Tag Archive: benji clements


Library - 47The weather may not be reflecting the fact but with three festival gatherings taking place in town in the coming week, to quote Fountains of Wayne – it must be summer. Yes, the rain will be getting slightly warmer, the hail marginally softer, there will be far fewer half dead umbrellas littering the streets and maybe you will be able to use those sunglasses you optimistically bought two months ago, just maybe.

 

Taking these main events in isolation from the rest of the gigging week, it goes a bit like this. The biggest event of the weekend is Riffstock, over at Riffs Bar, (naturally) which features ska, pop, and Indie on Friday and a more family orientated bill on Monday. The two days between are all about rock and metal inside the venue with an acoustic stage outside, best to check the venues website for the full listing.

 

Of a more acoustic, folk and rootsy nature is the Sunbeat Festival at The Sun Inn at Coate Water aptly on Sunday. Again check online for full details but highlights for me are the evocative voice and piano of Louise Latham, the joyous vibe of The Real Raj, the ethereal Faye Rogers and festival favourites Bateleurs.

 

The third and by far the weirdest of the three is the Duck Race which takes place by The Running Horse on Monday and to help celebrate this quirky event the venue’s garden will be filled with great music from the likes of Ethemia, Benji Clements, Josie and The Outlaw, The Blue Trees and Nick Felix.

 

Right, now with the big stuff covered, this is what the rest of the week looks like. Tonight, after what seems like a long time absent from the parish, Talk In Code bring their vibrant, dance rock to The Victoria. Once musically written off as Dad Rock, now they are more like the CD that your musical savvy big brother refuses to lend you. Support is from Jimmy Moore and Marky Thatcher. The Beehive revels in Funke and The Two Tone Baby, a one-man operation that is based around loop-induced, psychedelic blues.

 

Rock and Metal fans not content with the raft of box ticking acts to be found at Riffstock over the weekend can start a day early by heading over there tonight for a six band line up. Headliner, Girls That Scream, is a collision of dance beats and white hot metal riffs and AshestoAngels are a riot of dark energy, glorious synth washes, aggression and melody. Also make sure you catch I’m Designer a band that play with sound in such a way that I can only describe them as indescribable.

 

On Friday, Shaun Buswell is at The Victoria talking about his recent 121212 Challenge, there will be music from a small version of the band and probably slides, flip charts and pointy sticks. All sounds very Dave Gorman to me. If that’s not your sort of thing, maybe a trip to The Beehive instead for Port Erin, a band that deconstruct rock music and blend it with jazz, funk and chilled late night vibes.

 

Original music is hard to find on Saturday but if you aim to watch The Four Fighters at The Victoria you will get to see the soaring, Muse-esque creations of False Gods. Sunday on the other hand is rammed with options.

 

The big draw is going to be at The Oasis when Jahmene Douglas and Josh Kumra return home to headline a Best of Swindon show. For my money, however, the more interesting acts are further down the bill (nothing personal Josh but I really liked Kicaberry!) in the shape of the wonderfully considered and spacey music of Colour The Atlas and Theo Altieri.

 

Elsewhere you can find acoustic, jazz-folk courtesy of Cindy Stratton and Marius Frank at The Beehive, dance floor classics at The Victoria with The Funk’daMentals and piano led, jazz standards at Baker Street from The Alex Steele Trio.

 

More jazz, again at Baker Street with saxophonist Dom Franks on Tuesday but a trip to the Art Centre will reward you with an acoustic show by folk legends Fairport Convention. (pictured)

 

Wednesday is all about rounding off a busy week at The Running Horse with another outing for the soulful and atmospheric Benji Clements and the ubiquitous rising star Charlie-Anne Bradfield.

Advertisements

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.

Library - 23After the doom and gloom of recent events surrounding venue closures, it’s good to see that the town can still put a full event diary in front of its discerning gig going public. Maybe it’s the fact that the rain has got slightly warmer and the Met Office is predicting another half our of sunshine sometime in late August, but what ever the reason there is plenty to choose from this week.

