Tag Archive: black feathers (the)


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14449011_673379056164128_4679448363774001003_nThis week we head into the Christmas party zone, and thankfully it isn’t tinselled up to the max but more takes the form of some choice musical gatherings to celebrate and see the year out with.

At The Victoria, Songs of Praise, has their last big show for a while as they head towards a year of much reduced bookings. Before that happens though they have lined up a great night of old school rock, sleazy grooves and boogie beats to put this year’s activities to bed.

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11000403_879146475507010_2673386232907027780_nMusic trivia types will be fully aware that today marks the birthday of one of the true innovators of music, an artist who helped shape the course of modern vocal performance and who has gone down in history as a seminal influence on the evolution of contemporary music. But that is enough about Duncan James from Blue. Coincidentally enough it would also have been Billy Holiday’s birthday, arguably the greatest jazz singer of all time and of whom those previous accolades are equally true.

 

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524197_10150691403541517_1939880277_nThey say that variety is the spice of life and writing this week’s column has brought up a couple of thoughts relating to that. The first musing I will bring up straight away and is on the subject of gig line-ups. Question: Is it best, when putting a show together, to take the line of generic harmony, in other words to chose a series of acts of a similar style so that the whole bill appeals to fans of one genre of music, or is a more eclectic approach useful in that it the bill as a whole appeals to a wider musical outlook. There probably is no simple answer, but I do know that tonight’s Songs of Praise at The Victoria definitely falls into the latter category as their offering takes in everything from indie to pop to voodoo blues.

Theo Altieri sums up everything that is of the moment in music. His clean-limbed, indie-pop tunes, sit easily on the listener, are vibrant, fresh and punchy and as such he makes a worthy headliner for the show. Vienna Ditto (pictured) is a whole different bluesy, retro-electro can of worms. Looking like an alliance between a lounge jazz diva and a mad professor and sounding like the deal the devil would have struck with Robert Johnson had he been into homebuilt electronica and Twin Peaks, they are as strange as they are brilliant. New Indie kids on the block, The Primaveras open the night.

And if that doesn’t cover enough musical bases, then maybe The Open Secrets brand of modern country meets old time mountain music at The Beehive is to your liking.

Friday takes more of a soul and blues journey, initially at least. The Soul Strutters at The Rolleston do pretty much what it says on the tin as they select the best of the golden era of funk, soul, disco and rare groove. Made up of consummate musicians with a musical pedigree second to none, this is the tightest and funkiest band you will experience for a long time. Riffs Bar is the setting for the launch of a new blues band. Featuring a few familiar faces and leaning heavily towards a Joe Bonamassa feel, Sloe Train are one for blues enthusiasts to keep an eye out for.

If covers are more your idea of a musical night out then you have to options of acoustic pop and rock at The Castle with Stripped or an altogether wilder experience with Toxic at The Victoria.

Looking for something all together more hard and heavy? Look no further than Level 3 and Essenone’s regular night. Kremated lead the charge with their collision of thrash metal, punk and hardcore, imagine Venom’s tour bus crashing into an Exploited gig and you have some sort of starting point. Joining them are Sumer who sound like Tool re-writing Ok Computer plus high-octane metal-heads From Dusk Till Dawn and Powercake.

And this brings me on to my second point regarding the condiment of existence (spice of life…gedit?) and that of clashing shows. For whilst The Victoria hosts The Big 4, a tribute act specialising in the music of stalwarts of thrash metal – Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax, The Rolleston has opted for Shepherds Pie who offer a wider selection of music from loosely the same territory. So effectively over just two days, there are three shows, which are aimed at the same audience. Surely that just divides the fans who probably can’t afford to go to every show and who certainly can’t be in two places at once. Just saying.

More rock, indie and funk covers are to be had at The Swiss Chalet with The Shadow Monkeys and up at The Castle, The Hamsters From Hell will be treating (?) the punters to some blustery, raucous and sweary r’n’b as only they can.

That wonderful monthly fixture, Lazy Sunday Afternoon is at The Central Library and as well as featuring your hosts, Mr Love and Justice and their blend of West Coast meets West Kennett folk-pop, has the velvet tones of Emily Davis and the celtic, folk, American, southern harmony infusions of The Black Feathers.

