BEFORE we plunge headlong into the live and local musical affray, I just wanted to mark the passing of one of music’s largely unsung heroes.

Walter Becker, who along with Donald Fagan was the core of Steely Dan, was very much a musician’s musician as well as a brilliant songwriter and unparalleled musical arranger. It took me a while to appreciate their music but once I got my ear in tune with their jazz-infused brand of music, inherent soulfulness and intricate sonic textures, I was hooked.

They weren’t a band you could really talk to anyone about (although obviously everyone will be their biggest fan for the next three months) as once you got beyond “Reelin’ In The Years was pretty cute” the conversation tended to run dry. But if you do only one meaningful thing today order a copy of Aja, an album with such a sublime and exploratory heart you will be stopping me in the streets to thank me for the recommendation…maybe.

And once you have done that, you have a wealth of choices tonight to experience Swindon’s own original offerings. The Tuppenny is back as part of the live scene after a summer break and tonight features a couple of acoustic circuit stalwarts in the shape of B-Sydes and Neil Morris. Both blend punk attitudes through acoustic delivers and are renowned for their lively shows. To them the stage is just the place that they leave their pint while performing.

At The Beehive Lewis Clark and The Essentials weave folk, soul and blues into a rootsy musical soup, which both tugs a forelock at past genres and lays new pathways for the future of music. Drew Bryant is at The Groves Company Inn with his mix of emotive originals and a few choice covers but if you can’t make that he can also be found at The Castle on Friday.

Alt-rock is on the cards at The Victoria with Anybody There? and Opiate bringing the noise. If you prefer something where you can get involved, The Rock Bottoms will be hosting one of their regular open mic nights at The Queen’s Tap. It’s not only a lot of fun but run by two guys who know the industry and are always happy to offer advice and information to fledgling musicians.

Friday is a good night for classic rock fans with Rorke’s Drift running the sonic gamut from Bon Jovi to Metallica at The Victoria and El Toro covering similar territory with a few funky covers and interesting mash-ups along the way at The Queen’s Tap. For something more of a mixed bag then DeciBelles at The Grooves Company Inn bring the function band experience to the pub environment.

Saturday is the busiest musical day we have had for a long time so gird your loins, stiffen your upper lip and employ any antiquated proverb which seems appropriate…we’re going in.

There are a number of all day events happening, the biggest of which is the annual Reggae Garden at The Old Town Bowl. With a mission to bring top live acts and delicious soul food to new audiences, obviously I can only touch on a fraction of its bill, but even to the uninitiated names such as Talisman and The Twinkle Brothers should be familiar. Check out their website for the full rundown. Also note that there is an after party at The Victoria in the evening. The Castle also has a day of music to raise money for various cancer charities with Theo and Alex spinning some tunes early afternoon followed by two hours of music from the likes of Thirteen Silver Dollars, Nick Felix and Ant Willis and then full band sets from Getrz, Kid Calico and The Astral Ponies and The Shudders.

And regular gigs that evening are also in abundance. At The Merlin Wirebird’s set out a stall of blues, rock and psychedelia whilst at The Queen’s Tap NMG are all about rock and indie classics.

Tribute bands come in the form of Green Date, who pay homage to East Bay’s most successful punk basket cases at Level III and AKA High Flying Birds bring the sound of Noel Gallagher’s post- Oasis years to The Groves Company Inn.

And there is just enough space to mention that Bob Bowles’ bluesy tunes and soulful voice can be found at The Sun Inn, at Coate and The Money Shot play punk, garage rock, new wave, mod and ska at The Swiss Chalet.