Tag Archive: baker street


318761_473799535965634_658808314_nThere was a time when, according to the song, all people wanted for Christmas was two front teeth, but those simpler times seem to be long gone. I blame Mariah Carey. She really raised the stakes by famously declaring that all she wanted was you. Yes, YOU (and you and you and you!) Blimey, not asking for much. It’s also a time when people “ironically” slip into novelty knitwear, words such as ‘tis and ‘twas make an annual outing and everyone suddenly thinks that Elf is the new It’s a Wonderful Life. (Over my dead body!)

 

It’s a time of year when TV sets overflow with adverts featuring stressed mums, useless dads, penguins, puppies, Christmas tables heaving under thousands of pounds worth of food, soppy, faux-indie soundtracks and perpetual snow, even though a white Christmas happens about one in 6 years and half as frequently in “that London” where these adverts are dreamed up. All I want for Christmas is some decent live music to experience; thankfully Santa seems to have delivered.

 

The Victoria has the first of two heavy rock shows, firstly tonight in the shape of Manchester trio Absolva, a band who have taken the core sound that informed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the eighties and brought it bang up to date. Support comes from equally hard hitting classic metallers Die No More and Control The Storm.

 

At the other end of the musical spectrum Claude Bourbon returns to The Beehive to weave an intoxicating acoustic web from a fusion of classical, jazz, folk and Latin guitar styles.

 

Friday has plenty to choose from, the big one being a fund raiser for I.A.R. that’s International Animal Rescue, not the World War Two Romanian fighter plane manufacturer. Anyway, more about that can be found elsewhere on this page. Funk and soul fans are well catered for by Felix and The Funk at The Moonrakers and blues fans have two options. Soul, Rhythm and Blues and rock all go into the mix at Riffs Bar with Bob Bowles and the Dansette Tones and at The Rolleston there is a tribute to that stalwart of American music, Bonnie Rait.

 

Fans of heavier music get a second slice of the pie with ubiquitous Iron Maiden tribute Powerslaves playing Level 3 whilst Metalhead offer a selection of classic rock and metal at The Victoria.

 

Roots Reggae gets a look in on Saturday at The Victoria with Urban Lions the new musical vehicle for classic UK roots artist Donette Forte. Also on the bill are DJ’s Bambi (aka Miss Reggae Reggae Sauce) and Stu Green (aka Mr Pop Art.) If, however, something a bit more raucous is to your tastes then The Roughnecks at the Rolleston might be more to your liking. Made up of band members from Josie and The Outlaw, The Meteors and Screaming Lord Sutch, their blend of old school rock ‘n’roll and psychobilly has been described as a Dr Feelgood meets The Meteors sound clash. A more wide-ranging musical experience can be had with the pop and rock covers offered up by Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

 

Sunday may be the day of rest but something a bit special takes place at The Victoria in the evening as those awfully nice chaps at Sheer Music offer a chance to experience the brilliance of The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (pictured). This is a band who make albums about their favourite books and films and having already dealt with Cool Hand Luke and The Catcher in The Rye, their just released 3rd album goes under the fitting title of It’s a Wonderful Christmas Carol. So it’s folk-pop with a literary bent, sounds intriguing. Also on the bill are the intense aggro-acoustic sounds of Oxygen Thief, the agit-folk of Coasters plus the mellower and captivating musical charms of Charlie Bath.

 

Rounding the week off and providing two gigs that really do offer something totally unique are Kick Ass Brass and Skins and Strings. The first is a soul-funk outfit combining steaming hot brass, an amazing rhythm section and outstanding vocals and can be found at Baker Street on Tuesday. The second is an instrumental two-piece that combines exotic eastern tabla beats with the more pastoral guitar of a western folk tradition which is to be found at The Roaring Donkey.

 

 

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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!

 

 

993496_10151749777031146_1227491858_nSo there I was looking for inspiration to write this opening paragraph, trawling the Internet for interesting facts from which to spring into wondrous literary prose or at least amusing anecdote. Sadly, for all it’s billions of facts and articles the internet doesn’t seem to work like that and most of the information to be found between the postings of cats who look a bit like Hitler and the latest Justin Bieber antics seem an exercise in pointlessness and posture. I say most, as there were a few interesting nuggets to be found. For example did you know that David Bowie invented Connect 4? Air conditioning is actually helping to prevent global warming by cooling the earth. The fact that Mount Rushmore resembles famous American presidents is pure coincidence. Chicken pies actually came before the egg sandwich.  114% of the statistics found online are exaggerated for comic affect. Some of these might not be true, it’s like Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg, “not all quotes found on the Internet are accurate.”