And finally Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey is a showcase of young singer-songwriters. Headlining is George Wilding whose songs encompass Nick Drake, David Bowie, Dickensian vaudeville and Lewis Carroll. Also on the bill are Rhys Bury and Matthew Bryant.

10660316_950663001627508_5975732848885781704_nSo the first week back in the swing of things, organising, going to and writing about live music in the area has got off to a slow start with the only two gigs I attended being ones that I was organising. Biased? Maybe, but it is all I have to tell you about at the moment, but there was still an interesting point to be made.

 

The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday featured one of the most popular solo acts on the circuit, Jim Blair, normally found fronting Hip Route but no less potent on his own. Jim’s music is a wonderful blend of funky grooves, driving bluesy Americana lap, slide, fingerpicking and conventional styles. Add to that and easy on stage style and a voice that sounds like it is the product of a cocktail of honey and razorblades and you have a winning combination.

 

Over the weeks that I have been involved in booking the acts there a gradual change has been taking place. Early gigs seemed just background noise, a live jukebox largely ignored by those on their way to more boisterous establishments or getting a bit of bar space before heading over the karaoke hell that is Wacky Wednesday. Gradually thought, the amount of familiar faces returning solely for the music has increased to the point where last week the room contained only those who were there to appreciate the music. These Wednesday sessions seem to be becoming a legitimate, contemporary acoustic and unplugged music session. Try it one evening, you may just find something that you like.

 

On Thursday at The Victoria our big show of the week was also of a more chilled nature. The mercurial George Wilding (pictured) kicked things off, a young solo acoustic player, quintessentially English in style and looking like a cross between Syd Barrett and Mark Bolan, being made seemingly of hair, scarves and a sequined jacket. Wonderfully observant lyrics mixed with dexterous guitar action and a youthful charm made for a great opening slot.

 

Little Red took the middle slot, two guitars and three voices mixing in ever shifting measures to create a wonderfully pastoral sound that hid a darker lyrical undercurrent. This is a band that even from their stripped back starting point understand restraint allowing the dynamic to fade right back before launching an unexpected salvo of passionate vocals or the slightly unexpected retro twang of Ben Gosling’s electric guitar. And if front man Ian Mitchell isn’t the long lost brother of BBC Wiltshire stalwart Will Walder, I’ll eat my hat. (It’s okay, I don’t have a hat!)

 

And finally to the main event. The Black Feathers have gained a great reputation over what seems like the implausibly short three years they have been together and we were about to see why. Maybe it is the fact that they are husband and wife, maybe it is their constant trips across the pond to immerse themselves in American roots music, maybe they just work a lot harder than most other acts. Whatever is they gave the audience a master class in vocal harmony and song arrangement that was second to none. They have a wonderful and wonderfully self-deprecating stage charisma and as a focal point are mesmerising to watch. And when one critic described them as Britain’s answer to Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins, I can’t imagine anyone would have argued with such a description.

 

And the point I mentioned I wanted to make? We get so used to gigs being loud and flashy affairs, selfie taking hipsters celebrating their own presence, laddish bores talking over the music and adoring fans trying to outdo each other for the status of superfan, that it comes as a breath of fresh air to go to two gigs in a row where the audiences are mostly seated, respectful of the performers to the point of pin-drop atmospherics and content to sit and soak up every word, musical phrase, every move and nuance of a show. I’m not saying that’s however show should be but it does make a refreshing change.

1148809_503701169718211_1721662663_nSo that’s it, all done. Twelfth Night has been and gone, the decorations are back in the attic, though you will be picking pine needles out of your socks until May, the Christmas supplies have been depleted, all but the hardly touched bottle of egg-nog and some dubious looking figs and it is time to look forward to the future (…it’s only just begun…still got that damn tune stuck in my head.). So armed only with a new gym membership and a handful of good intentions we step forth into a new year, a blank page to document the next chapter… in bestest handwriting please.

 

And we get off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with the first Songs of Praise show of the year. Headliners, The Black Feathers, have made quite a name for themselves with their amazing vocal harmonies and blend of Celtic folk and Americana roots music. Joining them are Little Red another roots outfit driven by sweet boy-girl vocal interplay and opening the night is the quintessentially and often eccentrically English sounds of George Wilding.

