Tag Archive: twisted state of mind


1526996_516022715159615_454140894_nI’m not one for hero worship, not in music at any rate. Musicians are just normal people – gifted, imaginative, talented, some times even genius but human none the less. The one exception I do make is for a man born this day in 1952 and who made his music under the name Joe Strummer. As a member of The Clash he helped defined not only what punk music could be but also what it could evolve into once the revolution had run it’s short course. As a member of The Mescaleros he mixed rockabilly, punk, ska and world music flavours to great effect but it is his humanity that I find myself drawn to. Even at the height of his fame, he epitomised the man in the street and seemed genuinely concerned about civil rights, the environment and encouraging new musical growth which still continues via his legacy, Strummerville. You can keep your musical genius; give me the flawed but charismatic anarchist any day.

 

Okay, I may be biased about Songs of Praise nights at The Victoria, but I will say that tonight’s show is the first of a run of gigs that is bringing in some great out of town acts, mainly because they booked every local act they know to put The Shuffle together. That said, having seen the diary, fans of original music are in for a real treat and for a short while at least Thursday is the new Saturday. Tonight for example you can catch Dirty 6 at their first Swindon show, an upbeat and infectious outfit who effortlessly weave a wide range of music genres into a tapestry of unique, swirling, danceable indie anthems. Taking the middle slot is Basingstoke quintet Flashfire (pictured)s who have recently recorded their debut album in California with Brian Wheat of Tesla. But this is no MTV rock outfit, all I will say is be sure to wear your dancing trousers you are going to need them. Opening up are new kids on the local block Sahara Heights.

 

Out at Riffs Bar is a musical tribute to one of the stalwarts of the folk and acoustic scene Terry Hunt who sadly passed away in June. Helping to remembering him on what would have been his 65th birthday will be Ells and The Southern Wild, Corky, Dylan Q. his regular musical partner J.C. Leonard, Sean and Daryl from Bateleurs and a headline slot from Missin’ Rosie.

 

Friday sees a Swindon ex-pat return to play his first ever hometown gig since leaving these shores over 30 years ago. Jittery Jack brings his brand of 50’s soaked rockabilly to The Victoria with support from home-grown rock ‘n’ roll sensations Josie and The Outlaw.

 

At The Rolleston the “head boy of the new blues breed” according to Classic Rock Magazine, will be channelling the feel and vibe of the likes of Robin Trower, Buddy Guy and Rory Gallagher. So catch Laurence Jones in full band mode before he is whisked off to superstardom.

 

Meanwhile, out at Riffs Bar the man with the iron tonsils, Steve Grimmett is having a birthday bash. Normally found fronting Grim Reaper, Steve will be fronting his other band, Soundbites and treating you all to a nice slice of classic rock covers. Support comes from far too young and far too talented metallers Twisted State of Mind.

 

Saturday is the day of rock…it’s official. Classic rock covers from Broken Image at the Swiss Chalet on Saturday covering everything from AC/DC and Black Sabbath to Iron Maiden and Dio whilst at The Rolleston Priest Unleashed will be covering everything from Judas Priest to…well, that’s it really. For something a bit different, but admittedly not terribly different, you can catch a tribute to The Doors at The Victoria.

 

On Sunday at The Rolleston you can catch The Great Nothing playing retro to contemporary rock covers. (Anyone see a theme developing here?) If you are looking for something original musically, then head for The Big Sunday Funday at Riffs Bar in conjunction with Swindon 105.5 community radio station. Along with stalls, a barbeque and lots of stuff for the kids you can catch music from Jimmy Moore, Charlie Anne Bradfield and those Latino Jazz men Gilmore and Jaz. But it’s not just original acoustic music as you get a second chance to catch Soundbites play classic rock standards and Riffs Travelling Dance Band cover the glam, funk and disco hits of yesteryear.

Library - 91Had Good King Wenceslas looked out of my window, far from seeing snow that was deep and crisp and even, he would have seen un-gritted roads and snow sculptures that either look like something out of a Tim Burton movie or designs that are too unsavoury to be discussed here. And looking at the snow it got me thinking that unlike the cheesy results when Christmas is used as the subject of a song, the topic of snow has generated some wonderful results. Underground classics such as Driven Like The Snow by obtuse grumps The Sisters of Mercy, the hauntingly beautiful Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow by Nick Cave (although the underlying message is about something far darker of course) and in typical humour Frank Zappa’s, Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow.

 

Well hopefully the snow related chaos that has caused so many gig cancellations over the last week are behind us, especially as one of the bands playing Songs of Praise at The Victoria tonight are coming all the way up from Cardiff. Spyglass mix up heavy alt-rock grooves with a melodic grunge density and will be playing the support slot to SkyBurnsRed, a band who incorporate classical grandeur, raw, dark and emotive rock, sensuous violin and an aggressive delivery. Also taking their chosen genre to new heights is opener Adepto Futui, a band that captures the feeling, vibe and voice of traditional blues but who manage to twist it into interesting, Byzantine heavy and original shapes.

