Groovers on Manoeuvres

The rants and raves of a music fan in Swindon.

Sounds Around Town : 24th – 30th July

10007472_597937763635813_1859564634_nI was fishing around in a box of vinyl albums I found in the attic that hailed from a time when people still thought that digital watches were a neat idea and I came across a load of those ghastly “ Now That’s What I Call Music…” compilation albums.  It struck me that the idea of a compilation album is a weird concept, one that sees a cheek by jowl mix of musicians who would not normally bother to make eye contact if they were sitting at the same table.  It also made me think about what if there was such a thing of a compilation novel.  The best bits of literature presented as a complete work.

 

It might be set in Second World War Greece when an Italian, mandolin playing artillery captain wakes up to find that he has turned into a beetle. Mrs Bennet then decides that he is no longer a suitable husband for Little Nell and in revenge for this slight he sets fire to the library of Gormenghast castle.  Heathcliff cries out “The horror, the horror” the White Whale drags Frodo under the water as he slowly comes to a stark realisation. He loved Big Brother. Have I just created a new literary concept? Hopefully not.

 

Anyway enough nonsense and cut to the chase. Those of you who missed out on Womad and the chance to catch Tibetan punk bands, Colombian jazz fusion out fits, Nepalese Hip-Hop crews and of course Billy Bragg (probably) can console yourselves with a couple of local festivals featuring bands with more pronounceable names.

 

Firstly running Friday to Sunday, Festival on The Farm takes place in the grounds of Purton House Organics and features a great mix of covers and original music, solo artists and full bands and everything from funky soul to heavy rock. Alternatively, on Saturday, The Stratton Stroll has its usual musical meander around the pubs of that area. 6 venues, twenty artists, one great day. In both cases check the website for times and line ups, there is far too many for me to detail here but rest assured there is something for everyone. I suppose festivals are a bit like compilation albums or are they boxed sets…sorry, I won’t start that again.

 

So, back in the regular haunts, there is still a lot of great music to be had. Two-piece neo-grunge outfit, Boss Cloth (pictured) have an e.p. launch tonight at The Victoria where they are joined by high-energy doom bass and drums outfit Skin Horse (see the connection yet?) Opening the night is Sea Mammal, a swirling, experimental duo (how about now?) from the people who brought you Babies vs. Rabies.

 

The other end of the spectrum is being catered for at The Beehive with Skins and Strings who play wonderful blends of table drum beats and pastoral acoustic guitar lines.

 

On Friday, The Victoria hosts its regular Bands and Burlesque nights with music from old school rock and rollers Josie and The Outlaw and at The Beehive it’s Teddy White Lite, (their spelling not mine, damned this creeping Americanisation of our language) all the usual best of blues, beats and boogie from yesteryear presented as an acoustic set. At The Rolleston, Lily B plays acoustic covers from Joni Mitchel to Aerosmith and from K T Tunstall to Pink.

 

If the idea of two, top of their game, international psychobilly bands gets your musical juices flowing then The Rolleston on Saturday is the place to be. Hailing from Hamilton New Zealand and London, respectively, The Doppelgangers and The Moonshine Stalkers both have a reputation for wild, energetic shows that fuse old time rockabilly with punk sensibilities.

 

Acoustic music is provided in both quantity and quality as The GW Acoustic session celebrates its first birthday. Playing the night is Ells and The Southern Wild, Charlie Ann, Jimmy Moore, The Wires, Andrew Paul Davis and Who Cares? Also on offer is a tribute to U2 at The Victoria.

 

Rounding the musical working week off on Wednesday is Billy Bingham at the Roaring Donkey; delicate threads of acoustic guitar over laid with heartfelt, honest lyrics, perfect music for a warm summer evening.

Live and Local – 16th july ’04

swindon105_5logo-300x186Here is the podcast version (ie PRS friendly) of yesterdays show. We were joined by Ells and Darryl from The Southern Wild for a live session and chat plus music from Theo Altieri, Mynie Moe, George Montague, De La Rosa, Tides of Change, Vault of Eagles, Si Hall, Nick Tann, Moths/Mat Caron and George Wilding.

