All posts by chris price

Lounge on the Farm shows it's not about Dylan, Prince and the Eagles

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Saturday, July 27 2013


Organisers of this year's Lounge on the Farm promised the festival would return to its roots as a small, family-orientated event.

That is a nice spin to put on things when lots of people were disappointed at this year's line up, compared to last year's stellar acts.

Seasick Steve, Jessie Ware and Soul II Soul don't quite measure up to Emeli Sande, the Wombats and the Charlatans.

The supporting acts of Aswad, Scratch Perverts and Willy Moon are not in the same league either, compared with Chic with Nile Rogers, Mystery Jets and Goldie in 2012.

Despite this it seems festival-goers are happy to go along with the "family-orientated" line, asserting that small is beautiful and that they wouldn't want their festival to change at all.

Most are in agreement that Merton Farm has kept its intimate flavour.

Max Lamdin, 15, of Ashford Road, Thanington, said: "It’s more like a social gathering than people being here for the music.

"Even though the line up is not as good this time, the atmosphere is still amazing."

Georgina Gothard, 23, of Vine Close, Ramsgate, said: "I like Lounge because it is a lot smaller.

"Last year there were a lot of good bands on and you can get a lot closer and see them. When it is a big festival you are quite far away.

"A lot of it is family orientated as well. It’s just chilled out."

Ryan Tully-Fleming, 20, of Connaught Road, Folkestone, added: "There’s a pure love for everyone. You get people from everywhere talking to each other.

"It is a small festival which is the beauty of it. More local people come here. It is like when Glastonbury started."

Emily Clarke, 18, of St Thomas Hill, Canterbury, said: "Lounge on the Farm is local and not too expensive.

"Because it’s local, your friends can come with you and it is not too far to travel."

Perhaps this could be a lesson to the Hop Farm Music Festival, which was cancelled this year after reportedly suffering huge financial losses in 2012.

It's not about getting your Dylan's, Prince's and Eagles to headline.

It's about creating the right atmosphere and making sure that you build a core base of fans who feel ownership of the event.

That is why Lounge has still got it spot on this year.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Huts on pier could be the start of something big for sleeping seaside town

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, July 4 2013

The opening of the beach hut village in Herne Bay will be a big moment for the seaside town.

It could mark the beginning of a shift in fortunes when the ribbon is cut by Sandi Toksvig, much-loved back in the day as a captain on Call My Bluff with the late Kent broadcaster Bob Holness.

It will be the first step in regenerating a town which has suffered a series of false starts.

Sometimes, it’s seemed like Herne Bay will never get a break. Independent shops continue to struggle in a tough economy; Pressure groups argue over the future of the pier; Morrisons pulled the plug on a lucrative bigger store in the town centre.

This week, the Gazette revealed how the mini-golf course will not go-ahead on the pier platform until next year at the earliest, prompting a wave of eye-rolling from those who say nothing changes in Herne Bay.

Yet the first shoots of a new start are appearing.

Lottery money for renovating the clock tower looks to be on the way and independent businesses will host a showcase of their wares on Saturday, July 13.

And the pier will come to life again with the beach hut village.

So turn up for the launch this weekend. You could be in at the start of something big.

Categories: Economy | Entertainment | Tourism

East Kent's failed bid - were we not confident enough in what we've got?

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, June 19 2013

It was never going to happen.

East Kent’s bid to become the UK’s city of culture in 2017 was as likely as Dover Athletic becoming Roman Abramovich's next project to squander his millions.

Why the negative attitude? Well for the same reason you had a negative attitude. East Kent is not a place.

Imagine for a moment you heard that north Scotland or west Cornwall or south east Norfolk were making a bid. You would scoff.

“That is not even a place” you would say. Have Inverness, Plymouth and Norwich not got enough to offer on their own? Are they are so culturally lacking that they need to invite their smaller, provincial buddies in to the party because they are too scared to step onto the dancefloor of the artistically-enriched on their tod.

That is how your average Joe anywhere else in the country would have viewed East Kent’s bid.

It just sounds daft and is somewhat detrimental, surely, to Kent’s only official city, Canterbury. Why are its quirky streets, fascinating museums, glorious Marlowe Theatre and traditional pubs not deemed suitably cultural to impress the judges at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport?

At least then, the decision-makers would have been able to identify with the ‘city’ they were supposed to be assessing. And would it not have been ok anyway to shoehorn in a mention of Margate’s Turner Contemporary, Folkestone’s Triennial art installations and Whitstable’s oysters, as was surely the aim of lumping together a series of towns which, on the whole, are not really that bothered about each other.

