Tag Archive: old town festival


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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1016976_10151955957771467_5293699458571862155_nAt a time when many of the great and good seem to be shuffling off this mortal coil, I was saddened today to read of the demise of another icon of our times. The Hipster.  It is being widely reported that the sleeve tattoo, too cool music taste, sawn off and overly complicated hair cut, backwoodsman beard and predilection for drinking out of jam jars has now passed on and these sockless evangelists of fickle fashion are a dying breed.

 

But like any other youth tribe, did they actually exist outside the pages of style magazines? Did punk or goth for that matter? Maybe all of these tribes without leaders, codes without rules, loose collections of ideas and ideology can only be seen from the outside and after the fact. Maybe.

 

Could this be just another twist in the scene that never existed, for if something never existed…how can it actually die? Maybe they just wised up and realised that Youth Lagoon were just The Bravery in tighter trousers or that wearing a monocle doesn’t make you look as cool as you think.

 

Anyway, there will be none of this hipsterish nonsense at The Victoria tonight as it’s all about the rock fraternity making a bit of a stand with three of the linchpin bands of that genre appearing on the same bill. Headliners, The Damned and The Dirty effortlessly blend classic rock, grunge and dirty blues whilst Vanarin and The Starkers opt for a more Seattle sound, the latter with a healthy dash (excuse the ironic word play) of Libertines-esque garage indie.

 

The Beehive opts for another stalwart, this time with a blues grounding as Bob Bowles cooks up soulful vocals and dexterous guitar work.

 

A bit more to chose from on Friday and staying at The Beehive for a moment it’s the return of well loved king of the social club crooners, love guru, connoisseur of fine wines and marmalades and building contractor, Bill Smarme and his band, The Biznes, for some cheeky re-workings of well known songs and a real party show.

 

Out at Riffs Bar, the acoustic session features two great singer songwriters, Sam Lewis who has crossed musical genres and state lines to build a story and style that sits comfortable between the likes of Van Morrison and Willie Nelson. Sam Eason has a sound more home grown: sultry and tender, sometimes fractured, always optimistic. This is a couple of chaps that you really should catch live.

 

The raw edge of the Delta mixed with gritty rock and roll vibes can be found courtesy of The Blue Trees pictured) at The Rolleston but if you are looking for a night of familiar favourites then Penfold at The Victoria might be what you are looking for.

 

And whilst we are talking of covers and standards, Going Underground is playing as part of The Old Town Festival at The Lawn. The set will be ska and reggae hits and entry price includes a hog roast and a punch…err, I mean a glass of punch.

 

Not a lot of original music to be had on Saturday, maybe Russell Brand can come and preach a musical revolution on it’s behalf, talking very quickly in vague terms using words that haven’t been heard since Chaucer was knee high to a printing press. Maybe not. So apart from The Erin Bardwell Collective playing organ driven, 60’s ska and reggae styles at The Bandstand in Old Town and The AK-Poets playing the first of two shows this weekend at The Curriers Arms in Wootton Bassett (the other appearance being at The Moonrakers on Sunday) it’s all about old favourites and nostalgic musical jaunts.

 

The most interesting of the bunch for my money, not that you need money to get in as it’s a free show, is All Cramped Up at The Rolleston. Channelling the music of The Cramps, one of the bands that helped coin the term Psychobilly, they liberally plundered rockabilly, glam, garage rock, punk, blues and horror genre b-movies. Now that does sound worth a go.

 

Back to The Old Town Festival and you can catch classic rock from Broken Image and top function band Echo. More rock comes in the guise of State of Quo…no explanation required I hope, at The Victoria and rock and metal classics from Shepherds Pie at The Royal Oak.

Library - 62So, the big noise this weekend seems to be coming from up the hill, as the Old Town Festival reaches it’s climax in fine style. Of particular interest to the culture vultures and gig goers alike is the big finale at The Lawn on Saturday with an afternoon of performing arts in all it’s forms by the various local schools and academies, followed by an evening of acoustic music from the likes of Hiproute, Albion, Ethemia, Coach and more besides. Make sure you check their website for the full menu that includes a parade, dog show, running events and a cornucopia of other activities.

Also watch out for the 105.5fm Late Gig boys who are running a tongue in cheek awards ceremony on Friday in that very same location. I repeat, this is just a bit of fun so please don’t get upset if your band didn’t get nominated, look on the bright side, it means that you won’t be obliged to talk to “The Andys” or to use the title of their new, Channel 5 sketch platform, The Mitchell and Pett Show.  Every cloud and all that!

Back in the usual haunts and back into chronological order, tonight, The Victoria  has one of it’s regular Band and Burlesque shows, this time it takes as it’s theme the Carry On films, so nothing at all risqué there you will be pleased to hear, and music is from the stalwarts of skiffle, Ode and the BeBops who will be endeavouring to find out the answer to the age old question, does your chewing gum loses it’s flavour on the bedpost overnight? Or not.

More serious music is afoot at The Beehive with this month’s Acoustic Buzz. Some call it roots-blues, some call it country or rough around the edges folk, but Canadian singer songwriter, Lynne Hanson describes her music as “porch music with a little Texas red dirt.” Call it what you will, just don’t miss it. Especially as support comes from that harmonious celtic-folk-americana duo, The Black Feathers and as always Blind River Scare main man, Tim Manning, hosts the night. Fans of more mainstream music might wish to head for Baker Street for the acoustic pop and soulful tones of Kieran Cox.

Friday sees the return of a band that I have been looking forward to for a long time. The place is The Beehive, the band is The Snakes (pictured). Having just released their third album, The Last Days of Rock and Roll, the band return to the town that featured heavily in their formative years to show you just why they count Bob Harris and Mark Lamarr amongst their fans. If the sound of Whiskeytown colliding with Mott The Hopple sounds like your thing, be there and then buy the album.

Younger fans will be pleased to know that Teenage Kicks takes up residence in it’s new home at Riffs Bar and this inaugural show takes the form of a pop-punk showcase with Disclosure (no, not that one, the other one,) Not My Finest Hour, Save The Dinosaurs, Written In Words and The Hourglass Has Turned. Elsewhere it’s classic rock covers at The Rolleston with guitar Gandalfs Metalhead and the brilliant Interlight at The Victoria who basically play anything that takes their fancy and with wit, style, panache and matching suits.

Saturday sees R’n’B pop giant, Billy Ocean come to The Old Town Bowl and support comes from another eighties pop sensation, Hazel Dean. Those folkies out there may opt to travel a bit further afield to catch either Grubby Jack at The Waggon and Horses in Wootton Bassett or if you can manage to track down a ticket, Show of Hands at The Great Coxwell Barn. Either way you are in for a treat.

Sunday sees those awfully nice chaps from Mr Love and Justice take their Lazy Sunday Afternoon gig to The Old Town Bandstand where they will be joined by the Cajun vibes of Kim Coupland and the wonderfully elegant acoustica of Nick Felix.

Tuesday jazz at Baker Street comes courtesy of vocal and piano led Paul Buck/Catherine Sykes Quartet and acoustic music is well represented as always at The Running Horse on Wednesday by the powerful and melodious songs of Ben Maggs and the off beat sounds of Salisbury duo, Child of Imber.