.


Rural Racism; Welcome to BLM in the Stix

Could “is Devizes a racist town?” be a clickbait headline?! I’m not out to infuriate. Ah, that’s why I didn’t use it. That and, hope this to be only a part of a wider subject incorporating rural racism in a series of reflections for Black History Month. And here we meet an organiser of a new campaign highlighting a different angle of Black Lives Matter……  

Nicotine stained wallpaper curled off the walls and tacky brass jumbles hadn’t seen a duster for decades. We sauntered to the unattended bar. A balding head popped up from arranging glasses underneath it. The landlord scanned us with a discontented frown, paying particular attention to one of my friends. Long before I’d moved to Devizes, I was with a group who were residents here; it was the first time I’d been in a pub in this town. I’m not going to name the pub; this was many years ago, it’s changed hands and is now converted to a rather splendid bar. The landlord avoided eye contact, and called down to the cellar where it would become obvious his wife was below. “Love, we’ve got a darkie up here needs serving,” he sighed as he walked off.

My jaw hit the floor and I suggested we go elsewhere, but the target shrugged it off as routine; “it’s okay.” Recently, following a Facebook thread debating racism on a local group, one comment offered, “because Devizes is a racist town.” Do I agree? Not really, is the simple answer. Devizes is a wonderful market town of which we should be proud to live in, yet with any affluent area, racism lurks and often can be so ingrained it’s overlooked, accepted as the norm, or taken with a pinch of salt. I see it here, as I see it everywhere.

Image taken from Gazette & Herald article: Black Lives Matter gathering to be held in Devizes

The concern, then, is more generally and nationally; are racist attitudes increasing? “Only if we let it,” Gurpreet Sidhu replied during our online meeting. In August Gurpreet created a campaign group to raise awareness of racism in rural environments in the UK, called BLM in the Stix. Though it has no website yet, it operates over social media and has staged protest from her home in rural Essex. She moved from London for her son to attend the university, and because she wanted to live rurally, “it felt safe,” she explained.

But Gurpreet expressed, “you are three times more likely to be victim of racial abuse in the countryside than in urban areas.” We tend to associate racism as an urban issue, perceptibly being a more multicultural society. Yet, BLM in the Stix states, being active in fighting against racism is even more fundamental when your ethnic population is minimal. You will send a message to non-whites that they are supported and welcomed, and for those who are overtly racist you will be demonstrating that their behaviour is unacceptable; systemic racism.

Gurpreet Sidhu

Gurpreet specified this was the angle of the group, as I predicted the response to anything I write would be preaching to the converted. “It’s often denied, downplayed and dismissed,” she said, what was more important to her was opening up to the concerned and encouraging them to be active. “It’s not about targeting racists,” Gurpreet explained, “more about encouraging people to think differently, and act.”

I gave Gurpreet my above anecdote in the pub, and I said I feared discussing it with people of ethnic minorities. She looked shocked but far from surprised, and asked why I felt like this. That got me, I didn’t have an answer. Perhaps we should feel easier about discussing the subject, in turn the ethos of Black Lives Matter. Gurpreet suggested I should consider addressing the individual dishing out the abuse, “but not in a confrontational way.”

Black lives matter. Yeah, I know, right, “all lives matter” don’t they; well done you. If I had a pound every time… It’s an ingrained xenophobic get-out-clause, a shrewd one, but only one under “I’m not racist, but…” For the amount of times explaining is needed, you’d think the feeblest of minds could grasp, quite simply, no one is suggesting they don’t, but the focus of the objective is black lives matter equally. I beg we get over this stumbling block, BLM is but a slogan, like Keep Britain Tidy, or Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives; they’re direct, often sweeping and not all-encompassing.

Akin to when protests over the George Floyd murder in the US kicked off, the great orange one whacked one out on Twitter, as he tends to mindlessly do, stating antifa was a terrorist organisation and enemy of the state. Ha, there was me thinking the term “antifa” was simply an Americanism shortening for anti-fascist. Seems right-wing thinkers cannot fathom free-willed movements of the masses is possible, and have to therefore assume it’s some malevolent chief organisation, radicalising the left-wing; as if we’re far too stupid to have abstract thought ourselves. Just because you couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery, others have this “thing” called sociability.

Contradicting my rant, though, as well as Gurpreet insisting her group was generally here to raise awareness, she stated they needed good case studies and hoped the campaign would be more organised, as far right groups tend to be. “We bury our heads in the sand at times.”

Alongside a Tweet from a conservative Afro-American writer, suggesting black people didn’t care for white do-gooders campaigning the issue, which was shared wide under the crass banner this guy somehow speaks for an entire ethnic worldwide population, one comment on a local thread which horrified me put that BLM was doing more worse than good, as it was encouraging racism. Gurpreet suggested the aims of BLM in the Stix were twofold, “helping doing anti-racism work,” and, rightfully contradicting the tweet, “asking white people to change and recognise it does affect them.”

“Racism is for every day,” she added. One thing is clear from our meeting, brushing it under the carpet and fearing to discuss it isn’t going to make it go away.  

Now, I’ve used the word “ingrained” a bit here, as our conditioning, particularly in rural environments where the majority are Caucasian, is entrenched historically. I honestly feel, knowing people I consider good people, but a little racist, that some often fail to even register how their thoughts and remarks are considered prejudice. We disguise and excuse them light-heartedly or with humour; that, I feel, is the issue with rural racism, here today.

So, during this black history month, expect this article to be part of a series in which we need to unbiasedly dig a little deeper. Both my reasoning and the fact I contacted Gurpreet was to expose a controversial rejection of a perfectly acceptable proposal to display some BLM related art by a local parish council. I await a response from said council before we can progress with it.  

For now, I asked Gurpreet how interested people can help. She suggested supporting them, in which you can like the BLM in Stix Facebook page as good start, but also getting involved with local BME groups, which lack funds as monies tend to be poured into city organisations.


Worsley Training Brings First Aid Course to Devizes Corn Exchange

The last first aid course I attended was quite some time ago, in plain old Wotton Bassett prior to the added Royal in their name, that’s how long ago it was. But did I learn anything from it, and do I remember any of it? Well, yeah, took some of it in, but, you know, it takes confidence to carry out first aid in an emergency, and refresher courses are essential.

Owner of Upavon’s Worsley Training, Louise Worsley, is a professional teacher with over ten years’ experience in the classroom, and over fifteen years of hands-on First Aid experience. With an instinctive ability to make learning First Aid memorable and enjoyable, she draws from this teaching to bring First Aid to life for participants, providing practical training grounded in realistic examples of how the techniques could be used.

Qualified through and regulated by Remote Emergency Care, Nuco Training and ProTrainings, Louise brings her “Emergency First Aid at Work or Basic Life Support course,” to Devizes Corn Exchange on Tuesday 10th November. 

The course includes basic first aid, including the use of a defibrillator, for personal confidence, or a small business owner who needs the full 1-day accredited certificate to fulfil service to clients.

“I am planning to run the 4-hour emergency course concurrently with the full 6-hour accredited Emergency First Aid at Work,” Louise explained, “as the initial content is the same and then you can choose to stay on to cover the more everyday situations.”

The course will mix theoretical and practical learning and assessment, and the accredited certificate lasts for three years.

The cost per person including a manual and certificate is:

– 4-hour non-accredited basic life support £50

– 4-hour accredited basic life support £55

– 6-hour accredited emergency first aid at work £70

One question I wanted to ask Louise, as it’s bound to be a concern, being a first aid course is very hands on and practical, often involving close contact, how does she get over these obstacles in order to align it to current restrictions.

“Of course!” Louise replied, “I’ve been classroom teaching again since 15th June with these adaptations, when the covid level went from 4 to 3, so we were allowed to teach again, (click for Worsley’s COVID-19 Classroom Control Measures) and everyone has been really happy! Plus, the rule of 6 is excluded for work education and training.”

Louise will use the Ceres Hall, for this course, so at 90sq/m there’s plenty of space to socially distance.

So, is Louise a doctor? “No, I’m a teacher,” she explained, “This is one of the most common questions I get asked, when I say what I do. The assumption that you need to be a medical professional to be a first aid trainer is highly misleading.”

“Primarily because first aiders need to assess everything but diagnose very little. We gather all the information on levels of consciousness, breathing rates, sources of pain etc, and then pass that onto the doctors to establish exactly what is wrong. If immediate treatment is required e.g. for choking or using a defibrillator then we can step forward, but most of the time it is not that obvious.”

“Secondly, a medical degree is very different from a teaching degree. As a trainer you need to know how to present information so that the learners understand and memorise it regardless of the subject. Sadly, there are many first aid trainers out there who lack these vital teaching skills, even though their medical knowledge is way more advanced than what their learners need.”

“So, I am proud to say I am a qualified, experienced teacher, who also has plenty of hands-on first aid experience from over 8 years of leading adventurous expeditions overseas and more recently as a parent.”

Book your place on this first aid course, or for more information, click here.


Best Breakfast in Swindon?

So, on my Jack Jones I’ve time to kill this morning in that great western railway  megatropolis (least it is to us bumpkins, hanging onto a thread of Tory promise a train might one day stop in our backwaters.)

While I’m familiar with an antique Swindon of twenty-five years gone, and pockets of it remain surpringly unchanged, I’m alien to the contemporary choice of cafes and such. Still the objective is stomach-governed; get a decent breakie in me.

Thank heavens for the internet, innit tho? Gone is a time when a stranger would need swan around, hunting for a place to eat. One doesn’t recommend appearing like a tourist in Gorse Hill, I left my green wellies and Barbour jacket back at argh farmhouse. But tis where my intellectually far superior phone instructed me to head towards upon searching “best breakfast in Swindon.”

So, is The Butcher’s Cafe on Cricklade Road in that hill of gorse, the best breakfast in town? How the hell should I know, unless I trek the entire urban landscape stopping at each and every eatery? ….it’s a thought though. Something I’d be quite capable and motivated to attempt…let’s change the subject shall we? What the heck is a “gorse” anyway?

Away with such trivia and progessing to the nitty gritty. No doubt, The Butcher’s Cafe could justifiably call claim to hold the crown for best breakfast in Swindon, but it didn’t boast. It is, in it’s very essence, a no-frills, affordable home-cooked gaff, an ethos which wins my approval. I don’t need my baked beans served in a heart-shaped side-bowl and my cup of rosey on a doily. I need an English breakfast to be substantial, tasty and served with only a smile and ketchup. And that’s how it was.

Ticked nearly all my fussy boxes, yes sirey. As the name suggests it’s situated neighbouring a butchers, ergo sourcing those darn tasty sausages and bacon should come as no surprise, but the remaining ingredients were also cooked to perfection. It was in a word, scrumptious.

Where the egg would’ve fitted, if I’d wanted one, I’ve no idea!

Okay, nit-picking; I favour fresh tomatoes as apposed to tinned, and accept a slice of black pudding is reserved for north of the Watford gap and swanky folk in the south. Other than this, and that my no egg request wasn’t offered an alternative, a personal benchmark of greatness, it was a decent dish of quality and quantity; making the Butcher’s Cafe a very worthy gaff indeed.

It serves home cooked lunches and snacks, and it’s certainly not going to break the bank. Three quid for a smaller breakie, but you know me, large was £6.25 inclusive of what you don’t see in the photo was the perfectly toasted toast which arrived a split second later, and a mug of tea.

All round a nice, simple cafe with great service. Plucked out of the top ratings on TripAdvisor, there’s one who decided an autication over usage of the toilet, when they claimed staff mumbled their breath about customers using “their” facilities, was worthily of losing a whole four stars over. I figured I’d test the water, needed to point Percy at the porcelain anyways. Was courteously guided to the little boy’s room without issue; you can’t believe everything you read; amateurs, probably own a cafe up the road!

For the record, they knew not of my intended appraisal, so to treat me like royalty, but they was aware I was no regular, and still service was spot on. Also, a gorse is a yellow-flowered shrub of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines, native to western Europe and North Africa. See? My smarty-pants phone told me that, I’m not David Bellamy but I know a gorgeous breakfast when I see one!


Will Lawton and the Alchemists’ Live Stream Album Launch

While Andy has fondly mentioned the Malmesbury combo of frontman and pianist Will Lawton and drummer Weasel Howlett a few times in the past here, I’m still yet to witness them live. Such is the restrictions of today, could be a while.

Still, both are the backbone of Will Lawton and the Alchemists, formed in 2015 when Will and Weasel started to jam, record and perform their celebrated debut album, Fossils of the Mind three years later. The sound, the band, and their following, is constantly growing and evolving. Now a four-piece with Buddy Fonzarelli on upright bass, Ami Kaelyn on guitar and vocals, and Harki Popli with tabla, they have a live stream next Sunday 11th October to launch their second album, Abbey House Session, which is available now.

This is a six-track part-studio, part-live recording which was all captured in the library at Abbey House in Malmesbury. They describe their music as “beautiful, musical daydreams, with forays into jazz with drum and bass beats.”

The show promises interviews with the band members, and kicks off at 8pm, filmed live from Pound Arts. Tickets are £5 with ALL money going to Changing Tunes, a Bristol based charity who work in prisons using music and mentoring to help people lead meaningful lives, free from crime.

Ticket link: http://livelounge.tv/show-will-lawton-and-the-alchemists…


Drive-In Harvest Festival!

If the words “Drive In” conjours romantic images of fifties’ American youth, waking up little Suzie before her reputation is shot, we live in a changing era where inventive ideas to celebrate will overcome the restrictions. But here, I’d wager, is one you’ve not heard of before: a drive-in harvest festival!

This Sunday, October 4th the Wellsprings Benefice, a community that worships together across the five churches of Bulkington, Potterne, Poulshot, Seend and Worton & Marston, have a drive-in harvest festival at Five Lanes Farm. Starting at 11am.

The event will also be available on Zoom, if you are unable to attend. What an ingenious idea, and we wish them all the best.

More information here: https://www.wellspringsbenefice.co.uk

DOCA’s Window Wanderland

As part of their new Winter Festival, DOCA are inviting our local community to create something special in their windows to show just what an amazingly creative place Devizes is. Window Wonderland is a Covid-sade way to connect people, transforming streets into magical outdoor galleries.

DOCA invite anyone with a window to create a display which will become part of a programme of events over a weekend which they hope will light up Devizes. Over the weekend you will be able to pick up a map or download online.

Follow the trail of windows into Devizes Town Centre where you’ll find seasonal markets both indoors and out, selling beautiful artisan gifts, delicious food and drink, light installations and walkabout performers, a warm welcome and plenty of smiles.

TAKE PART
To take part and register your own window for this event follow the link to the Windon Wanderland website. Everyone that registers a Window will be added to our event map. You will be reminded of when to display your window and keep your light on!

Take part and register your window: https://www.windowwanderland.com/event/devizes-2020/

WALK THE TRAIL


You will be able to download a map from the DOCA website, the Facebook event, or pick one up from The Shambles over the weekend.

Windows will be displayed between 27th – 29th November from 5:30pm to 9pm.

Window Inspiration


Devizes is putting on a Window Wanderland and you want to take part? Wanderful! Welcome aboard.

Taking part is FREE and everyone is welcome. You can use the windows of your flat, house, business, school, nursery, car, camper van, shop…


It doesn’t even have to windows, you can also use your front door, the front of your house, your front garden…
Visit our website for ideas, FAQs and some top tips:

Devizes Window Wanderland


The Revelation Games of Phil Cooper

Crouching beside me at our IndieDay outing last month, one third of our local folk trio, The Lost Trades, Tamsin Quin explained she’s slowly working toward her second album but a lot of time is spent concentrating on progressing the Lost Trades. I supposed here is an advantage to DIY projects, as if The Lost Trades were signed to contract it’d likely be an order to focus entirely on the group.

In pop we’ve seen the pressure put on bands to collaborate equitably, and the result usually causes a split in the end. Major record companies in tough competition don’t do enough to discourage this. Note drama sells in Simon Cowell’s ‘show-me-how-easy-it-is-to-manufacture-a-pop-star’ dressed-up karaoke television show, and hear the boos as he obstinately and impassively divides a prearranged group. He sells the tears of the rejected and the tension as young friends split. You could blame Yoko Ono, if you must, but bands breaking up is, sadly, no new thing.

