Tag Archive: jim reynolds


news-0416-antinowhereleague-900x600It may be cold and wet out there enough to make you think twice about heading out to a local gig, but the answer to that dilemma is to immerse yourself in a show that reminds you of warm summer festivals and escapist music. Zetan Spore at The Beehive tonight is perfect for that with their high octane psytrance sound and music breaking in huge waves of energy and positivity, tribal breaks and searing guitar riffs. 

And if that all seems quite futuristic, Friday offers something a bit more old-school as Anti-Nowhere League (pictured) scream into town to hit the stage at The Victoria. Some punk from back in the day sounds a bit thin and mild with the passage of time but ANL’s mix of Motorhead-esque rock and heavy end punk sounds as raw, wild, obnoxious and exciting as it did when they first hit the scene nearly forty years ago. With the infectious ska-punk of Slagerij and the incendiary sounds of Borrowed Time kicking things off. This is a night that proves that at least some punk music did stand the test of time.

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12111930_1683865851881044_3972085343232098947_nOne of the great things about the diverse and eclectic nature of the Swindon live circuit is that it has something for everyone. Take this week for example, everything from international swing bands, rock legends, national tribute acts, local covers and grassroots jobbing musicians can be found somewhere along the line. Not bad for a town which is usually seen as playing second fiddle to the more established music scenes of Oxford and Bristol. Personally, I’m a big fan of those ever touring, solo guitar acts, it’s a real reminder that once you strip away the glitz and glamour, musical hi-jinx and technological enhancements, it all comes down to two things. Good songs and personal charisma. Two great purveyors of such an approach can be found in town tonight.

You may have caught Chris Webb in any number of guises, gigging with Lonely Tourist, Gentleman Nick Parker or that Gaz Brookfield fellow, or as part of Plume of Feathers, but tonight at The Tuppenny you can catch him in solo mode delivering up-tempo, finger style, modern acoustic folk songs filled with wit and wisdom.

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10354096_404715793024462_9220940296262886703_nYou know how people say that no big names ever come to Swindon or if they do they are some pop sensation and play in the cavernous, acoustic hell that is the Oasis? You know how people still go on about that time that (insert generic cover band name) played a half decent version of a Queens of the Stone Age song? You know how most original bands are not as good as cover bands? Well all those arguments get blown out of the water tonight as Avon plays The Victoria. Avon? Yes, Avon. Not only named after a QOTSA song but also featuring their original drummer, who also happened to be the original drummer for Kyuss, the band that spawned them. So options are go and watch a cover band on the basis that you will get to hear songs from your record collection or go and watch a guy who helped put them there. And therein lies the crux of the big debate I guess.

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10600611_722754574474721_1208207470222292011_nGuy Fawkes night is upon us so not only a time for fireworks, partying and cowering pets but also time for those online wits to roll out the old adage about him being “ the last person to enter Parliament with honest intentions”. So if your idea of honest intentions is a religious mercenary being hired by the English aristocracy to commit mass genocide then yes, spot on. So much for the political minds and rhetoric of generation X-box. Right, off the soapbox and into the mosh pit.

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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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10349094_566351956803162_3626054594936056313_nAnd so the “Kanye at Glastonbury” debate trundles on with an army of armchair Foo Fighters fans getting outraged on our behalf and trying to find ever more convoluted reasons to justify the fact that they simply don’t like his music. So? Maybe they are forgetting what a festival, especially one the size of Glastonbury (no Glasto…never Glasto!) is all about. Take a road trip to the heart of the West Country, be part of a temporary city of music fans, meet some interesting people, have a drink, get a bit …err…merry (that’s code by the way but this is a family paper,) take in some Cuban Jazz, a 1940’s Swing Band or a Canadian comedian (aren’t they all these days?) head out to the fringe events and learn to juggle. The options are endless. With literally 1000’s of acts to choose from why worry about one act, on one day, on one stage! That said, I stopped going when people in designer wellies from Kent began putting picket fences around their camping area to demarcate their own suburban plot from their neighbours.

 

And our own music week kicks off in fairly eclectic style as well. Level 3 has a wonderful slice of alt-rock spearheaded by Maidenheads Hindsights, a melodic, riff driven, energetic young band and the more abrasive growl of Hereford’s Richa. Slightly at odds with the headline sound, the more wistful indie-folk of Bad News (no, not that one…a different one) play the middle slot and local bands Dreamcatcher and Sahara Heights add an element of moody indie and shimmering shoegaze to the night.