We start with a change in the previously advertised schedule. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight was to feature one of the most popular bands on their roster, The James Warner Prophecies, but sadly their travel plans for some European festival dates mean that they are no longer available. But fear not, their replacement comes in the shape of False Gods who alchemize elements of Muse and The Manics to make their music an intriguing proposition. Headliners Empire manage to blend pop melody into hard and angular rock deliveries and opening the night is Babies vs. Rabies, who are like nothing you have experienced before, unless you have come across music that is in turn hypnotic, oppressive, violent, atmospheric, brutal and car crash beautiful, sort of like a cross between an art-punk band and a napalm strike. Or a concerto for guitar and hand grenade!

The Hive has similarly original music on offer in the form of The Blue Trees, a stripped back, lo-fi, roots rock sound that will appeal to fans of The Black Keys, the Black Crows and even some bands with other colours in their title.

True legends can be found at The Wyvern Theatre when Colin Blunstone and virtuoso organist Rod Argent lead The Zombies through all the classics. Fifty years on and the band still sound amazing. Those with more of a jazz leaning might wish to head for the Arts Centre as The Bateman Brothers, aided by a host of famous friends, pay tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Staying at The Arts Centre for Friday and it’s the welcome return of Lotte Mullan; story telling, contemporary folk and famous for her “inside the music business blog.” Musically think Laura Marling meets Loretta Lynn, but her stories make her more like the Bridget Jones of the music industry. More folk can be found at The Beehive with Bateleurs, this time a sort of trans-Atlantic blend that makes you think that if Dylan had not been born alongside Highway 61 but had embraced the A1 in the same mythical fashion, these songs might have been the result.

Two big events happening on Saturday, firstly the Fieldview Festival Launch show at The Victoria. Fieldview is one of the success stories of the local festival scene and their launch show will give you a taste of the event to come, a host of acts to catch including the channeling of the spirits of long forgotten delta bluesmen by Sam Green and The Midnight Heist and the Cameron Brothers (the people who brought you Old School Tie) current brilliant musical vehicle, Weatherstorms.

Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Refuge gig at the Museum and Art Gallery where a combination of some stunning music, a very worthy cause and a wonderfully intimate setting made for an unforgettable night out. Following last years success, this years event, to raise money for Swindon Women’s Aid, will take place at Christ Church, Old Town and features the harmonious arrangements and velvet vocals of Emily Barker and Red Clay Halo (pictured), the mathy-acoustic intricacies of Jen Olive, the emotionally rich and beautifully economical songs of Colour The Atlas and the pin drop talents of Faye Rogers. I can’t recommend this show highly enough.

The place to be on Monday is in the garden of The Running Horse as their Acoustic Garden show is an all day celebration of the brilliant music they host their through out the year. This cast of thousands, okay, cast of many, includes Gilmore n’ Jaz, Louise Latham, Alice Offley, Benji Clements and Ethemia. And that’s not the half of it, so get down there for more music than you can shake a shaky thing at.

On Tuesday, drummer Dave Betts brings his Latin Jazz Quartet to Baker Street; so put your dancing shoes on and revel in this wonderful jazz, funk and Latin fusion driven by by Dave’s kit and congas, timbales and tablas. Very exotic!

Library - 21

Library - 4There’s a lot of music in town this week that proves the point that it doesn’t have to be big to be clever, that sometimes the biggest impacts can come from the subtlest of approaches. Take the Songs of Praise show at The Victoria tonight. Headliners, Ethemia, work in that age-old troubadour tradition of two acoustic guitars and two vocals and the result is a breathtaking blend of quiet majesty and sensuous, hushed tones. Antonio Lulic brings open and honest story telling songs of impressive craftsmanship and opening up the night is Louise Latham, a pianist who wrings every ounce of grace and grandeur, atmosphere and heartfelt sentiment out of her piano creations.

As if to balance that chilled offering, The Beehive is throwing a party in the form of psy-trancers Zetan Spore, less a band than a riot of euphoric trance, techno, strobe lights and hypnotic beats. Somewhere in between those two extremes you can find the rocked up blues of Ian O’Regan at The Rolleston.

If you can’t find some music to suit on Friday, then you may as well donate your ears to charity, as it is the busiest night we have had in town for a long time. Two big events go head to head, firstly in the form of McFly’s greatest hits tour which is at The Oasis; those with more discerning tastes should head down to Basement 73 where one time Bluetones front man Mark Morriss and ex-Seahorse, Chris Helme (pictured) grace the stage. Incidentally, Helme’s latest album, The Rookery, was one of my musical highlights of last year, do check it out.

