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th-2The Thursday of The Shuffle is when things really get moving. Not only did we have fringe events in the shape of live DJ’s playing at Baila, the new coffee and vinyl emporium that I harp on about all the time in these posts, but also the tribal, sci-fi sounds of Zetan Spore a psytrance outfit whose music wouldn’t be out of place in the space bar scene from Star Wars. It was also the first of the big stages as The Victoria host a collection of the younger indie bands on behalf of Songs of Praise.

My duties that night lay at The Roaring Donkey, helping to oversee the music part of a music and poetry night that we had put together in conjunction with Hilda Sheehan, leading light of The Bluegate Poets.

The musical side of things was provided by David Marx, normally to be found fronting The AK-Poets and Steve Leigh, director of The Swindon Academy of Music and Sound. There was a certain synchronicity to the programming as the two players had been in a band called The Coincidence in their dim and distant youth and now here their were playing the same gig.

As it was a night with a literary bent, the performers were perfect, David’s lyrics having a keenly poetic and descriptive quality, finding romance in the often most unlikely places, referencing literature and geography, the product of a well travel and well read artist. Steve’s music follows a more delicate nature but tackles social commentary, political satire and hopeless romanticism.

The Roaring Donkey was the perfect setting, large enough for live music yet intimate enough for the poetry that came between the music. If you think poetry readings are anything less than rock and roll then you need to check out the modern state of affairs. Although there was the usual, more traditional take on the genre, descriptive and lyrical, painting pictures of rough Cornish vistas, there was also room for humour, satire, some fairly risqué moments and even the downright odd.

As a way of seeing who The Shuffle might develop over the next few years, this stage summed it up. I suspect that the music side of the event has reached its critical mass, after all there are only so many bands, not to mention PA’s, sound engineers etc, but hopefully with the success of this night we can use that to encourage theatre, dance, comedy etc etc into the event, maybe this is the start of something that will develop into a mini Edinburgh fringe type event. Well, you never know.

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