A Dirty Harry, some Ex-Men, a One Love Orchestra and more @ MantonFest 2020

Tickets for this summer’s Manton-Fest are up for grabs, a one-day festival I’ve heard only good things about.

The date is Saturday 27th June. A £20 Early-bird ticket will guarantee you’re in for this previously sold-out mini-fest, this year you can book a plot for your gazebo for £5, parking has been moved to a separate field allowing more space, but let’s see what your money will get you this year shall we?

The headliner is Edinburgh’s Blondie tribute, Dirty Harry. While there’s Blondie tributes aplenty, the band say, “the essence of Dirty Harry is to put on a show Blondie would give the nod to and in true punk style.” Call me, I’m convinced, and slightly hot under the collar; with the advantage of YouTube you can judge for yourself, modern technology eh?

The Ex-Men are next on the hierarchy, as the name suggests, it’s an amalgamation group made up of Alan Sagar ex Big Country, Graham Pollock ex The Hollies, Peter Barton ex the Animals, Phil Bates ex ELO and Geoff Hammond ex Denny Laine; you get the idea. A stimulating sounding assembly with a wealth of experience between them couldn’t possibly go wrong.

The Ex-Men

Vintage blues with a hard edge groove is the ethos of Barrelhouse, who promise up-beat original tracks and classic covers. You be forgiven for assuming the Swinging Blue Jeans would headline, but this classic-sixties rock n roll group have no members of the original skiffle sextet. Yet the band went through constant changes throughout its expansive history, with replacements dating back as far as 1963, when they had their memorable hit, “Hippy Hippy Shake,” and frontman Alan Lovell has led the band for over twenty years.

London-based Bob Marley tribute, the One Love Orchestra could well be my arm twister. Formed in 2010, by musical director and lead guitarist Marcin Bobkowski, One Love Orchestra comprises of reggae musicians who’ve worked with legends like The Wailers, Max Romeo, Johnny Osbourne, Lee Scratch Perry, and UB40, and bring a moving tribute to the legend.

Lancashire singer-songwriter Joe Martin returns after being a hit last year, Manton’s own mellow blues-based Ed Witcomb will also appear, along with local rock covers band @59, and Skedaddle open the show with their mix of soul, blues and jazz. More are promised, if this isn’t enough to be getting on with, and I dunno, it just sounds like a splendid day. For what begun as an event to aid much-needed restoration funds for Manton Village Hall, its grown into an important occasion on our local circuit and aids other local charities.

Ed Witcomb

More info and for tickets look ‘ere….


© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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PREVIEW: Bradford Roots Music Festival 17th – 19th January 2020 @ Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford

Andy Fawthrop

If you’re looking for a whole week-end of music-based events, with lots of sessions for children too, then you should do yourself a favour and head over to Bradford-On-Avon. It’s a bit out of D-Town I know, but it doesn’t take long to just tootle over to the really splendid Wiltshire Music Centre.

Now in its eighth year, Bradford Roots Music Festival, now extended to three days, is all about two things – showcasing the vast array of musical talent that has any connection with Bradford, and raising (lots of) money for good causes. This year’s beneficiaries will be Dorothy House Hospice, Zone Club (creative club for disabled young adults) and Wiltshire Music Centre. All the artists play for nothing and the event is administered and operated wholly by volunteers. That way all the funds raised go to the good causes.

This year’s event starts next Friday night (17th Jan) with a concert featuring Louie Millar, Crossing The Rockies and Verdisa. This concert is almost sold out, so get your skates on!

Then the main two-day Festival spreads itself across Saturday and Sunday from 11am each day. Saturday’s programme goes through till 10pm, and Sunday’s programme finishes at 4pm. There are four stages in operation, including the superb main WMC auditorium. Over the two days there are more than fifty different acts scheduled to play, including music concerts, shanty sessions, children’s concerts, jazz, blues, poetry, morris dancing and much more.

Particular acts to look out for are The Magnificent AK47, Will Lawton & The Alchemists, Lee Broderick, Billy In The Lowground, and The Yirdbards, although there’s so much going on that it almost seems invidious to pick out individual artists.

roots 2020 flier-1

Apart from all the music events, there are several spaces given over to craft workshops, merchandising, tarot readings, a Peculiar Gin Company gin bar, a Box Steam main bar and an artisan fair. Just outside there’s a huge marquee hosting JC’s Kitchen, which runs all weekend serving hot drinks and great array of home-cooked food.