An interesting venture takes place at the Central Library. Pedalfolk combine their love of cycling and folk music by using acoustic transport to get to their acoustic gigs. Pedalfolk are Robin Grey, Tim Graham and Katie Stone Lonergan and have given rise to the colloquial exclamation, “Bert Jansch on a bike!” There are a few tributes kicking about as well –  Who’s Next play tribute to Acton’s finest at Riffs Bar and at The Victoria The Ramona’s are an all girl tribute to The Ramones, arrive early to catch 2 Sick Monkeys in support.

Bateleurs will be plying their European folk meets Americana trade at The Rolleston and The Parlour Kats aim to bluesrockfunkalise your soul with their vibrant genre hopping tunes at The Beehive.

The final Friday serving suggestion comes courtesy of culture corner as piano duo Clare Toomer and Paul Turner play an edited version of Holst’s Planets, possibly the most recognised suite in English classical music at the Arts Centre. (I’m more of a Samuel Barber man myself)

Saturday kicks off with a bit of ska at The Victoria with The Nomarks who warm up for local keepers of the flame for all things reggae and rocksteady, The Erin Bardwell Collective and at The Rolleston, The Beatholes throw a punked out musical curveball into the Beatles Back catalogue.

If you are looking for something a bit more up market, catch Swindon’s favourite brace of Stevie’s at The Weighbridge Brewhouse. Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz play acoustic Blues and Jazz from the pre-war era and  manage to dose it with lashings of Latin vibes and  that wonderful Django Reinhart gypsy jazz swing: where’s Stephane Grappelli when you need him?

The Art Centre on Sunday plays host to the monthly Lazy Sunday Afternoon show, hosted by Mr Love and Justice. This time they invite along The Black Feathers, a brilliant acoustic duo who up until recently have been on a stateside odyssey (possibly making sure The Civil Wars aren’t trying to make a comeback!) and Minnie Birch who sings “sad songs to make you happy” apparently. More great acoustic music can be found at The Sun Inn at Coate that evening. With a voice that is built of pure soul and the ability to blend normally mutually exclusive songs into wonderful new forms, Benji Clements is definitely one to watch. Also on the bill are Drew Bryant and Aiden Moore.

And finally in a changed to the bill, The Running Horse Sessions on Wednesday will feature the genre-defying Sierra Hurtt, so expect influences to range from the Philly Soul vibes of her birthplace to atmosperic pop and from rock and roll to blues and everything in between.

Library - 131

I read with some amusement today that “Nasty” Nigel Lythgoe has come out of retirement to host a new show. In keeping with the current trend of making everything into reality TV, he travelled to Birmingham with the Archbishop of Canterbury and famous born again Catholic Tony Blair to judge Popestars, a competition designed to decide the next pontiff. Thousands of hopefuls queued at the door, including Fiona Brat-Actress whose experience extends to having appeared in Cliff Richards Mistletoe and Wine video. The audition tasks will include singing Ave Maria, Tarmac Kissing and Meeting Bono and pretending to know who he is. One hopeful, Derek Cleanliness, 89 from Rugby, has already caught the judges eye, “He’s definitely got the look we are after” said Lythgoe, “It’s a sad fact that in the cut throat world of the Vatican, image does matter”

Still, enough pontificating and on with the show. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight features a mix of both old, new, local and from further afield.  The Starkers are a collision of grungy density and Libertines-esque melodies, whilst up from London, Hitchcock Blonde take the form of an explosive, raging alt-rock beast, laced with accessible melodies that both kick arse and cut the mustard. Opening the night, The King in Mirrors are a new band made up of familiar faces and if you get their titular reference then their rough and ready, post-punk, underground pop will be right up your street.  By contrast you can catch the superb acoustic folk guitar and sun kissed vocals of the far too young to be this talented, Jenna Witts.

Loads happening on Friday, The Furnace being a great place to spend it with a wonderful line up of younger indie types. Chaps of the moment Nudybronque headline, a band on a wonderful trajectory that has so far taken them from innocent, speed-freak pop to bittersweet, underground indie and are poised for a future that looks even more beguiling. Support comes from The Two’n’ Eights, The Racket and The Rhubarbs.

