Tag Archive: ian o’regan


741242_664074006964975_1369003998_oOkay, it isn’t exactly local but Charlton Park does have an SN postcode so I guess it is okay to remind you that WOMAD kicks off today. You may not have heard of many of the acts or even be able to pronounce some of them but if ever there was a celebration of culturally diverse and globally reaching music then this is it. Whether you have a hankering for Kurdish folk or British hip-hop, New Orleans brass or Malian vocal groups, transcendental raga or gypsy jive, it is all here and more besides. In the grand scheme of things, it is right on your doorstep, which means you can just pop down for the day or do the full-on festival experience with the minimal of travelling.

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12049112_10153218800902075_4286407036404387466_nI’ve been noticing something recently regarding a strange relationship between the ages of musicians and their audience. In the cover and tribute world the ages of both are largely across the spectrum, as you would imagine but with original bands it is a different story. Whilst a great deal of new, original music is made by people under 30, the age of the audience is much higher. It seems that original, grassroots music is no longer an attraction to formative gig-goers, preferring rather to spend a weeks wages on bands that have already broken, are playing venues the size of a small planet and that the media says it is okay to like. Far be it from me to tell people what gigs to go to (although that is sort of my brief, I guess) but it is a worrying trend. Once us oldies have taken to our retirement homes to discuss the glory days of Sonic Youth and reassess the influence of The Fall, who will be ensuring that this vital breeding ground remains a viable first rung of the ladder? It’s a sobering thought.

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Live and Local

SWINDON105_5Logo-300x186This week we have Albertine Davies and Lucy Bosley from SALOS talking about their next two productions. Janice Thompson and Vic Clemments talking about their production of ‘Not in front of the waiter’ for the Madame Renards Fringe Festival and Mat Fox talking about The Madame Renards Fringe Festival. Music from Gaz Brookfield, Ells, Rocket Box, Walker Broad, Ian O’Regan and Nudybronque

 

Check out the podcast HERE

1970727_759281224090815_510702344_nI was presented with the perfect analogy the other day of why if you go to a gig you should support the whole evening. Obviously courtesy and support for grassroots music should be enough but whilst running the merchandise stand at a recent gig, this wonderful bit of karma unfolded. The first band had just finished, lets call them Band X, and a punter came over to the desk to check out the CD’s on offer, picking up one by the band who had just left the stage. “Did you see the opening act?” I enquired. “ No, I was in the upstairs bar, I don’t bother with support acts, I’m only here to see Band X” It came as a bit of a blow then when I informed him that whilst he was up in the top bar he had totally missed the band he had travelled, all the way from Birmingham as it happened, to see. Why he had assumed that Band X were headlining is anybody’s guess, he was even drinking in a bar with posters advertising the nights running order. So the obvious moral of the story is support all the bands on the bill, not only are you sure not to miss the act you have come to see, you may just pick up some new music as well. And so endeth todays lesson.

It’s a bit of a quiet week on the live music front, but there are a few gems to be found if you know where to look and tonight at The Victoria is the ideal place to start. Californian legends Ugly Duckling blend a range of urban sounds, 80’s hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz with humour and a feel-good factor that has found them acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Also on the bill are Lusty and Swindon’s own DJ/producer Para.

The American invasion continues down at The Rolleston as “ Glam Rock survivor” Adam Bomb (pictured) plays the last date of his European tour there. Adam has a CV that reads like a who’s who of rock royalty, having worked with everyone from Hanoi Rocks and Motorhead to The Wildhearts, John Paul Jones and even reggae giants Steel Pulse. His is a show that reminds you of what rock and roll is all about, razor wire riffs, attitude soaked stage presence, and his trademark love of pyrotechnics. Support comes Rocket Box and Nick Felix.

Jazz, folk and blues meet head on at The Beehive in the music of Portsmouth duo Walker Broad, which I thought was a pun (walk abroad?) until I realised that it is actually the surnames of the players. Expect Latin infuse foot tappers, jazz folk ballads and a few pure blues numbers.