Of course, credit where it is due to Kent County Council for being ambitious enough to put together a bid which, ultimately, did make the longlist.

But are Dundee, Hull, Leicester and Swansea Bay really all that superior culturally to the towns and cities we are already proud of in the county?

Perhaps next time, we should go with what we know and resist trying to reinvent the wheel.

Categories: Business | Economy | Entertainment | Leisure

3,000 homes? Give us more Peter!

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, May 16 2013

The KM Group brings the people of Kent important news about housing developments, council decisions, murders and schooling issues.

Yet when Peter Andre arrives, our website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts go into meltdown.

Is it not a sad indictment of our society that readers are most engaged with their local media when they are on the hunt for a minor celebrity?

Last week's Herne Bay Gazette included five pages of coverage of the draft Local Plan, to a modest reception.

If approved it could mean nearly 3,000 houses are built around the town. It received a respectable 23 comments on the Gazette Facebook page in its first day, although after a week it had not been shared once.

In less than 24 hours, the Gazette’s story on Peter Andre had been shared 82 times.

That is not to mention the countless photos and videos posted, depicting a tiny figure in the distance or an orange blur sweeping past rain-soaked fans.

As scores of people gathered to try and catch a glimpse of the reality TV ‘star’, no one questioned whether it was worth all this fuss for a bloke whose biggest – and only – hit single came out in 1995.

For heaven’s sake, he stayed at the Premier Inn. Some perspective, please.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Finally, a decent act announcement

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Friday, April 12 2013

As news broke that double Brit Award-nominee Jessie Ware is set to headline Lounge on the Farm, a collective sigh of relief was heard.

The prospect of Seasick Steve and Soul II Soul being the biggest two acts to play Merton Farm, Canterbury, this summer was a bitter pill to swallow after last year’s star turn of Emeli Sande, the Wombats, Chic and the Dexys.

That feeling was compounded by the news that this year’s Hop Farm Festival would go ahead (hooray!) but in a much smaller form than the past two years (boo!)

It is a wonder there will be any Hop Farm at all after the financial troubles suffered by festival guru Vince Power and the site itself going into liquidation earlier this year.

It only opened over the Easter holidays after a last-minute sale of its troubled operator. The two-day festival will be headlined My Bloody Valentine and Rodriguez. Snore.

So the expectations for Lounge were high, as it looked set to claim the crown of Kent’s biggest music festival.

And after apparently scoring an own goal with its first, lukewarm announcement, there is optimism once again at the addition of Jessie Ware, Willy Moon, Man Like Me, Scratch Perverts, Tribes and many more.

Do not be surprised if there is one more big announcment to come from the Canterbury event, taking place from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, July 28. 

If Lounge still does not impress and you crave pure, unadulterated pop, then you have been served a treat at the Sound Island Festival.

Jessie J, Rita Ora, James Arthur, Lawson and Union J will all perform at Quex Park, Birchington, on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.

And for those who like their chart hits with jagged edges, topping the bill is Ill Manors rapper Plan B.

Although, with this line up, he will surely focus on his Strickland Banks soul music exploits than his gritty, south London material.

Categories: Business | Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Inbetweeners reunite for film screening in Gravesend

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 28 2013

The cast of the Inbetweeners gave an ironic thumbs up when they were asked what they thought of Gravesend, as they attended a screening of the movie at the town’s Woodville theatre.

“I love Griggs bakery, which is surely just a copy of Greggs” joked a bearded Simon Bird, known to fans as Will McKenzie, at the event promoting the new cinema at the venue.

A near sell-out crowd sat for an hour as actors Simon, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and co-creator and writer Damon Beesley answered audience questions on Friday.

They posed for photos and signed various items of memorabilia from the show, which were auctioned to raise money for new seats at the theatre.

A signed poster of the Inbetweeners Movie – the highest grossing British comedy film – was bought for £200, while t-shirts and a jumper worn in the film and series sold for more than £100.

The four stars agreed to attend the screening as a favour to writer Damon, who grew up in New Barn and went to Longfield Upper School.

The audience laughed as Damon confirmed, unfazed, that the Woodville itself was the real-life setting for one particularly hands-on scene in the series, involving character Simon and a young girl at a school disco.

