Tag Archive: 2 sick monkeys


10462732_578185338961043_2884624458629214826_nMaybe this is the calm before the storm; I guess a week sandwiched between two great local music festivals, the recent Stratton Stroll and the imminent Swindon Shuffle is going to be a bit light on gigs. So it’s all about quality and not quantity and therefore perfect timing to have one of the most interesting bands of the festival circuit roll into town, the wonderfully named Formidable Vegetable Sound System (pictured). Hailing from Melbourne, Australia and featuring the familiar face of frequent musical visitor Mal Webb, this band combine the vintage sounds of the speakeasy, brazen brass and wonky ukulele sounds with the principles of permaculture, into what they describe as ecological electro swing. A very niche market yes, but you have to admire a band who put out a whole album on the subject of sustainability but which doesn’t require you to buy a djembe, tie die a shirt and knit your own yogurt. Catch this amazing band at The Beehive tonight.

 

Those looking for a more rock and roll experience will find what they need at The Victoria with The Brompton Mix. Mentored and managed by Rick Buckler from The Jam, which probably tells you a lot about their sound and style, this Woking four-piece mix up all the best bits of punk and rhythm ‘n’ blues; from The Clash to The Stones to Elvis and everything in between. Local support comes in the shape of Burnthru.

 

Fans of acoustic music have a treat waiting for them at The Regent with their regular Acoustic Circus which this month features Sumita Mujumdar and her magical blend of poetic dream pop, the wit and wisdom of Nick Felix and Billyjon and the Brosephs.

 

Elsewhere you can catch a tribute to the mercurial music of David Bowie at The Victoria and The Rolleston has rhythm ‘n’ blues standards with Shades of Blue.

 

If you are into your punk, then you have a choice of gigs to be at on Saturday as two sets of great bands are to be found in town. Healthy competition? Bad planning? I don’t know but either way there is more punk on offer than you can shake an eighteen-hole Doc Martin Boot at.

 

At The Victoria first generation punks 999 deliver their high energy, highly infections, no nonsense, snarling melodies and remind us why they have lasted so long. Support comes courtesy of a rare reunion from psychedelic, deranged, swamp-fuzz outfit, The Chaos Brothers. Just when you thought that it was safe to go out….

 

The other punk serving suggestion can be found at The Rolleston in the form of 2-piece legends, 2 Sick Monkeys; incendiary punk with a between song banter to match, circuit stalwarts 50 Shades of Punk and the sharp-edged, Strength In Blunders who always sound as if they should be hanging around at CBGB’s in about 1978…New York punk the day before it evolves into New Wave.

 

Reggae and ska fans also have a couple of options. Vintage ska and rocksteady can be had live at The New Inn as The Erin Bardwell Collective play their Caribbean Day festivities and The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning some great music at The Beehive. If you prefer a musical nostalgia trip then Going Underground will be playing post-punk, ska and mod at The Swiss Chalet.

 

The big event for Sunday is a fundraiser at The Victoria. Kit Off For Cancer is an all day fundraiser with events and activities, a raffle and music from Banjovi, the areas number one banjo ensemble.

 

At The Bandstand in The Town Gardens, Lazy Sunday Afternoon features Ells Ponting and her new musical vehicle, The Southern Wild the amazing young talent that is Rory Evans, plus your regular hosts Mr Love and Justice. Go and work on your tan and listen to some great music.

 

Talking of great music, if you haven’t yet managed to take in a show by Jim Reynolds then do so at The Beehive also on Sunday, a wonderful blend of

vintage blues, ragtime, music hall and folk, not to mention an amazing musician.

 

Finally, if classic blues-rock is your thing than spend the last evening of the weekend at The White Hart in Wroughton with The Lewis Creaven Band providing incendiary blues and righteous, not to mention riotous rock.

1911895_10152290934490225_884172200_nA quick look around the music history archives reveals that on this day in 1969 we lost one of the coolest and most influential guitarists of recent time, Brian Jones. As the founder member of the Rolling Stones he helped fuse American blues with the evolving pop music scene and as a consequence helped define the sound and attitude of the sixties and in many ways laid foundation stones for the development of future music culture. Brian would have been 72 today. As if to balance the loss of such an icon, today also marks the birthday of Kevin Hearn of Canadian band Barenaked Ladies, without whom we wouldn’t have the theme tune to The Big Bang Theory. Swings and Roundabouts!