Friday’s acoustic offering at Riffs Bar features a couple of tried and tested local acts in the shape of Ian O’Regan and Drew Bryant.  The former is a dexterous bluesman, whilst the later is an old school folk troubadour with a wonderful Donovan-esque vibe to his songs. Something heavier this way comes…well to The Rolleston at least, as new (ish) kids on the rock block, Broken Image, serves up a generous helping of classic rock covers.

Riffs Bar on Saturday offers something rather tasty, well if you like your prog rock that is. And why wouldn’t you when you have Credo on the bill? Not only are they a brilliant neo-progressive rock band, it is front man Marks birthday and so a whole bunch of genre stalwarts have rallied to the cause. Andy Sears, one time frontman with Twelfth Night will be there as will Comedy of Errors, neatly described in one review as Floyd meets Muse in The Court of The Gentle Giant (unpick the references from that.) Ex – Tinyfish chaps Robert Ramsey and Simon Godfrey are along for the ride, as are Also Eden’s Rich Harding and Simon Rogers. In short it is a showcase of almost everyone who matters in the contemporary progressive rock world.

Other options are blistering electric blues-rock at The Rolleston with Innes Sibun or a whole range of genres and eras covered by party band Switch at The Royal Oak.

Tuesday sees former Mike and The Mechanics and Ace frontman, Paul Carrack grace the stage of the Wyvern Theatre and The Roaring Donkey sees the week out on Wednesday with the liquid gold vocal talents of Sophia Bovell.

600x600In an effort to keep up with the mainstream side of the music industry I tentatively watched the BRITs last week. I know that I’m far from the target audience but dear me what a disaster. Firstly, how can James Corden, a man who could teach Robbie Williams a thing or two about being smug, be the best presenter available? Not only did he look so far out of his depth, his interviews came across like a petulant college kid talking to inarticulate show-offs against the background chatter of an audience too busy taking “selfies” to pay attention. And why was Ellie Goulding singing backwards…in Finnish? The most edgy thing to happen was Alex Turner dropping the microphone, a feat that twitter users seemed to find on par with Keith Moon blowing up his drum kit (and himself and Pete Townsend) at their US TV debut. How times have changed.

This was, however, balanced by the watching of the BBC folk awards later that night, a genre inhabited by rugged, real ale drinking blokey blokes and flame haired Celtic beauties. Throw in Mark Radcliffe hosting, some virtuosic live music and a general feeling of celebration, decorum and mutual support and you actually got to see what an award ceremony should be about.

And if you are looking for something cool as folk, then The Victoria tonight is the place, as Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra blend the genre with gypsy jazz, Cajun, ragtime and country roots. Support is from the ever popular Missin’ Rosie…heads down, no nonsense, mindless folk music! And if you want a more Euro-centric take on the genre then The John Langan Band (pictured) at The Beehive provides the answer – high energy, extravagant and slightly unhinged acoustic playing of a joyous mix of polka, klezmer and Celtic folk traditions.

If you fancy making your own music then pop along to The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for an open mic. night hosted by Jimmy and Aidan Moore (no relation.)

Friday delivers more of the tried and tested rather than the boundary pushing but you won’t find a better classic rock cover band around than Bad Obsession who play The Rolleston. Tributes are also on the cards with the music of ZZ Top at The Victoria and Boot Led Zeppelin at Riffs Bar delivering an acoustic take on the legendary band.

If you didn’t catch them at their open mic. earlier in the week and you want more of Moore and Moore (no relation) then they are part of a fundraising evening at The GW on Saturday which also features the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and the sweet moreish sounds of Remedy. Need I say more?

If high energy music is your preference then catch guitarist Jamie Thyer as he leads his Worried Men through R’n’B standards at The Rolleston on Saturday whilst at The Castle, it’s time to grab your Crombie and pork pie hat for The Nomarks and their ska and reggae originals.  You could even combine this with the short walk down to The Beehive where the Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning similar genres.

The Victoria has Syntronix, a tribute to eighties synth pop and at the other end of the scale it’s all about bringing Pearl Jam back to life Riffs Bar. Support to that comes from a re-union show from Tiryth, a metal band who must have been away from the scene for a decade at least.

