January Town Crier

I still write monthly for Tunbridge Wells Town Crier magazine. However, this doesn’t seem to go online any more, so I’ve decided to share to my blog each month… Here’s January.

SINGING INTO 2016

As I’m writing this, there are still twelve days to Christmas, but by the time you read it Tunbridge Wells Forum will have sung it’s way into 2016 with a night of music hosted by Paul Dunton and the Local and Live collective. January 2016 sees The Forum’s 23rd Birthday, and I’m still involved in a voluntary sense, with all us volunteers helping to keep ticket prices down for the punters.

The end of 2015 has seen some great ‘throwback’ gigs. The Blockheads, China Crisis and Space all completely rocked the audiences, while also being lovely, down to earth guys. If you don’t remember Space – they provided the theme tune to the TV series ‘Cold Feet’ – and three days after the show, I’m still singing their songs in my head.

The Blockheads

I think it’s that incredible communal spirit of being in the audience amongst others enjoying the same things that has stood the whole music world in good stead following on from the Bataclan Concert Hall attack in November. That event had followed on less than a month after Venues Day in London. Here, hundreds of small venue owners and promoters from around the UK gathered at The Ministry of Sound, to discuss current issues. Two MPs, Ed Vaizey – Minister of State for Culture, and Michael Dugher – Shadow Culture Secretary, formed part of the first panel. The follow-up here has seen issues regarding grassroots venues being discussed in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Locally The Forum is still working alongside Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and it’s Sounds of The Wells, to continue to promote the town as a place of Music Tourism (one of the issues raised at Venues Day). Many of the events at The Forum already bring in people from outside the town, who then spend on parking, dining and possibly accommodation, and form an important part of the local economy. It’s actually within the town that people still need to appreciate the value of The Forum within the whole local cultural mix.

There has been an incredibly good feedback on twitter in the past year “Best night of my life” “First visit, what a great place” “What lovely staff” “Thanks for your help”, as the close relationship between all those at the venue aims to give the best customer service possible.

What does 2016 have in store? The 23rd Birthday Party will fill the whole weekend before Independent Venue Week, with artists such as Lucy Rose, Terror and Eliza & The Bear already confirmed, alongside some local band nights. Later on Ben Ottewell, lead singer of Gomez, plays a solo set in February, the lively Keston Cobblers Club in March, and on their ‘Saturnalia’ 20th anniversary tour in May – The Wedding Present. The staff at The Forum work hard with agents and managers to bring a programme of continually good shows – there’s no need to ask “Anything good coming up?”, just check out twforum.co.uk for shows in the genres that appeal to you.

On a final note, through The Forum fanzine I write (Blam!) I will be putting on a show on Saturday 16th January with the Editor of Hastings magazine “The Stinger”. Two Hastings acts – Baby Goliath and Star Angled Spanner, play alongside Tunbridge Wells bands The Alley Devils and Raised by Raptors. As well as promoting these acts to new audiences, we’d love to hear your views on the local music scene, so would be lovely to see you. Happy New Year.

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