Tag Archive: going underground


thSome weeks things just seem to fall into place and the local music diary features four…yes, four, amazing events as well as the usual selection of regular gigs. So without further ado…

 

Sheer Music is one of the leading lights of music promotion in Wiltshire. Under the leadership of that awfully nice chap Kieran Moore, they have brought acts such as Frank Turner, Foals, Ben Marwood, Gnarwolves and many more to a venue near you and tonight they celebrate 10 years in the game with a show at Level 3. Headliners are the aptly named Decade (I see what you did there) a band who show you what pop-punk can do once it stops sniggering at it’s own in-jokes and graduates from college. Their songs are infectious and bouncy and their stage show is one long adrenaline rush. Also on the bill are Light You Up, With Ghosts and Hey Vanity.

 

If that isn’t your musical cup of tea then why not try some chilled harmonies, dreamy acoustica and ambient folk. Heading an all female line up, The Cadbury Sisters bring their tour to Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Theirs is a half forgotten dream world that evokes childhood memory, otherworldly harmonies mixing the fragile and fey with darker themes, Swallows and Amazons meets The Wickerman perhaps. Adding to the nature of the night is the delicate songs of Faye Rogers and a rare outing for the sublime Emily Sykes.

 

If blues is more your thing then head to The Beehive for Georgia guitarist Kent DuChaine a player who authentically delivers the spirit of all those wonderful old bluesmen from Robert Johnson to Son House and all three Kings – BB, Albert and Freddie!

 

A real melding of artistic disciplines can be found at New College on Friday as Chicago poet, Don Share, is joined on stage by local live musicians as part of the Swindon Festival of Poetry. In this unique and improvised show, Don is joined by Barry Andrews, Jon Bucket, Brendan Hamley and Catherine Shrubshall. Barry sums it up best when he explains “(Don) gets off the plane, steps on stage and then what happens, happens. And it will never exist in that way again.”

 

More conventional but no less exciting shows also can be found around town. The Rolleston plays host to funky, lap steel, blues maestros HipRoute with support from Stone Donkey Pilots. Out at Riffs Bar the Acoustic Session features the dexterous acoustic guitar work and subtle lyrical touch of David Waddington but if you want something a bit more loud and shouty then head to The Victoria for Slam Cartel, a band who distil the essence of rock ‘n’roll in the same why that bands such as The Cult and The Four Horsemen did in their heyday. Joining them are local sleaze-metallers The Damned and The Dirty.

 

And if you like the sound of that gig, you are going to love this one. On Saturday Level 3 opens its doors for the Swindon Alternative Festival Volume 3, a celebration of the best of local rock, punk, grunge, hardcore and metal. It’s an all-dayer and there is too much going on to mention all the bands but a few that caught my eye are Sleep inertia, SkyBurnsRed and headliners Skreamer, but check out the event page on Facebook for the full details.

 

The last of the big events to get a mention this week and one that will have all you proggies champing at the bit is Pendragon’s Megadaze (pictured) event at Riffs Bar. This two-day event includes a first hearing of the new album, Men Who Climb Mountains, 2 unique Pendragon live shows, food, quizzes and a chance to hang out with band and fans alike. A crucial date for all prog-rock diary’s.

 

Elsewhere you can catch a Dire Straights tribute at The Victoria or Going Underground paying tribute to post-punk, ska and mod classics at The Rolleston.

 

The Moonrakers is the place to be on Sunday as The AK-Poets play a stripped down, early evening session. All the usual great song writing and live presence but presented in a manner more fitting for the Sabbath day.

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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.

206225_10151457119876051_1566407449_nSo all of the big events of the summer are over. Wimbledon is now no more than a faint whiff of barley water and Glastonbury, which now seems to host every British citizen who owns a guitar, is just a talking point around the water cooler of insurance firms the length and breadth of the Home Counties. Even the World Cup is done and dusted and Brazilians everywhere are already denying it ever took place whilst assiduously avoiding buying German produce.  You have all watched the boxed set of Breaking Bad five times and it is least another month before shops start stocking up with their Christmas gift range, so what do we do now? Start going to local gigs again that’s what.

 

Unlike the acts at Glasto (ironic use of cringeworthy hipster slag) local gigs are good for the environment; the musical produce is locally sourced and puts money directly back into the local community. Plus you don’t risk the danger of having to watch Mumford and Sons!