I can’t recommend this event highly enough – there genuinely is something for everyone to enjoy, with great food, great beer and a great atmosphere. It’s superb value for money and there’s plenty to do and see for children and for adults. If you’ve never been, I urge you to check it out. You can buy tickets online, or on the door. Day tickets for Saturday or Sunday are available, as well as a 2-day Weekender Ticket.

The Wiltshire Music Centre is also a superb venue in its own right, hosting a year-round programme of top UK and international artists from all genres – classical, folk, blues etc. Worth checking out if you are after top-class entertainment.

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Nerve Endings Love Muddy Puddles!

Local indie-rock outfit, Nerve Endings have a debut single, out last week…..

At the distal end of every axon lies the conclusion to a nerve. They message sensory neurons, bleating “you’re hot,” “or cold,” or “oi, that hurts!” Around these waters a personification are the nociceptors of noise, chiefly guitarist and lead vocalist Mike Barham, bassist and vocalist Rob McKelvey and drummer boy, Luke Bartels, and their stimuli definitely sends threat signals on the ears, in a premium possible manner.


When they step on stage expect a little horseplay, then an explosive set of twisted blues riffs combining the elements of all contemporary alternative and indie rock subgenres. It leaves one intrigued by the news, which was drunkenly fed to me one summer’s evening at the Southgate, what will become of the progression towards recording the sound; we now have confirmation. Muddy Puddles is a Peppa Pig free song, which howls all that’s prodigious about Nerve Endings; unless Peppa is one who wears her heart on her sleeve.

Players, I shit them. Relationship annoyance by those who view romance as a sport, if being an archetypical subject, this alarm-ringing debut single of thrashing guitar riffs, with howling vocals that meet a near-sixties blues melody composes it with freshness. And as the gritty theme takes no prisoners, wailing “you won’t change, get your head out your arse and you might see,” analogous of actual nerve endings, sending a powerful warning to those who dig the dagger deeper into their victim’s heart. The result is boundless energy I might’ve expected, but executed professionally and agreeably adroit; great start to the year, guys!

See, I once pondered if the rave era ended youth culture as without conviction, I couldn’t assess any post-genre apt for the idiom. Perhaps the most stimulating conversation I’ve had with Mr Mike Barham, over a decade my junior, was at a Saddleback Festival, where he proclaimed grunge and emo proceeded my era. I was saturated in the fact younger people considered them youth cultures, concluding just like the teddy boys, punks and skinheads before me, my epoch was blindly trapped in the renaissance of a particular era.


For the record I wouldn’t change it for the world, we partied harder, faster and longer than any predecessor, and I’d like to wager more than any “emo,” whatever that was, had to Google! Yet his statement not only aided new exploration in me, but a liking for this gentle giant who explodes with passion and fiery temperament when on stage. A specific style of the genre, that much I am aware. I know who Kurt Cobain was pal, blanketed by an era maybe, but not living on the moon; just a few miles closer to Earth.

My eclectic taste was never faulted by the overindulgence of the youth culture which engulfed me for a period, and I emerge open-minded and prepared to accept anything. Intrigue took me to a Bowling For Soup gig at Bristol’s O2, that and my son’s need of a lift. Yet if I felt out of place, searching for another sober, taxi-driving Dad as youths collapsed in the heat and the frontman made stagediving a cliché, I still enjoyed it. As is Nerve Endings, I’m not dying my hair black with a neon streak, neither are they, but this rocks with competence, appetite and enjoyability.


Here’s the spotty-fly link, I know my system needs updating, here’s one if you’ve an apple; but Mike, thanks to my son’s Christmas present I now know where Bowser’s Castle is, and I like it; getting there, I just take the long way around!

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
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REVIEW – Pink Torpedoes @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 28th December 2019

For One Night Only

Andy Fawthrop

Only a week after John Coughlan’s Quo’s rousing set, it was back up to Long Street Blues Club for another great gig. If you needed the Christmas blues blowing away, this was the gig to do it.

