Tag Archive: charred hearts


Musical Musings – May ’19

37782747_1883184831702720_7235865247637045248_nIt seems only a few weeks ago that the heating was on full blast, we were eating our tea in the dark and there was still a few of the Christmas Quality Street rattling about in the bottom of the tin. And in the blink of the eye here we are the other side of the bi-annual chronological re-alignments, summer is girding its loins and there’s more music to be had than unexpectedly heightened but tenuous analogy. Let’s do this….

A frequent visitor to the parish returns to The Victoria on 2nd May. Lewis Clark and The Essentials lace together deft acoustic threads, bluesy grooves and jazz jauntiness to create accessible tunes that link timeless singer songwriter sounds with European folk traditions. 

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thumbnailIf you were thinking that it is around this time of year that the live gigging circuit goes a bit quiet as bands prepare for the hectic run of Christmas bookings then one look at the list below will show you just how wrong such thoughts are. And it isn’t just the local set out in force either.

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members_sheffieldTonight, The Beehive will be offering you something a bit different, Gratuitous sax in the shape of The Delta West Sax Quartet. (You will have to wait until next week for the follow-up pun, senseless violins, or at least The Model Folk’s epic man-sized violin as they would have it.) Classical, jazz and all sorts of popular reinterpretations rendered unto 4 saxophones. That should make an interesting change of pace.

On Friday The Castle is the location for a bit of a celebration as Swindon Viewpoint throws a party to celebrate its 45th Anniversary. This ever growing media archive and the UK’s longest running community TV service invites you to groove, drink and be merry with them to some typically left-field musical selections. Grasslands brings a bag of green fingered folktronica, Flour Babies an intricate weave of mercurial art-indie-prog-alternative-avant garde and Raze*Rebuild offer a raft of sky-scraping Americana. The night is rounded off with Sex Jazz and their groove heavy alternative vibes and general madness.

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26166586_1681465711875033_8057004855056739838_nThere was an interesting debate on Facebook the other day regarding the balance between original and non-original bands in town. Between all of the threads full of ill informed political infighting and pictures of cats falling off things, the old battle lines were drawn again and it seems as if many people think that there is some sort of conspiracy designed to hold back the original scene, which of course is nonsense. It’s all about market forces, venues and pubs are businesses and they exist by selling drinks, the more the better, so it obviously makes more sense to book bands with a known draw than some unknown Tibetan infused dream-pop band from Newport Pagnall. It’s as simple as that.

If you want to see more original music, bigger names playing more convenient nights of the week then you first have to prove that it can compete, and you do this by supporting the smaller shows which are already happening. Do that, and apart from the two usual venues championing original music, other venues will see the profit in it and there will be more on offer. It’s as simple as that. And buy a CD on the way out too, even musicians need to eat.

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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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426330_472706166084333_342403751_nThere is a lot going on this week so I’m going to cut to the chase straight away but let you into a little secret that there is a theme running through this piece, the prize for spotting it is the knowledge that you have sound musical taste, which is better than any prize I could afford to offer up anyway.

Starting at the top of the hill, at The Victoria good music and worthy causes go hand in hand as bands gather to raise awareness, not to mention money, for Sue Ryder and the great work they do at The Leckhampton Hospice. Although known for a big, alt-rock sound, A Way With Words will be all stripped down and playing an acoustic set and are joined by local troubadour Ben Wiltshire and the chilled musical vibes of The Dirty Smooth.

At The Beehive the monthly Acoustic Buzz night continues to bring together the best of folk and roots music, this time featuring Boss Caine, who conjures up Tom Waits singing Ryan Adam tunes and Iron and Oak who blend vocals, guitar and violin into wonderfully melancholic folk music. Your host Blind River Scare get the night underway.

Level 3 has a night called Beats and Bars, a hip-hop showcase with DJ’s and live sets from Los Angeles resident Esko plus support from the best home-grown talent the genre has to offer, including DJ Triksta, Citizen Kane and BGenius.

Friday gives you the chance to catch another set from A Way With Words, this time in full, unchecked rock show mode as they play Riffs Bar and are joined by reggae, dub and ska fusion experts SN Dubstation to raise money for Goldenhar and Swindon Women’s Aid. Ska is also on the menu at the Castle with The Nomarks and other options are power pop, mod and soul with Peloton at The Victoria, soul and funk standards from The Heist at The Beehive and some stomping folk rock at The Rolleston courtesy of Flash Harry.