 

Well, plenty of music to sink your teeth into this coming week, starting tonight at The Victoria, where those Songs of Praise chaps bring you something a bit special. After a number of critically acclaimed gigs in Swindon, particularly a much talked about set at last years Shuffle that blew collective minds …not to mention socks off of the audience, Dead Royalties are back with another dose of slightly mathy, grungy, alt-rock. They are joined by Vault of Eagles (pictured) who mix the Neolithic groove of The Bad Seeds with the warped beauty of P J Harvey to great effect. Opening up is Si Hall.

 

Bluesier options come in the shape of roots guitarist Gwyn Ashton at Riffs Bar, a wonderful blend of the sounds of The Delta and southern juke joints, New Orleans vibes, jazz and country and if that isn’t well travelled enough for you Kangaroo Moon are at The Beehive to deliver cosmic blends of pastoral, otherworldly vibes, haunting washes of timeless sound, hypnotic folk, dance and psychedelia. In the words of a wise man…well, Forrest Gump…you never know what you are going to get.

 

Culture Vultures may want to take notice of the fact that as part of The Old Town Festival, acclaimed pianist Paul Turner will be playing a lunchtime recital of the music of Debussy at Christ Church.

 

Friday sees the first of two shows this week from Sheer Music, a promotional team well known for bringing top class bands into town and their show at The Victoria doesn’t disappoint as they usher in The Computers. This is a band who are equally at home with the power of punk and hardcore as they are with pop melody and the result often comes off like Black Flag covering Elvis Costello. Intrigued? You should be. Support comes from All Ears Avow and Scout Killers.

 

If for no other reason than they have gigged with one of my favourite bands, Citizen Fish, you should try to catch Mad Apple Circus who are at The Rolleston playing a brilliant, tight and original blend of ska/hip-hop/jazz/reggae fusion. Another non-musical reason to watch is to see just how this, often 10-piece ensemble, are going to all fit in. Miss these guys at your peril.

 

More chilled sounds can be found at The Beehive as Swindon’s favourite Canadian music migrant, David Celia returns with his unique brand of witty pop and oft surreal visions whilst The Regent Acoustic Circus this month plays host to Nick Felix (also catch him at The Royal Oak on Saturday), Paul Griffin and Ells Ponting’s new musical vehicle, The Southern Wild.

Saturday is the usual nostalgia trip. At Level 3 Syntronix play the big hits of the eighties (and I didn’t even bang on about The Smiths and New Model Army once…damn,) and at Riffs Bar, In It For The Money play a range of covers. Rock fans have either the music of Guns ‘n’Roses at The Victoria or KoK Rok playing classic rock and metal at The Rolleston. Reggae and ska fans will probably opt for The Shocks of Might DJ’s at The Beehive.

 

However you can support your local community at The Bowl as The Old Town Festival hosts music from 1 o’clock with acts including The Undulations, The Corsairs, Darren Hunt, Zing and Get Carter.

 

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon Session at The bandstand in the Old Town Gardens is another show for David Celia plus country tinged folkster Rachel Gittus and as ever, hosts Mr Love and Justice.

 

Final shout goes to the other Sheer Music organised show which brings Cornish punk exiles Gnarwolves to The Victoria on Wednesday aided and abetted by 2 Sick Monkeys, The Rebecca Riots and With Ghosts.

 

 

 

 

 

lord_bishop_rocks_carlisle_01_313x470As Harold Wilson once said, “ A week is a long time in local music, ” well, something like that. Anyway, after a few weeks of being hard pushed to find much to talk about on the gigging front, this week is an embarrassment of riches and so without further….

 

So starting in our usual departure point on this rollercoaster of what’s-on-ness, The Victoria, tonight has it’s second show commemorating Tom Humber’s all too young passing a year ago, with the hard and heavy sounds of In The Absence of Light and Eye For An Eye. Those looking for a more rootsy fix would do well to head for The Beehive and this month’s Acoustic Buzz. Hosted and featuring a solo set from Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning, this month’s bill also sees the bluesy folk of Tamsin Quin plus Boss Caine, a man who looks like a Bowery street busker and has a sound and style reminiscent of Tom Waits. Nice!

 

Staying with roots, on Friday you can catch two of the best of that genre at The Rolleston as Hip Route bring their energetic and emotive acoustic-blues groove, slide guitars and beatific beats to bear on the audience. Support comes from Sam Green who even without his Midnight Heist cohorts is a musical force to be reckoned with. Riffs Bar Acoustic Session features a triptych of folk artists…for those that didn’t go to Sunday school that means three. The “Dude Where’s Your Car Tour” is a package of young singer-songwriters from the Midlands and comprises of David Young (no, not that one, a different one,) Dan Salt and the wonderfully named Brains For Breakfast.

