Tag Archive: bob bowles


11244578_1668237160071991_5434254339853004958_nSo there is good news and bad news. I was just reading about a new national radio station, Radio X, which is being launched dedicated to new music and particularly guitar-based bands. Great, but surely there has to be a catch. Of course there is and that catch is that spearheading the programing will be not only Vernon “absolutely amazing” Kaye but also Chris “let’s just talk about me rather than play any music “ Moyles. So if you like the idea of twenty-minute ramblings about his celebrity mates at an award show before the indulgence is broken by the latest attempt by Kasabian to sound like a Primal Scream studio outtake, then this is the station for you.

But if you really are looking for emerging, guitar-based bands then look no further than The Victoria tonight as Yves play with Coco Esq in support. Both bands represent the frontline of a current local creative upsurge plying a trade in tight and melodic indie and proving that the future of local music and hopefully beyond, is in safe hands.

The Beehive plays host to one of its regular favourites. Whilst normally fronting his own eponymous blues-rock band, Keith Thompson as a solo act is just as impressive, the stripped back, raw and honest sound making for a vary intimate connection between player and audience.

And talking of blues, Friday sees the first outing for Level 3 Live, a regular blues night and this inaugural session features the man who none other than Alexis Korner described as “ The best white blues harmonica player in the world, ” Rod Garfield and his band. High praise indeed. Blues is also on the cards at The Beehive, this time with Bob “famous in Swindon” Bowles, a soulful voice, effortlessly slick, bluesy tunes and a bagful of great songs.

Although mainly a venue for cover bands The Castle occasionally takes a punt on trying originals and you can’t get much more original than Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies. Variously described as a “Mercurial and biscuit obsessed blend of lilting, music hall Americana and psychedelia” and “If I’d kidnapped Radiohead or the Floyd & forced them to work as a mid-west American Circus band during the 1970’s, they’d sound just like this.” I’ll just leave it at that then.

For those who already know what they like, there is a wide range of more familiar options available. Classic punk from the iconic to the underground can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of The Useless Eaters, Dire Streets at Riffs Bar who pay tribute to Mark Knopfler and his band who helped launch the CD/MTV age, as well as Peloton playing mod, soul and power pop at The Victoria. At The Locomotive, Don’t Speak cover pop and rock but seem to have a very select ear for music, so expect The House Martins, The Beautiful South and Natalie Imbruglia in place of some of the more usual selections.

The big event for the weekend can be found at The Old Town Bowl on Saturday in the form of this year’s Reggae Garden. Top names such as Channel One Soundsystem, 10 piece nu-wave roots/reggae band Roots Ambassadors, Dubwiser and The Tribe provide the music plus there will also be stalls and soul food all combining to make this the party of the year. If you want that party to continue into the evening then re-locate to The Victoria for the official after party with Jah Jah Sounds and guests spinning reggae, dub, lovers rock, ska, rocksteady and everything in between.

Continuing it’s mission to bring new and original bands to an area infused with nightclub culture and more mainstream tastes, The Locomotive really pushes the boat out with IDestroy (pictured), a Bristol all girl three piece who reference Riot Grrrl, grunge, garage rock and straight out rock ‘n’ roll and who are gearing up to support ex-The Runaways singer Cherie Currie shortly. Support comes from the no less uncompromising Molotov Sexbomb a band that is in many ways their male equivalent.

If you fancy some dirty, sweary R’n’B then a trip out to The Globe in Highworth will deliver just that in a Hamsters From Hell shaped package and at The Rolleston, French blues band Nico ZZ play originals and standards and show why they have made such a big impact on the blues circuit.

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, Jamie R Hawkins plays emotionally charged, poignant and witty acoustic pop-rock that reminds you of Crowded House or even Del Amitri, which is fine by me.

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541616_722774127841154_9155324037417470323_nThe F-word has been raising its head again, favouritism that is. Of course it is only natural that I have more to say about the bands and venues that I see as moving music forward and this article is based around my personal recommendations for gig goers, but in an effort to provide what some would see as hopefully a more balanced piece I have widened the scope this week to include some of the venues who don’t always make it into the column and to show a broader view of the wide and varied array of music taking place right across town.