With that in mind the best place to find out what is going on musically is here. I have done all the rigorous checking for you and can assure you that this 100% accurate, subject to change, the information given to me by promoters, the fickleness of musicians and natural disasters!

Tonight at The Victoria, Songs of Praise throw another loud and shouty collection of bands into the mix. The AK-Poets will be gracing the headline spot for their trade mark show of riotous, razor wire rock ‘n’roll riffing, meticulous melodies and more alliterative descriptions than you can throw a thesaurus at. Support is courtesy of the wonderfully named punk ‘n’roll outfit, Molotov Sexbomb and the opening salvo comes hard and heavy from Headcount. Old school rock and roll is back on the menu it would seem.

Something a bit more soothing can be found at The Beehive as Mambo Jambo mix up roots and world music styles into a cultural diverse musical odyssey. If something altogether funkier is your thing then The Soul Strutters at Baker Street is the place to be.

On Friday we have offerings that run from the sublime to the ridiculous. At one end we have Metalhead playing rock and metal classics at The Victoria and at the other it’s Showaddywaddy at The Wyvern Theatre. Blimey! In between those extremes you can find the eerie, understated acoustica of We Ghosts at The Beehive, whilst The Rolleston opts for fired up electric blues-rock with Keith Thompson and his band. Keith has worked with everyone from a pre-Motorhead Mick “Wurzel” Burston to Ruby Turner so musical quality is guaranteed.

Out at Riffs Bar the regular acoustic session features Jenny Bracey and Last Flight Home.  After trawling trough the copious amount of information on offer for this gig I can tell you that the former is a singer-songwriter and the latter is a new musical vehicle for Missin’ Rosie frontman Joe Rendell. That is all.

It’s the usual pre-dominance of standards and nostalgia on Saturday with a couple of exceptions. Towing the line are 1000 Planets at The Victoria with a set of punk, goth and new wave blasts from the past, The Great Nothing play rock classics at The Rolleston after which if you move down stairs to Basement 73 you will get another set of classic rock and metal from Dodging The Bullet. Meanwhile, at The Greyhound you will find Bombshell playing, wait for it….rock covers, anyone see a pattern forming here?

If you are looking for something to break the cycle, Splat The Rat play Folk Beat at The Castle, a blend of modern folk acoustica put to a world music back beat.

Also moving to the beat of their own drum is Nudybronque who launch their new e.p. at Riffs Bar.  After months holed up in a secret location in Old Town they have emerged with a more diverse sound, a raft of great songs, a shiny new CD and the same brand of charisma, lunatic charm and stage presence that got them noticed in the first place. To help them celebrate the night they have invited some of their favourite acts to join them. The Get Outs will play punked out rock, The Interceptors, infectious ska and Faye Rogers provides a gentle acoustic start to the evening.

More delicate acoustic sounds can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday in the shape of tousle hair troubadour Billyjon.

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.

600x600In an effort to keep up with the mainstream side of the music industry I tentatively watched the BRITs last week. I know that I’m far from the target audience but dear me what a disaster. Firstly, how can James Corden, a man who could teach Robbie Williams a thing or two about being smug, be the best presenter available? Not only did he look so far out of his depth, his interviews came across like a petulant college kid talking to inarticulate show-offs against the background chatter of an audience too busy taking “selfies” to pay attention. And why was Ellie Goulding singing backwards…in Finnish? The most edgy thing to happen was Alex Turner dropping the microphone, a feat that twitter users seemed to find on par with Keith Moon blowing up his drum kit (and himself and Pete Townsend) at their US TV debut. How times have changed.

This was, however, balanced by the watching of the BBC folk awards later that night, a genre inhabited by rugged, real ale drinking blokey blokes and flame haired Celtic beauties. Throw in Mark Radcliffe hosting, some virtuosic live music and a general feeling of celebration, decorum and mutual support and you actually got to see what an award ceremony should be about.