 

The Automaniacs are at The Beehive; expect psychedelic instrumentals mixed with proggy structures, old school rock’n’roll, atmospherics and electronic washes or just imagine the sort of sounds that might come from a haunted music shop in the early hours.

 

For those who fancy crossing the parish boundaries and heading out into the sticks, as a teaser for The Big Gig later in the year, you can catch a bunch of bands at The Crown in Broad Hinton, namely The AK-Poets, (or catch them again at The Royal Oak on Saturday) Charlie Ann, Full On and Nick Felix.  Party band Interlight will be providing covers and humorous banter at The Victoria.

 

Saturday see’s one of the busiest nights musically around town I have seen for a while, nothing at all to do with venues booking bands merely as pre-football party acts whilst balding forty something’s in ill fitting sports regalia explain loudly to each other why their team selection would be much better. No, I’m sure the bands have been book purely on their own musical merits.

 

Original Brit-Punks, The Members bring “the sound of the suburbs” to The Victoria, mixing explosive first wave punk, pop melodies and reggae vibes. I’m sure the fact that their show is scheduled to finish at 10.30, just as the football starts is pure co-incidence. More heavy sounds can be had at Riffs Bar as Lord Bishop Rocks (pictured) swaggers into town. Beatle-esque melodies, Sabbath’s musical weight and the funk of James Brown are moulded into what the band themselves title Sex Rock. Superb Support comes in the form of Burnthru and Mascot.

 

Proving that it is not all about numbers, Level 3 have a show entitled Two Piece Suit: 2 acts each made up of two musicians. The Sea mix the sass of T-Rex with the swagger and industrial riffing of The MC5 whilst 2 Sick Monkeys play incendiary punk with humour and dexterity. Meanwhile in The Rolleston next-door The Imperial G-Men use rock and roll, jump and give to excite their crowd.

 

Something less raucous comes courtesy of The GW’s regular acoustic night, this time featuring sets from All Ears Avow, who’s normal modus operandi is trying to inflict structural damage via white hot metal onslaughts, Emi McDade whose delicate piano creations I have previously championed in these pages, as well as The Philly Wood Band, Tyler Harvey, Jack Summers and another outing for Hip Route. Covers are provided Peloton at The Royal Oak and The Hyperbolics at The Queens Tap.

 

If you need something that afternoon to get your music juices running then a perfect aperitif is watching David Marx play the café at The Old Town Gardens.

 

And briefly, The Academy of Music and Sound are running two nights of music at Level 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday to raise money for the Prospect Hospice.

1482760_10152470476699251_1199696131_nGuess what folks? I’m back. Did you miss me? No? You fickle bunch, a new, younger writer comes along and you forget all about me, typical. I can’t say that I’m not hurt but will attempt to work through my pain by jumping straight into what is happening this week on the music front.

 

Of course the big event coming up is that evergreen explosion of music and good vibes that goes by the name of Riffstock. Yes, those lovely folks at Riffs Bar will be filling the bank holiday weekend with the best local talent beginning on Friday with the regular acoustic slot. It will be an open mic. session as usual but with some special guest slots from the hirsute Shaun Buswell, the blonde bombshell that is Bren Haze and other big names on the local acoustic scene.

 

Saturday is the start of two days of full band music, A Way With Words and Rocket Box cover the rockier end of the spectrum neatly, and there is shimmering lo-hi indie from Sahara Heights, pop-punk from Starlight City plus the classic ska and reggae sound of The Nomarks.

 

The following day again covers a lot of musical bases, from the pastoral acoustica of Rumour Shed and the harmonious Americana of The Shudders to the drum’n’bass punk of 2 Sick Monkeys stopping off at all points in between. Points as diverse as the mad scientist of indie-pop, Nudybronque,(pictured) high-octane ska from The Interceptors and the emotive psychedelia of Sister Morphine. The Monday afternoon is “Kiddstock” a kids and family day. There is a plethora of great music, more than I have room to cover here so check out their website for full details.

 

And if you decided not to join in the fun over at Riffs Bar then here are some other serving suggestions for you. Tonight punk fans will want to be at The Victoria for covers and originals with a first wave Brit-punk feel from Useless eaters and 50 Shades of Punk. If the idea of a psychobilly/R’n’B band is more your musical poison then The Beehive is the place to be to catch TNT, a band made up of ex-members of Screaming Lord Sutch and The Meteors as well as current members of Josie and The Outlaw.

 

Fans of tributes are in luck on Friday as Kins of Leon play the music of those pesky Followill siblings at The Victoria and Metalhead re-run the best bits of the metal and hard rock genre at The New Inn. If however you want something original then get yourselves to The Castle for some big riffing, infectious rock with 8 Minutes Later plus post punk informed Indie from King in Mirrors.

