SO magazine’s resident music maestro Paul Dunton shares his November gig guide, packed full of established musicians and emerging artists. The town has something for every ear this month, including six-piece violin ensemble Blazin’ Fiddles, indie-pop legends Wheatus, and local singer-songwriter Anna Howie, who will all be performing at different venues across Tunbridge Wells…
After a busy summer, the local music scene continues to flourish and I wanted to highlight a selection of superb events taking place in the month of November.
For classical music enthusiasts…
There is a wonderful opportunity to see acclaimed pianist James Lisney at Rose Hill School Theatre on Sunday November 12 at 3pm. Mr Lisney will be offering an exciting and expansive repertoire including pieces by Liszt, Schumann and Chopin. Before the recital, he will also be running a masterclass for local children to perform between 1pm and 2.30pm. Anyone attending the recital is very welcome to attend the Masterclass. Tickets and further information can be found at www.codatw.co.uk
The Assembly Hall Theatre features The Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra with renowned trumpeter Aaron Azunda Akugbo who will be making his debut with the RTWSO. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and an ex-principal of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, Aaron made his solo debut at the BBC Proms this summer. Haydn composed this trumpet concerto at the age of 64, a work that is justly often cited as ‘possibly Haydn’s most popular concerto’.
This concert could be described as classical in concept, featuring three great composers from the classical/early Romantic era; Mozart, Haydn and Mendelssohn. Anyone who has seen the film Amadeus will know Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 which featured in the film and opens this concert. Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony completes this concert, and what a delightfully descriptive piece it is! The majestic Coda at the very end is certainly worth waiting for and will be a fitting climax to this classical concert. Sunday November 26 – tickets and further information can be found at www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk
For fans of folk, Americana and everything in between…
The fabulous ‘Blazin’ Fiddles’ show comes to Trinity Theatre on Wednesday November 15. Easily amongst Scotland’s most renowned and celebrated folk groups, Blazin’ Fiddles formed for a one-off tour of the Scottish Highlands in 1999, and are still raising roofs far and wide in their 25th year on the road. Multiple winners of Scotland’s Folk Band of the Year, the six-piece have long been one of the country’s foremost and most recognisable traditional outfits, touring far beyond their deep northern roots.
Encompassing a rare and virtuosic selection of the fiddle’s diverse Highland and island voices, in their 25 years the Blazers have undoubtedly become one of the world’s most prolific fiddle ensembles. With group and solo-led sets both backed by powerhouse guitar and piano, the band’s four-fiddle frontline of Inverness’ Bruce MacGregor, Shetlander Jenna Reid, Nairn’s Rua Macmillan, and Orkney’s Kristan Harvey ignites atop second-to-none accompaniment from Anna Massie and Angus Lyon. Like rare single malts, each member draws upon the distinct musical flavours from their rich traditional heritages, collectively packing all the power, passion and sensitivity of Scotland’s music, into a single show. Tickets and further information can be found at www.trinitytheatre.net
Brilliant open mic nights…
There are several establishments in the local area that run Open Mic and Open Jam Session evenings from The Red Lion in Rusthall to The George & Dragon in Lamberhurst, to The Royal Oak Pub and The Black Horse Pub in Tunbridge Wells to name a few. The Forum runs a regular u18 Open Mic and The Forum Basement at The Sussex Arms also runs its own Open Mic event.
One of the best I have experienced so far is at the enchanting Even Flow Café located on St John’s Road in Tunbridge Wells. Taking place usually on the last Thursday of each month, this event has become very popular with performers and audiences alike as the venue offers a cosy and vibrant atmosphere in addition to fabulous coffee and a fine range of refreshments and nibbles!
The live sound is very good and the café space offers good acoustics for all concerned. Many established musicians and singers from the local scene can often be found performing at this night in addition to many people who are not so experienced and some who are starting out. That for me is the beauty of an Open Mic as it essentially provides a platform for aspiring musicians and singers of all levels the opportunity to gain live performance experience. Everyone present is very welcoming and encouraging, there is a warm community vibe to the whole night. I can’t recommend this enough whether you are a performer or just enjoy listening to live music!