 

What you can watch tonight, however, are three top acts at Songs of Praise at The Victoria. Headliner Theo Altieri does a neat line in indie-pop that channels a classic song writing tradition from early Beatles, through The Kinks, Paul Weller and is likely to soon be giving the Buggs and Sheerans of this world a run for their money.  Support comes from The Greasy Slicks best described as the soundtrack to a Bourbon soaked bar brawl, mixing slick and raucous blues grooves, authenticity and energy in equal measure. Opening the night are The Automanics a blend of warped swamp riffs, cosmic workouts, psychedelic interludes proggy structures and much more besides.

 

A stalwart of the acoustic music circuit is Ron Trueman Border who delivers instantly accessible songs with lyrical resonance and dexterous musical lines. He is at The Beehive.

 

The talking point for a few weeks now has been the final Tides of Change show at Level 3.  Over the past few years the band has developed into a cornerstone of the alt-rock scene and this show is to act as their swansong and wrap party all in one.  Also helping them to go out in style are the slick and forceful tones of All Ears Avow, elegant post-rock from Liberto Wolf and pop punk from Highly Personal who take the place of the previously billed Natures. Sounds like a top night for rock fans. Meanwhile upstairs at The Rolleston, Humdinger plays rock and pop covers.

 

Rock is also on the menu at The Victoria, this time of the drunken pub R’n’B variety with The Hamsters from Hell. Think Dr Feelgood after four-day bender. Think Kilburn and The High Roads stuck in traffic along Fleming Way. Actually don’t think, just drink, dance, fall over and join the party.

 

A rival party with a nautical theme…piratical even, takes place at The Beehive with the arrival of Calico Jack to these waters.  These festival favourites mix woe and wonderment, twisted tales, off kilter folk music, klezmer vibes, circus tomfoolery and general acoustic rowdiness. Not only great music but guaranteed to have you grinning from buccaneer to ear. (gedit?)

 

Saturday offers a couple of tributes. If you want to hear the music of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers then The Victoria is the place to be and head out to Riffs Bar if The Police are more your sort of thing. Going Underground at The Rolleston offer a range of post punk, ska and mod covers.

 

Winning the award for most air miles earned to get to a gig are The Very Most (pictured)who come all the way from Boise, Idaho to play The Victoria on Tuesday. A rich tapestry of post punk influences, the innocence of Belle and Sebastian and the lush Beach Boys vocal textures, this is a real must see band who probably won’t pass by this way again for a while. On tour with them is Glasgow’s The Yakuri Cable who mix synth-pop with indie guitar to wonderful effect. Opening the show is King in Mirrors who haven’t come very far at all.

1394432_639689642740457_554281832_nAnother quiet week in the Grand Duchy of Swindon, I guess the good weather means that many people are opting for back garden barbeques or at least the back garden of a pub rather than being confined to dark, sweaty, side rooms to watch bands play. Good news for those who want to work on their tan: bad news for working bands. Bad news for Goths for that matter.  You have to feel sorry for the old school goth in this weather… not the modern, nu-metal evolved contemporary goth who still thinks that Marilyn Manson and The Crow is the alpha and omega of the genre. I’m talking about the early eighties survivors. The ones in DMs and drainpipe jeans, Interview with a Vampire style frilly white shirt, eyeliner and Max Factor Porcelain face foundation for that recently deceased look. It must be difficult playing five a side football with your Ray-Bans on in an attempt to look like Wayne Hussey. I always think that if the temperature gets too high they will spontaneously combust or go into the whole “I’m melting” routine like the Wicked Witch of the West. Still, full marks for effort.

 

Sadly nothing remotely of that genre on this week, but there is a clash of great original music on the northern slopes of Old Town tonight. At The Beehive, Bruise (pictured) will be regaling the crowds with their wonderful cross-pollination of Joni Mitchell-esque folk, Eurythmic power-pop and a whole bunch of strange prog-rock meanderings. Believe me it will be like nothing that you have heard before.

 

In the blue corner, as it were, are Weatherstorms; atmospheric, sensual, dance tinged vibes and tonight performed stripped back and acoustic by main man James Cameron, a face you will recognise from such great acts as Old School Tie and Sam Green and The Midnight Heist. That’s at The Victoria.

 

And talking of acoustic sets, The Rolleston has Boot Led Zeppelin Acoustic, a band that none other than Sharleen Spiteri from Texas described as sounding “amazing.”

