Friday, 1 September 2017

No Surprises Living in Devizes: Musical Madness

Richie Triangle

Back yonder, in the early days of scribing articles for Index, I reported my surprise upon wandering in the Black Swan and finding it renovated to the charming place Devizes hipsters know it as today. At the time, I was adamant I wasn’t there for antique shopping, stating “I’m not David Dickenson; I’ve come here for atmosphere, a pint and some live music, the quality of all above my expectations. To suit the off-beat character transforming the place a young Irish singer stands at the windowed alcove grasping his guitar with passion.”

That singer was, of course, Richie Triangle, and he bought a sense of cheerfulness with spritely enthusiasm, good humour and talented performances. Alas his campervan out back of the pub is no longer, Richie has been travelling, but we’ll still recall him busking in the Brittox and just his short stay in our town, he gained a local following.

Well it seemed we’ve good taste in Devizes, as Richie found success on his adventures and has hooked up with Adrian Sherwood’s ground-breaking On-U-Sound studio, to record “Made from Broken Pieces,” an album of original material, all written by him.

In his own words, Richie is, “describing and sympathising with all our situations. How despite being broken, beaten and battered, we’re still here, alive and strong, and have many crazy tales to tell.” The concept stemming from a rock climbing accident Richie suffered while travelling India.

Paralysed from the waist down, it was a struggle to make it back to the UK. “After much determination and most of 2015 in a wheelchair,” Richie explains, “I managed to rehabilitate enough to be able to stand, and in time, walk. I couldn't sit around, and I absolutely had to get back in the music.”

Good news is Richie is back in town, playing the Crown on Saturday, thanks to the magnificent Marland Music. This will make the ideal after-carnival party and hopefully, he’ll have copies of this acoustic magnum opus, with hauntingly sublime backing sounds, akin to a modern James Taylor or Neil Young. Or, you can download it for a tenner here:   bargain.

Other after-carnival parties are available; Stuart Beck performs at Times Square, Mike Barham belts out classics at the Moonrakers, DJ Ramon’s getting funky at the Southgate (with BBQ.)  What am I, some kind of human event calendar now? Bloody cheek, might start singing in the Market Square myself.

Fear not, that will not happen, not with Black Rat Monday out of the way.

While on the musical subject, I was lucky enough to be treated to an exclusive preview of the newly formed “Full Tone Orchestra,” at a rehearsal for their performance of Iconic Themes on 16th September at the Corn Exchange. After just three rehearsals I can confirm they sound totally awesome and this should be a spectacular night as they accomplish numerous film scores.

Invited by the ever-busy Jemma Brown, who is promoting the event with husband Anthony, the conductor. I arrived fashionably late to which Jemma whispered I’d missed, “Game of Thrones.” Fussed about this I was not, for it’s not something I’ve followed, rather I favour I arrived just on time as they moved onto the Star Wars theme with boundless energy, and this is much more up my street.

Having to close my eyes and allow the music to envelope me, rather than let my eyes wander over the school hall or the musicians attempting to concentrate, I could almost imagine Darth Vader striding up the corridor like the headmaster from a netherworld.

 An attempt to bring the uplifting sounds of an orchestra to the Devizes masses, I’ve seen first-hand the hard work and dedication the Full Tone Orchestra are putting into this performance, I heard them still going for it hours later when the wind blew in the right direction and I was taking the recycling bins out!

All this and the anticipation of awesome Swindon based two-tone ska band, The Killer-Tones returning to our Con Club on 21st October, with Easily Led supporting, courtesy of The Devizes Scooter Club, you can’t say for a town this size, #nothingeverhappensindevizes hashytag or no hashytag.

For people having issues accessing Index recently, here is my mid-week special column again:

No Surprises Living in Devizes
“Is this… I mean, are we still in Devizes?”

Photo used with kind permission of Gail Foster 

I’m in the Market Place, minding my own, when grass verges take human form and saunter. I gawk to the bottom of a bio-cup pondering how many of these I’ve had.
The taxi rank appears to have metamorphosed into an inflatable slide on which toddlers merrily bound. The Corn Exchange has grown a metallic structure, protruding from its façade, upon which a contemporary brass band play a funky Jungle Book anthem. Circus strongmen in stripy leotards mingle, showing off muscles and their Salvador Dali pencil moustaches, and a little girl chats on an old phone while her chair and oak desk manoeuvres down the Brittox and into Boots.
Children queue at a Wiltshire Museum stall to make coins, as the curator gives the press a harder thump and devotedly explains the process. There’s a seadog in his sailing boat, with a cloud on a pole attached to the stern, on the High Street, and at the corner by the bank there’s a fresh aroma of lemonade.
People balance upon tightropes through the trees, and children gather outside the Bear Hotel to play inventive wooden puzzles while fascinated pensioners smile, casting off the pigeonhole which states kids require electronic devises to maintain enthusiasm.
Everybody’s in their silliest hats, washing down Thai takeout, soul food or kangaroo burgers with unique cider and ale, soaking up the sun, of all crazy occurrences. They chat and laugh, asking each other, “is this…I mean, are we still in Devizes?” while a romantic on stilts offers a girl the hanging basket from the Town Hall.
It’s not just me, things are abnormal I ponder, as children sway on swing-boats near the monument where people usually squabble over parking spaces, and the pubs and cafes mould into the surroundings, adding their own entertainment and grub. Either it’s the fiesta rechristened, “Black Rat Monday” by aficionados of the “British” (Lion) stand, I’ve had too many of them already, DOCA have knocked the ball out of the park for another year, and we’ve not even reached carnival weekend yet, or all three blazed into one glorious celebration.
Now you should know by now, this is a rant column, and I’m not one to mince my words; if it needs criticising then look no further. Plucking hairs, there could’ve been a DJ or at least some tunes during the intervals, the music could have been sprightlier and I’d like to see an acoustic tent showcasing local talent, although circus acts filled the gaps, I note Larkin busking in the Brittox, and confess, shamefully, I missed the last band which sounded right up my street and bashing my door down.
Merrily I wandered home along the canal, since the better-half drove the exhausted kids back earlier. Along the towpath life continued as longboats sailed through the locks, seemingly oblivious to the activities in town. I stopped on a bench past the café, where some swans dredged their wings and an old lady looked out across the run-off pools. She strolled over, sparked a conversation, explaining her family had temporarily abandoned her to take tea in the café, but she didn’t feel she could walk any further, and then she sat down. She was from Andover and among subjects of our tête-à-tête, such as war years (she was 83 and proudly told me,) and children today; she announced that she thought this place was lovely. I looked across the rolling downs beyond Caen Hill and the sun which was setting above it, a scene I’ve seen time and time again, and I humbly agreed.
I never get bored of the beauty of “this place,” and if we can see that, as if we would for the first time, and we can go out and celebrate life in our simple way, we don’t need a Glastonbury Festival sized gala, just our humble do, we’re truly lucky my friend. So, as the celebrations are to continue this week, some-kind of fun paint conflict, the bizarre Confetti Battle, (Wednesday) the carnival parade (Saturday) and free side-events, such Children’s Proms in Hillworth Park on Sunday, (2-4pm,) cast off petty squabbling, our political, social and financial differences, and enjoy the moment, hailing DOCA for the amazing show they’ve given us.
Now, where did I put my Black Rat?
Yeah that one, the one the dragonfly just crash-landed into; thanks, yeah, yeah, this is Devizes.

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