Damon himself agreed to attend thanks to a childhood friend who works at Gravesham Borough Council, who asked him to come along.

The Q&A got off to a spluttering start, as a couple of the mics did not work and the panel were flummuxed with some bizarre questions.

Damon, 41, confirmed there would be no more series but hinted a few ideas were being floated around between himself and co-writer Iain Morris about making a second film.

Just as the cast warmed up, the Q&A came to a close, almost too soon, with the film screened shortly after to roaring laughter from fans.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Gravesham | Showbiz | TV

Put a sock on it

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, January 23 2013

The greatest pleasure of interviewing Inbetweeners co-creator and writer Damon Beesley was finding out that the stuff viewers didn’t see on camera was just as funny as what made it onto TV in the Bafta-winning show.

Ahead of talking to fans at a Q&A and screening of the Inbetweeners Movie, Damon revealed his sense of humour was still equally as juvenile as that of Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

As well as his own adolescent experiences, the 41-year-old, who grew up in New Barn, near Gravesend, revealed his cast were such good sports that he could use their moments of embarrassment for comic scenes.

“Over the course of three series we have managed to get all four of them partially naked,” he said with glee, pictured below, right, with co-creator and writer Iain Morris.

“We have seen all their bottoms, which Iain and I are very proud of.

“Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] gets the brunt because he is most pliable. There are a lot more rude bits just for Simon because Joe is just so up for it.

“When we were filming on the boat for the field trip episode and Joe had to stand naked, there was a quite a lot of concern for him because it was freezing cold in January.

“In the scene, he falls into the water and they have to take all his clothes off because he is going to get hypothermia and at one point he stands up naked, to wave back at the land.

“We asked costume to give him some coverage to go over his front parts, to save his embarrassment, but what wardobe didn’t tell us was that instead of putting a box on, for some reason they put a sock over his bits and it looked mental.

“As James Buckely [Jay] pointed out, they may as well have covered him with a condom because it was so tight. It wasn’t saving anyone from any embarrassment at all.

“We all fell about laughing and because it was so funny, during the edit we wrote in a few lines to the script that Neil [played by Blake Harrison] had put a sock over his parts – why would you do that?

“But it was brilliant and it made a good joke.”

As all four stars arrive with Damon at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls for the Q&A and screening – which is drumming up support for the new cinema which launched at the theatre this month – many will wonder what other behind-the-scenes gems will be unveiled.

The Inbetweeners Movie is shown on Friday, January 25, at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls with a pre-screening Q&A with writer Damon Beesley and the four stars. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Showbiz | TV

Review: Kent launch of Save the Last Dance For Me

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Friday, January 18 2013

Rarely do you get to see the spectacular tunes of the early days of rock and roll performed live.

Save the Last Dance For Me is based on the music of songwriting duo Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman and is the latest in a line of new jukebox musical to hit the stage.

Tapping in to the audience nostalgia market, this show has two things which should ensure it stands the test of time: great songs performed by a live band and a credible story.

It is remarkable considering much of the music from the late 1950s and early 1960s is very trebly in sound, which can make them come across a bit weedy.

Put a tribute band on stage and the songs lose their meaning. They come across cringeworthy and lacking spunk.

What writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have done so well is to delicately wrap the music in a sweet love story, which puts the audience in the mindset of this much more innocent but no less complicated age.

Of course, some of the numbers (Sweets for My Sweet, Viva Las Vegas,) go beyond the tender story they have been set in, leaping into the audience. This is the kind of show which wants its crowd to be dancing in the aisles.

Yet when this production was at its best was during the tender moments of A Teenager in Love (Dion and the Belmonts), Suspicion (Elvis) and Can't Get Used to Losing You (Andy Williams.)

The finale of the story, Save the Last Dance For Me, is a bittersweet gem, when its remembered as a lament from crutch bound Doc Pomus, who had polio as a child, and was never able to dance.

Director Bill Kenwright admitted he puts on at least one show a year that is just for him. He is incredibly passionate for this era of rock and roll.

Perhaps he should indulge himself a little more often.

Save the Last Dance For Me launched at Dartford's Orchard Theatre on Wednesday, January 16.

It runs at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre until Saturday, January 26. The show visits Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre from Monday, March 11, to Saturday, March 16. It visits Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre from Monday, May 20, to Saturday, May 25.

Categories: Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Bill Kenwright puts his faith in provincial theatres

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 14 2013

If there is anyone who knows how to help theatres up and down the country as they try to weather the dire economic outlook this year, it is Bill Kenwright.