Hence the accord and friendship between unsigned bands is a delightful contradiction to the harsh realities of the music industry, and I sense an unequalled unity in The Lost Trades, and deep respect for each other’s solo work. Cue another third, Phil Cooper, the binding, organised element of the Lost Trades, and his new solo album, These Revelation Games due for release by Infinite Hive on 30th October. It’s great, I’d expect no less, and Phil’s fanbase too, but it’s varied content would also serve as a taster for newcomers to his repertoire.

Historically it’s been over a couple of years since he sent me his Thoughts & Observations album to review, which does what it says on the tin, largely acoustic-based annotations and judgements. But I focus on a particular night down the Southgate when Phil was accompanied by his Slight Band. Man, he was on fire, loudly and proudly rocking our legendary live music tavern with unsurpassed esteem and passion.  Make no mistake, These Revelation Games contains many a track comparable with Thoughts & Observations, they’re observational and sometimes quirkily humoured. But this new solo album takes no prisoners, and blasts its doors clean off their hinges from the off.  

Yeah, while so the opening tune, House of Mirrors explodes rock, and dare I say it, has that impact of the sixties Batman theme, it shouts the riff at you, second up Phil returns us to the mellowed aural breeze we’re more accustomed to with his recorded material. So, it’s a mixed bag of astutely written and perfectly executed songs with Phil’s joyful aura and defining style.

Eleven songs heavy, the early tunes creep us slowly back to the up-tempo as it progresses. Without a Sound particularly adroitly manages to raise that notion, and Keep Your Hands on the Wheel is a prime example of how Phil ingeniously twists metaphors of the simplest of everyday things. Leading us onto the quirkiest song, I am a Radio. Akin to Robots on the Lost Trades EP, Phil makes a heartfelt connection to an inanimate object, yet here using sound effects to create the idea his voice is operating on shortwave. It’s by far the most interesting and experimental, also absorbing his electronica work under the title BCC.

For marvellously prolific and diversified is our Phil, performing as solo, as The Slight Band, his electronica side-project, or what it’s now concentrated on, the outstanding folk harmonies of The Lost Trades with Jamie R Hawkins and Tamsin Quin, Phil never slacks off or confines himself to one sound. “I wasn’t planning a new album this year,” Phil expressed, “but then, all plans for 2020 went out the window six months ago. So, I spent my time in lockdown writing and recording a whole load of songs that explored influences I’ve never explored before.” Therefore, as a solo album, bought about by lockdown, don’t expect it to remain in one place.

It rocks without reference to this folk avenue, for sure, but stretches to every corner of rock. There are surprisingly heavy guitar riffs. Fervent ballads like the particularly adroit Into the Void, whisking Lennon-like. And there’s ardent electric blues, Changing Times perhaps best example of the latter. It polishes the experience off with a Clapton-fashioned smooth blues finale called The Horseman Rides Tonight.

With a plethora of new music being produced, lockdown it seems did have one benefit, and These Revelation Games in a varied taster of a concentrated Phil Cooper at his peak. I look forward to the progression of the Lost Trades, but love this aforementioned freedom to produce solo work too. I mentioned my chat with Tamsin to Phil, about the time and effort dedicated to the Lost Trades, but the joy of the flexibility of freely venturing off to work solo, thoroughly supported by the other members of the trio. “You’re far from the band in the Commitments film,” I noted!

“Yeah,” Phil responded, “having a record label release it has helped keep the balance between solo and Lost Trades stuff. The Lost Trades has always been built on mutual respect for each other’s work, so we’ll always support each other.” Which kinda wraps it up aptly, the ethos of the trio is like this album, nice. Nice one Phil, nice one, son!

Details on Phil Cooper and These Revelation Games, here.


Rule of Six and Effects on Local Hunting and Blood Sports

Rapping with Wiltshire Hunt Sabs, about new rules, the possible return of hunting, and their battle against badger culls….

After a rant in the week, concerning Danny Kruger’s either forgetful or mediocre disregard to the facemask rule extended to an all-purpose bleat questioning the true motives of many of these everchanging Covid19 regulations, I bought up this exemption for hunting and shooting wildlife from the rule of six. For seems to me to be symbolic of this notion they’re using Covid19 as an excuse to return us to an era of yore; tally ho! Let’s go butchering innocent wildlife again what what.

Exemption depends solely on Boris’s personal preference, and he loves to shoot a grouse or three.

With the Mendip Hunt Sabs reporting a demonstrator was seriously assaulted just yesterday, when rocks were thrown at vehicles, surely, it’s advisable campaigning against cruel sports is best done by safety in numbers. Ergo, the rule of six makes protesting the hunting either illegal or risky for the individual, so I contacted Wiltshire Hunt Sabs and we had a nice chat. They agreed; “along the lines of exempting hunts from illegally gathering, so they can carry on illegally hunting,” they replied. “So, effectively turning the law banning hunting on its head. Which is what the conservatives have wanted for ages.” Bingo.

It took a few days to touch base with the sabs, as it’s badger culling season, and they were out. They excused my ignorance on the matter, explaining while grouse shooting is the news, it doesn’t happen in Wiltshire. “Grouse shooting normally happens on moors, they shoot red grouse,” they told me, “grouse aren’t reared, they live on moorlands. Loads of pheasant shoots around here, though.  Pheasants are bred and reared for purpose.”

But pheasant doesn’t cause agriculture a problem, I’m going to find an angle on this tricky disco, as they shoot them for food, and I’m far from vegan; love a bacon butty, me! “With pheasants,” they explained, “despite what they claim, huge swathes of them end up in stink pits, they kill far more than they can possibly eat. I’ve seen one with my own eyes.”

Yep, my suspicions check out; bloodthirsty carnage dressed up as an obligatory pageant, the lot of it. Still, I’m in the dark about the Hunt Sabs’ priorities, and how they go about their operations. The concentration of our chat centred on the badger cull, a practise which can be avoided if funds were available for vaccination; like yeah, magic money tree you might cry. The Wildlife Trust reports the tax payer coughed up £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers between 2012 and 2014, equating to £6,785 per badger. By contrast, in the same time period, vaccination would cost just £293 per badger.

It also goes onto say cattle-to-cattle transmission remains the primary cause of outbreaks of bTB in cattle, and culling badgers’ risks making the problem even worse. “The Government has undermined the scientific credibility of its own research,” the Wildlife Trust explain, “by repeatedly changing targets and methods. As a result, no definitive scientific conclusions can be drawn from the pilot culls, as the scientific evidence used to justify them is highly selective.” The badger cull does not have the support of scientists, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) or the public; so how to go about protecting our wildlife?

“The cull is licenced by Natural England,” the Sabs tell me. “The licences last four years, although they are only authorised to shoot between certain dates; usually a 6-8-week period which begins in September. There are groups who protest and groups who take direct action.  Obviously as sabs we take direct action, but will also undertake other forms of protest too.”

And the direct action is to what, get in their way or disrupt the shoot, I asked. “Well usually it involves looking for cages as well,” they enlighten me, “there are people who deal with them.  Shooters can be dealt with by protestors too, simply being present on a footpath in a field they intend shooting in is enough to stop them.”

I plead they excuse my ignorance, not knowing they used traps. It must piss the cullers off, protesters wandering the footpath. I wondered if they ever get violent as we’ve seen the fox hunters do. “Not really,” came the reply, “they are generally better behaved because they have firearms.  Any aggressive behaviour on their part would lose them their licence.” Being the only justifiable reason for killing a badger, I can see, is a trigger-happy obsession akin to a redneck with a Biden supporter on his dude ranch, I can see taking away their toys might be a preventative. Unless of course, you can rationalise otherwise, given the Wildlife Trust’s evidence?

Technically then, with a badger cull here in relative placate Wiltshire, the good news is, at least, they don’t need “safety in numbers” and could abide by the rule of six. “We usually work in twos or threes as we can get more ground covered,” the Sabs say.

How can people help? You could buy Wiltshire Hunt Saboteurs a coffee, see here. But what if you found a cage on a walk? Should you damage it, or take it home to trash? The sabs advise against this. “I personally wouldn’t recommend just asking people to trash cages,” they instruct. “They aren’t easy to trash, and it’s a criminal offence. Better that people contact the page if they find one and take a 10-figure grid reference or what3words.”

Badgers are nocturnal, like me; they’re my work buddies. Traps, I cry, lightweights. If it is a sport, as they claim, it should therefore be a fair challenge and they should drag their malicious and over-privileged arses out of their beds in the wee hours to chase them, rather than have a pop at them during their bedtime. That’s like the ref allowing Arsenal to wait for Tottenham to get back on their coach before aiming for top bins!

Save badger culls though, wildlife protectors still have the legal upper hand, and police will attend and arrest those flouting the law. Wiltshire Police made an arrest during an operation into bird of prey persecution in Beckhampton and Pewsey on Wednesday, for example. PC Marc Jackson of Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team, said, “following an extensive search of both locations, we have recovered the remains of a number of birds of prey, including red kites and buzzards. The recovery of these remains presented a number of complex challenges and we are grateful for the support from other agencies. If anybody has any information that they think could support our investigation, please contact us on 101.”

Inspector Liz Coles, Tactical Lead for Rural Crime in Wiltshire, said: “Today’s warrant shows that we take all aspects of rural crime seriously and we will proactively work with partners to protect wildlife and our rural communities. Last week saw the introduction of the new dedicated rural crime officers to the team, and this is a prime example of how they will help us moving forward. We continue to develop more intelligence-led policing in relation to prevention, detecting criminal activity and proactive operations.”

While it might not look good for Natural England’s preposterous project to reintroduce hen harriers to southern England, the struggle to uphold our preservation and protection for wildlife against a government which appears to warrant a return of fox hunting and blood sports sadly continues. And if other’s concern for animal welfare enrages you enough to throw your toys out of the pram, sadly social distancing measures will follow.


Daydream Runaways and their Crazy Stupid Love

There’s no fooling me, no quixotic baseball-wielding delinquent is going to sway me in giving my honest opinion on Daydream Runaway’s forthcoming single; it’s just a drawing, guys!

It might well be coming a cliché on Devizine, that Daydream Runaways send me over their latest single, tell me they think it’s their best yet, I agree and tell you it’s their best single yet. But I’m at a stalemate, because I’m likely to say once again, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet, for the simple reason, the new single from Daydream Runaways is their best yet!

Ah, sure sign of natural progression from a young band always striving to improve, Crazy Stupid Love is out on Friday 2nd October on streaming platforms and it will be the first single from their upcoming EP. Given this strength of this song, and inclining it’ll have a running narrative, I’m highly anticipating the EP, with bells on. Meanwhile I have to concoct some words on why I think it’s their best single yet, rather than just repeating the same sentence. Well, technically I don’t have to, but I will because I want to.

Image by Van

I wouldn’t have to if you could hear what I’m hearing, that’s the fluky bit about doing this. While it’s not always this seamless; I occasionally receive tunes which make me shudder, though delight when these guys message me as I can guarantee it’ll be a non-shudder experience.

So, if I called their second single Fairy Tale Scene, “catchy melody, pop-tastically, with slight eighties, pre-indie label overtones,” Closing the Line as “a progressive step into local topical subject matter. An emotive and illustrative indie rock track akin to Springsteen’s woes of factories shutting,” and I said Gravity, “pushes firmer towards a heavy rock division,” then Crazy Stupid Love is the counterbalance, calibrating the best elements of their previous singles and weighing them equally. In this feat, it defines a forming style, a signature, I reckon, in which to base future releases.

Image by Van

Inspired by characters in a hit Hollywood film of the same name, which I’ve not seen, the guys claim “the song is set to be the sound of a Post-Lockdown world.” I hope so, but it fondly reminds me of a time of yore, pre-nineties indie and Britpop, back to the days of Simple Minds and U2; no bad thing. For, just like the moment Judd Nelson sticks Molly Ringwald’s earing in his lughole, these bands were beguiling, memorable and emotive. Crazy Stupid Love is like them, infectiously uplifting, and with a coming-of-age narrative, articulating moods of a youthful, verboten romance, it suits.

Surprisingly dicey too, it also creates a mysterious character within the narrative, namely Chad, intended to market the single with a hashtag #whoischad. We can’t see his mug on the cover, but the likelihood it’s Brad’s alter-ego, just because he rhymes with Chad and he’s wearing the same baseball jacket in the accompanying photoshoot is slight. With a penchant for fireworks he carries a baseball bat to a fairground, and anyone who does such is surely asking for trouble. But, I dunno, Brad just doesn’t seem the type!

Image by Van

This self-produced nostalgic nugget has those swirling harmonies, chiming guitars and an infectious chorus hook, to compare it to those eighties greats. But akin to what Talk in Code are putting out, it retains the modernism and freshness, acting as a nod to influences rather than a tribute.

In mentioning this to the Talkers they hadn’t heard of Daydream Runaways, but now I’m pleased to hear they’re supporting Talk in Code for an exclusive gig at Swindon’s Vic in November. Did I connect this, guys? Because if so, it makes me proud, sound wise I believe it’s a perfect match. Though BBC Wiltshire’s Sue Davis also has taken a big shining to the Runaways, asking them back on the 3rd October. Just, you dark horse, you, leave the baseball bat at home, Brad, I mean Chad. In my experience the Beeb pay for your parking if you ask, so no need to get nasty. Tut, always the quiet ones!

Super single, guys and look forward to catching up with you soon.


Atmospheric Country Goodness Fits Kirsty’s Shoes.

Subscribe on YouTube to local independent country, singer-songwriter Kirsty Clinch and you’ll receive a selection of wonderful pop-driven covers with a country feel, lots of chat videos where she explains her thought processes and announces news, provides advise and even beauty tips. Catch Kirsty live and she’s unplugged, expressing the same dedication to her music but as an acoustic performer. Either way, she is a pleasure to hear, a smooth silky voice and accomplished guitarist.

It is also the very reason I’ve been in anticipation of this debut single, to hear which way Kirsty will take it, lean more on her matured live acoustic sets, perhaps, or the pop-inspired subtlety of her videos. I’m pleased to say, Fit the Shoe balances both equally. Though far from bubble-gum, it uses a sublime bassline behind her country guitar-picking to create a wonderful and emotive sound. This is contemporary country, combining pop’s ambient-influence of William Orbit and blending it with the vocal range and narrative of classic Dolly Parton, enough to make Madonna blush.

Yet there’s another side to Kirsty, a fervently astute entrepreneur with clear direction on how to market a vocation through projecting the perfect appeal and disposition. Yet none of these reasons, I suspect are the sole reason why Fit the Shoe, is shooting up the streaming sites after being released only today, rather an amalgamation of them all, but mostly, because it’s gorgeous and immediately lovable.

Our fiery redhead instinctively knows where the goal is, shoots and next thing you know the net is pulsating with the shock. “My main goal is to touch the hearts of many though my art and spread awareness that a positive attitude leads to better paths,” she explains. “I already achieved my first goal by travelling and performing in Nashville at venues such as the BlueBird.” Nashville is something Kirsty regularly brings into conversation, who wouldn’t. But it’s here, in collaboration with Peter Lamb, providing bass and mastering, in the atmospheric splendour of this single that we see a true star shining.  

“As an independent artist,” Kirsty Clinch speaks her motivation, “you must have 100% faith in yourself and your worth, you must work hard to gain all your goals and dreams you desire and I have a lot of energy to still give to the world, so I’m going hard or I’m going home.”

Stick this on your playlist and freeze in awe.

Man on the Bridge: Erin Bardwell teams up with ex-Hotknives Dave Clifton

Local reggae a rarity around these backwaters, but when it does rise you can trust Pop-A-Top Records is a watermark of quality. Since prolific Swindon Skanxter keyboardist, Erin Bardwell’s amazing solo album, Interval, he’s rubbed his unique style into a collaboration with Hotknives co-founder, Dave Clifton on this sublime project called The Man on the Bridge.

A double-A EP was out in April, followed this week by a six-track album A Million Miles. There are chilled echoes of rocksteady and traditional boss reggae blended with slight roots and dressed with a garnish of Bardwell’s inimitable take on the genre. Naturally, there’s a splinter of Two-Tone reggae too, which works on so many levels.