 

Meanwhile down at The Beehive an interesting local proposition is taking place. Having grown out of the Lazy Sunday Afternoon Sessions at the Art Centre, Fieldfare is the combined acoustic guitar and vocal arrangements of local stalwarts, Steve Cox, Paul Griffiths and Tim Sawyer reworking each other’s songs.

 

There are a few big shows at The Furnace this week; the first comes in the form of Cheltenham’s Young Kato on Friday. Pop may be a dirty word these days but along with LAB label mate Portia Conn, they will be proving that there is a lot more to the genre than dance routines and auto-tuners. Pop beats, warm atmospherics and infectious melodies collide with confident guitar-work to re-establish the credibility of the genre. Also on the bill Old Colours continue to ply their trade of fragile, cinematic, otherworldly indie creations and Salute the Magpie open the show. If something more raw, lewd and beardy is to your taste then check out The Hamsters From Hell in The Rolleston next door.

 

Back at The Beehive and another Cheltenham band, Stressecho indulge the venue with a wonderful angst-folk set, beautiful, understated music to accompany poignant and open story telling.

 

More big noises at The Furnace on Saturday, this time taking a much more aggressive format with hard edged pop-punk from south coast trio, Hold The Fight and local, upbeat, post-hardcore champions When Words Fail. Back upstairs in The Rolleston there is a bit of a paradox. Metal Gods claim to “try and bring something fresh to the scene” which is obviously commendable but then state that they play classic rock covers from the 80’s/90’s. Not sure what to make of that, still that’s not to say it won’t be a good night out for those still proudly holding on to their patched denim jackets and Let It Rain tour shirts.

 

 

Riffs Bar play the acoustic card and have a collection of acts both local and otherwise  playing in a very stripped down fashion, including the 50’s rock and roll vibe of Josie and The Outlaw, the wonderful harmonies and intricate guitar blends of Ethemia and the joyous and upbeat creations of The Real Raj.

 

Missin’ Rosie seem determined to invoke the wrath of the folk police (they do exist, I checked with the Home Office) by taking folk music and rocking it up to a point where those people who denounced Dylan for going electric in ’66 would be jumping off of tall buildings. Catch their mix of standards and originals at The Sun Inn on Sunday.

 

And so we end in our usual mid week oasis of music and two options. If you haven’t had enough of the loud and shouty, then Teenage Kicks at The Furnace has a Headbanger Special on Wednesday with music and neck ache courtesy of Twisted State of Mind, Dissolute, Wreckoning and Stands To Reason.  A more mellow listening experience can be had at The Running Horse with the wonderful Rosellys whose British-American ranges from acoustic country to stomping bluegrass, from gentle balladry to barn dance hoedowns. Not what you expect from the M4 corridor on a chilly midweek evening.

 

Library - 25Another week and yet more bad news on the music front. Last time I reported that The 12 Bar had shut it’s doors, possibly for the last time as a music venue; this week it was announced that after three very successful years, the biggest cultural event in the local calendar, The Big Arts Day, is also calling it a day. A sign of the times no doubt, but maybe such things are a signifier of major shifts in our habits. Like the transition from physical formats to digital downloads, maybe the live experience itself is no longer seen as an particularly relevant experience. People seem more and more inclined to engage with music via the celebrity stacked medium of television in the comfort of their own homes rather than make the effort to go out and watch bands performing at the grass roots level, the place where every band, no matter how big, originated. So it sort of begs the question, where now for live music?

Whilst you ponder that you can still catch some good music around the town. Tonight (Thursday), for example, sees the welcome return of Witney’s finest yob savants, Black Hats. Imagine what The Jam might sound like if they had carried on evolving through the breakthroughs of modern technology and changing pop fashions, visit The Victoria tonight for a glimpse of that possible scenario. Support is the raw, visceral and unadulterated rock and roll of Nymph and kicking things off is Babies vs. Rabies who having risen from the ashes of Mr Hello and His Honesty Club are sure to throw a musical curve ball. For something more sedate, Claude Bourbon will be at The Beehive delivering his trademark weaves of folk, blues, and jazz, classical and eastern acoustic vibes.

On Friday, Riffs Bar have The Sanity Days, Severenth and Twisted State of Mind gigging in aid of International Heavy Metal Day, which is confusing because not only is heavy metal the one genre that there is no shortage of in Swindon, but also the official day is actually on the 12th. Still time to set up a Tibetan Acid Jazz day to rival it. No? Pity! The Victoria are hosting its annual tribute to John Lennon and The Beatles with the likes of Nudybronque, Aural Candy, The Suspicions, Mr Love and Justice and The Starkers providing their renditions of his songs.

The Furnace is celebrating all things youthful, indie and slightly experimental around the edges. Headliners The Debuts, despite their age, have a wonderful washed out and slightly cinematic post-punk feel mixed with more contemporary markers. The Jefferson Brick are the sound of indie exploring some of it’s more warped undercurrents whilst Korim Miah and With Felix push the night’s sounds into some interesting guitar-electro-pop territory.