 

Before I do so though I just want to go off on a slight tangent and give a mention to Madame Renards Mini Fringe Festival, which is underway in venues across town. Although a theatrically centred event some of its shows do wander into more musical realms, as well as dance, cabaret and even some slightly surreal territory. Do check out their schedule, as there really is a lot of amazing underground entertainment to be found.

 

So, at The Beehive tonight Bob Bowles performs delivering bluesy and accessible guitar, a soulful vocal and showing why he is one of the most popular local bookings. With all the talk of politics in the run up to the general election, Kitchen Sink Drama’s who play there the following night are a very apt booking. A vehicle for Steve Leigh’s poignant songs; expect sideswipes at politicians, thought provoking takes on the attitudes of modern society as well as dexterous playing, all proof that the protest song isn’t completely dead.

 

Also on Friday, all things eighties can be found at The Victoria courtesy of Syntronix. A tribute to the day-glo, synth-pop era of music and a good excuse to get the leg warmers, shoulder-pads and jumpsuits out one more time and dance like a loon to everything from Duran Duran to Flock of Seagulls. At The Rolleston it’s covers from the seventies to the present day with The Great Nothing.

 

 

Saturday is usually the day when the bigger tribute bands roll into town and this week is no different. Formed from the ashes of previous Black Sabbath tribute bands Blag Sabbath and Snowblind, Sabbotage offer one of the best renditions of the music and performance of the Ozzy Osborne era. They can be found at The Victoria. The Secret Police, the longest running Police tribute band will paying similar homage to their own musical heroes at Riffs Bar.

 

Imagine if you will that The Beatles had formed in the mid seventies amidst the punk boom. Okay, got that? Imagine that they are also partial to classic rock. Throw in the idea that they are based in Turin. Put all that together and you have The Beat Holes. Iron Maiden riffs driving McCartney’s finest creations, John Lennon re-imagined as a Motorhead fan, The Beatles as a scuzzy garage rock band. It’s all at The Rolleston on Saturday.

 

As mentioned earlier going slightly off the usual path reveals a wealth of other options. At The Queens Tap, Alter Chaos will be playing across the genres , everything from 70’s to the present day and new covers band Capella can be found at The Ferndale Club. Zing can be found at The Swiss Chalet armed with a select musical arsenal including classics from the likes of Kings of Leon, Killers and Stereophonics whilst at The Castle, Monkey Dolls offer a scattergun of great indie, rock and punk selections and Penfold will be bringing their eight-legged party machine to The Royal Oak, so something for everyone there.

 

On Sunday the gorgeous sound of Mississippi Delta comes to The Beehive courtesy of Barney Newman whose banjo and guitar salvos will have you convinced that you can taste mint julep in the air and hear the great river in the distance. This is authentic roots blues at it’s finest.

 

At to wrap up in our usual location, the final mention of the weeks is for Lucy Kitchen (pictured) at The Roaring Donkey. Self confessed “folky-bird” her music conjures words such as enchanting, ethereal, delicate and beautiful and it is no surprise that she has made it to the final eight to play the Emerging Talent Stage at Glastonbury this year. I can’t recommend her music highly enough.

John-PeelIt isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say that John Peel shaped contemporary music broadcasting in a way that few others ever did. Through radical programing, a truly eclectic musical taste and by championing bands that would otherwise have remained unknown, he single-handed created the template for music radio, as we know it today. The reason I mention this is that Saturday marks 10 years since his passing and I for one salute you sir. You were a lighthouse in an ocean of music mediocrity. More of that later in the article.