Dave Clifton

The Hotknives are best known for their live albums, but did release one studio album The Way Things Are. Formed in Horsham, back in 1982, they principally play ska. Guitarist Dave Clifton was among the original line-up. He left in 1993, but with a slimmer roster the band still perform today.

Opening tune to A Million Miles, Don’t Blame Me, is immediately likeable rocksteady, and wouldn’t look out of place on a classic Trojan Tighten Up compilation. Looking over the Land plods securely, resonances Erin’s band the Erin Bardwell Collective and is just simply beguiling.

Erin Bardwell

Just Dreaming though dubs, is as at sounds, dreamy, using flute, by another ex-Hotknives, Paul Mumford of Too Many Crooks, it connotes that eastern dub vibe of Augustus Pablo. Yet with Believe we return to chugging boss, with sublime horns, also by Mumford, and Dave’s picking guitar riff. The guest vocal is a refreshing change, provided by Pat Powell of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. Proof, as I’ve said, ska is an international thing, and the Melbourne Ska Orchestra are pushing boundaries on the other side of the world.

Title track, A Million Miles again deviates, fusing a slight English folk influence, it reflects memories and cites Dave and Ansell Collins and the O’Jays in a theme of a lost romance. Never Say Never raps up the journey you don’t want to end, with a plonking fairground twist; as if Madness worked with UB40. With Erin’s dream team, Drummer Pete O’Driscoll, Pete Fitzsimmons on bass, except Looking Over The Land where long term friend from The Skanxters, Vinny Hill features, we’re in capable hands, and this is a memorable collaboration producing a superb and varied mellow reggae vibe. You need this right now!


Crusader Vouchers to the Rescue!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, just shopping I’m afraid, but a marvellous idea to help small businesses locally!

With a striking superhero comic-book themed corporate identity, a small group of marketing agents from Westbury have donned cloaks and set up a voucher system in support of our local high streets.

Claire Rowlands runs Fundraising in the Community, a local company dedicated to supporting businesses in Wiltshire, whilst helping schools, groups, charities and organisations raise funds. They plan to launch Crusader Vouchers as a subsidiary to FITC Media. As it sounds, it’s a voucher-based concept akin to the website Groupon, but for local small businesses, the ones hit hardest by the lockdown.

Fundraising in the Community is a quality, professional service that offers a unique platform with a tailored audience to help drive prospective new business through the doors of local companies; whilst helping schools, charities, clubs and organisations within the community fundraise for their good causes.

Their voucher idea launches this October, and asks you to “put on your mask, grab your vouchers, support local businesses and bag yourself the best deals in town!” They have a website, but the majority of action is via Facebook, so like their page, where you’ll be able to access monthly vouchers for independent shops and small businesses throughout the South West.

These crusaders of independent shopping say, “the offers that we provide are free for everyone to enjoy, no catches, just straight forward vouchers to take advantage of each month for local small businesses and independent businesses. Due to Covid-19 our businesses need us more than ever so we’re appealing to you to put your mask on, grab your vouchers, buy local and bag yourself the best deals in town!”

Since the successful IndieDay in Devizes, I’ve noticed many similar schemes in local towns but here’s something truly original but like any new scheme, it’ll only work if people get behind it. So please do, everyone loves a voucher!


The Ladies Shout as I go by, oh Danny, Where’s Your Facemask?!

On the day the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance predicts 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October in the UK, leading to over 200 deaths per day a month after, still the rules are being flouted, and we shamelessly play the blame game, because we’re encouraged to grass up our friends and neighbours by a government who aren’t playing by the rules themselves.

Two days into the facemask covering law, my eagerness to grab some Derick’s Deals saw me headlong into the Spar shop without a facemask, I confess. We’ve now had two months to get used to it, and for me, like all of us, it’s become routine, a habit. It is also, because not wearing one in indoor public places meets a £100 fine. A fine Danny Kruger needs cough up, if a local university student whose party got uncontrollably out of hand faces a £10,000 fine.  

Oops a daisy, and other timid posh-boy idioms for I’m pretending to care, our local MP was pictured on the train without his mask. For the entire London to Hungerford journey it didn’t cross his mind, bless. Because, as he explained, he forgot, the train carriage was empty. Obviously not empty enough for someone to snap a photo, though, to which his reaction, according to Wiltshire 999’s was, “If the person had reminded me rather than taking a photo and posting it on social media, I would of course have put on my mask then and there. I do apologise for my mistake.”

He said this, in a country with standards and decorum so high most are uncomfortable pointing out minor transgressions, like not wearing a facemask, in case the perpetrator is exempt. They may be suffering a medical condition or severe anxiety, and be subject to enough harassment from so-called do-gooders. Last time I did bag me some Derick’s Deals there was a facemask dissident in the shop, did I growl at them? No, I have basic manners.   

He said this, working for, as I said, a government who encourage us to report such misdoings, precisely what the photographer did. It’s not under the control of the photographer if a social media witch hunt ensues.  

Predictably, Priti Patel said she’d dog in her neighbours, as if living next door to the home secretary wouldn’t be traumatic enough. Boris waffled, as he does, something about only grassing if it’s an “animal house,” party complete with a hot tub. Uncertainly looms if he referred to the National Lampoons movie, or animals really need to be present at the party. If so, this leaves David Cameron’s idea of fun questionable, if he was still around of course.

Oh, but he is, magically popping up like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn this week to tell us all his forbidding austerity cuts prepared the UK for the pandemic, despite we were the single most unprepared nation in the developed world, and are consequently reaping what we sowed. Just what the NHS needed, cuts, keeps the staff on their toes, doesn’t it? The ones still alive that is.

What an absolute crock-of-shit, of which, unfortunately, Danny Kruger’s blatant flouting of the regulations is trivial, but relevant to the undeniable feeling building in this country, that it’s one rule for them and another for us. Given Danny’s last newsletter to his constituents reads, “I detest the rule of six, the compulsory facemasks, the Covid marshals and the snooping on your neighbours (not that we’re doing that in Wiltshire, I’m glad to say,” it doesn’t look as if wearing his mask is top priority for him, which is a shame, I bet he’s got a really fancy one.

Though I suspect the issue will fall into the archives after the social media assault mellows. He’s conservative, so every conservative will defend him, and those not will sneer. We make political point scoring out of a deadly pandemic, then wonder why we’re suffering the worst.     

I’ll confess, I found myself disagreeing with left-wing rags, painting a picture of a stressed and exhausted Prime Minister, forecasting the end of both his teether and reign. Aching to show him in a bad light, selective photography; the guy had more getaways than Judith Chalmers, missing vital Cobra meetings about an impending pandemic. Having financial difficulties, now he is; Earth calling Boris.

Do you ever get the uneasy feeling our Prime Minister is rubbing his hands together behind closed doors, sniggering like an insane Bond villain? Logical steps are indisputable; it’s unavoidable if we ease restrictions, more cases will occur. Yet daily it feels more like an ingenious trap. Conservatives crave traditionalism, whether the public feel rudiments maybe outdated, oppressive and intolerant or not.

A Matrix red pill revelation, are they using the pandemic to maintain control, make their prejudicial vision a reality, Morpheus, and as an excuse when it goes economically tits up on their watch? The tranquillity of the initial lockdown trashed as they encourage us to shop our neighbours, because that’s how their own backstabbing agenda functions. Face facts, it’s up the swanny because day-to-day they move the goalposts and confuse all, abuse their own loopholes and encourage every cluster of the public to blame another while nipping out for a Nandos. Ha, there was me thinking the buck stopped at the top.

Hancock’s Half Hour has never been so dreary, as the health secretary blathers “follow Covid rules or they will get tougher.” Surely a case of do as we say and not as we do?

Clamping down on the reappearance of illegal gatherings; they’ve craved this since illegal gathering begun, yet freedom to jet around the world is fine and dandy. Pubs shut early, like the good ol’ days, because drinking at 10pm rather than 11 makes a massive difference. Places of worship get special attention, unless you’re a pagan. Then consider this exemption for hunting and shooting wildlife from the rule of six regulation, symbolic of this notion they’re using Covid19 as an excuse to return us to an era of yore, tally ho. Exemption depends solely on Boris’s personal preference. 

If you want your hobby or interest exempt from the rule of six, be like Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross and slip Boris £15,000 for a winter break in the Caribbean. Or is it coincidence the guy owns two grouse moor estates? This bothers me, enough to warrant contacting our local hunt sab group. What did they say? That’s for next time, folks, stay tuned; I’ve waffled enough over something trivial; politician is a stressful occupation, I wouldn’t want it. Forgiveness is a virtue; apology accepted, Danny, get your wallet out and let’s move on with the next inconsistent contradiction from our leaders.


Hew Miller; Does Something!

When I started Devizine it was an exploration, knowing next to nought about local performers and artists. Nowadays I consider venturing further afield, figuring I’ve successfully mapped our region of musical talent. But whenever I do, I find an area of unchartered territory, a Devizes resident lurking undetected in a dusty shed. Literally this month, it’s Hew Miller, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mix engineer living among us.

Upon hearing his uplifting and breezy pop-rock latest release, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) I figured, I’m going to hassle this guy for an article and expose any inhibitions he might have about his talent, as it’s common for an artist to shy away from shameless self-promotion. I warned him what we do here, and how scrupulous we are. He replied he’s a reader but “the reason you haven’t heard of me is that I’ve been pretty backwards in coming forwards!”

None of that matters, you see, backwards or forwards is all the same to me because I never know which way I’m going. It’s not so much about allowing me to spread wild gossip about him, rather I haven’t seen Hew listed for a gig locally either. Does he like playing live?

“I haven’t played live for quite a long time. I tend to focus on writing, producing and recording,” he explained.

Hew Miller

Hew has three singles released on Bandcamp, the earliest, Upside Down World (We’re fine in here) was this April. It’s a stomping Peter-Gabriel-fashioned pop-rock observation on the tranquillity of lockdown. And in the middle, it’s not over yet, causally breezes with equal skill, a trumpet and quirky romantic reflexion. That one was released in July, but you’ve only got to listen to the competence in song writing and production to assume Hew’s must have been making music long before that.

“I played in bands when I was younger but then moved down to Devizes for work and never found the time or musicians to start up a band,” he tells. Hew’s been in the Vizes since 2002, moved from Nottingham.

“I’ve been a recording and mix engineer mainly as a hobby for many years; it was an underground thing but I’ve been wanting to get more exposure for my own music and to expand on the producing, mixing and mastering sides.” Hence his nom-de-plume, Hew, “because there are loads Matthew Millers and the name has already been taken on Spotify.”

Ah, story checked out. I found a Hungarian one on Bandcamp, among others, who by his profile pic, bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley.  “Definitely not me!” he expressed, as did the rest of our chat retain a witty and light-hearted angle. Flicking through his Facebook page I paused on an image of an amazingly plush tree-house styled studio, and given he’s called his studio Dusty Shed Studios, I figured this was it. “No,” he owed up, “I wish…. I went there for a weekend! Mine is less grand…. it literally is a shed!”

“It was in the middle of a fields away from everyone. No-one to complain about the volume of the drums,” Hew enlightened, but I changed the subject, fearing it might get like a Monty Python sketch continuing discussing his shed! “Yes,” he agreed, “well when I was young, we lived in a cardboard box…”

On the subject of boxes, Let’s Do Something was recorded at Real World Studio in Box, and his own studio, said Dusty Shed. “I’m open for mixing/mastering and recording projects,” He informed. Hew works a DIY ethos, all instruments and production are his own. I like this, freedom of creativity an all; judging by these singles, he knows his way around those buttons and switches.

“You said you were in some bands back in Nottingham,” I asked, trying to unearth a possible heady past of thrashing metal or punk, “what kind of genres?”

“Yes,” he replied, “I guess it hasn’t changed that much; its indie pop/rock.” No juicy gossip there then, I thought I’d inquire about Hew’s influences. “They range from David Bowie to Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian to The Psychedelic Furs to The BareNakedLadies.” Hew seems at ease with where he is with his music, a quiet hidden gem, and as the tranquillity of lockdown subject of his first single, Upside Down World, might suggest, he’s happy mixing and producing in his dusty shed; it’s a guy thing!

Just as lockdown tore down borders of what we’ll feature here, Hew found it a rather fruitful period, “as everyone is getting into playing music,” and continued to say about some tunes he’s mixed for some American rappers and another international artist, “which I probably wouldn’t have done without lockdown. Hopefully we can now get back to some normality and live music can flourish with more musicians.”

True, for his easy-going amiable sound would be great for a Sunday session at the White Bear, or an afternoon in the Southgate’s garden, but even if we cannot prise Hew from his dusty shed, you should check out his discography. On Bandcamp, here. And his latest, Let’s Do Something (but nothing at all) is released on the streaming services on 25th September.


Blank Pages of an Atari Pilot

This extensive belter of eighties-fashioned high-fidelity pop waits for no man, a sonic blast opens it, and the riff wouldn’t sound alien appearing in a John Hughes coming-of-age eighties movie. Visualise Jud, Molly, Emilio et all, dancing around a school library to this latest track from Swindon’s Atari Pilot.

After our glorious appraisal of their previous single Right Crew, Wrong Captain in July, they reckon I’m going to be fair on them again, but really, there’s nothing to dislike about Blank Pages. A review in which they quoted me suggesting, “this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie.” Here though, save the strong bassline, the space-rock element is lessened and retrospective synth-pop chimes in a racing beat, twisting this into a real grower on the ears.

Press release aptly cites “everything from Springsteen to Daft punk, Kathleen Edwards to Love,” as influences. As if Daft Punk would work with Springsteen, but if they did, I’d imagine something rather like this. And that alone, makes for an interesting sound, again akin to what Talk in Code are putting out locally, perhaps more so for this single. While we could hinge on an inglorious comeback from an eighties pop star and be thoroughly disappointed by their timeworn platitude and fame induced narcissistic attitude, nostalgia has never been so energetic and fresh when it’s channelled as an influence rather than comeback or tacky tribute act.

There’s a backstory about Atari Pilot, I may have mentioned before but worth reminding. After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle for Onze. But getting a second chance at life gave him the inspiration to get back to writing, and Atari Pilot reformed in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. Reforming the band was actually planned from his hospital bed.

With this in mind, Onze describes the thinking behind this great song, “Blank Pages, like the other songs for the struggle, were inspired by being diagnosed with and recovering from cancer. The songs reflect the highs and lows of life and the struggles we are faced with and have to overcome to reach where we want to be.”

There’s a heartening theme of struggle in the face of change, “it’s also about trying to recognise that we can’t escape ourselves, and asks whether we can use our history and baggage to fire a brighter future,” Onze explains.

It’s a DIY production, recorded and mixed in Onze’s home studio by using Logic Pro X, but sounds stunningly professional. Atari Pilot are Onze (vox,) Paj (bass,) Frosty (guitar) and drummer Andy, and we look forward to hearing more from them. I even managed to review this one without mentioning retro-gaming:


The Return of the Wharf Theatre

Word on the towpath is our wonderful theatre, the only theatre in Devizes, The Wharf Theatre is preparing for curtains up in October, starting with an amateur production of My Mother Said I Never Should.

Since being forced to close in March the team have been working tirelessly to keep East Wiltshire’s best loved and only theatre afloat. There was a time, in June, when the future looked rather bleak for the little theatre. After the renovation three years ago, surplus funds were already low, then lockdown happened. The Gazette reported it may have to close due to a £30,000 shortfall in income. Celebrity patron Christopher Biggins praised and promoted a campaign, at the time they hoped to reopen for 2021. So good news is, we’re some months earlier you can enjoy the Wharf productions once again.

While it’s great news for entertainment in town, be aware and be quick to book. Only thirty tickets are available for each performance, in line with current guidelines. They can be purchased by ringing 03336 663 366; from the website Wharftheatre.co.uk or at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

Last years’ Chair, Oli Beech says: “Break out the bottles, the phoenix of theatre does rise from the ashes and soars high above Devizes! Our dear little theatre is back in the black after a close encounter with disaster! The call went out and boy, was it answered. We’ve had donations pouring in, generous members and locals passing the hats around, bake sale proceeds, even an overwhelming donation of £10,000. We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us either financially or with their many words of support and encouragement….”

During their enforced closure the team hosted three costume sales to raise further funds; completely updated their website and launched a YouTube channel to keep people entertained with specially filmed monologues and some short behind the scene films.

