Tag Archive: royal oak (the)


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.

10606297_674715675957087_5120512786349989203_nAfter a few of weeks with lots of great music covering a diverse range of genres to chose from, things have inevitably quietened down this week. Maybe it is a December thing where people turn their attention to saving money for Christmas, work parties and family celebrations. Then again I never know which of the following is true. Some say that it is harder to get good crowds out for gigs in winter, as people are preoccupied for the reasons I have just given. But in the summer the perception is that people are not going to gigs because it is the season of barbeques and back garden gatherings. I guess that whatever the season if you book the right bands people will make the effort. Recent weeks have shown this to be true so here’s to this week being more of the same.

 

And we are off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with a wonderful array of energetic acoustic music. If you think that acoustic music is the domain of folk club balladry, Arran sweaters and pastoral songs with medieval themes, then this is the show to put the genre firmly on the modern map. Headliners, The Wires, mix high-energy grooves with forays into more bluesy, old school traditions. Also on the bill is Ben Maggs a man who makes engaging, accessible, chart friendly music and Jimmy Moore whose recent album release has seen his musical stock transformed from a good circuit singer-songwriter into a brilliant world-roots act.

 

At the other end of the spectrum, 1000 Planets will be laying out a stall of both original material and covers by the likes of Sisters of Mercy, Killing Joke and Bauhaus. Definitely one for all the old school goths. (I used to be a goth but was thrown out for laughing!)

 

Friday really does have something for everyone, unless of course you think Nikki Minaj is the height of musical eloquence in which case you are beyond help. For everyone else there is the following to choose from. The Victoria is the place to be for something a bit funky as Felix and The Funk (pictured) play a range of Soul, Disco, Pop, Dance and Reggae from the last six decades. The Rolleston has Metalgods, who, as their name might suggest, are a tribute to 80s and 90s rock and metal but apparently steer clear of the standard fare offered by their competitors. At the Riffs Bar Acoustic Session you can find Sam Eason, a hirsute, flame haired, singer-songwriter with a touch of James Taylor, Damian Rice and His Bobness injected into his beautiful and original creations.

 

Those of a more dance orientated persuasion should note that MECA are hosing “Live Music” – a night of Hip-Hop, R’n’ B, House and club anthems from a range of artists such as DJ Longplaya, DJ Eclipse, DJ Mosco and live performances from SN Dubstation, Benji Clements and Hibbz, Young Wilson and many more.

 

The Victoria on Saturday has a very special show, paying tribute to the late great Ian “Jock” Kerr. Not only was Jock a brilliant musician and regular live performer he was also a keen supporter of local music, a regular fixture either side of The Victoria’s bar and someone who brought laughter and no small amount of bemusement to all who came into contact with him. As a tribute to the man, to mark his untimely passing and to raise money for both a headstone and to help support his daughter, I urge anyone who knew him to gather in celebration of “Yer Auld Pal.” The music like the man himself will range from genially boisterous to just plain silly thanks to The Racket, British Harlem and Kova Me Badd.

 

Rock music is also on offer at The Queens Tap with Shepherds Pie who play the best of classic rock from the past 40 years and Lewis Creaven will be offering up blues, retro and southern rock standards at The Rolleston. Those looking for a beautiful noise could do a lot worse than head out to Riffs Bar for a night with Ruff Diamond playing tribute to namesake Neil.

 

Please note that the Peloton gig recently advertised at The Royal Oak is cancelled due to the recent closure of the venue.

 

Two offerings to round the week off are acoustic and electric blends of bluegrass, Cajun and Americana from Sons of The Delta at The Beehive on Sunday and a solo show from David Marx at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

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.

lord_bishop_rocks_carlisle_01_313x470As Harold Wilson once said, “ A week is a long time in local music, ” well, something like that. Anyway, after a few weeks of being hard pushed to find much to talk about on the gigging front, this week is an embarrassment of riches and so without further….

