Tag Archive: erin bardwell collective (the)


maxresdefault.jpgT. S. Eliot wanted us to believe that April is the cruelest month but then he was never spotted down the front of a gig, lost in the rapture that only comes from experiencing a good live band. Had he done so he might have cheered up a bit and written naughty limericks rather than long, epic poems about cultural depression. Anyway, enough about him and on with the recommendations…

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Kirk-Brandon-aKoustiK-Promo2016.jpgNothing ever happens in this town. It must be true, after all you hear it said over and over again. Though it is difficult to justify such a statement as I prepare to list over 20 different gigs in the space of under a week. So with no further ado…

Tonight, The Victoria plays host to a slew of indie bands headed by chaps of the moment Getrz. This young musical gang weave punk swagger through sharp indie cool and they are joined by No Hot Ashes’ eclectic and wide-ranging sonics, the cinematic and sweeping sounds of We Are Parkas, and Freakouts kick the night off in explosive fashion.

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22886264_10155118286401045_5987135782505495696_nCertain genres of music are, quite stereotypically, associated with certain themes. Punk and reggae with political issues, rock with escapist high drama, folk with history and traditions and ska, and its UK offspring two-tone, often with social commentary, civil rights and unity. So gathering the great and good of ska, rocksteady and reggae to record a series of songs with a thread of local history and trains at its heart does seem like a unique step.

But Swindon, this is Swindon as they say, and the town’s industrial past and railway history pervades every back street and building, park bench and street name, its legacy hangs in the air, so it is only natural that it should find its way into an album driven by local stalwarts The Erin Bardwell Collective. I don’t want to give the impression that this is some sort of trainspotters paradise, it is cleverer than that, much more wide-ranging and covers myriad subjects but the local connection is strong. Songs such as Night Bus to Highworth and Edith New, about the town’s suffragette hero, make obvious connections, but woven deeper into the album are threads which work in local history, the age-old perceived battle between the pre-industrial Old Town and the more recent downtown, plus personal memories and other regional connections, all of which give the album a solid sense of place.

As always the music is a subtle and supple blend of light and accessible rocksteady grooves and jaunty ska vibes, reggae resonances and retro echoes, 60’s infused music made over for a modern audience. It also features an impressive cast of musicians from not only the grassroots reggae and ska scene but also some top names such as The Selecter’s Neol Davis and Pat Powell from the Melbourne Ska Orchestra, a whole host of Pop-A-Top label’s go to players, a handful of Skansters and a host of other top musicians.

There is plenty to love about this album, even if the local references pass you by, the songs more than stand on their own two feet without that being the main feature, of course they do, look at who is involved. You also have to admire the man at the heart of the album, Erin Bardwell, someone who for years now has just got on with quietly and brilliantly creating, playing and via the aforementioned label, releasing wholly original music infused with the past sounds he has always loved. But this is anything but a rose-tinted nostalgia fest, this is the sound of a torch being carried forward into a bright future. On the strength of this wonderful collection, not to mention the string of previous releases, the genre is in very safe hands indeed.

13255980_496504200558302_4254652198824349989_nSome nice little global offerings start the musical week, firstly at The Beehive, a venue whose size belies its importance to the worldwide, underground touring community. Within its art and literary decked walls I have witnessed Nashville Americana, Australian tribal rave, New Zealand anti-folk, Scandiwegian jazz-folk dark, indie rock from Germany, Californian acid-pop and everything in between. Tonight you can catch 2-piece musical hobos, Hymn For Her, itinerant stateside wanderers who mix backwoods country blues with desert rock psychedelia into what they describe as “Hell’s Angels meets The Amish.”

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11040172_827700267312775_341274658678156230_nThirty-one years ago today, one of the biggest and most misrepresented albums in history was released; Springsteen’s Born in The USA. Although on the surface the title track seems to be a gung-ho anthem to the American dream, ironically misappropriated by Reagan’s Republican party, it is actually an indictment of American foreign policy and deals with the disillusionment and heartache of a returning Vietnam veteran trying to fit into a society that has rejected him. It was the song that truly made The Boss a global phenomena but if this is your only point of contact with his music I would urge you to delve into his earlier back catalogue for a series of albums about small town hustlers, blue collar scepticism, shattered dreams and the quest for a better life.

