You often hear of young bands trying to get that mythical “record label interest,” find a manager, getting “discovered” or making music that is “radio ready” or “on trend.” They are probably throwing these terms around sat in the snug bar of the Kebab and Calculator after their third gig in as many months in their college hall. This isn’t the seventies, those days are gone and it basically comes down to two things. Write great songs and play them to as many people as you can. One person who is proof that this strategy works can be found at The Victoria tonight.
Gaz Brookfield (pictured) is a lesson in hard graft. After 10 years taking the solo route, of playing every venue, pub, festival and toilet across the UK and Europe, the simple fact that he has concentrated taking great songs to a maximum audience often finds him now rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Levellers, New Model Army and She Makes War, and tonight he brings it back to Swindon. Gaz’s songs shine with an honest love of his chosen profession; the people, the travel, the new experiences, the highs and the lows, and the subject matter reflects the journey he has taken and the path, which still stretches out before him. Joining him is that one man, experimental Americana, blues, looping machine Funke and The Two Tone Baby and local lad Nick Felix.
And talking of experimental at The Beehive and you will find Ash Mandrake, who just may be a troubadour from a warped version of Middle Earth come armed with music, loop pedals, stories, humour, homemade guitars and strange hats… though some say that he is actually from Manchester.
After that, things settle into a series of bands that need less explaining, as you are probably already fairly familiar with what they do. Rockabilly Rumble with be playing authentic vintage rockabilly standards at The Victoria, a classic three piece set up firing off salvos of retro beat, jump and jive.
At The Queens Tap, Sons of Liberty break out the Southern Rock, classic rock’s rebel cousin, music built on big riffs and groovesome bar room boogie that both kicks arse and cuts the mustard. Homer at The Rolleston cover some of the same territory but have a wider rock repertoire that also includes the likes of The Cult and Thin Lizzy. Toxic can be found at The Tap and Barrel, all the hits from across the years, from iconic pop songs to raucous rock.
Saturday sees a cornerstone of Manchester musical mythology come to the Meca. Despite being “merely a dancer” Bez, along with Happy Mondays are synonymous with the Madchester baggy scene and you can catch him Dj-ing along with his son Arlo as well as Happy Mondaze paying tribute to the original 24 Hour Party People.
Other tributes to musical greats can be found at The Victoria with Just Floyd ‘the most authentic live Pink Floyd tribute’, no gimmicks, costume changes or similar theatrics, just the breath taking music that you have come to love. Whilst at Level 3 you will find Leon Hendrix celebrating the music of the man who single handedly created the controlled feedback, overdriven and distorted sound that we now associate with heavy rock, Jimi Hendrix. Make sure you catch support act The Broken Chords whose music has its roots in the same blues-rock melting pot and Horizon who run with a more contemporary, indie sound. Upstairs at The Rolleston, meanwhile, Zing! Plays covers to please everyone’s tastes.
At The Tap and Barrel you can catch Young Vintage, who are “a quirky covers band that take modern/chart songs and swing them up in to their own style” apparently…Swindon’s own answer to Post Modern Jukebox? Perhaps.
Sunday is all about the 3rd Old Town Sausage and Ale festival, food, drink and a myriad of stalls through out that part of town with music taking place in Wood Street, in the Arts Centre courtyard and at Baila Coffee and Vinyl. Through out the afternoon you can catch the likes of Steve Leigh, Jenny Bracey, Jimmy Moore, Canute’s Plastic Army, Jordan Marvel and much more whilst mooching and masticating. (Steady on!)
And finally, at The Roaring Donkey in Wednesday you will find Leo James, soulful, honest songs delivered via intricate finger style and shimmering lap steel guitar work.