 

So starting in our usual departure point on this rollercoaster of what’s-on-ness, The Victoria, tonight has it’s second show commemorating Tom Humber’s all too young passing a year ago, with the hard and heavy sounds of In The Absence of Light and Eye For An Eye. Those looking for a more rootsy fix would do well to head for The Beehive and this month’s Acoustic Buzz. Hosted and featuring a solo set from Blind River Scare’s Tim Manning, this month’s bill also sees the bluesy folk of Tamsin Quin plus Boss Caine, a man who looks like a Bowery street busker and has a sound and style reminiscent of Tom Waits. Nice!

 

Staying with roots, on Friday you can catch two of the best of that genre at The Rolleston as Hip Route bring their energetic and emotive acoustic-blues groove, slide guitars and beatific beats to bear on the audience. Support comes from Sam Green who even without his Midnight Heist cohorts is a musical force to be reckoned with. Riffs Bar Acoustic Session features a triptych of folk artists…for those that didn’t go to Sunday school that means three. The “Dude Where’s Your Car Tour” is a package of young singer-songwriters from the Midlands and comprises of David Young (no, not that one, a different one,) Dan Salt and the wonderfully named Brains For Breakfast.

 

The Automaniacs are at The Beehive; expect psychedelic instrumentals mixed with proggy structures, old school rock’n’roll, atmospherics and electronic washes or just imagine the sort of sounds that might come from a haunted music shop in the early hours.

 

For those who fancy crossing the parish boundaries and heading out into the sticks, as a teaser for The Big Gig later in the year, you can catch a bunch of bands at The Crown in Broad Hinton, namely The AK-Poets, (or catch them again at The Royal Oak on Saturday) Charlie Ann, Full On and Nick Felix.  Party band Interlight will be providing covers and humorous banter at The Victoria.

 

Saturday see’s one of the busiest nights musically around town I have seen for a while, nothing at all to do with venues booking bands merely as pre-football party acts whilst balding forty something’s in ill fitting sports regalia explain loudly to each other why their team selection would be much better. No, I’m sure the bands have been book purely on their own musical merits.

 

Original Brit-Punks, The Members bring “the sound of the suburbs” to The Victoria, mixing explosive first wave punk, pop melodies and reggae vibes. I’m sure the fact that their show is scheduled to finish at 10.30, just as the football starts is pure co-incidence. More heavy sounds can be had at Riffs Bar as Lord Bishop Rocks (pictured) swaggers into town. Beatle-esque melodies, Sabbath’s musical weight and the funk of James Brown are moulded into what the band themselves title Sex Rock. Superb Support comes in the form of Burnthru and Mascot.

 

Proving that it is not all about numbers, Level 3 have a show entitled Two Piece Suit: 2 acts each made up of two musicians. The Sea mix the sass of T-Rex with the swagger and industrial riffing of The MC5 whilst 2 Sick Monkeys play incendiary punk with humour and dexterity. Meanwhile in The Rolleston next-door The Imperial G-Men use rock and roll, jump and give to excite their crowd.

 

Something less raucous comes courtesy of The GW’s regular acoustic night, this time featuring sets from All Ears Avow, who’s normal modus operandi is trying to inflict structural damage via white hot metal onslaughts, Emi McDade whose delicate piano creations I have previously championed in these pages, as well as The Philly Wood Band, Tyler Harvey, Jack Summers and another outing for Hip Route. Covers are provided Peloton at The Royal Oak and The Hyperbolics at The Queens Tap.

 

If you need something that afternoon to get your music juices running then a perfect aperitif is watching David Marx play the café at The Old Town Gardens.

 

And briefly, The Academy of Music and Sound are running two nights of music at Level 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday to raise money for the Prospect Hospice.

426615_307388412659174_1530646521_nA bit of a Curates Egg for seekers of original music this week and those not familiar with Victorian satire should Google the phrase immediately. If, however, you are one of those people that are content to hear music with an already existing pedigree, then you will have a field day. But, tonight at least, there is something truly original on offer. Songs of Praise at The Victoria is always striving to bring in bands that tick boxes to do with boundary pushing attitudes, uniqueness and fresh sounds and tonight they have excelled themselves.