 

At The Victoria Talk In Code will be throwing stadium tunes, euphoric vibes, accessible dance-rock and a spade load of pop sensibility into the mix to deliver their trade mark cross genre fusions. They are joined by the similarly anthemic Echotape and the pop rock of The Fuse.

Meanwhile at The Beehive, The Sitting Tenants offer up English garage band psychedelia, power-pop and modish rock.

 

On Friday, again Level 3 provides the big draw of the night. The Green Gig is a fundraiser on behalf of the Swindon Green Party, but politics aside it’s a fantastic line up. The Headliners, Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies are a supergroup with ex-members from Belarus, Good Things Happen in Bad Towns and Sunday Dogs, to name a few and a neat line in Americana, music hall and raggle-taggle folk. Joining them, conjuring reflective dreamscapes and indie, pastoral sweetness is Colour the Atlas (pictured). Ian Doeser and Neil Mercer get the night underway.

 

After that original music gets a bit harder to find, though fans of classic rock and metal covers will find a lot that they like from either Kok Rok at The Rolleston and Shepherds Pie at The Victoria. All styles, eras and genres can be found at The Liden Arms courtesy of Penfold.

 

Similarly, Saturday continues to cater for the denim-jacketed brigade with more classic rock covers from Broken Image at The Swiss Chalet. If you are fans of rock and rolls most successful survivors, then The Victoria is the place to be for The Rollin’ Clones.

 

Barrelhouse will be playing vintage blues with a hard edge that takes in Chicago’s heritage and the sound of the early English blues-rock movement at The Rolleston and Riffs Bar is the place to be for something with more of a bucolic vibe to it. Rob Richings deals in vocal harmony driven folk that uses indie and pop borrowings to keep it fresh and contemporary. Joining him is Ethemia, a duo renowned for the timeless quality and sensitivity of their songs and the inspirational Leon Daye. Getting the night underway The Southern Harmony, a band featuring three ex-members of Bateleurs, will be playing their debut show.

 

Jim Reynolds takes the afternoon slot at The Beehive on Sunday, filling the room with music that taps into everything from blues to ragtime, music hall to folk.

 

If something a bit more energetic is your sort of thing then The Victoria that evening is the place to be. Stillbust give a new twist to the hardcore genre and Foxpunch blend gritty punk, ska and a thrashier edge into what they adequately describe as speed grunge. Opening that show are Strength In Blunders.

 

And finally, Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the wonderfully upbeat and infectiously soulful acoustica of The Real Raj.

 

10628059_765161323523366_7975140535020360117_nI was going to do my usual introduction based on musings and procrastination but I have even decided to put that off until another time and just as well looking at how much there is to fit in this week. Okay, lets do this.
Starting, as I usually do, with Songs of Praise at The Victoria, tonight you can catch lo-fi, roots duo The August List (pictured). Variously described as “backwards country” and “porch folk” this is a band that invoke the bleak, gothic, southern soundscape of The Handsome Family and the bucolic folk/rock of The Decemberists.  The local talent is supplied by Kitchen Sink Dramas, the musical vehicle for Steve Leigh’s hard-hitting, thought-provoking, incisive, romantic and humorous lyrical outpourings. Also on the bill are Cook and The Case a band who whether crafting gossamer thin musical atmospherics or soaring post-rock deliveries still have the ability to break your heart.
 
Meanwhile down the hill at The Beehive, the regular Acoustic Buzz night hits its 25th show in style. Hometown Show provides old time Appalachian bluegrass and Joe Kelly contributes harmonica soaked country folk. Shoot The Duke play sweet folk-pop and your host, as always, is Tim Manning from Blind River Scare with his wonderful country/folk blends.
 
