Tag Archive: buswell


So with all of the Christmas cheer and New Year’s shenanigans finally behind us we can now concentrate on the job at hand, namely grooving your socks off and watching live music. Obviously by now you have probably have heard the terrible news that The Rolleston and Level III are to close before the month is out. Obviously we have been hear before and hopefully a solution will be worked out that keeps it as a music venue, but it does just under line what a tough time music venues and pubs in general are having, I know it is a cliche but the adage “use it or lose it” has never seemed more apt. No matter how arty and forward thinking the music might be, how cutting edge the promoters ethos, how trail blazing the venue, gigs only happen because the venue sells booze, its as simple as that. But buy a CD on the way out as well!

And talking of cutting edge, The Victoria has a something which can only be described as weird and wonderful, and I mean that in the best of ways. Now, I’ve been writing about avant-garde and original music for half a lifetime but even I don’t know what to expect from a band who describe themselves as sounding like “Mercury Rev fighting with Neil Young. Intrigued? Well check out the headliners High Climbers. Flour Babies use swirly synths and choppy guitars to reference glorious post-punkery and opening the night is the mercurial and fairly tale music of Indoor Goblin.

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10644504_849034398474545_1266507282074302395_nIt might seem that the world has gone to hell in a hand basket this week, or worse…Hull, but at least you have a whole raft of great, original live music to console yourselves with. And as always Thursday does the perfect job of easing you into the weekend with more than its fair share of the gigs.

 

Thursday

Josh Kumra @ The Victoria

It’s great to see Josh back with a hometown show. It’s been an interesting journey for him from accessible Americana-indie influenced local shows to managing to get a foot in the bigger leagues, releasing an album and even finding himself sat at the top of the charts with a co-written song. With all that behind him it is easy to see why his stock has risen so much since those early days when I used to see him playing in the back room of pubs to a handful of people. His songs are great and his voice is surprisingly mature so it is bound to be a great show.

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13346778_10153427066772127_7056879790797654139_nObviously I am writing this in advance of the US election result but I’m sure by now there has been a tsunami of debate, opinion and analysis not to mention disappointment/anger/relief (delete as applicable) banded around. One man who has a fantastic way of taking political themes, wrapping them up in bundles of thought provoking satire and delivering them as song-bites can be found at Baila Coffee and Vinyl.

Having set himself the task of making 40 records over 20 years, armed only with his trusty upright bass, Grant Sharkey (pictured) brings a bag of social commentary, wit, wisdom, his eighth album and his secret bread recipe to Swindon. It is very likely he will have an opinion or two about the presidential election too. Support comes from the always-excellent Emily Jane Sheppard.

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Live and Local Podcast

SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186This week how features Shaun Barry chatting and playing some of his music from his various bands and some new solo music as well. Music from: Shaun Barry, Automaniacs, Echoic, Blake, Buswell, Last Box of Sparklers, Raze Rebuild, Anton Barbeau, Les Clochards, Port Erin, The Familiars, Bruce Street Bridges.

Listen to The Podcast  HERE

10443993_10154647244665037_4127167166014113507_nI’ve been thinking, as I often do, about the support for local music and have realised that there is actually a very sound political argument for supporting live shows. Grassroots events are clearly on the wane as seen by the amount of venues closing or moving into more obvious incomes such as food, DJ’s and karaoke nights. Imagine if local level gigs dried up altogether? All you would be left with is a music monopoly made up of large festivals and over priced arena shows that would then be in a position to charge what they want due to total control of the game. As the prices are hiked up, the man in the street would be bumped out of the equation and music, like much art, would only be accessible to the moneyed minority. As I see it keeping local music operating is nothing less than a political act, part of a class struggle and to support this movement all you have to do is take in a show. Simple yet subversive… a bit like an old punk friend of mine.

And talking of subversive, The Vibrators were at the forefront of the first wave of British punk and you can catch their guitarist John Ellis at The Victoria tonight. Mixing drone acoustica, psychedelic meanderings and electronica; John’s current music path reminds us that he has had a very varied musical career before and after his well known punk days.

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10850275_1508642422743307_3346557062355699842_nTomorrow is one of those days that resonate throughout history. On May 8th, 70 years ago, the world woke up to a Europe finally at peace after the ravages of war. Sixteen years before that The St Valentines Day Massacre made world headlines and more latterly, completing the cycle of world shaking deeds, in 1972, Ian “H” Watkins of Steps infamy was born, so it is obviously a date which is tied in with important historical events. Also tomorrow we will wake up to learn the fate of the next five years in the running of this country. But tonight we party. Thankfully, this weekend whether celebrating the result or drowning your sorrows there is no shortage of great sounds to do it to.

 

Those opting for a bit of a shindig should look no further than The Victoria tonight as Bite The Buffalo bring their “stomping, coffin blues” to town and show just why recent years have seen them play such festivals as SXSW and supports to none other than Robert Plant. Fresh out of the box, 2 piece The Harlers continue to re-connect with dirty blues-rock memories and openers The Johnstown Flood add grunge and warped guitars to the blues template.

