Tag Archive: jess vincent

12963827_10153440229201434_2550144404922643101_nIt may not be the busiest of weeks but it certainly plays host to some pretty big names, especially if you are a fan of the alt-folk and acoustic genres. And with that in mind I’ll leap straight in and talk about the next artist to take the stage at The Beehive as part of The Songs of Praise May Mini Roots Residency.

As part of her Songs of Our Years album tour, Gill Sandell is back in town. You may have seen her as a member of the critically acclaimed Red Clay Halo alongside Emily Barker, you may have even seen her playing the opening ceremony of the last Olympic Games alongside Frank Turner. But tonight it is all about Gill’s own lyrically captivating, perfectly crafted, modernist folk. Opening up the night is the haunting and dulcet tones of Luke De-Sciscio.

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10933803_1011615478852084_3192550600492000273_nLet’s just title this week “Victim of Success Week” as the gig diary seems to have gone into overdrive and get straight on with the show.


Something well wicked this way comes, as the yoof of today might say, tonight at The Victoria with a snarling, noisy, beast of a show from those awfully nice chaps at Songs of Praise. Described as “zombie grunge” Sheffield’s Steel Trees are one big slab of industrial strength noise and scorching, white hot guitars. Support comes in the guise of deliciously schizophrenic post-punkers, Nasty Little Lonely and Ex-Shrine main man Mat Caron’s new outfit I Am In Love.


The regular Acoustic Buzz session at The Beehive has a stellar line up, not only the subtle beauty of Jess Vincent’s folk-pop but also the achingly authentic, Americana-folk of Jim Evans. As always your host, Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning, kicks the night off.


Two big names are in town on Friday. Firstly at The Oasis The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, will be continuing to further the cause of quintessentially English song writing. The Second hails from much further away, Portland, Oregon to be exact. Having made a name with the distinctly multi-cultural, hard rock, junk-funk outfit, The Dan Reed Network, the eponymous front man will be playing at level 3 for the Fatboys Cancer Charity For Children Fundraiser. A host of other supports are in place, although be aware that limited tickets are only available in advance from the charity itself.


Although if you can’t get a ticket for that one, like classic rock and iconic indie covers and want to support a worthy cause then head over to Riffs Bar where Soundbites and Vice Versa will be playing to raise money for Breakthrough Brest Cancer.


If you prefer something a bit smoother, then The Tribe headline at The Victoria with their trademark fusion of soulful reggae, dance grooves and infectious hip hop vibes. Support comes from dubstep meets jazz meets hip-hop collective Dubbed Over.


The phrase, at the opposite end of the spectrum, doesn’t even begin to describe the wonderfully named Ma Polaine’s Great Decline who play The Beehive. These roots genre time travellers mix the blues of Howlin’ Wolf and genre hopping of Tom Waits to create a sound both familiar and exotic.


Also to be mentioned in despatches are The Runaway Boys, a tribute to The Stray Cats, at The Rolleston and fans of covers have the choice of Toxic at The Swiss Chalet or Mojo at The Castle.


Before talking of Saturday’s gigs, I should point out that the now well-established Record and CD fair will be taking place at The Central Community Centre from 9.00 am.


As for gigs, they are more about the tried and tested rather than the new and innovative but there is still some great music to be had. At Riffs Bar, Syntronix will be reliving all of the great synth pop of the eighties, everything from the big numbers such as Rio and Tainted Love to a few lesser-known numbers from the likes of Talk Talk and The Thompson Twins.


Rock is on the menu as Dodging The Bullet bring the noise to The Rolleston; something a bit more subtle can be found at The Victoria as Just Floyd pay tribute to one of the biggest and most uniquely creative bands on the planet.


Fans of Reggae, Ska and Rocksteady will want to be at The Beehive as the Shocks of Mighty DJs spin all the best tunes from those genres and Tony M and Friday Feeling play covers at The Castle and The Swiss Chalet respectively. Also in that vein is Jamie R Hawkins who can be found at Byron’s Wine Bar.