The Wharf also welcome a new Artistic Director, Debby Wilkinson. “Restrictions are beginning to lift but with social distancing still very much in place,” Debby said, “anything we do in the theatre itself will be limited. However, we are very proud to launch the first three plays of our Autumn/Winter season.”

Whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place please continue to refer to their website for the latest details. But I’m happy to announce the new performances will be:

My Mother Said I Never Should

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th October 2020 7.30pm each evening

Written by Charlotte Keatley and Directed by Debby Wilkinson       

This rehearsed reading is scheduled to run on October 16th and 17th.   First performed in 1987, this play breaks with convention in that it doesn’t follow a linear timeline.  The text is now studied for both GCSE and A level and tells the stories of four women throughout several periods of their lives. It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters along the themes of independence and secrets. It is a poignant bittersweet story of love, jealousy and the price of freedom through the immense social changes of the 20th century.                   Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd on behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk


 Tickets: £10/£8 concessions.

Adam and the Gurglewink

Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November

7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

Written and Directed by Helen Langford

Three rehearsed readings of an original play by the Wharf’s own Helen Langford.   Adam is planning to run away when he stumbles across The Gurglewink, a childhood toy who has come to life in the attic.  They form a reluctant friendship where reality blurs and magic happen. They meet Rainbowgirl who challenges Adam to a dangerous quest which will depend on his ability to keep going when things are not always what they seem.

Suitable for children 6-12 years and their parents. Tickets:/ £8/£6 concessions


Collected Grimm Tales

Monday 14th to Saturday 19th December       7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee

By: The Brothers Grimm     Directed by: Debby Wilkinson

Familiar and lesser known stories are brought to the stage using a physical and non-natural style of performance.  These stories journey into the warped world of imagination.  We will meet Hansel and Gretel, Ashputtel, Rumpelstiltskin and others, performed by a small adult cast, on a simple set.  The audience will need to use their imagination and fully embrace the living power of theatre. Suitable for children and adults.

Copyright: this amateur production is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals Ltd. On behalf of Samuel French Ltd concordtheatricals.co.uk  Adaptor Carol Ann Duffy Dramatised by Tim Supple and the Young Vic Co.  Tickets: £14/£12 concessions

Can you Help Lucie with her Haircut Fundraiser for the Little Princess Trust?

Most girls want wireless Mpow headphones, an iPhone 11, a Himalayan salt lamp, or something like that for their fifteenth birthday. Maybe Lucie Green of Devizes does too, but in an awesome act of kindness, her focus is on having twenty inches of her hair cut off to donate to the Little Princess Trust.

The Little Princess Trust is an amazing charity which provides real hair wigs for children suffering from hair loss. When a child loses their hair to cancer or another condition, the Little Princess Trust provide a free, real hair wig to help restore their confidence and identity.

They also fund research and say, “we won’t stop until the research that we fund ends childhood cancer forever. Promise.” Though the Trust relies solely on the efforts of enthusiastic community fundraisers, and receive no formal funding.

Can we help her raise money for this worthy cause? Even the smallest donation is greatly appreciated, and all the money will go towards the cost of making a wig, which can be up to £500.

You can donate via Just Giving, Here.

Wishing you the very best of luck, Lucie. Maybe we could get a before and after picture?! For more information on the Little Princess Trust: www.littleprincesses.org.uk

Our IndieDay at Brogans!

Images by Gail Foster

Coming from Essex where shopping is religion, you’d think I’d be impartial to the duty. But no. To be bluntly honest, as I believe I mostly am, I find nothing entertaining or enjoyable in sauntering a continuous stream of mundane chain stores aimlessly, other than to spend money I haven’t got on crap I didn’t want or need in the first place. Blessed we are then, in Devizes, with an array of original, charming and interesting independent shops, which make shopping endurable for whinging cronies like me! An ethos celebrated, kind of, this Saturday by the group Devizes Retailers and Independents who, in order to return commerce to our wonderful and lively town, held an “IndieDay.”

MP Danny Kruger opened the event, I missed that, loads of shops got involved and opened their doors to a festivity-fashioned celebration, missed that too. Donkeys and more, I missed. Far better for me to contribute by loitering outside Brogans café, munching on a bacon roll and taking credit for Mike J Barham’s hard work!

I arrived late, The Devizes Rotary Club arrived long before to lend us a grand gazebo, and Mike too, he set up a PA, he managed the PA, he hosted the event with his charming and entertaining charisma, and everyone came up to me and thanked me; result!

Honestly, as I’ve said, I have to give a massive thanks to everyone involved for making it such a special day, and in this day and age it was indeed even greater. Mike Barham for one, aforementioned contributions, but two, for rocking both the opening and finale with a plethora of his own work, such as the lively Bowser’s Castle, and thoughtful prose through downtempo blues, to the thundering satire of a west-country-styled Top Gun theme, Danger Zone! The guy is a one-man machine, the best of the best, of the best.

So yes, breakfast to a late lunchtime at Brogans got lively, as people filled the plot outside and the carpark, in the sunshine. It was something until late last night I feared would fail, with gapping gaps between the confirmed acts. Sadly, and for various reasons, Archie Combe and Tom Harris had to cancel, and our opening act, Pewsey singer-songwriter, Cutsmith was also unable to attend. The worry took me until 10pm when I unleashed a masterplan; Tamsin Quin cropped up on the book of face, to thank me for reviewing the new Lost Trades single, and so, whammy, I dispatched note of my concern and asked nicely if she would be able to grace us with her presence, and naturally, sing us a song or three.

I highly suspect they’re secretly superheroes, Tamsin, Jamie and Phil, and if not, they certainly saved my skin, more than once before. Tamsin dragged Jamie R Hawkins along, and as their alter-egos with no need for superhero costumes, they did it again. Thank you both so, so much. Tamsin gave it her all, which needs no surprise, her confidence and professionalism doesn’t preside her charming grace and skill to entertain. Jamie accompanied her brilliantly on cajon, claiming to be “getting into it now!” after just two songs in.

Then Cath and Gouldy rocked up on their way to the Southgate, to play as their folk duo Sound Affects, which was, as ever, blindingly awesome. All originals and finishing on Mr Blue Sky and Come on Eileen covers, it was superb. So, a massive thanks to them.

The finale then, was rocked by Mr Michael J Barham, which I’ve said already, but needs another mention. Thanks to everyone who turned up and made it really special day, including our photographers, Ruth, Nick and Gail, writer Andy and all the supporters. Thanks to Brogans for having us, I trust we behaved, least it could’ve been worse, believe me! It’s times like this which make Devizine feel more than me clonking on a keyboard, and rather a thing of community, of spirit and substance. Though now I’m back clonking, vainly bigging up our own gig, which I justify by noting it’s not about me, or my bacon roll, and more about the good folk who regularly contribute to make this website function, the musicians, writers and photographers, and supporters. Here’s to more, I want more!

This is not an act of vanity, but a condition Gail set forth in order for me to get permission to use them! Thanks Gail, it takes a highly skilled photographer to capture me smiling!

Bristol Hip Hop Group, The Scribes Coming to Salisbury

Described by The Evening Herald as, “raw and exciting, honest and sensitive, a soulful brand of rap,” Bristol’s trailblazing hip hop outfit, The Scribes play Salisbury’s The Winchester Gate, on Saturday September the 12th.

The Winchester Gate is a community pub just on the out skirts of Salisbury city centre which heralds live music, particularly supporting reggae and hip-hop culture. The event is free, The Scribe planning to begin at 7pm.

The Scribes are a multi-award-winning hip hop trio, whose unique blend of beatboxing, off-the-cuff freestyling and genre-spanning music has created a critically acclaimed live show quite unlike any other on the scene today, with appeal ranging far beyond traditional hip hop fare.

The Scribes at BeCider Festival

They have consistently proven to be an impressive and engaging live act with 2019 festival appearances at Glastonbury, Wilderness Festival, Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Bearded Theory, to name but a few, and have toured extensively across the UK and onto Europe.

The Scribes are also proud winners of both the Exposure Music Award’s “Best UK Urban Act” and the EatMusic Radio Award’s “Best Live Act”, and have provided original music for BBC and Channel 4 television, as well as being featured regularly on both national and local radio and media including BBC 1Xtra and BBC Radio 1 Introducing.

Hotly tipped as one to watch, The Scribes have shared stages with the likes of Macklemore, Wu Tang Clan, Dizzee Rascal, Kelis, Rag N Bone Man, Example, Lethal Bizzle, The Wailers, Jurassic 5, Sugarhill Gang, KRS One, De La Soul, MF Doom, and Souls Of Mischief, and are steadily establishing a growing following across the continent to add to their already significant fan base at home.

Check out their new EP, The Totem Trilogy Part 1 here.


Two Man Ting Bring Sunshine to the Southgate Today

Winding up their “mini tour,” after last night’s gig at Salisbury’s Winchester Gate, world/reggae duo, Two Man Ting appear at Devizes Southgate for an afternoon session from 4 to 6pm.

Midlands Jon Lewis and Sierra Leonian Jah-Man Aggrey, are a branch of world dance collective Le Cod Afrique, who play a cheerful combination of multicultural roots-pop. A welcome addition to the Southgate’s continuing mission to provide a diverse range of live music to Devizes; and a grand job they’re making of it!

With Aggrey’s bright, chatty vocals and bongos, and Lewis’s acoustic guitar picking, this promises to be something great and wholly different around these waters. They’ve done the festival scene from Womad and Glasto to the Montreux Jazz Festival & Glastonbury, and their acclaimed album “Legacy” has been much featured on BBC Radio 3 & BBC 6 Music.

Should be a good ‘un!

Opinion: House Party Organiser in Devizes Issued with £10,000 Fine

Daniel Jae Webb reports for Wiltshire 999s that the organiser of the house party, in Wick Lane, Devizes on Friday night, has been issued a £10,000 fine by Wiltshire Police, for ignoring a police warning.

Officers were called to the house and requested the party was be shut down in line with COVID-19 regulations, and claims their pleas were ignored. A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police said, (which I’ve had to amend the basic grammar of, like a primary school teacher): “As we continue to navigate through the COVID pandemic, we all have to take personal responsibility for our actions and adhere to the regulations.”

“Despite a warning, the organiser allowed the gathering of 80-100 people to continue, which is in clear breach of the current restrictions. Which states that ‘no gathering of more than 30 people may take place indoors, which would constitute a rave, if it were outdoors; amplified music, at night and due to loudness, duration and time it would likely cause significant distress to locals.”

Partygoers were dispersed and the hefty fine was issued. It’s a substantial amount for anyone to digest, the website stated, “there is no discretion given to set a lower amount.” Job done police, story dusted and archived. In my opinion, though, I’m afraid it feels far from over and arguably raises a number of questions.

I feel impelled ask then, firstly, was it shut down for safety reasons, due to the pandemic, or as the Wiltshire Police spokesman clearly states here, “amplified music at night would likely cause significant distress to locals?”

I cannot help but agree in this era of the pandemic we all must consider the risks and act accordingly, but the environment must be attained for people to want to do this, and take action appropriately, rather than feel they are being forced by law. Yes, the organiser and everyone who attended was putting their own health and the health of others at risk, and were foolish to do so. And when the officers attempted to engage with the group, they should have taken heed. Yet they should have wanted to do this of their own free will.

The harder the law, the more likely the rebellion toward it, though it may be important for the law to be enforced, an unaffordable fine such as this is draconian. It’s likely to have an adverse effect from the youth, who understandably see their lives disrupted in the same manner as everyone else, yet with no clear indication of ideas are being pitched to support them.

We’re casting our children out into the riskiest easing of lockdown ruling since it began, by returning them to school and college, and though you may deem it necessary, can you not also see they must feel like lab rats?

From all ancient philosophies and all of history we see a continuous pattern; people wishing to gather and celebrate is ingrained in our psyche and culture. And let’s face it, the conservative ethos set to stamp out partying long before this pandemic.

The breakup of the trend of the free festival scene in the eighties, only constituted a bigger problem to attempt to outlaw, the raves in the nineties. Retrospective youth cultures we can reflect back on now, and realise and agree the occurrences of these events were not only ground-breaking for artistic progression, and memorable for the attendees, but in reality, harmless fun.

Regulating and eventual normalising of the Criminal Justice Bill, saw something far worse; a political and social rejection of society, and a fight between police and people; a disgruntled conflict.

The psychological effect of lockdown is only just beginning to be felt, as we venture away from it. You feel isolation for the elderly was difficult, how was it for our younger generation who, by the illusion of timespan, six months feels far longer? The need in younger people to party must be recognised, as I’d imagine older generations reflect upon their youth misdoings. Rather we’re stamping our authority around and closing individual cases with a pat on the back and a job well done. We should, as a society in the dawn of change, be considering how we can arrange and organise celebratory events and parties sensibly and safely.

We have managed to adopt and implement new systems for shopping, for eating out, travel, and all other activities older generations wish to engage in, we should now focus on ways to keep the younger satisfied too. I don’t profess to have the answers, but believe by thinking together, and frankly, giving a hoot about our entire population, we can work out methods to accomplish it. Furthermore, if ideas were suggested and implemented so parties could go ahead safely, the need and want to break the law will surely lessen.

Break up the party, yes indeed, as we’re far from out of the water, but chuck people a paddle. They need a release; they need party and celebrate now more than ever in these trying times. If not, issue 10k fines to all who break the regulations; every grandad who forgets and leans over you in a supermarket, every businessman internationally jetting around the world, anyone, I dunno, who felt like driving across the country during lockdown to visit a castle, perhaps?

The Lost Trades on Cloud 9

New song from our local purveyors of the perfect folk vocal harmony trio, The Lost Trades. Out for another Bandcamp Day, today, Friday, where the website drops it’s fees and gives the artists 100% royalties; and darn it, if this isn’t worth a quid when it constitutes a mere quarter-cup of coffee from a posh café these days, I dunno what is.

The origin of the idiom, cloud nine is largely debated. Explanations relating the US Weather Bureau of the 1950s denoting fluffy cumulonimbus type clouds, or the penultimate stage of the progress to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva, are mostly debunked. But who needs a debate when you’re in a definite state of blissful contentment anyway?!

All you need know is this tune will land you on said cloud as if you were the monkey-god Sun Wukong on a mission. We are blessed with all the hallmarks of a Lost Trades signature tune; the calming tingle of xylophone, the gentle sway of acoustic guitar, the heavenly vocal harmonies, and uplifting lyrics to boot.

As Pink Floyd, around the Meddle era, after a bout of heavy space rock, when it suddenly drifts into thoughtful acoustic mega-bliss, this song just drifts akin, without need of heaviness, of Simon & Garfunkel, perhaps, meandering along a river on a gondola, thinking; hey man, let’s, like, sing; and it’s gorgeous, as we may’ve come to expect from this Trowbridge-Devizes trio. I wonder if we’re looking at a track from the highly anticipated album, yet, even if no, it’s the perfect display of progression for the newly-formed trio, who’s exceptional solo careers combine to create just as the title suggests; sitting on cloud nine.

With Tamsin advancing with her album, and Phil some way in front, teasing us with a cover design for his, titled Revelation, it’s clear the solo side projects will continue, but as a trio they bounce perfectly off each other, though it’s hardly a shove, more mooch.  Download it here.


Devizine’s IndieDay Outing!

Well blow me down, cover me in peri-peri sauce and call me Natisha if we’ve had a Devizine event recently. Understandable all things considered. Annoying though, being I passed on the idea of holding a second birthday bash last autumn thinking we’d host or co-host something better in the summer.

Crystal ball smashed, see? Face bothered? Yeah, a bit, y’ know. Hits to the website has taken a blow, yet that informs me just how many people were using it as a what’s on guide in times prior to lockdown. And anyhoo, for me it’s a hobby, like trainspotting, just without the trains….and spots. I still don an anorak for formal appearances! For businesses and performers alike though, it’s been a rough ride.

What was waffling about before a class 55 diesel locomotive chugged past me? Oh yeah, events. Well, you may/may not be aware town centre will be alive on Saturday, 5th September, when the Devizes Retailers and Independents group hold their Indie Day, celebrating our array of independent shops and cafes. There’s fun to be had, shopping and eating and stuff, with lots of prizes to be won, etc. Original idea was to have buskers around and about, but I believe that’s not so easy to do with current restrictions.

