Tag Archive: roaring donkey


 

10527329_675300369218513_2277650497184696053_nLast week found me in my usual haunts for two radically different shows. Wednesday, as usual, was all about the acoustic session at The Roaring Donkey and this week it was the turn of Sue Hart, a Salisbury based Americana songwriter to entertain the small, attentive and gradually increasing number punters. Aided and abetted by “a mildly disgruntled man” whose real name was Pete on bass the duo treated the room to not only lessons in song writing, dexterous musicianship and vocal harmonising, but also the less tangible and often overlooked traits – charisma, audience engagement and the ability to take your music seriously whilst finding humour in the whole process of making music for a living. They were gracious and wonderful company and they perfectly epitomised those wonderful anecdotes that you only get from working with musicians. Not only is Pete’s “day job” working as Chrissie Hynde’s lighting guy, Sue also revealed in the wonderfully titled song, “ You Were A Lying, Drunken Bum, But I Got To See The Mountains” how she took a road trip across America and “accidently” got married. You just don’t get stories like that hanging around with four guys who working in Nationwide during the day and try to sound like Green Day in the evenings.

 

The following evening revolved around a trip to The Victoria, a place I watch a lot of bands but not normally ones as hard and heavy as the ones on offer that night. Arriving late I missed Eden Falls but did manage to catch a bit of Heriot who mixed howling vocals and heavy riffs with doomy interludes and atmospheric asides, interesting but the main thrust of their sound wasn’t one that spoke to me.

 

Although the intensity and sheer raw brutality of Screamo style metal isn’t really my thing, I think if you are going to watch any genre that falls largely outside your comfort zone then pick the best band of that genre. Headliners Sleep Inertia certainly seem the best of their peer group. Four–fifths born from the ashes of The Dead Lay Waiting they have deliberately pushed their new sound towards a more mature target audience. The result is a brutal, near apocalyptic, onslaught of high-octane riffs, pulsing bass runs, crashing back beats and primordial vocals, and for all its overwhelming attack of sight and sound, you can’t help but get carried away by its sheer force. Not the sort of thing you are going to use as the sound track to a Sunday fine dining experience, but in the right context an unforgettable experience.

(first published at Swindon Link)

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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.

1486548_715081301878014_2123166531_nThere has been much discussion of late on the local music forums and social networking outlets about the nature and future of Swindon’s music scene. Much was said about how and where you put gigs on, the genres and geographic origin of the bands, the promotions and prejudices of the people organising these gigs and even the perceived cliquey nature of it all. I see supporting local music as like being in a union. Whilst there are officials and people who do the admin and organising, the union is the sum total of everyone. And if everyone got involved a bit more then maybe they would feel more included and their voice would be heard and collectively they could help make a difference.

 

So how can you get involved? The obvious one is to go to a show, gigs only work if they have a crowd of punters. If there are no shows around that you like the look of why not talk to a band and a venue about putting something on that is more to your tastes. Or help promote what is already taking place. If people using Facebook spent as much time sharing gig info with their friends as they did sharing pictures of their lunch, their cat, random political ideas and people falling over then more people would know about what great gigs we have going on. One thing that also gets overlooked is buying merchandise, for the cost of a pint or two a CD or a tee-shirt sale might make all the difference to the bands running cost for that night. The bottom line is get involved. And here are some things to get involved in.

 

Tonight, the first day of The Beehive reopening is marked by the regular Acoustic Buzz sessions, hosted by Blind River Scares main man Tim Manning. Along with Tim’ wonderful blend of hillbilly highway meets swaggering folk you can catch the southern fried sounds of The Rosellys and the “popgrass” styling of acoustic duo Peeky Blinders. If you prefer to make your own music then why not grab your guitar, bass, violin, kazoo, spoons (other cutlery if you prefer) or what ever instrument you play and head up to The Victoria for their jam night.

 

Friday is all about big guitars, big beats and driving rhythms. Firstly a mix of original cider swilling, folk punk and Celtic bar room classics can be found at The Rolleston courtesy of Mick O’Toole (pictured), a band who look like a wonderful cross between a Brendan Behan convention and the grounds men of Downton Abbey. Sort of retro-folk chic! Wyvern Theatre is responsible for what seems like the weekly appearance in the parish of Boot Led Zeppelin. Not further description needed. And if you want to revel in a mix tape approach to the most enduring songs of the metal and classic rock genres then it’s Metalhead at The Victoria for you.

 

A few big events roll into view on Saturday. Sticking with the louder end of things for the moment, Level 3 is the scene of Dredded Vyrus Promotions Hardcore and Metal Night. Headliners, Vaults, offer incendiary riffs and an avalanche of backbeats…hardcore at its most uncompromising. Whilst Vicious Cycle offer a similar experience, the band that really caught my ear were From Dusk Till Dawn who manage to mix a bruising brutality with a wonderful ear for melody, roaring guttural, gutter vocals with soaring, clean deliveries and big choruses. Nice. Opening the night are Bear Hunt, blistering melodies, great dynamics and probably the most pained vocals you have ever heard.

During the daytime there is an open air event at Wharf Green raising awareness for local charities and featuring music by The Damned and The Dirty, Ataraxis Vibration, All Ears Avow, Jimmy Moore and others.

 

The other big event and I’m guessing one with not too much of a crossover of fans from that previously mentioned is The Erin Bardwell Collective CD Launch at The Victoria. Another slice of reggae, ska and rocksteady with an old school feel, great harmonies, positive messages, porkpie hats and exquisite song writing from the best on the circuit. Support comes from the ska/dance fusion of SN Dubstation and Pete Murphy spinning the tunes.

 

More old school vibes, this time of a rock and roll nature as 50’s revivalists Josie and The Outlaw play The Rolleston.

 

Final mention of the week goes to Billy Bingham who can be found replete with ballads and tattoos, torch songs and guyliner at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.