12140798_10153684230602417_2839456098559934478_nSo that time of year is upon us again, time to dress the kids up as a mean son of a witch and send them out to demand sweets with menaces. Okay, a bit cynical, Halloween is after all really for the kids and I’m sure they will have a lot of fun. What I despair at is this notion of adults going to the pub with a mandatory horror costume on with the misguided assumption that it makes up for their lack of personality and viable social skills of the rest of the year. Sorry, you look like what you are – a call centre worker with a sheet on your head. This year I am thinking of going to the pub dressed as a man from the Inland Revenue, that way I can demand 20% back on every drink I buy and then leave without saying thank you. Just call me Grinch.

But before we descend into that night of enforced jocularity, a few musical options to keep you grounded. Tonight, The Victoria should be a bit of a busy one as A Way With Words fire up the alt-rock machine. Big riffs, melodic choruses and infectious songs are on offer with side orders of pop punk from With Ghosts and As The Sun Sleeps.

If this were a Monty Python sketch the next band would be prefixed with the phrase “ And now for something completely different.” Ma Polaine’s Great Decline are one of those bands that are impossible to accurately define, “roots time travellers, Billie Holiday crashing a Tom Waits recording session, an utterly compelling soundscape?” all other peoples descriptions, I will just say make sure you attend their Beehive gig for a truly unique experience and leave it at that.

Riffs Bar sees Chattanooga guitar maestro Mark Merriman, continue his sojourn across the West Country’s venues, delicate jazz layers and mellow blues vibes that seem as at home in Wiltshire’s rolling hills as they do on the banks of his own Tennessee River shore line.

Attila The Stockbroker (pictured) celebrates 35 years on the road with an autobiography and a celebratory tour, which takes in The Locomotive on Friday. Punk, poet, journalist, social commentator and professional ranter, expect incisive spoken word, poignant poetry and great songs plus an after gig set from Charred Hearts. Please note that this show starts earlier than the venues regular time slot, there is a lot to fit in.

The Beehive, meanwhile, has The Jim Jam, an informal jam session with Jim “Hip Route” Blair and friends, Light Zeppelin play acoustic renditions of the mighty Zep’s songs at The Rolleston and The Castle has the first of two nights of Halloween celebrations with local party band Toxic. And so it begins.

So, Halloween goers, there are lots of options on the table, all with the chance for you to smear some fake blood on your face to add to your nights enjoyment. The Victoria has music from Rockabilly Rumble, everything from the golden age classics of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran to more modern artists and The Rolleston has big riffing rock covers with Alter Chaos. Rock can also be found on the menu at The Castle with Hot Flex. Fans of synth-pop have the options of Syntronix at Level 3 and at Riffs Bar Binomial are teaming up with Gatecrash Theatre for a Riffoween spectacular which promises to be not merely dead good but undead good.

For those trying to avoid the costume carnival antics and looking for a straight forward, zombie/accountant free gig then head to The Locomotive for a return visit from Swindon ex-pats Dirt Royal. Punky, rock and roll, modish swagger and indie cool and with support from Plummie Racket it is going to be your best haven from the enforced frivolity and Walking Dead wannabes.

The big one for Sunday can be found at Level 3 with a day of rock and metal courtesy of Dredded Vyrus Promotions. National headliners Skreamer and Outright Resistance are joined by local acts such as In The Absence of Light, Roads to Nowhere and Kinasis, but space here is too limited to go into too much detail so check out their online information but suffice it to say if you are a fan of harder and heavier music then this is the place to be.

Mellower options balance that tsunami of music courtesy of Pete Jagger weaving folk and political observation, social comment and dexterous playing for fans of Ralph McTell and John Martyn at The Beehive and contemporary blends of Indie and Folk can be found at The Art Centre with Rob Ritchings.

On Wednesday regional circuit regular, Drew Bryant can be found weaving his acoustic magic at The Roaring Donkey.