And even on Sunday there is no let up as Ron Trueman Border mixes up folk, blues jazz and a lot more at The Beehive afternoon session and it is with a tear in the eye that I can report that The Victoria will be the scene of Sheer Music’s last Swindon gig for the foreseeable future. It’s only fair that they should go out with a bang and so have managed to bag a date with Moose Blood (pictured)and Creeper currently touring the UK. So, if quality Emo and melodic punk are your sort of thing then help thank Kieran and the team for all their hard work over the years.


Finally dexterous acoustica taking in folk, blues and rock can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday courtesy of Andy Robbins.

Library - 25Isn’t science great? I was reading a report in New Made-up Scientist recently that Zoologists have discovered that the mental powers of Slipknot fans are far greater than previously imagined. In a series of experiments conducted in a research facility in Hogwash, Colorado involving dozens of Slipknot fans, bearded scientists found that many were able to count to 20, had the potential to perform simple sums and even had a basic vocabulary consisting of a handful of words such as “Slipknot” and “Rule.” Professor Dan Geek who led the team said “ This evidence of intelligence has taken us by surprise and is causing us to rethink what we know about these particular primates.” In a prepared statement Slipknot said, “This proves what we always said, our fans ain’t stupid. They know a whole bunch of stuff, y’know, like stuff and stuff like that”

Thankfully your faith in intelligent music can be restored by a visit to Riffs Bar tonight. If you thought Red Jasper had been consigned to local music mythology, you will be pleased to know that they are back out as a gigging band delivering their trade mark symphonic rock meets folk blend that puts them somewhere between classic era Jethro Tull and early Marillion and with Bristol prog stalwarts Crimson Sky supporting, this is a brilliant line up.

More rootsy sounds can be found at The Victoria with the funky lap-blues of Jim “Hiproute” Blair and the shamanistic folk and emotive bluesy vibes that make up Stone Donkey Pilots. The Beehive, meanwhile, will be grooving to the gypsy-jazz swing of Ruba Tempo.

Friday is a big night out at Riffs Bar as Beauty with a Purpose (and not a Porpoise as it said in one listing!), a longstanding and immensely important global children’s charity, have lined up a host of fund raising great acts including Ethemia, Echo, Benji Clements and Aiden Moore. Great cause. Great music.

The Beehive opts for laid back music from  Stressechoes a band described as “a triumph of heart-on-sleeve storytelling supported by beautiful, understated music” and with the simple musical lines of Juey also on the bill it will be a cracking gig. The delectable R’n’B sounds of The Teddy White Band can be found at The Royal Oak.

If you want a fuller band experience, then there are a number of options. Nudybronque play Riffs Bar as headliners for the Secret Chord’s latest show, underground, post punk, inspired pop, melody and memorable tunes, they may have evolved but they haven’t lost the glint in the eye and tongue in cheek drive that keeps them self-deprecating, grounded and a joy to watch. Also on the bill is Jim Johnston, currently operating as a two-piece but still running a great line in brittle, fractious guitar lines and dark yet bluesy undercurrents. New chaps on the block Devotion get the night underway.

Missin’ Rosie are at The Manor and The Corsairs grace the New Inn but if punk is more your thing then the Victoria tonight provides the first of two shows that should tick your musical boxes. The UK Subs now enter their eighth decade (probably not true) as leading lights of the punk scene and they bring with them the Dropkick Murphy’s inspired Criminal Mind and Proud City Fathers. The other gig in this pairing comes with Charred Hearts playing The Beehive Sunday afternoon.

The Lazy Sunday Afternoon show may have now relocated to The Central Library but they haven’t lost their ear for good music. This time it is the turn of the luscious Latin Jazz of Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz, the romantic nature of Jess Vincent and as always hosted by Mr Love and Justice.

Other options for the day of rest come with the effortless, vibrant blues of Retramantic who play 20 at the Kings in Wood Street and the Sax fronted trad jazz of The Don Franks Duo at Baker Street.