Whatflag at The Beehive are a fascinating world rock, jazz band with its roots in Gaza and Tel Aviv and a drive to break down borders and unite communities through their music. The Victoria goes for a night of acoustic acts. These days despite rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Levellers and New Model Army, which in my world is about as good as it gets, Gaz Brookfield still finds time to play his old haunts and his mix of wit and wisdom set to infectious tunes is not to be missed. Support comes from alternative folk duo, Julesbury, musical magpie Jimmy Moore and the soulful stylings of Benji Clements.

Blues fans have a hard choice to make, torn between Larry Miller at The Arts Centre and Innes Sibun at The Rolleston.

The big one for Saturday is at The Furnace with top tribute The Faux Fighters. Personally I have never really seen the reason that Grohl and the gang are held in such high regard, after all if Sean Moore had jumped ship from The Manics in 1995 and returned with an inoffensive, mainstream version of the same, would anyone have batted an eyelid? Still if The Foo Fighters are your thing, this is the place to be. Other things that might take your interest are The Nomarks playing ska at The Castle and 1000 Planets doing choice cuts of classic rock, industrial, goth and punk at The Rolleston.

Some lovely acoustic comes your way on Sunday. In the afternoon you can catch Beehive favourite Juey and her gentle blends of folk, country, bluegrass and Cajun, after which heading up to The Rolleston will enable you to revel in Rumours of Spring who bring a vast array of instruments to bear on a set forged from rock, blues and folk.

The Running Horse on Wednesday has two amazing acts for you. Louise Latham (pictured) combines honest, heart on the sleeve emotions with room silencing vocal delivery that resonates with beauty and wistful reflectivity. The other half of the bill (that really should be considered as a double headline show) is The Black Feathers, an acoustic duo that combine English folk, Celtic traditions and Americana into what is almost this country’s answer to The Civil Wars.

Also on Wednesday, Teenage Kicks takes us out in fine styles at The Furnace with a riot of indie and alt-rock with The Fixed, City Lights, The Eberdeens and Written in Words (errr….as opposed to?)

Library - 117I was amused to read today that the entire life and career of Phil Collins has been revealed to be an elaborate hoax. The man we believed to be Collins is in fact satirist  Murgatroyd Trole, who hatched the plan in the mid sixties. An anonymous acquaintance, worried that he was never going to get his cut of the escalating scam, revealed to the press today that Trole wanted to create a shambolic, goblin-like figure and see just how far he could take it, and it seems to have worked like a charm; platinum albums, film roles and even a rap tribute album (you would have thought that would have aroused suspicion!) Trole’s other equally ambitious scams recently revealed include Heart fm, Chris Huhne’s driving licence, the entire cast of Made in Chelsea, the body of Richard III and a large capacity venue in Swindon town centre.

 

However if you want something more honest, look no further than The Victoria tonight for a bit of a special gig. Super Squarecloud have been at the forefront of a wonderful musical resurgence in this town over the last couple of years and it is with a heavy heart that we announce that this will be multi-instrumentalist and semi-professional pan basher Chris’s last show before heading off to see the world. His musical skills are widely believed by faith healers to hold miraculous powers – he once made a blind man deaf – but please head along anyway to give him a great send off. Also on the bill are Million Faces, yet another talented bunch from the musical Mecca of Witney (see Hats: cross reference Black for more details) and a slightly rejigged line up for The Light Grenades.

 

If blues is you thing then The Beehive is the place to be. Kent DuChaine has listened to, hung out with, opened up for, travelled and played with most of the great blues men and women throughout his whole adult life. So if the authentic blues sound channelled through a 1930’s National Steel guitar ticks your boxes, you know where to be.

 

Staying at The Beehive and the amazing Bruise (pictured) drop in on Friday a band of which the word eclectic is truly deserved as they weave folk, grunge, jazz, indie and full on psychedelic wig outs around Natalie Merchant-esque vocals.

 

If you threw poetic intelligent underground pop, melodic rock and fairly straight edged prog (i.e. no keyboard players dressed as wizards or 50 minute drum solos) into a blender then the resulting smoothy would taste like Godsticks. Drink in their wonderful music at Riffs Bar, also on Friday.

 

In keeping with The Furnace’s policy of pushing their musical remit to a wider audience, Sonic Boom Six are just what is needed. Taking ska, pop, grime, dubstep, punk and metal apart and splicing them back together to create interesting new mutations, this band are truly doing something unique. Also helping to define the clubs new scope is LaFontaines a pop, rock and hip-hop quintet who have come charging out of the industrial wastelands of central Scotland. Under the Influence and Attention Thieves get things started.

