Up yours the A417.
Up yours the Air Balloon roundabout.
Up yours parking in Devizes.
Up yours my weak bladder.
Sometimes I wonder why, on a Friday night near Christmas, I do these things. But when I think about it, I guess there’s two reasons. One, I’ve never visited a town with a ‘z’ in its name before. And two, I’m a sucker for these little gigs in backs of pubs that aren’t sponsored by 02 and where you get a proper pint in a proper pint glass.
LEWIS BOOTLE is the first to stand on the builder’s pallet/stage. He’s wearing a cap and I can almost touch his guitar with my nose. Lewis sounds a bit like Jack Johnson if he was from Hertfordshire and not Hawaii. There’s bits of Jamie T in there and he’s got that easy listening vibe of Sublime’s acoustic stuff. I’m going to say it now to get it out there – I SAW LEWIS BOOTLE PLAY IN FRONT OF 18 PEOPLE ON A COLD NIGHT IN DEVIZES. You know, just for when he gets famous.
JAKE MARTIN on the other hand is a little rougher around the edges. He’s a one man folk punk troubadour who is going it alone. Think Gaz Brookfield, think Tim Vantol, think Tom Frampton. He’s obviously touring hard at the moment and means everything he sings.
By the time it’s SEÁN MCGOWAN’S turn to take to the pallet, the evening turns into more of a social than a gig. There’s a bloke in a leather waistcoat doing some odd dancing at the front, and everyone seems to have lost all sense of time. Seán spends more time talking than he does singing – about Jeremy Corbyn, about his four jobs, but mainly about his passion for music. His jack-the-lad songs are lively tales of being a teenager in Southampton – about close shaves, about getting drunk and about being skint. It’s a long time since I’ve heard a set of songs sung so honestly by a young musician.
Which is why my friends, I drive to places like Devizes.
 Sure, I’ve driven through Ashby De La Zouch, but hasn’t everyone?
 I used to wear a cap when I was his age too. Never washed the bloody thing.
 Which wouldn’t be helpful at all.
 Aren’t they all?
 Well, his wife is in the audience taking photos tonight too. Perhaps she brought him a packed lunch.
 He’s got the worn out jeans to prove it.
 Don’t they know that I’ve had a hard week and have to drive back to Gloucester tonight?