Tag Archive: ells and the southern wild


10354096_404715793024462_9220940296262886703_nYou know how people say that no big names ever come to Swindon or if they do they are some pop sensation and play in the cavernous, acoustic hell that is the Oasis? You know how people still go on about that time that (insert generic cover band name) played a half decent version of a Queens of the Stone Age song? You know how most original bands are not as good as cover bands? Well all those arguments get blown out of the water tonight as Avon plays The Victoria. Avon? Yes, Avon. Not only named after a QOTSA song but also featuring their original drummer, who also happened to be the original drummer for Kyuss, the band that spawned them. So options are go and watch a cover band on the basis that you will get to hear songs from your record collection or go and watch a guy who helped put them there. And therein lies the crux of the big debate I guess.

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10600611_722754574474721_1208207470222292011_nGuy Fawkes night is upon us so not only a time for fireworks, partying and cowering pets but also time for those online wits to roll out the old adage about him being “ the last person to enter Parliament with honest intentions”. So if your idea of honest intentions is a religious mercenary being hired by the English aristocracy to commit mass genocide then yes, spot on. So much for the political minds and rhetoric of generation X-box. Right, off the soapbox and into the mosh pit.

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1513283_506512192781069_1956845908_nA week may be a long time in politics but 10 years is certainly a long time in gig promotion and that’s how long Songs of Praise has been going. Blimey! Conceived as a way to support and promote the local original scene it has, under a revolving door of visionaries, music snobs, geeks and fantasists become one of the corner stones of original music in Swindon. Tonight it is time to celebrate that fact with a showcase of great bands and party at the Victoria and you are all invited.

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1607111_577491689022522_3860118839849066474_nI will apologize in advance for the Shuffle-centric nature of this weeks scribbling but when over 40 music acts line up to play across 3 major venues and a host of additional bars, cafes and public places, it is inevitable that it will take up most of the space. So, The Swindon Shuffle is back for it’s ninth year and it seems only a blink of an eye that I was sat in the Winners Lounge (before it’s Legendary upgrade) on a Thursday night waiting for The Unforeseen to play the first ever slot. Tempus does indeed fugit! So, the first fringe events took place last night but as of today Shuffling begins in earnest.

The Victoria has long been one of the cornerstones of The Shuffle and so it is apt that we begin there. This session is one for those with a penchant for heavier music and is headlined by a band that have had a meteoric rise over the last year or so, A Way With Words. Other alt-rock acts on the bill include All Ears Avow and the dystopian vibes of Ghost of Machines. Between these you can catch the punk onslaught that is 2 Sick Monkeys and something with more of a blues spin from The Harlers.

Baila Coffee and Vinyl has always been a cool place to hang out during the day (where do you think I am writing this?) but now with the addition of a evening drinks license they have become part of Old Town nightlife with craft ales, a well selected wine cellar and quality spirits available and they join in the festival with sets from Matilda (minus drummer Emily who is probably doing headstands on a mountain in Outer Mongolia,) young, groove driven Indie from Polar Front and the captivating and heartfelt songs of Charlie Bath.

The Victoria second contribution comes on Friday, this time with a more eclectic and intriguing bill headed by the drifting ambience and trippy grooves of Colour The Atlas (pictured). Theo Altieri provides some effortlessly cool indie-pop and Super Squarecloud will be doing what ever it is they do – I’ve been writing about their mercurial, genre-hopping music and flagrant disregard for convention for 4 years now and I still haven’t found the adequate words! The early part of the night sees the welcome return of a couple of out-of-towners, Cursor Major who prove once and for all that kookiness is next to godliness and that blend of delicacy and dynamics that is Familiars.

Within easy shuffling distance of that (hence the name) is The Castle and their first session has a bit of a blues edge to it. Although main man Ian Doeser has long been a fixture of the Shuffle as a solo player this is, I believe, the first time that the full Hamsters From Hell have graced the event, so expect the usual sweary, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy humour set to an R’n’B backdrop. And if The Hamsters are a nod to the ghost of blues past, then The Greasy Slicks are very much about the ghost of blues future; slick, incendiary deliveries and killer riffs and acting as a sign post for where the genre is going. Also on the bill are Coasters, a punk vibe injected into Americana but whose songs trade Route 66 for the M4.

Elsewhere, The Locomotive, part of the Shuffle Fringe due to it’s outlying location in relation to the main focus of events, nevertheless plays a blinder by hosting Yves, one of the front runners of the new Indie crop of local bands and at The Rolleston you can catch Beatles tribute The Pre Fab Four.