 

So what would happen if The Dixie Chicks and The Pogues joined forces? Well, visually it would look pretty weird but musically it would probably sound a lot like Flash Harry. These stalwarts of the Bristol scene liberally plunder the best bits of Celtic folk, new-country, blues-rock, Cajun and gypsy jazz to create outstanding and original songs. Catch them at The Rolleston. Stiff competition comes from The Beehive as The Eddy Allen Trio take an improvisational jam attitude and bend everything from folk to reggae, flamenco to rock, afro-beat, Celtic and a lot more to their will with stunning results.

 

Saturday, as is the norm, is mainly about tried and tested sounds, Peleton play covers from across the modern musical eras at The Victoria and The Rolleston plays host to Powerslaves, an Iron Maiden tribute no less. Original music can be found at The Regent in the guise of Ethemia, so if meaningful and optimistic lyrics, lush harmonies, exquisite guitar work and humorous rambling interludes are your thing, then that is the place to be.

 

SN Dubstation blend dub (naturally), reggae, hip-hop, pop and ska together into wonderful new shapes at The Victoria on Sunday whilst at the Beehive Charlie-Ann offers up some acoustic treats.

 

The final mention of the week is Louise Parker who is at Baker Street on Tuesday. Playing this show as a quartet, Louise has been lauded by critics (including the late great Humphrey Lyttleton…and if Humph’ says it’s good then you know it is) as the new, great voice in British jazz combining elements of funk, gospel and scat styles. Just what the jazz doctor ordered!

 

 

10_Spiers__BodenI don’t really like to name drop. I was saying as much to Fiona Bruce when we were over at Liam Neeson’s place only the other day waiting for Noam Chomsky to turn up. So without naming names, suffice it to say that through my musical travels and via the people I meet on the local arts and music show I’m involved in, I get to talk to a lot of the people who actually make things happen in this town, everything from music and art, dance and film, to debating societies and underground media. And the common themes that come up in conversation are how much creativity there is in this town at the moment and how your average resident probably doesn’t realise it. Swindon has long had a bad press from lazy comedians looking for a convenient cliché but also, ironically, from the people who live here, creating something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I tell you what, Swindon is starting to hit a real ground swell of creative energy, things seem to be falling into place, Swindon is becoming, dare I say it…cool. We just need to get behind our town and show the rest of the country what we have here.

Helping to pave that good reputation we have a week of great and varied music on offer. Tonight at The Victoria, after a couple of recent mellower shows, Songs of Praise is going all loud and shouty with 50 Shades of Punk, a band definitely keeping their genre alive with high octane music and a hyperactive live show. Support comes from another local favourite, 2 Sick Monkeys, a frantic punk drum and bass 2 piece known as much for their between song rants as their relentless musical style. Opening the show is Parva Hinton, a London based, future punk, synth sound clash.

If you prefer something less likely to upset the neighbours and spill your beer then maybe an evening of Chicago blues at The Beehive courtesy of Built For Comfort is more your thing.

Friday brings lots of opportunity for you to get behind your live music scene. At The Royal Oak, The AK-Poets mix great melodies with an uncompromising rock and roll delivery and a charismatic stage presents whilst at The Beehive The Blue Tree’s take rock and roll on a southern road trip.

A couple of acoustic options also pop up on the radar. Riffs Bar acoustic session features Leicester songster Paul McClure and Southern Folk who as their name suggests play a range of rootsy Americana flavours. The Regent plays host to Darren Hodge who you may have seen recently shortlisted in the Young Folk competition at the recent BBC Folk Awards. Also appearing is Ethemia, makers of lush dream-folk music who also featured recently on BBC radio as guests of Gaby Roslin.

Covers can be had either at The Rolleston with Humdinger playing contemporary rock standards or if you prefer a band with a sillier take on the idea, Kova Me Badd at The Victoria parody the pop classics.

Saturday continues largely in the same vein with tributes to Bon Jovi at The Victoria, Steely Dan at Riffs Bar and Rory Gallagher at The Rolleston plus party covers from Breeze at The Royal Oak. Classic rock is supplied by Rorke’s Drift at The Swiss Chalet. If however you are feeling stout of heart, reckless or just know no better then a trip to The Castle will find you in the dubious company of rhythm and booze legends, The Hamsters From Hell. Loud, in your face, no holds barred riotous pub rock flavoured with beards, beer, blasphemy and a bad attitude.  What could possibly go wrong?

