Tag Archive: southern harmony


Folk at The Victoria

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11870933_488084031366179_9122912349955513731_nAll I seem to be reading this week is that it is twenty years since the epic battle for chart supremacy between Blur and Oasis, a battle that had people recording the heady days of the The Beatles and The Stones rivalry. If you took the pitting of the two bands at face value it looked like a bitter battle between working class upstarts from the north and art college hipsters from the South. The reality is that it evolved from a drunken pub strategy meeting between the relevant label bosses at Creation and Food Records but will forever go down in history as an epic replay of that 60’s rivalry that also never really existed. But that’s the power of PR for you and a mythical, class led, musical dust up sells more papers than the minutes of an inspired business meeting. Maybe I should start a rumour saying Nudybronque hate Super Squarecloud and see if that helps sell more tickets and albums.

One show that is really going to sell itself, if people know what is good for them, is the one found tonight at The Victoria. It may be three out of town acts but each one could take the headline slot. Top of the pile in this instance is Echo Boom Generation (pictured), a band who represent where rock music is going at the moment. Big, classic rock swagger meets grunge riffs, a vibrant energy and forward looking attitude proving that the rock is in safe hands. Fellow Londoners, Gelato, open the night with their punked up indie/stoner rock vibe and sandwiched between is Bristol’s Flowerpot, a band who hark back to the days of the Riot Grrrl movement whilst blurring the grunge, rock and indie boundaries. Any rock fans not checking this out will have their membership cards cancelled.

Something much mellower can be found at The Beehive in the form of U&I, which sees Hip Route main man Jim Blair join forces with vocalist Raye Leonard for a night of folk and rootsy covers and originals.

Things take a turn for the surreal at The Victoria on Friday as Nudybronque bring their rock extravaganza Graffiti and Her Friends: Against The Never Ending Sadness to their hometown. If you thought they did a neat line in bizarre before, this is the band taken to the extremes of its strangeness. Having gone down a storm at Larmer Tree festival and with Flashfires and Plummie Racket also on the bill, this may just be the weirdest show you will catch for a long time. It may also be the most brilliant.

Also ticking the strange box, Oui Legionnaires bring the punky, angular indie that they describe as Yelpcore to The Locomotive as support to Strength in Blunders, a band who manage to blend punk riffs with New Wave accessibility and an edgy, threatening vibe that makes them sound like they where hanging around New York’s Lower East Side in 1979.

Out at Riffs Bar bands of a more folky nature gather as a tribute to Terry Hunt and to raise money for The Prospect Hospice. Grubby Jack provide a mix of celtic and Appalachian style tunes armed with fast fiddle breaks and hypnotic banjo, Southern Harmony mix folk and Americana and Ali Finneran recalls the folk revival movement of the 60’s.

Other options are The Teddy White Band playing blues, beat and R’n’B at The Beehive, searing blues rock from Lewis Creaven at The Rolleston and three decades of indie-rock with Vive Versa at The Castle.

Fans of original music should be heading down to The Locomotive on Saturday for a night with Hip Route and Friends. A whole night of music from a band with a great reputation for raw and bluesy slide guitar and funky grooves with the addition of The Barefoot Horns, tabla drums, beatbox and possibly much more.

Elsewhere music follows more tried and tested lines with 80’s revivalists Syntronix playing the best of synth-pop and new romantic, underground pop and chart hits at The Victoria, classic and contemporary covers from all genres from The Hyperbolics at The Queens Tap and iconic rock and metal standards at The Rolleston courtesy of Shepherds Pie.

The final mention is Jim Johnston at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday. Trading in albums which combine psychedelia and post-punk experimentations, with fractious guitar lines and a bluesy undercurrent it will be interesting to see how that translates to a solo show.