And so we head straight into the heart of Saturday night and one of the most unique bands you will ever see. Dirt Box Disco (pictured) are a blend of trashy garage rock, and glam punk who’s chaotic, theatrical and often bizarre stage show is something to behold, so head over to Riffs Bar and catch them along with local punk stalwarts Charred Hearts plus Borrowed Time and The Setbacks.

More raucousness can be found at The Castle with those riotous rhythm and blues boozers, The Hamsters from Hell. Expect uncompromising music, sweary interludes, beards and general mayhem.

If you are looking for something a little mellower, less likely to give you a heart-attack and fine (you must have got the theme by now surely?) for general consumption, maybe a night of vintage reggae and ska from The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive is a more palatable option.

For a live take on modern ska and reggae, Level 3 is the place to be as Brixton based Mangoseed blend funk guitar, rock bass and hip-hop deliveries to create a fresh and eclectic new direction for the genre. Joining them are the infectious, dance floor fillers Conway, ska-punksters The Larry Fish Experiment, inventor of opera reggae and soul ukulele aficionado Nakisha Esnard, plus another chance to catch SN Dubstation. Bop till you drop and tango till they’re sore.

Jamie Thyer brings his Worried Men to The Rolleston for some high-octane blues-rock, it’s rock, punk and pop covers at The Swiss Chalet with The Hyperbolics and Bon Giovi play at The Victoria.

Finally a last mention for Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey and the featured artist, Joe McCorriston. Joe spends all his time on the road and whether supporting the likes of Gaz Brookfield, playing big festivals or intimate gigs like this one, his brand of genre hopping folky-pop-punk always goes down a storm with the audience.

So there is more than enough there to keep the most demanding of music consumer satisfied. And that’s closing time.

NB: This week’s column was held together by plundered Tom Waits song titles. And why not…

544560_586659531391273_2070667669_nAs time goes on music seems to get more and more compartmentalised, ever more exotic labels and terms seem to come into play to create demarcation between music styles. Now, I grew up musically in the 80’s and things were quite tribal then, in any given pub the mod would be glaring at the punk, the metaller would be chatting to the glam rocker out of solidarity, the new wave kids would be geeking over the forthcoming Bunnymen album and the two goths would be sipping cider and black in the shadows. That was a world that made some kind of sense to me. Recently I have had to struggle which such subgenres as Djent apparently not a village in Tunisia (recycled joke alert!) Math-core, Gyp-hop, Vedic Metal, Sadcore, and a host of other niche scenes. Where will it end?

 

One band that can be found in a very small genre, possibly its only inhabitants, are those glorious purveyors of Puzzle-pop…for want of a better description, Oui Legionniares, a soundclash of the best bits of pop, indie and punk reassembled in strange and intriguing ways. They can be found tonight at The Victoria sandwiched between shimmering, shoegazing vibes of Sahara Heights and headliners Yves equally exotic soundscapes.

 

Another wonderful fusion of styles can be found at The Beehive as Mambo Jambo weave together the distinctive sounds of bluegrass, Latin, Caribbean, New Orleans, Balkan, jazz, folk and more besides into a sunny and vibrant feast of music.

 

And in the “if you like that, you’ll like this” department, and staying at The Beehive for a moment, on Friday you will find Grubby Jack the renowned local fast folk trio who mix fiendish banjo with high velocity fiddle-breaks to deliver classic celtic and Appalachian styles.

 

Other options will suit rock fans but they will have to choose between the hard-rocking electric blues of The Lewis Creavan Band at The Rolleston or the classic metal showcase of Metalhead at The Victoria.

 

One of the most important bands of my formative years can be found at Level 3 on Saturday as The Men They Couldn’t Hang provide the headline act to celebrate Charred Hearts front man, Dermot Fullers 50th Birthday bash. This is a semi-private affair with entry by ticket only but how often do I get to talk about the outfit that made me want to join a band in this column? (Yes, they have a lot to answer for!)

