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

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

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

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

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

Leas Cliff Hall, I hate you.

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Sunday, October 21 2012

So tomorrow is supposed to be the day that myself and a few of my friends go to the Leas Cliff Hall to see an amazing Indie Rock band, The Enemy. The key word there is supposed, as the Leas Cliff Hall pulled the plug without so much as an explanation. In our disappointment and panic after hearing the news, my friend posted on The Enemy's Facebook page to ask what the problem was. The band actually respond to the majority of posts on their Facebook which is a pleasant surprise, but then again The Enemy have always placed massive importance on their fanbase; they said, "there were a few issues we're told, but we don't know the full story. We hope the promoter has emailed you guys, and of course we're dead sorry we can't make it, we know you would have been awesome. Make it up to you! x"

So not even the band were told exactly why they couldn't play?! I have seen The Enemy at Folkestone Leas Cliff before but what I'm super annoyed about is that The Enemy are pretty much one of the only good bands the Leas Cliff ever has in! For a great venue in the heart of Folkestone, which has a massive proportion of students and young people about, the Leas Cliff should really be getting some more current acts in like The Enemy! Don't get me wrong I've seen some great bands there: The Enemy, The Editors, Pete Doherty and The Zutons, but take a look at the upcoming events: 'The Sensational 60s Experience', 'Marty Wilde's Rock 'n' Roll Party', 'The Drifters', 'Boogie Nights' and 'The Solid Silver 60s Show'. I mean, come on would it kill you to get something from the last decade in?! Although I can't really complain, as a little something for the hip young people of Folkestone, they've got Dappy and Peter Andre lined up for us... 

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Categories: music

Good bands are like London buses…

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Sunday, September 30 2012

You wait for ages to see a good act from Kent and then two come along at once.

Granted, the 220 people in Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre Studio on Friday, September 28 were already well-versed in the hip-hop infused folk of headliners Coco and the Butterfields.

It made for a sensational atmosphere at the launch of the five-piece’s debut EP Fip Fok, named after their self-styled pioneering brand of banjo, double bass and guitar music, laced with beatbox drum kicks.

Yet the crowd had already been stirred up a treat by a sterling supporting bill of Tener Duende, Eric Ness and Funke and the Two Tone Baby, pictured below.

It was the latter who impressed the most, from the moment he lifted his hat and addressed the crowd: “Ladies and gentleman of the Marlowe Theatre, I am Funky and the Two Tone Baby.”

A one-man-band from Rochester, he goes by the name of Daniel Turnball when he is not rasping his gravelly Dylan-esque vocals. Yet his stage presence is much like that of Jack White.

By contrast his audience banter makes him appear like a dandy version of the Hitcher from the Mighty Boosh, in a good way.

“I had a dream last night that a lady in the audience wanted to be tamborinist in a one-man-band,” he joked as he tossed his instrument at a girl in the crowd.

“She caught it ladies and gentleman. I also had a dream that everybody in the Marlowe Theatre wanted be part of one big drum machine,” he added, as he got the crowd clapping and stomping to the tambourine, to which he performed a frantic harmonica solo.

Even Coco and the Butterfields frontman Tom Twyman could be seen jumping about to the trilby-wearing singer-songwriter’s set.

“Sorry for jumping around earlier – we have been very excited about today,” said dreadlocked Tom after the headliner’s dramatic opener.

A folk-pop cover of R Kelly’s Ignition Remix followed, showing why the Canterbury band won Live and Unsigned at the O2, the country’s biggest unsigned talent competition.

Their track Astronaut had the crowd singing back the chorus.

The band seem like great friends on stage, with violinist and vocalist Dulcima joking “diva” as Tom asked the sound engineers to turn up his mic. The crowd laughed as she said to her bandmate: “you are very sweaty – disgusting.”

Perhaps the most jaw-dropping moment was the band’s cover of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. So often done badly and very hard not to sound clichéd, Dulcima easily coped with the vocals as the band performed an inspired and tender folk accompaniment.