 

Staying at The Victoria, on Friday, intelligent, direct, melodic and occasionally anthemic rock is on offer with Clay Gods and joining them are Goodbye The Sunset, a band who seem to channel something of the spirit and sound of what first turned my ear to The Gaslight Anthem, so no complaints here. Opening the show are the aptly named Dirty Smooth who manage to mix raw rock with acoustica or as they put it “tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out too, but sweet enough for the girls to dance too!” Cunning.

 

The Rolleston, meanwhile, will be grooving to the jazz, funk and blues fusion that goes by the name of Rival Attraction and if a more ska, punk and New Wave vibe better suits your tastes then a quick visit to The Swiss Chalet to catch Operation 77 is in order.

 

Saturday sees We Ghosts return to The Beehive. This ever popular Anglo-Swedish band trade in an acoustic sound that ranges from stylishly driven rock to emotive, smoky, late night chill-outs but always with lush and distinctive vocals leading the way.

 

Elsewhere the rest of the evening options pretty much follow a less original tack, the best of which in my “over-inflated opinion” is 1000 Planets who will be delivering their Killing Joke set at The Victoria. So if the thought of moshing out to the gothic laced industrial dance sounds of one of the post-punk periods most creative bands, then this is about as close as you can get without a time machine.

 

Cover bands are out in force so you can catch The Tin Shack Band playing everything from the sixties to the present day at The Rolleston and The Swiss Chalet features Catch 22 playing…wait for it, pop and rock from the sixties to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar, Sound Bites not only run through a set of classic rock covers they will also be raising money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and FOLMS.

 

The week rounds off with a couple of great singer songwriters. Firstly on Sunday you can find Matt Chipperfield at The Beehive for the afternoon session and then on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the folky-Americana sound of Salisbury’s very own Sue Hart.

1001847_10151555930943635_1223282823_nThere is no getting away from it; this week is all about The Swindon Shuffle. I won’t dwell on it in full, there has been a fair bit of coverage already in this august (and indeed August) publication and a quick search under the obvious terms will find all the details listed up on their website. But here is a very brief walk through (or Shuffle through I guess.)

 

Following last nights opening event at The Queens Tap, the focus tonight turns to Old Town which sees the regular Songs of Praise night at The Victoria become a temple to all things mercurial pop and alt-rock (Super Squarecloud, Dead Royalties and the return of SkyBurnsRed), whilst The Roaring Donkey is the haven for culture vultures, providing a mixture of intelligent acoustica (David Marx and Steve Leigh) and poetry readings. Also happing in the vicinity is some lovely Psytrance (tribal beats meets alien dance vibes) from Zetan Spore at The Beehive and Baila, that wonderful coffee house meets old school vinyl emporium is joining the fray with music provided by hand picked DJ’s. Artist might like to note that those awfully nice people at Cradle Contemporary will be running a Sketch Crawl; artists will be wandering the venues capturing the inspiration and the spirit of the night on paper for a future exhibition.

 

Friday not only stays around Old Town with The Ocelot curated Indie night at The Victoria (incorporating the now traditional Doza opening slot plus Nudybronque and British Harlem)), the first of two mellower nights at The Castle (Familiars, Wildest Dreams) and Riffs Bar’s wonderful acoustic night joins in the fun with an open mic. night and headline slots from The Black Feathers and The Cadbury Sisters, which is a coup in anyone’s book.)

 

Saturday is a tsunami of music. The big daytime session is to be found at The Rolleston from midday, courtesy of The Academy of Music and Sound who showcase their students’ talents before the rest of the afternoon and evening mixes all genres of music from the delicate tones of Charlie Bath to the wild musical machinations of Sea Mammal, the blues infused Armchair Committee and goes out with a bang courtesy of The Ak-Poets.

 

Through out the afternoon, The In-Store Sessions sees music in Billabong, Baila, That’s Entertainment and The Central Library.

 

An eclectic mix is also to be found at The Beehive that evening (Cartoon Heroes, Swindon Samba) and another chilled session at The Castle includes an acoustic Port Erin and Colour The Atlas.