Proving that Sunday doesn’t have to be the day of rest, more heavy music is to be had from two South Wales post-hardcore bands When We Were Wolves and Set To Break at The Victoria.  Not your thing? Why not head to The White Hart for a slick slice of soul grooves and funky R’n’B with Otis Mack and The Tubby Bluesters maybe after catching the 3am porch blues picking of David Bristow at The Beehive afternoon session.

Baker Streets regular Tuesday jazz offering comes in the form Portuguese guitarist Miguel Martins who delivers a neat line in contemporary playing mixed with a more traditional jazz legacy. For this show the regular quartet is augmented by renowned tenor sax player Brandon Allen.

Final acoustic offerings on Wednesday come in the form of Drew Bryant at The Roaring Donkey and bluesman Ian O’Regan and Darren Hodge at The Crown, the latter who you may also have spotted on the aforementioned BBC folk awards.

Seamlessly full circle or what?

936668_10151582452128891_1408839903_nIt seems a bit of a quieter week all round, but then I have had a bit of a problem gathering information as of late. Without going into specifics, here is a radical idea for venues, promoters and bands – tell people about your event! Better still, tell people like me who can get the information out to thousands of people, In the words of Werhner von Braun, “it’s not rocket science” (pause until the sound of a wave of people googling him dies down.)

 

Tonight sees the very welcome return of an artist that Swindon has taken to it’s heart, Louise Latham. Blending an ethereal voice with emotive piano lines, the result is a wonderful dream pop soundscape and a collection of songs that already sound like classics. She is joined by the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and Friends and the delicate and heartfelt creations of Drew Bryant. All that takes place under the Songs of Praise banner at The Victoria tonight.

 

A couple of people have told me that I need to check out The Darwin Republic, so I did, well, I tried to. Unfortunately, as if to ram home the point of my opening paragraph, at the time of submitting this article there was no information about them on the venue website and they appear to have no on-line presence, though I can’t decide if that is a clever campaign of deliberate mystique and anti-marketing or just lack of promotion. Though I can say that if you go to The Beehive tonight you will almost definitely….find them there.

 

No questions about the calibre of the band playing The Beehive on Friday though. Port Erin are one of those bands that genuinely challenge the listener to pigeon hole them, which is something I admire in a band. They manage to meander through jazz vibes, trippy funk workouts, rock drives and wrap them up in a chilled, unified groove. The Rolleston offers rockabilly in the form of The Corsairs and elsewhere it is covers and tributes all the way with Peleton playing mod, ska and soul at The Victoria and The Floydian Doors at The Castle paying tribute to…well, I’m sure you can work it out.

 

If you want to get out into the fresh air on Saturday (weather permitting) and take in some great music then the place to be is at The Old Town Bowl where The Reggae Garden brings you the best of the genre from midday. Macca B, Solo Banton and Murray Man all front their respective bands plus you can catch local rocksteady outfit, The Erin Bardwell Collective and a host of other acts.

 

The Arts Centre has a bit of a treat for you as no less than ex-Yes guitar shaman Steve Howe pays a visit. But prog fans be warned, this isn’t going to be a  note perfect rendition of Tales From Topographic Oceans, although some of the back catalogue is revisited, as the band explore jazz and country swing alongside the more expected numbers.

 

Pretty much at the opposite edge of the spectrum, dirty rhythm and blues is on offer at The Queens Tap. Looking like a cast of villains from The Sweeney and sounding like Dr Feelgood and The Blockheads fighting in a back alley, The Hamsters From Hell have become local legends for their ability to entertain and offend in equal measure. Crimes against songwriting are also being considered.

 

The rest of Saturday comes in the shape of Hypermused, a tribute to Teignmouth’s most famous alt-rock trio and at The Rolleston, Kok Rok will be setting their tongues firmly in their cheeks and performing the best of classic rock.

 

If harp driven Chicago R’n’b is your sort of thing then get down to The Beehive on Sunday for the afternoon session with Built For Comfort. (Note to younger readers – a harp is what bluesman call the harmonica and r’n’b was a sub-genre of rock and roll before it was applied to lip synching girl bands wiggling to landfill pop tunes, so don’t turn up expecting Little Mix with a classical string section.)

 

And finally on to Wednesday and the usual great offerings from the two midweek acoustic shows. The Running Horse goes blues with established local blues guitar aficionado Ian O’Regan and uber-talented new kid on the block Adam Sweet.