 

The Furnace is the place to be on Saturday also as Post 12, Full On, Tides of Change and Days On Juno playing a Stand Up To Cancer fundraising gig. Meanwhile upstairs in The Rolleston, it is all about Neo-Rockabilly and Rock and Roll with Red Hot Trio.

 

Sunday, this weekend anyway, is not the day of rest as there is a lot of great stuff happening that afternoon. The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions in the FoSAC studio at The Arts Centre feature your usual hosts Mr Love and Justice, heartfelt folk from Isobel Priestley and melodic acoustic rock from Pete Taylor. Meanwhile down the road, Kola Koca play The Beehive; expect, folk, rock, pop and blues mixed and matched with universal truths, political rants, kitchen sink dramas and the odd serpent.

 

Those seeking Culture Corner will find it back at The Arts Centre where Adriana Beaumont-Thomas plays some of Chopin’s most romantic and poignant pieces. Chopin of course is best known for the Orange free mobile Internet advert, Heineken (2007) and that really nice bit in Halo 3. Innit?

 

Ending at our usual terminus, we arrive at The Running Horse Sessions on Wednesday. Benji Clements does a lovely line in soulful covers, cross genre mash-ups and wonderful original compositions. Drew Bryant is also on the bill but such is his on line presence that I have no idea what to tell you about him.

Last week I was revelling in the fact that there were so many gigs taking place that there just wasn’t enough room to mention them all, this week however the news is not so good. Less than a year after it re-opened under new management, The 12 Bar has shut its doors and is up for sale. Yes, this has happened before but it is my understanding that it is not just the business that is for sale but the building as a whole with no stipulation that it has to remain a music venue. This is a sharp reminder that supporting live music and the venues that host it takes more than re-posting a few Facebook banners signalling your disapproval of Simon Cowell but requires you to actually go along to the gigs, pay money and help ensure the bands get paid and rebooked and the venues thrive. As the cliché says, use it or lose it. Maybe live music ends not with a bang but a whimper!

On a more positive note, there is still some good music to be had around the town, starting tonight at The Beehive. Hiproute take various strands of roots music, from funky blues, southern boogie, outlaw country and even a dash of Memphis soul and weave them together via mesmerising lap acoustic playing into one of the best party-stomp soundtracks you are ever going to need.

The Victoria is also playing the acoustic card, but to a very different end. Dan Brown, who normally fronts Pirate Radiohead, (when he is not writing novels about albino monk assassins) will be reworking the intricacies of Radiohead classic songs for a solo acoustic performance. Intriguing!

On Friday, The MECA is the host for Indigo Pop’s Fresh Friday, an under 18’s club night featuring DJ Scott Kirby, X-Ploit winner Flow In Motion and a host of other top names. Conversely and definitely not for the under 18’s, The Rolleston sees the return of …well even the name is too coarse to be put into print here. Lets just say that he is the finest purveyor of lowbrow comedy and gutter lyricism and he makes support band 2 Sick Monkeys seem like a tea party on the vicarage lawn by comparison. Check the venue website for more specific information.

A safer option can be found at The Beehive in the form of M.O.D. Folky frolics, gypsy jazz jives, klezmerical meanderings and a host of other styles go into this rootsy-world melting pot. On reflection, probably not really a safer option, just mad in a different, less sweary sort of way.

To celebrate the fact that it is the end of November, Riffs Bar are throwing their Riffmass Lights Switch on Party. Then again they were playing Fairytale of New York in the supermarket the other night so I suppose I should just give in and go with the flow. Expect the best in funk from The Funk’daMentals, Glam and Disco from the in house Riffs Travelling Dance Band and rock covers from Dark Fire.

If you are looking for a dose of rock then head to The Furnace on Saturday for three bands that will provide just the fix you need. It seems that in the last year Broken Daylight seem to have come out of retirement, which can only be a good thing. Brash, loud and in your face, but that’s enough about Jamie, it’s good to have them back treading the boards once more. Support comes from IX, a band who sculpt epic and cinematic slow-burning instrumental workouts and the night gets going with the prog-metal gloriousness of Mortdelamer.  When you have a band as great as that first on the bill, you know it is going to be a special evening.

Meanwhile, next door in The Rolleston, Innes Sibun will be enthralling the crowds with his passionate, hi-energy, electric blues.

