Tag Archive: acoustic buzz sessions


the-quireboys-2016Well, we haven’t quite succumbed to the enforced jollification and festive template of the coming season quite yet so before the Christmas jumper brigade and the once a year drinkers from the office temporarily take over proceedings, here’s a few safe musical havens before the coming tinsel and singalong deluge.

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40922994_1038122389702686_5504215381138472960_oSome weeks this town is blessed with big name acts travelling through the parish boundaries, other times there are a few new and interesting options passing through from further afield and sometimes we are find wonderful blasts from the past in our midsts. This week though is mainly a real celebration of the bands that keep the local circuit alive. You will know most of the names, you have probably seen many before but as a show case of just how vibrant the local scene is and just how many great home grown bands we have, this week acts as the perfect showcase.

I say mainly as tonight offers a few options from across the county line and the most unusual of them can be found at The Victoria. Siblings of Us (pictured) are a band undergoing a transformation moving from the most mercurial and jagged two-piece synth wave band topped off with Bee Gee-esque vocals into the most mercurial and jagged three-piece electro-rock band…with Bee Gee-esque vocals. Reventure and Xadium also bring new ideas to the rock format.

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tragedy-homeIt seems like the surge of local summer festivals is trailing off now and the amount of gigs in the usual musical haunts is starting to get back up to speed. And just as a reminder of how the local circuit really does punch above its weight, tonight The Beehive have rather a fabulous act to offer you. Over the last twenty years Pony Pony have worked both as a duo and with such names as Bare Naked Ladies and the sublime Cowboy Junkies and their brand of fiddle driven country-folk is a spellbinding experience that discerning music fans are not going to want to miss.

Although if your excuse for non-attendance is that you are going to The Victoria instead, then that is fair enough as they also have some choice original music on offer. Having caught two of these bands for the first time at The Shuffle I can assure you that The Oxymora’s brooding and emotive alt-rock and Palm Rose’s soaring post-rock meets dream-pop both have the potential to make them your new favourite local bands. POOL’s bruised and gloom-infused music gets the night underway.

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26170782_914630398738455_5843566105616402098_o 2Sadly it is time to morn the passing of another musical great. Mark E. Smith, the glorious leader of The Fall may not have had the mainstream success that other recently departed icons were known for, but he was an icon nonetheless. An icon of otherness, of belligerence, of the anti and the other, of subversion, things which are by and large missing from todays music. He walked a line between the brilliant and the bizarre, shows were as likely to be terrible as transcendental, lyrics were confrontational and strangely poetic and gigs were your own little secret. He could have steered the band towards stadium success but instead preferred to play above pubs in Bethnal Green or decrepit ex-discotheques in Wythenshawe! Wether you got him or not, loved him or loathed him we can all guarantee that the world will be a less interesting and more conformist place without him. Anyway…to horse, well, musically speaking.

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13407096_10153662274891463_6649436038957675124_n.jpgIn a world which seems ever more divided along political lines, knowingly supporting cash over climate issues, payola over peace and where a small very small sector of society pull the strings and calls the shots, wouldn’t it be good to have someone come along and make sense of it all. Not some dry political hack or firebrand orator but maybe a guy with a bass guitar, a hat and a bag of songs which point fingers, neatly satirises and gently ridicules the state of the world. It might not fix the problems but it sounds like a fun night out to me. Oh look, Grant Sharkey is at The Tuppenny tonight, what a co-incidence!

Meanwhile down at The Beehive, that excellent fellow Tim Manning is hosting his Acoustic Buzz night, a session dedicated to all things rootsy and this time around Boss Caine headlines the night, imagine Tom Waits singing Ryan Adams …if they had both had the good fortune to grow up in Yorkshire that is. Chris Webb is also on the bill, a finger-style folkie par excellence and your host will kick the night off with his song-blends of country and folk.

