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

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

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 www.orchardtheatre.co.uk.

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

Vote plea for Kent's Strictly pair

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, December 20 2012

Pick up the phone is the plea from the parents of Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer James Jordan.

The ballroom expert, who grew up in Walderslade, has made it to the final of the BBC1 show with his celebrity partner Denise Van Outen, who lives in Biddenden, near Tenterden.

However James' father, Allan Jordan, 60, who lives on St Mary's Island, Chatham, is worried his son's home county are not getting behind him, after the pair found themselves in the bottom two in the last two shows.

The pair face Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer, Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith in the final.

Allan said: "He's a local lad and she's a fantastic dancer but they are not pulling in the votes.

"Denise has had a lot of bad press saying she is a trained dancer but she only went to stage school until she was 13, plus Kimberly Walsh and Dani Harmer also went to stage school.

"Louis Smith's training regime must have prepared him for something like this too.

"Denise is the best dancer on the show without a doubt and she works tirelessly. 

"They are training for 12 hours a day and that is why she is so good.

"She is 100% committed."

The final is decided entirely on the public vote, with the judges unable to save Denise, 38, and James, 34, like they have done in the last two weeks.

There is added pressure to win the coveted Glitterball for James, who lives near Maidstone, as his wife Ola won the series in 2009 with another Kent lad, BBC presenter Chris Hollins, who went to school in Tonbridge.

"It would be lovely for James to win and put another Glitterball alongside Ola's," added Allan.

"It's put James under a lot of pressure to do well because Denise is so good."


Shortly after signing a record deal with Sony, X Factor contestant Ella Henderson celebrated with a gig in the county.

The 16-year-old performed for 300 people at the Lounge in Chislehurst on Sunday, December 16. 

The Grimsby-based singer had been at the centre of a bidding war between Simon Cowell’s Syco label and his fellow Sony imprints Columbia, Epic and RCA.

Lounge co-owner James London said: “When news first spread that we would be hosting a night with Ella, tickets sold out in less than two hours. 

“She was over the moon with the news of her Sony contract, and spent hours chatting with guests, signing autographs and taking pictures.

“She is undoubtedly one of the most talented contestants to come out of this year’s X Factor.”

Despite her shock exit in week seven, many in attendance would be willing to bet she has more hit singles in 2013 than show winner James Arthur. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Blondie rumoured for Bedgebury in 2013

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, November 28 2012

Word on the street is that Blondie are set to perform one of the Forestry Commission concerts at Bedgebury Pinetum next year.

The 1980s band are most strongly associated with the punk and New Wave eras, with No1 hits including Heart of Glass, Atomic and the Tide is High.

Formed by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, they enjoyed a resurgence in the late 1990s with another chart topping single, Maria, and have toured on-and-off ever since.

They performed at the Hop Farm Festival, near Paddock Wood, in 2010.

The forest, near Goudhurst, welcomed Plan B and Will Young in the summer.

So far, the Forestry Commission have not confirmed the rumours.

They have already announced Paul Weller for gigs in Suffolk and Gloucestershire next summer.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | music | Showbiz

Don't be the unobservant view-blocking butterball

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Saturday, November 24 2012

One of the wonderful perks about my job is I get to see amazing acts all over Kent.

So imagine the fury of going to see the great John Cooper Clarke, only to not be able to see or hear him because of inconsiderate others.

Of course, as is often the case when I am a little bit cross, I exaggerate a little. The headline act at Rochester's Royal Function Rooms, who could easily be described as the five Ps - perfect punk performance poet pioneer - John Cooper Clarke was absolutely class.

I would have enjoyed hearing his unsurpassed grasp of the English language more on Friday, November 23, if my view had not been obstructed by various boozed-up, non-spacially-aware punters.

Arriving at the gig reasonably early, I managed to bag a decent table to watch JCC and his supports, Chatham poet Wolf Howard and Mancunian Mike Garry. 

Perhaps I'm uninitiated in the etiquette of poetry gigs but I couldn't help feeling narked when boozers filed out of the bar and stood directly in front of my table, without so much as a look of apology. Their rear-ends were literally touching the front end of my table and they just looked directly at the stage, as if I wasn't there.

Not wanting to cause a scene, I decided to crick my neck and look round these impetuous loafers. As one act finished, they waddled back to the bar, only to take up their concealing position when the next arrived, as oblivious as before.

Then, just as I settled into my uncomfortable posture, came the drunken cat calls of a group of women standing behind me, equidistant to my view-blocking compadres.

"Give me strength," I thought as they woooooooooooo-ed less than a foot from my right ear at the end of every poem, muttering "exactly" and "yeah" at each of JCC's comical assertions in what he called "the adverts" in between readings.

Then, imagine the emotional contradiction I felt when the oblivious lump in front of me spontaneously developed recognition of other human beings aside from the one on stage, looking round at the tipsy plonker behind me to deliver a scowl which thankfully shut her up and put the rest of us out of our misery. 

Perhaps I am being a bit of a stiff on account of being the designated driver for the night. JCC poetry readings are not debates on late-Rennaissance verse by any stretch. The night was raucous and all the better for it.

All I ask is that people don't enjoy a show at the expense of others. Don't be the unobservant view-blocking butterball or the loud, tiddly dipstick. 

Otherwise someone will end up tainting your night in the same way one day in the future.

Categories: Books | Celebrities | Entertainment | General | Humour | Rochester

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