Tag Archive: sam green and the midnight heist


1796959_1497749917115309_5306381136964104986_oBefore the year plunges into the more predictable waters of Christmas parties, reindeer head gear and those seasonal matching tie and sock combo’s that prove just how wacky you really are, the year still has a few musical treats in store. Three of them can be found in town this week.

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13246174_672093756262043_7295479845484515225_oI find it odd that people still can’t grasp the fact that just because I’m writing a gig guide it doesn’t mean that every single band playing in town that week is going to be included. I do write another, more extensive guide for one of the local papers, one with a wider brief and even that has the usual limitations of word count as well as the difficult task of extracting the factual blood from the apathetic promotional stone. But this is not that column.

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10671345_1099486163401427_4704903689419072710_nI often worry that the town ‘s music options are becoming more and more constrained, that the powers that be will soon be passing local by-laws that any public performance must include a cover of Mr Brightside. Then suddenly, and then doing their best bus analogy, three great, and indeed very original, gigs come along at once.

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John-PeelIt isn’t too much of an exaggeration to say that John Peel shaped contemporary music broadcasting in a way that few others ever did. Through radical programing, a truly eclectic musical taste and by championing bands that would otherwise have remained unknown, he single-handed created the template for music radio, as we know it today. The reason I mention this is that Saturday marks 10 years since his passing and I for one salute you sir. You were a lighthouse in an ocean of music mediocrity. More of that later in the article.

 

And having mentioned the great man, tonight has a suitable eclectic and musically left of centre feel to it. At Riffs Bar, Lifesigns will be reminding us that progressive rock isn’t the indulgent and retro minded genre that some would have us believe. Quintessentially English soundscapes are constructed from the usual prog. pallet but brought bang up to date with slices of melodic rock and pop and a very accessible nature.

 

Songs of Praise at The Victoria is by way of an album launch this time, as Port Erin unveil their latest release, Floating Above the City. Taking the experimental, space rock elements of their earlier days and mixing it with the ambient, jazz infused vibes of more recent days has produced an album that is both imaginative and exploratory yet tuneful and, dare I say it, commercially viable. Support comes from the sonorous and somnolent acoustic dreamscapes of Andrew Burke.

 

The Beehive is the place to be to catch the mercurial mix of underground pop, psychedelia, wit and wisdom of Anton Barbeau.

 

Acoustic music is high on the menu for Friday. Child of Imber is a duo that mixes delicate acoustica, soaring vocals and thoughtful lyrics and they can be found at Riffs Bar for the regular acoustic session. For a high-energy take on the genre then you should definitely catch Sam Green and The Midnight Heist at The Victoria. Theirs is a blend of blues from the Old South and the more pastoral sounds of an English folk dance and the result is the best freewheeling, roots-rock party you have ever been to. Support comes from psych-pop trio Emperor Yes and the twin guitar dexterity of Bren Haze.

 

Rock fans also have a lot to shout about. If original music is your preference then Level 3 is the place to be as A Way With Words, DIRTE, In Bloom and Over to You offer a heady mix of alt-rock, punk, metal and grunge, a theme that will be continued by the Reboot club night that follows it. Meanwhile upstairs at The Rolleston, Metalhead will be playing classic rock and metal covers through the ages.

 

As mentioned in the introduction, Saturday marks the 10 year passing of Our Lord John Peel and in his honour The Victoria have a night dedicated to the man himself with suitably challenging and offbeat acts. There will be fast, furious punk with sweary between song humour delivered in machine gun salvos from 2 Sick Monkeys. The (Legendary?) Chaos Brothers will provide abrasive punk and sleaze rock in the style in which it was originally intended. Coasters are all about the contemporary sound of acoustic music with a punk end drive and Ian Doeser does what he does best, abusing guitar and audience in equal measure. I think John would find it all rather amusing.

 

But there is another famous John in town as well. John Coghlan is best known as being the drummer with Status Quo and he brings his current band to Riffs Bar. But this is no tribute band but a set that mixes the bands big numbers, lost classics and songs never performed before played in the style of the 70’s heyday by the man who was the bands engine room. If anyone is entitled to reappraise those songs I reckon he is.

 

There is also a bit of a blast from the past at The Rolleston with The Wirebirds. Although predominantly a blues band they add in rock, west coast psychedelia and even more contemporary sounds and add to that the remarkable vocals of one time Babe Ruth vocalist, Jenny Haan, and you have something pretty special.

 

Final mentions go to Bob Bowles who plies his trademark blues at The Beehive on Sunday and a rare outing for The Chalice Folk Band who can be found at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday.