The big noise for Friday takes place at Level 3 as those wonderful folks at The Reggae Garden have put together a great night. Dubwiser are a dub, hip-hop, reggae collective who mix their quirky English heritage with Jamaican influences that suggest Syd Barrett meeting The Specials in a parallel dimension. Also appearing are The Tribe, a funk, reggae, dance act drawn from familiar faces on the scene and having witnessed their debut show at Longs Bar last week cannot recommend them highly enough.
At Riffs Bar Josh Wolfsohn launches his new e.p. Dirty Concrete aided and abetted by Over To You, Break Glass To Open and Sammy Sangha and there is a second chance to catch Kitchen Sink dramas at The Beehive.
The Victoria is the scene of The Monkey Dolls 3rd Charity Bash, raising money for Uplands School and The Alzheimer’s Society. Joined by The Cover Addicts and Albatross Landing it is a night of all your favourite songs from the whole of the rock and pop history book and a worthy cause to boot.
Fans of tribute bands have the options of the music of Steely Dan at The Rolleston on Friday and on Saturday can either relive The Who at The Victoria with Who’s Next or catch Bootleg Floyd at Riffs Bar. At The Swiss Chalet, Syntronix will be tapping into the synth pop end of the eighties, so set your shoulder pads to stun, slip on a pair of legwarmers and dance the night away to the sounds of Gary Numan, Ultravox, OMD and the like.
For the full comedy/music experience then head to Level 3 for the strange world of Kova Me Badd.  More a surreal parody of a covers band than a serious attempt at the genre they will be either the best or worst band you see this year depending on how you judge such things and foregoing the usual cover band selections brace yourself for a night of murdered boy band tunes (that’s the tunes being murdered not the…well, you know,) cheesy rock and nothing less than the wholesale destruction of music as we know it. Still, could be worse.
Original music does show its face here and there. The Worried Men play incendiary rhythm and blues, mixing standards and originals at The Rolleston. If you are a fan of the likes of ZZ Top and The Hamsters then this is the band that completes the unholy electric blues-rock trinity.
But before all of that kicks off you can catch a more sedate afternoon at VuDu with music from Tom Stark and Shaun Barry but more importantly great coffee and cake on hand as well.
More acoustic offerings to end on. The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is the place to find the delicate blend of blues, ragtime, music hall and folk traditions; intricacy and intimacy in the style of Nick Drake and John Martyn. And finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday features the jazz tinged folk of Nick Tann who will be playing a totally unplugged set of soaring, expressive vocals, heart on sleeve poeticism and pin drop atmospherics.

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.

Library - 185The world of music was stunned this week after the shock announcement that Girls Aloud have split up the day after their tenth anniversary tour ended (almost as if it had been planned that way). And worse than that they have fallen out with Nadine Coyle who publicly tweeted that the split was nothing to do with her, giving rise to speculation of rifts and backstabbing in their ranks. Surely not, they seem so mild mannered and balanced and not at all hungry for media attention. The group who rose to fame after a successful punch up with a washroom attendant have left a string of timeless hit, the name of which escapes me at the moment. I for one hope that the girls make it up, as the thought of them being angry at one another is too much for me to bear.

Anyway, from the ridiculous to the sublime, as The Victoria tonight has a female bias in its running order. You will be able to catch a rare live outing by Matilda, a wonderful cocktail of country, classical and dreamy lounge jazz, an even rarer solo outing by Emily Sykes who does a neat line is seductive acoustica and Emily and the Dogs who I must warn you contains a hairy, all male rhythm section, but they do scrub up nicely.

Out at Riffs one of the truly unique musical visitors to these shores, Bob Log III (pictured), pops over from Tucson, Arizona to subject the place to a lesson in trash blues, helmets, scotch drinking and assorted naughtyness! Another blues offering comes in the more normal form of Bob Bowles at The Rolleston and if you have a hankering for fired up Celtic folk, then head to the Beehive for some high octane shennanighins with Missin’ Rosie.

Friday sees the MECA get on board the music scene with an under 18’s Popcorn and Chocolate Party. Those of a slightly older persuasion, or with chocolate allergies might like to try the following. There are a couple of tributes in town; nineties kids might want to experience a bit of grunge nostalgia with Earl Jam at The Rolleston, those who appreciate the “Man in Black” should walk the line up to The Victoria for Cash, a show that I can’t recommend enough.

Original music can, however,  be found in abundance at Riffs Bar with the fairly odd pairing of Cold In Berlin’s delay drenched, bleak, brooding and animalistic musical shamanism and The Shudders melodic lo-fi indie meets country rock, a tapestry threaded from Crazy Horse, Bright Eyes and Wilco for those weaving enthusiasts out there.

Originality takes a bit of a back seat on Saturday, so you might want to opt for classic rock covers at The Rolleston with Lonesome Crow, though if Burlesque is your thing, then head out to Riffs Bar, with music from Ghost Trail.

Sunday sees the best/worse cover band in history take the stage at The Victoria. Kova Me Badd are local legends who should really know better but if you imagine a live parody of every Now… compilation album ever made, that’s at least a starting point.