 

Friday’s big offering is seminal doo-wop group The Drifters at The Wyvern Theatre. Known for iconic songs such as Up On The Roof and Under The Boardwalk the band have survived through many incarnations but the reason for their longevity (61 years and counting) will be obvious from the first note.

 

And if the sound of 50’s New York is not to your taste, how about the timeless sounds of The Delta as The Blue Trees evoke haunting blues and a southern fried rock groove at The Beehive. More Americana at The Victoria with Cash, a tribute to the man in black himself and even speaking as someone who is not big on country music or tribute bands, this band are amazing.

 

At The Rolleston Lewis Creavan and his band will be firing off a salvo of songs from such icons as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz and many more.

 

A full day of music is on offer on Saturday at The Swindon Town Football Club Legends Lounge to raise money for The Prospect Hospice and Ruby’s fat Cow Fund.  Acts include A Way With Words, Sahara Heights, 8 Minutes Later, The Illustrations and many more so check their website for full details.

 

The rest of Saturday is in the hands of standard bearers and those offering tribute. At The Victoria Felix and The Funk play floor fillers from Daft Punk to Chic and from James Brown to Jamiroquai. It’s old school ska, punk and new wave at Riffs Bar with Going Underground and at The Woodlands Edge it’s The Shoo Flies who describe themselves as a “unique covers band” which to me is quite an ironic turn of phrase, but that’s just me.

 

Bit of a treat at The Victoria on Tuesday as Brian Hogan brings Preachers Son to The Victoria. Not only does the band draw comparisons to early Thin Lizzy and the demented approach of The Jon Spenser Blues Explosion but also Brian has worked with everyone from Irish folk giants Kila (one of my highlights of a dim and distance Womad Festival) to Gavin Friday, Sinead O’Connor and even U2.

 

And as if one great Irish band isn’t enough for you, a more traditional offering from the Emerald Isle comes in the form of Patrick Street at the Arts Centre which features former members of The Bothy Band, De Dannan, Planxty and Van Morrison’s Band.

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.

1380243_520908807997447_1788925937_nI have been getting quite a lot of feedback on this column of late, which is only fair; people should have an opinion on my opinion, a right to respond. One person accused me of being a failed musician…the standard go to of the creative to the critic but as I pointed out, when all is added up, I have made far more money over the years playing music than scribbling about it, so that line of argument more likely makes me a failed journalist. I was also accused of having the audacity of expressing an opinion, even a positive one, but I guess if you stick your head above the parapet, people will take pot shots. I just want to point out that, yes, obviously this is just one persons opinion (so just assume that I have written “In My Humble Opinion” at the end of every paragraph) but remember it is only and opinion and it’s only music; this isn’t meant to be a solution for uniting the middle east, a Shakespearean sonnet or The Gettysburg Address…it’s just music journalism. Discuss…

 

Whilst you are mulling that over you might like to be aware that one of my favourite popular beat combo’s is to be found at The Beehive tonight, Three Minute Tease.  Anton Barbeau not only has made a career releasing albums that sound like the acid fuelled memories of Syd Barrett as interpreted by Julian Cope, he does so alongside a rhythm section who have long been at the forefront of underground pop music via bands such as The Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians, Squeeze and more. So expect sweet psychedelics, trippy, retro pop, space rock or even spaced rock—all packaged with wit and humour in a rich, high gloss coating.

 

For something slightly less crazy, old time Chicago blues comes courtesy of Built For Comfort at The Victoria.

 

Friday has a mix of originals and standards (see, you have even got me bowing down to The Music Police’s Trading Standards Department and calling covers by a much more user friendly name.) The latter comes with good time swing, rhythm and blues from The Teddy White Band at The Beehive and Going Underground keeping the sounds of new wave, post-punk, mod and ska alive at The Victoria. With the former you have two ends of the roots spectrum on offer. For the delicate sound of the deep south mixed with Celtic and more pastoral folk sounds then The Black Feathers (pictured) at Riff’s Bar is the place to be but if you fancy the more raucous end of things then Missin’ Rosie will be hammering home punked up booze soaked folk at The Rolleston.

The tributes keep coming on Saturday as Wizards of Oz play the music of The Black Country’s Prince of Darkness at The Rolleston and over at Riff’s Bar Johnny Warman’s Magic Bus plays a Mods and Rockers showcase highlighting the music of the mid and late sixties such as The Beatles and The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals and as this year is the 50th anniversary of the formation of The Who, expect their music to feature heavily as well.

