11000403_879146475507010_2673386232907027780_nMusic trivia types will be fully aware that today marks the birthday of one of the true innovators of music, an artist who helped shape the course of modern vocal performance and who has gone down in history as a seminal influence on the evolution of contemporary music. But that is enough about Duncan James from Blue. Coincidentally enough it would also have been Billy Holiday’s birthday, arguably the greatest jazz singer of all time and of whom those previous accolades are equally true.


But from legends of the past to today’s legends in the making and a duo that I am really excited to see back in Swindon. The Black Feathers have taken their music, an exquisite blend of Old World folk and New World country, across the UK, Europe and America, proving that two voices and one guitar can be as devastating and beautiful as any of the more driven musical forms. Joining this intimate, seated show at The Victoria is Jonny Payne and The Thunder, the new musical vehicle for ex-Deer Chicago main man plus the ubiquitous Phil Cooper.


Similar rootsy vibes can be found at The Beehive with one of their most popular bookings, Keith Thompson, here in solo mode but blending his trade mark emotive blues sound via the medium of voice, acoustic guitar and the occasional new-fangled devilry of a loop pedal. (What would Robert Johnson think?)



Everything gets a bit punk and disorderly on Friday at The Victoria as Vice Squad roll into town to deliver a shot of old-school punk, hard rock and sass to the collective arm of their fans. Currently enjoying a renaissance period this is one band that certainly get better with age. Support for this one comes in the guise of local ska/punk heroes Slagerij.


Do you remember that scene in the Blues Brothers when the band turn up to play at a Southern roadhouse behind a chicken wire fence for protection, a bar that had both types of music…Country AND Western? Well, it is just possible that The Chris Dunne Band was billed for the next night and they would have gone down a storm. Theirs is the country style of West Nashville, the rhinestones and line dancing, of Stetsons and pick-up trucks and of hearts, which are not only breaky but very often achy. You’ll find them at Level 3.


Meanwhile, upstairs at The Rolleston there is more country, though this time filtered through bluegrass and Cajun romps and Celtic and Balkan jiggery as legends of the Bristol circuit, Flash Harry, show why they are still so popular more than 30 years after their formation.


Also on the menu are two of the towns best-loved cover bands, The Teddy White Band will be setting out a stall at The Beehive of beat, bop, boogie, blues and other genres that don’t necessarily start with B, whilst Toxic returns to The Locomotive for their trademark eclectic mix of music, fun and frolics.


Saturday sees those seasonal migrants, The Beat Holes, back in Swindon to play Level 3. This Italian trio inject well-loved Beatles songs with the spirit of early punk. Imagine Steve Jones and Dee Dee Ramone taking the place of Lennon and McCartney and you will have an idea of what you are in store for. Support for this one comes from their regular UK gigging buddies, The Hamsters From Hell.


At The Rolleston on Sunday and kicking off around 6pm you will find Adam Norsworthy who made his name fronting such well respected blues bands as The Mustangs but when in solo mode can be heard to incorporate a wide palate of influences from Bowie to Lindsay Buckingham to John Barry.


Hammerman Day at The Beehive there is a wonderful celebration of Alfred Williams, local author, poet, song archivist and railway worker. The evening will feature poems and songs from the likes of Tony Hillier, Hilda Sheehan, Steve Cox, Briany Mitchel and Neil Mercer.


And finally another special show comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday courtesy of Chuck SJ Hay. This is one of her last UK shows of the current tour before it heads out across Europe and if you haven’t experienced her mercurial blend of dexterous, delicate and destructive acoustica and socially observational, spoken word lyrics then you are in for a treat. Support comes from Jack Moore, last seen in town drumming for Phil Cooper’s band but here delivering his own songs.