 

And having mentioned the great man, tonight has a suitable eclectic and musically left of centre feel to it. At Riffs Bar, Lifesigns will be reminding us that progressive rock isn’t the indulgent and retro minded genre that some would have us believe. Quintessentially English soundscapes are constructed from the usual prog. pallet but brought bang up to date with slices of melodic rock and pop and a very accessible nature.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria is by way of an album launch this time, as Port Erin unveil their latest release, Floating Above the City. Taking the experimental, space rock elements of their earlier days and mixing it with the ambient, jazz infused vibes of more recent days has produced an album that is both imaginative and exploratory yet tuneful and, dare I say it, commercially viable. Support comes from the sonorous and somnolent acoustic dreamscapes of Andrew Burke.

 

The Beehive is the place to be to catch the mercurial mix of underground pop, psychedelia, wit and wisdom of Anton Barbeau.

 

Acoustic music is high on the menu for Friday. Child of Imber is a duo that mixes delicate acoustica, soaring vocals and thoughtful lyrics and they can be found at Riffs Bar for the regular acoustic session. For a high-energy take on the genre then you should definitely catch Sam Green and The Midnight Heist at The Victoria. Theirs is a blend of blues from the Old South and the more pastoral sounds of an English folk dance and the result is the best freewheeling, roots-rock party you have ever been to. Support comes from psych-pop trio Emperor Yes and the twin guitar dexterity of Bren Haze.

 

Rock fans also have a lot to shout about. If original music is your preference then Level 3 is the place to be as A Way With Words, DIRTE, In Bloom and Over to You offer a heady mix of alt-rock, punk, metal and grunge, a theme that will be continued by the Reboot club night that follows it. Meanwhile upstairs at The Rolleston, Metalhead will be playing classic rock and metal covers through the ages.

 

As mentioned in the introduction, Saturday marks the 10 year passing of Our Lord John Peel and in his honour The Victoria have a night dedicated to the man himself with suitably challenging and offbeat acts. There will be fast, furious punk with sweary between song humour delivered in machine gun salvos from 2 Sick Monkeys. The (Legendary?) Chaos Brothers will provide abrasive punk and sleaze rock in the style in which it was originally intended. Coasters are all about the contemporary sound of acoustic music with a punk end drive and Ian Doeser does what he does best, abusing guitar and audience in equal measure. I think John would find it all rather amusing.

 

But there is another famous John in town as well. John Coghlan is best known as being the drummer with Status Quo and he brings his current band to Riffs Bar. But this is no tribute band but a set that mixes the bands big numbers, lost classics and songs never performed before played in the style of the 70’s heyday by the man who was the bands engine room. If anyone is entitled to reappraise those songs I reckon he is.

 

There is also a bit of a blast from the past at The Rolleston with The Wirebirds. Although predominantly a blues band they add in rock, west coast psychedelia and even more contemporary sounds and add to that the remarkable vocals of one time Babe Ruth vocalist, Jenny Haan, and you have something pretty special.

 

Final mentions go to Bob Bowles who plies his trademark blues at The Beehive on Sunday and a rare outing for The Chalice Folk Band who can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

1016976_10151955957771467_5293699458571862155_nAt a time when many of the great and good seem to be shuffling off this mortal coil, I was saddened today to read of the demise of another icon of our times. The Hipster.  It is being widely reported that the sleeve tattoo, too cool music taste, sawn off and overly complicated hair cut, backwoodsman beard and predilection for drinking out of jam jars has now passed on and these sockless evangelists of fickle fashion are a dying breed.

 

But like any other youth tribe, did they actually exist outside the pages of style magazines? Did punk or goth for that matter? Maybe all of these tribes without leaders, codes without rules, loose collections of ideas and ideology can only be seen from the outside and after the fact. Maybe.

 

Could this be just another twist in the scene that never existed, for if something never existed…how can it actually die? Maybe they just wised up and realised that Youth Lagoon were just The Bravery in tighter trousers or that wearing a monocle doesn’t make you look as cool as you think.

 

Anyway, there will be none of this hipsterish nonsense at The Victoria tonight as it’s all about the rock fraternity making a bit of a stand with three of the linchpin bands of that genre appearing on the same bill. Headliners, The Damned and The Dirty effortlessly blend classic rock, grunge and dirty blues whilst Vanarin and The Starkers opt for a more Seattle sound, the latter with a healthy dash (excuse the ironic word play) of Libertines-esque garage indie.