Support act for the night was Jamie R Hawkins, aided and abetted by his sometime collaborator Phil Cooper. I suppose you could say that this was two thirds of the newly-formed Lost Trades, but we’ll have to wait until later to hear their new songs. This set was Jamie and Phil classics from their back catalogues, taking it in turn to take centre stage with mic and guitar, then to drop back onto cajon to provide backing beats and vocals. Of the two, Jamie’s presence and performance is the stronger, and his songs stand up much better. And it was great to hear Jamie belting out his rather non-PC “Hope You Have A Bloody Good Christmas”, with enthusiastic audience participation, to finish up with.


Then an amazing, raucous almost two-hour set from the The Pink Torpedoes. Fronted by ex Dr Feelgood Pete Gage, backed up by former Hoax drummer Dave Raeburn, with guitarist Paul Hartshorn and bassist Pete Lowrey, this four-piece really delivered the goods in this one-off gig.

Keeping the chat to an absolute minimum, the boys launched straight in and played their way through an enormous song-book of rock, blues, R&B, boogie-woogie – you name it. Sounding as tight and professional as if they were gigging every night of the week, the set was full of excitement, raw power and incendiary licks. Pete, on vocals, harmonica and keyboards was the dominating presence up front, but the rest of the band absolutely played their parts.


At times there was a definite “feel-good” factor in the room, and the dance-floor filled up number by number. There was no tin, but if there had been a tin it would have said “open with care – raw, undiluted and powerful”. And the band did exactly what that tin would have said. Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”, Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie-Coochie Man”, Little Richard’s “Lucille”, Bob Troup’s “Route 66” and Albert King’s/ The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” all came tumbling out, one after the other. This was R&B at its very best.

And it was clear that the band thoroughly enjoyed their outing playing together again – the smiles and the laughs, and the audience rapport were great to see.

Another amazingly good gig, another bargain night’s entertainment at Long Street Blues.

Future 2020 gigs at Long Street Blues Club:

• Saturday 25th January Kirk Fletcher (Fabulous Thunderbirds)
• Sunday 26th January Billy Bremner’s Rockpiles
• Saturday 7th March Ian Parker Band
• Saturday 4th April Mike Zito Band
• Saturday 18th April Mark Flanagan Band
• Saturday 30th May Antonio Forcione Quartet

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop)
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Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse, Tigger and Friends All Kicked Out of The Brunel Shopping Plaza This Christmas!

Bureaucracy gone mad, or rightful regulations? Make your own mind up, but kids were upset to see many of their favourite cartoon characters escorted from the Brunel Shopping Centre this Christmas like criminals.

Outcry ensued after Alan Reed posted this video, showing security of the shopping centre harshly directing the characters off the premises. “Every year I organise a visit to the GWH hospital,” Mr Reed explained, “I take all the mascots up there to visit the kid’s wards and give them a present that has been kindly donated. I have a great bunch of friends who volunteer their time to do this. Then, just for some Christmas fun, every year after the hospital we go to the Magic Roundabout, walk about and wave to the cars. The after this we go to the town centre to spread some more fun and Christmas cheer to the people. All the kiddies love it along with their parents.”

Upon asking the reason Alan and friends do this, he told me, “we do all of this free of charge, with no other meaning to it at all.” Perhaps Christmas joy just isn’t enough to warrant such a gesture, not in the eyes of the centre, whose Saturday saw children flock to see Frozen characters Anna & Elsa in aid of Swindon’s Down Syndrome Group. No issue with this, but this impromptu visit is a blunt reminder for Swindonians, despite the shopping centre commonly being regarded as the “town centre,” it’s actually a privately-owned business.

Rob of the Brunel Shopping Centre explained, “as a privately-owned shopping centre it is our duty to ensure that shoppers and their children are kept safe. Therefore, our staff will always politely ask unannounced visitors, who have not sought prior permission to be at the centre, to leave. We regularly work with charities and fundraisers who book in with us and are always happy to work with people to benefit good causes, but we do need to carry out due diligence when booking these people in.”

The issue becomes irate when the organisers question the reasoning, but without an informative response, and security ordered to carry out their task, things become awkward and it doesn’t fair well on the personal relations within the centre. Ah, it happens, but with the children who do not understand the red tape, it has to be said, it’s a crying shame the issue couldn’t have been dealt with diplomatically. I’d suggest the Brunel has a disclaimer form, stating clearly that any repercussions are wholly the responsibility of the organisers, and then, where’s the real problem?

