Tag Archive: rumour shed


It sometimes seems that these days there are as many sub-genres of rock music as there are bands themselves, as a music writer it takes a lot of keeping up with. To know your Gypsy Punk from your Krautrock, your Doom Metal from your Shoegaze or your Riot Grrrl from your Neo-Prog requires no small amount of homework. Tonight’s Songs of Praise show at The Victoria, however, can be summed up very simply, old school rock and roll, a trio of bands that both kick arse and cut the mustard. White Knuckle Bride revel in the sort of street rock that you associated with The Sunset Strip of the mid 80’s, big riffs, big choruses and a live performance charged with aggression and attitude. They are aided and abetted by current tour buddies, Burnthru and coming down from Derby to join them are sleaze merchants Bury the Ladybird (pictured). Rock and Roll it would seem is back on the menu.

 

If that doesn’t take your fancy then maybe some tongue in cheek country and/or western, for The Badass Cowboys play both types, might appeal. This ever-popular band will be at The Beehive and rather than try to describe the band I will let their album titles speak for themselves. Take Me Home Randy Rhodes; Born in the KFC and the truly inspired Portaloo Sunset, I think you get the idea of what they are about.

 

Friday can be summed up in the phrase “ from the sublime to the ridiculous.” For the sublime you should head up to the Arts Centre where violinist Miranda Dale and pianist Paul Turner will be performing not only that most quintessentially English piece, Vaughn Williams The Lark Ascending, but also music by this country’s other big names, Walton, Britten and of course Elgar.

 

At the other end of the spectrum we find ourselves back at The Beehive for Bill Smarme – king of the social club crooners, love guru, connoisseur of fine wines and marmalades, building contractor…apparently.

 

On a more even keel, The Victoria has a cracking line up featuring three of the bands to watch at the moment. The Icarus Youth do a neat line in alchemizing rock, urban and alternative sounds into a slick and quite brilliant final product and if bands such as The Post War Years or Two Door Cinema Club are your thing, then this is the place to be. But as if that wasn’t enough The Blood Choir bring their atmospheric and bleak soundscapes to life and the cinematic folk meets indie pop of Old Colours kicks the night off. Now that is one hell of a line up.

 

The big event for Saturday takes place at The Running Horse where they have gathered together their favourite acts from the past sessions to create The Acoustic Garden Festival, which does pretty much what it says on the tin. There are far too many bands to mention them all but with Faye Rogers, Alice Offley, Bateleurs, Coach and Billyjon on the bill, you can get an idea of the pedigree involved here.

 

Rock fans are going to be like kids in a sweet shop, as they have to choose between, original Status Quo drummer, John Coghlan at Riffs Bar, tributes to Muse and Iron Maiden at The Victoria and The Furnace respectively and some good old R’n’B at The Rolleston with Dickie Reed.

 

The Sabbath kicks up a couple of more chilled options. The aptly named Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Arts Centre is hosted by Mr Love and Justice, probably one of the most popular bands of the thriving “historical, socio-political, agri-folk, jangle- pop” scene. They are joined by the Jansch-esque Tim Graham and the soothing and ethereal tones of one of my favourite bands of the moment, Rumour Shed.

 

Other laidback serving suggestions are available at The Beehive under the enigmatic title of Incarnations of Matilda. Presumably this will be not only the usual Matilda display of harmony driven blends of folky piano jazz, but after a quick game of musical chairs will feature songs by Emily Sykes and Friends also. Two bands for the price of one, what a bargain.

