Tag Archive: a way with words


1935162_454261378032105_6602445270487649865_nThey say that nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. 35 years ago I was a thin, nerdy, bespectacled college kid unaware of the wealth of post-punk creativity which was about to wash over me during the next ten years but most importantly XTC’s seminal English Settlement had just hit the shops. Blimey, tempus does indeed fugit and creativity is indeed the watchword this week, as quantity and quality are both present in spades.

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548800_428930193833165_1291860355_nYou may well remember him from The Hoax. You may have seen him playing with Joel Fisk or as part of the four guitar super group The Boom Band. You may have even seen him as a member of DVL or fronting his own titular blues outfit. Well, tonight at The Victoria you can catch Jon Amor (pictured)playing as the Gods of Music intended it. Solo, acoustic and intimate. So expect something a bit special as one of Britain’s best blues players comes to town. Support comes from Mike Barham who will regale you with tales of cider swilling student days and Jack Moore opens the night.

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12771521_505280549673444_5585277270321832928_oMaking ends meet as a musician is tough enough at the best of times, especially when trying to keep a full band on the road, it is the reason that so many musicians opt for solo gigs either alongside or instead of band careers. But what if you want to really challenge yourself? Well, you could try organising a 10-day tour around the country with an orchestra made up of players who just turn up on the night. Every night the band will be different and comprised of an ever-changing set of instruments and players who are new to the songs. Seems a ridiculous idea? I agree but it is what Shaun Buswell and Erik Nyberg have set themselves to do and you can catch the Swindon leg of the tour at The Arts Centre tonight.

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10671345_1099486163401427_4704903689419072710_nI often worry that the town ‘s music options are becoming more and more constrained, that the powers that be will soon be passing local by-laws that any public performance must include a cover of Mr Brightside. Then suddenly, and then doing their best bus analogy, three great, and indeed very original, gigs come along at once.

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1607111_577491689022522_3860118839849066474_nI will apologize in advance for the Shuffle-centric nature of this weeks scribbling but when over 40 music acts line up to play across 3 major venues and a host of additional bars, cafes and public places, it is inevitable that it will take up most of the space. So, The Swindon Shuffle is back for it’s ninth year and it seems only a blink of an eye that I was sat in the Winners Lounge (before it’s Legendary upgrade) on a Thursday night waiting for The Unforeseen to play the first ever slot. Tempus does indeed fugit! So, the first fringe events took place last night but as of today Shuffling begins in earnest.

The Victoria has long been one of the cornerstones of The Shuffle and so it is apt that we begin there. This session is one for those with a penchant for heavier music and is headlined by a band that have had a meteoric rise over the last year or so, A Way With Words. Other alt-rock acts on the bill include All Ears Avow and the dystopian vibes of Ghost of Machines. Between these you can catch the punk onslaught that is 2 Sick Monkeys and something with more of a blues spin from The Harlers.

Baila Coffee and Vinyl has always been a cool place to hang out during the day (where do you think I am writing this?) but now with the addition of a evening drinks license they have become part of Old Town nightlife with craft ales, a well selected wine cellar and quality spirits available and they join in the festival with sets from Matilda (minus drummer Emily who is probably doing headstands on a mountain in Outer Mongolia,) young, groove driven Indie from Polar Front and the captivating and heartfelt songs of Charlie Bath.

The Victoria second contribution comes on Friday, this time with a more eclectic and intriguing bill headed by the drifting ambience and trippy grooves of Colour The Atlas (pictured). Theo Altieri provides some effortlessly cool indie-pop and Super Squarecloud will be doing what ever it is they do – I’ve been writing about their mercurial, genre-hopping music and flagrant disregard for convention for 4 years now and I still haven’t found the adequate words! The early part of the night sees the welcome return of a couple of out-of-towners, Cursor Major who prove once and for all that kookiness is next to godliness and that blend of delicacy and dynamics that is Familiars.

Within easy shuffling distance of that (hence the name) is The Castle and their first session has a bit of a blues edge to it. Although main man Ian Doeser has long been a fixture of the Shuffle as a solo player this is, I believe, the first time that the full Hamsters From Hell have graced the event, so expect the usual sweary, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy humour set to an R’n’B backdrop. And if The Hamsters are a nod to the ghost of blues past, then The Greasy Slicks are very much about the ghost of blues future; slick, incendiary deliveries and killer riffs and acting as a sign post for where the genre is going. Also on the bill are Coasters, a punk vibe injected into Americana but whose songs trade Route 66 for the M4.

