Reviews and Reports

 With so much happening in our area it is not possible to get to everything so here is your chance to tell us what you have seen, heard and what is going on and what we have missed.

The Churchfitters at David Hall South Petherton

The David Hall South Petherton makes a great venue and it was packed out on Saturday 28th February for the Churchfitters. This trio seem to be well known in the area and attracted a loyal following. The band have been around for the last 35 years , but not in the present lineup. Originally hailing from Croydon , surprisingly they have relocated to Brittany. As soon as I saw the instruments lined up at  at the back of the stage I knew we were in for an interesting  evening, and I wasn't disappointed. The act is full of energy and character ,with great stage craft. It is hard to categorise the style of music , folk to Jazz and finally ending with 70,s disco!

The instruments range from fiddle, whistle, musical saw, washboard,  alto sax, guitar, banjo. Then there are Boris's creations. A bass guitar (or was it a bass bouzouki) made from Mercedes Benz hubcaps, A double bass made from a motorbike's fuel tank, a frying pan bass with rubber strings and not forgetting the Bing-bong made from a frying pan and hacksaw blades. Percussion was being provided by microphones on the soles of his shoes. I am sure to have missed some instruments  out , but if you get a chance to see this group go and be rewarded with an evening of stunning energy, inspired arrangements and character . 

Phil Beer and Paul Downes  at Bradninch Guild Hall

Bradninch folk club Christmas special was a great evening, held in the Guild Hall, with Phil Beer and Paul Downes providing as I had hoped a wonderful set. To most of the audience I am sure they needed little introduction both being local boys "made good" and they did not disappoint. I shall remember for a long time the rendition of Ode to Billie Joe with Phil providing sensitive variations on fiddle . The version of Sweeny Todd the Barber was something else, with Phil providing great voice effects.   There were lots of songs with reference to Nancy and a wonderful rendition of the Oggy Man which I seem to remember from along time ago.  

The support acts of Jerry Cahill (suffering from some dreaded lurgy) and the Boys from Melbourne street all added to everybody's  enjoyment. As it was Christmas, extra hospitality was provided with mince pies and cream being served in the interval. The whole evening goes to show what great  live music is available locally. Thank you for all responsible for organising the evening.

For those who did not attend all is not lost as the whole concert can be viewed on U Tube 

The entire set can be seen by searching for Jenir123 but below are links to a few 



Voyage of the Viqueens at the Beehive, Honiton, 29th November.

We had no idea what to expect from this show, but the fact that it was put on by a local company calling themselves WHOOPS ( West Honiton & Ottery Occasional Players ) and that the epic included lots of original songs made our interest buds tingle resistibly.

But we were unprepared for the shear quality and professionalism (in the best way) of every part of the production. First, an informative and very witty programme was provided free, an enjoyable read in itself, streets better than anything I've seen recently even at professional productions. This gave us a clue as what it was all about, and laid the blame firmly on the shoulders of one Torquil McNeilage who it appears not only wrote it, composed all the original songs, co-produced it and appeared as The Skald, a sort of narrator, but also roped his family in to form a substantial part of the large cast.

And how about the cast? One is used to amateur productions having to do their best to assemble a decent cast, and not always succeeding in some of the minor roles... not so in this case. There wasn't a dud in the whole lot, they performed as if they'd all graduated from RADA with honours. I cannot possibly mention everyone by name as they were all so good, but Rick Rugg gets it by a head as the bumbling leader of the motley Saxon home guard, Captain Athelstan Egremont... watch out John Cleese!

The Viqueens were awesome in the extreme, but when the top Viqueen, Val, played by Anita Tipping, sang, my heart melted... what a superb voice she has, why haven't I heard of her before? And I could go an and cover pages if I had to itemise all the rest of the fine performances.

But that is not all: The props and scenery were minimal, but brilliantly conceived and enacted, and the imagination and variety of the costumes were a visual delight. In particular the boats and the sea drew loud cheers from the crowd whenever they appeared. And the music and various odd sound effects, provided by just two musicians, were absolutely perfect for the setting, so much better than canned sound.

If I had to think of something to be critical about, the only think I can think of is that the director must work in a different time continuum, as the published running time of two and a half hours turned out to be much nearer three and a half hours. Tricky for old gentlemen like me, but it is difficult so imagine where any cuts could be made as there wasn't boring scene anywhere to cut.

This was my first visit to the Beehive, but it certainly won't be my last; a superb venue equipped to a high standard looked after and run by an enthusiastic and friendly bunch of volunteers.... lucky old Honiton!

It was sold out at the Beehive, and I'm not surprised. Surely it must be repeated soon, and when it is you may be sure we'll be there, and I suggest that you all are too.

Peter Arnold



The Beehive Folk and Acoustic cafe  .
It was well attended and every one seemed to be having a good social time. It is a great venue the lighting was dimmed and there were candles on the table and the volunteer staff are friendly. But It is not acoustic, meaning everyone was wired for sound and using microphones     jolly


Rag Mamma Rag at The Beehive  Honiton 

Saturday the 8th November was certainly a memorable night at The Beehive Honiton and while the fireworks went off outside there were certainly plenty inside. It was a toe tapping evening of pure enjoyment . Ashley and Deborah Dow set the place alight with Country Blues, Rags and Stomps, Ashley dazzling the audience with the steel guitar, and a Weissenborn Acoustic , with Deborah on washboard and harmonica.

The one disappointment was the small audience, as the Beehive is a great venue, with comfy seating, great acoustics and lighting and a  welcome bar. It must be one of the best venues East Devon has to offer, and there are top class acts scheduled to attend in the future. So keep watching the future gig page and support The Beehive

To see what you all missed go to


The Charles Hearnshaw Quartet at Colyford Memorial Hall

" The audience at Colyford Memorial Hall last Saturday evening  (1 November) could rightly have thought they had been beamed up to an intimate Parisian bar. Charles Hearnshaw (saxophone, clarinet) and his talented colleagues - Maxine Green ( acoustic guitar and vocals) , Jim Newton ( drums) and Marcus Darc (bass guitar)- treated us to a wonderfully eclectic journey. They opened with Munjenta Cafe - an easy going Latin piece. We then toured through some Nort

h American favourites, then onto George Brassens and some interesting reggae influences. There were some great improvisations of classic jazz pieces such as "Take Five" to some haunting compositions written by Charles and Maxine. Their unusual rendition of "Strangers on the Shore" was prescient given the announcement the following day of Acker Bilk's death.

We were introduced to the instruments the quartet use, including Jim's specially drilled Turkish cymbals. And then invited to take part in one of the group's pieces "High Tech Slidings", revealing that we were still awake.

For those who missed this most enjoyable evening, you can visit Charles' website  and hear some recordings.

Full marks go to local Colyford events organiser Helen for inviting the quartet under the aegis of the Villages in Action programme. "