If you have been anywhere near the internet in the last 4 months you must be aware that Kiss tribute, Dressed to Kill are playing The Furnace on Saturday whilst upstairs in The Rolleston Missin’ Rosie will be doing what they do best. For those not in the know, what they do best is mix high energy Celtic folk with a driven rock sound, sort of a West Country Flogging Molly if you like.

In aid of Help for Heroes charity and more specifically to honour the memory of Paul Dolphin there is a twin venue music event taking place, firstly at the MECA and then going on till 6am at SUJU. 10 hours of music in the form of 30 live acts and DJ’s and all for a very good cause.

The Beehive offers something a bit more old school for its Sunday afternoon session. Jim Reynolds is fine purveyor of blues, ragtime and old-fashioned ballads and is at turns, laconic, wistful and pensive and tongue in cheek.

More acoustic music in the form of The Stripped Back Sessions at The Victoria on Tuesday featuring Kitchen Sink Dramas, Nick Parker and Reichenback Falls, who is often compared to Sparklehorse, Iron and Wine and Bonny Prince Billy, three acts that surly must pique the interest of any music fan.

Finally the week rounds out at The Running Horse on Wednesday with the vocally gorgeous, dark sonnets of The Black Feathers and funkier acoustic sounds of The Right Hooks.

One of the things I love about the more serious and creative side of music (as opposed to the famous for fifteen seconds, in it for the quick buck, types) is that it’s interesting to chart the family trees and watch the complex career paths of musicians who inspire you, if you are some sort of music geek that is. Well, around nineteen eighty, this particular music geek would have been listening to a certain bunch of psychedelic punks called The Soft Boys and wouldn’t you know it, in the blink of an eye, a mere 32 years later, two of them surface to play a gig in Swindon.

Tonight at The Victoria, Three Minute Tease, featuring cult rhythm section Morris Windsor and Andy Metcalfe and led by Sacramento loon Anton Barbeau, will be spearheading an assault of warped space rock, trippy psychedelic pop, wit, wisdom and sheer strangeness. Jon Ouin from Stornoway is also rumoured to be amongst their ranks. Bristol’s Schnauser joins them, a band recently described to me with brilliant succinctness as “like the Wombles on Acid” and quantum rockers Super Squarecloud fire off the opening salvo…probably in 7/8 time if they get their way.

Riffs Bar meanwhile bow down to the gods of cacophony and raucousness as Twisted State of Mind, Eleros and Aethara go head to head for a place in the semi-final of Bloodstocks Battle of the Bands.

If you are looking for something a bit less loud or mind-boggling then head for The Beehive where The Acoustic Buzz session will be able to soothe you with the dulcet tones of Southern Folk, Jim Evans and Blind River Scare. If you prefer your acoustic music laced with a bit of punk vigour then The Rolleston is the place to be as ex-Tiryth guitarist Daniel James heads off down new musical paths.

On Friday, at Riffs Bar it’s a question of “who let the progs out” as The Dark Sinatra’s make a triumphant return. Summing up their music in a sound bite isn’t easy, prog it may be, but this is a groove driven, heavy prog more akin to Muse or even Rush. And when they say that sometimes Nigel Kennedy appears with them, don’t get your hopes up, although last time they did have the awesome Tallulah Rendall in rock chick mode helping out, which is much the better option in my book.

Teenage Kicks at The Furnace continues to deliver the best of the younger crop, this time The Fixed headline, with Bratpop madmen (yes I’m trying out a new generic moniker, just indulge me) Nudy Bronque, The Debuts and The John Does all filling the night with indie goodness and complicated waxed hair styles, no doubt.

Upstairs in The Rolleston is The Floydian Doors. As brilliant as they are, I have never quite got my head around being a tribute to two fairly diverse bands. I’m worried that it might be the thin end of the wedge and the next thing you know there will be posters up for The Yes Pistols or worse….The Collinsian Clash! Still at least the by-line is obvious … “From Genesis to Revolution.” Oh, come on you must have seen that one coming?

The Beehive is opting for a melting pot of blues with The Mestizo Blues Collective; all styles from the Delta to Chicago’s urban backstreets are succinctly alchemized into intelligent, quintessentially English song writing styles plus a touch of self-deprecating humour.

Saturday is the night for rock fans to indulge their various sub-generic passions. Younger fans will be heading for The Furnace as globetrotting local lads made good, The Dead Lay Waiting (pictured) return to their home patch to dish out some furious alt-metal to eager ears. They are joined by Scarred by Beauty, Frozen Affliction and Roads to Nowhere.

The Rolleston is being visited by powerhouse blues guitarist, Innes Sibun and at the Victoria, Snaggletooth and Earl Jam play tribute to Motorhead and Pearl Jam respectively.

The Sunday afternoon session at The Beehive is filled by Pete Jagger, so expect the usual deft mix of folk, blues and ragtime. That evening at The Rolleston is a real cosmopolitan mix. Terhi is a native Finn, living in Chippenham and playing rock flavoured with country and calypso and the odd ballad thrown in for good measure. You almost feel like you need an up to date passport to watch that show. Support is from the Ghoulies an exotic blend of folk, rock and Hammer horror. They describe themselves thus “Jim has Delta blues roots and Daniel is a green creative soul” so expect something….turquoise?