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12794971_942957899158565_6151846002226574455_oIt’s going to be a good week in town for those who like their music…well, their rock music at least, as most days have a generous helping of the dulcet sounds of classic rock and metal both original and otherwise. So don your favourite band t-shirt, slip on the black stretch jeans and for that real old-school vibe see if the patched sleeveless denim jacket still fits. Hold on to your bullet belts…we’re going in.

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10525987_715675548547700_1189665388901185636_nIt was interesting to recently read that Tesco are stocking vinyl records in some of their stores as the sales of the format rise to mid-90’s levels. Admittedly the selection is limited to mainly the high volume end of the mainstream market but it is still an interesting trend. Are people getting bored with the digital world? Do they actually want something physical to show for their money? Can we expect wax cylinders to be the next retro-experiment and perhaps the return of the Pathe newsreel on our TVs? And of course the more pertinent question is will this reversal of trends cross over into support for “real time, actual live people playing music at you” type of gigs? We can only hope.

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10933803_1011615478852084_3192550600492000273_nLet’s just title this week “Victim of Success Week” as the gig diary seems to have gone into overdrive and get straight on with the show.

 

Something well wicked this way comes, as the yoof of today might say, tonight at The Victoria with a snarling, noisy, beast of a show from those awfully nice chaps at Songs of Praise. Described as “zombie grunge” Sheffield’s Steel Trees are one big slab of industrial strength noise and scorching, white hot guitars. Support comes in the guise of deliciously schizophrenic post-punkers, Nasty Little Lonely and Ex-Shrine main man Mat Caron’s new outfit I Am In Love.

 

The regular Acoustic Buzz session at The Beehive has a stellar line up, not only the subtle beauty of Jess Vincent’s folk-pop but also the achingly authentic, Americana-folk of Jim Evans. As always your host, Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning, kicks the night off.

 

Two big names are in town on Friday. Firstly at The Oasis The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, will be continuing to further the cause of quintessentially English song writing. The Second hails from much further away, Portland, Oregon to be exact. Having made a name with the distinctly multi-cultural, hard rock, junk-funk outfit, The Dan Reed Network, the eponymous front man will be playing at level 3 for the Fatboys Cancer Charity For Children Fundraiser. A host of other supports are in place, although be aware that limited tickets are only available in advance from the charity itself.

 

Although if you can’t get a ticket for that one, like classic rock and iconic indie covers and want to support a worthy cause then head over to Riffs Bar where Soundbites and Vice Versa will be playing to raise money for Breakthrough Brest Cancer.

 

If you prefer something a bit smoother, then The Tribe headline at The Victoria with their trademark fusion of soulful reggae, dance grooves and infectious hip hop vibes. Support comes from dubstep meets jazz meets hip-hop collective Dubbed Over.

 

The phrase, at the opposite end of the spectrum, doesn’t even begin to describe the wonderfully named Ma Polaine’s Great Decline who play The Beehive. These roots genre time travellers mix the blues of Howlin’ Wolf and genre hopping of Tom Waits to create a sound both familiar and exotic.

 

Also to be mentioned in despatches are The Runaway Boys, a tribute to The Stray Cats, at The Rolleston and fans of covers have the choice of Toxic at The Swiss Chalet or Mojo at The Castle.

 

Before talking of Saturday’s gigs, I should point out that the now well-established Record and CD fair will be taking place at The Central Community Centre from 9.00 am.

 

As for gigs, they are more about the tried and tested rather than the new and innovative but there is still some great music to be had. At Riffs Bar, Syntronix will be reliving all of the great synth pop of the eighties, everything from the big numbers such as Rio and Tainted Love to a few lesser-known numbers from the likes of Talk Talk and The Thompson Twins.

 

Rock is on the menu as Dodging The Bullet bring the noise to The Rolleston; something a bit more subtle can be found at The Victoria as Just Floyd pay tribute to one of the biggest and most uniquely creative bands on the planet.

 

Fans of Reggae, Ska and Rocksteady will want to be at The Beehive as the Shocks of Mighty DJs spin all the best tunes from those genres and Tony M and Friday Feeling play covers at The Castle and The Swiss Chalet respectively. Also in that vein is Jamie R Hawkins who can be found at Byron’s Wine Bar.