But, if your musical slant is one for the big anthemic rock sound, tonight’s Songs of Praise show at The Victoria has everything you need in the guise of Ghost of Machines (pictured). Currently pushing their second single, Fall of Empires, this local four piece meld a progressive edge with sky-scraping, dystopian alt-rock and have the image and delivery to back it up. Joining them is the stoner rock meets swamp blues of Armchair Committee and the rampant melodicism of Kernow’s finest, Even Nine.

Seemingly always the venue thinking furthest outside the box, The Beehive, brings you the gloriously named Garance Et Les Mitochondries who seem to need to invent their own unique labels to describe themselves, such as tramp-jazz, progressive gypsy and dirty tango and who sound like the music to a long lost fairground ride or an otherworldly cabaret act. I urge you to check these guys out.

Friday shows the lack of communication that hampers the cause of music in this town as two very similar bands vie for the same slice of the audience. At The Queens Tap, The Erin Bardwell Collective will be blending reggae, ska and rocksteady into a wonderful celebration of Jamaica’s musical heritage via original compositions. Train To Skaville at The Rolleston will be covering the same territory via all of the iconic songs from those genres. One audience into two bands doesn’t go, or doesn’t go far at least!

Remember a time before mainstream music became the bastion of auto-tuners, dance routines and a fast track to TV panel show fame? Well, you can re-live such an era at The Arts Centre tonight with the still gorgeous Judie Tzuke and her incredible vocal talents. (If anyone uses the term “poor mans Stevie Nicks they will have me to deal with!)

There are more rustic, rootsy revelations at The Beehive with State of Undress, a “fiddlesome” band who run the gamut of folk music from mellow and thought provoking to shamelessly riotous and do so with passion and a theatrical bent. Rorke’s Drift will be treating The Victoria to a night of classic rock from AC/DC to ZZ Top.

On Saturday the problem of more careful programing raises it’s head again as Broken Image at The Rolleson and Whole Lotta DC at The Victoria will be splitting the classic rock audience. The former play everything from AC/DC to Iron Maiden and the latter AC/DC to….well, that’s it; just AC/DC really, the name sort of gives it away I suppose.

58 Shakes bring a mix of standards and originals to The Queens Tap, specialising in 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, swing, surf and pop and guaranteed to have all you “hep” cats getting down, flipping your lids, cutting a rug and other such vintage phrases…Daddy-o! Meanwhile Karl Brookes will be taking a more acoustic indie-pop route up at The Castle.

On Monday The Academy of Music and Sound students will be raising money over at Riffs Bar for The Donkey Sanctuary charity with a night of live music that goes under the puntastic title of Slam-Donk!

And finally, talking of Donkeys, Mark Chilvers brings his wonderful blend of folk and acoustic pop to The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. (I wasn’t implying Mark was a donkey!)

11046864_1103279833031869_8996770204076538641_nI was reading yet another online article about how “Guitar Music is Dead” (again!) and whilst it made some interesting points, such as how the live music market is shored up with heritage acts and the rise of The Dark Lord Cowell is cited as being responsible for a large amount of the nails in its coffin, I think that they are missing a very big point. All these debates, along with the “rock is dead, “ dance is dead” ones are playing into the hands of those pigeon-holers, the label-ists, people who need to line up behind media defined genres.

We may be living in days when the charts are just a maths exercise for the music industry and radio 1 just caters for 9 year olds but why not just revel in the cacophony and musical gene-splicing of the post-genre world. Does it really matter if music is made on a guitar, synth, Jews-harp or banjolele? That it is Tibetan jazz, Icelandic dubstep or Tuareg blues? Enjoy the fractious, splintered nature of the modern musical landscape, support and explore the new and creative, and most of all, don’t be tribal or self-conscious in your quest. Here endeth the lesson!

And if you are looking for something to shake up any tired perceptions of what music is, then a trip to The Beehive tonight might be the answer. Zetan Spore creates music that warps full on psytrance, driving psychedelia, searing guitars and tribal beats into waves of euphoric energy and alien dance music. Try finding a label for that one. Some easier tags can be placed on the music at The Victoria with the brilliant power-pop-punk of Brawlers currently touring their debut album “ Romantic Errors of Our Youth,” they are joined by Max Raptor and Brazilian stoner-punks Water Rats.

