Tag Archive: gwyn ashton


1911895_10152290934490225_884172200_nA quick look around the music history archives reveals that on this day in 1969 we lost one of the coolest and most influential guitarists of recent time, Brian Jones. As the founder member of the Rolling Stones he helped fuse American blues with the evolving pop music scene and as a consequence helped define the sound and attitude of the sixties and in many ways laid foundation stones for the development of future music culture. Brian would have been 72 today. As if to balance the loss of such an icon, today also marks the birthday of Kevin Hearn of Canadian band Barenaked Ladies, without whom we wouldn’t have the theme tune to The Big Bang Theory. Swings and Roundabouts!

 

Well, plenty of music to sink your teeth into this coming week, starting tonight at The Victoria, where those Songs of Praise chaps bring you something a bit special. After a number of critically acclaimed gigs in Swindon, particularly a much talked about set at last years Shuffle that blew collective minds …not to mention socks off of the audience, Dead Royalties are back with another dose of slightly mathy, grungy, alt-rock. They are joined by Vault of Eagles (pictured) who mix the Neolithic groove of The Bad Seeds with the warped beauty of P J Harvey to great effect. Opening up is Si Hall.

 

Bluesier options come in the shape of roots guitarist Gwyn Ashton at Riffs Bar, a wonderful blend of the sounds of The Delta and southern juke joints, New Orleans vibes, jazz and country and if that isn’t well travelled enough for you Kangaroo Moon are at The Beehive to deliver cosmic blends of pastoral, otherworldly vibes, haunting washes of timeless sound, hypnotic folk, dance and psychedelia. In the words of a wise man…well, Forrest Gump…you never know what you are going to get.

 

Culture Vultures may want to take notice of the fact that as part of The Old Town Festival, acclaimed pianist Paul Turner will be playing a lunchtime recital of the music of Debussy at Christ Church.

 

Friday sees the first of two shows this week from Sheer Music, a promotional team well known for bringing top class bands into town and their show at The Victoria doesn’t disappoint as they usher in The Computers. This is a band who are equally at home with the power of punk and hardcore as they are with pop melody and the result often comes off like Black Flag covering Elvis Costello. Intrigued? You should be. Support comes from All Ears Avow and Scout Killers.

 

If for no other reason than they have gigged with one of my favourite bands, Citizen Fish, you should try to catch Mad Apple Circus who are at The Rolleston playing a brilliant, tight and original blend of ska/hip-hop/jazz/reggae fusion. Another non-musical reason to watch is to see just how this, often 10-piece ensemble, are going to all fit in. Miss these guys at your peril.

 

More chilled sounds can be found at The Beehive as Swindon’s favourite Canadian music migrant, David Celia returns with his unique brand of witty pop and oft surreal visions whilst The Regent Acoustic Circus this month plays host to Nick Felix (also catch him at The Royal Oak on Saturday), Paul Griffin and Ells Ponting’s new musical vehicle, The Southern Wild.

Saturday is the usual nostalgia trip. At Level 3 Syntronix play the big hits of the eighties (and I didn’t even bang on about The Smiths and New Model Army once…damn,) and at Riffs Bar, In It For The Money play a range of covers. Rock fans have either the music of Guns ‘n’Roses at The Victoria or KoK Rok playing classic rock and metal at The Rolleston. Reggae and ska fans will probably opt for The Shocks of Might DJ’s at The Beehive.

 

However you can support your local community at The Bowl as The Old Town Festival hosts music from 1 o’clock with acts including The Undulations, The Corsairs, Darren Hunt, Zing and Get Carter.

 

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon Session at The bandstand in the Old Town Gardens is another show for David Celia plus country tinged folkster Rachel Gittus and as ever, hosts Mr Love and Justice.

 

Final shout goes to the other Sheer Music organised show which brings Cornish punk exiles Gnarwolves to The Victoria on Wednesday aided and abetted by 2 Sick Monkeys, The Rebecca Riots and With Ghosts.

 

 

 

 

 

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p01c318fApparently everyone remembers where they where when Kennedy was assassinated. Similarly everyone remembers where they were when they first heard of the attack on the World Trade Centre. On a more parochial level, everyone with at least a passing interest in Swindon’s music scene remembers where they were when they heard that Dave and Anna were selling the Victoria. But after months of speculation (for a while people almost had me convinced that I had bought it!) it appears that not only is the venue in safe hands under the captaincy of Darren and Violet, but it is very much business as usual.

