Tag Archive: micky barker

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.

Whilst I was clearing out some old text files from my computer the other day I came across my very first Sounds Around Town submission and realised that I have been ensconced in this particular ivory tower for just about 3 years now. Quick calculations put that are around 100,000 words of recommendation for Swindon’s gig going cognoscenti, many of those words spelt correctly and in a logical order. Three years! To paraphrase Sandy Denny, had she been writing in Latin, where does the tempus fugit indeed?


So, enough of ancient history and on to the music of the moment. It’s certainly one of the quieter weeks, but that is probably to be expected with the amount of local festivals and busy schedules we have had through the summer. Still, there is good stuff to be had if you know where to look.


There is no better place to kick off your search for original music than at The Rolleston tonight with Optimal Prime, made up of members of Dodging The Bullet, Deep Thought and Snaggletooth and delivering hard hitting rock that takes in the more proggy reaches of the genre. Support comes from the ubiquitous Plummie Racket touting his solo acoustic set.


If you miss the main act though you can catch them on Friday over at Riffs Bar supporting Steve Grimmet’s Grim Reaper. His is a tasty slab of British classic rock and all in aid of raising money for Children’s Leukemia. Great music and a worthy cause. And if the heavier end of the musical spectrum is your cup of Earl Grey, then you might want to consider a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria as Rammlied bring all the industrial grind, pomp and dark majesty of the original to your doorstep.


And still the options in the loud and shouty department roll on. The Furnace hosts it’s regular Teenage Kicks night, showcasing the best in local bands, this time with the melodic hardcore of The Pursuit and Natures, the eclectic alt-rock of Tides of Change (who replace Route 101) and the frantic drive of The Doss who sound like a collision between The Buzzcocks and Nirvana.


A different serving suggestion comes courtesy of The Erin Bardwell Collective. Late sixties style rocksteady and ska originals, driven by that classic organ sound and an infectious energy and all for free at The Rolleston.


Saturday has a fair bit to offer in the way of music, though sadly not much of it in the original category. The Rolleston offers the only oasis in a desert of tribute acts,  in the guise of Gwyn Ashton. Not only does he do a neat line in pre-war Delta blues flavoured with cool country, jazz vibes and swamp rock earthiness, but this show will also feature ex-Magnum drummer Mickey Barker. Those into their music trivia might be interested to note that the Magnum connection also extends to Gywn’s latest album, Radiogram, which features, amongst other stalwarts, iconic piano man Mark Stanway. (I have One Sacred Hour playing in my head even as we speak)


Tributes can be found at The Victoria with Fleetwood Bac, featuring a Christine McVie who looks a lot like Alice Offley, Bjorn Again being ABBA at the Old Town Bowl and Syntronix playing the synth-pop hits of the eighties at Riffs Bar. And if you are still in the mood for partying after all that then Reboot club night at The Furnace playing indie, rock and alternative is the place to head for.


Juey is at The Beehive for the Sunday afternoon session; soft Americana and folk songs with a traditional, storytelling form, employing guitar, harmonica, mandolin and banjo.


Wednesday provides a welcome stepping-stone to get you through the working week with a couple of interesting options. The Running Horse continue to bring in quality acoustic music, this week it’s The Black Feathers (pictured), a band whose ear for melody and amazing harmonising have to be witnessed live to be believed. Ben Maggs is also on the bill.


The Victoria is playing host to Shakespeare, Rattle and Roll a show looking at the life, loves and language of The Bard and setting much of it to music in a more contemporary style, such as Beatles, Elvis and Bob Dylan. Sounds pretty original to me.