Playing the week out, on Tuesday at Baker Street, it’s jazz from virtuoso guitarist Esmond Selwyn and the organ lead brilliance from The John-Paul Gard Trio and Wednesday at The Running Horse acoustic treats come in the shape of Pete Taylor and The Right Hooks.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon – Volume 1

Library - 61Despite the Councils increasing departure from supporting anything remotely cultural in Swindon (the loss of Big Arts Day, price hikes on room hire etc), there is still a small band of people who with a labour of love work ethic make good things happen. A classic example of that is the monthly Lazy Sunday Afternoon shows that have been taking place at The Arts Centre Café, thanks to Steve Cox and Mr Love and Justice, and which alongside the acoustic shows at The Running Horse, has become the major showcase for acoustica, folk and roots music. This compilation brings together the acts to be found at those shows and represents the pick of the crop from that part of the local scene.

The album kicks off with a band that I am already a major fan off, Rumour Shed. The River, take from their wonderful e.p. Postcards For Mother is a song that displays their essence, despite since evolving into a full band.  Sensual and hushed vocal tones mix with delicate guitar work as a mournful cello wanders through the background, the result is a song that is poetically rich, dreamlike, ethereal and quietly majestic.

Ethemia offer a cleaner limbed though no less evocative approach, more traditional to the acoustic folk genre. Fingerprints  On Me works so well because the duo knows how to combine two vocals and two guitars without getting in each other’s way. Imagine if The Civil Wars instead of being seeped in the lore of Nashville and the music of the deep south  were instead forged of The West Country and a more idealized pastoral tradition and you then have a useful handle on this duo.

One band that manage to effortlessly wander between Celtic, Americana and the English folk theme is Bateleurs, though this track, Go React, sees them at very much west of the Atlantic shore and  south of the Mason Dixon line. Steel pedal guitars and simple country rhythms define the song, which combines space, groove and accessibility in one neat little package.

Also in some way informed by a background American vibe, albeit a psyched out west coast wash, Mr Love and Justice’s contribution, Watching Water, is a chilled, psychedelic underground pop classic. There are times when the band immerses themselves in left wing politics, historical themes and a social awareness that seemed to have been lost in modern music. Here though they are happy to use more vague imagery and more subdued tricks to paint their musical picture. What a great picture it turns out to be.

Taken from an album that is described as a“dancers take on life…for lovers of words, rhythm, roots, rhyme and reason” Run Away To Extinction is perhaps the most experimental of all the tracks featured here. Kim Coupland delivers spoken word over a minimal Cajun or chilled zydeco musical backdrop where the pattern of the words seems to define the shape of the song. The hypnotic musical cycles coupled with the maritime descriptions that overlay them make for a very different yet fascinatingly memorable experience.

Having evolved from a pickup band into a stable and permanent line up, aural candy are more or less a pop band, but a pop band that follows a heritage that links bands such as XTC, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock even the later Beatles outputs rather than anything the term suggests today. Down, Down, Down is a slice of chilled pop-rock that combines accessible music with a dark lyrical message. Nice.

Blake is the one act on the album that is truly new to me and one that I will definitely be checking out further. Lush vocal harmonies and chiming guitar rhythms seem to be the hallmark, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Too Dark, Too Deep is built of layers of lush instrumentation, accordions take the lead breaks as the sound of balalaikas add an exotic air to this wonderful slice of soulful folk-pop.

Sweet William by Jess Vincent is probably the most authentic folk piece on the album, by authentic I mean it’s the one piece that would conform to the stringent rules and regulations set down by that shadow outfit known as the  Folk Police. In a Kate Rusby sort of fashion it takes a timeless sounding song and gives it a contemporary production, the result is a song that could have been written anytime in the last three hundred years but with the benefit of modern instrumentation and studio techniques, so the best of both worlds really.

The album bows out in the hushed manner with which it kicked off. Tim Graham understands the meaning of space and is not afraid to use it, which he does  to glorious affect on Too Good To Burn. The song seems as built as much on anticipation and atmosphere as it does on vocal delivery and music and the overall affect is fantastic. Again delving into an English folk tradition and reminiscent of the likes of Nick Drake or Bert Jansch, this is a song that really explores the less is more concept and a perfect swansong for the album.