577554_321724341298988_1602871307_nAll music is informed by what has come before it but the art is to take those influences and building blocks and put them together in such a way that something new is created. If done well you end up with music that is both familiar in style and new in content; backward glancing sounds that are striding confidently into the future. Sam Green and The Midnight Heist are fully aware of this process and their latest e.p. Wide Awake, is a perfect example of how to make that idea manifest.

 

Roots music this may be, but whilst it channels the traditions of a number of cultural melting pots, namely the acoustic blues of the Old South and the more pastoral folk sounds from this side of the water, the counterpoint seems to create something totally in tune with modern sensibilities.

 

Known for a furious stage performance, Wide Awake largely tames that whirling dervish and presents a collection of tunes of a slightly more reflective nature, though you can hear in songs such as Highway One a live beast just waiting to be unleashed. By contrast This Old Road is a windswept masterpiece, all drifting sentiment and mournful violin, a timeless tale as relevant as it is ancient. In a similar vein, play the e.p.s swansong, By The River, and you can almost see John Martyn nodding his approval between the blues guitar and the lilting folk delivery.

 

In the recent trend where musicians are turning to the music of the past to inform the songs of the moment, none are doing it as eloquently and elegantly as Sam Green and The Midnight Heist. Not to mention…what a cool name!

487980_300436373427785_692359746_n“Thursday is the new Saturday,” observed guitarist James Cameron to a packed Victoria crowd last week. And he isn’t wrong. With recent bands such as Case Hardin, Hello Lazarus, Super Squarecloud and The James Warner Prophecies all pulling decent pre-weekend numbers maybe original music is going through a bit of a resurgence. And when faced with this wonderful outfit, it is not hard to see why.

 

Although in recent years the whole Mumford and The Whale crowd have tried to convince us that Indie bands adopting beards, jumpers and playing a banjo like a man on speed is the future of the roots genre, it’s Sam Green and his Devonian troubadours who actually feel like the real deal.  They sit at cross roads that links finger-picked and slide blues stomps of the American South-East with the more expected folk traditions of the English south. This is bisected by a road that links the often-retrospective nature of their influences with the progressive and contemporary musical vehicle that they have built for themselves. The result is a band that will not only take roots music into the future but forges new pathways whilst being aware of their own place within those traditions.

 

And aside from this journalistic dissection of the nature of the band, live they are nothing less than a great night out. Matt Cooke and Joe James, on drums and upright bass respectively, form a rhythm section that manages to be unbelievably tight whilst simultaneously appearing loose and unaffected by the storm they whip up.  On top of this the eponymous Sam and the aforementioned James trade acoustic tricks and electric riffs whilst riding the musical frenzy that is being conjured around them. But for all the dexterous musicianship and obvious talents at crafting songs, their immediate selling point is that they seem to be having just as much fun as the crowd in front of them and how can you not love a band that gets that much pleasure out of what essentially is …for want of a better expression, just doing their job?

1157735_552565938125804_813919255_nThis week I think the column should be dedicated to Roy Castle of Record Breakers fame as I have so many gig recommendations this will be the equivalent of trying to squeeze 50 people into a Mini. So without further ado….

Tonight at The Victoria sees the return of Sam Green and Midnight Heist, a band who inject wonderfully earthy melody into folk-blues stomps and pretty much show the likes of Mumford and the Whale where they have been going wrong all these years.  If you prefer something purer from the rootsy blues songbook then head down to The Beehive for Kent DuChaine, a steel guitar blues-playing journeyman in the traditional style.

Fans of a more folky sound will find much to like at The Arts Centre as acoustic duo Rita Payne (duo)promote their debut album, Stories From a Suitcase, and ably live up to the “new Simon and Garfunkel” tag that keeps being levelled at them.

More, delicate sounds are to be found on Friday both at Riffs Bar Acoustic Sessions with the sweet and innocent piano sounds of Lauren Castle (presumably no relation to the aforementioned bible bashing, tap dancing, muso) and the three piece version of Kangaroo Moon whose wonderfully global musical jamboree bag blends everything from delicate folk, washes of celtic sounds, elemental dance, psychedelia and more. Just turn up and see what’s on the menu this time.

More retro sounds come in the form of Teddy White and their fantastic r’n’ b revue at The Rolleston; The Jimmy Sixes provide the rock and roll back beat for the 3rd Anniversary Band And Burlesque show at The Victoria and if the idea of Hammond Organ driven, electric blues appeals to you, then the place to be is The Patriots Arms in Chiseldon for Shades of Blue.