Washboards and shakers at the ready at The Rolleston for a bit of skiffle madness and audience participation courtesy of Ode and The Bebops who may once and for all be answering the age old question about the lasting flavour properties of chewing gum left on bedroom furniture. Aiden Moore will be playing a mix of covers and originals at The Sun Inn at Coate Water and the Beehive afternoon session features Jim Reynolds who taps into blues, ragtime, rhythm and blues, music hall and folk. That’s followed by the Soul Box dj’s and a selection of Soul, Tamla and Ska tunes to see the weekend round off with a nice vibe.

Last but not least, the regular Wednesday session at The Running Horse sees none other than Nick Tann return to its hallowed domain. Nick not only does a neat line in slightly jazz edged, acoustic folk but also is a blogosphere hero, podcaster and promoter and as such deserves your support in return. With him this time is Anna Neale, whose songs explore and resonate from such depths as Roman Literature and ancient religious texts through mediums as diverse as gentle ballads, arabesques, frantic acoustica to slow burning anthems. I’d say that ticks all the boxes.

Library - 25Another week and yet more bad news on the music front. Last time I reported that The 12 Bar had shut it’s doors, possibly for the last time as a music venue; this week it was announced that after three very successful years, the biggest cultural event in the local calendar, The Big Arts Day, is also calling it a day. A sign of the times no doubt, but maybe such things are a signifier of major shifts in our habits. Like the transition from physical formats to digital downloads, maybe the live experience itself is no longer seen as an particularly relevant experience. People seem more and more inclined to engage with music via the celebrity stacked medium of television in the comfort of their own homes rather than make the effort to go out and watch bands performing at the grass roots level, the place where every band, no matter how big, originated. So it sort of begs the question, where now for live music?

Whilst you ponder that you can still catch some good music around the town. Tonight (Thursday), for example, sees the welcome return of Witney’s finest yob savants, Black Hats. Imagine what The Jam might sound like if they had carried on evolving through the breakthroughs of modern technology and changing pop fashions, visit The Victoria tonight for a glimpse of that possible scenario. Support is the raw, visceral and unadulterated rock and roll of Nymph and kicking things off is Babies vs. Rabies who having risen from the ashes of Mr Hello and His Honesty Club are sure to throw a musical curve ball. For something more sedate, Claude Bourbon will be at The Beehive delivering his trademark weaves of folk, blues, and jazz, classical and eastern acoustic vibes.

On Friday, Riffs Bar have The Sanity Days, Severenth and Twisted State of Mind gigging in aid of International Heavy Metal Day, which is confusing because not only is heavy metal the one genre that there is no shortage of in Swindon, but also the official day is actually on the 12th. Still time to set up a Tibetan Acid Jazz day to rival it. No? Pity! The Victoria are hosting its annual tribute to John Lennon and The Beatles with the likes of Nudybronque, Aural Candy, The Suspicions, Mr Love and Justice and The Starkers providing their renditions of his songs.

The Furnace is celebrating all things youthful, indie and slightly experimental around the edges. Headliners The Debuts, despite their age, have a wonderful washed out and slightly cinematic post-punk feel mixed with more contemporary markers. The Jefferson Brick are the sound of indie exploring some of it’s more warped undercurrents whilst Korim Miah and With Felix push the night’s sounds into some interesting guitar-electro-pop territory.

If you have been anywhere near the internet in the last 4 months you must be aware that Kiss tribute, Dressed to Kill are playing The Furnace on Saturday whilst upstairs in The Rolleston Missin’ Rosie will be doing what they do best. For those not in the know, what they do best is mix high energy Celtic folk with a driven rock sound, sort of a West Country Flogging Molly if you like.

In aid of Help for Heroes charity and more specifically to honour the memory of Paul Dolphin there is a twin venue music event taking place, firstly at the MECA and then going on till 6am at SUJU. 10 hours of music in the form of 30 live acts and DJ’s and all for a very good cause.

The Beehive offers something a bit more old school for its Sunday afternoon session. Jim Reynolds is fine purveyor of blues, ragtime and old-fashioned ballads and is at turns, laconic, wistful and pensive and tongue in cheek.

More acoustic music in the form of The Stripped Back Sessions at The Victoria on Tuesday featuring Kitchen Sink Dramas, Nick Parker and Reichenback Falls, who is often compared to Sparklehorse, Iron and Wine and Bonny Prince Billy, three acts that surly must pique the interest of any music fan.

Finally the week rounds out at The Running Horse on Wednesday with the vocally gorgeous, dark sonnets of The Black Feathers and funkier acoustic sounds of The Right Hooks.