 

Similarly raucous folk and roll can be found with celtic, cider punk, party animals Mick O’Toole in The Rolleston, think The Pogues meet The Clash and prepare to dance the night away. And talking of “the last gang in town” you can catch a tribute to them in the guise of Radio Clash at The Victoria.

 

 

So with the old punk posse well catered for we can cast our eyes out towards Riffs Bar and a bit of an old boys reunion. Blueprint’s heyday may have been around 15 years ago but that hasn’t stopped them dusting off the instruments and hitting the stage once more. Support comes from 80’s underground pop referencing The King In Mirrors and indie rock stalwarts Rocket Box.

 

Fans of slick, 70’s pop should head along to The Swiss Chalet as vocal duo Abbaholics relive the hits of…well, I’m sure you can work out where they are coming from.

 

Things get a bit quiet until Wednesday when you can catch two solo acts at The Roaring Donkey whose bands have played a major part in local music over the years, Neil Mercer (Rumour Shed, Dacoits, Seven Years on) and Dave Corrigan (good Things Happen In Bad Towns, Spacehopper.)

 

And to end on a real bang, at the same time Gnarwolves return to The Victoria courtesy of Sheer Music. Infectious, abrasive, sing-along punk at it’s finest. Support comes from the equally punchy Boxkite and opening the night is the more saccharine pop-punk of As The Sun Sleeps.

 

 

 

10568792_671452159600192_7578462626234394886_nIn an effort to keep this column hip and groovy I have adopted a new tactic. I could have grown a beard that makes me look like an American Backwoodsman, bought some plaid shirts and started drinking espresso out of a jam jar but that wouldn’t make much difference in the medium of print. Instead I thought I would get on board with the parlance of a Buzzfeed type article to really show that I’m down with the kids. (Do people still say that?) So….

 

This music journalist sat down to write a gig guide and what happened next will blow your mind. No? How about…Here’s 11 gigs that only real music fans will attend. Or, When I saw what this guy had written I cried. Nah, it’s not really me, is it? What about, get off your sofa, turn that TV off and go and support some real live music before I send a cultural hit squad round to sort you out! That’s more my style.

 

And for all of you concerned that the rotation of the same few bands around town is getting a bit predictable, Riffs Bar have a real treat for you tonight. All the way from San Diego, Black Market III mix soulful blues with red hot Americana, Clash style street punk with old school rock ‘n’ roll and are touted as a real “one to watch” band on the international circuit. Support comes from the doom-rock and art-punk experimentation of Sea Mammal and the soaring, grunge-scapes of D.I.R.T.E.

 

 

More hard, electric blues can be found at The Victoria in the shape of John Fairhurst whose band freely mix music traditions from the Mississippi shoreline to The Ganges Delta with bottle neck blues and psychedelia sitting cheek by jowl with Indian Raga and exotic eastern flavours. Think Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits jamming in a Kolkata teashop. Also on the bill are Cook and The Case and personally it has been amazing to watch them evolve through solo singer-songwriter and chilled indie folk genres into a band of unbelievable dynamic shifts and extremes of light and shade. Their music is both reckless and refined but always beautiful. At The Beehive you can catch the Afro-pop and roots sounds of Two Man Ting.

 

By Friday original music gets harder to track down but you can catch Tin Spirits at The Victoria who channel the sound of 70’s progressive rock with their current writing but often treat the audience to some of guitarist Dave Gregory’s XTC back-catalogue. Support comes from Steve Grimmett’s fundraising, classic rock side project Sound Bites.

 

Tributes can be found aplenty going into the weekend, Beatles fans should head for The Rolleston whilst next-door in Level 3 Jilted Generation return to evoke the glory days of The Prodigy. On Saturday you can catch the music of The Stranglers at The Victoria and Iron Maiden at The Rolleston whilst out at Riffs Bar Hot Flex play a range of classic rock covers with support from rock parody outfit Vinyl Matt.

 

A nice slice of punk history rolls into Level 3 on Saturday as ex-Adverts front man TV Smith (pictured) joins the bill for this years Mick Love Memorial Gig. Since the demise of The Adverts, Smith has carved out a highly respected solo career as well as touring with Amen and Die Toten Hosen, anyone who has heard of either of those bands needs to catch him live. The night opens with the Nu-wave, Bowery street punk from Strength in Blunders and goes out with a bang from Charred Hearts, over thirty years in and still fighting the punk wars on their own terms.