Music can be a business, it can be a hobby, it can be a career, but it also always has to be a passion. This should be obvious and I only mention this to tell you something about my own reasons for doing what I do. For years now after a week of often physically hard work, I still find the drive to organise gigs (and on occasion help run full blown festivals) review CD’s, write gig guides and articles and generally turn out to support live music. Why? It’s not something I seem to have any choice over; I guess it’s who I am. Sometimes as I see the list of writing obligations  stack up, as I’m informed that yet another band has cancelled a gig at a few days noticed and has to be replaced, as the sound of another deadline can be heard whooshing by, to paraphrase the late, lamented Douglas Adams, I wonder, why do I bother? It’s all, largely, unpaid, the locally writing often attracts as many slings and arrows as it does appreciation and the alternative option of a sofa, a bottle of Shiraz and few chapters of Kerouac are always very tempting. So, the answer? Nights like the last Songs of Praise show run at The Victoria. This scribbled art attack is by way of a review of the night, as seen from the inside of the set up as well as stream of thought as to why people like me do things like this rather than take the easy options. And as I say, I seem to have little control over these things, but rather than complaining that you are not satisfied with the live music options in your area, isn’t it better to make something happen that does tick all your boxes and hopefully other peoples as well.

The raison d’etre behind Songs of Praise, even before I was fortunate enough to take over the booking of it, was to show case the best of local talent as well as the best unsigned acts from around the country. It is often difficult to entice many bands from outside the area as Songs of Praise runs on a very low budget, being a Thursday, the gigs being free entry and the biggest factor is often punter apathy. Whilst acknowledging that people often have lots of other considerations on a school night, music and musicians don’t just exist on the weekends and need to be supported every day of the working calendar. However, the behind the scenes work with Green Man Music, favours such as free reviews and other unpaid promotional work coupled with the fact that the venue for Songs of Praise, The Victoria, always makes for a very supportive, enjoyable and above all professional working environment, bands are often willing to travel distance for a lesser wage packet than usual. Payment in kind, if you like.

So on to the gig. The story behind my connection with Bridie Jackson’s music is in itself a great analogy of how networking works within the music business. As I said, I write music reviews, mainly unpaid and usually for PR companies who are pushing pre-release campaigns or up coming tours. Out of the blue, and to this day I still am unaware of how they found me, an album by a band called Cuttooth arrived  in my mail box. The album, Elements, was a swirling fusion of ambient electronica, fragile instrumentation, sampled street noise, atmosphere and hazy trance beats. Conventional singing was only apparent on a few songs and that singer was Bridie Jackson.

After submitting a review, I checked out the singer’s own musical creations, fell in love with the music and so contacted her regarding any review material. In short an album review took place (though I won’t give the game away and spoil the live review that follows) and some months later was asked if I could help fit any dates into a proposed tour that was being pencilled in. And here we are. Well, not quite. The power of getting your work out there and networking goes a stage further. Whilst I was trying to wok out what bands I could add to a night headlined by such a unique sound, I was listening to the local BBC Introducing show and the obvious support band wafted from the radio, and thus Salisbury’s The Gallant Tailors came on board.

It was a night that could have suffered from really low attendances, the two main bands were from out of town, it’s Thursday, it’s Swindon and in general it’s not an easy time to be hosting music, even free shows of this quality. When people can sit at home and watch Celebrity Shoe Size featuring Jeremy Spake, why would they need to put trousers on and go to a gig. Well, we know why. Due to the nature of the nights music, not to mention the fact that it would make the place look fuller, the venue was decked out with tables and chairs, but thankfully the turn out was good, though the seating still added to the overall vibe of the night.

Rumour Shed may be friends of mine but they were on the bill for all the right reasons and were the perfect opening act. Now operating as a three piece of guitar, upright bass and vocals, the loss of the drums seemed to be the right decision. Some music doesn’t need to be overly driven, sort of the theme of the night really, and with out the percussive beats the flavours of the music really stewed. Theirs is a sensuous, baroque acoustica, all breathy vocals and intricate guitar lines, warm, soft bass notes and luscious delivery. It is interesting to note that the two guys in the band have a background in riff drive indie and garage rock, thus proving that all roads lead to folk music. Forget the image of finger in the ear, Aran-sweatered, pipe smoking purists, probably called Brian singing about “lily white hands” “ pretty fair maids” or “ it was on a (fill in the blank) morning, just as the (fill in the blank) was dawning.” Tonight was the sound of folk music remaining timeless but doing so with abject modernity, and not the Mumford and The Whale sort of calculated Folk + Indie + Beard + Projected Earnestness = record sales, this was the real deal, the folk club meets the fashionable, a clash of an often derided genre and the cool, the real musical underground or what folk music did next.