 

At The Wheatsheaf, Darren Hodge deals in a gentler but no less mesmerising take on the same genre; an ear for tradition and some outstanding finger-picking dexterity are the order of the day and he is joined by the loved-up folk harmonies of Ethemia plus the elemental imagery and sounds of Drew Bryant. Sitting between the two, a funky blend of acoustic and gritty blues is Jim Blair who can be found at The Beehive.

 

And if Thursday had a heavy blues undercurrent, Friday takes a folkier stance. Firstly at The Beehive with Calico Jack (pictured), a band whose distinctive canal boat-folk blends gypsy jive, carnival chaos and shanty shenanigans to create twisted fairy tales and worlds of dark enchantment. For a punkier take on the genre, Mick O’Toole can be found at The Rolleston. Theirs is a howling banshee of a show in the tradition of Flogging Molly or Greenland Whalefishers, so if the idea of a sonic wall of aggressive accordion, mutilating mandolin lines and belligerent banjo forming the front line of a folk-punk onslaught sounds like your cup of cider, then this is the show for you.

 

At The Victoria, Buswell’s brand of indie-pop meets chamber folk will be providing the venue with sweeping majestic sounds not to mention some logistical headaches as the orchestral wing of this band often pushes the stage set up into double figures. Support comes from the lush dynamics and dark atmospherics of White Lilac and opening the show is the man known as Last Box of Sparklers and his hushed and fleeting, Nordic indie sounds. Incendiary blues-rock classics are delivered with spellbinding dexterity at The Queens Tap courtesy of The Lewis Creaven Band.

 

As usual, Saturday is the bastion of nostalgia, reminisence and the tried and tested (all of which could actually be names of cover bands themselves) but that doesn’t mean that they rock any less. In fact, out at Riffs Bar, the hardest partying band in town take the stage. Enjoy their set of rock, pop and indie classics, just don’t try matching them drink for drink at the bar afterwards.

 

Also rocking out like a good ‘un, The Sex Pissed Dolls, pun their way into level 3 to deliver a set of rock, ska and punk standards and at The Brookhouse Farm (moved from The Woodlands Edge) it’s the last chance to catch The Beat Holes before they return home to Italy. Imagine if The Beatles had formed out of the punk melting pot of 1976’s London squat scene and also liked to listen to heavy metal. Intrigued? Check them out, they are brilliant.

 

Other options are 1000 Planets punk, goth and alternative sounds at The Rolleston, power-pop, mod and soul from Peloton at The Swiss Chalet and vintage classic rock from Mid-Life Crisis at The Queens Tap.

 

There is just enough room to mention Peter Jagger and his political tinged folk songs at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon and David Marx’s poetic and poignant music at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

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408146_550765044940471_378649541_nAs Del Amitri so deftly put it, “Nothing Ever Happens” a sentiment that I hear levelled at the local music scene almost as often as I see Brian Cox on my television. Visit the usual social media haunts and you will invariably hear the metal fraternity moaning that the town hosts the same few indie bands, emerging pop acts complaining that the town is dominated by rock cover bands, the indie bands saying that the town is ruled by dance nights and acoustic players arguing that they can’t get a foot in the door as their circuit only promotes the same few acts. But is the town as locked down and staid as these voices claim. Well here is the evidence from my own personal experience over the last week.

 

On Saturday I watched Buswell, a cinematic, indie dreamscape of strings and gentle beats, swirling orchestral dynamics and reflective, poignant sentiments. With a fluid line up formed from a large pool of musicians each show is unique in that geography and availability are the deciding factors behind who plays each show and even so the band are faultless. The same night I saw The Last Box of Sparklers, Nordic indie pop that seemed built purely on atmospheres and space rather than the music and words and more mainstream but no less impressive acoustic deliveries from Matt Adey. On the way home a few hangers on and itinerant musicians who had nothing better to do ended up at Level 3 and found themselves in the midst of a raging and effortlessly cool Afro-funk night which had drawn a crowd as big as anything from the clubs alternative rose tinted heyday that everyone seems to be in such an effort to try to recreate.

 

Wednesday found me watching two acoustic players who don’t seem to be part of the “go to” acoustic set, the quiet, late night jazz vibe of Mel Hughes and contrastingly the soaring agit-folk of Coasters front man Si Hall.

 

And then last night something truly awesome happened. The Victoria played host to three acts that had to be seen to be believed. GagReflex kicked things off, a two-piece punk leviathan in the 2 Sick Monkeys mould, all solid beats and bass lines that could get paid work in the demolition industry. Their by-line quote sums it all up eloquently, “small enough to fit in a car, big enough to take your face off” Well, quite. Blindman’s Bastion followed with a bluesier, Black Keys take on things before the main event, The St. Pierre Snake Invasion. In a whirlwind delivery of white noise guitars and buzz saw riffs, screaming, visceral vocals and more energy, strut, attitude and showmanship than you could ever need, they proceeded to blow the night and almost the building wide open. A recent review summed up the shock and awe tactics of the band in the following succinct line … “what the hell just happened there?” Don’t ask me I’m as bewildered and brusied as the next man but in a world that overuses the word awesome to a blatant degree, this band truly deserve that description.