Elsewhere, The Locomotive, part of the Shuffle Fringe due to it’s outlying location in relation to the main focus of events, nevertheless plays a blinder by hosting Yves, one of the front runners of the new Indie crop of local bands and at The Rolleston you can catch Beatles tribute The Pre Fab Four.

On Saturday the music starts at midday at The Central Library where various acoustic acts including Neil Mercer and Stuart Marsh can be found playing throughout the afternoon.

Saturday also sees The Beehive, the only venue to have been involved in all nine years, get involved with a folk slant to their bill. Southern Harmony bring their wonderful blend of Celtic, English and Appalachian folk to the party and Ells and The Southern Wild throw in some darker folk vibes. Plummie Racket and Nick Felix will be adding a more singer-songwriter feeling to the evening.

Up the hill at The Castle, the younger set have their moment with Balloon Ascent’s accessible indie-folk creations, the shoegaze and post-punk referencing Sahara Heights building to a night of ska, reggae and infectious dance grooves from SN Dubstation, not a band that you want to miss, believe me. At The Locomotive, The Roughnecks will be blasting out their incendiary R’n”B and old-school rock and roll to entice and astound the Fleet Street crowd.

Non-Shuffle related gigs can also be found at The Victoria with Going Underground, Strictly Dan a tribute to Steely Dan at Riffs Bar, classic rock covers at The Rolleston from Bad Obsession and all your favourite songs from a new line-up Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees The Shuffle round off at its now traditional last day party at The Beehive. A string of solo players, Mel Hughes, Tamsin Quin and Steve Leigh get things underway before Bruce St. Bridges, the socially aware, psychedelic folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice and the sonic pick’n’mix of auralcandy move things up a gear. Last year The Shudders almost destroyed the venue with their final set of the festival and they have been given the task of attempting to do the same this year with another headline slot.

If you want something to help easy you out of the festival, the perfect gentle step back into normality comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with those dapper jazz aficionados Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz.

426330_472706166084333_342403751_nThere is a lot going on this week so I’m going to cut to the chase straight away but let you into a little secret that there is a theme running through this piece, the prize for spotting it is the knowledge that you have sound musical taste, which is better than any prize I could afford to offer up anyway.

Starting at the top of the hill, at The Victoria good music and worthy causes go hand in hand as bands gather to raise awareness, not to mention money, for Sue Ryder and the great work they do at The Leckhampton Hospice. Although known for a big, alt-rock sound, A Way With Words will be all stripped down and playing an acoustic set and are joined by local troubadour Ben Wiltshire and the chilled musical vibes of The Dirty Smooth.

At The Beehive the monthly Acoustic Buzz night continues to bring together the best of folk and roots music, this time featuring Boss Caine, who conjures up Tom Waits singing Ryan Adam tunes and Iron and Oak who blend vocals, guitar and violin into wonderfully melancholic folk music. Your host Blind River Scare get the night underway.

Level 3 has a night called Beats and Bars, a hip-hop showcase with DJ’s and live sets from Los Angeles resident Esko plus support from the best home-grown talent the genre has to offer, including DJ Triksta, Citizen Kane and BGenius.

Friday gives you the chance to catch another set from A Way With Words, this time in full, unchecked rock show mode as they play Riffs Bar and are joined by reggae, dub and ska fusion experts SN Dubstation to raise money for Goldenhar and Swindon Women’s Aid. Ska is also on the menu at the Castle with The Nomarks and other options are power pop, mod and soul with Peloton at The Victoria, soul and funk standards from The Heist at The Beehive and some stomping folk rock at The Rolleston courtesy of Flash Harry.

And so we head straight into the heart of Saturday night and one of the most unique bands you will ever see. Dirt Box Disco (pictured) are a blend of trashy garage rock, and glam punk who’s chaotic, theatrical and often bizarre stage show is something to behold, so head over to Riffs Bar and catch them along with local punk stalwarts Charred Hearts plus Borrowed Time and The Setbacks.

More raucousness can be found at The Castle with those riotous rhythm and blues boozers, The Hamsters from Hell. Expect uncompromising music, sweary interludes, beards and general mayhem.

