Sarah Singleton looks at what's on offer at the Fringe this weekend

Swindon Fringe begins

IT’S Swinge all the way this weekend as Swindon’s answer to the Edinburgh Fringe kicks off, with more than 40 shows over 12 glorious days, promising a feast of music, comedy and drama.

Now in its sixth year, Swindon Fringe Festival has its official Opening Night at the Crossing, at the Brunel shopping centre, from 7pm tonight - featuring live music from Gilmore n’ Jaz and Canutes Plastic Army, as well as comedy from Tony Cowards, with organisers promising this will be the biggest and bestest Swinge yet.

Gilmore n’ Jaz are experienced musicians who make easy listening jazz. They specialise in ultra smooth ambient atmospheric music.

Stevie Gilmore of Gilmore ’n’ Jaz said: “We are so pleased to be invited to take part in the Swindon Fringe this year.

“Swindon gave us our musical roots - as kids in the ‘50s and ‘60s we were influenced by music from many different nationalities.”

Canute’s Plastic Army is an acoustic duo, with singer Anish Harrison and Neil Mercer on guitar. The band began as a solo project for Neil, until in 2016 he and Anish discovered a shared love of dark, twisted songs and decided to write some of their own.

Billed the best joke writer around, comedian Tony Cowards will present his show Punderdog, bursting at the seams with glorious gags, preposterous puns and witty one-liners.

Tickets for the event, suitable for ages 16 plus, are free. For more information and to book, visit

Fringe music festival gets underway

ENJOY a musical bonanza on Sunday night at the second Groovy Pig Music Festival, featuring nine acts and seven hours of sound.

Part of Swindon Fringe 2018, the line-up includes jazz musicians Gilmore n Jaz, acoustic duo Sweet Nightingale, Flame & Co, The Bellflowers, Damon T and Luke Philbrick, Da Fuchaman and the Fire Blaze Band, Terra-45, SexJazz and Spunking Octochoke.

Sweet Nightingale is an acoustic duo, with one guitar and two voices offering beautiful harmonies to touch the soul. Explore flamenco’s roots with Flame & Co, and be prepared for a surprise blues number or two if the winds lean that way.

The Bellflowers consists of Claire Amor and Jessie Thompson, a Wiltshire-based folk duo playing accordion and percussion. They play a range of covers, traditional folk songs and original music.

SexJazz, Swindon’s finest purveyors of surrealistic anarchy, offer what they describe as a psychedelic smorgasbord of lo-fi punk-cabaret.

The Vic is an 18-plus venue, and tickets are free, but visit to register.

Poetry and puppetry tell the story

CHECK out the work of two up-and-coming performers at an afternoon of poetry and puppetry at the Phoenix Theatre, New College on Saturday afternoon.

Individual Medley and Do You Mind? are touching and poignant works, suitable for audiences aged 16 plus.

Individual Medley explores what happens when you move a 12-year-old from Basingstoke to Zambia. It turns out that she swims. Spoken word meets physical theatre in a coming-of-age tale about crossing borders. Join Katrina on a mesmerising poetic journey as she (awkwardly) discovers boys, boobs, backstroke and boarding school.

In Do You Mind? Joni has met someone special, wonders how to tell him she has a long term mental illness. Is it during a second date? Everyone has had a moment when they have struggled to tell something important to someone they care about, and this solo performance mixing story-telling, puppetry and an old school overhead projector considers how we talk about the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. Tickets are £10.50 in advance, £12 on the door. Visit