 

Sunday has some great acoustic offerings. The Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Arts Centre Café features Light Falls Forward a band whose EP Sleeptalkin’ I can honestly say is one of the most gorgeous new musical offerings I have heard in a while. They manage to capture a very emotive vocal sound and layer it over a cinematic soundscape that combines a lush ambience with enough drive to keep it in the realms of reflective and dreamlike rather than melancholy. The equally elegant Faye Rogers and your hosts Mr Love and Justice are also to be found there.

1157735_552565938125804_813919255_nThis week I think the column should be dedicated to Roy Castle of Record Breakers fame as I have so many gig recommendations this will be the equivalent of trying to squeeze 50 people into a Mini. So without further ado….

Tonight at The Victoria sees the return of Sam Green and Midnight Heist, a band who inject wonderfully earthy melody into folk-blues stomps and pretty much show the likes of Mumford and the Whale where they have been going wrong all these years.  If you prefer something purer from the rootsy blues songbook then head down to The Beehive for Kent DuChaine, a steel guitar blues-playing journeyman in the traditional style.

Fans of a more folky sound will find much to like at The Arts Centre as acoustic duo Rita Payne (duo)promote their debut album, Stories From a Suitcase, and ably live up to the “new Simon and Garfunkel” tag that keeps being levelled at them.

More, delicate sounds are to be found on Friday both at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions with the sweet and innocent piano sounds of Lauren Castle (presumably no relation to the aforementioned bible bashing, tap dancing, muso) and the three piece version of Kangaroo Moon whose wonderfully global musical jamboree bag blends everything from delicate folk, washes of celtic sounds, elemental dance, psychedelia and more. Just turn up and see what’s on the menu this time.

More retro sounds come in the form of Teddy White and their fantastic r’n’ b revue at The Rolleston; The Jimmy Sixes provide the rock and roll back beat for the 3rd Anniversary Band And Burlesque show at The Victoria and if the idea of Hammond Organ driven, electric blues appeals to you, then the place to be is The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for Shades of Blue.

The big gig for Saturday is to be found at Basement 73 when Eddie and the Hot Rods hit town.  Having their roots in the same Canvey Island scene as Dr Feelgood, they were one of the few bands that spanned the gap between pub rock and punk and it promises to be a great night of fierce, in your face, high-octane music. Support comes from Charred Hearts, local punk stalwarts still as fired up and entertaining as they were back in the day and The Hamsters From Hell, maximum r’n’b, with a chaotic and rowdy nature that belies the musical skills to be found within.

Elsewhere, as is the nature of the day, covers and tributes rule the roost. The Victoria has a tribute to pop-punksters Blink 182 and the Rolleston goes all classic metal with a night recreating the glory days of Judas Priest. Sons of Cream are a bit more than a tribute to the 60’s super group as the band feature both Ginger Baker’s and Jack Bruce’s sons, Kofi and Malcolm and can be found at The Arts Centre.

Riffs Bar offer up a fancy dress night with party covers band Penfold and support comes from brilliant folk troubadour Ben Maggs.

Culture Vultures will be circling around the Arts Centre on Sunday for the Swindon Recital Series which features cellist Caroline Dale and pianist Paul Turner playing all the b’s …Bach, Beethoven and Bach.  Alternatively you could take in a slice of folky Americana at the Beehive afternoon sessions as Gary Hall delivers music with touches reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons.

Monday is not the normal night for stand out gigs but Ben Marwood at The Victoria is going to be a cracker. The up and coming folk troubadour is playing with a full band and is also joined by label mates The Retrospective Soundtrack Players a literary influenced concept band who used to go under the more manageable moniker of The Dawn Chorus.  Shaun Buswell and friends get the night rolling.

Normally known as a big band leader, tenor saxophonist Kelvin Christiane brings his bepop quartet to Baker Street on Tuesday, a musical vehicle that no less than Humphrey Lyttleton described as “ a band of astonishing virtuosity” and he knew a thing or two about the genre.

Finally, still at The Victoria on Wednesday you can catch a punk orientated showcase featuring 2 Sick monkeys, Brassick and Larynxed.

Phew! If you can’t find something to watch this week, there is no hope for you.

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!