 

The Beehive opts for another stalwart, this time with a blues grounding as Bob Bowles cooks up soulful vocals and dexterous guitar work.

 

A bit more to chose from on Friday and staying at The Beehive for a moment it’s the return of well loved king of the social club crooners, love guru, connoisseur of fine wines and marmalades and building contractor, Bill Smarme and his band, The Biznes, for some cheeky re-workings of well known songs and a real party show.

 

Out at Riffs Bar, the acoustic session features two great singer songwriters, Sam Lewis who has crossed musical genres and state lines to build a story and style that sits comfortable between the likes of Van Morrison and Willie Nelson. Sam Eason has a sound more home grown: sultry and tender, sometimes fractured, always optimistic. This is a couple of chaps that you really should catch live.

 

The raw edge of the Delta mixed with gritty rock and roll vibes can be found courtesy of The Blue Trees pictured) at The Rolleston but if you are looking for a night of familiar favourites then Penfold at The Victoria might be what you are looking for.

 

And whilst we are talking of covers and standards, Going Underground is playing as part of The Old Town Festival at The Lawn. The set will be ska and reggae hits and entry price includes a hog roast and a punch…err, I mean a glass of punch.

 

Not a lot of original music to be had on Saturday, maybe Russell Brand can come and preach a musical revolution on it’s behalf, talking very quickly in vague terms using words that haven’t been heard since Chaucer was knee high to a printing press. Maybe not. So apart from The Erin Bardwell Collective playing organ driven, 60’s ska and reggae styles at The Bandstand in Old Town and The AK-Poets playing the first of two shows this weekend at The Curriers Arms in Wootton Bassett (the other appearance being at The Moonrakers on Sunday) it’s all about old favourites and nostalgic musical jaunts.

 

The most interesting of the bunch for my money, not that you need money to get in as it’s a free show, is All Cramped Up at The Rolleston. Channelling the music of The Cramps, one of the bands that helped coin the term Psychobilly, they liberally plundered rockabilly, glam, garage rock, punk, blues and horror genre b-movies. Now that does sound worth a go.

 

Back to The Old Town Festival and you can catch classic rock from Broken Image and top function band Echo. More rock comes in the guise of State of Quo…no explanation required I hope, at The Victoria and rock and metal classics from Shepherds Pie at The Royal Oak.

350_41504615309_2744_nI guess it had to happen one day. Although I see this column as a place to champion the originality and creativity to be found within our towns music community, this weeks offerings are fairly exclusively geared towards music that is having a second bite of the cherry, a re-invention of the wheel if you like.  I know some people feel more at home in the comfort zone of tributes and cover bands, no problem with that, you know what you are getting for your money at least and if you only have the available cash to go out once every few weeks, it is one way of guaranteeing you get value for your hard earned cash. Why sit through a bunch of bands that you have never heard of and probably leave feeling musically unfulfilled? Well, because without these original bands there will be no great bands in the future for tribute and cover bands to emulate. Here’s a question for you. What do the following bands have in common? Nirvana, Oasis, Iron Maiden, U2, Arctic Monkeys and The Clash. Well, they all played their first shows in local pubs and venues to a handful of punters being largely ignored by the rest of the country until the music press convinced enough people it was cool to like them. Still, to paraphrase our sainted Peter of Gabriel, “you know what you like and you like what you know”, far be it from me to tell you otherwise.

Okay, on with the show. Tonight The Victoria will be a sea of plaid shirts and ripped jeans with a show that pays homage to the Seattle grunge scene in the shape of Nirvana and Pearl Jam tributes. Meanwhile a mixture of acoustic and electric bluesy originals come courtesy of Bob Bowles at The Beehive.

