Tag Archive: penfold


Kirk-Brandon-aKoustiK-Promo2016.jpgNothing ever happens in this town. It must be true, after all you hear it said over and over again. Though it is difficult to justify such a statement as I prepare to list over 20 different gigs in the space of under a week. So with no further ado…

Tonight, The Victoria plays host to a slew of indie bands headed by chaps of the moment Getrz. This young musical gang weave punk swagger through sharp indie cool and they are joined by No Hot Ashes’ eclectic and wide-ranging sonics, the cinematic and sweeping sounds of We Are Parkas, and Freakouts kick the night off in explosive fashion.

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10697395_839039612784945_1481683335433694579_oNot the busiest of weeks for live music coming up but with the summer finally kicking in, I guess barbecues and pub gardens, days out in exotic places, festivals and nights camped under the stars are preferable to being shut in a loud, dark, beer sodden room with dozens of other sweaty people. Live music is okay with that. Live music understands. Live music is patient. Live music will be here waiting when you are ready to come back inside.

That said there is a triptych of great, original offerings to entice you in happening around Old Town tonight and at The Victoria you will find those perennial musical mind-benders, Sex Jazz and their insect fixated, bass heavy, Zappa-infused, psychedelic-punk. Joining them is Cracked Machine, purveyors of intense, droning, proggy soundscapes and RRS a one man band of glitchy, lo-hi weirdness.

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27503378_1049985821809631_747397107544723842_o.jpgIt’s a controversial issue for sure and at the risk of sounding like one of these music snobs that you always hear about, I am going to raise the point anyway. You could consider covers and tributes as the mass entertainment of the live gigging circuit and original music as the way to ensure that things keep moving forward. Both are required. The former largely keeps venues and music pubs in business these days, the latter feeds into the wider music system and bigger, further flung venues to keep musical evolution a going concern. I only mention this because this week I have been unable to find many original gigs to fill this column and that does beg the question that without that input of new creativity what does the future look like? Is new music taking place outside the traditional live venue circuit? Are we locked into a rose-tinted era of comfort and familiarity? Where will new music come from if not the small, grassroots venues? Enough speculation, on to business.

Blues is on the menu at The Beehive tonight as Built For Comfort offer up the sound of traditional Chicago blues with a few detours through the Memphis and New Orleans scene, expect sultry guitars, organ flourishes (steady) and some solid grooving music. Also following a traditional route but this time down an English folk pathway Splat The Rat take rustic songs from the days of yore and update them for the modern audience at The Victoria.

The one totally original show I could find this week takes place at The Tuppenny and features the welcome return of Phil Cooper (pictured) as he promotes his most excellent and highly recommended new album Thoughts and Observations. He blends the likes of Crowded House and David Gray’s deft pop through his own enlightening songs. Also on the bill is Sarah C. Ryan and her own take on folk and roots infused guitar pop.

Friday sees two helpings of old-school rock for your enjoyment. Firstly at The Victoria Rorke’s Drift and Black Rose line up a set of iconic numbers from the halcyon days of the genre delivered with all the power and the glory of those original bands. Those of a less nervous disposition might wish to head over to The Swiss Chalet for a slice of The Chaos Brothers. They aim to “play the Three Chords of Freedom to an unsuspecting and largely uncaring world” but the reality is that they generally play punk, rock, glam and metal to a rowdy and drunken gathering.

If something smoother and more considered is required then The Soul Man at The Grove’s Company Inn is the gig for you, especially if the golden age of soul, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, The Drifters and the like is your cup of honeyed sonic tea. The Ultimate Band bring the wide appeal of the function band and a diverse and infectious mix of music to The Queen’s Tap whilst Monkey Dolls at The Castle play songs which you probably know but are less likely to hear from your average cover band.

Nuttyness pay tribute to Camden Town’s finest skanking, 2-tone revivalists, Madness, at The Victoria on Saturday so expect a night of ska-pop fun and frolics and all the hits and iconic songs that you know and love. Also playing some groovesome and accessible tunes is Felix and the Funk who will be filling the Haydon Wick Club with all the iconic sonic moments from funk (natch) pop, soul, reggae, dance and disco. Rugs will be cut, wigs will be flipped and dance floors filled.

Funk and rock pair up at The Queen’s Tap as Patsy Gamble and Wishbone Ash’s Muddy Manninen mix up groove, blues, funk, rock and soul into covers and originals at The Queen’s Tap as they lead Hipkiss through their musical moves, Penfold break out the party tunes at The Castle and Stripped take things down a notch or two with acoustic renditions of all your favourites at The Manor.

The Coleview Community Centre starts two days of music with Locarno Beat’s 60’s hits package followed by Get Carter’s pop rock and indie covers on Sunday. Also on Sunday The Revolvers will be bringing a touch of ska to The Duke of Edinburgh.