 

So nothing ever happens in Swindon. Nothing original, diverse or truly entertaining. I would suggest the opposite is true; you just have to make a bit of an effort. The only thing I will say is that what sort of town do we live in where a Nirvana tribute band can fill a room based on the bands place in rock history yet put on a band such as The St. Pierre Snake Invasion, a band in many ways a natural successor in energy and attitude to Nirvana, a band writing their own chapter in the book of rock history and 25 people turn up. I say make an effort and you will be rewarded tenfold. Or you could sit at home on-line and post Facebook banners about how we should all support live music! That will really make a difference.

10622848_701261516623318_3187721206277794022_nI suppose that I have to accept that the public perception of me is someone who spends all of his time bemoaning the state of original music in the town, stopping only briefly to sleep, eat cheese and play the B-sides of rare New Model Army records I have collected over the years. Whilst that is sadly not that far from the truth, it does mean that I am thrilled to notice that this weeks gig offers are almost exclusively original music and even the few tributes on offer appear to be something a bit off the beaten track. It may not please everyone but it does make at least one aging, music hack very happy.

 

Billy Bingham has been a familiar, unkempt face on the acoustic circuit for longer than his boyish looks would suggest, now he can be found fronting the dystopian rock soundscapers Ghost of Machines (pictured) who headline at The Victoria tonight. Support comes from Brit-pop two-piece Carnival and guitarist Edward Witcomb.

 

If something more dance driven is your preference then the Zetan Spore mother ship will be landing once more at The Beehive. A truly psychedelic, full on psytrance rave mixing electronica and guitars, tribal dance and the sounds of deep space to deliver an energetic even euphoric experience. A more traditional sound comes in the form of the Crowdys Hill School Ceilidh at The Moonrakers. As a school fundraiser this dance features The Cowshed Ceilidh Collective complete with live caller, so put on your dancing trousers and prepare to Strip The Willow or get stuck into a Dashing White Sergeant (steady on!)

 

Friday is one for the folk and acoustic types with plenty of contemporary sounds on offer and not a Fair Isle sweater or finger in the ear singing style to be found. Promoting his latest album, Human Herdings, Marc O’Reilly can be found at The Victoria blending fragile folk and emotive blues reminiscent of the likes of John Martyn or Bon Iver and with a string of major festivals and the weight of the national radio tastemakers behind him, this is obviously going to be a bit special. However, not to be outdone, Riffs Bar Acoustic Session has a bit of a coup in Darren Hodge. I first saw Darren as a semi finalist at the Radio 2 Young Folk Awards and when you experience his mesmerising blend of old time blues, bluegrass picking, vibrant jazz and folk you will realise that this is a chap with a bright future ahead. Support comes from fellow acoustic troubadour Sophie Curtis.

 

If that wasn’t enough a bonafide musical legend rolls into town as Steeleye Span’s legendary fiddle player Peter Knight leads his new musical vehicle, Gigspanner, through acoustic music that flirts with everything from eastern European, French, Cajun, African and even Aboriginal sounds. This is roots music, world music, global folk…call it what you will, at its finest.

 

Another emerging singer songwriter can be found at The Beehive. Robert Brown is a collector of world music styles with which he infuses his brilliant song crafting and virtuoso finger picking style, the result a cross between Nick Drake and Jimmy Page with a well stamped passport. More established sounds can be found in the inimitable electric blues selections of The Mike Hoddinott Blues Allstars at The Rolleston and Talon, a tribute to The Eagles at The Wyvern Theatre. Also of note you can catch ska covers and originals with the No-Marks at The Castle.

 

On Saturday Buswell will be subjecting The Victoria to it’s lush orchestral pop and given the recent self-imposed challenges of their erstwhile leader, expect there to be an element of surprise and spontaneity in the bands line up. Support comes from ex-Flaming Moes frontman Erik Nyberg now trading in mellow Nordic-indie pop as Last Box of Sparklers, guitarist Matt Adey and DJ Bobby The Persuader spinning tunes into the early hours.

 

At The GW, Jimmy Moore will be playing a show to launch his debut album The Good Times, so if a cross between The City and The Colour and Frank Turner sound like your thing, this is the party to be at plus there is a chance to pick up a limited special edition version of the album.

 

The rest of the week very briefly. Sunday at Riffs a host of artists, including Emmy Fearon, Josh Heather and Young Wilson line up to raise money for Children in Need, and The Swamp Marshalls play Celtic bluegrass at The Beehive.

 

Finally Songs of Praise Unplugged at The Roaring Donkey features the soaring acoustic punk of Si Hall and the more considered and delicate tones of Mel Hughes.