 

Nudybronque is a band that have built up quite a reputation over the last few years, evolving from a perfectly pleasant punk-pop four-piece to a truly mesmerising experimental indie band and the release of their latest e.p. Moondog merely confirmed them to be a band writing some of the best tunes in their field today. Tonight they are joined by Port Erin, another band who have striven to push the boundaries of their own musical development, these days plying a musical trade of space and atmospherics, subtle dynamics and an almost jazz inflected quality. Opening the show is Oui Legionnaires, a band that almost defies generic pigeonholing instead preferring to invent their own terms such as puzzle-pop and yelpcore. No idea what that means? No, me neither, may it’s best you check them out.

 

Something far more describable is at The Beehive in the guise of Robert Brown, a troubadour whose style falls on the less fey side of Nick Drake and the sweeter edge of Jimmy Page.

 

The big event for Friday is the Ocelot Magazines Eighth Birthday bash at The Victoria. Being a publication with strong connections to the local music scene, you can imagine that they are able to pull in the best bands around and this line-up is a bit of a corker. Headlining is the newly re-emerged Racket, now fully embracing their brit-pop leanings and elevated to a five piece but with all the live swagger and attitude that you associate with the band of old. Vienna Ditto offers a contrasting sheen of wild-eyed rockabilly riffs and sparse, atmospheric electronica whilst looking like collaboration between a mad scientist and a jazz chantress. Boss Cloth brings the noise, as it were, a heavy yet melodic wave of grunged rock riffs and drum dynamics. Opening the night will be Chip Daddy (pictured) a man as well known for his outrageous off stage stunts as he is for his onstage rap parody.

 

Rumbustious…that’s a good word isn’t it? Rumbustious music can be found at The Beehive courtesy of M.O.D. who play Balkan inspired folk using everything from washboards to double bass, harmoniums to clarinets and will be playing songs from last years wonderfully titled Travelling at The Speed of Cattle. If something smoother is called for, Benji Clements will be playing in full band mode at The Royal Oak and the ska and reggae creations of SN Dubstation can be found at The Liquor Lounge.

 

Other options are the rock, blues and swing standards of The Teddy White Band at The Rolleston and classic covers from Switch at The New Inn.

 

On Saturday, Level 3 features a night of music in memory of DJ, radio presenter and all round good egg, Tom Humber who sadly passed away a year ago. As a devoted rock and metal fan he would certainly have approved of the bands paying tribute; melodic trash metallers In The Absence of Light, heavy biker-rock with a dash of Southern charm from Eye For and Eye and Dodging the Bullet playing iconic rock covers. Meanwhile next door at The Rolleston Metal Gods cover similar musical ground and the music of Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame, is being re-visited at The Victoria.

 

Reggae music is being celebrated by The Shocks of Mighty DJ’s at The Beehive and more pop and rock standards can be had from In It For The Money who re-launch the band at Riffs Bar and Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Session re-locate to the bandstand in Old Town Gardens and from 5pm you can have fun in the sun (you never know) with acoustic music from Blake, Rob Beckinsale and as ever your hosts, Mr Love and Justice.

Final mention of the week goes to those dapper acoustic Latin-jazzmen, Gilmore’n’Jaz who play the Roaring Donkey on Wednesday and whom I can’t recommend highly enough.

1374371_626819517396714_494436571_nIf you type the letters S M E and L into Google the first thing that is returned as the most common search in the world is Smells Like Teen Spirit, a song that is just about 23 years old. Why do I bring this up? Well, it is twenty years ago since Kurt Cobain took his own life but still he is all around us. In many ways Nirvana, and the grunge scene it was part of, was the last musical style that seemed to really change the musical landscape. Like hip-hop, punk and rock’n’rock before it, the impact was immeasurable, but what have the last twenty years given us? Whilst great music has continued to be made, why haven’t we seen the radical changes in music that previous revolutionary movements would suggest?

 

If you are waiting for answers, I don’t really have them. Maybe it is the fact that music is so “on-demand” it’s like Christmas everyday and you can have whatever music you want, when you want it, largely for free. Maybe it’s time to fight back and make a scene, it all it’s meanings. Grunge, Hip-Hop, rave, baggy, punk all grew from small acorns, maybe it’s time to get behind live music again, storm the barricades of apathy and make something happen…maybe even in Swindon.  Still, enough of the rhetoric.