If you are looking for something a little mellower, less likely to give you a heart-attack and fine (you must have got the theme by now surely?) for general consumption, maybe a night of vintage reggae and ska from The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive is a more palatable option.

For a live take on modern ska and reggae, Level 3 is the place to be as Brixton based Mangoseed blend funk guitar, rock bass and hip-hop deliveries to create a fresh and eclectic new direction for the genre. Joining them are the infectious, dance floor fillers Conway, ska-punksters The Larry Fish Experiment, inventor of opera reggae and soul ukulele aficionado Nakisha Esnard, plus another chance to catch SN Dubstation. Bop till you drop and tango till they’re sore.

Jamie Thyer brings his Worried Men to The Rolleston for some high-octane blues-rock, it’s rock, punk and pop covers at The Swiss Chalet with The Hyperbolics and Bon Giovi play at The Victoria.

Finally a last mention for Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey and the featured artist, Joe McCorriston. Joe spends all his time on the road and whether supporting the likes of Gaz Brookfield, playing big festivals or intimate gigs like this one, his brand of genre hopping folky-pop-punk always goes down a storm with the audience.

So there is more than enough there to keep the most demanding of music consumer satisfied. And that’s closing time.

NB: This week’s column was held together by plundered Tom Waits song titles. And why not…

10384282_524686984329584_2829732092505597701_nThis week’s contentious offering goes like this. Has music lost its voice? Performing music and releasing records is a wonderful platform, which has been used since time immemorial to communicate information. From Dark Age Sagas and Medieval troubadours right through to the modern folk, hip-hop and punk movements, music has always had the power to be political, to spread social commentary and advocate change. Now in a society seemingly more ill at ease with itself than ever before music makers should be reminded of the power they hold. Songs such as Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding, The Special’s Ghost Town, John Lennon’s Imagine and Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam have stood as important rallying points; so the question is, what will you do with your platform? Recycle the glories of the past, write throwaway tunes in the quest for fame or actually use it as a vehicle to exchange ideas? Why try to smash through physical barricades when with music you can smash through perceptions and apathy. Anyway, enough of the Ben Elton type rhetoric, on with the show.

And there are countless options to connect with live music this week, unless you do count them in which case there are about 15, starting tonight at The Beehive. Keegan McInroe seems to spend more time touring Europe than he does in his at his Texas home and tonight is the first of two opportunities to catch his finely woven threads of country, blues, folk and roots Americana; he is aided and abetted by various great and good of local music.

Friday sees the first of three gigs at The Castle, a venue that has consistently upped it’s game over the last year or so to become an integral part of the local circuit, with The Roughnecks bringing their incendiary brand of gritty, old school rhythm and blues.

If you are looking for familiar sounds then you have the options of either ska covers at The Victoria with The Killertones or the genre hopping Corduroy Kings at The Rolleston.

Going against the normal flow, Saturday sees a real spike in creativity as two of Swindon’s most prominent bands have record launch shows taking place. Colour The Atlas have made a name for themselves creating wonderfully cinematic, hazy trip-hop and although they have managed to secure some impressive tours and support some big name artists, when it comes to launching new material they are real home birds which means that you can catch them showcasing their new e.p. Amethyst at The Castle. If something more driven is your preference then Level 3 plays host to popular and dynamic alt-rockers A Way With Words, who are launching their own e.p. Reflections the very same night.

Two fundraisers also take place, firstly to raise money for a humanitarian trip to Kenya. Music for this evening comes from Kate Musty, Meghann Newcombe, Westways, Misfires and Sahara Heights. The other worthy cause to get behind is Moonfest and more about that can be found elsewhere on this page.

Rock tribute acts go head to head, Wizards of Oz (Ozzy Osbourne) are at The Rolleston and Hot Red Chilli Peppers (do I really need you spell this one out?) entertain The Victoria.

Mr Love and Justice host their usual Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Central Library, joining them this time is Southern Harmony, who splice Americana and Celtic folk musical genes to impressive effect and hard hitting tribal funk-folk duo Insitu. If you still have a thirst for music after that you can continue into the evening at The Castle with Cristian Perugino.