The Gallant Tailors have more of the conventional band look to them; they have a drummer and everything. What is so good about their approach is that for all their arsenal of musical building blocks, drums, upright bass, two guitars and two vocals, they know how to use them sparingly to gain the desired effect. Theirs is a music that is as modern as it is ancient, as contemporary as it is retrospective and seems to follow a line that links the modern acoustic scene with the acid folk of the seventies, folk revivalists of the 60’s and a thread of traditions drifting back in time.  Dual harmonies effortlessly mix with dual guitars and bass lines that Danny Thompson would happily lay claim to lock in with sparing drums to deliver a final product that is undercut with a air of wistful reflection and dark emotion but stopping short of the easy trap of wallowing in their own misery.

Follow that! Well thankfully I knew I had booked a band that were capable of topping the very high standards set from the start of the night. Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, for touring purposes at least, four ladies from the North East managed to really prove the less is more cliché to be true. Over the years that I have been promoting bands from all genres, it just goes to show that the most memorable performance was not some bombastic rock band, fashion drenched indie chancers, showy math rock guitarists or primordial grunge power house, but a performance, and indeed a night, built on atmosphere and anticipation, music that seemed to exist just enough to form shells to wrap emotion in, translucent bubbles of feeling. To underline this their first number “And We Talked” was made up of vocals, cello and bell-plates, the modern successor to the hand bell, part percussive instrument, part wallpaper scrapper and the result was spellbinding.

It was halfway through this opening salvo that worlds seem to collide in a very small way. At the back of a now full room a group of guys who can only be described as shaven-head, football yobs, to my eyes anyway, had wandered in and baffled by the unique music they were experiencing had become confused. Instead of deciding it was not for them took the only cause of action that seemed appropriate and were ridiculing the music in ever increasing volume. But as twenty pairs of eyes from the crowd fixed them with the most disapproving of looks in a way that only an British folk crowd can and realizing that they weren’t going to get any covers of Madness songs they beat a hasty retreat. Folk music 1, lager boys 0.

And the music just built from there, violin, cello, guitar, cahon, bells and a wonderful raft of vocals drove the night on with one mesmerizing offering after another. Ethereal is a word that I use too often, but this was the right show to apply it to, otherworldly is another but largely without reaching for the Thesaurus it is hard to find the right words to sum up this night and particularly, this band. The melancholic air to some of the songs seemed to be at odds with the band between songs. Chatty, charismatic, fun and more obviously in love with what they were doing. Four musicians that were totally at home with their chosen career, each other and the environment that they found themselves in, why else would a band from Newcastle spend a week touring the south of England. In this age of internet, downloads and instant access music, still knowing that there is still no substitute for the intimate live show. The music may be easily found in digital form but the feeling left by a performance such as this can only happen when the band are there in front of you.

Theirs is a brave approach to crafting her songs, taking more out of them than most writers ever put in and leaving a fractured, delicate beauty and a vocal that has room to command without ever dominating the songs.  Sensuous whispers that sound like screams, soaring singing that seems to be carried through on the breeze all tumble over music built on half heard melodies, sweeping strings and half imagined tunes. What seems to take place in the band seems to be only half the story, a suggestion if you like, with the listeners own mind filling in the rest, the result a total connection, a synergy between band and audience.

It was a glorious night marred only by a loud and presumably drunken heckler in an otherwise respectful audience. I assume he was a friend or relation of the band who doesn’t get to many gigs of this type and who felt he needed some sort of validation by trying to be part of the performance, still that’s live music for you.

So back to the opening discussion. Why do I put the unpaid hours in? Part of the answer lies in the fact that in a town like Swindon I don’t think anyone else would put a show like this, I certainly haven’t seen anything like it and it makes you wonder why an, essentially, enthusiastic amateur can make this happen whilst the people who do this sort of thing for a living seem to settle along such tried and tested lines.