On Friday, The Rolleston plays host to The Killertones who pay tribute to the songs of the ska two-tone revival years and at Riffs Bar a wider range of styles and time frames can be appreciated with Vice Versa but it is at The Victoria that something pretty unique takes place. On paper The Courtesans could seem to be just another rock band playing on the sexuality of the all female line up. What they actually are is a musical blend of trippy doom-pop, gothic overtones, anthemic rock deliveries and an image that lives up to their name; dark, sensual, enticing, dangerous and alluring, but never blatant. Not just your run of the mill rock band.

Shocks of Might has its regular night at The Victoria on Saturday and fans of ska and rocksteady will not want to miss this one. Intensified act as a bastion of authenticity for the Jamaican sounds they work with, not in an anti-progress sort of way but just so that the pure roots of the genre are available for fans to revel in. Joining them are local stalwarts The Erin Bardwell Collective who take a similar approach to the genre.

At The Castle, Coasters offer up a fantastic mix of punk, rock and Americana all blended into hi-octane yet perfectly formed songs, think of an M4 corridor Gaslight Anthem and you get the idea. Innes Sibun treats The Rolleston to some incendiary electric blues that rocks, boogies and soothes the audience in equal measure and at The Wheatsheaf in Old Town, Poplar Jake and The Electric Delta Revue take a more old-school slant on the genre, stripped back slide guitar that takes you right back to the banks of The Mississippi.

Rock fans are well catered for as the weekend comes to an end. On Sunday Patriot Rebel bring the alt-rock noise to The Victoria, but it is support Eva Plays Dead that I am most excited about. Having witnessed them when they were still called Bury The Ladybird I can assure you that fans of big, classic rock riffs, driving punk energy and an attitude fuelled stage swagger are in for a treat. 24 hours on at the same venue, Decade promise a no less impressive pop punk show aided by Scouts and All Ears Avow.

Something truly unique can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with Grant Sharkey (pictured). His act is a blend of humorous songs, surreal stand up interludes, up-right bass experimentation and leftfield social commentary. Try finding a genre to fit that into?

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.

10527280_10152330974168207_4463687671351127442_nThere is quite a bit to get through this week so I will just get right to it without the usual pre-amble.

 

Starting, as usual, at The Victoria tonight, and a great alt-rock line up that marks the welcome return of SkyBurnsRed. A band known for their ability to mix heavy guitar lines and pounding backbeats with the deftness of classical strings and subtle dynamics, this much acclaimed quartet make a worthy headline. Joining them are the richly textured mix of math rock meets grunge meets melody of Dead Royalties and the dark and heavy psychedelic trip that is Black Elephant.

 

If you prefer your music aged to perfection then you may want to catch Kent DuChaine at The Beehive. Authentic delta blues, channelling the long forgotten ghosts of the genre and played on a 1934 National steel guitar, you can almost smell the mint julep and hear the screen door slamming!

 

If you are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary on Friday then you should check out the Swindon Young Singer/Songwriter Showcase being held at Commonweal School, a chance to support the budding talent of the future.

 

All sorts of groovy is taking place elsewhere. At The Rolleston you can indulge in your love of all things vintage reggae, rocksteady and sixties ska with The Erin Bardwell Collective and if you haven’t secured yourself a copy of their excellent new album, Our Time, then this would be the perfect opportunity to do so. Dancing shoes will also be required if you venture up to The Victoria as Felix and The Funk will be setting out a musical stall of funk, soul, pop, dance and disco floor fillers. The Swiss Chalet offer something a bit more leftfield, psychobilly to be exact, a soundclash of rockabilly and punk, ska and old school rock and roll, courtesy of The Corsairs. A different kind of footwear is required if you go to The MECA as they are running their ever popular roller disco.

 

Saturday has a couple of nice selections for those of a heavy rock persuasion, one of which, Soulmover, is a brand new outfit who aim to meld the inherent weirdness of Zappa, the soulful undercurrent of Cream and the drive and delivery of Led Zeppelin. They can be found out at Riffs Bar. At Level 3 more familiar sounds can be found as Dirty/DC play tribute to the seminal Aussie rockers AC/DC. Punk and new wave sounds are also being paid homage to firstly at The Victoria with Absolute Blondie and also at The Swiss Chalet as Distant Echo revive the greatness of The Jam.

 

Other offerings are The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s who will be spinning iconic ska and reggae tunes at The Beehive and The Teddy White Band at The Rolleston. This long established and ever evolving quintet play upbeat r’n’b, blues, beat and boogie from the 40’s to the 60’s fronted by a brilliant vocal contrast between Anish’s soaring clarity and Pete’s Waitsian, demonic deliveries. Highly recommended.