Sunday sees one band I have been looking forward too all year to return to The Victoria. Dan Baird, one time front man of rock legends, The Georgia Satellites, brings his current musical vehicle Homemade Sin, back to the UK. Comprising of two original Satellites and long term Jason and The Scorchers guitarist Warner Hodges, this band is southern rock and roll royalty. Highly recommended.

Finally on Wednesday, The Running Horse features Sloe Jam, a bluesy acoustic duo equally at home with the tender ballad as they are at kicking out the ….err.. Jams. Support comes from Benji Clements who deftly blends the most soulful vocals with classic songs reworked into his own style, extremely clever mash-ups as well as his own tunes.

Lao Tzu famously thought that “when the wise man looks into space he knows there is no limited dimensions,” but I bet he didn’t have to get a whole weeks worth of gig recommendations into a space as small as ….well, as small as this!  So, Chinese philosophers aside, lets get down to business.

 

Tonight the first of many Halloween celebrations kick off at the Victoria in the form of The Bands and Burlesque Halloween Spook Ball.  The Filthy, Dirty, Blues Band provides the music, Li Laudanum, the gory stories and a whole host of Burlesque dancers provide the welcome distractions. Costumes are a must, for the audience that is, not so much the dancers.

 

Also seemingly in a strange fantasy world of his own, Ash Mandrake brings his strange blend of prog-folk meets Icelandic Saga with extra millinery supplies and homemade guitars to The Beehive.  If that isn’t “Good Enough” you might like to head up to The Arts Centre to catch nineties power-pop trio Dodgy (see what I did there?)

 

More big names at The Furnace on Friday with Hadouken (pictured) – new rave, dance-punk, call it what you will and the equally unpigeonholeable (it’s a word, honest) Monsta adding tech-soul, trip-hop and melodic synth washes to make a night of gloriously original, very now, music. Hopefully this is the start of the venues break from its tedious love affair with goth and metal over the last few years. With no competition for bands of this size in Swindon, this may be the start of a change of direction and a bright future.

 

It’s all a bit more traditional elsewhere. The 12 Bar is going for the folk thing with The Shapes, a band spawned in the same neck of the woods that produced Stornaway and The Epstein, good company indeed. Support is the mix of morose and mirth that is Mammoth and the Drum plus Benji Clements and Aaron Heap.

 

There was once a young girl from Hullavington…. hang on this is turning into an Edward Lear limerick. Try again. Many years ago there was a young local artist treading the boards who had a voice that could make audiences go completely silent. Now after stints at The Albert Hall, touring the States and glowing reviews, Dani Wilde brings her amazing acoustic blues to Riffs Bar, a sort of homecoming show if you will. The Beehive also plumps for soulful acoustica with Anglo-Swedish trio, We Ghosts.

 

Fans of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae are catered for at The Victoria on Saturday night with The Erin Bardwell Collective. Not only do they have a new record out, Bringing The Hope, but also the gig acts as a sort of reunion night as both Erin and members of the support band, The Nomarks, can trace their roots back to local legends The Skanksters.

 

More nostalgic vibes can be found at The Rolleston with the 50’s rockabilly vibes of Josie and The Outlaw or the 40’s swing of King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys at The Art Centre.

 

A couple of more sedate options for Sunday afternoon look like this. Mr Love and Justice host their regular Lazy Sunday Afternoon session at The Art Centre, this time they are joined by the dulcet tones of Jess Vincent as recently heard on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show plus the wonderful Ethemia. At The Beehive you can catch R’n’B and swing grooves, courtesy of The Teddy White Band.

 

Later that evening and continuing with suitably subtle Sabbath song, Buswell play an stripped down show in the top bar of The Victoria, though if the band merely number in single figures it is probably considered low key. Also on the bill is Steve Poltz who when not co-writing hit ballads for Jewel can be found singing, ranting, storytelling, guitar shredding and generally being mesmerising with his own body of work.

 

Ed Sheeran pops into the Oasis on Wednesday but if you like the acoustic troubadour approach then why not watch Gaz Brookfield at The Running Horse instead. Great songs blended with wit, wisdom and charisma plus you can also find out about his Christmas No 1 Campaign. Whilst you are there pick up a copy of his current album, Tell It To The Beer, I can’t recommend it highly enough.