So why do I do this, maybe you will find the answers in the videos below.

Rumour Shed

The Gallant Tailors

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour – The full show

There are many ways to make an impact, musically speaking. In our younger days as musicians and music fans we were probably drawn to the power of certain types of music, the roar of metal, the chain saw guitars and attitude of punk, the dark majesty of goth or the primordial force that was grunge. But as the cliché says, less is more. However it is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés that cliché is probably untrue. Hang on; I think I have lost the thread a bit. What I’m trying to say is that some times music is at it’s most potent when it is doing almost nothing at all, careful, we almost ended up in Ronan Keating territory. Damn, that was close.

 

Anyway, my point is that this week contains more than a few bands whose method of attack is not the “turn it up to eleven” approach but one of musical osmosis, being able to create songs that seek to envelop you, songs that are gently absorbed into your very soul.

 

Take Bridie Jackson and The Arbour, who not only take the prize for the furthest travelled band for a Songs of Praise show (Newcastle) but who manage to conjure soft, ethereal charms to create airs of melancholy and mystery that fall somewhere between ancient folk traditions and a hazy dreamlike state. The perfect support comes from Salisbury’s Gallant Tailors who again weave timeless folk threads and Rumour Shed’s sensuous baroque acoustica. All that happens at The Victoria tonight.

 

At The Beehive, meanwhile, The Letters will be blending a root Americana sound (think The Rainmakers rather than Dwight Yokam…thankfully) with occasional forays into British Invasion territory. It is both big and clever.

 

On Friday the Victoria remains in its chilled mind set with Weatherstorms. Two thirds of this band is half of what was Old School Tie, which sounds a bit like a question from Ask The Family but I’m sure you can work out the maths. The new vehicle for the Cameron Brothers is as exciting and dynamic as their previous band but here the sound is based in a slightly more mellow place which makes those occasional euphoric flights of sonic fancy all the more delicious.

 

The Beehive by comparision opts for the soulful southern blues of the young and energetic Liam Tarpy Band, not just another local rock band who have decided that the two genres are interchangeable and just play their old songs at half the speed: this is the real deal. The M.E.C.A. is offering The Switch It On Festival, a family orientated event featuring live music from the likes of Angel and DJ Rugrat plus street dance from The Twist and Pulse Dance Company, comedy and a hair cutting competition.

 

Band of the moment, The Jefferson Brick (formerly Wet William) will be playing the “Strokes for the next generation” card over at Riffs Bar on Saturday, all explosive energy and youthful bravado (damn them) and don’t think the Dickens reference passed me buy either, extra marks for that. Based on the reception they received at The Shuffle a couple of weeks ago, this is a band that is already picking up quite a following. Support comes from Pete Docherty’s go to guy when it comes to tour supports, Alan Wass and kicking the night off will be the Canary Club.

 

You know that you are going to get something good when an artist cites Carole King, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Amy McDonald as her influence, but the quality of Sam Holmes song-crafting easily shows this to be no mere boast, I would also add Suzanne Vega to that list and you can check out here wonderful sound at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon.

 

The week rounds off at The Running Horse on Wednesday with a bit of a gem. Irish charmer Polly Barrett (pictured) will be showing why her beautiful folk-pop creations are receiving such plaudits and Steve Leigh in the guise of Kitchen Sink Drama’s will be offering his acoustic insights that take in social observations, political rants, wit and wisdom.

There is a bit of a coup up at The Victoria tonight when none other than Jazz Morley (right)  is the headline act. For the uninitiated, Ms. Morley is an amazing vocalist who manages to mix strength and control with sensuality and fragility whilst getting comparisons ranging from Dusty Springfield and Regina Spector to more recent artists such as Eva Cassidy and Duffy. Definitely one of those acts that the lucky few will be able to proudly say “I saw her when….” Support comes from Moths, Drew Bryant and The Little Dylans.

