Started in 2006 by Paul Dunton to be part of Tunbridge Wells’ 400 year celebrations, Local and Live grew into a large music festival, based on the Pantiles and showcasing local, original, unsigned music. As the event became more popular it began to outgrow it’s original location, and this year was, for the first time, hosted on a grand scale, taking over the whole town. With a main two-day outdoor festival, seven afternoon fringe venues, and assorted evening parties, over 4 days hundreds of musicians filled the town with music.
Calverley Grounds, at the heart of the town, near car parks, the railway station and bus-stops, and with a natural amphitheatre, was an ideal home for the festival. With an established Friends group and liaising with event professionals, all possible problems were ironed out early in the planning. Food and drink vendors were booked from local businesses, and on Friday evening everything started to get set up.
For Saturday and Sunday the festival ran from noon until 9pm with 16 acts on each day. I missed a lot of Saturday but managed to hear both the Paul Dunton Ensemble and The Reckostacks (pictured). As well as buy some paella.
Best of all, I got a back-stage pass to go and see what sponsors Muzivo and The Sitting Room Tour were doing (interviewing bands, and setting them an electrical-wire challenge).
We spent more time in the park on Sunday, meeting up with a group of friends, and also bumping into a lot of others! The weather was favourable all weekend, and the park setting gave people the chance to bring picnics, or find a quieter spot away from the main stage, neither of which the Pantiles offers.
Highlights included Wheels, Intraverse (pictured), and the Standard Lamps, both on their own and supporting Mark Morriss.
Both evenings I left before the headline acts (more details to follow later), but I’ve seen lots of photos and the lighting effects looked great.
So, all in all, Calverley grounds seemed to work really well… maybe needing more portaloos and big bins… but always impossible to guess how many visitors an event will get. If the weather had been bad, it would probably have been a lot less.
My own secret favourite bit – Lee Willz singing Drake’s ‘Holding on’ – not original, but jolly nice!