 

Starting out at Riffs Bar, tonight is one for the rock fans and All Ears Avow lead the musical charge. Having risen from the ashes of progressive metal maestros Mortdelamer but now with an eye on a snappier alt-rock delivery, the band elegantly blend the dexterity of their previous incarnation with the accessibility of the latter. Support comes from pop-punkers Highly Personal and

Cavalier, a band that with just a few shows under their belt are already sounding on a lot of the right peoples radars.

 

The Beehive will be hosting the dustbowl era Americana of The Open Secrets who will make you feel like you are sipping whisky in a bar in North Carolina with Ryan Adams jamming Carter Family tunes in the background. Reginald Road will be playing roots rock reggae at The Queens Tap and The Beaujacks come all the way over from Eindhoven to treat The Victoria to everything from Led Zeppelin to The Rolling Stones to ZZ Top.

 

Fans of psychedelic blues and highly charged R’n’B will want to be at The Rolleston on Friday for Snatch It Back and if a further reference point were needed the band features original Groundhogs drummer Ken Pustelnik so you will have some idea what to expect. At the Royal Oak, The Cover Addicts will be playing hits from the 50’s to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions Jenny Bracey and Sadie Fleming feature, though as usual any details of the show are a closely guarded secret so I suggest you contact the venue for further information.

 

What I can be a bit more certain about is the event that they have at the venue on the Saturday. In an effort to help fund a trip to Kenya for the Younite Outreach Project and continue it’s objective of helping improve the lives of those less fortunate, there is a fund raising show featuring British Harlem, a  wonderful blend of punk infused, quintessentially English indie with soulful transatlantic vibes. Also on the bill are Theo Altieri, Bianca Polizzi, The Primaveras, The Debuts and The Illustrations. Great music and a worthy cause.

 

More great original music is to be had at The Castle with the return of The Racket (pictured). Back out as a five piece, the band known for their uncompromising, last gang in town attitude, punked up indie cool and cocky live swagger will come as breath of….sweaty, cigarette fumed, booze soaked air.

 

The Victoria has a tribute to Texas groove-metallers Pantera and at The Rolleston The Dark Eyes “bridge the gap between rock and pop with originals and covers.” Their words not mine. More covers are to be had at The Woodlands Edge with Switch.

 

Sunday sees Ezio return to The Victoria a band that specialize in emotive, deep and meaningful music and lyrics that are honest and which will strike a chord (pardon the pun) with the audience.

1970727_759281224090815_510702344_nI was presented with the perfect analogy the other day of why if you go to a gig you should support the whole evening. Obviously courtesy and support for grassroots music should be enough but whilst running the merchandise stand at a recent gig, this wonderful bit of karma unfolded. The first band had just finished, lets call them Band X, and a punter came over to the desk to check out the CD’s on offer, picking up one by the band who had just left the stage. “Did you see the opening act?” I enquired. “ No, I was in the upstairs bar, I don’t bother with support acts, I’m only here to see Band X” It came as a bit of a blow then when I informed him that whilst he was up in the top bar he had totally missed the band he had travelled, all the way from Birmingham as it happened, to see. Why he had assumed that Band X were headlining is anybody’s guess, he was even drinking in a bar with posters advertising the nights running order. So the obvious moral of the story is support all the bands on the bill, not only are you sure not to miss the act you have come to see, you may just pick up some new music as well. And so endeth todays lesson.

It’s a bit of a quiet week on the live music front, but there are a few gems to be found if you know where to look and tonight at The Victoria is the ideal place to start. Californian legends Ugly Duckling blend a range of urban sounds, 80’s hip-hop, funk, soul and jazz with humour and a feel-good factor that has found them acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Also on the bill are Lusty and Swindon’s own DJ/producer Para.