As an overview of the roots and acoustic scene that forms a significant part of Swindon’s musical activity, this is an essential album and showcases just what a great pool of bands we have to work with. Aside from  it’s showcasing qualities, it is also simply a great collection of songs and as is says Volume One under the title, I am looking forward to the appearance of a second selection of bands. Well done to Homeground Records, Steve Cox and all concerned.

Lao Tzu famously thought that “when the wise man looks into space he knows there is no limited dimensions,” but I bet he didn’t have to get a whole weeks worth of gig recommendations into a space as small as ….well, as small as this!  So, Chinese philosophers aside, lets get down to business.


Tonight the first of many Halloween celebrations kick off at the Victoria in the form of The Bands and Burlesque Halloween Spook Ball.  The Filthy, Dirty, Blues Band provides the music, Li Laudanum, the gory stories and a whole host of Burlesque dancers provide the welcome distractions. Costumes are a must, for the audience that is, not so much the dancers.


Also seemingly in a strange fantasy world of his own, Ash Mandrake brings his strange blend of prog-folk meets Icelandic Saga with extra millinery supplies and homemade guitars to The Beehive.  If that isn’t “Good Enough” you might like to head up to The Arts Centre to catch nineties power-pop trio Dodgy (see what I did there?)


More big names at The Furnace on Friday with Hadouken (pictured) – new rave, dance-punk, call it what you will and the equally unpigeonholeable (it’s a word, honest) Monsta adding tech-soul, trip-hop and melodic synth washes to make a night of gloriously original, very now, music. Hopefully this is the start of the venues break from its tedious love affair with goth and metal over the last few years. With no competition for bands of this size in Swindon, this may be the start of a change of direction and a bright future.


It’s all a bit more traditional elsewhere. The 12 Bar is going for the folk thing with The Shapes, a band spawned in the same neck of the woods that produced Stornaway and The Epstein, good company indeed. Support is the mix of morose and mirth that is Mammoth and the Drum plus Benji Clements and Aaron Heap.


There was once a young girl from Hullavington…. hang on this is turning into an Edward Lear limerick. Try again. Many years ago there was a young local artist treading the boards who had a voice that could make audiences go completely silent. Now after stints at The Albert Hall, touring the States and glowing reviews, Dani Wilde brings her amazing acoustic blues to Riffs Bar, a sort of homecoming show if you will. The Beehive also plumps for soulful acoustica with Anglo-Swedish trio, We Ghosts.


Fans of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae are catered for at The Victoria on Saturday night with The Erin Bardwell Collective. Not only do they have a new record out, Bringing The Hope, but also the gig acts as a sort of reunion night as both Erin and members of the support band, The Nomarks, can trace their roots back to local legends The Skanksters.


More nostalgic vibes can be found at The Rolleston with the 50’s rockabilly vibes of Josie and The Outlaw or the 40’s swing of King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys at The Art Centre.


A couple of more sedate options for Sunday afternoon look like this. Mr Love and Justice host their regular Lazy Sunday Afternoon session at The Art Centre, this time they are joined by the dulcet tones of Jess Vincent as recently heard on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show plus the wonderful Ethemia. At The Beehive you can catch R’n’B and swing grooves, courtesy of The Teddy White Band.


Later that evening and continuing with suitably subtle Sabbath song, Buswell play an stripped down show in the top bar of The Victoria, though if the band merely number in single figures it is probably considered low key. Also on the bill is Steve Poltz who when not co-writing hit ballads for Jewel can be found singing, ranting, storytelling, guitar shredding and generally being mesmerising with his own body of work.


Ed Sheeran pops into the Oasis on Wednesday but if you like the acoustic troubadour approach then why not watch Gaz Brookfield at The Running Horse instead. Great songs blended with wit, wisdom and charisma plus you can also find out about his Christmas No 1 Campaign. Whilst you are there pick up a copy of his current album, Tell It To The Beer, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Had a bit of a revelation last week, apparently the local music scene is dead. Not only did a bloke in a pub tell me, two days later a totally different other bloke in a totally different other pub told be exactly the same thing, so it must be true. In fact I think they are right as I had only managed to get to watch four bands that week, I really should put a bit more effort in.