 

And even on Sunday there is no let up as Ron Trueman Border mixes up folk, blues jazz and a lot more at The Beehive afternoon session and it is with a tear in the eye that I can report that The Victoria will be the scene of Sheer Music’s last Swindon gig for the foreseeable future. It’s only fair that they should go out with a bang and so have managed to bag a date with Moose Blood (pictured)and Creeper currently touring the UK. So, if quality Emo and melodic punk are your sort of thing then help thank Kieran and the team for all their hard work over the years.

 

Finally dexterous acoustica taking in folk, blues and rock can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday courtesy of Andy Robbins.

10712899_10152416753527406_7198576379845939303_nOh, it’s just a bit of fun for the kids, they say. But Halloween seems to have turned into a national holiday for people who thought that Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a documentary and who take quizzes on Facebook with titles like “How long would you survive a zombie invasion?” Also prepare yourself for a barrage of lazy journalism resorting to clichéd words such a boo-tiful and spooktacular. The tail end of the week is also an opportunity for on-line slacktavists to trot out their well-worn cliché about Guy Fawkes being the “only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions.” Yes, that’s what the world needs, more religiously motivated terrorists in the pay of shadowy organisations. That said the offshoot of all this warped celebration is that there is a lot of live music to go with it.

 

Starting at The Beehive for a change, tonight the regular Acoustic Buzz night features Lucky Strikes frontman Matthew Boulter, whose solo work has been described as ““Introspective, gentle, tinged with darkness and a sorrowful undertow.” Sounds good to me. Also on the bill are the equally brilliant Paul McClure and your regular host Tim Manning of Blind River Scare.

 

The Victoria opts for the harder rock of All Ears Avow, a band who manages to infuse alternative rock with a certain pop sensibility to produce a sound that both big and commercial. They are joined by With Ghosts, Elasea and Heriot.

 

The big Halloween show is at The Victoria on Friday with a “Bands and Burlesque” special. Not only music from suitably named, psychobilly genre benders Cowboy and The Corpse but also exotic and sensual dance routines. Jokes about pumpkins made at your own risk. If something more raucous is required for your festivities The Hamsters From Hell at Rolleston offer riotous rhythm and boozy blues for your delectation. Meanwhile downstairs at Level 3, Emily’s Pole Fitness has a very unique Halloween show for you.

 

The Acoustic Session out at Riffs Bar is taken by Rob Richings this week, with the maximum added value of it being a full band show (pictured) and at The Beehive, The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning classic ska and reggae tunes.

 

Saturday gets a bit obsessed with the tried and tested but it’s all about supply and demand and what Swindon seems to demand looks a lot like this. In a clever play on words, The Four Fighters will be paying tribute to the band fronted by the universally accepted nicest man in rock music today, Dave Grohl, and they can be found at The Victoria. Riffs Bar holds its festive bash to the indie-party sounds of covers band Penfold with everything from “The Arctic Monkey’s to The Zutons” apparently.

 

Young and dynamic classic rock is on the menu at The Rolleston with Bad Obsession and tunes that run from “Aerosmith to Zeppelin”….and does anyone else see an alphabetized marketing theme developing here? More heavy rock covers can be found at The Ashford Road Club courtesy of Shepherds Pie who declare that they play “everything from AC/DC to ZZ Top”….see, there it is again. Finally Operation 77 will be at The Swiss Chalet with a range of covers covering punk, post-punk, ska and mod genres. They didn’t offer a neat alphabetized sound bite. Level 3 has a night that is 100% Drum and Bass for those that want to carry the party on into the night.

 

Music obsessives might wish to know that during the day at the Central Community Centre there will be a Record and CD Fair so all you audiophiles (that is a real word, I checked) start saving your money.

 

A second chance to see The Hamsters From Hell comes on Sunday at The White Hart in Wroughton. One of the reasons for mentioning this is that the pub has just changed hands and it would be in every live music fans interest to support the gig and prove to the new owners that live music is worth hosting and, more importantly from a business point of view, a lucrative income for the pub. Use it or lose it as they say.