On Saturday the music starts at midday at The Central Library where various acoustic acts including Neil Mercer and Stuart Marsh can be found playing throughout the afternoon.

Saturday also sees The Beehive, the only venue to have been involved in all nine years, get involved with a folk slant to their bill. Southern Harmony bring their wonderful blend of Celtic, English and Appalachian folk to the party and Ells and The Southern Wild throw in some darker folk vibes. Plummie Racket and Nick Felix will be adding a more singer-songwriter feeling to the evening.

Up the hill at The Castle, the younger set have their moment with Balloon Ascent’s accessible indie-folk creations, the shoegaze and post-punk referencing Sahara Heights building to a night of ska, reggae and infectious dance grooves from SN Dubstation, not a band that you want to miss, believe me. At The Locomotive, The Roughnecks will be blasting out their incendiary R’n”B and old-school rock and roll to entice and astound the Fleet Street crowd.

Non-Shuffle related gigs can also be found at The Victoria with Going Underground, Strictly Dan a tribute to Steely Dan at Riffs Bar, classic rock covers at The Rolleston from Bad Obsession and all your favourite songs from a new line-up Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees The Shuffle round off at its now traditional last day party at The Beehive. A string of solo players, Mel Hughes, Tamsin Quin and Steve Leigh get things underway before Bruce St. Bridges, the socially aware, psychedelic folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice and the sonic pick’n’mix of auralcandy move things up a gear. Last year The Shudders almost destroyed the venue with their final set of the festival and they have been given the task of attempting to do the same this year with another headline slot.

If you want something to help easy you out of the festival, the perfect gentle step back into normality comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with those dapper jazz aficionados Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz.

LSA-Vol-3-Cover_1The Lazy Sunday Afternoon sessions have become a well-established part of the local circuit, having brought a wealth of new acts into town via its monthly shows. Fans of acoustic, folk and roots music are well catered for and this, their third music sampler, acts as an excellent calling card and memento of what these shows represent.

 

The 9 tracks that mix the local talent with acts that you might not have otherwise come across, begin appropriately enough with the session hosts, Mr Love & Justice. Never Know Why perfectly sums up the bands lilting west-coast influences and rippling guitars dovetailed with their  quintessentially English approach. Younger, female singer songwriters are well represented with the delicate, pastoral pop of Faye Rogers, the soulful vibes of Tamsin Quin and Charlie-Ann Bradfield’s more chart glancing, Goulding-esque Army Bird.

 

Ever the traditionalist, Ed Hanfrey’s contribution, Mimi & I, is a timeless piece of folk that would be as comfortable in a small tent at Cambridge Folk Festival as it would be in the corner of a pub any time in the last three hundred years. Beasts of Their Own by Ells and the Southern Wild takes a dark and dynamic path through the folk genre and James Daubney provides a wonderfully dexterous instrumental to round things off.

 

But it is the two bands that I am less familiar with that really caught my attention. Naomi Paget’s reflective questioning vocal forms the core of What If? By Light Falls Forward, but the music it rests on is equally as impressive, weaving wonderful layers of subtle textures. Similarly, The Orient Express conjure exotic soundscapes, referencing traditional Turkish music as much as they do Western folk and the resulting Gelevera Deresi is reminiscent of Loreena McKennitt’s world music excursions.

 

So, buy the album, go to the shows and support the great work that is being done under the banner of Lazy Sunday Afternoon in hosting some amazing local, and not so local artists.

1454601_785932734795095_2432621929046862276_nI recently found myself in a conversation with a tattooed, rock acolyte being told in no uncertain terms that heavy metal was the only genre of music that mattered and that all else failed to match up to it. Two things, however, immediately undermined his argument; firstly the fact that he was wearing a Limp Bizkit t-shirt and also the continued existence of Twisted Sister. For me the enjoyment of music comes from having a broad-minded approach to it. If you are a foodie, then surely you frequently sample many styles of cuisine, if you like travelling then your destinations are varied and many. Therefore if music has an important place in your life then is it not best to experience all of its many facets? My suggestion that he went home and listened to some Marvin Gaye was met with a derisory snort… his loss I guess. This weeks offerings are indeed varied and many, so if you like music in all its forms you have a treat of a week coming up.

 

Blues is the order of tonight. Having interviewed Elles Bailey (pictured) recently at an “in session” show on a local radio station, I already know what an incredible talent she is, the rest of you will have to head up to The Beehive to check out her sultry blues delivered with a sensuous, husky vocal and an energetic stage presence. A more funky take on the genre can be found in the top bar of The Victoria as Jim Blair breaks out his trademark slide blues and whiskey cracked vocal.