1607111_577491689022522_3860118839849066474_nI will apologize in advance for the Shuffle-centric nature of this weeks scribbling but when over 40 music acts line up to play across 3 major venues and a host of additional bars, cafes and public places, it is inevitable that it will take up most of the space. So, The Swindon Shuffle is back for it’s ninth year and it seems only a blink of an eye that I was sat in the Winners Lounge (before it’s Legendary upgrade) on a Thursday night waiting for The Unforeseen to play the first ever slot. Tempus does indeed fugit! So, the first fringe events took place last night but as of today Shuffling begins in earnest.

The Victoria has long been one of the cornerstones of The Shuffle and so it is apt that we begin there. This session is one for those with a penchant for heavier music and is headlined by a band that have had a meteoric rise over the last year or so, A Way With Words. Other alt-rock acts on the bill include All Ears Avow and the dystopian vibes of Ghost of Machines. Between these you can catch the punk onslaught that is 2 Sick Monkeys and something with more of a blues spin from The Harlers.

Baila Coffee and Vinyl has always been a cool place to hang out during the day (where do you think I am writing this?) but now with the addition of a evening drinks license they have become part of Old Town nightlife with craft ales, a well selected wine cellar and quality spirits available and they join in the festival with sets from Matilda (minus drummer Emily who is probably doing headstands on a mountain in Outer Mongolia,) young, groove driven Indie from Polar Front and the captivating and heartfelt songs of Charlie Bath.

The Victoria second contribution comes on Friday, this time with a more eclectic and intriguing bill headed by the drifting ambience and trippy grooves of Colour The Atlas (pictured). Theo Altieri provides some effortlessly cool indie-pop and Super Squarecloud will be doing what ever it is they do – I’ve been writing about their mercurial, genre-hopping music and flagrant disregard for convention for 4 years now and I still haven’t found the adequate words! The early part of the night sees the welcome return of a couple of out-of-towners, Cursor Major who prove once and for all that kookiness is next to godliness and that blend of delicacy and dynamics that is Familiars.

Within easy shuffling distance of that (hence the name) is The Castle and their first session has a bit of a blues edge to it. Although main man Ian Doeser has long been a fixture of the Shuffle as a solo player this is, I believe, the first time that the full Hamsters From Hell have graced the event, so expect the usual sweary, tongue-in-cheek, bawdy humour set to an R’n’B backdrop. And if The Hamsters are a nod to the ghost of blues past, then The Greasy Slicks are very much about the ghost of blues future; slick, incendiary deliveries and killer riffs and acting as a sign post for where the genre is going. Also on the bill are Coasters, a punk vibe injected into Americana but whose songs trade Route 66 for the M4.

Elsewhere, The Locomotive, part of the Shuffle Fringe due to it’s outlying location in relation to the main focus of events, nevertheless plays a blinder by hosting Yves, one of the front runners of the new Indie crop of local bands and at The Rolleston you can catch Beatles tribute The Pre Fab Four.

On Saturday the music starts at midday at The Central Library where various acoustic acts including Neil Mercer and Stuart Marsh can be found playing throughout the afternoon.

Saturday also sees The Beehive, the only venue to have been involved in all nine years, get involved with a folk slant to their bill. Southern Harmony bring their wonderful blend of Celtic, English and Appalachian folk to the party and Ells and The Southern Wild throw in some darker folk vibes. Plummie Racket and Nick Felix will be adding a more singer-songwriter feeling to the evening.

Up the hill at The Castle, the younger set have their moment with Balloon Ascent’s accessible indie-folk creations, the shoegaze and post-punk referencing Sahara Heights building to a night of ska, reggae and infectious dance grooves from SN Dubstation, not a band that you want to miss, believe me. At The Locomotive, The Roughnecks will be blasting out their incendiary R’n”B and old-school rock and roll to entice and astound the Fleet Street crowd.

Non-Shuffle related gigs can also be found at The Victoria with Going Underground, Strictly Dan a tribute to Steely Dan at Riffs Bar, classic rock covers at The Rolleston from Bad Obsession and all your favourite songs from a new line-up Echo at The Swiss Chalet.