 

Sunday has a family fun day at Riffs Bar, so take the kids along and mix music and shenanigans in equal measure whilst if you are in town The Beehive is the place to be as it plays host to the Shuffle wrap party. If you have made it this far, you may as well go out in style.

 

Right, that is The Shuffle well catered for lets look at non-Shuffle related options.

 

Riffs Bar on Thursday has a great little fundraiser for the Prospect Hospice that features the slightly funky indie of The Primaveras plus The Illustrations, a band who have evolved out of a warped acoustic bedroom duo into a sharp edged outfit that both channels the past and predicts the future. Also on the bill are Abi James and Brinliegh Gallagher. Great music, great cause.

 

The bottom corner of Commercial Road comes up trumps on Friday as The Rolleston plays host to Replica, which as the name suggests are pop and rock cover band, whilst downstairs at Level 3 you can catch Floydian Doors, the only band in existence paying tribute to Cambridge progressive and LA hedonistic psychedelic rock simultaneously. Saturday’s non-Shuffle events are a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria and Indie and rock covers from Happy Accident at The Swiss Chalet.

 

As if to prove the power of musical networking whilst playing the Mostar Blues and Rock Festival in Bosnia, members of Innes Sibun’s Band found themselves playing alongside and befriending Texas old country/blues troubadour Keegan McInroe (pictured) to the effect that he will be playing at The White Hart in Wroughton on Sunday…not normally on the direct route back home but it’s great when these things happen.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday those acoustic classical meets Latin meets jazz maestro’s Gilmore and Jaz can be found enchanting the crown. Why not join them?

1380243_520908807997447_1788925937_nI have been getting quite a lot of feedback on this column of late, which is only fair; people should have an opinion on my opinion, a right to respond. One person accused me of being a failed musician…the standard go to of the creative to the critic but as I pointed out, when all is added up, I have made far more money over the years playing music than scribbling about it, so that line of argument more likely makes me a failed journalist. I was also accused of having the audacity of expressing an opinion, even a positive one, but I guess if you stick your head above the parapet, people will take pot shots. I just want to point out that, yes, obviously this is just one persons opinion (so just assume that I have written “In My Humble Opinion” at the end of every paragraph) but remember it is only and opinion and it’s only music; this isn’t meant to be a solution for uniting the middle east, a Shakespearean sonnet or The Gettysburg Address…it’s just music journalism. Discuss…

 

Whilst you are mulling that over you might like to be aware that one of my favourite popular beat combo’s is to be found at The Beehive tonight, Three Minute Tease.  Anton Barbeau not only has made a career releasing albums that sound like the acid fuelled memories of Syd Barrett as interpreted by Julian Cope, he does so alongside a rhythm section who have long been at the forefront of underground pop music via bands such as The Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians, Squeeze and more. So expect sweet psychedelics, trippy, retro pop, space rock or even spaced rock—all packaged with wit and humour in a rich, high gloss coating.

 

For something slightly less crazy, old time Chicago blues comes courtesy of Built For Comfort at The Victoria.

 

Friday has a mix of originals and standards (see, you have even got me bowing down to The Music Police’s Trading Standards Department and calling covers by a much more user friendly name.) The latter comes with good time swing, rhythm and blues from The Teddy White Band at The Beehive and Going Underground keeping the sounds of new wave, post-punk, mod and ska alive at The Victoria. With the former you have two ends of the roots spectrum on offer. For the delicate sound of the deep south mixed with Celtic and more pastoral folk sounds then The Black Feathers (pictured) at Riff’s Bar is the place to be but if you fancy the more raucous end of things then Missin’ Rosie will be hammering home punked up booze soaked folk at The Rolleston.

The tributes keep coming on Saturday as Wizards of Oz play the music of The Black Country’s Prince of Darkness at The Rolleston and over at Riff’s Bar Johnny Warman’s Magic Bus plays a Mods and Rockers showcase highlighting the music of the mid and late sixties such as The Beatles and The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals and as this year is the 50th anniversary of the formation of The Who, expect their music to feature heavily as well.