And if you are looking for something cool as folk, then The Victoria tonight is the place, as Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra blend the genre with gypsy jazz, Cajun, ragtime and country roots. Support is from the ever popular Missin’ Rosie…heads down, no nonsense, mindless folk music! And if you want a more Euro-centric take on the genre then The John Langan Band (pictured) at The Beehive provides the answer – high energy, extravagant and slightly unhinged acoustic playing of a joyous mix of polka, klezmer and Celtic folk traditions.

If you fancy making your own music then pop along to The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for an open mic. night hosted by Jimmy and Aidan Moore (no relation.)

Friday delivers more of the tried and tested rather than the boundary pushing but you won’t find a better classic rock cover band around than Bad Obsession who play The Rolleston. Tributes are also on the cards with the music of ZZ Top at The Victoria and Boot Led Zeppelin at Riffs Bar delivering an acoustic take on the legendary band.

If you didn’t catch them at their open mic. earlier in the week and you want more of Moore and Moore (no relation) then they are part of a fundraising evening at The GW on Saturday which also features the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and the sweet moreish sounds of Remedy. Need I say more?

If high energy music is your preference then catch guitarist Jamie Thyer as he leads his Worried Men through R’n’B standards at The Rolleston on Saturday whilst at The Castle, it’s time to grab your Crombie and pork pie hat for The Nomarks and their ska and reggae originals.  You could even combine this with the short walk down to The Beehive where the Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning similar genres.

The Victoria has Syntronix, a tribute to eighties synth pop and at the other end of the scale it’s all about bringing Pearl Jam back to life Riffs Bar. Support to that comes from a re-union show from Tiryth, a metal band who must have been away from the scene for a decade at least.

Proving that Sunday doesn’t have to be the day of rest, more heavy music is to be had from two South Wales post-hardcore bands When We Were Wolves and Set To Break at The Victoria.  Not your thing? Why not head to The White Hart for a slick slice of soul grooves and funky R’n’B with Otis Mack and The Tubby Bluesters maybe after catching the 3am porch blues picking of David Bristow at The Beehive afternoon session.

Baker Streets regular Tuesday jazz offering comes in the form Portuguese guitarist Miguel Martins who delivers a neat line in contemporary playing mixed with a more traditional jazz legacy. For this show the regular quartet is augmented by renowned tenor sax player Brandon Allen.

Final acoustic offerings on Wednesday come in the form of Drew Bryant at The Roaring Donkey and bluesman Ian O’Regan and Darren Hodge at The Crown, the latter who you may also have spotted on the aforementioned BBC folk awards.

Seamlessly full circle or what?

421623_337560366296411_100955706_nA bit blowy out isn’t it? Still, as long as the wind is coming from the right direction you can use it to propel yourself to one of the myriad of gigs that is taking place this week. Think of it as a climate related, musical, Russian roulette. Head out of the front door and see where the wind and the Gods of Fate carry you. Who knows, you might just discover your next favourite band.

 

A whole bunch of candidates for that title can be found at the latest Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Known for her enthralling songs built from, understated piano and emotive vocals, tonight Louise Latham is being joined by her sister Suzie on guitar, so this is a real treat for fans of her work. Support for this comes from the intimate and Buckley-esque style of Luke De-Sciscio and the shimmering, gossamer delicacies of Faye Rogers. A night of compelling and magical music and no mistake.

 

Similarly acoustic driven sounds can be found at The Beehive as Keith Thompson plays a sampler of the raw and honest songs that can be found on his Steel Strings and Bruised Reed album. In a night of acoustic offerings, other options are Bookends at The Art Centre, a tribute to Simon and Garfunkel and acoustic covers from Stripped at The Wheatsheaf.

 

All sorts of things going on musically on Friday, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a gig with your name on it. A good place to start is at The Victoria for The Smokestack Shakers a genre twisting band who take ska and bluebeat and add liberal doses of Latin rhythms and the simmering blues vibes of harmonica and slide guitar.  You also get a DJ set from Erin Bardwell for your money.

