Tag Archive: starlight city


1482760_10152470476699251_1199696131_nGuess what folks? I’m back. Did you miss me? No? You fickle bunch, a new, younger writer comes along and you forget all about me, typical. I can’t say that I’m not hurt but will attempt to work through my pain by jumping straight into what is happening this week on the music front.

 

Of course the big event coming up is that evergreen explosion of music and good vibes that goes by the name of Riffstock. Yes, those lovely folks at Riffs Bar will be filling the bank holiday weekend with the best local talent beginning on Friday with the regular acoustic slot. It will be an open mic. session as usual but with some special guest slots from the hirsute Shaun Buswell, the blonde bombshell that is Bren Haze and other big names on the local acoustic scene.

 

Saturday is the start of two days of full band music, A Way With Words and Rocket Box cover the rockier end of the spectrum neatly, and there is shimmering lo-hi indie from Sahara Heights, pop-punk from Starlight City plus the classic ska and reggae sound of The Nomarks.

 

The following day again covers a lot of musical bases, from the pastoral acoustica of Rumour Shed and the harmonious Americana of The Shudders to the drum’n’bass punk of 2 Sick Monkeys stopping off at all points in between. Points as diverse as the mad scientist of indie-pop, Nudybronque,(pictured) high-octane ska from The Interceptors and the emotive psychedelia of Sister Morphine. The Monday afternoon is “Kiddstock” a kids and family day. There is a plethora of great music, more than I have room to cover here so check out their website for full details.

 

And if you decided not to join in the fun over at Riffs Bar then here are some other serving suggestions for you. Tonight punk fans will want to be at The Victoria for covers and originals with a first wave Brit-punk feel from Useless eaters and 50 Shades of Punk. If the idea of a psychobilly/R’n’B band is more your musical poison then The Beehive is the place to be to catch TNT, a band made up of ex-members of Screaming Lord Sutch and The Meteors as well as current members of Josie and The Outlaw.

 

Fans of tributes are in luck on Friday as Kins of Leon play the music of those pesky Followill siblings at The Victoria and Metalhead re-run the best bits of the metal and hard rock genre at The New Inn. If however you want something original then get yourselves to The Castle for some big riffing, infectious rock with 8 Minutes Later plus post punk informed Indie from King in Mirrors.

 

So what would happen if The Dixie Chicks and The Pogues joined forces? Well, visually it would look pretty weird but musically it would probably sound a lot like Flash Harry. These stalwarts of the Bristol scene liberally plunder the best bits of Celtic folk, new-country, blues-rock, Cajun and gypsy jazz to create outstanding and original songs. Catch them at The Rolleston. Stiff competition comes from The Beehive as The Eddy Allen Trio take an improvisational jam attitude and bend everything from folk to reggae, flamenco to rock, afro-beat, Celtic and a lot more to their will with stunning results.

 

Saturday, as is the norm, is mainly about tried and tested sounds, Peleton play covers from across the modern musical eras at The Victoria and The Rolleston plays host to Powerslaves, an Iron Maiden tribute no less. Original music can be found at The Regent in the guise of Ethemia, so if meaningful and optimistic lyrics, lush harmonies, exquisite guitar work and humorous rambling interludes are your thing, then that is the place to be.

 

SN Dubstation blend dub (naturally), reggae, hip-hop, pop and ska together into wonderful new shapes at The Victoria on Sunday whilst at the Beehive Charlie-Ann offers up some acoustic treats.

 

The final mention of the week is Louise Parker who is at Baker Street on Tuesday. Playing this show as a quartet, Louise has been lauded by critics (including the late great Humphrey Lyttleton…and if Humph’ says it’s good then you know it is) as the new, great voice in British jazz combining elements of funk, gospel and scat styles. Just what the jazz doctor ordered!

 

 

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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.

Library - 77As is the cyclical nature of local music, we seem to be at a bit of a low ebb at the moment. Economical considerations have seen various established support mechanisms disappear, from festivals to radio to venues. But what can you do about it? Well, everything. We have been here many times before and as the musical vehicles that we have taken for granted no longer provide that safety net then it is time for the grassroots of the music scene to take up the slack. In a past time it would have been called the punk ethic, the D.I.Y approach, maybe it is a time to return to such a way of working.