The big gig for Saturday is to be found at Basement 73 when Eddie and the Hot Rods hit town.  Having their roots in the same Canvey Island scene as Dr Feelgood, they were one of the few bands that spanned the gap between pub rock and punk and it promises to be a great night of fierce, in your face, high-octane music. Support comes from Charred Hearts, local punk stalwarts still as fired up and entertaining as they were back in the day and The Hamsters From Hell, maximum r’n’b, with a chaotic and rowdy nature that belies the musical skills to be found within.

Elsewhere, as is the nature of the day, covers and tributes rule the roost. The Victoria has a tribute to pop-punksters Blink 182 and the Rolleston goes all classic metal with a night recreating the glory days of Judas Priest. Sons of Cream are a bit more than a tribute to the 60’s super group as the band feature both Ginger Baker’s and Jack Bruce’s sons, Kofi and Malcolm and can be found at The Arts Centre.

Riffs Bar offer up a fancy dress night with party covers band Penfold and support comes from brilliant folk troubadour Ben Maggs.

Culture Vultures will be circling around the Arts Centre on Sunday for the Swindon Recital Series which features cellist Caroline Dale and pianist Paul Turner playing all the b’s …Bach, Beethoven and Bach.  Alternatively you could take in a slice of folky Americana at the Beehive afternoon sessions as Gary Hall delivers music with touches reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons.

Monday is not the normal night for stand out gigs but Ben Marwood at The Victoria is going to be a cracker. The up and coming folk troubadour is playing with a full band and is also joined by label mates The Retrospective Soundtrack Players a literary influenced concept band who used to go under the more manageable moniker of The Dawn Chorus.  Shaun Buswell and friends get the night rolling.

Normally known as a big band leader, tenor saxophonist Kelvin Christiane brings his bepop quartet to Baker Street on Tuesday, a musical vehicle that no less than Humphrey Lyttleton described as “ a band of astonishing virtuosity” and he knew a thing or two about the genre.

Finally, still at The Victoria on Wednesday you can catch a punk orientated showcase featuring 2 Sick monkeys, Brassick and Larynxed.

Phew! If you can’t find something to watch this week, there is no hope for you.

Library - 23After the doom and gloom of recent events surrounding venue closures, it’s good to see that the town can still put a full event diary in front of its discerning gig going public. Maybe it’s the fact that the rain has got slightly warmer and the Met Office is predicting another half our of sunshine sometime in late August, but what ever the reason there is plenty to choose from this week.

We start with a change in the previously advertised schedule. Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight was to feature one of the most popular bands on their roster, The James Warner Prophecies, but sadly their travel plans for some European festival dates mean that they are no longer available. But fear not, their replacement comes in the shape of False Gods who alchemize elements of Muse and The Manics to make their music an intriguing proposition. Headliners Empire manage to blend pop melody into hard and angular rock deliveries and opening the night is Babies vs. Rabies, who are like nothing you have experienced before, unless you have come across music that is in turn hypnotic, oppressive, violent, atmospheric, brutal and car crash beautiful, sort of like a cross between an art-punk band and a napalm strike. Or a concerto for guitar and hand grenade!

The Hive has similarly original music on offer in the form of The Blue Trees, a stripped back, lo-fi, roots rock sound that will appeal to fans of The Black Keys, the Black Crows and even some bands with other colours in their title.

True legends can be found at The Wyvern Theatre when Colin Blunstone and virtuoso organist Rod Argent lead The Zombies through all the classics. Fifty years on and the band still sound amazing. Those with more of a jazz leaning might wish to head for the Arts Centre as The Bateman Brothers, aided by a host of famous friends, pay tribute to Louis Armstrong.

Staying at The Arts Centre for Friday and it’s the welcome return of Lotte Mullan; story telling, contemporary folk and famous for her “inside the music business blog.” Musically think Laura Marling meets Loretta Lynn, but her stories make her more like the Bridget Jones of the music industry. More folk can be found at The Beehive with Bateleurs, this time a sort of trans-Atlantic blend that makes you think that if Dylan had not been born alongside Highway 61 but had embraced the A1 in the same mythical fashion, these songs might have been the result.

Two big events happening on Saturday, firstly the Fieldview Festival Launch show at The Victoria. Fieldview is one of the success stories of the local festival scene and their launch show will give you a taste of the event to come, a host of acts to catch including the channeling of the spirits of long forgotten delta bluesmen by Sam Green and The Midnight Heist and the Cameron Brothers (the people who brought you Old School Tie) current brilliant musical vehicle, Weatherstorms.

