Archive | March 2015

soundCHECK 292 – March 26th 2015

Scientists have spent decades looking into the future. And while nobody can accurately predict what the future is made of, what it tastes like or when it will happen, you can bet your last pork pie that it WILL happen. The fact is that you are in the future right now, it just feels like the present because you’re not looking at it from behind.

Hundreds of years from now there will be historians. I don’t know their names because they haven’t been born yet. They will be much happier than today’s historians because there will be more history to learn. But they will get a lot of things wrong. Especially those that focus their studies on the North Devon music scene circa 2008.

In between cleaning the bathroom and cooking beef stews for their robot overlords, future historians will look back at North Devon bands and fumble over the name of one: Rural Jazz Alliance – wrongly assuming that instead of being the name of a band it was instead a provincial agreement among the region’s farmers to accommodate the anthesis of jazz music in North Devon; a mandate whereby Farmer Joe and friends would down tools once a week to swap tractor for trumpet and frolic in the cattle fields with the giddy abandon and uniquely reckless hedonism that is the hallmark of being touched by the spirit of jazz.


No, the truth of the matter is that Rural Jazz Alliance were a band. A darn popular one around these parts too. Such was their potency of live performance you could often see people dancing terribly to RJA’s genuinely exciting fusion of jazz, funk and soul. They gigged pretty extensively across the region’s pubs between 2008 and 2012 and could often be found with The Breaks Collective. Then time happened and RJA stopped playing. DAMN YOU, TIME.

Yet Rural Jazz Alliance is a beast you just cannot keep down. Founding members Jules Moberly (Spanish guitar) and Malcolm MacDonald (soprano sax) have restarted RJA, changing their name in the process to Juma. “I wanted to move away from using the Jazz word in our name, as I felt it was a constraint and a misnomer,” rationalises Moberly.

Juma use loop pedals and other effects to layer up a fruity cocktail of Latin, jazz, flamenco, funk, prog-rock, folk, soul and dub. Future you knows that. Because you went to see Juma’s debut gig at Yarde Orchard near Torrington next Saturday (4th April). The gig starts at 8pm, admission is free and there’s a tonne of locally-sourced food and drink to lob mouthwards.

Here’s to the future.

CONTACT: Please talk to anyone but me, unless you have local music news: | @testforpulse

soundCHECK 291 – March 19th 2015

Fancy dress has nothing to do with dressing fancy.

No, fancy dress is a public portrayal of how easy/difficult you find it to take a wrecking ball to your rickety pavilion of self-respect. The vehicle used to take this inbound journey to the human condition is clothing: namely shedding that which you wear normally – let’s be honest, those jeans needed washing three weeks ago – and festooning yourself in a sartorial mash-up of garments that fit a certain theme.

Some themes can be brow-furrowingly difficult to pull off. Lord Alan Sugar at leisure (Sunday Sugar). Magnesium phosphate. The concept of impatience. But as themes go, surely being asked to dress up as an alien is up there with the easiest briefs of all time. Good news, then. Because tomorrow night (Friday 20th March), making like an alien comes with guaranteed fiscal reward.

You see, there’s a show at Golden Lion Tap in Barnstaple with some of North Devon’s best bands on the roster: The Dead Betas, Pretend Happy and Oh Captive. Entry is £3 on the door (which opens at 8pm). But if you are dressed as an alien, you’ll get in for free. And seeing as nobody has ever seen an alien before, your interpretation of extra terrestrialism cannot be contested. Told you it was an easy brief.

It’s Oh Captive’s farewell show. After three years the four-piece are drawing the curtain on their fiery, intelligent brand of punk-rock and this is your last ever chance to see them perform. “Being in a small band is really tough,” explains Oh Captive bass player and North Devon music scene stalwart Tom Hitchins. “We reached a point where we needed to do Oh Captive full time for it to work – that means quitting jobs and leaving other things behind. Small bands cost basically all your free time and spare cash to make them work.”

Wrap your lugholes round Oh Captive on Spotify or They deserve one hell of a send off.

Oh and assuming your hangover the following day isn’t, erm, out of this world, sashay along to The Palladium to watch The Dreaming Spires perform their dirgy, droney type of folk. It beats spending your Saturday night staying indoors watching Take Me Out. Full listenage on Spotify.

CONTACT: Got local music news? Like a particularly creative fancy dress costume, I’m all ears: jharper[art] | @testforpulse