 

For original acoustic music then head to The GW Hotel for a night featuring Nick Felix, Matt Mordak, Josh Heather, Aiden Moore, Frankie Scott, Welsh Chris and the charmingly named Douche Bags.

 

 

Sunday’s show at The Victoria is by way of a fond farewell. For the last couple of years Old Colours have blazed a musical trail of cinematic soundscapes and shimmering folk-pop but have sadly decided to call it a day. This show will be your last chance to see them and with the dreamy folk-tronica of Henry Green and the sweeping resonance of Familiars building the night, it will definitely be one to remember.

 

If something more relaxed is your cup of chai tea then the ever-popular Lazy Sunday Afternoon earlier in the day at The Art Centre Café might be the answer. Alongside the usual hosts of Mr. Love and Justice, this session features the warm, loved up acoustica of Ethemia and the eclectic and compelling song crafting of Talis Kimberley.

 

As Monday is St Patrick’s Day, The Beehive have a night of celebration which will feature such diverse elements as Swindon Samba, Jim Blair, Les Bicyclettes, Craig Huchesson and even an Irish Disco…so, hands up for a few Frank and Walters classic tunes…just me then.

1011722_561639567220535_1865761047_n-1It’s been another one of those crystal ball sort of weeks compiling this article. Without going off on my usual rant, I do find it odd that people who run businesses that rely on getting numbers through the door  are becoming more and more reluctant to post information regarding what bands are playing in their venue, or if they do there is no description of the said band to entice people in. Last week I completely missed the biggest gig of the week because it wasn’t to be found on the internet and if I can’t find it, think of all the more casual information surfers who are going to miss it too. So armed with a crystal ball and a do it yourself shamanic starter kit, I have gleaned what information I can about this weeks gigs and I apologize for any events I have inadvertently missed out.

 

The weekend starts building up momentum tonight with a hard and heavy line up at The Victoria. Headlining are Reading’s finest, We Caught The Castle, not only a wonderful Paramore-esque slab of melodic rock but on a personal note one of the first bands I ever promoted in Swindon. Also on the bill are purveyors of post-hardcore Falling With Style and metal warriors From Dusk Until Dawn.

 

More big sounds will be emanating from Riffs Bar with the welcome return of The Dark Sinatra’s (pictured). Mixing the musical economy of a three piece line up with almost dance grooves, complex back beats and spiky guitar riffs, the result is a sort of groove laden, heavy progressive rock and none do it better.

 

At the other end of the musical spectrum, the first lady of folk, Kate Rusby leads an all star band through songs old and new, traditional and self penned at The Wyvern Theatre. Meanwhile, Two-Man Ting will be filling the Beehive with their very unique roots-pop music. Those who know their world music labels might throw around terms such Palm Wine, High Life or Afro Beat, but all the layman needs to know is that this band are like a dose of summer sunshine and joyous laughter all rolled into one.

 

Staying at The Beehive for Friday, good causes and great music go hand in hand in the form of Oxjam – part of the Oxfam fund raising campaign taking place nationally through out October. This session is all about the singer-songwriter and features the groove fueled blues of Jim Blair, the unique stylings of Tommaso Galati, Tamsin Quin who in my opinion will soon be giving the likes of K T Tunstall a run for her money and new duo Splat The Rat.

 

Th se into the nostalgia scene are also well catered for. Fans of the Stranglers should head for The Victoria and into Saturday, also at The Victoria, it’s all about one of my favourite bands, The Stone Roses. A more across the board range of punk, ska and new-wave can be found at The Rolleston with Going Underground.

 

Even though it does not appear on their website, I want to assure people that Saturdays Secret Chord gig at Riffs Bar is still taking place and what a great line up it is. Band of the moment, Dead Royalties, a scattergun mix of Seattle grunge and 70s Brit-punk, take the top spot with the raw, melodic, modish rock of The Last of The Light Brigade and the eclectic, musical light and shade of Kubris adding all the ingredients for the perfect bill.

 

After that, live music seems to be fairly hard to track down although there are a couple of more famous names in the bigger establishments, such as award winning saxophonist, Yolanda Brown and guitar and fiddle duo Kevin Dempsey and Rosie Carson at the Arts Centre on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

 

At the Wyvern Theatre also on Tuesday is the legendary Charlie Lansborough who delivers his trademark ballad and blues, country and spiritual music all interspersed with a dash of anecdote and humour.