Tag Archive: echo


1957678_404715793024462_9220940296262886703_oAs is often the way, we have to skip over tonight’s options, or lack thereof, and head straight on into Friday and to make up for such a gap in the calendar let’s start with something pretty special as Level III sees one of my favourite alt-rock bands of recent years hit the stage. Rewire The Time Machine (pictured) is a hard-hitting four-piece, weaving desert-blues and grunge intensity through dynamic and constantly shifting rock music. Doesn’t sound a bad way to start the week if you ask me.

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39953605_488801818288427_6941550302986240000_o.jpgIf this column had been lucky enough to get some sort of media development grant, you would be reading this opening paragraph to the strains of Looks Like We Made It by rock and roll bad boy Barry Manilow.  It didn’t, you aren’t, but would have been a nice way to start the year. We have survived the ravages of Christmas and New Year’s Eve and are hopefully all settled in to kick off another year of music in a town that, by and large, punches well above its weight.

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10838049_805409206181876_6692365775109408289_oThe Beehive is renowned for giving new things a try, and never more so than with the music that it books to grace its compact and bijou playing area. Tonight is no exception as The Fresher and Angel Collective will be doing their thing there. And if you thought that acoustic music is largely the territory of bearded, ageing folkies, hipsters in wide brimmed hats and Ed Sheeran wannabes, then these guys and their blends of pop, soul, funk and hip-hop will give you a whole new perspective on things.

There has been a real buzz lately about the new musical happenings from a couple of the ex-XTC chaps under the TC&I moniker. I’m pretty sure if you are following those developments with keen interest or are just a fan of the original band in general then you will want to be down at The Rolleston on Friday for Fossil Fools. This, the UK’s only tribute to Swindon’s most famous sons, will relive the nature of those early gigs and of course given their premature move away from live performance give you a chance to appreciate many of the later songs beyond their recorded confines.

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12771521_505280549673444_5585277270321832928_oSome weeks I get to wax lyrical about bands with weird names that most of you have never heard of, from far flung realms and exotic sounding places that your average reality TV star or Republican party nominee couldn’t point to on a map. This week, however, it is much more about the home team as many of the gigs slots feature frequently returning and popular bands. In other words, tried and tested, solid, dependable bookings. And why not?

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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.

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.

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.

 

 

1908007_709700309072398_6221285779546836118_nI have to start this week with a bit of an apology. In last weeks article I mentioned that the players in prominent local folk band, Noah’s Ostrich, were all members of The National Front. Obviously what I meant to say was that they were all members of The National Trust. I apologize for any inconvenience caused and hope that the cost of the replacement windows wasn’t too expensive. Moving swiftly on…

 

Tonight sees local boy made good, Gaz Brookfield, return to his musical roots at The Victoria for Songs of Praise. He brings with him The Company of Thieves to make this a full band show that features a few familiar faces amongst its ranks. Expect the usual display of wit, panache, poignancy and brilliant, observational lyrics. Joining him on this great bill is Lonely Tourist who describes himself as trading in Beard-pop, Pub-step and Malternative music…well, why not? Opening the show is the dark and lush tones of Luke De-Sciscio.

 

Level 3 has a rare musical treat for you on Friday, a cornucopia of young, emerging Indie bands, no less. Sounds will range from the soaring, slightly post-rock informed sounds of Sahara Heights to the street-punk indie of The Corfields and from the bedroom psychedelia turned indie-thrash of The Illustrations to the eclectic sound mix of The Primarveras. I would like to tell you more about Coco Esq but their on line presence is decidedly vague.

 

If you are not one of the skinny jeaned young groovers with complicated hair, there is still plenty of music to be had. At The Victoria everything heads a bit south of the border as Pignose and The Blue Trees channel the sounds of the bayous, desert highways, illicit stills and truck stops, the former through a dash of old school rock and roll and the latter through a more bluesy medium.

 

Riffs Bar Acoustic Session features Salisbury based troubadour Sue Hart, a charming mix of wit and wisdom put to folky Americana tunes and she is joined by Nick Tann who does a neat line in soulful and introspective, late night jazz tinged acoustica. For a more frantic folk sound catch Grubby Jack at The Beehive; fast fiddling, blinding banjos and great guitars. (I can’t think of a suitable alliteration for vocals…vibrant maybe?)

 

If you are going to The Rolleston then grab your brogues, Fred Perry shirts and set your Pork-pie hat to a jaunty angle as The Nomarks will be serving up original ska and reggae with a distinctly old school feel.

 

As is often the case classic rock is well catered for on Saturday with Shepherds Pie playing an Iron Maiden tribute set at The Victoria and Broken Image being much more adventurous and covering a whole gamut of rock music from Judas Priest to The Scorpions at The Rolleston. If NWOBHM era rock isn’t your thing then why not head next door to Level 3 where Echo will be playing covers ranging from Lady Gaga to The Kaiser Chiefs.

 

Original music can be found in spades at this month’s GW Hotel Acoustic Showcase in the form of A.Koustics, Daniel Seath, Emmy Fearon, GPS, Barney Kenny, Aiden Page and Dylan Q.

And if you liked The Blue Trees earlier in the week, you may also want to catch Barney Newman at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon. His is a sound that channels the blues of the Mississippi shoreline and blends in the warm folk tones of the likes of John Martyn to make for a wonderfully traditional roots guitar sound.

 

The town may be sorted for rock covers but if you want to know where the genre is heading then The Victoria is the place to be on Monday as Fox and The Law (pictured) roll into town from Seattle. Part fresh faced punks, part old soul songwriters, part incendiary blues, part Sabbath-esque heaviness, this is a band who both kick-arse and cut the mustard. And as if that wasn’t enough, opening the show is The Greasy Slicks a mix of Zeppelin’s grunt and Burning Tree’s panache. Gig of the week for me and it’s a Monday!

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.