 

For original acoustic music then head to The GW Hotel for a night featuring Nick Felix, Matt Mordak, Josh Heather, Aiden Moore, Frankie Scott, Welsh Chris and the charmingly named Douche Bags.

 

 

Sunday’s show at The Victoria is by way of a fond farewell. For the last couple of years Old Colours have blazed a musical trail of cinematic soundscapes and shimmering folk-pop but have sadly decided to call it a day. This show will be your last chance to see them and with the dreamy folk-tronica of Henry Green and the sweeping resonance of Familiars building the night, it will definitely be one to remember.

 

If something more relaxed is your cup of chai tea then the ever-popular Lazy Sunday Afternoon earlier in the day at The Art Centre Café might be the answer. Alongside the usual hosts of Mr. Love and Justice, this session features the warm, loved up acoustica of Ethemia and the eclectic and compelling song crafting of Talis Kimberley.

 

As Monday is St Patrick’s Day, The Beehive have a night of celebration which will feature such diverse elements as Swindon Samba, Jim Blair, Les Bicyclettes, Craig Huchesson and even an Irish Disco…so, hands up for a few Frank and Walters classic tunes…just me then.

1175726_493302250752192_659770799_nIt’s always reassuring when I do the research for this article (okay, it may seem as if it’s hastily written on the back of a beer mat at a gig, but there is an element of research) and it is obvious that there are more gigs taking place than space will allow. That has got to be the sign of a healthy scene….or an overtly verbose writer, or both! So straight down to business.

So, tonight at The Victoria, Songs of Praise brings you a lovely slice of alternative rock, headed up by that eight legged, orchestral grunge machine, SkyBurnsRed. Buzz-saw guitars and whiskey cracked vocals mix with sweeping classical lines and heavy beats to bring you one of the most original rock bands on the local circuit. Support comes from Dead Royalties (pictured), old hands in a new musical vehicle, natural successors to the Sub-Pop legacy and who have the ability to hammer home their music like a smack in the face from Cobain’s beaten up Jaguar guitar. Armchair Committee are the perfect band to kick the night off.

Something altogether more classy this way comes, well it does if you are in The Beehive tonight, as Ruba Tempo return with their elegant and soulful , late night jazz sounds.

Chuck Berry may have famously got his kicks on Route 66, well, the younger element can get theirs this Friday on the B4534, or more accurately at Riffs Bar as Teenage Kicks brings together the best of the emerging local talent. This show will feature I Am The Sea, Out of Time, Who Cares? Emily Jones and headlining the ethereal voice and delicate musical creations of Faye Rogers. And apparently it is Pirate Music night, though I’m not sure if that means you have to dress like Jack Sparrow or that bloke who sold me a bootleg Stone Roses DVD last week.

Also with quite a piratey feel to them, Missin’ Rosie will be filling The Beehive with punked up Celtic anthems, wonky sea shanties and all manner of mayhem and shenanigans, image The Pogues on speed and you get the picture.

All manner of rock covers can be found at The Rolleston with Angel Up Front, now with a new singer and at The Victoria it’s time to put on the distress flares, tank tops, glam accoutrements and go “crazee” as Slyde Alive relive the heady days of Slade.

Saturday brings you one of the last outdoor gatherings on the local calendar as The Running Horse bring a whole heap of their favourite acts for The Acoustic Garden. Not only is it the best of the local selection but top names such as Rachel Austin and Josh Kumra will feature. Just pray for good weather.

Two breaking bands can be found at The Victoria that evening. Stylish, anthemic indie comes courtesy of British Harlem and opening up is the heady mix of floaty, cinematic,  dream pop and occasional rock urgency that is Old Colours, in many ways a Warpaint for the English market. It’s also a line up that sums up neatly where the contemporary music scene is heading.

It’s maximum electric blues at The Rolleston with Innes Sibun and nostalgia trippers are catered for with The Illegal Eagles at The Wyvern Theatre and Chris  “ Handbags and Gladrags” Farlowe at The Arts Centre.

Two Sunday afternoon options look like this. David Bristow plays relaxed, old school blues at The Beehive and the Lazy Sunday Afternoon show at The Arts Centre sees hosts Mr Love and Justice joined by Alice Offley and Jane Allison.