 

The Castle provides the setting for a rare outing by Black Cat, a band that even I, as someone who writes about music on a daily basis have trouble trying to describe succinctly, but who may just be Swindon’s answer to The Fall. …or possibly Black Lace! You will just have to go along and make your own mind up.

 

With the return of The Shudders (pictured) frontman from his global travels, the band are back out in gigging mode and you can find them playing The Beehive, a venue that they almost destroyed as the final act of last years Swindon Shuffle Festival, at the Sunday afternoon session. Blending lo-fi indie, country and rock into very melodic and instantly accessible creations plus some seriously good vocal harmonies and infectious grooves, this will be the perfect way to round off the weekend.

 

And, very briefly, two more for you diary. On Monday you will find the much-lauded Rumours of Fleetwood Mac at The Wyvern Theatre and on Wednesday Drew Bryant brings his elemental pop folk to The Roaring Donkey.

10423356_10152478802122338_5198735090019836256_n

1238987_718461988170775_889455153_nIt doesn’t seem too far back that I was using words like Autumnal and talking about nights starting to draw in or even discussing various summer music festival options and describing cool music to go with warm evenings. Now in what would seem just a blink of an eye we arrive at the towns Christmas lights switch on celebrations. Where has the year gone?

 

Yes, tonight you can catch all of the various festivities in Wharf Green …or Woof Green as it should be known, (just trying out my tabloid journalism techniques there) as Ashleigh and her dog Pudsey will be performing and pushing the plunger to illuminate the town with lights and fireworks. Also on offer is an Aerial Hoop performance from Emily Smith, a video message from Nigel Havers plus Swindon Dance, The Brunel Elves and Heart FM presenters Ben and Kirsten. All of which starts at 6.30.

 

Fans of rock are going to be well catered for by The Victoria in a number of forms this weekend starting tonight with an explosive Songs of Praise line up. The St Pierre Snake Invasion (pictured) has built up quite a reputation on the regional circuit and they headline tonight in a riot of energy, sarcasm and attitude channelled through a relentless flow of garage rock and punk tirades. Also recently turning a few heads alt-rock two piece Blindman’s Bastion who channel vibrant electric blues and classic rock vibes take the middle slot. Opening the show is GagReflex who have been concisely described as a two headed punk rock machine – small enough to fit in a car; big enough to take your face clean off. Sounds ominous!

 

More intricate sounds can be found at The Beehive as The John Langan Band bring their tour to town. Traditional folk vibes are re-packaged as high energy, slightly unhinged and musically extravagant pieces and launched on the audience with a wilfully punk abandonment. Other acoustic sounds come from AK-Poets (unplugged,) this stripped back presentation of their music can be found at The Wheatsheaf in Old Town, all the energy, songcraft and stage presence in a slightly less in your face package. If an old school fifties rock and roll vibe is your sort of thing then head to 20 At The Kings for the first hometown show from 58 Shakes.

 

Friday is going to act as a bit of a conduit for musical time travel. The Victoria has Spanish 80’s metalers Stop Stop, so expect the hair to be as big as the guitar riffs and the bands look to be as glammed up and as brash as the music. Support comes from a rare appearance of the beast that is known as Vinyl Matt. If the idea of Steel Panther warms the cockles of your…err, cockles, then this is the show for you.

 

Electric blues standards can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of Barrelhouse. Influenced by the golden age of Chicago and early British blues scenes, they put a hard-edged spin on the genre and if their pedigree is in any doubt bear in mind that the man behind the kit is none other than former Ataraxis Vibration beat keeper Dave Growcott. More blues can be found at The Beehive, this time in the form of elegant slide playing from The Kevin Brown Trio. Also doing some retrospective referencing is London Calling who pay tribute to The Clash at Level 3.

 

Saturday offers the regular covers and tribute options with the music of AC/DC at The Victoria and Blondie at Riffs Bar. At The Swiss Chalet you can experience a range of covers from The Jam to The Foo Fighters with Happy Accident. Original serving suggestions come from two of the towns’ best-loved bands. The Erin Bardwell Collective play their trade mark retro edged reggae, ska and rocksteady at The Rolleston and The Hamsters From Hell inflict their raw and riotous rhythm and blues on The Queens Tap.

 

Last mentions come for The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday as Songs of Praise (unplugged) has the funky, rappy, poppy, soulful acoustica of A.Koustiks.