It does remind me of the scene in the classic Pink Panther film, where Inspector Clouseau arrests a blind beggar and his “minky,” whilst a bank robbery is occurring behind them. Forcing me to wonder how many shoplifters or fraudsters happen to be bobbing about the centre during this inconsequential fiasco; maybe it’d make a great decoy!


In an era when physical shopping is losing the war against online shopping, you’d have thought the issue could have been dealt with diplomatically, if not for the children’s sake but the reputation of the centre. Meanwhile social media exploits the video, shares and comments call to boycott the centre as the witch-hunt progresses. A cruel sign of the times with unsolicited media where anyone can pass comment, when the centre has strived to host similar fundraising events yet the bureaucracy stamps on such a good deed. Not in the spirit of Christmas, and yes, I said Minky; because I’m annoyed by what bureaucratic balderdash has degenerated us into, Merry bloody Christmas!

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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Devmas and Roughcut Rebels

With Andy dispatched to Long Street, I’m left to saunter Devizes this drizzly last Saturday before Christmas. Possibly more than usual, there’s choices to be made. Catching the Real Cheesemakers has been on my to-do-list, yet making it down the Southgate seemed unlikely, as I’d an invite to the Christmas Concert of Chole Jordan and Andrew Hurst, determination not to miss Mike Barham’s Devmas #2 down the Cellar Bar, and as the Black Swan had those Roughcut Rebels I couldn’t resist the urge to check them out too.


No customary Christmas jumper, sore foot, Snively cold a-comin’ and the longest work day of the year looming, expect a critical approach as the want to break my record and visit four gigs turned into two. Down the Cellar Bar first, Devmas time in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Badly timed to miss Jamie R Hawkins, who I met outside for a chat. The Celtic Roots Collective, namely Bran Kerdhynen and Mirko Pangrazzi breezing through their set of Irish folk inside, I swaggered to the bar. Ah, Dirty Old Town; this duo gets better each gig. At the bar Bran was keen to explicate that they treat it as fun, but continuing in depth we rapped on folk’s universal effect, from French square-dances to Tin Pan Alley.


Meanwhile compact pussycat Patrick Goodenough resonated his sublime melancholic echoes through the cellar; man, he loved that dog, but even his Christmas song was forlorn! Managed to catch a couple of tunes from the lively Nerve Endings who followed. Of course, with Mike as host of the evening, and Luke’s family in charge of the Bear Hotel, it’s inevitable they’ll play, but their dynamic and entertaining driven rock is always welcome. I nipped out though, soz, but I was summoned to the Town Hall, in error.

I’m intrigued to hear Chole sing after all the local praise and success stories surrounding her school of music, and even if it’s not to my eclectic taste I merit a performance on delivering “what it says on the tin,” rather than my own preference. Yet while I explained who I was and why I was there, I was met with a condescending reply. My name was not on the list, the patronising lady on the door slurred “yes, she invites a lot of people,” implying I wasn’t one of them, and proceeded to attempt to charge me full price for the service. Not the type to growl “do you know who I am?!” I politely had to leave. Note: if you invite Devizine to review your event, ensuring door staff are aware is essential; I don’t review from the carpark.

Third of four scratched off, as drizzle set in and an aforementioned sore foot wander to the Southgate seemed improbable, time to check the Black Swan. Once a haven for live music, this grand and timeless tavern I’ll confess to missing on my usual agenda and I’m keen to bless it once more with my presence! Fitting, as when our Roughcut Rebels play you need to be around. Met with Britpop performer Bill Green and with those Six O’clock Circus guys showing us how they party Calne style, the atmosphere was electric, matching the Roughcut’s blinding performance.


Through Britpop anthems they sprinted, loud and proudly ringing out a five-decade selection of mod and rock covers, each one treated as gold in their hands. Proficient yet lapping up every minute of their show, The Roughcut Rebels came, saw and conquered. Making use of such a lengthy repertoire, as to be expected Oasis, The Kinks and the Jam were in there, but interestingly an awesome, if rather unseasonal, Summertime Blues and superb version of Jake Bugg’s Lightening Bolt. This was bought to the boil with the Who’s Substitute in a versatile and highly entertaining set.

I edged toward the door reluctantly, the thought of Jon Amor arriving at the Cellar Bar persuaded me and, I rushed back across the Market Place narrowly avoiding the traffic; hey, I’m walkin’ over to see Jon Amor here, buddy! Here’s a man, who while The Roughcut’s deliver a powerful full-band show, Jon can match, thrive and amaze, solo, with just an electric and acoustic guitar, and loop pedal.