 

Friday actually continues in a similar vein with The Husky Tones at The Rolleston. This raw and energetic band mix up their own vibrant, electric guitar driven compositions with standards from some of the genres greats. At The Victoria a tribute to one of the finest southern blues acts can be found in the shape of The ZZ Tops.

 

Saturday is where things get a lot more eclectic but again a clash of bookings means that fans of the distinctive Caribbean sound will have to make a choice. At The Victoria, the Shocks of Mighty Reggae Club Night features Sidewalk Doctors, London’s finest purveyors of Rocksteady, that brief but breezy interlude that provided the link between the existing ska sound and the evolving reggae genre. It’s also the sound at the heart of support band The Erin Bardwell Collective’s music.

 

Ska and Rocksteady can  be found at The Rolleston to as Boy le Monti also revel in that glorious 60’s vibe, so expect off-beat, staccato guitars, pulsing basslines and glorious blasts of brass. Honestly, they are like busses, you wait ages for one to come along and then three show up at once. Actually a similar thing was overheard at the recent Bruce Springsteen look-alike competition. (He’s called The Boss…..think about it…no, well please yourself it made me laugh anyway.)

 

Of interest to the gig goers at the two shows I have just mentioned, The MECA have a night of DJ’s spinning Northern Soul and Motown, going on until 2am so you know where to go for the after party.

 

Imagine Vic Reeves leading a band. Okay, forget that just head up to The Beehive on Saturday and catch Bill Smarme (king of the social club crooners, love guru, connoisseur of fine wines and marmalades and building contractor) and his band The Business. I will say no more, but do catch them.

 

Cover band fans can catch all their favourite tunes from Penfold who celebrate their birthday bash out at Riffs Bar, those with a penchant for the heavier sounds should head to The Swiss Chalet and tuck into a bit of Shepherds Pie.

 

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive features the pop vibes of James Cottriall, a man who won the Austrian version of The Voice in 2009. Now I know that sounds like me setting up a joke and you are waiting for a witty punchline, but in this case it happens to be true.

 

And finally Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey is the place to find Ells and The Southern Wild a wonderful trio who weave folk, pop and rock together to deliver delicate, accessible and memorable songs.

SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186Our rather silly Christmas show for your delectation and bemusement.

This week we we feature chainsaws, stunt nuns, naked alligator wrestling we have an interview with an educated turkey, a nuclear powered jukebox, and a live link up with the Rev. Cuthbert Botticough. Music from AK Poets, Bateleurs, Nudy Bronque, David Celia, George Wilding, Port Erin, Ethemia, The Automaniacs, Josie and the Outlaw and Ells and the Southern Wild,

Click Here

 

1526996_516022715159615_454140894_nI’m not one for hero worship, not in music at any rate. Musicians are just normal people – gifted, imaginative, talented, some times even genius but human none the less. The one exception I do make is for a man born this day in 1952 and who made his music under the name Joe Strummer. As a member of The Clash he helped defined not only what punk music could be but also what it could evolve into once the revolution had run it’s short course. As a member of The Mescaleros he mixed rockabilly, punk, ska and world music flavours to great effect but it is his humanity that I find myself drawn to. Even at the height of his fame, he epitomised the man in the street and seemed genuinely concerned about civil rights, the environment and encouraging new musical growth which still continues via his legacy, Strummerville. You can keep your musical genius; give me the flawed but charismatic anarchist any day.

 

Okay, I may be biased about Songs of Praise nights at The Victoria, but I will say that tonight’s show is the first of a run of gigs that is bringing in some great out of town acts, mainly because they booked every local act they know to put The Shuffle together. That said, having seen the diary, fans of original music are in for a real treat and for a short while at least Thursday is the new Saturday. Tonight for example you can catch Dirty 6 at their first Swindon show, an upbeat and infectious outfit who effortlessly weave a wide range of music genres into a tapestry of unique, swirling, danceable indie anthems. Taking the middle slot is Basingstoke quintet Flashfire (pictured)s who have recently recorded their debut album in California with Brian Wheat of Tesla. But this is no MTV rock outfit, all I will say is be sure to wear your dancing trousers you are going to need them. Opening up are new kids on the local block Sahara Heights.

 

Out at Riffs Bar is a musical tribute to one of the stalwarts of the folk and acoustic scene Terry Hunt who sadly passed away in June. Helping to remembering him on what would have been his 65th birthday will be Ells and The Southern Wild, Corky, Dylan Q. his regular musical partner J.C. Leonard, Sean and Daryl from Bateleurs and a headline slot from Missin’ Rosie.