I’m sure I speak for pretty much all of the local music scene when I say a very big thank you to Dave and Anna for making The Victoria the success story that it is, supporting all genres of music, from local to international, original, covers and tributes (we’ll gloss over the karaoke bit!) and generally making the place one of the corner stones of the town’s music scene. On a more personal note, thank you for giving ideas such as Songs of Praise and The Swindon Shuffle a chance back when they were the mere ramblings of a drunken promoter on the back of a cigarette packet. (Not me, another rambling, drunken promoter.) See you guys at the bar sometime, there’s a few drinks on me, or you…whatever!

Right, to business. Tonight provides a wealth of acoustic acts across a couple of venues. The regular Acoustic Buzz night at The Beehive  has the world weary, heartfelt, country laments of Boss Caine, the more perky upbeatness (that is a word, I looked it up) of Jane Allison plus your regular host in the form of Blind River Scare.

Meanwhile back at the aforementioned Victoria the top bar has some very strong competition from the musical dexterity and diverse sounds of Nick Felix, Ben McDanielson, Benji Clements and Jimmy Moore.

Bit of a bluesy edge going in to Friday, firstly with Gwyn Ashton at The Beehive, a man that not only reproduces the sounds of pre-war delta blues with authenticity and attention to detail but who probably has Mississippi mud flowing through his veins instead of the usual red stuff. Jim Blair’s trademark funky blues lap guitar playing and whiskey cracked vocals can be found at The Rolleston. Coldplay fans can get their fix at The Victoria with Coolplay (I see what they did there) plus The Sleeves who will get the night started with a selection of modern indie classics.

Saturday brings a bit of a treat and it’s nice to see original, local, contemporary music being given an airing at The Old Town Bowl’s Garden Party, not that I have anything against Tight Fit and Modern Romance but …no, let’s not open that can of worms again! The line up provides another outing for the soulful acoustic groove of Benji Clements, Billyjon’s smooth balladry, see’s Jim Blair in full band mode with Hip Route, has the soaring, anthemic rock of False Gods and is topped of with AJ Live and A & T. Definitely something for everyone there.

Back indoors there is more great music to be had. At The Rolleston in a last minute substitution for Hot Flex, ex-pat, David Marx brings in his latest incarnation of The AK Poets, playing melodically explosive, high octane, rain ‘n’ napalm licks; a rock and roll band that does what it says on the tin.

That dapper chap about town, Gig Monkey has a bit of coup in bringing Bite The Buffalo (pictured) to The Victoria. Fuzzy, heavy grooved rock ‘n’ roll that immediately transports you to a smoke hazed, backstreet drinking dive in Ladbrook Grove at 3am sometime in 1968. Support comes from Tommaso Galati and his punk attitude, acoustic guitar attacks and 2 piece grunge noise merchants Boss Cloth.

Sunday brings you something a bit more suited to the day of rest. Tim Graham and Robin Grey set out again to combine their love of folk music and cycling to bring Pedalfolk back to The Central Library for a second time. If you like innovative yet unfussy acoustic music this is the place to be. It is also the place to be to experience the quiet majesty of Rumour Shed and the retro folk jangle of Mr Love and Justice.

As usual the week jumps along to Wednesday and the twin acoustic session that now vie for your beer money. At The Running Horse is Ali Finneran and Rachel Austin and the Roaring Donkey provides a second opportunity to catch the romanticism and dark lyrical undercurrents of Billyjon.

Reviewed by Dave Franklin

Authenticity, not a word you hear too much these days, particularly in a musical context. So the thought of one voice, an old Ashdown guitar that looks like it was found in a lake and a minimal drum kit is something that seemed worth checking out. The voice and the guitar in this case belonged to Gwyn Ashton, a blues player in the old traditions, king of the road who if you cut him would yield not blood but the sedimented waters of the Mississippi delta. If you remember Micky Barker from his times as drummer with pomp-rockers Magnum then this would seem a world away as his stripped down kit showed that a great drummer can be as expressive on a minimal set up as he can when playing up to the full excesses of stadium rock. The fact that the two men hadn’t even rehearsed together was even more of a testament for what was to come.

 

And what did come was a wonderful raw and passionate set of blues standards and originals that just seemed to exist between the lines of Harper Lee’s famous imagining of the south or as a would be soundtrack to a road movie along the Mason-Dixon line. And if standards don’t seem to be that appealing, the joy of Gywns work is that he likes to re-style songs to make something new, such as Hendrix’s Fire being delivered as Howling Wolf might have written it. Blues mash ups may just be the way forward.