The man at the top of the UK’s largest independent theatre company and the Everton FC chairman – a bit random in many people’s eyes – launches his latest jukebox musical Save the Last Dance For Me in Kent this week.

He gave me a long, in-depth interview earlier this month, in which he stated he loves provincial theatres and actively chose Dartford’s Orchard Theatre to debut his new show.

Here he talks about why he is launching a new production when others are closing – he closed Blood Brothers after 24 years in the West End last year because it was not making any money – and what troubles face theatres at the moment.

Why did you choose to launch Save the Last Dance For Me in Dartford rather than a big West End theatre or one in a larger city?

“I started off 40 years ago as a provincial theatre producer and that is not a derogatory term in my book.

“[I see myself as] a provincial theatre producer who has big Broadway and West End successes. I love the audiences out there.

“The letters and warmth I get are amazing. They seem to appreciate what I am about and they let me know when it’s bad, too, believe me. They let me know when I’ve got something wrong – and so they should.”

When do you know whether a show is going to be a success?

“You know whether it is going to be a flop about 20 seconds after the curtain goes up and you know pretty quickly if you got it right from the audience.”

So after the success of Dreamboats and Petticoats, is a similar type of musical like Save the Last Dance For Me not too much of a risk?

“You never see a show that does not cost half a million, so that is a bit of a risk.”

And how quick do you get the money back?

“It can be very quick but I’ve got some shows that have been out there two years which still haven’t recouped. It can be forever.”

So why do you stick with them?

“Because I think they will recoup one day. It is called a nervous hit. When it is not quite a flop and not quite a hit and just, is there. The audience are enjoying it but you are not making a lot of money and you decide you are going to live with it for a little while.

Was that what happened with Blood Brothers in the end?

“No. Blood Brothers was losing money in the last year but it had made so much money over the years that I didn’t mind.”

Are people stuggling to go out to the theatre now?

“Yes I do think times are very tough financially and now you have got all the colossal distractions of what you can see on your TV, your DVD and you iPads. It is extraordinary what is out there.

For people to go and see shows is an effort. That is why you have got to try to find something that an audience responds to.”

Save the Last Dance For Me runs at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre from Wednesday, January 16 to Saturday, January 26. Visit

Categories: Celebrities | Economy | Entertainment | Leisure | Local Businesses | Showbiz

Keeping the focus on the music

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, January 10 2013

An unexpected treat when Palma Violets kicked off their live duties for 2013 were Canterbury-based quartet Broken Hands.

Led by the echoing, nasal vocals of Dale Norton, the four-piece also picked Tunbridge Wells' Forum to stretch their live legs for the first time this year. 

Fans of Kasabian will appreciate the piercing lyrics mixed with filthy guitar and bass from Jamie Darby and Thomas Ford respectively.

All of this is topped off with baby-faced sticksman Callum Norton. What more could a fan want?

Well, as it turns out, a bit of privacy. 

Bobbing his head as he sang through epic tunes like Sorrow, Moving and Shaking, it became clear frontman Dale has something of a tendency to stare  right at you.

Perhaps it was just me  my mate told me he felt like the same thing was happening to him  but when I watched, drinking in their sound, I had to avert my eyes. 

Dale was looking me in the face the whole time. It was uncomfortable.

As Palma Violets went on to prove, the positives of intimate venues far outweight any negatives.

Bassist Chilli Jesson dived into the crowd, pictured above, and moshed with fans as the Lambeth-based foursome announced themselves as the band to beat in the success stakes this year.

You could see the whites of his eyes as he leant out from the stage and pointed at people, encouraging them to start a riot. You could hear every word he said without the mic.

Perhaps it never felt awkward because Chilli was too busy focussing his attention on guitarist Sam Fryer, as they try to establish themselves as the new Pete Doherty and Carl Barat.

And of course, the reason I remember Broken Hands is because I heard some brilliant music. Shame I felt I had to stare at the floor.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

The What's On blog, with Chris Price

Want to know what’s on in the music industry in Kent? Want to know what’s on in your local theatres? Want to know what’s really going on with the stars coming to the county who speak to the KM Group’s What’s On supplement every week? This is the place to find out. From last minute shows to views on all the entertainment stuff going on in the county, this is the place to find out the real picture with exclusive images, reviews and all the juicy bits of A-list gossip that didn’t make it into the paper. Follow Chris on Twitter: @thechrisprice.

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