 

Friday sees a Swindon ex-pat return to play his first ever hometown gig since leaving these shores over 30 years ago. Jittery Jack brings his brand of 50’s soaked rockabilly to The Victoria with support from home-grown rock ‘n’ roll sensations Josie and The Outlaw.

 

At The Rolleston the “head boy of the new blues breed” according to Classic Rock Magazine, will be channelling the feel and vibe of the likes of Robin Trower, Buddy Guy and Rory Gallagher. So catch Laurence Jones in full band mode before he is whisked off to superstardom.

 

Meanwhile, out at Riffs Bar the man with the iron tonsils, Steve Grimmett is having a birthday bash. Normally found fronting Grim Reaper, Steve will be fronting his other band, Soundbites and treating you all to a nice slice of classic rock covers. Support comes from far too young and far too talented metallers Twisted State of Mind.

 

Saturday is the day of rock…it’s official. Classic rock covers from Broken Image at the Swiss Chalet on Saturday covering everything from AC/DC and Black Sabbath to Iron Maiden and Dio whilst at The Rolleston Priest Unleashed will be covering everything from Judas Priest to…well, that’s it really. For something a bit different, but admittedly not terribly different, you can catch a tribute to The Doors at The Victoria.

 

On Sunday at The Rolleston you can catch The Great Nothing playing retro to contemporary rock covers. (Anyone see a theme developing here?) If you are looking for something original musically, then head for The Big Sunday Funday at Riffs Bar in conjunction with Swindon 105.5 community radio station. Along with stalls, a barbeque and lots of stuff for the kids you can catch music from Jimmy Moore, Charlie Anne Bradfield and those Latino Jazz men Gilmore and Jaz. But it’s not just original acoustic music as you get a second chance to catch Soundbites play classic rock standards and Riffs Travelling Dance Band cover the glam, funk and disco hits of yesteryear.

10462732_578185338961043_2884624458629214826_nMaybe this is the calm before the storm; I guess a week sandwiched between two great local music festivals, the recent Stratton Stroll and the imminent Swindon Shuffle is going to be a bit light on gigs. So it’s all about quality and not quantity and therefore perfect timing to have one of the most interesting bands of the festival circuit roll into town, the wonderfully named Formidable Vegetable Sound System (pictured). Hailing from Melbourne, Australia and featuring the familiar face of frequent musical visitor Mal Webb, this band combine the vintage sounds of the speakeasy, brazen brass and wonky ukulele sounds with the principles of permaculture, into what they describe as ecological electro swing. A very niche market yes, but you have to admire a band who put out a whole album on the subject of sustainability but which doesn’t require you to buy a djembe, tie die a shirt and knit your own yogurt. Catch this amazing band at The Beehive tonight.

 

Those looking for a more rock and roll experience will find what they need at The Victoria with The Brompton Mix. Mentored and managed by Rick Buckler from The Jam, which probably tells you a lot about their sound and style, this Woking four-piece mix up all the best bits of punk and rhythm ‘n’ blues; from The Clash to The Stones to Elvis and everything in between. Local support comes in the shape of Burnthru.

 

Fans of acoustic music have a treat waiting for them at The Regent with their regular Acoustic Circus which this month features Sumita Mujumdar and her magical blend of poetic dream pop, the wit and wisdom of Nick Felix and Billyjon and the Brosephs.

 

Elsewhere you can catch a tribute to the mercurial music of David Bowie at The Victoria and The Rolleston has rhythm ‘n’ blues standards with Shades of Blue.

 

If you are into your punk, then you have a choice of gigs to be at on Saturday as two sets of great bands are to be found in town. Healthy competition? Bad planning? I don’t know but either way there is more punk on offer than you can shake an eighteen-hole Doc Martin Boot at.

 

At The Victoria first generation punks 999 deliver their high energy, highly infections, no nonsense, snarling melodies and remind us why they have lasted so long. Support comes courtesy of a rare reunion from psychedelic, deranged, swamp-fuzz outfit, The Chaos Brothers. Just when you thought that it was safe to go out….

 

The other punk serving suggestion can be found at The Rolleston in the form of 2-piece legends, 2 Sick Monkeys; incendiary punk with a between song banter to match, circuit stalwarts 50 Shades of Punk and the sharp-edged, Strength In Blunders who always sound as if they should be hanging around at CBGB’s in about 1978…New York punk the day before it evolves into New Wave.

 

Reggae and ska fans also have a couple of options. Vintage ska and rocksteady can be had live at The New Inn as The Erin Bardwell Collective play their Caribbean Day festivities and The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning some great music at The Beehive. If you prefer a musical nostalgia trip then Going Underground will be playing post-punk, ska and mod at The Swiss Chalet.