Covers of Timberland’s The Way I Are and Flo-Rida’s Low were also impressive as well as great sing-a-longs. As the gig went on it became more and more clear that their strength lies in Tom’s charisma, while Dulcima’s soaring vocals adds a polished touch to their rough beatbox and hearty folk edges.

They returned for an encore of their track Hip Hop Song and they could have stayed for another half hour if they had the material.

Both Funke and the Two Tone Baby and Coco and the Butterfields are planning on releasing their debut albums next year. The latter have even scheduled in their launch night already, once again at the Marlowe on May 5.

Judging by their live sets on Friday and promising sounding EPs, next year could be a very good year for Kent music.

Categories: Entertainment | Humour | music

Future looks bleak for the Hop Farm Music Festival as administrators called in

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Tuesday, September 25 2012

As Vince Power calls in the administrators for his company Music Festivals PLC, it almost certainly spells the end for the Hop Farm Music Festival.

Another outing at the venue near Paddock Wood next year looks near on impossible after the fiery Irish promoter suspended shares on his company on Friday.

Its last share price left the company worth a little over 3% of its value when it debuted on the stock market last June. It had gone from a valuation of £10 million to just £310,000.

It seems the weather, the Olympics and a crowded market all conspired against the event, which was headlined by Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel and Suede earlier this year.

Power, pictured above, is also less likely to save the Hop Farm, which ran for five years, now that he stands to lose a lot from the company's failure, owning 23% of the company and about 40% including the stakes of his family.

He has been bitten like this before, losing nearly £8 million in 2010, when his music promotions business, Power Music Group, went under. He is unlikely to allow lightening to strike thrice.

It is a bitter blow for the man described as the father of the commercial British festival, whose Mean Fiddler company turned Reading and Glastonbury into the mega bucks money machines they are today.

He sold that company for £38 million in 2005 but he must now be on the verge of putting his festival management days behind him after a superb, but ultimately costly, swansong with the Hop Farm Music Festival and Valencia-based Benicassim.

The Hop Farm put on the likes of Neil Young, Paul Weller, Florence + The Machine, Mumford and Sons, Morrissey and Prince, pictured. It attracted criticism from some corners for its crowd being on the reserved side at times but no one can deny that every improving line up put it among the country's top music events.

Arguably this year's line up was its least impressive so far, bringing Bob Dylan back to headline two years after his first appearance in the county.

It suggests Mr Power was hoping to weather a tough year with a safe line up and then pull out all the stops once again for 2013.

The freezing of Music Festival PLC's shares also sheds some light on the bizarre move to switch the location of Leonard Cohen's two UK gigs from the Hop Farm to Wembley Arena.

AEG Live came in to jointly promote the event at the eleventh hour and a statement at the time said the move was a precautionary measure against the "unseasonal cold and wet weather this summer."

Now speculation must focus on how much the move was about AEG minimising outlay as its fellow promoter stared at the writing on the wall, rather than maximising potential revenues for the struggling Music Festivals PLC, in case of rain or otherwise.

Ultimately, it is a sorry tale typical of these tough economic times.

Mr Power was lured back into the festival market after interest in live music peaked about five years ago and must now pay the price for operating in an unstable, saturated market.

With the Olympics, the Diamond Jubilee, mushrooming petrol prices and pay freezes, many festival goers could not afford a £100 weekend ticket and opted to take a year off from muddy fields and overpriced beer.

Like the banking sector before it, it seems the festival market assumed the good times would never end.

Unless an unlikely benefactor appears from somewhere, it seems the Hop Farm Music Festival will become another brilliant but brief part of musical history.

Categories: Business | Celebrities | Economy | Entertainment | music | Olympics | Showbiz

Olly Murs covers The Clash, The Jam and Supergrass: Did it work?