 

I’m not by any means a blues aficionado, but maybe I have been put off by too many pub blues wannabees who have learned the songs parrot fashion but are unable to imbue the songs with the right amount of passion and drive. Gywn doesn’t suffer from that problem; his music sits on what many may see as the punked out edge of the genre, but not sacrificing substance for style either. These were players at the top of their game, the fact that they were playing within walking distance of my house in a free pub gig another testament to their grounded attitude.

 

With a new album featuring a who’s who of rock and blues icons, Radiogram, on its way in October now is a good time to get into Gwyn’s music, so in the mean time check out the link below for the full band side of his work.

 Little Girl Video

 

A full set of photographs from the night can be found here courtesy of Georgina Ingrams.

So, last week there may not have been too many gigs going on, but this week, you can’t move for tripping over some earnest young chap thrashing a guitar, a laid back blues dude grooving the night away or a band of frantic folkies jigging and reeling their hearts out. And what has caused this tsunami of live music that wil play havoc with my carefully scrutinised word count? It’s only the first of the season’s indoor local festivals. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Riffstock! Running from Friday to Sunday the “Biggest Little Music Festival in the West” at Riffs Bar (the clue is in the name) will be raising money for three very worthy causes.  Over the course of the weekend you can experience music as diverse as the, in your face punk, drum and bass of 2 Sick Monkeys, the long awaited return of pirate fixated alt-folkies, The Shudders, effervescent, fired up pop from Nudybronque, the warped, musical terrorism of Mr Hello and His Honesty Club, The Fixed, Emily and the Dogs ( a real must see), Guitar Stools and Cigarettes, Vynal Matt and so much more. For the full story go to their website or Facebook event page.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there is still plenty to choose from musically back in the less rural venues.  Dance music for the 21st century will be on the menu tonight as the Zetan Spore mothership descends on The Beehive for a night of psy-trance, hard dance grooves and alien beats.

More conventional music can be found at The Rolleston in the form of Sam Eden, a singer-songwriter whose style occasionally borders on the likes of Brian Kennedy and David Gray but who mainly creates unique and delicate musical structures from intricate playing and brilliant vocal deliveries.

At the Victoria, there is a showcase for Bath College’s HNC music students, featuring the insanity of Maribou Stalk, the soul power of Tallis and The Pride, the hi-octane loops and sax of Mossyband, the voodoo tunes of Dr Elephonte and much more besides.

Friday is built around a triumvirate of great gigs…. err, that means three for you non-classical scholars. The Furnace sees a rare hometown outing for the southern groove, biker metal of Eye For An Eye. Expect industrial strength riffs, thunderous beats, growling vocal attacks, hair, beards, blood, sweat and beers. If young bands need a lesson in how to put on a rock show…let this band be your guide.

At The 12 Bar, Out of Towner’s is a night showcasing, as it says, out of area bands headlining with the contradictory Doll Rats – powerful yet ethereal, raw but delicate, raucous and enigmatic. Sounds pretty good to me. Other visiting acts are Peyote who sound like the Jim Jones Revue writing the sound track for a David Lynch road movie and the one I’m looking forward to, The Peasant Kings, historically aware and with one or two old school Celtic rock ghosts looming large over their music.

Talk in Code has undergone a major change in the last year or so. They are no longer the band that your dad might listen to, now their new dance fuelled vibe means they are more the CD that your sharp-dressed, musically savvy, cool older brother refuses to lend you. However you can catch them at their CD launch show at The Victoria. Three Letter Agency and Oli Hill support.

Creatures of the night will find something to raise a rare smile at The Furnace on Saturday as Sarah Jezebel Deva rocks into town. Best known as long-serving backing singer in Cradle of Filth, she has also graced such bands as Mortiis, Therion and The Kovenant. Expect well-executed,  dynamic, dark, sweeping, symphonic metal.

At the opposite end of the musical spectrum, The Warsaw Village Band will treat the Old Town Bowl to music that is both ancient and hauntingly pagan in its folksy form yet as driven and trancey as any modern “dance” music. More roots music, though this time of a delta-blues nature with helpings of country, swamp-blues, jazz, soul and folk, can be found at The Rolleston in the form of Gwyn Ashton.

My tip for Sunday is catch the afternoon session at The Beehive courtesy of the blues grooves, jazz vibes, soulfulness and sheer energy of The Fraser Tilley Trio…(yes they are a four piece but lets not get into all that again) and end up at The Rolleston that evening for the acoustic delights of Ben Fletcher. Well, you don’t have to but it’s just a thought.