Wednesday is surprisingly busy this week. It is the second chance to catch Texas blues man Keegan McInroe as he joins the bill at The Roaring Donkey along side ex-Snakes guitarist Richard Davis and new roots-pop duo, Bruce Street Bridges (named after an old time Chicago music hall crooner I believe.)   Also roots collective S’Go ( pictured) can be found at The Gluepot and at Level 3 things get heavy with punks Bob Malmstrom and metallers Bludger, Harmony Disorder and Belial.

10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nNice to see that following on from last weeks flurry of live shows, this week is continuing in a similar vein, both in terms of volume and diversity. Hopefully even those who continue to fly the “nothing ever happens round here” flag will see that it is time to call it a day or at least go back to their X-Box, Facebook trolling and Game of Thrones boxed set and let the rest of us get on with the job at hand.

 

One of the more extraordinary bands of recent times has been The Jim Jones Revue who combined the furious piano playing approach of Jerry Lee Lewis with the visceral guitar style of proto-punk bands such as The MC5 and The Stooges. Well, the band may have called it a day recently but the man who provided that core sound, one that suggested a gang fight in a piano shop, Henri Herbert, can be found at The Victoria tonight.

 

An even bigger name can be found at The Wyvern Theatre as the man with the golden voice and stalwart of such bands as Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike and The Mechanics, Paul Carrick will be running through his repertoire of blue-eyed soul and pop-rock.

 

On Friday two big line-ups go head to head within spitting distance of each other in Old Town. At The Castle, brit-pop brats The Racket spearhead a line up that caters to all things indie and modish, being joined by the mercurial melodies and flamboyant stage antics of Nudybronque, the sharp music lines of British Harlem, the jangly pop of Theo Altieri and rock and roll swagger of Portsmouth’s Sixes & Sevens.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, is Songs of Praise line up of A Way With Words, Cavalier and Leader, so prepare for a night of abrasive alt-rock, creative dynamics, indie vibes and energetic performances.

 

The Rolleston has opted for a blend of eastern European folk, sea shanties and carnival chaos with the welcome return of Calico Jack (pictured)and their colourful tales and even more colourful costumes. And moving from the sublime to the ridiculous I can also announce that Showaddywaddy can be found at The Wyvern Theatre. Time to break out the Crepes and Drapes!

 

But music isn’t just confined to the regular venues this weekend as Friday also sees the start of a two day Vintage and Retro Weekend centred on The Brunel Centre. As well as Hot-rods and Vintage cars and bikes, Car Boot and stalls, there will be guitar workshops and live sessions from a Johnny Cash Tribute act plus Sons of The Delta, HipRoute and Jimmy Lee.

 

As usual Saturday is more preoccupied with offering sounds that you are already familiar with. Guns 2 Roses will be paying tribute to that most infamous street-rock outfit at The Victoria and all things ska, punk and new wave will be on the cards from Operation 77 at The Moonrakers.

 

Tying in nicely with the aforementioned Vintage and Retro weekend, Locarno Beat recreate the classic song writing of The 60’s at The Swiss Chalet and the previous decade is well catered for with The 58 Shakes at The Queens Tap and The Rhythm Bombers at The Rolleston. Similar vibes can be found at The Victoria on Sunday with Rockabilly Rumble.

 

But it certainly isn’t the day of rest for metal fans who have a treat lined up for them as Control The Storm’s current tour plays its last show at Level 3. Atmospheric, anthemic, melodic metal is the order of the day; fans of Lacuna Coil and Nightwish will not want to miss this one. Joining them are Curvature who take a more gothic and synth driven approach and Metaprism with their wonderfully prog. slant.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday you can find Blake, an artist who manages to mix accessible Beatle-esque melodies with heartfelt lyrical messages and social awareness.

10649943_945806792102227_5195462776041008646_nThis Friday in Old Town two gigs are taking place in such close proximity of each other so as to make that part of town a veritable showcase for some of the best original music in the area.

 

Firstly a free gig at The Castle present 5 bands that fall roughly into the indie, modish, brit-pop categories. Headlining are The Racket, a band built on energetic stage presence, attitude and more than a tip of the hat to nineties Manchester. Nudybronque (pictured) mix infectious grooves with winsome lyrical flights of fancy and the sharp moves and even sharper tunes of British Harlem take the middle slot. Theo Altieri will be providing some wonderfully chart-glancing indie-pop vibes and opening the night are surprise guests, The Sixes and Sevens, Portsmouth’s new hottest indie-rock outfit who rose from the ashes of Moody Tuesday, a band you may have caught gigging in Swindon a few years ago.

