Tag Archive: reggae garden


11244578_1668237160071991_5434254339853004958_nSo there is good news and bad news. I was just reading about a new national radio station, Radio X, which is being launched dedicated to new music and particularly guitar-based bands. Great, but surely there has to be a catch. Of course there is and that catch is that spearheading the programing will be not only Vernon “absolutely amazing” Kaye but also Chris “let’s just talk about me rather than play any music “ Moyles. So if you like the idea of twenty-minute ramblings about his celebrity mates at an award show before the indulgence is broken by the latest attempt by Kasabian to sound like a Primal Scream studio outtake, then this is the station for you.

But if you really are looking for emerging, guitar-based bands then look no further than The Victoria tonight as Yves play with Coco Esq in support. Both bands represent the frontline of a current local creative upsurge plying a trade in tight and melodic indie and proving that the future of local music and hopefully beyond, is in safe hands.

The Beehive plays host to one of its regular favourites. Whilst normally fronting his own eponymous blues-rock band, Keith Thompson as a solo act is just as impressive, the stripped back, raw and honest sound making for a vary intimate connection between player and audience.

And talking of blues, Friday sees the first outing for Level 3 Live, a regular blues night and this inaugural session features the man who none other than Alexis Korner described as “ The best white blues harmonica player in the world, ” Rod Garfield and his band. High praise indeed. Blues is also on the cards at The Beehive, this time with Bob “famous in Swindon” Bowles, a soulful voice, effortlessly slick, bluesy tunes and a bagful of great songs.

Although mainly a venue for cover bands The Castle occasionally takes a punt on trying originals and you can’t get much more original than Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies. Variously described as a “Mercurial and biscuit obsessed blend of lilting, music hall Americana and psychedelia” and “If I’d kidnapped Radiohead or the Floyd & forced them to work as a mid-west American Circus band during the 1970’s, they’d sound just like this.” I’ll just leave it at that then.

For those who already know what they like, there is a wide range of more familiar options available. Classic punk from the iconic to the underground can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of The Useless Eaters, Dire Streets at Riffs Bar who pay tribute to Mark Knopfler and his band who helped launch the CD/MTV age, as well as Peloton playing mod, soul and power pop at The Victoria. At The Locomotive, Don’t Speak cover pop and rock but seem to have a very select ear for music, so expect The House Martins, The Beautiful South and Natalie Imbruglia in place of some of the more usual selections.

The big event for the weekend can be found at The Old Town Bowl on Saturday in the form of this year’s Reggae Garden. Top names such as Channel One Soundsystem, 10 piece nu-wave roots/reggae band Roots Ambassadors, Dubwiser and The Tribe provide the music plus there will also be stalls and soul food all combining to make this the party of the year. If you want that party to continue into the evening then re-locate to The Victoria for the official after party with Jah Jah Sounds and guests spinning reggae, dub, lovers rock, ska, rocksteady and everything in between.

Continuing it’s mission to bring new and original bands to an area infused with nightclub culture and more mainstream tastes, The Locomotive really pushes the boat out with IDestroy (pictured), a Bristol all girl three piece who reference Riot Grrrl, grunge, garage rock and straight out rock ‘n’ roll and who are gearing up to support ex-The Runaways singer Cherie Currie shortly. Support comes from the no less uncompromising Molotov Sexbomb a band that is in many ways their male equivalent.

If you fancy some dirty, sweary R’n’B then a trip out to The Globe in Highworth will deliver just that in a Hamsters From Hell shaped package and at The Rolleston, French blues band Nico ZZ play originals and standards and show why they have made such a big impact on the blues circuit.

Finally at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday, Jamie R Hawkins plays emotionally charged, poignant and witty acoustic pop-rock that reminds you of Crowded House or even Del Amitri, which is fine by me.

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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.

thI know I bang on about gig information being a bit thin on the ground, especially for those not trained in the art of covert music research and stealth operations to locate said gigs but I have just thought of the real advantage to the people of Swindon to spreading the information. If I have plenty of gigs to write about then you don’t have to suffer my ponderous and tangential (not to mention overly verbose) introductions. Luckily for you, dear reader, this is one of those weeks, so on with the show.

 

Fans of folk and Americana have only one gig to concern themselves with tonight, Songs of Praise at The Victoria which sees the timely return of one of their most popular bookings, Case Hardin’(pictured). This is a band that channels the eloquence of Steve Earle, wistful emotion of Ryan Adams and travels the bleak hinterland of Springsteen’s Nebraska without once sounding like a tribute or a pastiche to the genre. After nearly destroying The Beehive as the final act of this years Shuffle, The Shudders join the bill for their unique blend of energetic indie-country and opening up is Songs of Praise favourite, sweet and soulful acoustic troubadour, Tamsin Quin.

 

Riffs Bar meanwhile has John Fogerty sideman Bob Malone. L.A. based Bob (that’s Los Angeles not Long Ashton) plays a high-energy blues, roots and rock hybrid mixed in with more than a dash of New Orleans R&B. Anglo-Swedish alternative acoustic trio, We Ghosts, will be filling The (newly refurbished) Beehive with their glorious harmonies and their wondrous weave of jazz, blues, folk and pop.

 

Friday is a mixture of rock and acoustic and you will find a bit of both in Bren Haze who is playing Riffs Acoustic Session. Once known for being the man behind the hi-octane, razor-wire riffs of The Unforeseen, Bren now does a neat line in dexterous, acoustic charm with just a hint of his former sound lurking in the background. The other acoustic offerings are The Regent Acoustic Circus, which features Joely and Wilmor, Tom McCarthy and your regular host, Nick Felix and Teddy White at The Beehive.