 

 

Meanwhile The Roaring Donkey has the wonderful Chalice, a folk band that brings the sound of the 60’s folk revival bang up to date. Imagine the Albion Band with Court and Spark era Joni Mitchell guesting and you get an idea of why you need to check this band out.

eFestivalsI’m not sure if it is just a Swindon thing but it does seem that every other gig you see advertised these days features some earnest young acoustic guitar wielding wannabe aiming to be the next Frank Turner or Laura Marling. It may seem like an easy way to get into music; low overheads, no egotistical band mates to fight with, the ability to tour the country in a broken down Fiat Uno etc but the problem with so much of it going on is that for every soon to be discovered darling of 6music or Wychwood Festival there are a dozen chancers waxing not so lyrical about their recent break ups over a rudimentary knowledge of the key of A minor and clumsily rhyming June with moon.

Thankfully if you want a master class in how it should be done, all you have to do is head to The Victoria tonight when the prodigal son returns, sort of. Songs of Praise is being headlined by Gaz Brookfield, aided and abetted by his fiddle-wielding associate, Ben Wain. Fresh from another jaunt supporting The Levellers and about to share a stage with those emotionally battered, wind swept rock gods, New Model Army (yes, I’m a bit of a fan), I suggest you catch him whilst he is still cheaper than a pint of beer, because it won’t last much longer. Also on the bill is Joshua Caole, who brings a chilled Elliot Smith meets Gram Parsons feeling to the proceedings and kicking things off is the soulful, funky vibe that is Benji Clements.

Two of the musical genres that people have most problems identifying are “world” and “roots” music. If you go to The Beehive tonight you will see both genres colliding head on. Mambo Jambo are an amazing duo that mix Latin styles with bluegrass, jazz and Eastern European sounds – raw enough to sound authentic, virtuosic enough to be mesmerising.

Punks will find much to like over at Riffs Bar on Friday as legendary, urban rail punks Eastfield make a rare visit to this neck of the woods. Three chords, catchy tunes, an often tongue in cheek story and lots of smiles. What’s not to like? The Useless Eaters will be mixing up covers and originals in a tribute to the first wave punk era and opening the night with unforgettable hooks and despondent satire is Strength in Blunders, featuring a guest bassist in the form of Pete Monkey. Nice.

The other big name in town that night is former InMe front man Dave McPherson (pictured) who can be found at The Castle. At a turn uplifting, mournful, calm and soothing, whilst often being a world away from his previous musical vehicle, here is an artist that delivers something very special indeed.

At The Beehive a collection of familiar faces from the local scene, who go by the name The Sitting Tenants will be blending power-pop, new wave, psych and soul into wonderfully original creations, whilst at The Rolleston, The Dylegans take skiffle, country and old school rock and roll as their chosen musical weapons.

Saturday is all about roots music at The Victoria, as Hiproute will be laying out their trademark funked up, acoustic blues stall. Support comes from the quirky, harmony fuelled, folky, surf vibe of Willowen, who I can only describe as being what Noah and The Whale sound like in their own heads, though fall way short of in reality. Delta-esque rockers The Blue Trees and Alex Roberts also add value to the deal. More blues can be found in the guise of Built For Comfort at The Rolleston and it’s slick contemporary covers with Toxic over at The Swiss Chalet.

If you have a craving for electronic music, DJ Dust hosts Digital at Piri Piri, a night of music and videos of that ilk featuring everything from the likes of New order to Chase and Status.

If you want your final fix of music before the working week pulls you back then there are a number of options on Sunday. The afternoon session at The Beehive is taken by The Racket main man Plummie and his new solo venture,  support for that one is The Black Sheep Apprentice himself, Skiddy and the original Sweet Plum, Cat Jamieson. Old school rock’n’roll and rockabilly riffs are to be found at 20 At The Kings with Josie and The Outlaw and if gargantuan slabs of rock with grunge overtones are more your cup of tea (or should I say Seattle Coffee) then the place to be is The New Inn for Vanarin.

Rounding up on Wednesday at The Running Horse you will find bluesman Ian O’Regan and Rhys Bury providing the entertainment.