Archive | October 2014

soundCHECK 273 – October 30th 2014

Dig out your plastic bats and fake fangs, Halloween is within touching distance – the festival whose meaning no-one really understands but celebrates anyway. Among the predictable revelry – bratty kids on a door-to-door trawl for e-numbers, teenage girls dressed in devil horns quaffing My First Beverage on their way to the nearest park – Barnstaple is throwing up a welcome curveball.

Tomorrow night (31st October) at The Factory, the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show Halloween Special comes to town. As well as having a first name for a surname and having starred in cult nineties sitcom Red Dwarf, Charles has the longest running radio show on BBC6 Music and the highest audience share on the network. Expect Charles to be spinning the same stirring and eclectic mix of soul, funk and northern soul. And if you don’t like it? You can shove it. Charles has travelled through deep space. What have you done? Exactly.

Doors open at 8pm and – at the time of writing – tickets are still available, which means you’ll be able to go down and pay on the door. Check the website first though yeah? I’d hate to be responsible for a wasted journey – especially what with all them sugared-up ghouls loitering about. Visit (While you’re clicking about you’ll notice that Reef are playing on Saturday 7th March. Someone get ready to round up every DJ in the region, prop them at the side of the stage and barricade the exits. They need to know that Reef have songs that aren’t Place Your (Bloody) Hands.)

Finally, reserve space in your diary to visit The Palladium in Bideford next Thursday (6th November). Local promotions outfit Fear Of Tigers are hosting folked-up duo Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin ( They are fresh from winning Best Duo at this year’s BBC Folk Awards and I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything like them. Harmonica beat-boxing, anyone?

The remaining musical tapestry is woven with layers of stirring violin and mesmeric, rootsy slide guitar. BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe called their music “thoughtful and moving with great arrangements.” Who am I to argue? There’s an incredible video of the harmonica beat-boxing at Go watch, go watch!

Tickets cost £8 and are available from or direct from The Palladium.

Happy Halloween and whatever.

CONTACT: Shoot that poison arrow through my heart. But only if the poison is local music news: jharper[at] | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 272 – October 23rd 2014

As anyone who has seen the efficiency with which I repel women on any given Friday night frittering around Barnstaple’s boozers will tell you, I know all about building momentum. But even I am frankly dazzled, dazzled I tell you, by the head of steam that North Devon’s Super Sick Records have whipped up.

For those late to this (yes, you trying to sneak in quietly at the back), Super Sick Records ( are a Barnstaple-based record label that launched in June 2014. The deal goes a little like this. Each month SSR release a freshly-minted EP from a North Devon-based artist. Sign up to SSR’s free mailing list and each month you get a track delivered to your email inbox. Like, for doing nuffink. Pay the small fee of £2 a month and the full EP will make its way to you in express binary fashion. Yours for keeps.

It’s a super-easy way to keep tabs on the freshest home-grown music. Each month’s subscriber revenue is split 50/50 between SSR and the artist in the spotlight. So local bands get some much-needed pocket money (have you tried making money from music these days?) and SSR get to keep doing what they do, which, in a nutshell, is enabling local bands to record an EP in a professional studio for free. Nice.

Since SSR’s June launch the EPs have come thick and fast (well, one a month as was SSR’s self-imposed mandate). Andrew Vanstone, Halley’s Apparition and The Tuesday Syndicate have all been given the SSR treatment. But one artist you (and, in truth, me) might have missed is 20-year old multi-instrumentalist Harri Larkin (Petroc graduate, formerly of Bude, now living in Bristol) and her punk-rock-to-the-core Home-Grown EP.

Home-Grown stinks of angst – most of which is expressed through chewy, gristly guitars and ferocious drums that square-peg themselves into the round-hole of assured pop sensibility. Like Courtney Love introducing Busted to hard drugs. It’s all syrupy-sticky vocal harmonies weaving between a freshly-cleavered punk-rock aesthetic that will have floppy-fringed teenagers clamouring to get to the front of Larkin’s live performances.

If that sounds like the kind of thing you might like to send thundering towards your cochleas, you can grab a preview at More on Harri Larkin at

CONTACT: Got local music news? Wrap it up in cheap ham and send the package my way: jharper[at] | @testforpulse