Tag Archive: sue hart


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I bumped into a young guitarist the other day whose opening line upon seeing me was, “Hey man, were you at my last gig?” to which I replied, “I really hope so.” Geddit? It’s a joke. No? Okay…tough crowd. Nothing else for it but to jump right in then, pay attention there is a lot to get through.

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11182185_821629961223827_7480345842100529154_nNot quite local but close enough and big enough to warrant a mention, the ever wonderful, ever family friendly Wytchwood Festival takes place this weekend. Located at The Cheltenham racecourse and very much in the same vein as the other big regional event WOMAD, this festival is the perfect antidote to the crass commercialisation and overt hipsterism of many of the big music gatherings around these days. Mixing stalwart acts such as The Wonder Stuff and world music icons like Ladysmith Black Mambazo with the best of the newer breed -Lucy Rose, Ghostpoet and Demob Happy – Wytchwood is a great weekend out for all the family with only the appropriate amount of beards and check shirts to be seen.

The perfect warm up to that event can be found around Old Town tonight. The big name that all on trend types will be dropping (excuse the industry speak) is Coco and The Butterfields who can be found at The Arts Centre. These Canterbury buskers mix raggle-taggle folk, accessible pop and hip-hop beat boxing into wonderful genre-hopping fusions. Forget Mumford and The Whale and all that overly earnest fashion-folk, this is where the genres real future lies.

The Beehive plays host to The Walker-Broad Band, a duo who have blended their passion for folk, blues and jazz into a wonderfully emotive sound that is as at home in a late night lounge bar as it is an old school back-street boozer as The Beehive.

Something a bit special is happening at The Victoria as The Cadbury Sisters (pictured) return to Songs of Praise, this time with a new musical direction. Without losing those amazing harmonies that they are renowned for, musically they have moved into a less roots, more commercial place, the result is a fantastic, otherworldly dream-pop sound. Fellow musical soundscapers, Wasuremono, also add some ethereal vibes and opening the night is the brilliant George Wilding who seems to channel an acoustic, Bowie meets Nick Drake sort of sound.

Friday sees the mercurial Alan Clayson and The Argonauts return to the scene of former musical crimes, The Beehive. Operating on rocks lunatic fringe, Clayson and his band deliver a baroque ‘n’ roll experience, one that is difficult to put into words, so I won’t even try, just go along, be amazed and think of your own superlatives. The Castle will be rocking to the sounds of The Teddy White Band, a ridiculously soulful blend of vintage R’N’B, blues, beat and boogie with a unique blend of vocal harmonies and an effortlessly cool delivery.

It’s Bands and Burlesque night at The Victoria so expect sensuality, costumes, humour and tease plus music from Rockabilly Rumble, making the night a wonderful cultural clash along the lines of The Kit Kat Club meets the late, great Johnny Burnette.

At the Rolleston The Pistol Slapper Blues Band play tribute to the music of Rory Gallagher. Those in the know will have picked up the reference in the bands name, but whether you did or not expect a night of electric blues, which bounces from the barnstorming to the bewitching to the just plain beautiful at the flick of a wrist.

Saturday also has its fair share of covers and tributes. Catch the music of Led Zeppelin at The Victoria with Black Dogz, and The Chaos Brothers will be using the twin weapons of punk and rock covers and bawdy humour to entertain and insult The Rolleston in equal measure. Psychobilly, punk and ska can be found at The Woodlands Edge courtesy of The Corsairs but original music fans also have a couple of great options. Either you can head down to The Queens Tap to catch Reginald Road, whose music is woven from threads of punk, ska, rock and reggae or catch some rock at The Castle with The Damned and The Dirty and Zero Return; two bands that really kick some arse and cut the mustard.

We end our trawl through the musical diary at The Roaring Donkey on Wednesday for the welcome return of Sue Hart and her charming and witty folky-Americana creations.

 

10527329_675300369218513_2277650497184696053_nLast week found me in my usual haunts for two radically different shows. Wednesday, as usual, was all about the acoustic session at The Roaring Donkey and this week it was the turn of Sue Hart, a Salisbury based Americana songwriter to entertain the small, attentive and gradually increasing number punters. Aided and abetted by “a mildly disgruntled man” whose real name was Pete on bass the duo treated the room to not only lessons in song writing, dexterous musicianship and vocal harmonising, but also the less tangible and often overlooked traits – charisma, audience engagement and the ability to take your music seriously whilst finding humour in the whole process of making music for a living. They were gracious and wonderful company and they perfectly epitomised those wonderful anecdotes that you only get from working with musicians. Not only is Pete’s “day job” working as Chrissie Hynde’s lighting guy, Sue also revealed in the wonderfully titled song, “ You Were A Lying, Drunken Bum, But I Got To See The Mountains” how she took a road trip across America and “accidently” got married. You just don’t get stories like that hanging around with four guys who working in Nationwide during the day and try to sound like Green Day in the evenings.