 

Listen HERE

Sounds Around Town: 17th – 23rd July

206225_10151457119876051_1566407449_nSo all of the big events of the summer are over. Wimbledon is now no more than a faint whiff of barley water and Glastonbury, which now seems to host every British citizen who owns a guitar, is just a talking point around the water cooler of insurance firms the length and breadth of the Home Counties. Even the World Cup is done and dusted and Brazilians everywhere are already denying it ever took place whilst assiduously avoiding buying German produce.  You have all watched the boxed set of Breaking Bad five times and it is least another month before shops start stocking up with their Christmas gift range, so what do we do now? Start going to local gigs again that’s what.

 

Unlike the acts at Glasto (ironic use of cringeworthy hipster slag) local gigs are good for the environment; the musical produce is locally sourced and puts money directly back into the local community. Plus you don’t risk the danger of having to watch Mumford and Sons!

 

What you can watch tonight, however, are three top acts at Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Headliner Theo Altieri does a neat line in indie-pop that channels a classic song writing tradition from early Beatles, through The Kinks, Paul Weller and is likely to soon be giving the Buggs and Sheerans of this world a run for their money.  Support comes from The Greasy Slicks best described as the soundtrack to a Bourbon soaked bar brawl, mixing slick and raucous blues grooves, authenticity and energy in equal measure. Opening the night are The Automanics a blend of warped swamp riffs, cosmic workouts, psychedelic interludes proggy structures and much more besides.

 

A stalwart of the acoustic music circuit is Ron Trueman Border who delivers instantly accessible songs with lyrical resonance and dexterous musical lines. He is at The Beehive.

 

The talking point for a few weeks now has been the final Tides of Change show at Level 3.  Over the past few years the band has developed into a cornerstone of the alt-rock scene and this show is to act as their swansong and wrap party all in one.  Also helping them to go out in style are the slick and forceful tones of All Ears Avow, elegant post-rock from Liberto Wolf and pop punk from Highly Personal who take the place of the previously billed Natures. Sounds like a top night for rock fans. Meanwhile upstairs at The Rolleston, Humdinger plays rock and pop covers.

 

Rock is also on the menu at The Victoria, this time of the drunken pub R’n’B variety with The Hamsters from Hell. Think Dr Feelgood after four-day bender. Think Kilburn and The High Roads stuck in traffic along Fleming Way. Actually don’t think, just drink, dance, fall over and join the party.

 

A rival party with a nautical theme…piratical even, takes place at The Beehive with the arrival of Calico Jack to these waters.  These festival favourites mix woe and wonderment, twisted tales, off kilter folk music, klezmer vibes, circus tomfoolery and general acoustic rowdiness. Not only great music but guaranteed to have you grinning from buccaneer to ear. (gedit?)

 

Saturday offers a couple of tributes. If you want to hear the music of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers then The Victoria is the place to be and head out to Riffs Bar if The Police are more your sort of thing. Going Underground at The Rolleston offer a range of post punk, ska and mod covers.

 

Winning the award for most air miles earned to get to a gig are The Very Most (pictured)who come all the way from Boise, Idaho to play The Victoria on Tuesday. A rich tapestry of post punk influences, the innocence of Belle and Sebastian and the lush Beach Boys vocal textures, this is a real must see band who probably won’t pass by this way again for a while. On tour with them is Glasgow’s The Yakuri Cable who mix synth-pop with indie guitar to wonderful effect. Opening the show is King in Mirrors who haven’t come very far at all.

The Very Most, Yakuri Cable and The King in Mirrors hit Swindon

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Sounds Around Town: 10th – 16th July

1394432_639689642740457_554281832_nAnother quiet week in the Grand Duchy of Swindon, I guess the good weather means that many people are opting for back garden barbeques or at least the back garden of a pub rather than being confined to dark, sweaty, side rooms to watch bands play. Good news for those who want to work on their tan: bad news for working bands. Bad news for Goths for that matter.  You have to feel sorry for the old school goth in this weather… not the modern, nu-metal evolved contemporary goth who still thinks that Marilyn Manson and The Crow is the alpha and omega of the genre. I’m talking about the early eighties survivors. The ones in DMs and drainpipe jeans, Interview with a Vampire style frilly white shirt, eyeliner and Max Factor Porcelain face foundation for that recently deceased look. It must be difficult playing five a side football with your Ray-Bans on in an attempt to look like Wayne Hussey. I always think that if the temperature gets too high they will spontaneously combust or go into the whole “I’m melting” routine like the Wicked Witch of the West. Still, full marks for effort.