The American invasion continues down at The Rolleston as “ Glam Rock survivor” Adam Bomb (pictured) plays the last date of his European tour there. Adam has a CV that reads like a who’s who of rock royalty, having worked with everyone from Hanoi Rocks and Motorhead to The Wildhearts, John Paul Jones and even reggae giants Steel Pulse. His is a show that reminds you of what rock and roll is all about, razor wire riffs, attitude soaked stage presence, and his trademark love of pyrotechnics. Support comes Rocket Box and Nick Felix.

Jazz, folk and blues meet head on at The Beehive in the music of Portsmouth duo Walker Broad, which I thought was a pun (walk abroad?) until I realised that it is actually the surnames of the players. Expect Latin infuse foot tappers, jazz folk ballads and a few pure blues numbers.

Friday’s acoustic offering at Riffs Bar features a couple of tried and tested local acts in the shape of Ian O’Regan and Drew Bryant.  The former is a dexterous bluesman, whilst the later is an old school folk troubadour with a wonderful Donovan-esque vibe to his songs. Something heavier this way comes…well to The Rolleston at least, as new (ish) kids on the rock block, Broken Image, serves up a generous helping of classic rock covers.

Riffs Bar on Saturday offers something rather tasty, well if you like your prog rock that is. And why wouldn’t you when you have Credo on the bill? Not only are they a brilliant neo-progressive rock band, it is front man Marks birthday and so a whole bunch of genre stalwarts have rallied to the cause. Andy Sears, one time frontman with Twelfth Night will be there as will Comedy of Errors, neatly described in one review as Floyd meets Muse in The Court of The Gentle Giant (unpick the references from that.) Ex – Tinyfish chaps Robert Ramsey and Simon Godfrey are along for the ride, as are Also Eden’s Rich Harding and Simon Rogers. In short it is a showcase of almost everyone who matters in the contemporary progressive rock world.

Other options are blistering electric blues-rock at The Rolleston with Innes Sibun or a whole range of genres and eras covered by party band Switch at The Royal Oak.

Tuesday sees former Mike and The Mechanics and Ace frontman, Paul Carrack grace the stage of the Wyvern Theatre and The Roaring Donkey sees the week out on Wednesday with the liquid gold vocal talents of Sophia Bovell.

10_Spiers__BodenI don’t really like to name drop. I was saying as much to Fiona Bruce when we were over at Liam Neeson’s place only the other day waiting for Noam Chomsky to turn up. So without naming names, suffice it to say that through my musical travels and via the people I meet on the local arts and music show I’m involved in, I get to talk to a lot of the people who actually make things happen in this town, everything from music and art, dance and film, to debating societies and underground media. And the common themes that come up in conversation are how much creativity there is in this town at the moment and how your average resident probably doesn’t realise it. Swindon has long had a bad press from lazy comedians looking for a convenient cliché but also, ironically, from the people who live here, creating something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I tell you what, Swindon is starting to hit a real ground swell of creative energy, things seem to be falling into place, Swindon is becoming, dare I say it…cool. We just need to get behind our town and show the rest of the country what we have here.

Helping to pave that good reputation we have a week of great and varied music on offer. Tonight at The Victoria, after a couple of recent mellower shows, Songs of Praise is going all loud and shouty with 50 Shades of Punk, a band definitely keeping their genre alive with high octane music and a hyperactive live show. Support comes from another local favourite, 2 Sick Monkeys, a frantic punk drum and bass 2 piece known as much for their between song rants as their relentless musical style. Opening the show is Parva Hinton, a London based, future punk, synth sound clash.

If you prefer something less likely to upset the neighbours and spill your beer then maybe an evening of Chicago blues at The Beehive courtesy of Built For Comfort is more your thing.

Friday brings lots of opportunity for you to get behind your live music scene. At The Royal Oak, The AK-Poets mix great melodies with an uncompromising rock and roll delivery and a charismatic stage presents whilst at The Beehive The Blue Tree’s take rock and roll on a southern road trip.

A couple of acoustic options also pop up on the radar. Riffs Bar acoustic session features Leicester songster Paul McClure and Southern Folk who as their name suggests play a range of rootsy Americana flavours. The Regent plays host to Darren Hodge who you may have seen recently shortlisted in the Young Folk competition at the recent BBC Folk Awards. Also appearing is Ethemia, makers of lush dream-folk music who also featured recently on BBC radio as guests of Gaby Roslin.