Last year I was lucky enough to attend the Refuge gig at the Museum and Art Gallery where a combination of some stunning music, a very worthy cause and a wonderfully intimate setting made for an unforgettable night out. Following last years success, this years event, to raise money for Swindon Women’s Aid, will take place at Christ Church, Old Town and features the harmonious arrangements and velvet vocals of Emily Barker and Red Clay Halo (pictured), the mathy-acoustic intricacies of Jen Olive, the emotionally rich and beautifully economical songs of Colour The Atlas and the pin drop talents of Faye Rogers. I can’t recommend this show highly enough.

The place to be on Monday is in the garden of The Running Horse as their Acoustic Garden show is an all day celebration of the brilliant music they host their through out the year. This cast of thousands, okay, cast of many, includes Gilmore n’ Jaz, Louise Latham, Alice Offley, Benji Clements and Ethemia. And that’s not the half of it, so get down there for more music than you can shake a shaky thing at.

On Tuesday, drummer Dave Betts brings his Latin Jazz Quartet to Baker Street; so put your dancing shoes on and revel in this wonderful jazz, funk and Latin fusion driven by by Dave’s kit and congas, timbales and tablas. Very exotic!

Library - 204I was amused to read today that in an effort to raise his profile, Robbie Williams has agreed to sell his soul for charity. Williams, whose soul will be sold at Sotheby’s next week said, “ I haven’t used it in a while, in fact I don’t think I have ever used it; I’ve always borrowed other peoples, mainly Guy Chambers.” Robbie is not the first musician to sell his soul; blues legend Robert Johnson did so in the 30’s, striking a Faustian pact with the Devil at a crossroads. Johnson’s soul is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in America and valued at over $40 million. William’s soul has been set at a reserve price of £850 although a spokesman for Sotheby’s said “We hope it may reach £1000 if Japanese bidders express an interest.”

No gimmicks required for the music I want to recommend to you this week though, just heaps of talent and originality and it goes a bit like this.

Out at Riffs Bar tonight a bit of a new, local, super group is making it’s presence known. Alice Offley, Tiff Townsend, Evie Em-Jay and Gemma Hill are The Lovers and they deliver quality indie pop bathed in sumptuous harmonies, definitely worth catching. Support is from All Ears Avow, a new band rising from the alt-metal ashes of Mortdelamer.

Also a bit special is Grant Starkey at The Victoria, a man who neatly combines upright bass skills, stand-up style interludes and improvised banter; if something along the folk-roots-blues is more your sort of thing then head down to The Rolleston for Sam Green and The Midnight Heist, an act that fuses bluesy Americana with more anglicised folk, think Duane Allman in a musical arm wrestle with John Martyn. And if none of those appeal then The Beehive features the harmonious atmospherics of Anglo-Swedish combo, We Ghosts.

After a well-attended launch show last month, The Secret Chord, a new gig night at Riffs Bar fires it’s opening salvo on Friday. As a bit of a calling card for the quality you can expect,  they have lined up White Knuckle Bride to headline the first proper show. Old school sleaze rock is on the cards, a beautiful collision of razor wire riffs, big choruses, aggression and attitude. Support comes from The Damned and The Dirty who splice similar vibes with via grunge and metal and Oscillator, now returned to the live fray as an originals band.

Back in town and The Costellos unleash themselves upon The Victoria. Last time I saw them they were a five piece but now they have expanded the brass section meaning that there are now seven of the little blighters on stage now. Their music still promises exotic blends of pop, ska, funk, reggae, gypsy jazz and even a waft of punked up mariachi. Sounds like a good night, especially with SN Dubstation and Sigma 12 kicking the night off. The Beehive opts for funked up blues courtesy of Hiproute.

After the hectic launch last weekend, Basement 73 gets down to the business of backing up the promises it made about moving the venues musical focus forward in fine style on Saturday with a great line up. A mixed bag of rock, indie and punk-pop is on offer from The Dead Famous, Hold The Fight, Sell Your Sky and Starlight City. Meanwhile upstairs in The Rolleston, Laurence Jones represents the sound of the new generation of electric blues.

Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe (pictured) are two great musicians in their own right, which is why when they collaborated on the album “ On Hire” the result was an amazing work that resonates with timeless grace, that connects various eras, styles, genres, cultures and even geographical locations without once sounding like a pastiche or parody of any one part of it’s sum. All that at The Beehive Sunday afternoon and afterward head up The Rolleston for another outing for Hiproute’s, Jim Blair, this time minus the rest of the band but with the same amount of groove.

Finally on Wednesday, a bone fide musical icon descends on The Beehive, probably via an alien craft. Ex-Soft Machine and Gong man, Daevid Allen, brings his weird world to town. Expect the unexpected…and probably goblins.

For a more straight forward serving suggestion catch the dulcet tones, introspective lyrics and wonderful harmonies of The Right Hooks at The Running Horse, a great band…..and probably no goblins.