Sounds Around Town: 10th – 16th January

Library - 77As is the cyclical nature of local music, we seem to be at a bit of a low ebb at the moment. Economical considerations have seen various established support mechanisms disappear, from festivals to radio to venues. But what can you do about it? Well, everything. We have been here many times before and as the musical vehicles that we have taken for granted no longer provide that safety net then it is time for the grassroots of the music scene to take up the slack. In a past time it would have been called the punk ethic, the D.I.Y approach, maybe it is a time to return to such a way of working.

So what can you do to make things happen on your music scene, and remember it is you scene, it doesn’t belong to the bands, the venues, the promoters, it belongs to everyone. Firstly, you can set up your own gigs, have a word with venues and arrange to use one of the quieter nights in the week to put a show on or even put on a gig in an unusual place, a youth centre, a back garden or even your own basement.

Technology means that it is reasonably easy to produce your own podcasts broadcasting local bands or fanzines that advertise the underground scene I propose. As the total antithesis of spoon-fed, couch potato media and the commercial world of cash flows that venues have to operate in, I’m sure it appeals to a certain type of (slightly anarchic) creative mind. The question is, do you have the will and energy to make it happen or are you going to just bemoan the loss of your scene. It’s up to you.

Whilst you are thinking about that, here are a few gigs you might want to go to.  Tonight at The Victoria, auralcandy and friends are at The Victoria. Those purveyors of pick and mix, guerrillas of genre and lyrical libertines, auralcandy (a band so poor that they can’t even afford a capital letter) are joined by Minnie Birch and David Bowmer. Minnie describes her style as “dreary folk pop music” though this is music that has enabled her to open for the likes of Joan Armatrading so I suspect a certain amount of self-deprecation is at work. Dave Bowmer plays a strange device called a Chapman Stick and through this, live looping and percussion from David Holmes they create wonderful dance driven surf soundtracks. Intriguing!

Anglo-Swedish blues maestro, Krissy Matthews just goes from strength to strength. Having played festivals the length and breadth of Europe and in places as iconic as The 100 Club and The Cavern, the fact that you can get to watch him for free at The Beehive is a chance not to be passed up.

Friday is the busy one this week but with a wide range of genres up for grabs there is something for everyone. In the name of balance I should mention that the human six-pack, Peter Andre, is at the Oasis playing a selection of his hit! X-Factor fabrication The Risk and Sam Gray support. (Can you tell I typed that through gritted teeth?)

If you do want a proper live experience that is all about the dance floor groove then a better option is The Funk’daMentals at The Victoria an awesome and accomplished band playing the funkiest tunes from James Brown to Jamiroquai and from Rose Royce to The Sugarhill Gang.

In the worthy causes department, The Furnace are hosting The Empower and Swindon Street Pastors Charity Gig. Music comes in the form of The Graham Mack Rock Band, Starlight City, plus Gambian drummers and acoustic sets. Meanwhile returning after more than a week away, Josie and The Outlaw will be treating The Rolleston to their trademark rockabilly, R’n’B and old school rock and roll.

Forget The Black Keys, The White Stripes and The Kills, the only two-piece band that matters are in town on Saturday. If drum and bass driven punk, shouty vocals delivering lyrics that wander between poignant and just plain dumb are your thing, then get up to The Victoria for 2 Sick Monkeys (pictured), the best thing to come out of Wootton Bassett since the 55A bus service. Headlining are The Nomarks – maximum ska!

Ending, as we often do, at The Running Horse on Wednesday and I highly recommend you check out the reflective, dark and bittersweet melodies of Ells Ponting and the raw, funky acoustic blues of Jim Blair, a real mid-week oasis of talent.

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