So, we plan to be in presence, centred in the rear garden of Brogans in the Brittox, purveyors of a fine breakfast, nice tea or coffee and scrumptious lunches and cakes. In which we will have some live acoustic music running throughout the day from, I dunno, 10ish till 3ish; that sound good?

Check dis out; Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake @ Brogans, say no more!

Rather hastily put together at short notice, due to getting approval on our proposal to observe social distancing, so if you come along, it’s essential you abide by them. We will track and trace, advise you to wear a facemask if wandering outside of your “bubble,” and Brogans has measures already in place too.

I think it’s important, the day as a whole, being local business have been hit hard by the lockdown. Yet equally is our side-stall, gigs were the bread and butter for musicians, sadly missed by the punter, desperately reducing performer’s revenue. That said, the budget I’m working on is zero and I’m asking the acts to come for the love of it. I sincerely hope if you come along, you can show your appreciation when I badger you with a bucket, thank you.

I also encourage them to bring their wares, CDs and any merchandise they have for sale on the table; and this goes for anyone passing by also, who may have a creation for sale. Make sure you drop past by 3pm to pick up any earning. Any earnings are 100% yours, I might get my arm twisted if your offer me a bacon butty, other than that I’m asking for nothing!

Said tip bucket will be shared between all participating performers at the end. Shutdown is around 3pm, giving us time to finish up and head to the Southgate where the amazing Absolute Beginners will play from 4pm, and I’m getting a round in for all the performers. That’s the plan anyway, subject to change as ever. In fact, I’m delighted to say Cath and Gouldy of Absolute Beginners are pencilled in to drop by around 1pm, before the gig at the Gate, so you can see for yourself how damn good they are.

Everything is in pencil at the moment, just wanted you to give you plenty of notice before you start planning a shopping trip to the Greenbridge retail park, or anything wildly hedonistic like that. Colour pencil though, rainbow; on the cards we have the one-man army, Mr Mike J Barham, who’s kindly to offered to setup a small PA while I rub my stubble, and pretend I know the technicalities he’s referring to.

Also, hopefully dropping by will be our brilliant Tom Harris of the Lockdown Lizards, Pewsey’s finest Cutsmith, and London-based Archie Combe, a classically trained jazz pianist, composer and musical director. I’ve not given them timeslots as of yet, but we’ll play it by ear, which will be a beautiful thing given the wealth of talent. There might be room for one more, if you’re up for it, let me know, or just drop by with a guitar on the day and I’ll try fit you in; can’t be any vaguer than that! But vague is my middle name (actually, it’s Lee, but c’est la vie, Lee.)

So yes, it only leaves you to browse past and enjoy the day. Danny Kruger is coming, and if he can make it so can you; don’t believe the hype! Let us know you’re coming on the book of Face.


Adverts & Stuff!

Jon Veale Flicks the Switch

How long does it take to take to put together a single, and how much longer during the lockdown?

I dunno; don’t ask me, I just write about this stuff, and don’t make a great job of that! I suppose you’ve got pull in all the elements, y’ know, paste together drums and vocals and stuff like that, and y’ know; okay, I’ve no idea what I’m talking about. But they do down at Potterne’s Badger Set.

Marlborough guitar tutor, singer-songwriter and bassist of local covers band Humdinger, Jon Veale’s single, “Flick the Switch,” is flicked on tonight. As the name suggests it immediately hits you square in the chops, despite the drums were recorded prior to lockdown, by legend Woody from Bastille, and Jon waited tolerantly for lockdown to end before getting Paul Stagg into Martin Spencer’s studio to record the vocals.

Jon Veale

Patience paid off, with a speedy vocal harmony intro, this song packs a steady rock punch, yet none too metal. It appeals wide, as a driving, rolling-stone-themed belter, and Paul’s vocals are stimulating, reminding me of a grinding Jamie R Hawkins. Yet, for what it’s worth, it’s the composition which makes this a winner; a couple of listens is all it takes to be singing the chorus, allowing the drums and guitar combo to wash over you like a warm wave crashing on a tropical beach, or, something like that, (apologies, I need a holiday.)

As well as this supportive team, the distribution through Emu Records, Jon also thanks Christine Hurkett who has produced “an insane” lyric video and cover for the song. “In case you’re wondering what did I do on this song,” he jokes, “I wrote the music, the lyrics and played all the guitars!”

I’m intrigued to hear more now, for if this was a track on an album it’d be a title track, unless Jon has something else up his sleeve, there’s already a previous tune featuring the vocals of our Sam Bishop on the iTunes link, so yeah, I dunno, don’t ask me, I just write this stuff!

Spotify Link

iTunes Link


Adverts and Stuff!

Bill Green’s Still Lost Demos

Spent a recent evening flicking through old zines I contributed cartoons to, relishing in my own nostalgia. Not egotistically admiring the artwork, or even laughing, rather cringe at most of it. More so because every publication has a backstory; where I was, what the hell I was up to, and thinking, if at all, at the time. It’s like Gran’s photo album, to me. But I guess reminiscing is symbolic of this pandemic year, nought else happening.

With that in mind, Bill Green of local self-titled Britpop trio Billy Green 3 has a great story to tell, ending with a retrospective release on the streaming platforms. He met Simon Hunt at a party, they liked each other’s jumpers, shared a love of music from the Beatles to the Stone Roses, and hung out on the guest list with Chester’s indie rock band, Mansun on their ’96 tour.

Billy’s mate John ‘Jimmy’ Burns “simply wanted to be in a band and dressed well.”  Never having played their instruments before, let alone in a band, one night they decided to form one with another of Billy’s friends, Mark Molloy. “We” Bill explained, “jumped about to ‘The Jam’ and had often spent nights drumming along on bars and tables.”

With Mark on drums, Simon on Vox, Jimmy on bass and Billy on guitar, Still was forming. Yet I guess Bill was reminiscing this foundation when deciding upon a name for his debut album as the trio, back in January, which we cordially reviewed, here.

“I’d written a few songs,” Bill continued, “so we set up second-hand instruments in Marston Village Hall, and banged out a few tunes, no covers mind.”  He had been DJing the ‘Vroom!’ Club, at the Corn Exchange. “Ian James was kind enough to put us on that Christmas and New Year’s, and people actually came to watch, a band was born.”

Still played the local circuit and even had a dalliance with Virgin Records, having spent a day travelling around London knocking on doors and dodging receptionists and PAs. They booked studio time with Pete Lamb’s studio in Potterne, followed by more studio time at Holt Studios, where a personnel change saw Andy Phillips join on drums and later, James Ennis on guitar.

As a five-piece they played into early 1999, before calling it a day and believing the recordings were lost. Simon Hunt recently unearthed the cassette, much to Bill’s delight, and the demos have been remastered “and tidied up a bit,” with the help of Danny Wise. Returned to Bill, who has enthusiastically released it as an album called Destruction at the beginning of the month. “And here they are,” he excitedly called, “as a permanent record of the biggest indie band ever from Devizes…. called Still!”

“I’m just shocked that Marston has, or had a village hall,” I expressed.

“Rubble when we finished playing!” Billy kidded, possibly.

These are raw demos, but brilliantly echo a time of yore when Britpop was in the making and a newfound generation of garage bands were spawning like a wart on the bottom of commercialised pop. What is great about this album, aside the backstory, is it represents all those early influences of the scene and mergers in a way we might today take for granted, but were, in essence, different scenes and youth cultures divided by decades, at the time. Yes, these may have been bought together by his more defined recent album, Still, but this is essential history for fans of that album, as it opens the casing and shows the very workings of it. Similarly, it works more generally than that, as an insight for fans of the genre.

For if influences of Britpop’s ‘big four’ are represented here, in the jaunty attitude of Blur, the maladroit studiousness of Pulp, the euphoric ballads of Oasis, and the brashness of Suede, there’s also arty punk rock and psychedelic reprises, like Elastica’s affection for Wire, even the Beatles.

There are echoes of Britpop inspirations, ‘Respect Now’ feels like it’s drawn from the genre’s eighties influences; the Jam, up to the Stone Roses. Yet tracks like ‘Happier Now’ ring drum-based upbeat riffs, but slating postpunk vocals, and the sobering drone of The Smiths. Whereas, ‘Pale Impression, Man’ is closer indie enthused from post-punk gothic, rather the end of the era anthems, like the track ‘Catch,’ which rings Suede or The Verve.

‘Lady Leisure’ just rocks, simple; this was produced at Pete Lamb’s, along with the other first bout of garage-style rock, ‘Happier Now’, and ‘Superstars,’ the latter savouring the sound of the Kinks. Perhaps the most poignant are two the love ballads, which along with ‘Catch’ were recorded at Holt. Bill informed me, “‘Gav4Saf’ was a fledging love song written for a friend’s wedding.” But the beautifully crafted ‘LoveSong’ is a missing piece of Oasis, and as a stand-out ballad is the only track rightfully to be reworked for Billy Green 3’s modern album Still. The finale is the title track, with a sublime rolling bass guitar, Who-like.

 “We hope there are some people who will listen and remember those heady days as fondly as we do,” Bill expressed, “it’s basically demos but such good memories!” It may help, but is not, I reckon, essential. I reason, quite regularly, that finding the early recordings of any artist is often more worthy than the celebrated later releases, when eagerness overrides rawness and economical recording sessions. They brought out the original enthusiasm, the roots to greatness. I favour ‘The Wild, Innocent and E-Street Shuffle’ rather than Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ for example. Even delve into bootlegs of Steel Mill, where despite the boss not being frontman, you can hear a distant echo of genius harking from the background. ‘Destruction’ is out now, as well as the single, ‘Catch,’ across the streaming sites, (Spotify) a notable antiquity of the local music scene.


Adverts & Stuff!

Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective Do What They Love, at The Southgate

He’s a fast learner, that Keanu Reeves; think how he progressed to “the chosen one” in little over an hour and half, while his superiors barely advanced at all; comes with the chosen one job, I suppose. Think cat scene, for example, where this novice presumed déjà vu, but twas a glitch in the Matrix.

Had a touch of déjà vu myself on Sunday, chatting with Essex’s Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective; alas I’m not the chosen one, until it’s time to do the washing up. Barefacedly had to check my own website, suspecting they’d been mentioned before. And I was right, Andy wrote a part-review back in July; I was briefly there too. Blame it on a glitch, rather than memory loss; this is 2020, glitches in the Matrix are abundant.

Regulars at the Southgate in Devizes, Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective are as the name suggests, but don’t do run of the mill. Cowboy hats and chequered shirts held a clue, but arrive excepting unadulterated county & western and you’ll get nipped. While there’re clear Americana influences, here’s an exclusive sound unafraid to experiment.

20200816_1734461456463698776563761.jpg

Jamie’s abrasive vocals are gritty and resolute, perfect for this overall country-blues sound, but it progressively rocks like Springsteen or Petty, rather than attempts to banjo twang back to bluegrass. It also boundlessly exploits other folk and roots influences, with a plethora of instruments and expertise to merge them into this melting pot. And in this essence, they are an agreeable rock band, appealing to commonalities; but do it remarkably, with upbeat riffs, tested but original material, and passion.

Not forgoing, I still need to be careful, and it was but a whistle-stop to the Gate, to wet my whistle. As current live music restrictions being the way they are, it’s unfair to use a gig review as a base for an act’s entirety. For starters, they’re missing bassist Jake Milligan, and drums deemed too loud to bring, James “the hog” Bacon made do with a cajon and bongos. The remaining two, Jamie and Dave Milligan, cramped in the doorway of the skittle ally with acoustic and electric guitar, respectively. Which, in a way, proves this band’s aforementioned adaptability and desire to experiment. The proof is the pudding though, and battling through the restrictions of the era, they came up with a chef-d’oeuvre.

jamie

Professionally, they scorched out a great sound nonetheless, mostly original, but a rather fitting Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, with Jamie’s grinding vocals apt for a later Dylan classic. But this downtempo cover was the exception to the rule, their originals upbeat and driving.

To pitch a fair review, though, is to take a listen to their latest album, Do What You Love. The cover of which is unlike your cliché Americana tribute too; highly graphical splashes of colour akin more to pop, or a branding of fizzy drink. The songs match, a popular formula of cleverly crafted nuggets intertwining these wide-spanning influences. One track they did live from their album was accompanied with an explanation the recorded version used a brass section and even a DJ scratching, yet they made do with Jake joining James for a hit on the bongos.

dowhatyoulove

They certainly enjoy what they do, and appear relaxed in the spotlight. This doesn’t make them tongue-in-cheek, like, say Californian Watsky & Mody, who blend hip hop into bluegrass for jokes. Rather Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective has evenly balanced said collective’s influences and conjured this celebrated, danceable and fun sound, flexible for a standard function, like a wedding party but would also liven up the day at a mini-festival.

As an album though it encompasses all I’ve said above, there’s cool tunes like Lazy Day, the orchestrated reprise If I met my Hero, and rather gorgeously executed ballad, Held in Your Glow, but also frenetic tunes, driving down the A12 with the windows open music, Red Hot and Raunchy being a grand, light-hearted example but I’m A Stone as my favourite, with its clever pastiches of Dylan and The Rolling Stones, it rocks.

You need not visit the Oracle, waiting with spoon-bending broods, Keanu Reeves, for her to tell you Jamie Williams & The Roots Collective are not some “chosen” livid teenagers trailblazing a new sound and striving for the spotlight, but a collective of passionate and talented musicians loving every minute of performing, and this comes across as highly entertaining.


Adverts & Stuff!

fb_img_1597687804595811358427175012159.jpgsuperheroholdclubwp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgeatout1InDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966covidcampplankshead1

Paul Lappin’s Broken Record

A cracker of a single from Swindon’s Paul Lappin this week, a Britpop echoing of Norwegian Wood, perhaps, but tougher than that which belongs on Rubber Soul. Broken Record is an immediate like, especially the way it opens as crackling vinyl and the finale repeats the final line into a fade, as if it was indeed, a broken record.

Shrewdly written, the venerable subject of a passionate breakup metaphors the title, “ignore the voice of reason, leave the key and close the door, do you think you’re ready, to become unsteady, like a broken record, you have heard it all before.” Paul does this frankly, with appetite and it plays out as a darn good, timeless track.

lappin2

It’s head-spinning rock, intelligent indie. Harki Popli on tabla drum and Jon Buckett’s subtle Hammond organ most certainly attributes to my imaginings of a late-Beatles vibe. Yet if this is a tried and tested formula, as I believe I’ve said before about Paul’s music, he does it with bells on.

For less than a chocolate bar, download this track from Bandcamp, it doesn’t disappoint.


Adverts & Stuff!

yardsalettranstxtwp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgsuperheroholdclubeatout1

Sunset Remedy with JAY

Is it still fashionable to be late for a party, or are we conversant enough to realise this refined art is solely perpetrated by egocentrics pretending to be too popular to be punctual? Rather, I’m am obsolete slob who can only apologise to Jay and Wise Monkey for my delay in reviewing his debut single featuring the vocals of Ben Keatt, but what excuse can I give? Here’s where fatherhood comes in handy, being too candid to be vain, least I can blame it on my kids and their perpetual school holiday! That said, I’ve gained some experience on Minecraft and, if I really try, I can do more than two keep-me-upsies.

Sunset Remedy is the track, released last Friday. Jay, Bath’s first external artist of Wise Monkey Music is a producer and instrumentalist, defined as “a bright shining light in the future of DIY and Bedroom Pop,” and I can only but agree. In the fashion of the classic neighbouring Bristol downtempo sound of Massive Attack and Portishead, it came as a surprise to note the soulfulness beats of this sublime track, as it melodically traipses with funky guitar, poignant lyrics and an uplifting air.

jay1

If Pink Floyd came after Morcheeba, they might have sounded a little something like this; neo-soul, the kind of song you wish was physical matter, so you could pluck it out and give it a cuddle! It’s breezing with nu cool, with a melancholic plod and would blend between tracks on Blue Lines unnoticed, save for perhaps this backdrop guitar riff, providing scope of multi-genre appeasement. Ben’s vocals are breathtakingly touching and accompanies the earnest lyrics and smooth beats perfectly. Yeah, this is a nonchalant chef-d’oeuvre, crossing indie pigeonholes and one I’m going to be playing until I hear more from Jay.