 

With a name like Tattie Jam, you may have an inkling of what The Beehive have to offer tonight But if the thought of Scottish traditional folk music might sound uninspiring, then you haven’t seen this brilliant duo. Plundering their Celtic roots they use cello, guitars and voice to playfully reinterpreted that heritage from dark ballads and protest songs to jigs and reels and even the odd a Capella number.

 

Not to be out done, The Rolleston offers some serious competition in the shape of Doll Rats. Mixing raucous but intelligent stadium rock with otherworldly washes this is a band whose music is both big and clever!

 

Staying at The Rolleston, Friday sees them do it again as another hot property, Natural Tendency, will be paying a visit. Dynamic alt-rock is a good starting point but that has to be qualified with terms such as “ euphoric”  “classically informed” “powerful” and well, just brilliant. Definitely a band to catch lives.

 

Bloodstock Battle of The Bands over at Riffs Bar goes into its last heat, this time with Tempestora, Blood of Ash and Black Sanctuary going head to head for the last places in the Semi-finals. At the other end of the musical, not to mention geographical, extreme Minky G (She’s “sunny, fun and looks like an excitable sock puppet on stage” apparently!) and Roscoe (no quotes available) are over from their native Western Australia to delight you with their brilliant brand of jazz-pop.  Up at The Royal Oak, Blackwaters will be treating the crowd to a mixture of covers and original songs in their own inimitable style.

 

On Saturday you can catch great music and do your bit for charity. Raising money for Diabetes UK there is a rather special line up at the Victoria. Two of the bands that I have been championing recently are featured here, both brilliant exponents of musical non-compromise and both artisans of strange, warped yet addictive music that oozes between dream like pop and sonic surrealness.  Those avant gardeners at the oasis of originality are Crash and the Bandicoots and Super Squarecloud. Also on the bill is a rare outing for Black Sheep Apprentice and a full band line up version of the ethereal and wonderfully chilled Rumour Shed.

 

At the 12 Bar the charities in question are The Naomi House Hospice and Jack’s Place and Mathias Hair Design have arranged a fashion show, raffle and live music by bands that are so good they cannot be announced to the general public on health and safety grounds. Over at the Swiss Chalet, Oxfords finest punk-popsters, Disclosure will be delivering their trademark punchy yet accessible tunes.

 

If Blues is your thing keep Sunday evening free. If by the age of 17 you have already shared the stage with Bernie Marsden, John Mayall and Jeff Healey, it’s safe to say that you are an act with a bright future. Krissy Matthews is the act in question and the fact that he is playing a free show at The Rolleston is a reason to drop everything and head along.

 

Tuesday’s Jazz slot at Baker Street is filled by The Dave Newton Trio, piano led chamber jazz known for it’s classical feel and dreamy introspection.  And finally last mention of the week is Bateleurs at The Running Horse on Wednesdays. Always a great set of jaunty european folk meets eastern Americana and with romantic troubadour Billyjon in support certainly a good way to shake the mid week doldrums.

It’s nice when you get the task of reviewing music that also happens to be one of your favourite local bands. Rather than struggling to find new ways of describing derivative bands whose music has left your head as you hit the last full stop of the review, instead it’s a chance to wax lyrical about music that you really care about. And to be honest, how can you not appreciate Rumour Shed. Breathy and delicate vocals lay over acoustic guitar lines that at their most dominant are lilting and folksy but are often content to weave more fractured and intricate lines as if to echo the vocal work.

Although the band have recently expanded from it’s original duo into a fuller band, the four tracks that make up Postcards for Mother are little more than the core sound of the band, minimal percussion add structure, a cello meanders through a couple of the songs but it’s mainly two voices and a guitar and to be honest, it’s this stripped back delivery that really makes the bands sound.

It’s a sound that is reflective rather than melancholy, otherworldly rather than mournfully, richly poetic and quietly majestic. It is music that seems to conjure up pre-Raphaelite imagery with its musically rich and dreamlike hues and a stunning creation given the small number of musical building blocks chosen to work with. And if you think the band on album sound good, I urge you to catch them live.

