Okay, the summer hasn’t panned out quite the way we hoped it might, but this weekend there is something happening that will hopefully make you pause from those traditional summer activities (building arks, herding pairs of animals, hold surfing contests through Leicester town centre, etc.) – Summer Breeze is upon us. Every year this gradually evolving festival manages to out-do itself and this weekend will be no exception. Running for two days at Warren Farm near Liddington, there are so many bands that the safest way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to check out their easily found website, but my top recommendations would run something like this.
The big name is that wonderful, award winning songstress, K T Tunstall (pictured), and if the Saturday crowd can’t make central Swindon bask in the words to Suddenly I See, drifting off the downs on the night air, then I will be writing to my M.P. Strange, balkanised and klezmatic, anarchic, world music mash-ups come courtesy of The Destroyers and The Congo Faith Healers offer up gypsy jive, swamp blues. The festival also sees the welcome return of a couple of old favourites, the indescribable Flipron and the rootsy, slide guitar work of Willie and The Bandits. The local crop of bands offers some treats too, such as the dulcet tones of Charlie Bath here in full band mode, dance driven anthems from Atari Pilot and there is even a brace of Morleys; the haunting and soulful Jazz and the slick acoustic pop of Jake. No sign of Paul though, shame.
Right, back into the urban environment and tonight at The Victoria, the hardest gigging punk band of them all rolls into town. Charlie Harper leads his vintage hoodlums into their fifth decade, with the same old unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Not only do they have local legends, Nobody’s Heroes in support, they have Jamie Oliver on drums. Pucker!
More rafters will be raised at The Rolleston with The Racket. To celebrate front man Plummie’s 12th birthday (I don’t know, I’m just going on the way he acts!) he brings his beautifully chaotic band along to do what they do best. With punk drum and bass maestros 2 Sick Monkeys plus a man answering only to the name Doza on the bill, it is not a night for the faint hearted.
Something more restrained can be found at The Beehive with Claude Bourbon. This virtuosic Frenchman blends everything from blues and folk to jazz and flamenco, ethereal eastern vibes and luscious Latin grooves into a real showcase of world music.
Staying at The Beehive as we kick off Fridays serving suggestions finds I See Hawks in L.A. channelling the ghosts of the old time High Lonesome sound and the vibes of the 60’s counter culture and seeing that they have come all the way from Los Angeles to play for you, the least you can do is stroll down the road to check them out.
In a battle of the big riffs, The 12 Bar goes head to head with The Furnace. UNK Industries presents a showcase of pop-punk and post-hardcore bands including Hold The Fight, When Words Fail and From Embers at the former whilst the latter plays host to local poor boys making good, The Dead Lay Waiting who are joined by various shades of metal from Silent Descent, the Mask of Virtue and Dissolute. Loads on offer for the fan of the hard and heavy, but not great planning on the part of the venues.
It may come as no shock to you if I admit that I’m not the most switched on with popular culture, so I freely admit that I had no idea who Britain’s Got Talent competitor, Alex Davis was until I checked him out on-line. Fans of Ed Sheeran will be into him, I suspect, but what they will make of the weird musical landscape that support act Super Squarecloud build around themselves is anyone’s guess. The Fixed’s brand of slick indie is also worth going for.
If you don’t make it to Summer Breeze over the weekend, alternative arrangements come in the shape of early Whitesnake (i.e. before the poodle hair, spandex and Steve flippin’ Vai ruined everything) blues guitar maestro Bernie Marsden at the Furnace on Saturday and Sunday night offers up Bob Smith at The Rolleston with a bag of Americana, folk and rocking blues.