 

Sadly nothing remotely of that genre on this week, but there is a clash of great original music on the northern slopes of Old Town tonight. At The Beehive, Bruise (pictured) will be regaling the crowds with their wonderful cross-pollination of Joni Mitchell-esque folk, Eurythmic power-pop and a whole bunch of strange prog-rock meanderings. Believe me it will be like nothing that you have heard before.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, are Weatherstorms; atmospheric, sensual, dance tinged vibes and tonight performed stripped back and acoustic by main man James Cameron, a face you will recognise from such great acts as Old School Tie and Sam Green and The Midnight Heist. That’s at The Victoria.

 

And talking of acoustic sets, The Rolleston has Boot Led Zeppelin Acoustic, a band that none other than Sharleen Spiteri from Texas described as sounding “amazing.”

 

Friday’s big offering is seminal doo-wop group The Drifters at The Wyvern Theatre. Known for iconic songs such as Up On The Roof and Under The Boardwalk the band have survived through many incarnations but the reason for their longevity (61 years and counting) will be obvious from the first note.

 

And if the sound of 50’s New York is not to your taste, how about the timeless sounds of The Delta as The Blue Trees evoke haunting blues and a southern fried rock groove at The Beehive. More Americana at The Victoria with Cash, a tribute to the man in black himself and even speaking as someone who is not big on country music or tribute bands, this band are amazing.

 

At The Rolleston Lewis Creavan and his band will be firing off a salvo of songs from such icons as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

 

A full day of music is on offer on Saturday at The Swindon Town Football Club Legends Lounge to raise money for The Prospect Hospice and Ruby’s fat Cow Fund.  Acts include A Way With Words, Sahara Heights, 8 Minutes Later, The Illustrations and many more so check their website for full details.

 

The rest of Saturday is in the hands of standard bearers and those offering tribute. At The Victoria Felix and The Funk play floor fillers from Daft Punk to Chic and from James Brown to Jamiroquai. It’s old school ska, punk and new wave at Riffs Bar with Going Underground and at The Woodlands Edge it’s The Shoo Flies who describe themselves as a “unique covers band” which to me is quite an ironic turn of phrase, but that’s just me.

 

Bit of a treat at The Victoria on Tuesday as Brian Hogan brings Preachers Son to The Victoria. Not only does the band draw comparisons to early Thin Lizzy and the demented approach of The Jon Spenser Blues Explosion but also Brian has worked with everyone from Irish folk giants Kila (one of my highlights of a dim and distance Womad Festival) to Gavin Friday, Sinead O’Connor and even U2.

 

And as if one great Irish band isn’t enough for you, a more traditional offering from the Emerald Isle comes in the form of Patrick Street at the Arts Centre which features former members of The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Planxty and Van Morrison’s Band.

3 AM – Nick Tann

thAlthough not based within our parish boundaries, Nick Tann has over the last few years become such a regular part of the local music scene that he certainly does feel like one of our own. In a world of Ed Sheeran wannabes and Frank Turner acolytes, Nick’s blend of soulful jazz and folk is refreshingly mature, no boyish whining or unrealistic idealism, just worldly reflections and real world musings, but wrapped around that lyrical mission the music manages to really push the boundaries of the guy with a guitar format.

 

The title track starts in familiar territory, this boy’s gotta go blues lyrics to a late night shuffling soul beat, a stark contrast to the subject matter of Coming Home, a lilting and joyous reunion and a clever reference to the 3 AM of the title song, emotional bookends, heartstrings pulled in two different directions.

 

Sadder Than Sad goes for a lounge jazz singer vibe, staccato strums and muted trumpet evoke smoky late night clubs but one of the most interesting songs presented here is Never Did Me Harm which seems to wander the genres with it’s mad back beats and wailing Tex-Mex harmonica and the minimal and heartfelt chorus, a Sergio Leone sound track with a Damien Rice interlude…intriguing.

 

What Nick is good at is taking the singer-song writing template and finding something new to do with it, although when he does take a traditional route the quality alone makes the songs stand out, that and a voice that manages to combine power with control, soaring when required but with an inbuilt soulfulness as it’s default setting. Not a bad tool to have in the musical box of tricks.

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