Tag Archive: charlie bath


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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Although more usually associated with delicate, folk leaning acoustica, Charlie Bath is also one half of Orfans and their first musical outing, Bangkok is a blend of Cocteau Twins ethereality, chill wave electronica and emotive vocals.

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11067477_10155344192370182_8626215301713582855_nI get a bit of stick for seeming to favour gigs at The Victoria, particularly those travelling on a Songs of Praise ticket. Certain quarters bandy around words such as nepotism (probably because a band of that name supported Iron Maiden at somewhere like Testosterone-fest) and clique (though they normally spell it click) but I think that the some of the bookings really are worthy of the extra attention. Take tonight’s act for example.

 

Emily Barker has won numerous song writing awards, written theme tunes to a number of well known TV shows, sold out The Union Chapel with her band The Red Clay Halo and even travelled Europe as part of Chuck Ragan’s Revival Tour. Tonight you can catch her with fellow ex-Red Clay Halo player, Gill Sandell, for a set of country-folk vibes and breath-taking melodies. Add to that the soulful acoustica of Paul McClure (pictured) and the heart achingly honest, pin drop tones of Charlie Bath and you can see why I wax very lyrical about some of these shows.

 

And talking of great harmonies, anyone who hasn’t caught The Teddy White Band yet, which surely must amount to about two octogenarian spinsters on the outskirts of Stanton Fitzwarren, then you have the opportunity to catch the twin attack of Anish Noble-Harrison’s soaring, angelic voice pitted against the sinister and earthy tones of Pete Cousins’ growl. The fact that you also get a great retro beat band that ooze soulfulness is merely an added bonus.

 

A similar vibe can be caught at The Castle on Friday with the wonderful 58 Shakes and the bluest blues with the most soulful of souls can be found at The Rolleston with The Mike Hoddinott Blues All-stars. One of the most interesting and consistently unique bands in the area, Port Erin, are at The Beehive, trading in accessible psych grooves, flurries of cool jazz and walking a wonderfully fine line between pop, rock and progressive themes. If you don’t already have a copy of their latest album, Floating Above The City, then catch the show and pick one up. If you do already posses a copy I’m sure you have already made plans to attend anyway.

 

Another stalwart of the local circuit, The Shudders, can be found headlining at The Victoria. Their music has passed through a few different stages over the years and traces of all of those developments can be found in their alt-country meets indie sound. Imagine a West Country version of The Long Ryders or Wilco…or Bright Eyes..or Crazy Horse, oh, I don’t know, just pop along and dance the night away to music that rocks enough for the boys and pops enough for the girls and is even cool enough for the beardy hipster with the t-shirt and braces trying to look earnest in the corner. Solo sets from Nick Felix and Jarid Clark will set the night up in fine fashion.

 

Rock fans can get their fix with The Guns ‘n’ Roses Experiment at Level 3, supported by an opening salvo of classic rock with a contemporary kick from The Damned and The Dirty.

 

Younger bands are also out in force, pop-punks Post 12, shimmering shoegazers, Sahara Heights and new kids on the Britpop block, Westways, play Riffs Bar as a fundraiser for children’s projects in Africa.

 

And the both Post 12 and Sahara Heights can be found at a second fundraising night at Level 3 on Saturday, this time joined by The Misfires and Overload to raise money for Cancer Research.

 

Other original music to be had comes with The Newbolds funky R’n’B set at Riffs Bar and Flash Harry who will be concocting their magical folky-blues, bluegrass and gypsy jazz fusions at The Rolleston.

 

If you want a taste of The Thin White Duke then The Bowie Experience at The Victoria is one answer, and surely a better option than paying a fortune to watch from half a mile away at Wembley…if indeed he ever tours again.

 

People who prefer a smorgasbord of their favourite tunes that cross decades and genres should note that both Echo at The Haydon Wick Club and Mid Life Crisis at The Swiss Chalet will tick those boxes.

 

And finally on Wednesday, The Roaring Donkey break the working week up with the soulful and jazz infused folk and soaring vocals of Nick Tann.

10711063_897224513623132_5812722890028045815_nPossibly the final leg of my gigging travels around Swindon for this year took me to my usual haunts, a creature of habit I guess but some interesting sounds where encountered along the way.

 

Last Wednesday found me at The Roaring Donkey for my usual mid-week slice of acoustic music and this week it was the totally unplugged charms of Nick Tann providing the entertainment. Even though the night is billed as Songs of Praise (unplugged) like most acoustic sessions that normally implies a stripped back yet minimally amplified set up. Not so Nick, he has a theory. A pub gig is divided into two sets of people, those who want to listen to the music and those who just happened to have found themselves in the vicinity. The latter are probably going to talk over your set no matter how loud you play so why try to compete. By playing totally unplugged, those that want to listen gravitate to the front so they can hear and those that don’t…well, don’t. And to be honest I think he has a point, as that is exactly what happened.

 

Those that made the effort to be part of the gig were then treated to a wonderful set of jazz inflected, acoustica that also graced genres as diverse as Latin, folk, blues and a whole lot of unique crossover sounds. Nicks voice ranges from warm yet solid vocal salvos to quite unexpected soaring falsetto and the between song chat with the audience is both engaging and humorous. This really was music played as god intended, in it’s natural state with a roaring fire and a good beer as company.