Covers can be had either at The Rolleston with Humdinger playing contemporary rock standards or if you prefer a band with a sillier take on the idea, Kova Me Badd at The Victoria parody the pop classics.

Saturday continues largely in the same vein with tributes to Bon Jovi at The Victoria, Steely Dan at Riffs Bar and Rory Gallagher at The Rolleston plus party covers from Breeze at The Royal Oak. Classic rock is supplied by Rorke’s Drift at The Swiss Chalet. If however you are feeling stout of heart, reckless or just know no better then a trip to The Castle will find you in the dubious company of rhythm and booze legends, The Hamsters From Hell. Loud, in your face, no holds barred riotous pub rock flavoured with beards, beer, blasphemy and a bad attitude.  What could possibly go wrong?

If you need something less abrasive to wind the weekend down then The Beehive afternoon session features Kola Koca, a band renowned for a mix of eclectic styles, social commentary, politics and humour.

Jazz fans can catch The Wayne Elliot Trio at The Plough that evening and then on Tuesday at Baker Street The Graham Taylor Quartet. Meanwhile just along the road at The Arts Centre, Spiers and Boden (pictured) , better known as Eliza Carthy sidekicks and founders of folk super group Bellowhead, are playing what they have announced will be their last show in duo format for the foreseeable future. So, definitely one to catch.

Finally The Crown at Stratton on Wednesday features the delicate sounds and considerable song craft of Louise Latham.

1012061_10151336558167168_224323729_nSo as we turn the corner from a cold and very wet January to a, probably, just as cold and wet February, at least the first buds of musical growth are starting to appear in the local venues. January is always musically slow but this week there is a lot more to tell you about than in previous weeks so I shall just get down to business, stop procrastinating, cease dilly-dallying around, quit the filibustering, postpone no longer…in short, get on with it.

Although with their roots in more conventional mainstream sounds, the Talk in Code that heads into 2014 are a sassy blend of synth washed, indie-dance and guitar driven pop sensibilities. Not a bad way to kick the week off. They are joined by alt-rock, new comers, A Way With Words and acoustic artist, Daniel James and all this happens at The Victoria tonight.

At The Beehive is Tennessee’s very own Mark Merriman, a world-renowned guitarist who has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Frank Evans and Wishbone Ash’s Andy Powell.

Lots to choose from on Friday and the birth of a new venture to help bring something new and vibrant to town. Under the direction of two of the areas most established players, The Regent is now hosting acoustic sessions and the first one kicks off in fine style with an acoustic set from the guys of False Gods and the long awaited re-emergence of The Racket main man Plummie.

The other regular Friday night acoustic session at Riffs Bar will feature the delights of Nick Tann (pictured), a jazz inflected, soaring and soulful player armed with a disarming wit and shirts whose loudness might cause a few health and safety violations. He is joined by the stripped back acoustic funk of the puntastic With Nell and I, a slick and musically elegant band with a vocal that will stop you in your tracks.

Other acoustic offerings come in the form of the furious, folk party that is Grubby Jack at The Rolleston. Traditional songs from the folk, Americana and Celtic songbooks, delivered with infectious aplomb and cheeky charm by this talented trio.

Right, if you prefer your music more fired up and electrified…as it were, you can either catch The Star Men, a tribute to all things seventies Glam at The Victoria or for something more current and original, The AK-Poets continue their tour by descending upon The Beehive for a night of razor wire riffs, raucous rock and murderous melody. It’s brash, it’s boisterous…it’s brilliant.

Although I bemoan the amount of classic rock cover bands that come through this town (lets not get on that one again though) The Victoria this Saturday night offers the chance to see, if not the fresh face, at least the hard bitten snarl and contemptuous growl of the genres current cutting edge. This double header features Stonewire and Four Wheel Drive, festival stalwarts, hard hitting classic rockers and the most exciting live show ever to pull on a pair of biker boots.

