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New directions of travel

funny-musicians-in-car.jpgThis site was mainly a vehicle for the Sounds Around Town column that I used to write for the Swindon Advertiser a way of finding it online when it had been relegated to the print only copy or hidden in a dark corner of the digital version akin to Arthur Dent’s infamous search for plans that were “on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

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0015047577_10All good things come to an end and this is my last time waxing lyrical on behalf of local live music. It’s been a fascinating trip, one lasting almost a decade and the circuit is as full and diverse as when I first picked up this virtual pen, perhaps even more so. Hopefully the role will be taken on by some younger, cooler scribbler, but for me I’ll just say thanks to all of the bands, venues and particularly the punters who ensured that I had something to write each week and to this august paper for giving me a platform to air my thoughts for so many years. It’s been a blast. So for one last time, I’m going in….

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51682737_2331387376912848_8750105669203394560_nThe curse of original music, in Swindon at least, means that most gigs I want to check out generally happen only on a Thursday. So with two gigs scheduled I headed out into the bracing night air. A quick pint at Baila provided a gentle start to the night before heading to The Tuppenny and my mate Tom doing a last minute acoustic slot in place of the unwell Emily Jane Shepherd.

Grasslands is often a sprawling musical affair involving guitars, synths and effects pedals   all being operated by our musical hero and always teetering on the edge of chaos. That’s half the fun. The acoustic sets are normally more focused and the quality of the songs is allowed to shine through. The charm of Grasslands is that between songs, Tom, who during the day works in environmental surveying, engages the audience in conversations in all things green with a particular relish for mosses. Somehow the banter turned darkly in the direction of Croatian attitudes towards badger culling, I may have been responsible for that but by and large it was a set of wonderfully affected, textured acoustic with sonic hints of early post-gabriel Genesis, surprisingly.

A wander down the hill to The Beehive and Matt Boulter has already on and for the next 40 minutes he delighted the modest crowd with his spacious and delicate songs. Aided and abetted by a fellow Lucky Strike on upright base the songs were as impressive as ever and I detected a lovely Paul Simon lilt in his voice that I hadn’t noticed before. The night rounded off with a nice chat before he had to pack the car up for the journey home.

Matt was playing as part of Tim Manning‘s Acoustic Buzz night, a monthly spot he has at this compact and bijou boozer. Always good to catch up with him too and before long I was wandering back through the night to a warm bed.

imgID137127048.jpg.galleryI’m sure most people aren’t interested in my bar related wanderings but as I want to keep this blog as a sort of diary of my activities, both scribbling and non scribbling, you are going to have to put up with my ramblings.

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1957678_404715793024462_9220940296262886703_oAs is often the way, we have to skip over tonight’s options, or lack thereof, and head straight on into Friday and to make up for such a gap in the calendar let’s start with something pretty special as Level III sees one of my favourite alt-rock bands of recent years hit the stage. Rewire The Time Machine (pictured) is a hard-hitting four-piece, weaving desert-blues and grunge intensity through dynamic and constantly shifting rock music. Doesn’t sound a bad way to start the week if you ask me.

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44355478_2024555787567157_6243720230233702400_o.jpgThat marvellous chap Jim Blair kicks off this week’s live music menu, a tasty starter blended from groovy acoustica and funky blues to whet your appetite and found at The Beehive, this very evening. 

If original acoustic music is your thing then you might also be interested in a neat little show this Friday at Darkroom Espresso, that wonderful little oasis of coffee, culture and craziness, and as is their wont the show is typically left field. It sees Ravetank’s wonky coming of age stories and scuzzy tunes spearhead the night with By The Day’s similarly warped deliveries acting as the perfect companion. Opening the night is Mat Caron and his intense and often downright bleak gothic folk meets sparse acoustic-noir narratives. If you want to support alternative venues trying something very original and unique then this is one to get behind.

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16641049_1044192879057669_1824159206035831504_nThe shock news this week is that of the sudden cancellation of all currently scheduled music at The Castle in Old Town due to a change of management at the venue. Audrey has always been a strong supporter of the local music circuit booking popular local cover bands, touring out of towners, well-loved original acts, strange cultish combos, tributes, soloists and everything in between and her departure leaves a big hole in the musical map of the town. So here is a heartfelt thanks for all her efforts over the years and I wish her the best of fortune in whatever the next chapter brings. 

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41840665_1830663387012009_2535535369122742272_oGreat to see that with the merest of breathers to get over the busiest season for live bands, the local circuit is once again brimming with musical options and it starts tonight with a bit of a gem especially if you are a big fan of country music. Katy Hurt (pictured) is a 20 year old resident of Long Island yet she sounds as if she has been deftly combining commercial country with pop, blues and southern musical charm for decades. Forget all the alt-this and post-that generic wordplay this is unashamedly feel-good country music with all the glitz and glamour left in and it is at The Beehive tonight.

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