 

Sheer Music have a reputation for bringing great music into town and their close ties with alt-Americana label Xtra Mile, the home of Solemn Sun and Frank Turner enabled them to bring two great acts to The Victoria on Sunday. Opening the night were two local supports. Charlie Bath is an artist I have enjoyed watching develop over the last, well, almost a decade. Gentle acoustic guitar forms the core but it is her voice that really demands your attention, a sensuous and evocative blend delivering honest, heart on her sleeve lyrics, I just find it amazing that in a world that hands out music awards to Ellie Goulding at the drop of a hat that we still have Charlie around to play local gigs. Surely that will all change soon.

 

Si Hall recently went into a studio to record a solo e.p. and emerged out of the other end as a fully formed band, Coasters. They blasted through a set of brilliant agit-folk and punked acoustica and left crowd in no doubt that they had just watched the best new band on the Swindon circuit. Energy and stage presence alone isn’t enough to build a career on, you need the songs, and thankfully the band has the ability to write punchy, accessible songs. Look out for these guys.

 

Next up was Oxygen Thief, tonight playing a solo set but wrenching sounds from a guitar that defy the laws of acoustics. Skewed, off-kilter, spikey soundscapes backed up an agenda of social comment and he came off like a one man New Model Army, no complaints here.

 

Finally The Retrospective Soundtrack Players walked out to their headline spot. These guys are sort of a multi media vehicle as they write songs about their favourite books and films. Having already released albums based on Cool Hand Luke and Catcher in The Rye, their current, timely, album is called It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol and provided most of the material for this show. And what a show. All genres were visited as they conjured guardian angels, Christmas ghosts and all the seasons’ images. A tight set and a great performance.

 

So, a few more gigs to attend before the big day, I’ll be back to tell you about it in the New Year, have fun with whatever you are doing, musical or otherwise.

(originally published at Swindon Link)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

10349094_566351956803162_3626054594936056313_nWith the exception of Tibetan Jazz aficionados and fans of the burgeoning Polynesian trip-hop scene, most musical tastes will be catered for this week. Variety, as they say is the spice of life and this weeks musical offerings prove to be a particularly fine condiment of existence.

 

Acoustic buffs should head to The Victoria tonight for a rather special triptych of players, headed by Darren Eeddens, a bluegrass and honky-tonk folkster as at home on the banjo as he is the guitar. A story telling troubadour in the truest sense, he describes himself as an old soul with the imagination of a child. Local support comes in the form of the elemental sounds of Drew Bryant and the atmospheric endeavours of Andrew Burke.

 

The newly revamped Beehive will be echoing to the sounds of Built For Comfort who channel the sound and the vibe of a late night, smoky, back room Chicago blues club.

 

And Friday, it would seem, is the new Saturday judging by the amount of gigs you have to choose from, a myriad of styles and genres running from the sublime to the ridiculous. Representing the sublime is Faye Rogers at Riffs Bar. Hers is a sound that has grown gracefully from an innocent, “girl with guitar” solo spot to a band that soundscape around the tunes with shimmering guitar riffs, sensuous cello washes and less is more beats. Joining her is Antoine Architeuthis who mixes Celtic jauntiness with sweeping English pastoral folk sounds and just a splash of eastern spiritualism to weave an exotic musical tapestry.

 

Representing the ridiculous (only joking chaps) is The Hamsters from Hell, rhythm and booze experts whose talents at wrapping a risqué lyric around a grinding r ‘n’b groove is exceeded only by the speed at which they can run up an impressive bar tab. Catch them at The Queens Tap.

 

It’s folk Jim, but not as we know it. Actually it’s The Model Folk. Forget finger in the ear, bearded, jumper wearing folk police who still harbour a grudge over Dylan going electric, this is Balkan inspired, punked up gypsy folk with a fixation for railways, soviet farming machinery and 1930s drag queens…apparently. Catch them at The Beehive not least because they use the word rumbustious in their band biog’ and you have to admire a band who keep such words in circulation.

 

Level 3 continues in its mission to throw off the gothic imagery and nu-metal fixations of the past (I can see the music forums ablaze already over such a comment) and embrace a broader musical sensibility by hosting a night of reggae. Empower the Gambia, a charity that aims to improve conditions in rural Gambia brings you cool reggae sounds from Bobo Blackstar and The Tribe.

 

Something more familiar can be found at The Victoria with Fleetwood Bac (I’ll let you work out what they are all about) and at The Rolleston where The Dark Eyes will be playing covers through the ages from the sixties to the present.

 

In a change from their usual Thursday slot, those awfully nice people at Songs of Praise have a Saturday show at The Victoria. The top slot is taken by Colour the Atlas (pictured) a band whose chilled, cinematic and atmospheric brand of trip-pop (if such a term is allowed) has seen them lauded by critics and touring with the likes of Newton Faulkner. Check out their brilliant new single “That Sound” now and then watch them live, right on your doorstep. Also clutching a new release is Alex Rainsford, who creates a sound that embraces the drive of rock and the dexterity of folk and throws in soaring vocals and heartfelt sentiments. And opening the night is Charlie Bath a singer-songwriter who needs no introduction to the discerning local music fan. If a crystal clear yet warm vocal, emotive lyrics and wonderfully crafted songs are your sort of thing, then make sure you get to this gig on time.

 

If you are after something more visceral, then The Rolleston may have the answers, as The Keith Thompson Band will be firing off salvos on incendiary blues-rock in the style of Moore and Gallagher.

 

And finally the Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive has what can be best described as “3 in the morning, porch blues” courtesy of David Bristow.

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?

SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186This week we have interviews with The Bateleurs and Absolva also music from Verses, Black Sheep Apprentice, Ells, Flycatfly, SkyBurnsRed, Blind River Scare, Ed Hanfrey, Charlie Bath and George Wilding.

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