Sounds Around Town: 28th July – 3rd August

741242_664074006964975_1369003998_oOkay, it isn’t exactly local but Charlton Park does have an SN postcode so I guess it is okay to remind you that WOMAD kicks off today. You may not have heard of many of the acts or even be able to pronounce some of them but if ever there was a celebration of culturally diverse and globally reaching music then this is it. Whether you have a hankering for Kurdish folk or British hip-hop, New Orleans brass or Malian vocal groups, transcendental raga or gypsy jive, it is all here and more besides. In the grand scheme of things, it is right on your doorstep, which means you can just pop down for the day or do the full-on festival experience with the minimal of travelling.


Back within the parish boundaries and even nearer your doorstep, The Victoria has a nice little top-bar acoustic show lined up. Drew Bryant manages to blend accessible music with some lush elemental imagery; the result is infectious and joyful acoustic deliveries and the most interesting of narratives. Although not a resident Nick Tann has been playing the local circuit regularly for around 6 years (that I know of) so it is always a pleasure to see his unique brand of soaring folk and late night soulful jazz inflections back in town. Mary Jones is the one act not familiar to me but having been described as both delicate and seriously rock and roll, I reckon it is worth getting there early to see her kick off this show.


And if we’re talking about frequent returnees to our live scene, one of the most popular, cheesy and downright filthy (context – this is a town that has The Hamsters From Hell living in it…) acts returns to The Rolleston on Friday. As always even the name is too controversial for a paper that goes out before the water shed. If the idea of sordid imaginings and toilet humour delivered over 80’s arcade game style synth music is your thing then this is for you. Not for the faint hearted or easily offended. 2 Sick Monkeys or on hand to start the night in fine style.


At The Victoria a night of big sounds and grand dynamics is in order. Reveller describe themselves as melodic metal but there is so much more than that going on, soaring metalscaping, technical interludes and brutal breakdowns all vibrantly colour the music but it remains engaging and intriguing through out. Not a bad trick if you can do it. Ghosts of Machines add the epic, dystopian vibes; Edenfalls and Over To You provide the perfect driven and energetic support.


Last time I checked Los and The Deadlines (pictured) were back up from London to play The Locomotive on Saturday, but promotional communiqués coming from the venue have been intermittent to say the least so do check before travelling any distance. I do hope the gig is happening as they were one of the most original, genre hopping and charismatic bands I had the pleasure of seeing in the last 6 months. It’s like they take pop music and turn it inside out so although it has a smooth melody at it’s heart you get to see or the weird wobbly bits and broken angular stuff on the outside too. Odd but brilliant.


At Level 3 you can catch Johnny2Bad a tribute to one of the country’s most successful bands, UB40 and their unique blend of ska, reggae and lovers rock whilst upstairs at The Rolleston AngelHeart lean heavily on rock classics but throw in some more modern and more generically diverse selections too. As do Rorke’s Drift at The Victoria. At The Fox and Hounds in Hayden Wick you will find Station Road who play “all genres of rock” so it seems if you want hear a Bryan Adams or Bon Jovi cover, tonight is the night.


And finally on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey, blues man Ian O’Regan is back and although he has a penchant for the genre his sets are also peppered with country rock, folk and rock, originals, standards and some wonderful rediscovered gems.





Sounds Around Town: 21st – 27th July

12961464_980606442020246_937699355755527568_nNow that the clamour of the Shuffle has died down, the rattle of charity buckets has faded and the smell of spilt booze and sweat has been washed out of your favourite gig trousers, it is time to get back into the day-to-day mode of gig going. Happily, Thursday provides a couple of real crackers to let us down gently, starting with something pretty unique tonight at The Victoria.

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Sounds Around Town: 14th -20th July

13510793_10154349708688336_4108217032984453493_nGiven my penchant for original music, for championing bands most people haven’t even heard of and then banging on about them to anyone who will listen, you can imagine this week is like my birthday, Christmas and that moment when Victoria Coren donned a pair of teddy bear ears during Comic Relief all rolled into one. Yes, it is The Swindon Shuffle and not only that it is year 10 (cue Looks Like We Made It by Barry Manilow playing in the background,) that’s a decade of celebrating local, unsigned, original music, so I apologize that this column will be very Shuffle biased but with over 50 acts playing 13 different official musical sessions happening in 6 different venues, I think my excitement is justified.

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Sounds Around Town : 7th – 13th July

12711199_1028505133857289_4581950497514981152_oMany people think that Swindon is a bit of a back water when it comes to culture, particularly music, and that the only time you really hear much about the town on TV is when some witty, pre-scripted comedian uses it as a punch-line on Mock The Week to our aesthetic detriment. But, if you look at the listings carefully you will notice 3 international bands playing gigs this week plus the Swindon Shuffle starts its smaller fringe events as a precursor to its tenth year celebrating local, original music. That doesn’t sound like a back water to me.

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Sounds Around Town : 30th June – 6th July

11203678_996585357060824_7743275374431541871_oI often find myself in conversations with fellow promoters and venues about how to get more people to come to watch live music. It’s the heart of the whole matter really and the answer is an elusive Holy Grail, the alchemical quest for turning lead into stone. I mean, if I knew that I would be a very rich man. But whilst we all search around for that missing ingredient that makes our gigs more successful, I’ve noticed that many venues don’t even bother with the most basic of promotion. It’s quite simple really. Tell people about your gig. How hard is that?

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Sounds Around Town : 23rd – 29th June

12771521_505280549673444_5585277270321832928_oSome weeks I get to wax lyrical about bands with weird names that most of you have never heard of, from far flung realms and exotic sounding places that your average reality TV star or Republican party nominee couldn’t point to on a map. This week, however, it is much more about the home team as many of the gigs slots feature frequently returning and popular bands. In other words, tried and tested, solid, dependable bookings. And why not?

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Sounds Around Town : 16th – 22nd June

13255980_496504200558302_4254652198824349989_nSome nice little global offerings start the musical week, firstly at The Beehive, a venue whose size belies its importance to the worldwide, underground touring community. Within its art and literary decked walls I have witnessed Nashville Americana, Australian tribal rave, New Zealand anti-folk, Scandiwegian jazz-folk dark, indie rock from Germany, Californian acid-pop and everything in between. Tonight you can catch 2-piece musical hobos, Hymn For Her, itinerant stateside wanderers who mix backwoods country blues with desert rock psychedelia into what they describe as “Hell’s Angels meets The Amish.”

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