Tag Archive: steve leigh


Drama at the coffee house

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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.

1001847_10151555930943635_1223282823_nThere is no getting away from it; this week is all about The Swindon Shuffle. I won’t dwell on it in full, there has been a fair bit of coverage already in this august (and indeed August) publication and a quick search under the obvious terms will find all the details listed up on their website. But here is a very brief walk through (or Shuffle through I guess.)

 

Following last nights opening event at The Queens Tap, the focus tonight turns to Old Town which sees the regular Songs of Praise night at The Victoria become a temple to all things mercurial pop and alt-rock (Super Squarecloud, Dead Royalties and the return of SkyBurnsRed), whilst The Roaring Donkey is the haven for culture vultures, providing a mixture of intelligent acoustica (David Marx and Steve Leigh) and poetry readings. Also happing in the vicinity is some lovely Psytrance (tribal beats meets alien dance vibes) from Zetan Spore at The Beehive and Baila, that wonderful coffee house meets old school vinyl emporium is joining the fray with music provided by hand picked DJ’s. Artist might like to note that those awfully nice people at Cradle Contemporary will be running a Sketch Crawl; artists will be wandering the venues capturing the inspiration and the spirit of the night on paper for a future exhibition.

 

Friday not only stays around Old Town with The Ocelot curated Indie night at The Victoria (incorporating the now traditional Doza opening slot plus Nudybronque and British Harlem)), the first of two mellower nights at The Castle (Familiars, Wildest Dreams) and Riffs Bar’s wonderful acoustic night joins in the fun with an open mic. night and headline slots from The Black Feathers and The Cadbury Sisters, which is a coup in anyone’s book.)

 

Saturday is a tsunami of music. The big daytime session is to be found at The Rolleston from midday, courtesy of The Academy of Music and Sound who showcase their students’ talents before the rest of the afternoon and evening mixes all genres of music from the delicate tones of Charlie Bath to the wild musical machinations of Sea Mammal, the blues infused Armchair Committee and goes out with a bang courtesy of The Ak-Poets.

 

Through out the afternoon, The In-Store Sessions sees music in Billabong, Baila, That’s Entertainment and The Central Library.

 

An eclectic mix is also to be found at The Beehive that evening (Cartoon Heroes, Swindon Samba) and another chilled session at The Castle includes an acoustic Port Erin and Colour The Atlas.

 

Sunday has a family fun day at Riffs Bar, so take the kids along and mix music and shenanigans in equal measure whilst if you are in town The Beehive is the place to be as it plays host to the Shuffle wrap party. If you have made it this far, you may as well go out in style.

 

Right, that is The Shuffle well catered for lets look at non-Shuffle related options.

 

Riffs Bar on Thursday has a great little fundraiser for the Prospect Hospice that features the slightly funky indie of The Primaveras plus The Illustrations, a band who have evolved out of a warped acoustic bedroom duo into a sharp edged outfit that both channels the past and predicts the future. Also on the bill are Abi James and Brinliegh Gallagher. Great music, great cause.

 

The bottom corner of Commercial Road comes up trumps on Friday as The Rolleston plays host to Replica, which as the name suggests are pop and rock cover band, whilst downstairs at Level 3 you can catch Floydian Doors, the only band in existence paying tribute to Cambridge progressive and LA hedonistic psychedelic rock simultaneously. Saturday’s non-Shuffle events are a tribute to Rammstein at The Victoria and Indie and rock covers from Happy Accident at The Swiss Chalet.

 

As if to prove the power of musical networking whilst playing the Mostar Blues and Rock Festival in Bosnia, members of Innes Sibun’s Band found themselves playing alongside and befriending Texas old country/blues troubadour Keegan McInroe (pictured) to the effect that he will be playing at The White Hart in Wroughton on Sunday…not normally on the direct route back home but it’s great when these things happen.

 

Finally, at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday those acoustic classical meets Latin meets jazz maestro’s Gilmore and Jaz can be found enchanting the crown. Why not join them?

Live and Local podcast

swindon105_5logo-300x186This week Sean & Dave have in interview Jake Stark from Second Mouth Pop Up Art Gallery and Steve Leigh from Swindon Academy of Music and Sound (and singing as well). We have music from Hip Route, Luke De-Sciscio, Mr Pink Eyes, blast from the past with ‘Belarus’ and Blue Trees. And the Top Ten songs ….this week ‘Heroes’.

 

play podcast HERE

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.