Even Flow Café is also a well-stocked Record shop so if you are looking to add to your Vinyl or CD collection there are many musical treasures waiting to be snapped up. Next Open Mic at Even Flow Café – Thursday November 30. For all the latest news and events at Even Flow Café visit www.evenflowuk.com
Fun things happening at The Forum
The Tunbridge Wells Forum has a packed November schedule and there are many wonderful nights out on offer. The ‘Barrioke’ sing-along night with Shaun Williamson (AKA Barry from Eastenders) and indie pop legends Wheatus have already sold out! Other stand-out dates include:
• Jim Jones All Stars (November 8)
• Red Snapper (November 15)
• Twin Atlantic (November 19)
• Beans on Toast (November 22)
• The Boogie Nights Christmas Party (November 25)
• Eddie and The Hot Rods (November 30)
The Forum also runs its popular stable nights which offers slots for local and not-so-local emerging artists. These are very important nights and are the type of event that is the lifeblood for grassroots musicians. Check out any of the Stable events on November 6, 13, 21 and 29 and you will see some amazing up-and-coming acts. New to the local scene are indie rock three-piece The Fiery Lights who headline on November 26. The event is essentially a family-friendly mini-festival entitled ‘Give us Your Sunday Best’ which starts at 2pm and finishes at around 8.30pm. Support acts including Steffan James, The Mint Sherbets and James McMaster are already confirmed on the bill with more to be announced. For all information and tickets at The Forum and The Forum Basement at The Sussex Arms please visit www.twforum.co.uk
Enjoy a colourful time at The Grey Lady
The Grey Lady Music Lounge has five Grey Lady Sessions during November (3, 4, 12, 19, 30) featuring 11 established local acts all performing a selection of their own material. These candlelit mini-concerts are all seated events and offer a very intimate live music experience. There are usually two or three acts on the bill and the standard is exceptionally high. Variety is also part of the idea as the sessions often showcase acoustic-style soloists and groups in addition to fuller-sounding bands. The styles and genres range from pop, Americana, blues, country, bluegrass, jazz, alternative to soft rock and easy listening.
Popular local singer-songwriter Anna Howie headlines with her band and support from up-and-coming young collective, The Colas. Anna has established herself as one of the leading female artists on the local scene, she has performed at many high-profile Americana and folk festivals across the UK including Black Deer Festival. Her music is honest, heartfelt and catchy and she is a captivating live act (November 3).
Renowned local blues musician Rob Picazo launches his new album will perform with his band. Rob is known for his dextrous blues guitar playing and incredible voice, which has hints of Elvis within its tones. He will be supported on the night by the deeply talented Harry Whitty and exciting newcomer Doris Amy (November 4).
The charismatic ‘Country Folk’ make their Grey Lady Debut with great support from Bluesabilly Pop Collective ‘Move Over Dali’. Both acts are extremely talented, highly engaging and lively. Whilst their styles are different, they will undoubtedly complement each other well and they will have you singing along in no time! (November 12).
The Ashen Keys have already etched themselves into the consciousness of many locals following their standout performances at Local & Live Festival and Black Deer Festival earlier in the summer, and will be making their long-awaited debut at The Grey Lady this month. Their beautifully crafted songs are rich in folk sensibilities with lilting melodies and dreamy harmonies which effortlessly draw you in. They also play an array of instruments ranging from oboe, violin, ukulele, clarinet, french horn to accordion! It is a truly mesmerising experience to watch them live (November 19).
For fans of the Americana and folk genres, songstress Jennifer Lee Ridley and Martin Ledner & The Haunted Folk will be taking to the stage. Jennifer possesses a spine-tingling voice and her ethereal style and sound has been compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Eva Cassidy. Martin Ledner is a Kent-based writer and performer of songs, ballads and shanties in the English traditional style. While the songs are rooted in the past, they deal with themes relevant to the 21st century offering stark reminders of how the past is not dissimilar to the present in social inequalities, hopes, fears, work and love (November 30).
For all information and tickets for The Grey Lady sessions please visit www.thegreylady.co.uk