The finale to this year’s Devmas had come, Mike was smiling as Jon did his thing. Through “Stitch in your party dress,” to “Red Telephone,” he knocked them out with usual excellence and blithe seasonal delight. Covers included a rousing Tainted Love. His unplugged-wandering-around trick took on a Christmas song, as he handed out the Haribo, and he continued to skilfully loop his acoustic guitar to rapidly switch to electric. But Mike’s expression had changed to mixed emotions as Jon requested his and Luke’s presence on the cobblestone stage. While Luke grinned, as is his carefree persona, Mike relished in the opportunity to jam with Jon, yet the trick to lead them into Wham’s Last Christmas left Mike amusingly in revulsion!

I expressed to them, it would never be Christmas again until such an occurrence is replayed, but with the novel theory this will never be repeated. Herein lies the mood of Devmas, it’s relaxed, cheery and convivially Devizes; don’t miss it next year. Though I did find the time to witness the close of the Roughcut Rebels, completing a marvellous evening of free live music here in Vizes, and long in 2020 may it continue! That’s it though, I’m staying in and munching through a box of Quality Street until I puke. Yes, even the tooth-ripping toffee coins.

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Darren Worrow)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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REVIEW – John Coughlan’s Quo @ Long Street Blues Club, Devizes – Saturday 21st December 2019

Deeper And Down

By Andy Fawthrop

Images by Nick Padmore


This one was billed as Long Street Blues Club’s Christmas Bash, and it turned into a rare old party.

Support act for the night was the irrepressible George Wilding. As usual, he was witty and engaging, a bit sweary, but always charming and completely entertaining, finishing his set with the inevitable singalong crowd-pleaser of “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”.

Then two sharp sets from Status Quo’s original drummer’s John Coughlan’s Quo. This four-piece featured the set-up of John on drums, Rick Chase on vocals/ bass, Mick Hughes on vocals/ guitar and Pete Mace on guitar/ vocals. John was a member of Quo from 1962 until 1981, and the set-list mostly featured material from that early “classic” period.


They’re not a “tribute” band in the normal sense of the word, more interested in keeping alive the spirit of the classic early line-up. But they certainly looked the part – long hair, head-bands, Marshall stacks, and satisfyingly loud, complete with demon drumming and catchy guitar breaks. They kicked off with “Something About You Baby I Like”, and the dance-floor was immediately full. Thereafter we were taken through the early back catalogue from 1972’s “Piledriver”, 1975’s “On The Level” and 1976’s “Blue For You”, including the song they first appeared on BBC’s Top Of The Pops with – “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” – a period when the band were still toying with psychedelia, before settling into their now more familiar rock groove.


The sound is not complicated, nor sophisticated, but simple and effective and emotive. It does exactly what it says on the tin – good, down-to-earth rocking – and you can’t help dancing and singing along. We had all the early hits – “Paper Plane”, “Caroline”, “Roll Over, Lay Down”, “Without The Rain”, and a rollicking version of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”.


It was going well, and the crowd were having a party. Then John decided to come out from behind the drums to talk to the crowd and to reminisce. Personally I think this was a bit of a mistake, because the band lost impetus quite late in the set. Whilst it was interesting and amusing, it might have fitted better much earlier in the set.

Fortunately the band quickly got back into gear again to finish with John Fogerty’s “Rockin’ All Over The World”, followed by a well-deserved encore of “Down, Down”, nicely seguing into “Johnny Be Goode”. The dance-floor was full and the crowd were happy.


Another memorable gig.

Future gigs at Long Street Blues Club:

• Saturday 28th December Pink Torpedoes
• Saturday 25th January Kirk Fletcher (Fabulous Thunderbirds)
• Sunday 26th January Billy Bremner’s Rockpiles
• Saturday 7th March Ian Parker Band
• Saturday 4th April Mike Zito Band
• Saturday 18th April Mark Flanagan Band
• Saturday 30th May Antonio Forcione Quartet

© 2017-2019 Devizine (Andy Fawthrop/Nick Padmore)
Please seek permission from the Devizine site and any individual author, artist or photographer before using any content on this website. Unauthorised usage of any images or text is forbidden.

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