Archive | February 2011

soundCHECK 87 – February 24th 2011

The idea of naming a band might strike the layperson as an exercise riddled with fun and excitement. But I can personally assure you that the reality the polar opposite. The brain-contortion required to conjure up suggestions for a name that simultaneously means everything and nothing furrows the brow. It’s an enterprise that ushers moments of such soul-crushing indecision that it’s a wonder skinny indie kids don’t cry out their entire insides before they’ve even written a riff.

The task is harder now than it has ever been before. With every day that passes another decent band name is thought up, snapped-up and banished from availability. What’s more, the dawning of the digital age has meant that not only must a band name be memorable, it must be able to be googled, twittered and facebooked. It must appease all binary gods. Because if a band takes longer than 20 seconds to hunt down on the internet, they’ll have to work that little bit harder to make people care.

It’s a truism of the modern-age and it has resonated strongly with North Devon’s acoustic troubadour Jim Jones.  “If you’ve ever googled ‘Jim Jones’ you may be aware that I might not be that easy to find,” said Jones recently to one of the proper journalists at your favourite regional paper.

He’s right. And the recent stratospheric ascent of The Jim Jones Revue has done nothing to help his cyber-cause. “Not wanting to be out googled [sic] by the many Jones’ out there I have been convinced that a change would do me good.”

So, Jim Jones is no longer ‘Jim Jones’ but ‘Small Town Jones’. “As well as the Google bit it also kind of addresses the whole playing as a collective of musicians issue as well as on my own.”

Those familiar with North Devon’s modern musical heritage will recognise that this name also references Small Town Mentality, a former local band fronted by Jones. (To delve a little further, Small Town Mentality were the rebranded Carbon 14. ‘member them? They once supported Reef in Exeter’s Great Hall.)

But hell, Jones deserves to be on Google’s radar. His poignant acoustic riffs and heartfelt husky vocal delivery capture an honesty of songwriting that it’s hard not to be affected by. You can catch him and his new name tonight (24th) at Broomhill with Peter Bruntnell and Dave Little at a night in aid of Shelterbox. Doors are 7.30pm. Tickets are £10. There’s a buffet.

Or check him out at the gig of the week on Saturday (26th) at Pilton Village Hall. The bill is completed by Central Casting, Jog On Robot and North Devon Festival regulars The Caves. The Peter Bruntnell Band take the headline slot. Doors are at 7pm. Tickets cost £7 and are available from Pilton Stores or this phone number: 01271 373392. Guests are instructed to bring their own refreshments. Presumably that means booze.

Elsewhere this week, wistful London folk types Ahab (myspace.com/ahabmyspace) play at The Palladium on Saturday (26th).

By the way, Jim Jones hinted at a Carbon 14 reunion gig in his press release. Yes! Watch this space.

Hit me up with your local music news at jharper@northdevonjournal.co.uk or @testforpulse on twitter.

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soundCHECK 86 – February 17th 2011

Unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last 24 months, or happen to play football in the premiership, the fact that the UK has landed itself in a bit of a financial pickle will not have alluded your attention. You only have to turn on the news to hear misery-summoning reports of enforced spending cuts and ‘a new age of financial austerity’ – which seems a misleadingly glamorous term for the reality of being horribly skint. It’s a good job tears are free. Because as a nation we’re doing the fiscal equivalent of sobbing into the pillows every night.

It’s heartening, then, that in these days of penny-watching prudence and thrifty frugality we haven’t forgotten about charity. At least that would be the conclusion if the recent rumblings in the local music scene are anything to go by. Because the news this week is of not one, but two impending charity gigs, the money raised from both of which is to be donated to The North Devon Hospice.

The first of these gigs is at The White Horse in Barnstaple this Saturday (19th). Approach with caution, however. The headline band, White Dice, are super-MOR and tepid. And personally I can never take a serious band seriously when they list playing with The Wurzels among their career highlights. (That said, it’s not unusual for folk to disagree with me. You can make up your own mind at whitediceonline.com.)

Instead, go to check out the shiniest new local band, The Wonders. I’ve not heard them yet. So their sound is as much a mystery to I as it is you. There’s a raffle too; a special breed of competition that rarely fails to coax an irresistible suspense, regardless of the potential winnings. The star prize could be a magazine perfume sampler and a cold Gregg’s pasty. It wouldn’t matter. Come crunch-time the room would still be gripped by giddy anticipation as eager entrants clasped their special tickets with feverish optimism and the hope of better days. Sure, we’ve developed ever-more complex ways of masking that excitement. But it’s always there. It’s inescapable.

The music starts at 8.30pm. Donations on the door will be welcomed and, no doubt, much obliged.

The second chance for charitable revelry comes at The Landmark Theatre on Friday March 4th. The line-up includes young acoustic prodigies Ellie Campbell and Milli Taylor and the warm, cultured tones of Sam Dowden. Jenna Witts and Country Rose also perform.

Tickets cost £7.50 and are available from Tangles in Braunton, J&A Cameras in Barnstaple and Cherry Tree Café at Southmead Primary School in Braunton. Or you can snap-up a ticket by contacting the organiser, Danielle Meeks, on 07740 116 857 or danni112@hotmail.com.

There you go: maths was never my forté, but I make that two opportunities for guiltless fun. Get out and get giving, however brassic you may be.