And don’t run away with the idea I’m singing it’s praises simply because of the delay in getting to reviewing it! So not me. You trust I speak my fractured mind, and anyway, time is an illusion to this aging hippy. If punctuality was money I’d be happily broke; procrastination rules, ok. No, I urge you grab this beauty, and show some love to Jay’s Facebook page.


Adverts & Stuff

yardsalettranstxtsuperheroholdclubwp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgeatout1

Tanya Continues her Campaign; Promised Meeting with Danny Kruger

The protest at Downing Street due to happen today has been postponed, but Tanya Borg has been working tirelessly to raise awareness of her campaign since we reported on it, a fortnight ago. So, a quick update on its progress and how you can help this Pewsey mum fight to get her children home.

Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.

I’m glad to have received a reply from our email to Danny Kruger on the issue. He stated “I share your concern for the awful and distressing position of this family. Please be reassured I am in contact with Ms Borg and with the Foreign Office, and of course I share your belief that the British government should do everything it can on behalf of British citizens.”

wp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpg

Although Tanya expressed, she has had a reply from Danny, forwarding the response from the African representative, “it’s the same response I got two years ago saying they can’t help, but also that Danny Kruger can offer me a meeting.”

A glimmer of hope must go a long way for anyone involved in such a heart-breaking situation, as Tanya awaits a date for this meeting, “but it could be interesting,” she says.

Meanwhile there is an important petition you can sign, here. Please do.

Here is the Go Fund Me Link, if you can help.

There is also a tee-spring hoody, and tote bag with printed logos of the campaign, and all the money raised will go to the fund, here. Join the Facebook group for further updates, here.


rockgazyardsalettranstxtsuperheroholdclubeatout1

Hero Wayne Cherry Back in Action!

You may recall hero, Wayne Cherry of Rowde, standing for a hundred hours in remembrance at the top of the Brittox in Devizes during November 2018, to honour those lost in the First World War.

For this year’s 75th VE day celebrations, self-isolating never stopped Wayne, he pledged to stand in his garden for 75 hours, raising £1,272 for the NHS fund.

Now Wayne is back, and he has decided to raise funds for SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, for VJ Day in August by completing a 75-mile trek around the Devizes area.

wayne1

Under the banner, “Not Forgotten,” Wayne explains his reasoning, “treatment of allied prisoners of war by the hands of the Japanese army in Asia during WW2 was without question, barbaric. Those who survived struggled to come to terms with their experience and many would never talk about it. 15 August 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Asia and one that I shall be marking with respect.”

I asked Wayne how many days he planned to take over it. “I will have to start on Friday 7th,” he replied, “looking to average ten miles a day, which in reality is a push with a knee replacement and diagnosed with Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which is painful hips and shoulders.” The walk will end on Friday 14th August. “I just grit my teeth and get on with it,” he continued, “nothing compared to those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today.”

wayne3

Wayne will start his route each day leaving from Wadworths 10am. He will head towards the Market Place on Northgate St, through the Little Brittox, along the High St following Long St, to Southbroom Rd, and continuing onto Sidmouth St to Maryport St, through the Brittox, and back through the Little Brittox into the Market Place, up to Snuff St, along to New Park St and finally, heading back towards Wadworths. That’s approximately a 2-mile circuit, 5 times a day.

wayne2

“It would be very much appreciated,” Wayne expressed, “if anyone would like to accompany me for as little or as long as you wish, I will be carrying a collection bucket each day for anyone who may wish to make a donation.” Alternatively, if you join his Facebook group, here, you can follow and support him, and find bank details, if you would like to contribute this way.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Wayne the very best with his astounding effort, and congratulate him on the amazing fundraising he has done to date already. I know the people of Devizes and the surrounding area will rally to support him, as they have done in the past. Go Wayne Cherry, you are an inspiration to us all.


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcampyardsalettranstxtrockgazwp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgsuperheroholdclubplankshead1eatout1InDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966rainbowlogo

Three Times Better; The Lost Trades @ The Southgate

From Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads to bipolar bank robber George “Babyface” Nelson, there’s so many Americana mythologies and folklore veracities apropos in the Cohen Brother’s “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” I could draft a lengthy essay. One I’m reminded of last Sunday down our trusty Southgate, was the scene depicting the Carter Family singing “Keep on the Sunny Side” at a governor’s election rally. Reason; there’s something simplistically bluegrass about The Lost Trades, matchless vocal harmonies, ensuring the circle is unbroken, even in a distant Wiltshire.

It was only a whistle-stop to wet my whistle, and when I did arrive the trio I’d came for where on their break. Tamsin was selling handcrafted spoons and lesser original band merchandise such as t-shirts and CDs, Phil was lapping the pub chatting enthusiastically and Jamie was having a pint with his family. None of this really matters, as individuals, we’ve rightfully nothing but praised these marvellous local musicians. When they formed a more official grouping and the Lost Trades were born, we broke the news. Neither did it matter, at the time, that I would be unable to attend their debut gig at the Village Pump. I had my new writer Helen offer to take my place, and what is more, I knew I’d be catching up with The Lost Trades in due course; couldn’t have predicted the impending lockdown the following week.

IMG_1232

Yet prior to Sunday I had ponder if there was anything else to write about these individuals we’ve not covered in the past, but I was wrong. The angle can only be the difference between them as individuals or periodically helping one another out at a gig, to the trio The Lost Trades. Because, when they did everything was very much adlib, with the Lost Trades three minds are working closer than ever before, and if two brains are better than one, three is not, in this case, a crowd.

It wasn’t long before they resettled, and huddled in the doorway of the skittle room playing to the crowd in the garden, as is the current arrangement for these brief acoustic sessions at the Gate. They joyfully toiled with a cover of Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere.” This was followed by my favourite track from Tamsin’s album Gypsy Blood, aptly, “Home.” Topped off with a sublime version of Cat Stevens’ “Moon Shadow.” But I did say it was a whistle stop.

In consolation I picked up their self-titled debut EP, something I should have done months ago. With this beauty in hand I could take a little of The Lost Trades home with me; it’ll play perpetually through those thoughtful moments. Recorded in session at The Village Pump, “because we really like the acoustics in there,” explained Tamsin, here is a recording oozing with a quality which, despite predicting, still blew me for six. As I say, it’s the combination of these three fantastic artists in their own right, as opposed the jamming we’ve previously become accustomed to, which really makes the difference.

Five tunes strong, this EP equally celebrates these three talents and harmonises them on a level we’ve not heard before. The acapella beginning of the opening tune, “Hummingbird” glides into stripped back xylophone and acoustic guitar, and is so incredibly saccharine, it trickles like some beatniks performing on a seventies Children’s TV show. Yet, it works. In true Simon & Garfunkel manner, it’s not mawkish, just nice.

lostep

Hummingbird serves as a great introduction, but is by no means the template. As is commonplace, from the Beatles to The Wailers, The Trades, I detect, conjoin the writing effort but the lead singer seems to be the one who plucked the idea. “Good Old Days,” then, screams Jamie at me, who leads. It has his stamp, ingenious narrative centred around thoughtful prose. “Wherever You Are,” likewise is a Tamsin classic, wildly romantic and wayfarer.

“Robots,” follows, the quirkiest and perhaps erroneous after an initial listen. Yet through subtle metaphors the satirical slant charms in a manner which nods Phil Cooper, and why should one stick to a formula in subject matter? Because the sound is authentically Americana of yore, Robots superbly deflects the notion it’s lost in a bygone era and cannot use modern concepts, and Robots ruling the world is, however much a metaphor, still fundamentally sci-fi, and that makes for an interesting contrast. With that thought in mind, this could be the track which stands out for originality.

As in this review, we’ve returned to the unbroken circle. In full circle the final song, “Wait for my Boat,” is a sublimely cool track, casting a direction the trio are clearly heading. For although Jamie leads, there’s elements of all three middle tracks combined in this sea shanty sounding song. It’s metaphorical, romantic, with sentimental narrative. It wraps up the EP perfectly, leaving you hanging for the album they’re working on.

Yes, the Lost Trades is a live group you need to see in person, but this EP really is way beyond my already high expectations. It’s combination of talents is honest, bluegrass-inspired acoustic gorgeousness you need in your life.

the-lost-trades-1a_600px


Devizes Wide Community Yard Sale; what a great idea!

The pandemic has pulled us into a time of change for everyone, we find methods and ways around restrictions to try to continue, best we can, the way of life we’re used to living. Historically eras like these see great innovations and ideas which now have become commonplace. Online meetings through Zoom, drive-in concerts and many new-fangled concepts are falling into place, but sometimes, the best ideas are the simpler ones. Devizes resident Laura Johns had such an idea, the kind that if she was a cartoon character it would be represented by a lightbulb above the head!

Laura has created a Facebook group dedicated to holding a town-wide, community yard sale and intends to run the first one on Sunday August 16th, running from 8am-5pm. Anyone is free to host a yard sale in their garden or close green space on that date, and the group are hoping it’ll turn the town into a whopping great car booty, without the cars; kinder on the environment too, Laura!

yardsalettranstxt

I reckon this is a great idea, and something which has the potential to be a regular event. Many of us undoubtedly have been having a clear-out during lockdown, made some home improvements, and now have “stuff,” for want of a better word, clogging up space in their homes. The obvious banning of car boot and jumble sales means you’re restricted to donating to charity shops, dumping them at the recycling centre if you get a slot, but selling via Facebook pages is the only way you’re going to make a little money back. Of course, you could hold a yard sale at any time, but with this clever scheme, we will all know when and where.

All participates are invited to set their own yard sale up, freely, and they will be included on a map of the town, so buyers are free to roam the town and browse. Last count, 16 people wish to set up their own yard sale, and more are joining. My work is done notifying you and hoping you’ll join in on the day, setting up your own, or browsing the yard sales on offer. Laura and the team hope to extend the idea to neighbouring villages, where an alternative day will be set for each village. Who knows how far this idea will catch on?

So, join the group for more information and updates as they develop, and support this ingeniously simple idea. Oh, and there’s a Facebook event page you can respond to; great if you wish to attend as a buyer but not participate in the selling part. I like it so much it’s my pleasure to donated a little poster/header for the group, and you can be sure Devizine will be supporting the event as best we can, provided there’s not too many pubs en-route!!


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcamprockgazwp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgsuperheroholdclubeatout1operationtedddy6InDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966rainbowlogo

Atari Pilot’s Right Crew, Wrong Captain

Only gamers of a certain age will know of The Attic Bug. Hedonistic socialiser, Miner Willy had a party in his manor and wanted to retire for the evening. Just how a miner in the eighties could’ve afforded a manor remains a mystery; but that erroneous flaw was the tip of the iceberg. In this ground-breaking ZX Spectrum platform game, the Ribena Kid’s mum appeared to guard Willy’s bedroom, tapping her foot impatiently. Touch this mean rotund mama and she’d kill you, unless you’d tided every bit of leftovers from the bash. Turned out, months after the game’s release, one piece, in the Attic, was impossible to collect. Until this glitch became public knowledge, players were fuming as an intolerable bleeping version of “If I was a Rich Man,” perpetually looped them to insanity.

0_ZLZc3c-m3HYdeF0L

I swear, if I hear that tune, even some forty years on I cringe; the haunting memory of my perseverance with the impossible Jetset Willy. Music in videogames has come a long way, thank your chosen deity. Yet in this trend of retrospection I terror at musical artists influenced by these cringeworthy clunky, bleeping melodies of early Mario, or Sonic soundtracks; like techno never happened, what are they thinking of? It was with caution, then, when I pressed play on the new single from Swindon band “Atari Pilot.” I had heard of them, but not heard them. I was pleasantly surprised.

For starters, this is rock, rather than, taken from the band’s name, my preconceived suspicion I would be subject to a lo-fi electronica computer geek’s wet dream. While there is something undeniably retrospective gamer about the sonic synth blasts in Right Crew, Wrong Captain, it is done well, with taste and this track drives on a slight, space-rock tip. Though comparisons are tricky, Atari Pilot has a unique pop sound. No stranger to retrospection, with echoey vocals and a cover akin to an illustration from Captain Pugwash, still this sound is fresh, kind of straddling a bridge between space-rock and danceable indie. Oh, and it’s certainly loud and proud.

atari2

A grower, takes a few listens and I’m hooked. Their Facebook blurb claims to “change the rules of the game, take the face from the name, trade the soul for the fame…I’m an Atari Pilot.” After their debut album “Navigation of The World by Sound” in 2011, a long hiatus took in a serious cancer battle. But Atari Pilot returned in 2018 with an acoustic set at the Swindon Shuffle. The full band gathered once again the following year with live shows and a new set of “Songs for the Struggle.” This will be the title of their forthcoming follow-up album, “When we were Children” being the first single from it, and now this one, “Right Crew, Wrong Captain,” is available from the end of July.

Its theme is of isolation, “and defiance, after the ship has gone down,” frontman Onze informs me. There’s a haunting metaphor within the intelligent lyrics, “you nail yourself to the mast and you pray that everything lasts, you just want to know hope floats, when the water rises, coz it’s gonna rise, take a deep breath and count to ten, sink to the bottom and start again.”

There’s a bracing movement which dispels predefined ideas of indie and progresses towards something encompassing a general pop feel, of bands I’ve highlighted previously, Talk in Code and Daydream Runaways, Atari Pilot would not look out of place billed in a festival line-up with these acts, and would add that clever cross between space-rock with shards of the videogames of yore, yet, not enough to warrant my aforementioned fears of cringeworthy bleeps. Here’s hoping it’s “game over” for that genre. That said, thinking back, when you bought your Atari 2600, if you recall, oldie, you got the entire package of two joysticks and those circler controllers too, as standard; could you imagine that much hardware included with a modern console? Na, mate, one controller, you’ve got to buy others separately.

atari3

So, if decades to come we have a band called X-Box or PlayStation Pilot, I’d be dubious, but Atari gave us quality, a complete package; likewise, with Atari Pilot!


Adverts & Stuff!

rockgazsuperheroholdclubeatout1wp-15952278837674305734103090329981.jpgrainbowlogo

Ben Borrill Takes A Little Time

Bobbing around the St John’s corner of Long Street, trying to act important, and sober, I had a message for Ben Borrill, Pete was looking for him, he was on next; ah, gave me something to do. It was the fantastic Devizes Street Festival, made that much more fantastic by Vinyl Realm organising a second stage, showcasing local talent. You must’ve heard about it, even if you weren’t there, I’ve harked on about it enough!

Mission accomplished, he was loitering the doorway, and equably replied with an “oh, okay.” There’s a casual air around Ben, perhaps the most altruistic and modest musician, and, oh, skateboarder too, on the local circuit. It was this way when I first met him during an acoustic jam at The Southgate. Yet there’s a magnetic sparkle when he performs, which captivates. Other than friendship, it’s probably the plausible reason he supports Daydream Runaways recurrently.

Image by Nick Padmore

I never held out for something recorded from Ben, content as he seems to roam the local circuit performing live, yet with the current climate surrounding gigs, time and effort is channelled into getting studio time down, for everyone. Sometimes this transmits the talents of a live performer, occasionally not, and I happily report it’s far from the latter.

Groovy, in a word; there’s something pleasantly sixties Merseybeat-come-beatnik about Ben Borrill’s debut single, Take a Little Time; not in a tacky tribute kind of cliché but in a nonchalant, progressive way. Particularly in the intro, the reference of seasonal change, shifting leaves and blossom of a fading spring, balances into romantic ditty, and spanning just over two minutes too; it’s short but sweet.

While it doesn’t go off down a completely psychedelic sixties formula, it’s no Mammas & Papas, the riffs do lean heavily on all that’s golden about that golden era, of Kinks or Hollies, with a fresh tinge of modern acoustic. Here’s a smooth ride into an intelligently grafted, but easy-going song, reflecting Ben’s charismatic and breezy attitude. It is, blinking marvellous, and leaves you yearning for more… jump to it Ben, equably I’d imagine he would reply with an “oh, okay!” Spotify link here.


Adverts and Stuff!

Help Pewsey Mum on her Campaign to free her Children from Abduction

So, Devizine exists to highlight and promote local events and I try my best, apart from the odd bit of cheeky satire, to steer away from political matters. Yet I’m both heartbroken and at a loss for words this afternoon, chatting online to Pewsey mum, Tanya Borg. But within it, there is an event I need to let you know about, in this horrid mess, please read on….