 

And if that wasn’t enough, over at The Victoria for a mere £3, A Way With Words are spearheading a Songs of Praise line up. Although only a couple of years in, the band have already bagged some great tour supports and national festival appearances and their assertive and brash rock sound seems to be gaining them new fans at every outing. Joining them are Guildford’s Cavalier and Leader from Witney who also mix rock, indie, pop and punk in varying degrees to create brilliantly original music.

 

So for a mere £3 you can have access to 8 bands in two venues within 5 minutes of each other. All you have to do is work out the best logistics to catch the ones you want to see the most.

 

first published at Total news  –  March ’15

10402533_746070758809060_9184893415247669729_nSo, last weeks column raised a few eyebrows, it seems, with my comments on promoting originality and being part of a more creative bigger picture. I was aiming for poignancy but judging from the reaction from certain quarters many of you took it as some sort of swipe at certain genres and styles. The Gods of Music seem to have been listening to my plea though and this week’s gigs do seem to be collectively pushing the creative envelope a bit harder.

 

And right off the bat (what is it with me a clichés this week?) tonight The Victoria offers you something a bit special. After years for plying a trade as a solo acoustic troubadour, Billy Bingham has finally teamed up with some other well known faces on the live scene to create Ghost of Machines (pictured), a band that blend white hot riffs, industrial back beats and spiralling hooks to paint a dark, brutal and dystopian sound track. The middle slot features the welcome return of Armchair Committee, whose scattergun salvo of influences run from howling blues to stoner rock via rampant melodicism. Opening the night are Cathodes, a brooding and intense musical assault of Byzantine complexity.

 

Over at The Beehive you can catch a mixture of R’n’B, soul and rock covers and originals from The Dansette Tones, the current musical vehicle for our very own Bob Bowles.

 

Friday also has a great billing at The Victoria. As vocalist for The Inspiral Carpets, Tom Hingley was at the forefront of the influential Madchester Scene of the 90s. Since leaving the band in 2011 for a solo career he has released two crowd-funded albums that have taken him in totally new musical directions. Expect an eclectic mix of blues originals and Manchester era standards.

 

Support comes from Uxbridge quartet The Cornerstones who channel that same quintessential Englishness that you can hear in songs by The Beatles, The Kinks and The Stone Roses. Local stalwarts, British Harlem and The Racket will be warming the crowd up and vinyl junkie and DJ Bobby The Persuader will be spinning the coolest of tunes in between sets.

 

At the Art Centre Blue to Brown, featuring Duran Duran guitarist Dominic Brown, present a rock and blues extravaganza. Apparently they toyed with a band name based on other members of this all-star line up, but Spalding to Bramwell just sounded like a vintage car rally.

 

Folk is on the menu at The Beehive but don’t expect the twee, pastoral musical outing that the genre often conjures up. The Model Folk are a riot of East European sounds with wheezing harmoniums, shrieking clarinet and the humble washboard providing the platform for tales about everything from soviet farm machinery to 1930’s drag queens. Intriguing to say the least.

 

Rhythm and Blues fans are well catered for at The Rolleston by The Back Water R&B Band playing standards from Delta, Texas, Southern and Back Water sub-genres, whilst at The Castle Vice Versa play a range of indie tunes from the 70’s to the 90’s.

 

Saturdays big draw is out at Riffs Bar as A Way With Words bring their brash and assertive brand of rock to the stage. Channelling a host of contemporary influences from The Foo Fighters to Fall Out Boy, expect crunching guitars and spiralling lead lines, pulsing bass and thunderous back beats. Bristol alt-rock trio Stone Cold Fiction and the soulful acoustics of Cristian Perugino complete the bill.

 

Echo will be providing the party at The Swiss Chalet and at The Rolleston a legendary blues triptych of Mike Hoddinott, Innes Sibun and Jerry Soffe perform as Blues Transfusion.

 

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, you will find folk-pop pixie, Tamsin Quin dishing out wonderfully accessible tunes presented with equal measures of charm and cheek. Starting the night off will be the atmospherics and hushed tones of Andrew Burke.