Saturday, 24 September 2016


They're back again! The Pistoleros are riding into Barnstaple again Although they've never really been away. Barry Ashworth's evergreen bunch of dubwise vagabonds will be rocking festivals thru the summer, and now it's back to the towns and city's previewing tracks from there soon to be released 7th album And it's going to be another corker.

Their last album 'The Return Of The Pistoleros' makes them sound like a Latin prison gang, extras in a spaghetti western, a marauding mob of Tequila-swigging mobsters, or a Mexican drug cartel. Some of which have a grain of truth to them. Joking aside, though, it's been a long road to get to where they are - one of the most popular and best-loved acts on the circuit - but it's testimony to their perseverance and staying power that their popularity still keeps increasing.

The Dubs have been dubbed 'The Pistoleros' in recent times by their army of fans - so it seemed only natural to adopt the tag for their latest album on Rob Da Bank's Sunday Best imprint. El Pistolero is also the nickname of Uruguay talisman Luiz Suarez, who knocked England out of the 2014 World Cup. But as Barry is a Liverpool fan, he's happy to still have this association. Just. The Dub Pistols coalesced in the mid-'90s and initially surfed the big beat wave along with acts like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. They had some minor chart hits like 'Cyclone' and 'There's Gonna Be A Riot' on Concrete Records, remixed the likes of Moby and Limp Bizkit, and made dramatic inroads into America.

Their debut album in 1998, 'Point Blank', cemented their position as party-rockers extraordinaire, and by the time it came to their second album around the Millennium - 'Six Million Ways To Live', with guest vocals by reggae great Horace Andy and lead singer of The Specials, Terry Hall - they were more concerned with some of the world's problems. The album was due to come out just before September 11th 2001 - the date of the Twin Towers terrorist attack in New York - and so had to be postponed. It was the start of the now-familiar Dub Pistols self-deprecating mantra: what could possibly go wrong?

As the noughties progressed, they signed to Sunday Best and went a bit more poppy for 'Speakers & Tweeters', which included cover versions of 'Rapture' by Blondie, 'Peaches' by The Stranglers and 'Gangsters' by The Specials - a track they had been making their own live. After guesting on their second album with 'Problem Is', estranged Specials singer Terry Hall started singing live with them, and the warm reaction he received from music fans was instrumental in him agreeing to reform his infamous 2-Tone band a few years later.

Next Dubs album 'Rum & Coke', so named after some infamous recording sessions in Barbados, introduced more guest vocalists such as former Freak Power man Ashley Slater and Beats International gal Lindy Layton, and with last long-player 'Worshipping The Dollar' in 2012  they consolidated their position as one of the foremost festival-rockers in Europe.

The Dubs toured with Neville Staple from The Specials at the start of 2014, and this led to the toaster guesting on 'Real Gangster' on the new 'Pistoleros' album. On the album, 'Our Life' is a free-spirited dub cut featuring long-term Dubs vocalists Lindy Layton and TK Lawrence. Languid beats song 'Say Goodbye' features the deep jazzual tones of Ashley Slater, 'Report' showcases major new hip-hop talent Genesis Elijah freeflowing over some lilting Dan Bowskill verses, and 'Kill Your Sound' has great reggae vocalist Seanie Tee all over it. 'Roll & Come In' sees the legendary Earl 16 (Leftfield etc) return to add sweet words to this spacious dub cut, and regular MC Darrison guests on dubwise drum & bass party track 'Ride With It'. And there's plenty more where that came from - it is, indeed, another corker.

Like their incendiary live shows, this new long-player is a riotous mix of dub, drum & bass, hip-hop, punk and ska. They'll be heading out on tour this autumn in support of the new 'Pistoleros'  release, so watch out! The gun-slinging outlaws are back in town - and this time, they're swigging Tequila.
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016

DOORS 19.30 - 23.00 TICKETS: £15.00 +BF
BEATS WORKIN - 01271 321111

The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ

Friday, 23 September 2016

Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison is the face behind a new campaign to help reverse the fortunes of the South West's struggling wildlife.

The campaign features a short film released by Devon Wildlife Trust and other Wildlife Trust's in the South West and which showcases the work they do for people and nature. It includes images of Devon's Wembury Bay and Dartmoor, along with wildlife favourites including otters, hedgehogs and barn owls.

In the film Ellie Harrison explains:
"Growing up in the countryside meant the sounds and sights of the great outdoors filled my childhood with wonder."
However she concludes:
"Sadly today much of our wildlife is fighting for its existence."

It's a claim supported in a recent report. The State of Nature released on Wednesday 14th September brought together expert research on how our wildlife is faring. The report's conclusions were stark with 56% of species surveyed found to be in decline since 1970 and a startling 15% of all species surveyed facing the threat of extinction.

In Devon once familiar animals have become scarce with cuckoos declining by 80% since 1977, and the sites at which lapwings are breeding having shrunk by 97% to just two isolated spots.

However, against this bleak background the film provides a positive message for the future. Ellie explains how she was inspired by the work of The Wildlife Trusts restoring urban and rural landscapes for people and nature. The film also showcases the efforts of hundreds of Wildlife Trusts' volunteers who work in the South West to protect wildlife for the future. It also depicts the charity's many nature reserves and their role as vital havens for wildlife.

It was this inspiration which moved Ellie Harrison to speak out for nature: "When my local Wildlife Trust asked me if I'd lend my support I immediately said,yes! Yes to helping nature recover on land, in rivers and in the sea. I said yes to fighting for the things that I love and value."

Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that Ellie Harrison is backing our 'Say Yes to Wildlife' campaign. Her film shows how much nature means to her and how its present day predicament has moved her to back The Wildlife Trusts."
"We're hoping other people will follow Ellie's example and 'Say Yes to Wildlife' and we think the best place to start is to watch her wonderful new film."

You can watch Ellie's video at the Devon Wildlife Trust's website
Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Tap link to view State of Nature Report

Thursday, 22 September 2016

State of Nature 2016. More than one in ten UK species threatened with extinction, new study finds

It's not too late to save UK nature but we must act now - that is the conclusion from a coalition of more than 50 leading wildlife and research organisations behind the State of Nature 2016 report.

Following on from the groundbreaking State of Nature report in 2013, leading professionals from 53 wildlife organisations have pooled expertise and knowledge to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our native species across land and sea. The report reveals that over half (56 per cent) of UK species studied have declined since 1970, while 15 per cent (1,199 of the nearly 8,000 species assessed in the UK) are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

Harry Barton, chief executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "This report provides the most detailed picture of the state of our wildlife ever. There are some successes to be proud of here in Devon, beavers, otters and little egrets among them, but overall the tide continues to move rapidly in the wrong direction. More than half the world's wildlife has disappeared since 1970. It is still within our gift to turn this around and recover much of that loss. But if we want to avoid a similar disastrous decline over the next generation, all of us are going to have to do much more, think a lot more radically, and be far braver."

There are many inspiring examples of conservation action that is helping to turn the tide. From pioneering science that has revealed for the first time the reasons why nature is changing in the UK, to conservation work - such as the recovery of the cirl bunting in Devon, and its reintroduction to Cornwall, the return of beavers to Devon for the first time in centuries, and the reintroduction of cranes in Somerset and the large blue butterfly, also in Somerset - and the restoration of areas of our uplands, meadows and coastal habitats. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs.

Nick Bruce-White, regional director of the RSPB in the South West, said: "Whilst the State of Nature report clearly shows the challenges we face in terms of winning the war on biodiversity loss, where we are working together to exert sustained effort we are winning battles.

"The recovery of the cirl bunting, a small, colourful farmland bird, which suffered catastrophic decline in the Twentieth Century because of changes to agriculture, is a great example of this, an example of 'total conservation': a problem was identified; solutions trialled and developed using sound science; an urgency to address the problem was established; and commitment was shown - from farmers, government agencies, conservationists, businesses and communities - to take action. We need to use this State of Nature report as a warning siren and take action now, before we lose all hope of passing on a healthier natural environment to the next generation."

Andrew Whitehouse, South West manager at Buglife said: "Cornwall and Devon support incredible wildlife riches, but the counties are not immune from the pressures that have affected our wildlife elsewhere.  Our South West Bees Project has shown that many of our bee species are struggling to survive in an increasingly degraded countryside. But there are some good news stories, Devon and Cornwall are national hotspots for oil beetles which can be seen around our coast in the spring, and there is enormous potential to help our wildlife recover."

Liam Creedon, of Butterfly Conservation, said: "The wild and windswept expanses of Exmoor and Dartmoor are not only amongst the most evocative places in the UK but they are also strongholds to some of our rarest butterflies. Butterfly Conservation's Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project is improving habitat for the marsh fritillary, high brown fritillary and heath fritillary on these moors, to help restore and reconnect suitable habitat to provide sustainable populations for the future."

Dr Trevor Dines, of Plantlife, said: "An ancient wildflower meadow can be destroyed within a single morning and this quiet catastrophe has befallen more than 97 percent of our wildflower meadows and grasslands since the Second World War. Where there were once flowers at our feet there is now a factory floor, little more than green concrete. Ask any member of the public and I bet they'd want more of a balance, wildlife and production, not one instead of the other. For all the doom and gloom of these shocking statistics, our wildlife is resilient. If we provide plants and animals the right conditions they will come back from the brink, we just have to give them a chance."

Alex Raeder, of the National Trust in the South West, said: "This report is wake up call to everybody who loves nature and values the natural environment. We cannot sit on our hands and let our natural heritage slip away. Whilst some of our most important sites remain in reasonable condition it is clear that in the wider countryside, where most of us live, wildlife that was once common is being lost. We must create opportunities to bring the South West's birds, bees, butterflies and flowers back to our countryside, by working in partnership to create landscapes rich in nature."

As the UK Government and devolved administrations move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in nature to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the UK's nature and environment for future generations.

The State of Nature 2016 UK report was launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation and research organisations at the Royal Society in London on Wednesday, September 14, while separate events were held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Sir David Attenborough said: "The future of nature is under threat and we must work together; Governments, conservationists, businesses and individuals, to help it. Millions of people in the UK care very passionately about nature and the environment and I believe that we can work together to turn around the fortunes of wildlife."

In order to reduce the impact we are having on our wildlife, and to help struggling species, we needed to understand what's causing these declines. Using evidence from the last 50 years, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.

The widespread decline of nature in the UK remains a serious problem to this day. For the first time scientists have uncovered how wildlife has fared in recent years. The report reveals that since 2002 more than half (53 per cent) of UK species studied have declined and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down.

To find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife 
Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

An iconic Devon landscape: Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

For a full copy of the State of Nature 2016 report