You know things are going well when over the course of one long weekend  you have the options of watching feisty female rock from Minneapolis, a Celtic rock guitar legend, sublime shoe gazers from along the M4 corridor, chilled out, cinematic folk or harmonious indie soundscapers. Well, I only managed to catch two of those shows but which ever you look at it, if the music scene were going for a medical, you would have to declare it in the rudest of health. And this week is set to continue along the same lines.

There is trouble brewing at The Rolleston tonight as Rumour Shed goes musically head to head with Dave Corrigan in the acoustic grudge match of the year. Weapons will include deep and meaningful lyrics, luscious vocals, joyous and lilting songs, tweed and possibly sandals. Beards are preferred but not essential.

Stiff competition for the folk/roots audience comes from itinerant troubadour Jez Hellard who brings his Djukella Orchestra to the Beehive for a night of folk and funk, rumba, reels and reggae, jigs and gypsy jazz. Rock fans will find their spiritual home for the night at The Victoria with Simon Townsend (baby brother of the legendary Pete) but make sure you get there early enough to catch sublime support act Kola, a wonderful blend of Heartbreaker era Ryan Adams and The Waterboys chilling out.

Staying at The Victoria, Friday sees genres and creative boundaries thrown aside as the madness that is Flipron grace the stage. This bohemian pop collective manage to fall somewhere between The Bad Seeds playing Disney tunes and Charles Dickens CD collection (the fact that this is obviously an impossible scenario says a lot about the band.) Swindon’s own folk-pop-ska mavericks, the Costello’s, will be kicking the night off.

Thanks to a flying visit by their errant and trans-continental drummer, The Dacoits, have a few gigs lined up and you can catch their dark, poetic garage rock at The Beehive. Support comes in the shape of an equally rare outing for alt-country punks, Black Sheep Apprentice.

The Furnace also fires up for the first of three gigs this weekend. Red Seas Fire is a brilliantly executed weave of melodic metal, progressive structures, power and passion. They are joined by Burials, Chronographs and the symphonic-laced hardcore sounds of The Cold Harbour.

Saturday sees The 12 Bar get in on the act with a host of young indie bands spearheaded by the aptly named Young Blood. Having formed from the remains of Napoleon In Rags, they seem to have adopted a less modish, more fired up and contemporary fuel for their indie vehicle; you will not be disappointed. Add to that support slots from The Fixed, Retrospecs, Last Nights Victory and Luna Machine and you have the makings of a fine night.

If ska-punk floats your boat, one of the finest exponents of it, Slagerij, will be creating musical havoc at The Victoria. They are joined by West Coast (Clevedon, North Somerset to be exact) skate punks Mr Zippy and Bristol’s The Richardson Maneuver. In terms of energy, stage presence and song crafting, this gig, to quote the infamous Nigel Tufnell, goes up to eleven.

It’s all a bit full on down at The Furnace as post-hardcore crew When Words Fail headline their last UK gig for a while in aid of Louise Hunt and her Paralympic bid. They are joined (after more chopping and changing than a choppy changey thing!) by the euphoric sounds of This Fall; Eastbourne’s post-punks, Hold the Fight and the pop punk of Days on Juno.

All the way from Italy to The Rolleston, The Beatholes cleverly re-invent The Beatles for a punk and rock audience. If you have ever imagined what Eleanor Rigby would sound like given the Iron Maiden treatment or mused over Motorhead’s take on Get Back, then this is the place to be.

Sunday’s big noise comes in the shape of Carridale leading a slew of great pop-punk bands at The Furnace. Hot Damn, Sell Your Sky and Tides of Change also feature.

Final mention of the week goes to my favourite new band of the moment, SkyBurnsRed (pictured top)who play The Victoria on Wednesday. Kicking alt-rock underpinned by intricate grooves and sweeping eastern violin vibes…what’s not to like? They are joined by the funked and punked creations of The Me!Me!Me’s? and in a last minute change to the line up, the effervescent and ubiquitous Nudy Bronque.