Meanwhile Reginald Road, a mix of punky ska and reggae rock, will be firing up The Queens Tap with a set of originals and classics, The Rolleston features Dickie Reed and The Royal Oak is the place for a night of fun covers with Penfold. Fans of the 80’s will want to head out to Riffs Bar for the synthy sounds and nostalgic themes of Syntronix.

More pop, rock and indie covers come courtesy of Switch at The Kings in Old Town on Sunday and those with who remember the glory days of rock will do well to get tickets for Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash at The Wyvern Theatre. Founder member Martin, not only looks back at four decades of music, faithfully reproducing all the bands classics but also offers up brand new music into the mix. If the word Argus conjures up more than a Brighton newspaper, then this is the show for you.

350_41504615309_2744_nI guess it had to happen one day. Although I see this column as a place to champion the originality and creativity to be found within our towns music community, this weeks offerings are fairly exclusively geared towards music that is having a second bite of the cherry, a re-invention of the wheel if you like.  I know some people feel more at home in the comfort zone of tributes and cover bands, no problem with that, you know what you are getting for your money at least and if you only have the available cash to go out once every few weeks, it is one way of guaranteeing you get value for your hard earned cash. Why sit through a bunch of bands that you have never heard of and probably leave feeling musically unfulfilled? Well, because without these original bands there will be no great bands in the future for tribute and cover bands to emulate. Here’s a question for you. What do the following bands have in common? Nirvana, Oasis, Iron Maiden, U2, Arctic Monkeys and The Clash. Well, they all played their first shows in local pubs and venues to a handful of punters being largely ignored by the rest of the country until the music press convinced enough people it was cool to like them. Still, to paraphrase our sainted Peter of Gabriel, “you know what you like and you like what you know”, far be it from me to tell you otherwise.

Okay, on with the show. Tonight The Victoria will be a sea of plaid shirts and ripped jeans with a show that pays homage to the Seattle grunge scene in the shape of Nirvana and Pearl Jam tributes. Meanwhile a mixture of acoustic and electric bluesy originals come courtesy of Bob Bowles at The Beehive.

Fridays has a mixture of genres on offer, firstly Metalhead at The Rolleston doing a neat line in classic metal standards delivered with a mixture of panache and force…sort of like being beaten unconscious by the complete works of Keats! Those of a more old school R’n’B persuasion will find their needs catered for at The Beehive as The Teddy White Band offer up classic blues, swing and rock’n’roll and at The Victoria, Penfold (pictured) will be playing indie covers from Kings of Leon to Katy Perry.

Riffs Bar are hosting their regular acoustic session but at the time of writing their website is offline so best to contact the venue for exact details.

There are a couple of original options on Saturday, especially if you like your music at the more raucous end of the spectrum. The Charred Hearts are going to be tearing things up (as the youth of today might say) at The Wheatsheaf in Stratton, with their brand of melodic punk – incendiary riffs, thunderous beats and driving bass lines are the order of the day. For a classic punk-folk sound then Mick O’Toole at The Rolleston have the answer, a six piece, cider swilling band who play drinking anthems and folk jigs as you have never heard them before…unless of course you have actually witnessed a fight between Flogging Molly and The Pogues. The Victoria has The FunkDementals playing disco and funk covers.

At The Royal Oak, Fly on The Wall will be entertaining the crowd with renditions of classic rock covers from The Rolling Stones to Chuck Berry.

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by Gentou, “a rocky band playing catch original pop songs” and that is about all I can find out about them!

When did advertising gigs become such a covert affair? It’s almost as if the gig listings have been taken over by MI5.

Final mention of the week is for Craig Huchisson who plays The Roaring Donkey, presumably a solo, acoustic player, but as usual there is no information to be had about the gig. When did advertising gigs become such a covert affair? It’s almost as if the gig listings have been taken over by MI5.

So, in keeping with the theme of this weeks column, if you know of any gigs taking place, please don’t tell anyone about it and certainly don’t advertise it on your website, you don’t want people turning up and spoiling the ambience! Still it might explain why it’s getting hard work pulling punters in. Right, I’m off to bang my head against a brick wall; preferably one not fly-postered with gig info…shouldn’t be too hard to find!