 

Fans of superbly executed, fired up electric blues should do everything they can to get tickets for Larry Miller (pictured) at The Arts Centre but if you like the idea of saxophone driven, 50’s swinging rock’n’jive then the place to be is The Rolleston for the Imperial G-Men.

 

A few acoustic options are also up for grabs. At Riffs Bar in celebration of landlady Tiggy’s birthday, Mark Wilderspin will be leading a scratch band of musical waifs and strays and the usual open mic’ spots are available prior to the gig proper.  At The Beehive, Stressechoes will be serving up their usual brilliantly harmonics and well crafted acoustic creations whilst David Marx at The Roaring Donkey, minus his usual AK-Poets, will enthral you with his mix of melody, tunesmithery and eloquent interludes. As the saying goes, Dave (pardon the familiarity) is indeed the home of witty banter.

 

At The Victoria on Saturday you can catch a tribute to Genesis covering both the Gabriel and Collins eras whilst at The Phoenix Bar in Wootton Bassett you will find Hammond organ driven blues standards courtesy of Shades of Blue. Punters should remember to adopt a proper blues name for the night to add to the authenticity. Joe, Willie, Joe Willie, Willie Joe, Hank and Poor Boy are all acceptable choices. Derek, Keith and Damien are not permissible blues names; no matter how many men you have shot in Reno!

 

The Rolleston has a bit of a treat for you with the welcome return of Bristol’s Natural Tendency, a euphoric high mix of emo-rock and futuristic synth grooves that will connect with the “get up and boogie gene” in even the most reclusive barfly.

 

Putting a new twist on the standard piano trio is Rob Terry who plays Baker Street on Tuesday. Mixing contemporary jazz with modern classical he weaves his way through a musical landscape that references the likes of Chopin and Grieg, as much as it does the more expected jazz icons.

 

We wrap the week up with the chance to catch Singer-Songwriter Jenny Bracey at The Crown on Wednesday, or if you are looking for a bigger musical experience, Ten in a Bar will be unveiling a new show of humour and harmonies called Brand New Day at the Art Centre, always wonderful value for money.

4594960091_299x196I have to start this week with an apology. A couple of weeks ago I used this column to try to make a point about the amount of easily available gig information when trying to compile a guide such as this. Although the nature of the comments were intended to be tongue in cheek hyperbole, exaggeration used to make a point, it has been pointed out to me that I may have pitched the article slightly unfairly. In the case of Baker Street I agree that my comments were inaccurate and any lack of information in this column regarding gigs taking place at the venue is a failing on my part and not the venue itself or the promoter who arranges those shows. I therefore apologise for the comments made and any upset they have caused to those involved with these bookings. Right humble pie eaten, down to business.

 

At The Victoria tonight is a band whose return seems to have created a bit of a buzz around the online hangouts of the discerning music fan. The headline act at tonight’s Songs of Praise show features Case Hardin, a brilliant Americana five piece that match the emotive song writing of Springsteen with the alt-country authenticity of Whiskeytown. Support comes from the wonderfully atmospheric, delicate tones of Rumour Shed and emerging new band Timid Deer open the night with their timeless folk sound.

 

Other rootsy offerings are also available in the shape of Hiproute who bring their fired up and funked out, acoustic blues to The Beehive. However if rock is more your thing then you may wish to head out to Riffs Bar for some high octane rock and low-fi punk with Shock Hazard and Diagonal People respectively.

 

The big name for Friday is The Brompton Mix (pictured) , a melting pot of classic 60’s melodies, punk spirit, Weller-esque style, a dash of early Oasis and a whole bunch of stage presence and charisma. They are at The Victoria. For something more tripped out and leftfield, head to The Beehive where you will be treated to the psychedelic blues, progressive song structures, old school rock and roll grooves, modern sampling, spoken word and manic shoegazy guitar wig outs of The Automaniacs. What’s not to like?

 

The Rolleston has The Pre-Fab four…a tribute to the Beatles, obviously, and out at Riffs Bar, the Acoustic Sessions feature the warm folk sounds of Ethemia with support from Rob Richings.

If you are looking for original music on Saturday then it is back to Riffs Bar with Talk in Code’s blend of stadium synth and anthemic guitar sounds, dance grooves and pop sensibility. They are joined by the low sung Americana of Newquay Times, the brash alt-rock of Away With Words and the acoustic duo, The Consuelas. They all play in aid of Animal Asia charity.

