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.
Due to funding problems last year’s Local and Live festival was concentrated at Sankey’s and The Forum, and this year The Forum took on the main part of the evening shows. With doors opening at 7.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and 2.30pm on Monday, a total of 31 acts played, and as I saw most of them, it would be both un-necessary, and probably rather dull, to mention and comment on all of them. Also, as the majority were good (and I know them personally) it would be unfair to pick out a few…. so I will just pick an evening.
On Sunday we were in Calverley Grounds, and just about to buy some food, when a tweet came through that there was no volunteers at the Forum for the Merch desk. As we were about to go there anyway to watch the bands, I offered to do it. When I arrived, a volunteer (Chris) from the backstage at Calverley Grounds had also offered to help, and we agreed we’d share the work, as he wanted to go back and watch the finale in Calverley, and I wanted to take photos in The Forum at the end of the evening.
We had quite a laugh, and why wouldn’t volunteering be fun? As the evening progressed Acoustic Valium Project’s Dan Littlechild stepped up to compère and help get the bands on and off stage, and Issey Cee’s Mum, Sarah Cross, offered to walk round the audience and try and collect more donations. We chatted with the bands who left their Merch and promo details, and we watched the bar staff get totally swamped, as at one stage the place was packed.
All the evenings were quite busy, entry was free, there was a request for a donation to have a wristband. The music was varied every evening, and the audience varied each evening, and also during the evenings. The monthly Local and Live at the Forum evenings will restart in October, there is a charge for these, but well worth it, all the details will be on the Local and Live website.
The Local and Live Sessions will carry on at Trinity Theatre throughout 2014/2015, and Sankeys will continue to have a Local and Live Sunday each week.
It’s lovely to have a free music festival – remember how upset everyone was in 2013 when it didn’t happen – but such free things do need funding, either through sponsorship, donations or fundraising – such as the signed guitar raffle. They also need volunteers, so when next August rolls around, consider ticking the ‘help’ box on the website, you too could be selling tshirts and CDs while tapping your feet to the music….
On a final note, a thanks to all the other 2014 volunteers for their time.
As a sub-final note, Tunbridge Wells Forum now has it’s own YouTube programme: The Forum This Week something you can support from the comfort of your own home (or office).