SWINDON LITERARY FESTIVAL REVIEW: Songs that Tell Stories at the Town Hall focussed mainly on the biography and travel sections of the bookshop.

Z Z Birmingham.and his Piranha band began with a dip into each, sweeping us off to the deep South to hear the stories of a pretty rum crowd. All accompanied by ZZ's harmonica and guitar, great harmonies and washboard from wife Penelope and daughter Ursula's fiddle.

In the travel section, the sweet and breathy-voiced Carrie Tree, from Surrey, brought back songs she had written in Australia and India, while Christina Crosby, under biography, demonstrated that you can stay right here in Swindon and produce top quality songs. Her poignant tale of the housewife who could have taken Nashville by storm awoke the dreamer in us all.

Martin Hawes and Linda Lee paid homage to singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, following his gipsy lover around the English countryside with Beeswing, then upping the tempo for the bikers' hymn Vincent Black Lightning 1952. A weekend break followed with Sting's An Englishman in New York, a tribute to the life of Quentin Crisp.

A great evening's escapism.

By Sue Anderson