If you need something less abrasive to wind the weekend down then The Beehive afternoon session features Kola Koca, a band renowned for a mix of eclectic styles, social commentary, politics and humour.

Jazz fans can catch The Wayne Elliot Trio at The Plough that evening and then on Tuesday at Baker Street The Graham Taylor Quartet. Meanwhile just along the road at The Arts Centre, Spiers and Boden (pictured) , better known as Eliza Carthy sidekicks and founders of folk super group Bellowhead, are playing what they have announced will be their last show in duo format for the foreseeable future. So, definitely one to catch.

Finally The Crown at Stratton on Wednesday features the delicate sounds and considerable song craft of Louise Latham.

1157735_552565938125804_813919255_nThis week I think the column should be dedicated to Roy Castle of Record Breakers fame as I have so many gig recommendations this will be the equivalent of trying to squeeze 50 people into a Mini. So without further ado….

Tonight at The Victoria sees the return of Sam Green and Midnight Heist, a band who inject wonderfully earthy melody into folk-blues stomps and pretty much show the likes of Mumford and the Whale where they have been going wrong all these years.  If you prefer something purer from the rootsy blues songbook then head down to The Beehive for Kent DuChaine, a steel guitar blues-playing journeyman in the traditional style.

Fans of a more folky sound will find much to like at The Arts Centre as acoustic duo Rita Payne (duo)promote their debut album, Stories From a Suitcase, and ably live up to the “new Simon and Garfunkel” tag that keeps being levelled at them.

More, delicate sounds are to be found on Friday both at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions with the sweet and innocent piano sounds of Lauren Castle (presumably no relation to the aforementioned bible bashing, tap dancing, muso) and the three piece version of Kangaroo Moon whose wonderfully global musical jamboree bag blends everything from delicate folk, washes of celtic sounds, elemental dance, psychedelia and more. Just turn up and see what’s on the menu this time.

More retro sounds come in the form of Teddy White and their fantastic r’n’ b revue at The Rolleston; The Jimmy Sixes provide the rock and roll back beat for the 3rd Anniversary Band And Burlesque show at The Victoria and if the idea of Hammond Organ driven, electric blues appeals to you, then the place to be is The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for Shades of Blue.

The big gig for Saturday is to be found at Basement 73 when Eddie and the Hot Rods hit town.  Having their roots in the same Canvey Island scene as Dr Feelgood, they were one of the few bands that spanned the gap between pub rock and punk and it promises to be a great night of fierce, in your face, high-octane music. Support comes from Charred Hearts, local punk stalwarts still as fired up and entertaining as they were back in the day and The Hamsters From Hell, maximum r’n’b, with a chaotic and rowdy nature that belies the musical skills to be found within.

Elsewhere, as is the nature of the day, covers and tributes rule the roost. The Victoria has a tribute to pop-punksters Blink 182 and the Rolleston goes all classic metal with a night recreating the glory days of Judas Priest. Sons of Cream are a bit more than a tribute to the 60’s super group as the band feature both Ginger Baker’s and Jack Bruce’s sons, Kofi and Malcolm and can be found at The Arts Centre.

Riffs Bar offer up a fancy dress night with party covers band Penfold and support comes from brilliant folk troubadour Ben Maggs.

Culture Vultures will be circling around the Arts Centre on Sunday for the Swindon Recital Series which features cellist Caroline Dale and pianist Paul Turner playing all the b’s …Bach, Beethoven and Bach.  Alternatively you could take in a slice of folky Americana at the Beehive afternoon sessions as Gary Hall delivers music with touches reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons.

Monday is not the normal night for stand out gigs but Ben Marwood at The Victoria is going to be a cracker. The up and coming folk troubadour is playing with a full band and is also joined by label mates The Retrospective Soundtrack Players a literary influenced concept band who used to go under the more manageable moniker of The Dawn Chorus.  Shaun Buswell and friends get the night rolling.

Normally known as a big band leader, tenor saxophonist Kelvin Christiane brings his bepop quartet to Baker Street on Tuesday, a musical vehicle that no less than Humphrey Lyttleton described as “ a band of astonishing virtuosity” and he knew a thing or two about the genre.

Finally, still at The Victoria on Wednesday you can catch a punk orientated showcase featuring 2 Sick monkeys, Brassick and Larynxed.

Phew! If you can’t find something to watch this week, there is no hope for you.