So what can you do to make things happen on your music scene, and remember it is you scene, it doesn’t belong to the bands, the venues, the promoters, it belongs to everyone. Firstly, you can set up your own gigs, have a word with venues and arrange to use one of the quieter nights in the week to put a show on or even put on a gig in an unusual place, a youth centre, a back garden or even your own basement.

Technology means that it is reasonably easy to produce your own podcasts broadcasting local bands or fanzines that advertise the underground scene I propose. As the total antithesis of spoon-fed, couch potato media and the commercial world of cash flows that venues have to operate in, I’m sure it appeals to a certain type of (slightly anarchic) creative mind. The question is, do you have the will and energy to make it happen or are you going to just bemoan the loss of your scene. It’s up to you.

Whilst you are thinking about that, here are a few gigs you might want to go to.  Tonight at The Victoria, auralcandy and friends are at The Victoria. Those purveyors of pick and mix, guerrillas of genre and lyrical libertines, auralcandy (a band so poor that they can’t even afford a capital letter) are joined by Minnie Birch and David Bowmer. Minnie describes her style as “dreary folk pop music” though this is music that has enabled her to open for the likes of Joan Armatrading so I suspect a certain amount of self-deprecation is at work. Dave Bowmer plays a strange device called a Chapman Stick and through this, live looping and percussion from David Holmes they create wonderful dance driven surf soundtracks. Intriguing!

Anglo-Swedish blues maestro, Krissy Matthews just goes from strength to strength. Having played festivals the length and breadth of Europe and in places as iconic as The 100 Club and The Cavern, the fact that you can get to watch him for free at The Beehive is a chance not to be passed up.

Friday is the busy one this week but with a wide range of genres up for grabs there is something for everyone. In the name of balance I should mention that the human six-pack, Peter Andre, is at the Oasis playing a selection of his hit! X-Factor fabrication The Risk and Sam Gray support. (Can you tell I typed that through gritted teeth?)

If you do want a proper live experience that is all about the dance floor groove then a better option is The Funk’daMentals at The Victoria an awesome and accomplished band playing the funkiest tunes from James Brown to Jamiroquai and from Rose Royce to The Sugarhill Gang.

In the worthy causes department, The Furnace are hosting The Empower and Swindon Street Pastors Charity Gig. Music comes in the form of The Graham Mack Rock Band, Starlight City, plus Gambian drummers and acoustic sets. Meanwhile returning after more than a week away, Josie and The Outlaw will be treating The Rolleston to their trademark rockabilly, R’n’B and old school rock and roll.

Forget The Black Keys, The White Stripes and The Kills, the only two-piece band that matters are in town on Saturday. If drum and bass driven punk, shouty vocals delivering lyrics that wander between poignant and just plain dumb are your thing, then get up to The Victoria for 2 Sick Monkeys (pictured), the best thing to come out of Wootton Bassett since the 55A bus service. Headlining are The Nomarks – maximum ska!

Ending, as we often do, at The Running Horse on Wednesday and I highly recommend you check out the reflective, dark and bittersweet melodies of Ells Ponting and the raw, funky acoustic blues of Jim Blair, a real mid-week oasis of talent.

Review by Joy Bells

Victory is in sight

We meet at Mr Moks for a 1 o’clock all you can eat for a tenner blow out! Four women and a bloke with a back pack.  Sushi sustenance is the order of the day as we engage with other Shufflers who have the same idea, notably Rich Millen, who drummed for Black Sheep Apprentice and The Decoits and who is arguably the most dedicated shuffler, taking a round trip from Berlin to show us how it’s done! The sun comes out (again), and we stroll to The Rolleston to begin the third day of shuffling shenanigans.

