Seasonal sounds

SO magazine’s resident music guru Paul Dunton shares his Christmas gig guide, packed full of festive concerts and alternative gigs from established musicians and emerging artists. You can expect to see a performance from acoustic folk-pop duo Red, Green & Blue on Christmas Eve at The Compasses and on December 9 a capella ensemble, Papagena, who will warm the chillier nights with outstanding vocals in ‘A Winter’s Dawn’…


December is here and it seems to have rolled around so quickly! Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas have so many festive gigs and great acts to look forward to. Here are a few concerts I’m especially looking forward to this Christmas time…



The second week of December will see the group that brought you Nu Metal Nights, Pop Punk Nights and Bowie Night deliver a mental health community event: Smallwoodstock.

In honour of the 10th anniversary of the passing of local musician and Forum regular Jonny Smallwood, a group of musicians from bands such as The Hurt Process, Unfounded, The Anti Nowhere League and many more will come together to play a range of his favourite music.

This is an event open to all rock, punk and metalheads to bring the community together and share in good tunes and even better times, all in the name of raising money for mental health charities West Kent Mind and Mind West Sussex.

Jonny sadly took his own life in December 2013 and on the five-year anniversary of his death, a group of local musician friends assembled as part of the first ‘Head Up’ event in 2018, which raised money for Sane and West Kent Mind. This (along with five other gigs across Tunbridge Wells covering rap/hip hop, blues, acoustic and live DJs) was a huge success and now at the decade mark the group are looking forward to reliving that night with many more of you.

Date: Friday December 8, 7:30pm

Venue: Forum Basement at The Sussex Arms, Tunbridge Wells

Tickets: £12. Book online


Papagena – ‘A Winter’s Dawn’

A capella ensemble Papagena bring Christmas carols, lullabies and songs of hope, accompanied by harp this December. The performance will also include winter folk ballads, baroque motets, seasonal songs, harp solos together with a capella carols and Advent pieces from around the world.

No props, microphones or gimmicks, just five stunning voices form Papagena, an a cappella group set up to explore the wealth of music from medieval times to the present day, written specifically for female voices. Joining the ensemble will be award-winning harpist Victoria Davies.


Date:  Saturday December 9, 7.30pm

Venue: Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Tonbridge

Tickets: £20 adult/ £5 students & under 18s. Ticket available at

Tunbridge Wells Youth Football Club Presents: The Acoustic Sessions      

One of the leading protagonists of the Brit Pop era, The Seahorses’ frontman Chris Helme will be headlining The Acoustic Sessions at Southborough’s The Ridgemont Pavilion in the lead up to Christmas. This is a venue which has played host to many established artists including the likes of Mark Morriss of The Bluetones and James Walsh of Starsailor. The great thing about these shows is that it gives local artists the opportunity to be on the same bill with world renowned acts.

Opening the night are two of the area’s most popular acts: The Varlies and The Ackerleys. This will be a fantastic gig and I highly recommend snapping up tickets right away!


Ticket proceeds go towards Tunbridge Wells Youth Football Club.

Date: Saturday December 16, 7pm.

Venue: Ridgemont Pavilion, Southborough

Tickets: £22. Book online


The Grey Lady Sessions: David Migden & The Twisted Roots and
Marie White

The Grey Lady Music Lounge on The Pantiles will be hosting a candlelit concert with two of our local and most renowned original acts performing on the same bill for the first time.

David Migden & The Twisted Roots are a local five-piece band offering an electrifying blend of American Roots and Blues-laced inspired songs. Their level of musicianship, songwriting and vocal excellence is world class – they are regarded on the local scene as one of the best live acts around. The band have many career highlights and have played all over the UK and beyond.

In 2013, they won the prestigious New Brunswick ‘Battle of the Blues’ competition and appeared at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Canada in 2013. Aside from headlining Local & Live and performing at other local festivals including Black Deer Festival, they love nothing more than returning to their home 50-seater venue at The Grey Lady.

Marie White is known for her incredible vocals and heartfelt songs. A Tunbridge Wells resident and popular on the local scene, she has been compared to singer-songwriters Tracey Chapman, Macey Gray and Eva Cassidy. Marie has played The Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, The Royal Albert Hall, toured with Keane and Newton Faulkner. She also enjoys performing at Local and Live and The Grey Lady!


Date: Sunday December 17, 7.15pm

Venue: The Grey Lady Music Lounge, The Pantiles

Tickets: £15. Book online


Red, Green & Blue at The Compasses Pub

If you fancy venturing out on Christmas Eve, then I highly recommend popping along to The Compasses Inn situated on Little Mount Sion. Red, Green & Blue are a fantastic acoustic style duo who offer a beautiful and uplifting sound rich in folk and Americana sensibilities, reminiscent of The Civil Wars.

Their dual guitar sound is warm and expansive alongside their textured vocals which combine effortlessly to deliver spellbinding harmonies which adds a further string to their bow. Expect an array of popular covers, renowned Christmas songs and a great night of entertainment!


Date: Sunday December 24, 9pm

Venue: The Compasses Pub, Tunbridge Wells

Tickets: Free entry

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