 

The big event for Sunday is a fundraiser at The Victoria. Kit Off For Cancer is an all day fundraiser with events and activities, a raffle and music from Banjovi, the areas number one banjo ensemble.

 

At The Bandstand in The Town Gardens, Lazy Sunday Afternoon features Ells Ponting and her new musical vehicle, The Southern Wild the amazing young talent that is Rory Evans, plus your regular hosts Mr Love and Justice. Go and work on your tan and listen to some great music.

 

Talking of great music, if you haven’t yet managed to take in a show by Jim Reynolds then do so at The Beehive also on Sunday, a wonderful blend of

vintage blues, ragtime, music hall and folk, not to mention an amazing musician.

 

Finally, if classic blues-rock is your thing than spend the last evening of the weekend at The White Hart in Wroughton with The Lewis Creaven Band providing incendiary blues and righteous, not to mention riotous rock.

10007472_597937763635813_1859564634_nI was fishing around in a box of vinyl albums I found in the attic that hailed from a time when people still thought that digital watches were a neat idea and I came across a load of those ghastly “ Now That’s What I Call Music…” compilation albums.  It struck me that the idea of a compilation album is a weird concept, one that sees a cheek by jowl mix of musicians who would not normally bother to make eye contact if they were sitting at the same table.  It also made me think about what if there was such a thing of a compilation novel.  The best bits of literature presented as a complete work.

 

It might be set in Second World War Greece when an Italian, mandolin playing artillery captain wakes up to find that he has turned into a beetle. Mrs Bennet then decides that he is no longer a suitable husband for Little Nell and in revenge for this slight he sets fire to the library of Gormenghast castle.  Heathcliff cries out “The horror, the horror” the White Whale drags Frodo under the water as he slowly comes to a stark realisation. He loved Big Brother. Have I just created a new literary concept? Hopefully not.

 

Anyway enough nonsense and cut to the chase. Those of you who missed out on Womad and the chance to catch Tibetan punk bands, Colombian jazz fusion out fits, Nepalese Hip-Hop crews and of course Billy Bragg (probably) can console yourselves with a couple of local festivals featuring bands with more pronounceable names.

 

Firstly running Friday to Sunday, Festival on The Farm takes place in the grounds of Purton House Organics and features a great mix of covers and original music, solo artists and full bands and everything from funky soul to heavy rock. Alternatively, on Saturday, The Stratton Stroll has its usual musical meander around the pubs of that area. 6 venues, twenty artists, one great day. In both cases check the website for times and line ups, there is far too many for me to detail here but rest assured there is something for everyone. I suppose festivals are a bit like compilation albums or are they boxed sets…sorry, I won’t start that again.

 

So, back in the regular haunts, there is still a lot of great music to be had. Two-piece neo-grunge outfit, Boss Cloth (pictured) have an e.p. launch tonight at The Victoria where they are joined by high-energy doom bass and drums outfit Skin Horse (see the connection yet?) Opening the night is Sea Mammal, a swirling, experimental duo (how about now?) from the people who brought you Babies vs. Rabies.

 

The other end of the spectrum is being catered for at The Beehive with Skins and Strings who play wonderful blends of table drum beats and pastoral acoustic guitar lines.

 

On Friday, The Victoria hosts its regular Bands and Burlesque nights with music from old school rock and rollers Josie and The Outlaw and at The Beehive it’s Teddy White Lite, (their spelling not mine, damned this creeping Americanisation of our language) all the usual best of blues, beats and boogie from yesteryear presented as an acoustic set. At The Rolleston, Lily B plays acoustic covers from Joni Mitchel to Aerosmith and from K T Tunstall to Pink.

 

If the idea of two, top of their game, international psychobilly bands gets your musical juices flowing then The Rolleston on Saturday is the place to be. Hailing from Hamilton New Zealand and London, respectively, The Doppelgangers and The Moonshine Stalkers both have a reputation for wild, energetic shows that fuse old time rockabilly with punk sensibilities.

 

Acoustic music is provided in both quantity and quality as The GW Acoustic session celebrates its first birthday. Playing the night is Ells and The Southern Wild, Charlie Ann, Jimmy Moore, The Wires, Andrew Paul Davis and Who Cares? Also on offer is a tribute to U2 at The Victoria.

 

Rounding the musical working week off on Wednesday is Billy Bingham at the Roaring Donkey; delicate threads of acoustic guitar over laid with heartfelt, honest lyrics, perfect music for a warm summer evening.