 

The following evening revolved around a trip to The Victoria, a place I watch a lot of bands but not normally ones as hard and heavy as the ones on offer that night. Arriving late I missed Eden Falls but did manage to catch a bit of Heriot who mixed howling vocals and heavy riffs with doomy interludes and atmospheric asides, interesting but the main thrust of their sound wasn’t one that spoke to me.

 

Although the intensity and sheer raw brutality of Screamo style metal isn’t really my thing, I think if you are going to watch any genre that falls largely outside your comfort zone then pick the best band of that genre. Headliners Sleep Inertia certainly seem the best of their peer group. Four–fifths born from the ashes of The Dead Lay Waiting they have deliberately pushed their new sound towards a more mature target audience. The result is a brutal, near apocalyptic, onslaught of high-octane riffs, pulsing bass runs, crashing back beats and primordial vocals, and for all its overwhelming attack of sight and sound, you can’t help but get carried away by its sheer force. Not the sort of thing you are going to use as the sound track to a Sunday fine dining experience, but in the right context an unforgettable experience.

(first published at Swindon Link)

1148809_503701169718211_1721662663_nSo that’s it, all done. Twelfth Night has been and gone, the decorations are back in the attic, though you will be picking pine needles out of your socks until May, the Christmas supplies have been depleted, all but the hardly touched bottle of egg-nog and some dubious looking figs and it is time to look forward to the future (…it’s only just begun…still got that damn tune stuck in my head.). So armed only with a new gym membership and a handful of good intentions we step forth into a new year, a blank page to document the next chapter… in bestest handwriting please.

 

And we get off to a great start at The Victoria tonight with the first Songs of Praise show of the year. Headliners, The Black Feathers, have made quite a name for themselves with their amazing vocal harmonies and blend of Celtic folk and Americana roots music. Joining them are Little Red another roots outfit driven by sweet boy-girl vocal interplay and opening the night is the quintessentially and often eccentrically English sounds of George Wilding.

 

Staying at The Victoria, on Friday, intelligent, direct, melodic and occasionally anthemic rock is on offer with Clay Gods and joining them are Goodbye The Sunset, a band who seem to channel something of the spirit and sound of what first turned my ear to The Gaslight Anthem, so no complaints here. Opening the show are the aptly named Dirty Smooth who manage to mix raw rock with acoustica or as they put it “tunes hard enough for the boys to rock out too, but sweet enough for the girls to dance too!” Cunning.

 

The Rolleston, meanwhile, will be grooving to the jazz, funk and blues fusion that goes by the name of Rival Attraction and if a more ska, punk and New Wave vibe better suits your tastes then a quick visit to The Swiss Chalet to catch Operation 77 is in order.

 

Saturday sees We Ghosts return to The Beehive. This ever popular Anglo-Swedish band trade in an acoustic sound that ranges from stylishly driven rock to emotive, smoky, late night chill-outs but always with lush and distinctive vocals leading the way.

 

Elsewhere the rest of the evening options pretty much follow a less original tack, the best of which in my “over-inflated opinion” is 1000 Planets who will be delivering their Killing Joke set at The Victoria. So if the thought of moshing out to the gothic laced industrial dance sounds of one of the post-punk periods most creative bands, then this is about as close as you can get without a time machine.

 

Cover bands are out in force so you can catch The Tin Shack Band playing everything from the sixties to the present day at The Rolleston and The Swiss Chalet features Catch 22 playing…wait for it, pop and rock from the sixties to the present day.

 

Out at Riffs Bar, Sound Bites not only run through a set of classic rock covers they will also be raising money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and FOLMS.

 

The week rounds off with a couple of great singer songwriters. Firstly on Sunday you can find Matt Chipperfield at The Beehive for the afternoon session and then on Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey you can catch the folky-Americana sound of Salisbury’s very own Sue Hart.

1390775_1010155912344262_2119820808637066610_nAlongside the bigger shows at The Victoria, the people behind Songs of Praise are now organising the acts every Wednesday at The Roaring Donkey. Following their usual template of mixing up the best of the local acts with some great out of town music, much of which is coming to Swindon for the first time, there is a lot to look forward to.