26170782_914630398738455_5843566105616402098_o 2Sadly it is time to morn the passing of another musical great. Mark E. Smith, the glorious leader of The Fall may not have had the mainstream success that other recently departed icons were known for, but he was an icon nonetheless. An icon of otherness, of belligerence, of the anti and the other, of subversion, things which are by and large missing from todays music. He walked a line between the brilliant and the bizarre, shows were as likely to be terrible as transcendental, lyrics were confrontational and strangely poetic and gigs were your own little secret. He could have steered the band towards stadium success but instead preferred to play above pubs in Bethnal Green or decrepit ex-discotheques in Wythenshawe! Wether you got him or not, loved him or loathed him we can all guarantee that the world will be a less interesting and more conformist place without him. Anyway…to horse, well, musically speaking.

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19143181_1006331876069956_5134772044657416393_oWe’ve had the first snow, a lot of people have their decorations up and there is even a bottle of Amaretto on the drinks shelf but of course it isn’t really Christmas until you have watched Alan Rickman plummet from the top of the Nakatomi Plaza! And the musical offerings also reflect this transitional period, not quite swamped with office soirees where people called Brian from Human Resources take it upon themselves to enforce the fun, not quite into the realm of wall to wall cheesy Christmas songs but certainly at a point where the musical options are more about the tried and tested than the unknown and cutting edge…material wise anyway.

Of course there are always some exceptions and one is the chance to catch the last local Hip Route show of the year at The Beehive. Funky blues, pulsing and soulful grooves, dexterous slide guitar and a sassy vocal growl…what more do you need? Not much but if you feel the answer is a cool folk-pop support act then Sarah Ryan has that covered. If that isn’t your thing then Lewis Leighton will be breaking out everything from Sinead O’Connor to Green Day, Springsteen to Rhianna at The Groves Company Inn.

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1278861_573888912660792_1813647107_oNot many musicians deserve elevation to celebrity status. In fact celebrity is a word so devalued by its application to reality TV chancers and inflated pop dross egos that we need a new label for the likes of David Bowie. Maybe Icon is a better fit. 25 of the most influential albums of all time, film and theatre roles and untold creative innovations; he embodied art, androgyny, contradiction, mystery, elegance and eloquence and even his death and final musical statement seem like a work of art.

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14237746_306801709685258_7561015600740853012_nOne thing about writing this column is that people don’t seem to have any fear of voicing an opinion as to how I could do it a lot better. But criticism is healthy and it has been pointed out to be that I do tend to favour the music that appeals to my own tastes rather than cover a wider spectrum of formats. So, heading into a new year seemed the natural place to bring a new modus operandi to the gig guide and like Trump, Brexit and Teresa May give the majority what they asked for, irrespective of my own personal preferences. So here is to a new, more inclusive guide to music venues and all their activities, subject, of course, to me being able to find said information online.

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541616_722774127841154_9155324037417470323_nThe F-word has been raising its head again, favouritism that is. Of course it is only natural that I have more to say about the bands and venues that I see as moving music forward and this article is based around my personal recommendations for gig goers, but in an effort to provide what some would see as hopefully a more balanced piece I have widened the scope this week to include some of the venues who don’t always make it into the column and to show a broader view of the wide and varied array of music taking place right across town.

 

Before I do so though I just want to go off on a slight tangent and give a mention to Madame Renards Mini Fringe Festival, which is underway in venues across town. Although a theatrically centred event some of its shows do wander into more musical realms, as well as dance, cabaret and even some slightly surreal territory. Do check out their schedule, as there really is a lot of amazing underground entertainment to be found.

 

So, at The Beehive tonight Bob Bowles performs delivering bluesy and accessible guitar, a soulful vocal and showing why he is one of the most popular local bookings. With all the talk of politics in the run up to the general election, Kitchen Sink Drama’s who play there the following night are a very apt booking. A vehicle for Steve Leigh’s poignant songs; expect sideswipes at politicians, thought provoking takes on the attitudes of modern society as well as dexterous playing, all proof that the protest song isn’t completely dead.

 

Also on Friday, all things eighties can be found at The Victoria courtesy of Syntronix. A tribute to the day-glo, synth-pop era of music and a good excuse to get the leg warmers, shoulder-pads and jumpsuits out one more time and dance like a loon to everything from Duran Duran to Flock of Seagulls. At The Rolleston it’s covers from the seventies to the present day with The Great Nothing.

 

 

Saturday is usually the day when the bigger tribute bands roll into town and this week is no different. Formed from the ashes of previous Black Sabbath tribute bands Blag Sabbath and Snowblind, Sabbotage offer one of the best renditions of the music and performance of the Ozzy Osborne era. They can be found at The Victoria. The Secret Police, the longest running Police tribute band will paying similar homage to their own musical heroes at Riffs Bar.

 

Imagine if you will that The Beatles had formed in the mid seventies amidst the punk boom. Okay, got that? Imagine that they are also partial to classic rock. Throw in the idea that they are based in Turin. Put all that together and you have The Beat Holes. Iron Maiden riffs driving McCartney’s finest creations, John Lennon re-imagined as a Motorhead fan, The Beatles as a scuzzy garage rock band. It’s all at The Rolleston on Saturday.