532545_10151021089353608_1116543083_nI seems that Twitter has gone into melt down today as a shocking new video has revealed that One Direction hunk, Harry Styles, actually mimed singing Happy Birthday at band mate Liam Payne’s recent party. Not only was Styles, real name Harry Styles, contractually obliged not to sing, it turns out that his fellow band mate was similarly breaking contract by turning 19 in the first place. Styles is expected to shave his head and apologise on YouTube later this week. “Miming is a serious offence in the music world” said NME spokesman Norman Fictional, “First Beyoncé admits to miming at Osama Bin Ladens inauguration and now this!”

 

Still you won’t find any of that sort of thing going on in the local scene this week and what a wide-ranging selection of music there is for you to wrap your ears around.

 

Tonight, at The Victoria, are a band with all the right credentials, cited as the hottest band since the Ramones and with an album produced by Steve Albini, Barb Wire Dolls are the new face of punk and fronted by a singer who sounds like Patti Smith channelling Johnny Rotten…. there is nothing in the description of band that to me doesn’t sound awesome. Add support from 2 Sick Monkeys and it gets even better.

 

A more sedate night out can be found at The Beehive with the regular Acoustic Buzz Session. This week it features Gary Hall, a Gram Parsons infused player and quite possibly the future of British Americana; the poetic and almost spiritual folk of Benita Johnson and Blind River Scare main man and host for the evening, Tim Manning.

 

 

The big news this week is the arrival of a new Hip Route album, which is being launched on Friday at Basement 73. With a cast of thousands…well, a fair number anyway, consisting of additional musicians, not least The Barefoot Horns and support from Jimmy Moore and Best Laid Plans, plus the fact that it is free entry there are so many reasons to pop along and join the fun.

 

Other big names are to be found at The Victoria with the original Rude Boy and Specials singer, Neville Staple bringing his full band to town and support coming from one of the most eclectic, surprising and truly unique bands I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a few, Flipron. Get there early and do not miss an invitation to their weird world of whimsy and wackiness.

 

 

If something a bit more rootsy is your thing then you can either go for the excellent Pignose at The Beehive and their alchemical blend of rock, blues and country, a highly recommended noise or the soundtrack to a smoky Chicago blues bar that is Built For Comfort at The Rolleston.

 

Saturday offers the usual slices of tributes in the form of the hilariously titled Sgt. Peppers Only Dartboard Band not only playing the whole of the Revolver album but also a set of the Fab Fours greatest hits. The Rolleston offers Going Underground who play a mixture of punk and new wave classics. Fans of Status Quo will be heading for Riffs Bar to catch original drummer John Coghlan and his band play all the Quo classics.

 

If you want some soothing music to help the digestion of your Sunday roast then The Beehive is the place to be for the welcome return of Juey an artist who will find favour with fans of the likes of Gillian Welch.

 

A couple of nice midweek options both come courtesy of The Victoria, on Tuesday with the big, crunching guitars of 8 Minutes Later with support from The King In Mirrors, a wonderful seam of post punk pop that I urge you all to explore.

 

And finally Wednesday sees the return of Barry Dolan – a.k.a. Oxygen Thief pictured), this time backed by a full band. If ever you though the man was loud and ranting enough as a solo acoustic act, imagine what he is going to be like at full power. Actually you don’t have to imagine, go to the show. Support for this comes from 2 piece noise merchants Boss Cloth and the soaring guitar work of False Gods. In a week where there are lots of great things on offer, this one still wins gig of the week.

28922_10150174875560344_135658_nIt’s not often that you get the offer to time travel, well, a Delorean and a mad scientist are hard to come by these days. Okay not time travel more like nostalgia surf as a friend of mine was trying to persuade me that the idea of an 80’s retro party might be something I might like. There was then a description of how they would all be in day-glo garments, jumpsuits, shoulder pads, leg warmers and the like. I may be of the right age but that really isn’t the eighties that I lived through. Whilst  the denizens of such a gathering may have a rose tinted hankering for Wang Chung’s Everybody Have Fun Tonight or Chic’s Boogie Wonderland, I spent a lot of that time in muddy fields and Student Union bars surrounded by people in donkey jackets, DM’s and Cole Not Dole T-shirts! I suspect that the DJ on the night wouldn’t take kindly to requests of Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi’s Dead or The Specials dystopian classic, Ghost Town.

I don’t get this odd recollection of the eighties being about throw away pop and brash costume.This was a decade when The Smiths had 15 top 30 hits outgunning the quintessentially 80’s acts like Go West four times over. Bands such as ABC, Bananarama, Ultravox and Toyah all failed to hit the number one spot, a feat achieved by a quartet of socialist oiks from Hull called The Housemartins. Nostalgia isn’t what it use to be…quite literally.