 

Last mention of the week is for D’Bize at The Beehive also on Sunday, the best of the old Irish tradition with a young beating heart, sounds like a great way to enjoy a pint and let the roast dinner slowly digest.

1486548_715081301878014_2123166531_nThere has been much discussion of late on the local music forums and social networking outlets about the nature and future of Swindon’s music scene. Much was said about how and where you put gigs on, the genres and geographic origin of the bands, the promotions and prejudices of the people organising these gigs and even the perceived cliquey nature of it all. I see supporting local music as like being in a union. Whilst there are officials and people who do the admin and organising, the union is the sum total of everyone. And if everyone got involved a bit more then maybe they would feel more included and their voice would be heard and collectively they could help make a difference.

 

So how can you get involved? The obvious one is to go to a show, gigs only work if they have a crowd of punters. If there are no shows around that you like the look of why not talk to a band and a venue about putting something on that is more to your tastes. Or help promote what is already taking place. If people using Facebook spent as much time sharing gig info with their friends as they did sharing pictures of their lunch, their cat, random political ideas and people falling over then more people would know about what great gigs we have going on. One thing that also gets overlooked is buying merchandise, for the cost of a pint or two a CD or a tee-shirt sale might make all the difference to the bands running cost for that night. The bottom line is get involved. And here are some things to get involved in.

 

Tonight, the first day of The Beehive reopening is marked by the regular Acoustic Buzz sessions, hosted by Blind River Scares main man Tim Manning. Along with Tim’ wonderful blend of hillbilly highway meets swaggering folk you can catch the southern fried sounds of The Rosellys and the “popgrass” styling of acoustic duo Peeky Blinders. If you prefer to make your own music then why not grab your guitar, bass, violin, kazoo, spoons (other cutlery if you prefer) or what ever instrument you play and head up to The Victoria for their jam night.

 

Friday is all about big guitars, big beats and driving rhythms. Firstly a mix of original cider swilling, folk punk and Celtic bar room classics can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of Mick O’Toole (pictured), a band who look like a wonderful cross between a Brendan Behan convention and the grounds men of Downton Abbey. Sort of retro-folk chic! Wyvern Theatre is responsible for what seems like the weekly appearance in the parish of Boot Led Zeppelin. Not further description needed. And if you want to revel in a mix tape approach to the most enduring songs of the metal and classic rock genres then it’s Metalhead at The Victoria for you.

 

A few big events roll into view on Saturday. Sticking with the louder end of things for the moment, Level 3 is the scene of Dredded Vyrus Promotions Hardcore and Metal Night. Headliners, Vaults, offer incendiary riffs and an avalanche of backbeats…hardcore at its most uncompromising. Whilst Vicious Cycle offer a similar experience, the band that really caught my ear were From Dusk Till Dawn who manage to mix a bruising brutality with a wonderful ear for melody, roaring guttural, gutter vocals with soaring, clean deliveries and big choruses. Nice. Opening the night are Bear Hunt, blistering melodies, great dynamics and probably the most pained vocals you have ever heard.

During the daytime there is an open air event at Wharf Green raising awareness for local charities and featuring music by The Damned and The Dirty, Ataraxis Vibration, All Ears Avow, Jimmy Moore and others.

 

The other big event and I’m guessing one with not too much of a crossover of fans from that previously mentioned is The Erin Bardwell Collective CD Launch at The Victoria. Another slice of reggae, ska and rocksteady with an old school feel, great harmonies, positive messages, porkpie hats and exquisite song writing from the best on the circuit. Support comes from the ska/dance fusion of SN Dubstation and Pete Murphy spinning the tunes.

 

More old school vibes, this time of a rock and roll nature as 50’s revivalists Josie and The Outlaw play The Rolleston.

 

Final mention of the week goes to Billy Bingham who can be found replete with ballads and tattoos, torch songs and guyliner at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.