Monday sees some great ska driven, pop rock hit The Victoria as Robbie Sea’s short tour stops off to deliver a lesson in how to make music that is both cool and accessible, that will drive both a cult following and radio play. A great trick if you can pull it off, and he does.

The battle for Wednesday’s music punters takes place in the usual venues and pits The Teddy White Band at the Roaring Donkey with The Black Feathers at The Running Horse.

By the way, my records show that this is the 200th time you have had to suffer my inane ramblings and weird recommendations via this column. Doesn’t time fly when your having…deadlines!

Library - 62So, the big noise this weekend seems to be coming from up the hill, as the Old Town Festival reaches it’s climax in fine style. Of particular interest to the culture vultures and gig goers alike is the big finale at The Lawn on Saturday with an afternoon of performing arts in all it’s forms by the various local schools and academies, followed by an evening of acoustic music from the likes of Hiproute, Albion, Ethemia, Coach and more besides. Make sure you check their website for the full menu that includes a parade, dog show, running events and a cornucopia of other activities.

Also watch out for the 105.5fm Late Gig boys who are running a tongue in cheek awards ceremony on Friday in that very same location. I repeat, this is just a bit of fun so please don’t get upset if your band didn’t get nominated, look on the bright side, it means that you won’t be obliged to talk to “The Andys” or to use the title of their new, Channel 5 sketch platform, The Mitchell and Pett Show.  Every cloud and all that!

Back in the usual haunts and back into chronological order, tonight, The Victoria  has one of it’s regular Band and Burlesque shows, this time it takes as it’s theme the Carry On films, so nothing at all risqué there you will be pleased to hear, and music is from the stalwarts of skiffle, Ode and the BeBops who will be endeavouring to find out the answer to the age old question, does your chewing gum loses it’s flavour on the bedpost overnight? Or not.

More serious music is afoot at The Beehive with this month’s Acoustic Buzz. Some call it roots-blues, some call it country or rough around the edges folk, but Canadian singer songwriter, Lynne Hanson describes her music as “porch music with a little Texas red dirt.” Call it what you will, just don’t miss it. Especially as support comes from that harmonious celtic-folk-americana duo, The Black Feathers and as always Blind River Scare main man, Tim Manning, hosts the night. Fans of more mainstream music might wish to head for Baker Street for the acoustic pop and soulful tones of Kieran Cox.

Friday sees the return of a band that I have been looking forward to for a long time. The place is The Beehive, the band is The Snakes (pictured). Having just released their third album, The Last Days of Rock and Roll, the band return to the town that featured heavily in their formative years to show you just why they count Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr amongst their fans. If the sound of Whiskeytown colliding with Mott The Hopple sounds like your thing, be there and then buy the album.

Younger fans will be pleased to know that Teenage Kicks takes up residence in it’s new home at Riffs Bar and this inaugural show takes the form of a pop-punk showcase with Disclosure (no, not that one, the other one,) Not My Finest Hour, Save The Dinosaurs, Written In Words and The Hourglass Has Turned. Elsewhere it’s classic rock covers at The Rolleston with guitar Gandalfs Metalhead and the brilliant Interlight at The Victoria who basically play anything that takes their fancy and with wit, style, panache and matching suits.

Saturday sees R’n’B pop giant, Billy Ocean come to The Old Town Bowl and support comes from another eighties pop sensation, Hazel Dean. Those folkies out there may opt to travel a bit further afield to catch either Grubby Jack at The Waggon and Horses in Wootton Bassett or if you can manage to track down a ticket, Show of Hands at The Great Coxwell Barn. Either way you are in for a treat.

Sunday sees those awfully nice chaps from Mr Love and Justice take their Lazy Sunday Afternoon gig to The Old Town Bandstand where they will be joined by the Cajun vibes of Kim Coupland and the wonderfully elegant acoustica of Nick Felix.

Tuesday jazz at Baker Street comes courtesy of vocal and piano led Paul Buck/Catherine Sykes Quartet and acoustic music is well represented as always at The Running Horse on Wednesday by the powerful and melodious songs of Ben Maggs and the off beat sounds of Salisbury duo, Child of Imber.