Fridays has a mixture of genres on offer, firstly Metalhead at The Rolleston doing a neat line in classic metal standards delivered with a mixture of panache and force…sort of like being beaten unconscious by the complete works of Keats! Those of a more old school R’n’B persuasion will find their needs catered for at The Beehive as The Teddy White Band offer up classic blues, swing and rock’n’roll and at The Victoria, Penfold (pictured) will be playing indie covers from Kings of Leon to Katy Perry.

Riffs Bar are hosting their regular acoustic session but at the time of writing their website is offline so best to contact the venue for exact details.

There are a couple of original options on Saturday, especially if you like your music at the more raucous end of the spectrum. The Charred Hearts are going to be tearing things up (as the youth of today might say) at The Wheatsheaf in Stratton, with their brand of melodic punk – incendiary riffs, thunderous beats and driving bass lines are the order of the day. For a classic punk-folk sound then Mick O’Toole at The Rolleston have the answer, a six piece, cider swilling band who play drinking anthems and folk jigs as you have never heard them before…unless of course you have actually witnessed a fight between Flogging Molly and The Pogues. The Victoria has The FunkDementals playing disco and funk covers.

At The Royal Oak, Fly on The Wall will be entertaining the crowd with renditions of classic rock covers from The Rolling Stones to Chuck Berry.

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by Gentou, “a rocky band playing catch original pop songs” and that is about all I can find out about them!

When did advertising gigs become such a covert affair? It’s almost as if the gig listings have been taken over by MI5.

Final mention of the week is for Craig Huchisson who plays The Roaring Donkey, presumably a solo, acoustic player, but as usual there is no information to be had about the gig. When did advertising gigs become such a covert affair? It’s almost as if the gig listings have been taken over by MI5.

So, in keeping with the theme of this weeks column, if you know of any gigs taking place, please don’t tell anyone about it and certainly don’t advertise it on your website, you don’t want people turning up and spoiling the ambience! Still it might explain why it’s getting hard work pulling punters in. Right, I’m off to bang my head against a brick wall; preferably one not fly-postered with gig info…shouldn’t be too hard to find!

Library - 185The world of music was stunned this week after the shock announcement that Girls Aloud have split up the day after their tenth anniversary tour ended (almost as if it had been planned that way). And worse than that they have fallen out with Nadine Coyle who publicly tweeted that the split was nothing to do with her, giving rise to speculation of rifts and backstabbing in their ranks. Surely not, they seem so mild mannered and balanced and not at all hungry for media attention. The group who rose to fame after a successful punch up with a washroom attendant have left a string of timeless hit, the name of which escapes me at the moment. I for one hope that the girls make it up, as the thought of them being angry at one another is too much for me to bear.

Anyway, from the ridiculous to the sublime, as The Victoria tonight has a female bias in its running order. You will be able to catch a rare live outing by Matilda, a wonderful cocktail of country, classical and dreamy lounge jazz, an even rarer solo outing by Emily Sykes who does a neat line is seductive acoustica and Emily and the Dogs who I must warn you contains a hairy, all male rhythm section, but they do scrub up nicely.

Out at Riffs one of the truly unique musical visitors to these shores, Bob Log III (pictured), pops over from Tucson, Arizona to subject the place to a lesson in trash blues, helmets, scotch drinking and assorted naughtyness! Another blues offering comes in the more normal form of Bob Bowles at The Rolleston and if you have a hankering for fired up Celtic folk, then head to the Beehive for some high octane shennanighins with Missin’ Rosie.

Friday sees the MECA get on board the music scene with an under 18’s Popcorn and Chocolate Party. Those of a slightly older persuasion, or with chocolate allergies might like to try the following. There are a couple of tributes in town; nineties kids might want to experience a bit of grunge nostalgia with Earl Jam at The Rolleston, those who appreciate the “Man in Black” should walk the line up to The Victoria for Cash, a show that I can’t recommend enough.

Original music can, however,  be found in abundance at Riffs Bar with the fairly odd pairing of Cold In Berlin’s delay drenched, bleak, brooding and animalistic musical shamanism and The Shudders melodic lo-fi indie meets country rock, a tapestry threaded from Crazy Horse, Bright Eyes and Wilco for those weaving enthusiasts out there.