Sunday sees The Shuffle round off at its now traditional last day party at The Beehive. A string of solo players, Mel Hughes, Tamsin Quin and Steve Leigh get things underway before Bruce St. Bridges, the socially aware, psychedelic folk-pop of Mr Love and Justice and the sonic pick’n’mix of auralcandy move things up a gear. Last year The Shudders almost destroyed the venue with their final set of the festival and they have been given the task of attempting to do the same this year with another headline slot.

If you want something to help easy you out of the festival, the perfect gentle step back into normality comes at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday with those dapper jazz aficionados Gilmore ‘n’ Jaz.

10384282_524686984329584_2829732092505597701_nThis week’s contentious offering goes like this. Has music lost its voice? Performing music and releasing records is a wonderful platform, which has been used since time immemorial to communicate information. From Dark Age Sagas and Medieval troubadours right through to the modern folk, hip-hop and punk movements, music has always had the power to be political, to spread social commentary and advocate change. Now in a society seemingly more ill at ease with itself than ever before music makers should be reminded of the power they hold. Songs such as Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding, The Special’s Ghost Town, John Lennon’s Imagine and Nina Simone’s Mississippi Goddam have stood as important rallying points; so the question is, what will you do with your platform? Recycle the glories of the past, write throwaway tunes in the quest for fame or actually use it as a vehicle to exchange ideas? Why try to smash through physical barricades when with music you can smash through perceptions and apathy. Anyway, enough of the Ben Elton type rhetoric, on with the show.

And there are countless options to connect with live music this week, unless you do count them in which case there are about 15, starting tonight at The Beehive. Keegan McInroe seems to spend more time touring Europe than he does in his at his Texas home and tonight is the first of two opportunities to catch his finely woven threads of country, blues, folk and roots Americana; he is aided and abetted by various great and good of local music.

Friday sees the first of three gigs at The Castle, a venue that has consistently upped it’s game over the last year or so to become an integral part of the local circuit, with The Roughnecks bringing their incendiary brand of gritty, old school rhythm and blues.

If you are looking for familiar sounds then you have the options of either ska covers at The Victoria with The Killertones or the genre hopping Corduroy Kings at The Rolleston.

Going against the normal flow, Saturday sees a real spike in creativity as two of Swindon’s most prominent bands have record launch shows taking place. Colour The Atlas have made a name for themselves creating wonderfully cinematic, hazy trip-hop and although they have managed to secure some impressive tours and support some big name artists, when it comes to launching new material they are real home birds which means that you can catch them showcasing their new e.p. Amethyst at The Castle. If something more driven is your preference then Level 3 plays host to popular and dynamic alt-rockers A Way With Words, who are launching their own e.p. Reflections the very same night.

Two fundraisers also take place, firstly to raise money for a humanitarian trip to Kenya. Music for this evening comes from Kate Musty, Meghann Newcombe, Westways, Misfires and Sahara Heights. The other worthy cause to get behind is Moonfest and more about that can be found elsewhere on this page.

Rock tribute acts go head to head, Wizards of Oz (Ozzy Osbourne) are at The Rolleston and Hot Red Chilli Peppers (do I really need you spell this one out?) entertain The Victoria.

Mr Love and Justice host their usual Lazy Sunday Afternoon at The Central Library, joining them this time is Southern Harmony, who splice Americana and Celtic folk musical genes to impressive effect and hard hitting tribal funk-folk duo Insitu. If you still have a thirst for music after that you can continue into the evening at The Castle with Cristian Perugino.

Wednesday is surprisingly busy this week. It is the second chance to catch Texas blues man Keegan McInroe as he joins the bill at The Roaring Donkey along side ex-Snakes guitarist Richard Davis and new roots-pop duo, Bruce Street Bridges (named after an old time Chicago music hall crooner I believe.)   Also roots collective S’Go ( pictured) can be found at The Gluepot and at Level 3 things get heavy with punks Bob Malmstrom and metallers Bludger, Harmony Disorder and Belial.