 

Elsewhere it is tributes to Green Day at The Victoria, Ian Dury and The Blockheads at The Rolleston and at The Swiss Chalet Broken Image play a selection of iconic classic rock numbers.

 

With the day of rest, that’s Sunday to you and me, comes some more relaxing musical moments. The Lazy Sunday afternoon at The Arts Centre, the regular fixture curated by Mr. Love and Justice, is host to two great players. Ed Hanfrey, once of the ubiquitous Lavington Bound, is now ploughing a very traditional folk furrow of storytelling lyrics and shanty stylings, whilst Tamsin Quin plays a more contemporary folk music often with a bluesy edge. Your hosts for the session offer their usual mix of social comment and slick pop folk.

 

Culture vultures should note that on Tuesday, Baker Street open their doors to Balanca Quintet, a Latin Jazz outfit of some renown led multi lingual singer and percussionist, Cathy Jones. The band also features the talents of tenor saxophonist Kevin Figes, best know for his work with big band Resonation.

 

The week rounds off with two options on acoustic music on Wednesday with Dick Cadbury appearing at The Roaring Donkey and The Crown offering Charlie Anne and Ben Cipolla.

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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.

Beans on ToastWell, after a couple of weeks of gig listings that were quite literally an embarrassment of riches, things have calmed down a bit, but there is still a decent selection to be found on the musical menu this week.

 

Starting in our usual kick off point, the entrée on our acoustical a la carte offer, if you want to take the restaurant analogy to its illogical conclusion, Songs of Praise at The Victoria has a wonderfully intimate, seated show. Known the length and breadth of Old Town, Emily and The Dogs have been cooking up a veritable broth (enough of the culinary references now. Ed) infused with folk, gypsy jazz, blues, emotional resonance and late night reflections. Not a bad way to kick the weekend off. Joining them will be Hennesea –  imagine an acoustic Fleetwood Mac turning on to dream pop and Oliver Wilde who blends acoustica with shimmering technology to make wonderfully woozy experimental pop. And to think I used to play support to his dads band back in the day. Small world.

 

Rustic delights of the Americana variety can be found at The Beehive with this months Acoustic Buzz, featuring home grown bands Blind River Scare and The Open Secrets and all the way from San Antonio, Texas, is Rachel Laven touring her debut album, Unwind.

 

On into Friday and our good friends at Sheermusic are putting on a bit of an alt-folk treat. These days Beans on Toast (pictured) may rub shoulders with nu-folk royalty like Emmy the Great and Olympic warm-up act Frank Turner, but you can catch the man along with Oxygen Thief and Jimmy Moore at The Victoria.

 

Something a bit special at The Castle, all the way from Italy come The Sunny Boys, part Beach Boys part bubblegum punk though not to be confused with the Sydney post punk outfit of the same name. Theirs is a sound that will appeal to fans of Blink 41, Sum 182 and any number of North American bands with long shorts and numbers after their name. Jokes aside this is one of the slickest bands you will hear in town this year.

 

And that last sentence would carry a lot more weight if Dave Gregory’s current musical vehicle, Tin Spirits, weren’t also playing that night over at Riffs Bar. Dave, once part of the cutting edge of new-wave underground pop with XTC, these days revels in the myriad sounds of progressive rock.

 

Saturday at Riffs Bar is still about the rock, but this time, something less subtle, more primal. Anyone who hasn’t experienced Lord Bishop Rocks before really should do themselves the favour of catching this brilliant trio who alchemise Beatles melody, Sabbath’s oppressive weight and James Browns funk, the man is a musical shaman, you have to see it to believe it. Support includes the grunge-metal of Burnthru; trash rockers White Knuckle Bride and Latvian metal crew Burned in Blizzard.

 

Pop Quiz: What do Jay-Z, One Direction, Taylor Swift and Dizzee Rascal have in common? Answer: They have all had their songs ritually murdered by Kova Me Badd. If you want to witness the antithesis of good taste, musicianship and decorum, but do enjoy watching people who should know better make fools of themselves whilst brilliantly ruining chart covers, get up to The Victoria. A more serious offering comes with Grubby Jack and their upbeat and vibrant Celtic and American folk at The Tap and Barrell.