Okay, enough of the past, lets bring it bang up to date with what live music you can experience this week. Tonight the Beehive have something that couldn’t be more “of the now” in the shape of Fatmagic, a band who make electronic music and mix it with the usual live instruments but also cello and violin. The result is an ever shifting sound that meanders through pop, dance and dubstep but with folky hooks and classical phrases. Now that’s how you move music on.

More traditional but equally great music can be found also in the top bar of The Victoria with Albion and their new take on timeless English folk music.

Roots driven music also features on Friday as Batelers grace the stage of The Rolleston with their joyous blend of celtic rhythms, pastoral folk and old time americana but elsewhere fans of the noisier end of the spectrum are well catered for as well. Firstly over at Riffs Bar, The Secret Chord is offering up a line up of the best noise merchants in the business. Gloriously ranty, often offensive and superbly tight 2 piece punk band, 2 Sick Monkeys is the main draw but added muscle comes in the shape of Headcount, a punk-metal collision who channel the raw and confrontational energies of the likes of Therapy? and Killing Joke. The night opens via the welcome return of GagReflex,(pictured) who have been described as  “ A two headed punk rock machine – small enough to tour in a car; big enough to take your face clean off.” Charming!

Other noisesome options are 1000 Planets playing punk, goth and alt-rock covers at The Beehive and a double header tribute at The Victoria to the music of Rammstein and Metallica. Retro-pop fans will find what they are looking for at The Arts Centre as Voulez Vous relive the heady days of Abba.

Saturdays contribution to original music is best found at The Victoria with The Blue Trees and their rootsy americana with a distinctly southern feel, Jon Trowbridge and his driven yet soulful piano grooves and back on the scene after a bit of a hiatus, Marky Thatcher. Fans of classic rock and metal covers will be congregating at The Rolleston for Shepherds Pie.

Sundays offerings will take you to more formal venues. You can catch Whole Lotta Led  (Led Zeppelin) at The Wyvern Theatre though culture vultures might want the more chilled experience of the saxophone and piano of Sarah Markham and Paul Turner kicking of the 20th Anniversary Season of The Swindon Recital Series at The Arts Centre.

Wednesday rounds the musical week off with a David Marx in solo mode, minus his fellow AK-Poets at The Running Horse and those latin jazz legends Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz at The Roaring Donkey.

mrcatandthejackal_arno-krugerSo, another year, another Swindon Shuffle done and dusted. I hope everybody had a great time, discovered some new bands, took in some of the new cultural diversities that were included and maybe made a new friend or two along the way. (Due to the nature of deadlines, at the time of writing this I am currently only mid festival, which feels a bit like being in some bizarre, Terry Gilliam time travel movie, but we will have to assume all went well and the space time continuum, not to mention the reputation of local music is still in tact.)

 

If you still haven’t had your fix of music, the place to be this weekend is SN1Fest Summer Ball at The Old Town Bowl for a celebration of all things dance music. Saturday is spearheaded by the twisted minimalist disco sounds of Simian Mobile Disco and just added to the line up, Dismantle, the pioneering young DJ who effortlessly blurs the lines between house, dubstep and Dutch techno. Add to that over a dozen dance acts and DJ’s and you have the perfect day of contemporary and cutting edge music. If Saturday celebrates dance as a genre, Sunday is more about dance as a concept with an eclectic mix of live bands designed to get you in the party mood, from Old Colours, 2 Sick Monkeys, British Harlem, The London Underground Orchestra and all topped off with a set from Radio 1 DJ and Indie guru, Huw Stevens.

 

Back in the regular haunts there is still a multitude of great music to be deliberated, cogitated and digested, sorry went a bit Loyd Grossman then, and it doesn’t come better than Mr Cat and The Jackal (pictured) at The Victoria tonight. An experimental acoustic folk band reveling in blues, gypsy, tango, balkan and celtic themes via the medium of handmade instruments and an amazing live show…sounds worth checking out if you ask me. Support coming from punked up celtic folksters, Missin’ Rosie just adds to your reasons for going.

 

Also on the menu tonight, at The Beehive, Andre and The J-Tones mix up original and retro classics with an R ‘n’ B and soul flavour.

 

The big show for Friday is to be found out at Riffs Bar where great music and a worthy cause go hand in hand as a host of younger acts, including The Fixed, The Eberdeens, Abbie Sims and Lucy Gray will be raising money for The Stroke Association. The Rolleston is offering up The Sitting Tenants, a brilliant power-pop, psych and soul band from the 208 Records stable and The Beehive has a young touring German rock three piece that goes under the name of Patrick McCrank.