We arrive about half way through Alice Offley’s set. This woman is gorgeous and gifted. She put in a powerful performance at last year’s shuffle and she just goes from strength to strength. Her versatile voice gives you goose-bumps stretching effortlessly through notes at different ends of the scale and her ballerina hands dance around the piano keys with ease. She writes from the heart and I love her song ‘Black Dog’ filled with the passion of a survivor.

Antonio Lulic is a story telling singer from ‘up North’, sharing intimate moments between his songs to relate how and why he wrote them. In ‘The City of Austin Texas’ he imparts the miseries of breaking up with his girlfriend, in ‘Sobering Up’ he remembers the turning point that prompted him to make the transition between poor, drunk musician to rich, drunk musician. If he were washing powder he’d be concentrated non bio with his gravelly voice and bright guitar stripping down his life’s laundry on the wash board of experience to dry in the sun.

Starlight City quickly follows. They give a practiced, high energy performance; this is The Undertones partying with Big Country from four guys who work well casting a pop punk spell. They keep the late Sunday afternoon audience awake despite Siesta’s calling. I have to admit I’m beginning to flag and apologise to Browfort for not staying to listen to what I’m told is a brilliant set.

 

Frankie lets me sleep on her settee for a couple of hours. I’m out like a light and come round with the sound of children playing in the street and the brain cell lubricating smell of coffee. Batteries charged we freshen up and head back down town; this time to The Furnace for the last leg of the Swindon Shuffle Showdown. We’re nearly there and I’m half wishing there was another day to go. The Light Grenades, a funky four piece with an electronic beat infusing competent guitar and laid back vocals are playing when we arrive. People filter into the Furnace as behind the scenes lighting and sound are being fine-tuned and hello, Swindon’s very own events archivists, Swindon Viewpoint arrive and start filming the whole event. It’s all turning into something really rather special. That and the £2 shorts offer, that’s spirits not Bermuda! Salute the Magpie are five lads from Trowbridge bringing new meaning to the Old Wives tale of hailing Magpie’s to avoid bad luck. They remind me of The Strokes, strong vocals and anthemy guitar riffs surfing an indie sound.

There’s a lot of music to get through tonight and we’re already running late when The Starkers take to the stage. This is a dynamic performance by three brazen boys loving what they do and wanting you to love it too. Jingly guitar jumps out of honey harmonies and a grungy bang of anachronistic, modern/old completely brilliant music emerges, smashes itself against the dark Furnace walls and bounds about in my brain a bit. Fab! Fab! Fab!  

Like the increasingly amazing fireworks that explode as the countdown to Midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, the bands on tonight’s line up are some of the best bands in Wiltshire (and Witney). The Street Orphans pick up their instruments and suddenly complex rhythm changes are waging war on mediocrity. Their perky EP is on my iPod and their classic rock pop blending an indie beat saw me complete the Reading half marathon this year. It’s 10.30 and there are still three more bands to play.

I’ve been a fan of SkyburnsRed for a while and their layer cake of delicious sounds feature orchestral rock and savvy fiddle sandwiching garage and grunge and squashing it down so that it squirts out the sides. Blimin’ good stuff! So excited by their performance are they that they engage in a little Luddite like instrument destruction, ending their set with a stage littered with bits of broken violin…but it keeps them off the street!

Following on quickly are Plummie and The Racket. Wearing my newly acquired Racket badge, I feel decidedly fan like and am pretty impressed by how much better they are than when I saw them a few months ago. Effing and C**nting are par for the course and anyway didn’t DH Lawrence go to court to give us the right to swear in a creative context? Whatever…the raw riffs of the guitar slam into the vocals like a steel ball into a block of flats along with a few pints of beer giving the band a sticky impromptu shower. The Furnace is living up to its name. It’s hot down here!

Finally, taking to the stage at 11, when in reality the whole show should be winding down are The Black Hats. Guitars with attitude, drums smashing through in your face vocals, brilliantly crafted songs with articulate lyrics. At the end all I and everyone else could do was whoop for more. And yes that was me screaming for ‘We write things down’. Thank you for playing it! And that was it, well almost…we finished our shorts, well £2 was too tempting and started home. The streets were deserted although we did see two members of SkyBurnsRed walking by the Town Hall. ‘SKYBURNSRED’ I shouted excitedly, they waved back in the distance. Swindon has so much talent.

