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.
I’m discounting The Forum as a fringe venue, as it ran a full four evenings, and is an established live music venue, so this is a brief look at the other nine fringes. It will also be very brief, as I only managed to get to two of them. A plan to visit more on Monday was wiped out by bad weather and real life. Although I’ve seen some other people’s photos and heard some reports….
On Saturday afternoon I went to the Beau Nash tavern to see Doña Oxford. Doña isn’t very local, she’s visiting from the States, and this was her first gig in an autumn tour around the UK. She gave an amazing performance, and a group of us sat in the sunny garden to enjoy. (She also played again on Sunday at the Grey Lady, with Standard Lamps as backing band).
I then rushed down to the Bedford pub to catch the end of Millie Manders, and her ukulele, with songs unlike those you’d expect to be accompanied by ukulele! As the weather was fine the Bedford window was open, and passers-by were able to stop and listen.
A return to the Beau Nash Tavern on Sunday for Zoe Konez. I think I have to come clean now, and admit I’ve been running the twitter account for Local & Live, and read nearly ever single artist’s bio in the past month… and something about Zoe’s put her on our ‘try and see’ list. We stayed on for Pete Metcalfe and Paul Stepto, because of the mandolin, and the amusing songs – now, they didn’t write that in their bio – delights such as two wheels not four, and the High Brooms Peanut Fight. In fact, proof you can read all the bios, but sometimes you just discover something unexpected!
That was my fringe. Pretty wimpy really. I’ve heard about wild parties at the Camden Quarter and The Grey Lady, and I’ve seen photos from No 9 Smoke House, Black Dog cafe (which always looked very full), The Royal Oak, the Trading Post and Sankeys. Each fringe had it’s own volunteers and sold merchandise. Some hosts even laid on specials, like the Beau Nash paella.
The idea seems to have worked well, although as a tour they were a little far apart, but in a reverse way, it gave each area of the town their chance to walk down the road and settle down for an afternoon of music, food and drink. It’s also a more refined choice for those who don’t want to sit on the grass in a park, and contend with portaloos! Some artists played at a couple of different venues, so there was also the chance to see someone you may have missed elsewhere. Of course, all the ones you really missed with have to go on your ‘Paul Dunton and Guests Grey Lady ,£5 entry please, three nights a week’ list…