 

If a mix of alt-country, rock and folk sounds like your sort of thing, then Bob Collum and The Welfare Mothers at The Beehive is the place to head to, later that same day the voice of Dr Hook, Dennis Locorriere can be found at The Arts Centre and the jazz-heads will want to be at Baker Street for the potent and graceful piano led Dave Newton Trio.

 

More jazz on Tuesday, again at Baker Street this time with the gratuitous sax of the Kevin Figes Trio and Wednesday, The Running Horse plays host to singer-guitarist Ben Cipolla.

Library - 25Isn’t science great? I was reading a report in New Made-up Scientist recently that Zoologists have discovered that the mental powers of Slipknot fans are far greater than previously imagined. In a series of experiments conducted in a research facility in Hogwash, Colorado involving dozens of Slipknot fans, bearded scientists found that many were able to count to 20, had the potential to perform simple sums and even had a basic vocabulary consisting of a handful of words such as “Slipknot” and “Rule.” Professor Dan Geek who led the team said “ This evidence of intelligence has taken us by surprise and is causing us to rethink what we know about these particular primates.” In a prepared statement Slipknot said, “This proves what we always said, our fans ain’t stupid. They know a whole bunch of stuff, y’know, like stuff and stuff like that”

Thankfully your faith in intelligent music can be restored by a visit to Riffs Bar tonight. If you thought Red Jasper had been consigned to local music mythology, you will be pleased to know that they are back out as a gigging band delivering their trade mark symphonic rock meets folk blend that puts them somewhere between classic era Jethro Tull and early Marillion and with Bristol prog stalwarts Crimson Sky supporting, this is a brilliant line up.

More rootsy sounds can be found at The Victoria with the funky lap-blues of Jim “Hiproute” Blair and the shamanistic folk and emotive bluesy vibes that make up Stone Donkey Pilots. The Beehive, meanwhile, will be grooving to the gypsy-jazz swing of Ruba Tempo.

Friday is a big night out at Riffs Bar as Beauty with a Purpose (and not a Porpoise as it said in one listing!), a longstanding and immensely important global children’s charity, have lined up a host of fund raising great acts including Ethemia, Echo, Benji Clements and Aiden Moore. Great cause. Great music.

The Beehive opts for laid back music from  Stressechoes a band described as “a triumph of heart-on-sleeve storytelling supported by beautiful, understated music” and with the simple musical lines of Juey also on the bill it will be a cracking gig. The delectable R’n’B sounds of The Teddy White Band can be found at The Royal Oak.

If you want a fuller band experience, then there are a number of options. Nudybronque play Riffs Bar as headliners for the Secret Chord’s latest show, underground, post punk, inspired pop, melody and memorable tunes, they may have evolved but they haven’t lost the glint in the eye and tongue in cheek drive that keeps them self-deprecating, grounded and a joy to watch. Also on the bill is Jim Johnston, currently operating as a two-piece but still running a great line in brittle, fractious guitar lines and dark yet bluesy undercurrents. New chaps on the block Devotion get the night underway.

Missin’ Rosie are at The Manor and The Corsairs grace the New Inn but if punk is more your thing then the Victoria tonight provides the first of two shows that should tick your musical boxes. The UK Subs now enter their eighth decade (probably not true) as leading lights of the punk scene and they bring with them the Dropkick Murphy’s inspired Criminal Mind and Proud City Fathers. The other gig in this pairing comes with Charred Hearts playing The Beehive Sunday afternoon.

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon show may have now relocated to The Central Library but they haven’t lost their ear for good music. This time it is the turn of the luscious Latin Jazz of Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz, the romantic nature of Jess Vincent and as always hosted by Mr Love and Justice.

Other options for the day of rest come with the effortless, vibrant blues of Retramantic who play 20 at the Kings in Wood Street and the Sax fronted trad jazz of The Don Franks Duo at Baker Street.

Playing the week out, on Tuesday at Baker Street, it’s jazz from virtuoso guitarist Esmond Selwyn and the organ lead brilliance from The John-Paul Gard Trio and Wednesday at The Running Horse acoustic treats come in the shape of Pete Taylor and The Right Hooks.