It may come as no surprise that there are many things that annoy me; reality shows, celebrities, celebrity reality shows, cooking shows, cordon bleu, James Cordon, Twilight, people over the age of eleven who have read Twilight, people who pronounce coupon with a Q, people who make lists of things that annoy them, Steven Seagal and obviously Nicholas Cages hair. But the one thing that trumps any of those is people who tell me the music scene is dead yet whom I have never bumped into at a gig or even heard discuss a band they have seen.

Okay I admit things have been quiet of late and it doesn’t help that two of our bigger venues seem to have given up altogether on the idea putting gigs on. I will mention no names, as I don’t want to wake up with an overused Godfather movie reference in the bed next to me. But come on, dead? I don’t think so. Even on a quieter week like this,  I can still list a dozen bands to check out, many of them free, but if you would rather sit on Facebook posting “support live music” banners or watch Simon Cowell’s latest round of money spinning exploitations then maybe the local live circuit is not the place for you anyway, there is no “like” button for a start!

So what will the more supportive and broadminded be feasting on this week? Damn it! As if to trip my argument up at the first hurdle, tonight The Victoria plays host to BGT auditionee Sam Kelly who many of you will remember from such classics as Porridge and ‘Allo ‘Allo. He may have ambitions involving Cowell’s evil empire but at least he is putting his money where his mouth is and is out hitting the live circuit. Support comes from the slick dance-pop ear candy of Goldman.

Better illustrating my point is Acoustic Buzz at The Beehive. Blind River Scare main man Tim Manning hosts his regular night and delivers some wonderful acoustic Americana folk, this time joined by the delicate guitar and Kate Bush-esque vocal of Jess Vincent. Also on the bill is Jack Bird whose sound is neatly summed up as invoking bar-room brawls, smoky pool rooms, dusty highways and full of whiskey aching songs.

Friday has a couple of great options for the rock fraternity though both in the shape of tributes. Snaggletooth will be at The Rolleston doing their very best Motorhead impression and up at The Victoria, fans of Green Day will be catered for. After this weeks antics in Las Vegas I just hope no one tries to cut their set short. Oh, the language!

More Americana at The Beehive, this time the real deal. Armed with every instrument in the hill-billy musical arsenal and coming off like Captain Beefheart playing punk-pop bluegrass, Hymn for Her are just the sort of musical experience to blow your mind. Something that The Beehive seems to excel at.

Staying briefly at The Beehive as we move into Saturday and more roots music on the bill, this time with Dirty Old Folkers and their brand of “inappropriate folk” – a wonderful blend of gypsy jive, klezmer, bluegrass, folk and brummie humour.

The big name of the weekend is at The Furnace, not only are we talking about Sham 69 but three quarters of the classic line up in the form of Jimmy Pursey, Dave Parsons and a personal hero (due to his co-founding of Lords of The New Church) Dave Tregunna. Support comes from local punk legends Charred Hearts and bravely opening the show is The Racket. Lets think about this – 300 or so 40-something punks here to see their heroes, armed with unlimited beer money and a BA in drinking greeted by a bunch of whippersnappers playing trashed out indie. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Next door in the Rolleston are the rhythm and booze outlaws, The Hamsters from Hell and if cover bands are more your sort of thing, Penfold will be playing popular party tunes over at Riffs Bar, 1000 Planets will be performing their Killing Joke set at The Victoria and it’s all about Ozzy’s post Sabbath career at The Queens Tap with Wizards of Oz.

Something a bit special washes up on our shores on Monday as Gabby Young and Other Animals (pictured) play The Arts Centre. A riot of colour and sound this boho-circus troupe meets jazz cabaret blend cool guitar, explosive brass, archaic music hall, unexpectedly delicate folk, abject eccentricity and burlesque. An experience to behold and Alice Offley opening the night is another very good reason to go.

Finishing at our usual Wednesday night recommendation, The Running Horse will be playing host to Louise Latham, a gorgeous voice, elegant and emotive songs and wonderful delivery, what more could you ask for? Ok, who said free beer?