Tanya’s two daughters, Angel and Maya were abducted by their father five years ago, and taken to Libya to live with his family. After being granted full custody in both nations, Tanya travelled to Libya to rescue them, but Tanya explains when they tried to get away, they were bundled in a car and driven away. She hasn’t seen or had contact with them since.

Red tape between the Crown Prosecution Service and Wiltshire Police has prevented further action from being taken, and under advice of the CPS, Wiltshire Police have closed the case. “The CPS are saying they don’t tell the police what to do,” Tanya explained, “But Wiltshire Police are saying the CPS don’t want to take the case.” I cannot imagine how distraught she must be. “You have no idea,” Tanya continued, “Angry. Frustrated. Sad. My daughters need help.”

In fear for the treatment of her daughters, Tanya went to explain how, after a court order for joint custody, their grandmother wouldn’t allow them to leave the house, so Tanya tried for full custody, but they ran away with the children. Angel is now twenty, and Maya just eight. A Daily Mail article exposes the issue, with a video of the father’s family driving them away. It is with hope the video will pressure British authorities to reopen the case.

This is where I asked if Tanya had or has any further contact with them, and the short answer was “no.” In England we complain about this, whinge about that, the bus being delayed etc, we really don’t understand how life is in Libya. “Because there is no authorities inside Libya, due to the situation, as Libya is at war with itself,” Tanya detailed, “it is dangerous, and that is their excuse, but now there has been a newly elected government, they could at least try, that is what is most upsetting, they haven’t even tried. I feel like my children don’t matter, because I am not of status.”

Firstly, Tanya has a GoFundMe campaign page, where you can contribute. “It’s a corrupt country, and money talks,” she explains, “I can’t do anything without it.” Tanya has spoken to Claire Perry, who passed it onto the Minister of the African Department, “which say,” Tanya claimed, “They cannot do anything.” MP Danny Kruger has been emailed, which was my first port-of-call, and we await a response.

Tanya plans to take a protest to Downing Street on the 8th August, but has also staged an event in Pewsey on the 25th July. Meeting at the Cooper’s Arms at 3pm, the protest will follow the eminent carnival route. “My eldest daughter,” Tanya explained, “was carnival princess back in 2011.” They will be chanting “Free Angel and Maya,” but ask protesters observe social distancing and wear facemasks. “I would love as many people to attend and support,” she hopes, “to help me bring my babies home.” Tanya will also be organising a local coach for the Downing Street protest.

Adverts & Stuff!

Sam Bishop and the Fallen Sky

Ex-Devizes boyband and half of Larkin, Sam Bishop is away studying music in Winchester. He posts about his latest single, Fallen Sky with the thought, “I really do think this is the best song I’ve ever made.” You do always say that, Sam, tee-hee, but it’s no bad thing! I think it was legendary underground cartoonist, Hunt Emerson, who once told me, “never put anything out you’re not confident to say it’s the best thing you’ve ever done.” It suggests Sam is always striving for better, but the proof is the pudding, and this is a Michelin star sundae. Yeah, I believe you’re deffo right with this one.

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

I feel old ears will nod in memory, but Sam’s defining style speaks volumes to younger generations. This is heartfelt stuff, as ever with Sam, but this time, in particular, the production on Fallen Sky envelopes that atmosphere so brilliantly.

sam

You know what I’d like to hear? And call me old-fashioned if you will, I’ve been called worse, but I’d like an amalgamation of songs filling a complete narrative, as the parable ends like an open-ended short story, leaving you wondering the next decision Sam’s character in the song will take. Like a chick-flick plot, he sings, “does it feel like it’s the end of our lives?” While this is great, I’m left yearning to know if they get back together or not, so, just a suggestion, but an intertwined set of songs spanning a complete fictional relationship, like, dare I say it, a concept album. This may not be the modern way to go with distribution I know, but here is Sam Bishop at his best, and a development worthwhile expanding.

Yeah, alright, I hear you, I’m old, yeah, thanks a million! Check this Fallen Sky out here.


Adverts & Stuff!

rockgazcovidcampInDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966superheroholdclubeatout1taste sunjonamorpeppercornwildingfeatasam2rainbowlogo

The Big Yellow Bus Rocks The Gazebo

Two things former humble truck driver Gerry Watkins is a natural at, plucking an ingenious idea and putting it into action, and putting on a gig to fund it. In 2017 Gerry raised four-grand to buy a double-decker bus, which he converted into a homeless shelter in Cirencester. Since he’s launched a similar plan in Swindon, and continues to raise funds for this amazing homeless project. The Big Yellow Bus project is innovative but simple, and Gerry works tirelessly to keep it running.

bigyellow2

With live music teetering on return, it still maybe a while before some venues are ready to reopen, despite yesterday’s sudden given date of August 1st. The following weekend, 7&8th, sees a grand restart for The Big Yellow Bus, to get funds rolling once again. The Tavern Inn in Kembleplays host to this glorious two-day mini festival, which is free, with collection buckets for the Big Yellow Bus doing the rounds.

Music plans to kick off at 7pm on Friday 7th August with our good friends, Absolute Beginners. I know, like most, Cath, Gouldy and the gang will be itching to get back to live music. While there’s still a few gaps in the line-up to confirm, The Roughcut Rebels will be a welcomed act, introducing their new frontman, the one and only Finley Trusler; an awesome unification we look forward to hearing. Mick O Toole is also on Friday’s header.

bigyellow

Saturday 8th though is an all-dayer. Paul Cooper (Martin Mucklowe) from the twice BAFTA award-winning BBC tv series, This Country, will be opening up the event at midday. Shaun Peter Smith will be the Compère for the day, as Miss Lucy Luscious Lips, he’s certain to add a little bit of glamour and sparkle. There’s a number of faces I know to this busy line-up, and plenty new to me.

An interesting Opening at midday, Ascenda are a four-piece, playing smooth music with a rock edge and thoughtful, theatrical vocals. Their current collection of songs ‘Celeste,’ forms a love story that explores conflicts; solitude versus companionship, and spirituality versus practicality.

acenda eric hobson
Acenda (image by Eric Hobson Photography)

Cath, Gouldy and the gang return as The Day Breakers at 1pm, with their irresistible blend of Celtic and mod-rock covers, it’s guaranteed to go off! Swindon’s all-girl rock and pop covers band, Bimbo follow at 2pm. Dirty and filthy punk is promised to followed with The Useless Eaters, a band who accurately recreate the iconic sound of late 70’s British and American punk.

sixlivesleft
Six Lives Left

Cirencester’s masters of high-energy classic eighties rock covers, Loaded Dice are on at 4pm, followed by a mesh of Britpop, new wave and ska with SkA’D Hearts at 6pm. Era-spanning soul follows with Joli and The Souls, and rock restarts in style with Six Lives Left. Sticking with six as the magic number, the finale will be from Calne’s fantastic misfits of Britpop and new wave, Six O Clock Circus, who are always up for a party!

joli
Joili & The Souls

Yeah, it’s all slightly out of our usual jurisdiction, but with a line up like this, all for such a great cause, and with limited events these lockdown days, this is highly recommended and worth the effort. Kemble Railway Station is right opposite The Tavern Inn so it’s easy to find.

Note, putting such an event on so early after lockdown will not be without expected guidelines, everyone must abide by. Gerry urges social distancing and that you respect those around you. “This is all done so you can enjoy yourself and have a great time watching and dancing to great live bands and performers, thank you for all your support and together we can have a great time.” I’m sure they will, Gerry. If anyone is heading off from Devizes, gimmie a lift, pal, because this sounds unmissable!

rockgaz


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcampsuperheroholdclubeatout1InDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966plankshead1operationteddy1skaingwestcountryrainbowlogo

Talk in Code Taste the Sun

Back in January 2019, I was dead impressed with Talk in Code’s debut album Resolve, and labelled it “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle.” I offered the track “Oxygen,” as best example of how, like classic pop anthems should, its instantaneous catchiness gets stuck in your head. To compare and contrast that favourite from the album with the upcoming release from this Swindon indie-pop four-piece, it’s clear they’ve come an incredibly long way to enhancing and refining that fashion.

Reflecting back, Resolve has the definite “indie” sound of the nineties, only dipping a toe in the pool of eighties synth-pop. I felt this coming, each track they release sounds more like an iconic mid-eighties sugary hit, and Taste the Sun dives right in. It supplements my “sophisticated pop with modern sparkle” label much more.

blank4

Recorded just before lockdown at Studio 91 in Newbury, the band define the theme as “about waking up and smelling the coffee, a feeling that change is coming and the relief when that change is made for the greater good.” Nothing wrong with that inspiring concept, but perhaps nothing original; writing style they stick to a model template, but the sound is invigorating. In a word, it’s refreshing, like the zest of a sparkling iced fruit drink on a humid holiday afternoon, it encompasses all that is glorious about pop. Blooming with good time, summery vibes, Taste the Sun is the sort of lively “Wham” anthem a younger you would’ve retained from a holiday camp disco, and evermore evoke a fond memory of a fleeting romance.

That said in the best manner possible. Talk in Code is a well-oiled machine, refining that classic sound for a new generation and, most importantly, extracting and binning any cliché or cringeworthy elements. You know the sort, listen to any eighties pop now and wince at a particularly ill-thought out component, be it a castoff sample, badly grafted rap or, worse still, a “talky” part; “I thought I told you, Michael, I’m a lover not a fighter!”

Yet I find similar with today’s pop, and hold my daughter accountable! “Why they doing that bit?” I grumpily whinge. “What bit?” she retorts. It’s like a repetitive synthesised single word, or randomly placed high-hat making me shudder. Talk in Code use the acuteness of “indie” to eliminate said pop crime, use pop for catchiness and throw something back at you with universal appeal. It’s true, I concern myself at the prospect of taking my daughter to a pop festival, be it I’m cowering at her modern taste, or she’s dragging me away from something I like the sound of. Talk in Code is something we could both agree is great, and throughout reviewing their singles, Taste the Summer is perhaps the prime example of this notion.

Released on Monday 27th July, on digital download at http://www.talkincode.co.uk and on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and all digital platforms. Go on, you have a listen, and I challenge you to find something bad to say about this sparkling, uplifting nugget of pop; because I can’t!


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcampInDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966superheroholdclubrainbowlogoasam2eatout1

Eat Out to Help Out, Locally, Independently

I am listing local restaurants, cafes and pubs who are participating in the “eat out to help out,” scheme and encourage owners in the Wiltshire area to contact Devizine, to be listed freely. Although you know me, have to have a little rant beforehand, so scroll past my waffling if you wish to get direct to the list! Note the list will be updated, so check back in August.

For information on how to apply for the scheme, see here. Note the scheme comes with restrictions. Only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from the 3rd to 31st August 2020, and offers a 50% discount, up to a maximum of £10 per person, for food or non-alcoholic drinks to eat or drink in.

Eat-Out-to-Help-Out-poster-2571185


“I believe I dust my broom.” Robert Johnson sung that, the bluesman who sold his soul to the devil at the Mississippi Delta crossroads, in exchange for faultless musical flair, so he must know what he’s on about. Although, to dust your broom actually means to make change, derived from the expression “get up and dust,” or get out of town fast. I didn’t need to do that, just get out of B&Q!

Had my old outdoor broom for decades, but timeworn, it finally gave up the ghost. Sunday, I nipped into B&Q and returned home proud owner of a new broom with a screw-on handle. Too loose, one swipe and the head fell off, tighten it and it passes the thread and…. the head falls off. Time passed and my patience caved by numerous attempts to secure the handle on the head. I came to the forgone conclusion, it’s either fate; star alignment’s fault, since NASA claims I’ve moved from Pieces to Aquarius, or, more likely, it’s mass-produced shite.

After hand sanitising, queuing and following the one-way circuit around the entire store, I returned it, swung into town, parked dead outside Mainleys and picked up a far cheaper, better broom. By very design, glued and stapled, it’s old-fashioned, but a coupling method which has worked for centuries. If it’s not broke…. A lesson learned, then; should’ve shopped local.

porkypigeats

Make no mistake, I consider this soundbite “eat out to help out” nauseatingly haughty, coming from a government who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide basic meals for school children. Guaranteed, this is yet another move to line the pockets of big business, the mass-producing restaurant chains.

Never forget Boris’s bum-chum, Tim Martin and how he refused to close during lockdown, refused to pay his staff and suppliers. If a Frankie & Benny branch sadly closes, the staff will be the only ones to suffer; that’s sorrowful reality, I’m afraid. Note the variety you think you’re getting with a parade of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitito, et all, is false, they’re all the same company and will subside each other; different sauce, same old chicken, pal. If the government are going to open taxpayer’s wallets, I urge the small business and independent eateries, who would otherwise close, lock, stock and barrel, to dip in before the fat cats.

big-mac

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the rubber chicken which bounced off the floor of Wetherspoons first hand, lost teeth on Hungry Horse waffles, and felt famished twenty seconds after eating an air-pumped big mac. Like my broom experience, I’m at my tether’s end; best to shop local.

Not that I’m trying to persuade you, the choice to eat out is your prerogative and risk; many pubs and restaurants are continuing to provide takeaway services, many established takeaways are delivering and continuing to provide an excellent service too. Sometimes though, it’s nice to be able to eat out, remember your mask. If you can, here’s a list, then, of local places participating in the 50% off “eat out to help out” scheme; let’s support them.


If you missed my social media requests for participating places to be included, do not worry, I can update this if you twist my arm with some love…. and remember the best way to a man’s heart! Ah, insert laughing emoji here; only kidding, cheeky blagger that I am. Just message me and I’ll get your café or restaurant added! Do take heed though, while we’re here, overflowing with banter, our foodie reviews are the most popular articles, and we’d love to do one for you.

You can find more participating eateries via postcode search on the Gov site here.  


Devizes

Massimo’s Ristorante

For twenty-seven years Francos was the finest Italian restaurant in Devizes, but with the departure of Sicilian chef, Massimo Pipitone things were never quite the same. Two years ago, Massimo returned to Old Swan Yard to recapture the restaurant’s reputation and with a name change, has succeeded in putting it back on top. Still operating the takeaway service, it begun during lockdown, they’ve now reopened the restaurant, excellently observing social distancing regulations. They serve traditional Italian and Sicilian cuisine, and the pizzas are awesome!

Take it from me, one who loves his tucker, you will not find better service, quality and tastier food this side of Roma!  Booking at weekends is essential. 

The Pelican:

Splendid inn situated at the Market Place, known best for its roast dinners, which can be takeaway too. The Pelican have various cuisine events and has a scrumptious bar menu. An example from this weekend’s roast option:  Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb. Chicken is always an alternative every week with a beautiful Home-Made Vegetarian Option. Vegan or Gluten Free diets also catered for with advance booking. £8.95 per person, £5.95 per child, £4.50 per Home Made Dessert. Please telephone 01380 723909 to book.

pelican bar menu

 

New Society:

Sitting somewhere between glorious pub grub and restaurant, New Society in the Market Place was quickly established as one of our best eateries. Our review last September has always been one of our highest hitting articles, and they were glad to announce reopening on 3rd July. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, or perhaps a coffee stop, New Society is a comfortable setting and serves a large selection.  Operating usual daytime opening hours, but currently evenings are restricted to Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is advisable to pre-book for these nights (01380 722288).

newsoc1

1Spice

One of the newer establishments, it did not take long for 1 Spice in Maryport Street to earn the jewel in the crown of Indian restaurants in Devizes, and rightly so. It’s my chosen place for a knees-under, and is often cited top of majorities’ list. Conventionally, Indian restaurants convey an aptitude of exceptional customer service and etiquette, and 1Spice is of no exception. Expect to be welcomed, but what is more, expect a wide and gorgeous selection, mixing the flavours and spices of India with the finest seasonal ingredients the West Country can offer. It’s driving my appetite for a Ruby just typing this, and I’ve had my dinner already!