 

The rock element comes into play with Hot Flex who trade in metal and rock covers at The Rolleston and a tribute to Bon Jovi at The Victoria.

 

Possibly slightly outside the remit of the column but worth a mention on the basis that gig goers buy records, I want to just give a quick shoutout to The CD and Record fair taking place Saturday afternoon at the Central Community Centre in Emlyn Square. There, I did.

 

There is only room to touch briefly on the big event for Saturday, yes, The Reggae Garden is back at The Old Town Bowl. A huge line up of live music and DJ’s in the reggae, roots, dub and lovers rock genres, a wide range of soul food, BBQ and Caribbean cuisine plus children’s activities will make for a great day out. Check out their website for full details.

 

If you wish to continue the flavour of the day, catch The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s spinning the same vibe at The Beehive that evening. Elsewhere Syntronix take a wander through the eighties pop archive at The Victoria and Innes Sibun returns to The Rolleston for some blues standards and originals. Fans of the likes of Rory Gallagher will find a lot to like in his music. Next door, Level 3 wanders into new territory (for a club still very much associated with rock and metal) and hosts Felix and The Funk for a night of dance, disco, funk and frolics. Viva La Difference!

 

Sunday afternoon and S’Go, which derives from the ancient Icelandic word Skoe, (okay it doesn’t, but it sounds plausible) are a multi-instrumental group who play a set of original and covers, genre hopping through folk, blues, gypsy, country and more besides.

 

At The Victoria two rock leviathans hove into view. Obzidian play a brand of progressive thrash metal and they are joined by Shadows of Serenity who music trivia buffs should note contains ex-members of Sienna, Battlewitch and Traitor Born.

 

Finally, One last slice of acoustica can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday in the guise of Drew Bryant.

936668_10151582452128891_1408839903_nIt seems a bit of a quieter week all round, but then I have had a bit of a problem gathering information as of late. Without going into specifics, here is a radical idea for venues, promoters and bands – tell people about your event! Better still, tell people like me who can get the information out to thousands of people, In the words of Werhner von Braun, “it’s not rocket science” (pause until the sound of a wave of people googling him dies down.)

 

Tonight sees the very welcome return of an artist that Swindon has taken to it’s heart, Louise Latham. Blending an ethereal voice with emotive piano lines, the result is a wonderful dream pop soundscape and a collection of songs that already sound like classics. She is joined by the soulful acoustica of Benji Clements and Friends and the delicate and heartfelt creations of Drew Bryant. All that takes place under the Songs of Praise banner at The Victoria tonight.

 

A couple of people have told me that I need to check out The Darwin Republic, so I did, well, I tried to. Unfortunately, as if to ram home the point of my opening paragraph, at the time of submitting this article there was no information about them on the venue website and they appear to have no on-line presence, though I can’t decide if that is a clever campaign of deliberate mystique and anti-marketing or just lack of promotion. Though I can say that if you go to The Beehive tonight you will almost definitely….find them there.

 

No questions about the calibre of the band playing The Beehive on Friday though. Port Erin are one of those bands that genuinely challenge the listener to pigeon hole them, which is something I admire in a band. They manage to meander through jazz vibes, trippy funk workouts, rock drives and wrap them up in a chilled, unified groove. The Rolleston offers rockabilly in the form of The Corsairs and elsewhere it is covers and tributes all the way with Peleton playing mod, ska and soul at The Victoria and The Floydian Doors at The Castle paying tribute to…well, I’m sure you can work it out.

 

If you want to get out into the fresh air on Saturday (weather permitting) and take in some great music then the place to be is at The Old Town Bowl where The Reggae Garden brings you the best of the genre from midday. Macca B, Solo Banton and Murray Man all front their respective bands plus you can catch local rocksteady outfit, The Erin Bardwell Collective and a host of other acts.

 

The Arts Centre has a bit of a treat for you as no less than ex-Yes guitar shaman Steve Howe pays a visit. But prog fans be warned, this isn’t going to be a  note perfect rendition of Tales From Topographic Oceans, although some of the back catalogue is revisited, as the band explore jazz and country swing alongside the more expected numbers.

 

Pretty much at the opposite edge of the spectrum, dirty rhythm and blues is on offer at The Queens Tap. Looking like a cast of villains from The Sweeney and sounding like Dr Feelgood and The Blockheads fighting in a back alley, The Hamsters From Hell have become local legends for their ability to entertain and offend in equal measure. Crimes against songwriting are also being considered.

 

The rest of Saturday comes in the shape of Hypermused, a tribute to Teignmouth’s most famous alt-rock trio and at The Rolleston, Kok Rok will be setting their tongues firmly in their cheeks and performing the best of classic rock.

 

If harp driven Chicago R’n’b is your sort of thing then get down to The Beehive on Sunday for the afternoon session with Built For Comfort. (Note to younger readers – a harp is what bluesman call the harmonica and r’n’b was a sub-genre of rock and roll before it was applied to lip synching girl bands wiggling to landfill pop tunes, so don’t turn up expecting Little Mix with a classical string section.)

 

And finally on to Wednesday and the usual great offerings from the two midweek acoustic shows. The Running Horse goes blues with established local blues guitar aficionado Ian O’Regan and uber-talented new kid on the block Adam Sweet.

 

 

Meanwhile The Roaring Donkey has the wonderful Chalice, a folk band that brings the sound of the 60’s folk revival bang up to date. Imagine the Albion Band with Court and Spark era Joni Mitchell guesting and you get an idea of why you need to check this band out.