Wondering home I look up at the sky and see a shooting star. My wish…well let’s just say it has something to do with music and next years shuffle…

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a festival in possession of large ticket sales must be in want of good weather. Well, that’s what Jane Austin meant to say, but as it was 158 years before the invention of the modern music festival, as we know it today, she obviously had to wrap the message up in the social conformities of the day. And what a summer it has been to test such a statement. With festivals such as 2000 Trees resembling the Somme in the late autumn of 1916 and The Big Arts Day valiantly struggling through with a much reduced turn out, you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe the antidote to the British summer would be to hold a music festival indoors, maybe over three days, perhaps in multiple venues. Well, more on that in a few weeks.

 

Still, until then it’s not all bad news. Although the cancellation of Rowdyfest has just been announced, Festival on The Farm has run for cover and can be found lurking in warmth and security of Riffs Bar throughout this weekend, albeit in a reduced, bands only capacity. In brief, Friday is acoustic night; Saturday is tributes and cover bands and Sunday a mix of bands from The Graham Mack Band to Echo and from Penfold to Rocket Box.

 

Right, back to regular in-door matters. Tonight at The Victoria trash pop aficionados, The Starkers, will be unleashing their mix of melody, discord, harmony and mayhem on the unsuspecting public. We are all in the gutter and some of us like it there! Support comes from the driven, mathy sounds of Oui Legionnaires and kicking things off, eleventh hour booking, Secret Lives.

 

Down at The Beehive, Kola Koca will be mixing up any genres that cross their paths into smooth, jazzed out, folked off, rocked up, lyrically poignant masterpieces. More eclecticism can still be found at The Beehive on Friday with The Parlour Kats, whilst down at The Rolleston the Mason-Dixon line collides with The M4 corridor to shape the inimitable southern blues, rock and gospel sound that is Pignose.

 

More old time revivalism at The Victoria, this time with the skiffle, audience participation and general mayhem of Ode and The Bebops. If you can’t shake your moneymaker then a plastic bottle with some stones in it will do just as well.

 

Something wicked this way comes (these literary references are just flying out today) to The 12 Bar as local Hip-hop/Rap icon, AJ descends with a full band to bring to life his latest album, Tangle Your Cassette. The MECA, meanwhile,  has another of it’s trademark roller discos.

 

Saturday is all about the big guns as the 12 Bar plays host to another Southwest Hardcore event.  Pop Punk meets Hardcore, as MaLoKai, Snap Back, Go Out With a Bang and Starlight City bring the noise. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Faringdon Park there is The 2012 Children’s Fete. All ages entertainment from maypoles and circus workshops, storytelling and dancers, fairground and live bands, but more importantly…free cake.

 

Sunday’s Beehive afternoon session is ably filled by Mr. Love and Justice and if the idea of historical, socio-political, agri-folk appeals then this is the band for you. Imagine Richard Jefferies fronting The Byrds  – Sweetheart of the Roundway Down perhaps? Or Thomas Hardy writing for the Beatles; Hey, Jude (The Obscure?) Best just go along and work it out for yourselves. Farmers for fifteen minutes? Ok, enough.

 

The evening sees Charlie Bath and The City Marshals launching her new e.p. The Good Fall. Expect seductive melodies, understated music and emotive atmospheres to be the order of the day. Support comes from Phil King and Emily Sykes and it all happens at The Victoria. Meanwhile at the Rolleston, Ash Mandrake will be weaving his prog-folk, story telling magic through the use of twisted mythologies, home made guitars and strange hats. Both bizarre and utterly spellbinding.

 

And it remains a good week for rock fans as Monday at The 12 Bar; the mighty Mortdelamer will be building their wonderfully mellifluous yet often threatening soundscapes. Also on the bill are the darkly epic Scythes and the atmospheric and luscious slow burn majesty of IX.

 

And the final quote comes from Michael Fish.” Reports of a hurricane are unfounded” Yeah, right!