Originality takes a bit of a back seat on Saturday, so you might want to opt for classic rock covers at The Rolleston with Lonesome Crow, though if Burlesque is your thing, then head out to Riffs Bar, with music from Ghost Trail.

Sunday sees the best/worse cover band in history take the stage at The Victoria. Kova Me Badd are local legends who should really know better but if you imagine a live parody of every Now… compilation album ever made, that’s at least a starting point.

Washboards and shakers at the ready at The Rolleston for a bit of skiffle madness and audience participation courtesy of Ode and The Bebops who may once and for all be answering the age old question about the lasting flavour properties of chewing gum left on bedroom furniture. Aiden Moore will be playing a mix of covers and originals at The Sun Inn at Coate Water and the Beehive afternoon session features Jim Reynolds who taps into blues, ragtime, rhythm and blues, music hall and folk. That’s followed by the Soul Box dj’s and a selection of Soul, Tamla and Ska tunes to see the weekend round off with a nice vibe.

Last but not least, the regular Wednesday session at The Running Horse sees none other than Nick Tann return to its hallowed domain. Nick not only does a neat line in slightly jazz edged, acoustic folk but also is a blogosphere hero, podcaster and promoter and as such deserves your support in return. With him this time is Anna Neale, whose songs explore and resonate from such depths as Roman Literature and ancient religious texts through mediums as diverse as gentle ballads, arabesques, frantic acoustica to slow burning anthems. I’d say that ticks all the boxes.

What’s on at The ‘Hive

Music tonight, Thursday, from the Courtney Yasmineh Band. Courtney Yasmineh is a recording artist and songwriter who’s sultry voice is distinctly recognizable for its emotion and intelligence. Her songs speak of love and redemption, with an entertaining does of flirty cleverness. She is part troubadour, part seductress who attributes her songwriting style to Bob Dylan and her personal style to iconic rock chick bands like Blondie. Yasmineh (yes-ME-nay) with her electric guitar and her alt rock backing band have toured Europe and the US extensively in support of enthusiastic indie radio play. Adored by her fans and respected by music critics, her four full length studio albums span a ten year career with her latest album released in 2012. http://www.courtneyyasmineh.com/
 
We won’t be having music on Sunday afternoon, as there’s a little football game at Wembley. I’m polishing the valves on the Beehive wireless so you’ll be able to listen to live coverage. On Sunday evening we’ve got The Soul Box DJ playing soul, motown, ska, reggae etc.
 
On Monday, The Mess Session, an unamplified folk oriented jam session in the bottom bar.
Also on Monday, the weekly poker tournament.
 
Next Thursday, we’ve got The Djukella Orchestra. A singer of potent songs, stunning harmonica player, guitarist and producer, Jez Hellard thrives on music of all stripes. His band, The Djukella Orchestra, play traditional and contemporary folk music, from jigs and reels to tango, rhumba, funk and reggae. From original and traditional songs to rare gems from some of the world’s greatest, if lesser known song-writers; often fellow troubadors who Jez has met in many years on the road. http://www.jezhellard.com/htdocs/
 
On Friday March 30th, The Dacoits. “The Dacoits are understandably one of our absolute favourite bands. The debut album is a complete triumph, dark and gritty, with enough room for some tranquility and inspiration. The production is luscious, clearly The Dacoits have invested a lot of love here. Seeing them live is a joy. This band are all powerful, and we love them.” BBC INTRODUCING www.thedacoits.co.uk/
 
And on Sunday 1st April, Bob Bowles.  Bob started playing guitar at the age of 10. When he was a teenager Bob jammed with Andy Partridge of XTC and Chip Bailey of Duke Special in a small music shop in his home town.He has recorded and worked with some great musicians including Chip Bailey, Jamie Cullum and the late Kev Wilkinson (of Squeeze and Howard Jones). Bob wrote all the songs for his first CD, Better Late Than Never, which was released independently in 2003. http://www.myspace.com/bobbowles 

This week’s Sounds Around Town link