 

The Victoria start the first of two days of elated sun-clasped dance grooves tonight with the wonderful funky dub sounds of Backbeat Sound System and support from the multi-genre mash up kings, SN Dubstation. The following night the regular Reggae Club Night is visited by the legendary DJ Amma who has virtually played for every band, radio session and live event that matters.

 

Also on Saturday, fans of rock classics should head to The Rolleston for Fly on The Wall who do a neat line in covers by the likes of The Stones, Thin Lizzy, T-Rex and Blink 182.

 

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by The Senile Delinquents, a brilliant little cowgirl jazz, country outfit, imagine The Dixie Chicks with a european bias and you will be halfway there. The Sun Inn has one of it’s al fresco sessions (posh for outside) which this time will feature The Costellos, a band with a ska-reggae heart but musical arms enough to embrace a whole range of other styles and genres.

 

 

As is often the case we have to fast forward to Wednesday for our final slabs of music which come in the guise of Billyjon, a romantic balladeer who seems to be these days slipping into slightly darker and edgier musical waters, at The Running Horse and Sumita Majundar’s fresh and honest piano stories at The Roaring Donkey.

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It makes a change to have some good news to report in this, a most difficult time for live music, so you will be pleased to hear that The Rolleston opened up again last weekend in pretty much the same shape that it left us in. With Status Promotions still the driving force behind the bookings you can expect the same mix of covers, tributes and originals, obviously with their trademark leanings towards the heavier end of the musical spectrum, but as they say, “if it ain’t broke, put the damn lump-hammer down.” Normal service, it would seem, has been resumed.

 

First though, tonight at The Victoria and a first outing for something very interesting. Spiral Key sit somewhere on a breaking wave where prog and metal collide. Channelling both classic era influences such as Rush and more recent bands such as Tinyfish the result is both big and clever, not bad at all for a two-piece! Alternately you can head down The Beehive for the wonderfully lazy, sax-led, rocksteady groove of Count Bobo and the Bullion.

 

Things get a bit busier as we move into the weekend proper.  Starting out at Riffs Bar, this might act as the perfect wind down to last weeks Riffstock Festival as The Secret Chord brings you a night of drum and bass with a difference. It’s true all the bands are made up of just, what is normally the rhythm section, but generically this night of four-legged foolery offers something a lot heavier. Spearheading the musical onslaught is 2 Sick Monkeys, fast, aggressive punk from the No Means No school of no messing about, complete with Pete’s legendary between song rants, GagReflex; simple, defiant, brave and obtuse (pictured) and as they put it “small enough to tour in a car, big enough to take your face clean off!” and up from Cornwall, Monolithian, a tsunami of doom and black metal intensity.

 

Those who don’t feel that they have the constitution for that still have plenty to choose from. Josie and The Outlaw will be giving it some old school rock’n’roll vibes at The Queens Tap, Dan (of Ocean Colour Scene fame) and Adam will be at The Rolleston and for those who want to break out the spandex and suede fringe jackets, Bon Giovi are strutting their stuff at The Victoria.

 

Probably the most interesting band of the night is to be found at The Beehive in the guise of Harry Bird and The Rubber Wellies. These travelling folkies are based in Bilbao and Dublin, create a cabaret of sing-a-long choruses, encourage audience participation and inhabit a world of pirates, lizards, cracks in the wall and Basque cycling songs. Sounds wonderfully bizarre.

 

Saturday is a good day to be a blues fan. At The Arts Centre, Head, Hands and Feet main man and sparing partner of the likes of Eric Clapton, Albert Lee and his backing band Hogan’s Heroes, bring their brand of high octane, invigorating blues-rock into town. Not to be outdone, The Rolleston is showcasing the best of the new breed in that field with the welcome return of The Laurence Jones Band.

 

Other serving suggestions are Reginald Road playing mainly originals in a rock, ska and punk vein at The  Tap and Barrel and the Destination Anywhere Dj’s will be getting their Motown, Northern Soul and Reggae groove on at The Victoria.

 

The Sunday afternoon slot at The Beehive is filled by Keith Thompson so be prepared for some of the best unplugged style, acoustic soul-blues you have heard in a long time. If you are still in the mood for mellow music after that, head up to Baker Street for some piano led, smooth trad jazz standards with The George Cooper Duo. More Jazz can be found here again on Tuesday with swinging jazz from trombonist Ian Bateman and his Quartet.

 

And so we arrive at our usual final destination, it’s Wednesday and we are at The Running Horse. The last hurrah comes in the form of folk and funk blending together courtesy of Withnail and I, plus the wonderful, tongue in cheek, “Scrumpy and Western” creations of Corky.