 

As mentioned earlier going slightly off the usual path reveals a wealth of other options. At The Queens Tap, Alter Chaos will be playing across the genres , everything from 70’s to the present day and new covers band Capella can be found at The Ferndale Club. Zing can be found at The Swiss Chalet armed with a select musical arsenal including classics from the likes of Kings of Leon, Killers and Stereophonics whilst at The Castle, Monkey Dolls offer a scattergun of great indie, rock and punk selections and Penfold will be bringing their eight-legged party machine to The Royal Oak, so something for everyone there.

 

On Sunday the gorgeous sound of Mississippi Delta comes to The Beehive courtesy of Barney Newman whose banjo and guitar salvos will have you convinced that you can taste mint julep in the air and hear the great river in the distance. This is authentic roots blues at it’s finest.

 

At to wrap up in our usual location, the final mention of the weeks is for Lucy Kitchen (pictured) at The Roaring Donkey. Self confessed “folky-bird” her music conjures words such as enchanting, ethereal, delicate and beautiful and it is no surprise that she has made it to the final eight to play the Emerging Talent Stage at Glastonbury this year. I can’t recommend her music highly enough.

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.

 

10712899_10152416753527406_7198576379845939303_nOh, it’s just a bit of fun for the kids, they say. But Halloween seems to have turned into a national holiday for people who thought that Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a documentary and who take quizzes on Facebook with titles like “How long would you survive a zombie invasion?” Also prepare yourself for a barrage of lazy journalism resorting to clichéd words such a boo-tiful and spooktacular. The tail end of the week is also an opportunity for on-line slacktavists to trot out their well-worn cliché about Guy Fawkes being the “only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions.” Yes, that’s what the world needs, more religiously motivated terrorists in the pay of shadowy organisations. That said the offshoot of all this warped celebration is that there is a lot of live music to go with it.

 

Starting at The Beehive for a change, tonight the regular Acoustic Buzz night features Lucky Strikes frontman Matthew Boulter, whose solo work has been described as ““Introspective, gentle, tinged with darkness and a sorrowful undertow.” Sounds good to me. Also on the bill are the equally brilliant Paul McClure and your regular host Tim Manning of Blind River Scare.

 

The Victoria opts for the harder rock of All Ears Avow, a band who manages to infuse alternative rock with a certain pop sensibility to produce a sound that both big and commercial. They are joined by With Ghosts, Elasea and Heriot.

 

The big Halloween show is at The Victoria on Friday with a “Bands and Burlesque” special. Not only music from suitably named, psychobilly genre benders Cowboy and The Corpse but also exotic and sensual dance routines. Jokes about pumpkins made at your own risk. If something more raucous is required for your festivities The Hamsters From Hell at Rolleston offer riotous rhythm and boozy blues for your delectation. Meanwhile downstairs at Level 3, Emily’s Pole Fitness has a very unique Halloween show for you.

 

The Acoustic Session out at Riffs Bar is taken by Rob Richings this week, with the maximum added value of it being a full band show (pictured) and at The Beehive, The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s will be spinning classic ska and reggae tunes.

 

Saturday gets a bit obsessed with the tried and tested but it’s all about supply and demand and what Swindon seems to demand looks a lot like this. In a clever play on words, The Four Fighters will be paying tribute to the band fronted by the universally accepted nicest man in rock music today, Dave Grohl, and they can be found at The Victoria. Riffs Bar holds its festive bash to the indie-party sounds of covers band Penfold with everything from “The Arctic Monkey’s to The Zutons” apparently.

 

Young and dynamic classic rock is on the menu at The Rolleston with Bad Obsession and tunes that run from “Aerosmith to Zeppelin”….and does anyone else see an alphabetized marketing theme developing here? More heavy rock covers can be found at The Ashford Road Club courtesy of Shepherds Pie who declare that they play “everything from AC/DC to ZZ Top”….see, there it is again. Finally Operation 77 will be at The Swiss Chalet with a range of covers covering punk, post-punk, ska and mod genres. They didn’t offer a neat alphabetized sound bite. Level 3 has a night that is 100% Drum and Bass for those that want to carry the party on into the night.

 

Music obsessives might wish to know that during the day at the Central Community Centre there will be a Record and CD Fair so all you audiophiles (that is a real word, I checked) start saving your money.

 

A second chance to see The Hamsters From Hell comes on Sunday at The White Hart in Wroughton. One of the reasons for mentioning this is that the pub has just changed hands and it would be in every live music fans interest to support the gig and prove to the new owners that live music is worth hosting and, more importantly from a business point of view, a lucrative income for the pub. Use it or lose it as they say.

 

Last mention of the week is for D’Bize at The Beehive also on Sunday, the best of the old Irish tradition with a young beating heart, sounds like a great way to enjoy a pint and let the roast dinner slowly digest.