 

January is a great example of the scope that they cover. Starting this Wednesday (7th) the year kicks of with the funky blues, slide guitar skills and smoky voice of Jim Blair (pictured). Normally found fronting Hiproute, Jim’s solo set is no less exciting and taps a seam of rootsy southern blues and upbeat grooves.

 

Salisbury chantress Sue Hart can be found the following week (14th) mixing up Old World folk with New World country with a dash of humour and panache and a week later (21st) Tim Manning of Blind River Scare takes similar building blocks but comes out with some wonderfully different musical results.

 

Rounding the month off, folk-pop pixie Tamsin Quin (28th) comes out of hibernation and brings her honest songs and infectious stage presence to the venue and with a support from the hushed acoustic atmospherics of Andrew Burke, that show is double the value for money.

 

If you are fed up with acoustic sessions in town being dominated by the same few acts, are looking for some new, quality music to check out, or you are just after a pint in a chilled back street boozer to break the week up, this is the place to be. And you never know you may just find yourself part of something truly wonderful.

 

written for Swindon Link Jan ’15

1908007_709700309072398_6221285779546836118_nI have to start this week with a bit of an apology. In last weeks article I mentioned that the players in prominent local folk band, Noah’s Ostrich, were all members of The National Front. Obviously what I meant to say was that they were all members of The National Trust. I apologize for any inconvenience caused and hope that the cost of the replacement windows wasn’t too expensive. Moving swiftly on…

 

Tonight sees local boy made good, Gaz Brookfield, return to his musical roots at The Victoria for Songs of Praise. He brings with him The Company of Thieves to make this a full band show that features a few familiar faces amongst its ranks. Expect the usual display of wit, panache, poignancy and brilliant, observational lyrics. Joining him on this great bill is Lonely Tourist who describes himself as trading in Beard-pop, Pub-step and Malternative music…well, why not? Opening the show is the dark and lush tones of Luke De-Sciscio.

 

Level 3 has a rare musical treat for you on Friday, a cornucopia of young, emerging Indie bands, no less. Sounds will range from the soaring, slightly post-rock informed sounds of Sahara Heights to the street-punk indie of The Corfields and from the bedroom psychedelia turned indie-thrash of The Illustrations to the eclectic sound mix of The Primarveras. I would like to tell you more about Coco Esq but their on line presence is decidedly vague.

 

If you are not one of the skinny jeaned young groovers with complicated hair, there is still plenty of music to be had. At The Victoria everything heads a bit south of the border as Pignose and The Blue Trees channel the sounds of the bayous, desert highways, illicit stills and truck stops, the former through a dash of old school rock and roll and the latter through a more bluesy medium.

 

Riffs Bar Acoustic Session features Salisbury based troubadour Sue Hart, a charming mix of wit and wisdom put to folky Americana tunes and she is joined by Nick Tann who does a neat line in soulful and introspective, late night jazz tinged acoustica. For a more frantic folk sound catch Grubby Jack at The Beehive; fast fiddling, blinding banjos and great guitars. (I can’t think of a suitable alliteration for vocals…vibrant maybe?)

 

If you are going to The Rolleston then grab your brogues, Fred Perry shirts and set your Pork-pie hat to a jaunty angle as The Nomarks will be serving up original ska and reggae with a distinctly old school feel.

 

As is often the case classic rock is well catered for on Saturday with Shepherds Pie playing an Iron Maiden tribute set at The Victoria and Broken Image being much more adventurous and covering a whole gamut of rock music from Judas Priest to The Scorpions at The Rolleston. If NWOBHM era rock isn’t your thing then why not head next door to Level 3 where Echo will be playing covers ranging from Lady Gaga to The Kaiser Chiefs.

 

Original music can be found in spades at this month’s GW Hotel Acoustic Showcase in the form of A.Koustics, Daniel Seath, Emmy Fearon, GPS, Barney Kenny, Aiden Page and Dylan Q.

And if you liked The Blue Trees earlier in the week, you may also want to catch Barney Newman at The Beehive on Sunday afternoon. His is a sound that channels the blues of the Mississippi shoreline and blends in the warm folk tones of the likes of John Martyn to make for a wonderfully traditional roots guitar sound.

 

The town may be sorted for rock covers but if you want to know where the genre is heading then The Victoria is the place to be on Monday as Fox and The Law (pictured) roll into town from Seattle. Part fresh faced punks, part old soul songwriters, part incendiary blues, part Sabbath-esque heaviness, this is a band who both kick-arse and cut the mustard. And as if that wasn’t enough, opening the show is The Greasy Slicks a mix of Zeppelin’s grunt and Burning Tree’s panache. Gig of the week for me and it’s a Monday!