The Hourglass:

Tucked away at Devizes Marina, the Hourglass is a perfect location and serves a high-quality pub menu. Options have been restricted since reopening on 4th July, but expanding now, and takeaway service is available. Booking is advisable for food. Subject to change, opening hours are 11am-9pm every day, with food served between 5-8pm, Thursdays through to Sundays. Book online here.

hourglass

Tea Inc

A cup of Rosy-Lee for me, I’m not a coffee guy. Still, I’ve not been in Tea Inc in the Ginnel (just off the Market Place) and now in Marlborough, sovereign of tearoom towns. This must change, I’m coming for you guys, ensure you have some custard creams! This humble teashop throws off the doily and delicate fingertip-cup-hold stereotype of tea rooms and prides itself with an eclectic, quirky environment they affectionately call “The Shoppe.”

Serving crumpets (fnarr, yurkk, yurkk) sandwiches, salads and soup, this could just be the essential shopping stop-off for tea drinkers; get away from me with your X-L vanilla Nespresso dripping down your MacBook!

Times Square

Central to Devizes Market Place, Times Square is simply the perfect little coffee shop for a light lunch. Cakes and ice cream, say no more. As the name suggests it may have started by being inspired by American cuisine, yet only in the best possible taste. Times Square is no stranger to hosting the odd event, and is a welcomed shopping stop off.

  Brogans Café

Brogans Café in the Brittox is one I confess I’ve yet to try. Outside space, ice cream, cakes and milkshakes and smoothies, Brogans prides itself on its vegan options. “Vegan Jaffa Cake style cake” as pictured below, might just twist my arm!

Bengal Bite

Throughout my years here in Devizes, Bengal Bite in Sheep Street has always been the tandoori kitchen of choice. The Bengal Bite offers contemporary Indian and Bangladeshi food. It’s comfy and hospitable, a romantic place to woe a prospective love with a mild Korma, or equally a place for you and the lads to blow your pants off with a blistering Vindaloo! The Bengal Bite has been voted the best restaurant in Wiltshire by the readers of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, and 2014 finalist for Small Business of the Year in the Wiltshire Business Awards.

The Fox & Hound

A little out of town but worth the trek down Nursteed Road, The Fox & Hound is an inviting family pub, offering romantic carriage rides followed by lunch or candle-lit dinner, and successful horse-drawn ghost and historical tours of Devizes start and finish at the Fox.

Jeffersons

The most down-to-earth café you’ll find in Devizes, this is Monday Market Street’s gem; great service, gorgeous homecooked breakfasts and lunches at affordable prices, never had a bad fry-up there yet!

The Bell on the Green

Always a favourite for the location in its title, The Bell has reopened with times and obvious restrictions. Here’s their menu….

Bradford-on-Avon

 

Coffee Etc:

Marvellous little coffee shop in Lamb Yard, just off Kingston Road, serving hot and cold beverages, breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas with great homemade cakes, and vinyl records too. Comfy hideaway this place, perfect for a stop-off when strolling town. I reviewed it a long time ago for Index:Wiltshire, but the site has been taken down now, so you’ll have to take my word for it! Facebook page here.

coffee etc

Jamie at The Southgate; first live music review for a while!

Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Even if, it’s pathetic to lose your shit over the lessening of restrictions and go on an all-out bonkers spree of drunken foolishness, playing into the media’s hands creating a drama from a crisis. It is understandable isolated folk fear the idea of venturing to pubs when carefully selected images of hordes of pissheads scrapping outside some chavvy chain bar are spread across social media, just as a few weeks ago a trip to the beach would’ve been scorned at.

For me, a relative good, aging boy, who’s been looking forward to the prospect of an unpretentious pint down the Southgate all morning at work, to return home and regrettably check Facebook to notice a local post claiming sixty-plus youths were last night causing havoc in town, and extend the horror to hear similar events occurred in the Sham too, it’s discouraging. Will I be held up as a hooligan, because I desire life to return to a time when going to the pub was normality?

It’s a matter of being selective. If it was up to me, I’d encourage a mass boycott of Bojo’s philistine bum-chum, Tim Martin’s shamelessly uncultured shithouses, but each to their own. They lead by example, a bad one. If you want to pour your hard-earned pounds into the pocket of this billionaire who treated his staff with such utter disrespect, perhaps you’re the kind of insensible sociopath who enjoys a punch-up. Not me, I went to the Southgate for an afternoon pint and report back a decidedly lack of hooliganism from rampaging shirtless knob-jockeys; don’t believe the hype.

Going to this pub was safer than shopping, and the delightful experience it always was, if not more being it’s been a while.

I actually got what I anticipated all along; a warm welcome, orderly queuing for the bar, a bottle or two of hand sanitiser and a slight gathering observing social distancing, able to contain their excitement at being let off their leash. But what is more, some breezy live music; what I’ve been holding out for. Yay! I’m not writing to slag off some corporate monopoly, but wanted to compare and contrast, plus get the rant off my chest. Rather it is, our first live music review for seemingly eons, and who better to grace the step of the Southgate’s garden than Jamie R Hawkins? Okay, I know I’m asking too many questions in this piece, but that was rhetorical.

20200711_164822509724360000422533.jpg

Perched in the doorway of the skittle alley, slighter of beard and longer of locks, Jamie was every bit the icing on the cake. Predictable, could be said, but welcoming to see the many faces admiring over his ambiance of acoustic goodness. In faith too, of the gradual phase-in for live music, the session wasn’t intended to be long; just a few songs from 4-6pm. Enough though to get a taste, and Jamie looked to be enjoying it as much as the crowd.

There were some new ones, Walking into Doors (?) one I arrived for, one perhaps called “Speechless.” Jamie did one cover, Simon & Garfunkel’s Cecelia, and went through some of his benchmarks, the wonderful Capacity to Change, the remarkably sentimental Not Going Anywhere, and being it was a family affair, the ukulele-driven “Welcome to the Family,” aimed at his restless toddler in her pushchair. Yes, an intimate setting, but with words crafted so beautifully and perceptible as Jamie’s, one cannot see the relevance in your own life.

20200711_1648074620330712903963292.jpg

It was also a notable notion that Jamie was the last person to perform at our splendid Southgate, prior to the lockdown, so fitting he set the ball rolling in reopening. Though, with the unification with Phil Cooper and Tamsin Quin as The Lost Trades, a band formed in just enough time to play a debut, Jamie and the gang are really gathering acclaim further afield. They are promised at the Gate, but again, we have to be patience; this was a teaser under certain restrictions. A band, a late night outside may not be feasible for this humbling pub, yet, but time will tell.

Here then, was a lovely teaser afternoon, and proof above all media hype surrounding this ease of restrictions, that it can be done sensibly and responsibly, and the Southgate is on top of the movement towards normality; when it does, it’ll be something wonderful. Has lockdown made us appreciate the simpler things in life we once took for granted? Not really, it’s always been this good.


Adverts & Stuff!

superheroholdclubcovidcampInDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966operationteddy1plankshead1asam2rainbowlogo

NervEndings For The People

More clout than Ocean Colour Scene I’d expected after hearing frontman Mike Barham’s prior thrashing solo releases and drummer Luke Bartels previous band, but more roaring blues than Reef was an angle I didn’t see coming when I first checked our local purveyors of loud, NervEndings.

We’re countless gigs in now, the band, with bassist and secondary vocalist Rob McKelvey, still tight and raucous. I’m glad there’s a six-track album doing the rounds on the streaming sites, as by way of a meanderingly drunken tête-à-tête with Luke down the Gate, an album in the pipeline was one of the random topics breezed over, but so was the debatable aggression levels between Welsh and English badgers too, so I only held hope it’d see the light!

nervendings3

“For The People”they’re calling it, then, out last week. It’s got the kick I now predicted, with that surprising blues element to boot, particularly in the opening track, Infectious Groove. Yet the Muddy Puddles single we’ve reviewed in the past follows, and sets the ball really rolling; it takes no prisoners, yet, for its catchiness, contains a slither of something very sixties; imagine pre-Zeppelin metal.

Emo, to audaciously use an unfamiliar genre, I’d best describe Colour Blind; smoother, drifting indie rock. And in that, Fighting Medicine is more as I’d supposed, guitar riff rocking like a driving song and Mike’s brainy lyrics, with added profanity to describe the drunken hooligan spoiling for a rumble. You know the bloke, there’s always one.

nervendings4

With themes of non-pretentious indie, Chin up continues this ethos, forget the attempts to conform to expectances, it’s a be-yourself song. Best, in my humble opinion, though, is Dark Dance; as it says on the tin, teetering on crashing punk, it’s upbeat and danceable, in a throwing-your-head mosh-pit kind of way, which isn’t my way, usually, but it reaches a bridge of mellow romance-themed splendour. Here’s Jimi Hendrix covering Blur’s Song Two, as the blues is retained in all these contemporary rock tunes, and for a dude indifferent to the cliché indie sound, it works on my level too.

nerendings2

Nicely done, and, double-whammy, Mike has forced upon me this streaming inclination which defies all my generation stood for when collecting music. Our parents called us by name when shouting up the stairs to turn the music down, not “Alexa!” Ah, it needed to be done and I’m grateful, in a sense. “Send me a download or something,” I pleaded, “I don’t understand this Spotty-Fly thing!” But it only met with the reply, “it’s on all the streaming sites….” I’m of the generation who tried to turn over the first CD they got, to listen to the B-side, and only just got the hang of downloading. Now I’m causally informed downloading’s sooo millennial.

I dunno, all moving too fast it; seems so unphysical, not to have a record collection, rather a playlist. You can’t skin up on a Deezer playlist. At least downloading had a file, nearer, somewhat, to owning a record. But I’ve persevered and found the Spotify app on my PC more user friendly; I didn’t harass my daughter for assistance once, as I regularly do with the phone.

So, cheers, Mike. Hopefully this will help me surpass the “noob” label my son has tied to me, which, I’m told is a word for both a novice and an insult in one. Honestly, I feel like my grandad, who, when he came over once, stood staring at our new LCD television and asked, “where’s your tele?!” For the People needs to include the older people too, as I reckon many would either love it, or give this trio a ruddy good clip around the ear, which is maybe what they deserve for being so damn good; they’d have me talking emoji next.


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcampInDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966plankshead1asam2whitespacevanman

Jon Amor is Cooking

Last time I saw Jon Amor he was queuing for Sainsburys. Sign of the times I suppose, would’ve much preferred to say we were in a pub or hall, and Jon was doing his thing. Capers, was what, he explained, he went in for. Those Mediterranean pickled berries, I figured; Jon is as epicure with his tucker as he is with his music. A new single, Peppercorn, expands the hypothesis; he’s cooking alright.

A contemporary blues performer with an established diverse repertoire, I was surprised upon reviewing his 2018 album, Colour in the Sky, of a distinctive and quirky fashion akin to late-seventies pop-rock in the more beguiling tracks; a drainpipe-suited Elvis Costello, of type, and songs as good to match. I’m thinking of the tracks Red Telephone and Illuminous Girl in particular, they don’t follow the archetypical modern bluesman manner, they’re upbeat, zany and define a certain panache emerging with Jon. I’m pleased to say Peppercorn doesn’t just correspond with this notion, but expands upon it.

Accompanied by video of crazy antics around his home, presumably recorded over his many entertaining lockdown live streams, with not only a rather perfected Ministry of Silly Walks tribute in snappy blue winkle-pickers, but an amusing puppet sequence to scream Sledgehammer at you. This is a quirky, catchy little tongue-in-cheek number. From Shanks & Bigfoot’s Sweet Like Chocolate to, more appropriately, The Soul Leaders’ boss reggae classic, Pour on the Sauce, food innuendo is no new thing in music; Louis Jordan nailed it in the thirties. Still with his demarcated and inimitable stylishness, here’s Jon’s own take on it.

20191221_223346_resized

With a little slide-guitar intro, after thirty seconds it’s having it; immediately enticing and definingly why Jon Amor sets the local live music bar high. Though he is, the hybrid between man-about-Devizes-town and blues legend. At a quid from Bandcamp, this shiny example of why is a winning dish.


Adverts & Stuff!

covidcampInDevizes-Logo-e1585760867966plankshead1asam2whitespacevanman

From The Specials; Neville Staple Band in Lockdown

Photos by John Coles
Artwork by Sugary Staple

If last year’s fortieth anniversary of Two-Tone Records saw an upsurge of interest in this homegrown second-generation ska, it shows no sign of flawing anytime soon. Perhaps you could attribute parallels to the social and political climate of our era, or debate intransigent devotees are reliving their youth, but I’d argue it’s simply an irresistible sound.

One thing our eighties counterparts didn’t have to contend with was the Covid19 pandemic, and musicians of every genre are reflecting on it. Ska is of no exception, we’ve seen many contemporary performers releasing new material on the subject, but here we have a legend doing his thing, topically.

139302

The Neville Staple Band releases this timely single, Lockdown. A dynamic modern-sounding reggae track, yet encompassing all the goodness of the Two-Tone era of yore. Understandable, original rude boy Neville Staple is conversant with this, a founder member and co-frontman of The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Special Beat. Those influences shine through here. There’s something very Fun Boy Three about this tune, with a slice of poetically-driven Linton Kwesi Johnson to its feel.

As true as the song suggests, in lockdown Dr Neville Staple has teamed up with wife Sugary Staple, to pump out this relevant single, commonly reflecting on the feeling of many concerning the virus and staying safe. “Sugary came up with the idea to write a song about the lockdown,” Neville explains, “which, at first, was a very fast-stomping ska track. We then realised that it was too fun and happy a tune for the theme. Most of us have been quite down about the whole virus thing, so we decided to take it on a more sweet but moody 2Tone reggae route, in a similar vein to ‘Ghost Town’, with some music we had worked on previously with Sledge [Steve Armstrong.]”

697423

While I detect echoes of Ghost Town, this tune also breathes originality and present-day freshness, confirming progression of the genre rather than a frequently supposed nostalgia. Being a local site, some may recall his visit to Melksham’s ParkFest last year, where an unfortunately damp evening didn’t stop the revelling, and Neville stole the show with an assortment of Two-Tone classics. I was backstage with the wonderful support band Train to Skaville. A chance meeting with Neville, when he popped out of his tent for pizza, humourlessly failed to engage long enough to explain who I was, and ended with him pointing at his pizza-box and saying “yeah, I’m going off to eat this.” I should’ve known better than to harass a legend when their pizza is chilling in drizzle! I nodded my approval, knowing I’d have done the same thing.

Neville was awarded an honorary doctorate from Arden University last year. With a tour, and so many international shows and festivals postponed, the couple decided to do a lot of extra charity work as well as new song writing. DJ recordings for people sick in hospitals or in isolation, personally dedicated to them, was just the start. Sugary and Neville wanted to highlight the work of Zoe’s Place, a charity run for terminally ill babies and toddlers. As ambassadors for this charity, Sugary expressed, “charities like these really do suffer at a time like this, as the focus is on other things. But the work they do at Zoe’s Place is like one of a kind and so very special. They step in when families really do need the support, providing 24-hour high quality, one-to-one palliative, respite and end-of-life care for children aged 0-5 years. A heart-breaking time for anyone involved. We must not lose a charity like this – it is too important and so we will be supporting this, along with other charities we are patrons or ambassadors to, with this single.” And the duo dedicates this song to all those who have been affected by Covid-19.

817546

Shared to our Boot Boy Radio DJs, you can expect we will be spinning in for the foreseeable future, but you can get it here:

7″ vinyl order https://bit.ly/2NeeoUA

Spotify https://open.spotify.com/album/1s2wuLNQ3q4wsvq7tOUfVh

iTunes https://music.apple.com/gb/album/lockdown-single/1515072018

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lockdown/dp/B0894K4G1Q


SPECIAL NOTICE – FROM THE SPECIALS, NEVILLE STAPLE & SUGARY:

A MESSAGE TO YOU..! The Legendary Neville Staple (Dr), Sugary Staple & the Band, need your help please.

Can you wonderful people please donate just £3 towards this project (which will also get you 2 signed exclusives pics), or any random amount, or check out the mega exclusive vinyl 45 & CD gift set offers (these are going really well, and are extremely rare limited edition items, so grab them while you can). You just click this link and choose your reward, to then register your donation.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fromthespecials/lockdown-ska-2020-from-the-specials-neville-staple-and-sugary/   


If you like a bit of ska and reggae, catch me on www.bootboyradio.co.uk Fridays from 10pm GMT till midnight!

skaingwestcountry


Adverts & Stuff!