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Saturday, September 22 2012

As part of Olly Murs' set for his latest tour, the X-factor runner up (although I think he's done enough to lose that title) has chosen to add three interesting covers to the mix: 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' by The Clash, ' A Town Called Malice' by The Jam and 'Alright' by Supergrass.

So even as someone who watches The X Factor purely to point out all of the things I hate about the show, I still own both of Olly Murs' albums; if I was feminine enough I might even be inclined to have a little giggle to myself  and call it my "guilty pleasure" (along with blueberry WKD, spending too much on handbags and Galaxy Cookie bars- I'm so naughty!) but before I let my feminine side get the better of me I should write about these songs.

I heard about Murs' decision to cover these three fantastic songs whilst reading an interview with Tom Clarke from indie rock band The Enemy, who claimed Olly Murs was one of the many "No-name trendy weirdos" in the charts nowadays. When I listened to the medley of the three songs on Youtube, I really wasn't offended by Murs' renditions at all. I am in no means biased towards Olly here, as The Clash are my favourite band in the whole entire universe and beyond... Anyway, I have always thought 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go', with its simple punchy lyrics and relationship-centered subject matter, has fundamentally been a pop song anyway, so I don't think Murs did the song any harm whatsoever. The backing band were obviously capable enough to play the music, and Olly Murs was obviously a gifted enough singer to hit all the notes of the song, what's not to like? Of course it was nowhere near as good as the original but that's okay!

As for 'A Town Called Malice', again, The Jam are my heroes, but I don't believe Murs did a bad job at all, he sings the melody well, shows his enthusiasm and hasn't changed the song enough to even come close to ruining it, not that you can 'ruin' a song, no matter how bad you are. My views are precisely the same for 'Alright' by Supergrass: it was a perfectly decent rendition that gave variety to his set and excited the audience, how can that be a bad thing?

Maybe I'm just a 'crazy hippy' who simply feels too much peace and love for the world to be capable of disliking a song, because trust me that's not true- you wanna hear a bad cover? Listen to Jedward's Ice Ice Baby cover- as if the original wasn't bad enough... But the way I see it, Olly Murs was showing his appreciation for three of his heroes, and showing thousands of people his musical influences- to me that's what music is about! In my view, doing a cover of a song is just a great way of paying homage to someone you like, and hey, if you're big enough to be able to showcase this to thousands upon thousands of people, then all the better! I think the 'Youtube commenting culture' seems to bring about a certain breed of music snobbery, all of whom believe good songs must be left alone at all costs and those who tamper with these sacred songs must be trialed for treason immediately. To this I would just encourage them to feel the love, as I do. Peace out dudes.

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Categories: music


by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Wednesday, September 5 2012
I was lucky enough to attend and steward at this year’s Smugglers Festival. The first thing to strike you is the intimacy of the festival: the campsite itself is small enough to see from one side to the other at all times. The main area consisted of two main stages, where the music alternated from stage to stage, meaning that there was constant music playing, and no worry of two bands clashing, which can be truly devastating for some. Outside the main area, in the woods, was the Little Rig stage, a beautifully decorated caravan with a small stage attached. The festival featured fantastic performances by Zoo For You, Cocos Lovers, The Boot Lagoon among many others. The standard of music, albeit nothing like what you’ll find in the charts, was fantastic, unique and refreshing to listen to instead of all the “wub wubs” we seem to hear on the radio and in clubs. Smugglers, though it is a small festival is not short on things to do during the weekend; it has a children’s area, artwork hidden in the woods, campfires dotted around the woods, a disco, an absinthe bar and so much more! The atmosphere at Smugglers festival was absolutely brilliant- everyone was so nice! It’s the kind of festival where you needn’t be worried about rowdy youths around each corner, and where you can easily converse with a complete stranger, it’s a lovely thing! For anyone debating whether to come next year as a family, I would highly recommend it. Smugglers Festival offers a brilliant family atmosphere. There is plenty of great activities for children in the kids’ area, as well as a cinema to engage the family, and what’s more, the family camping is absolutely silent at night time so you won’t be disturbed by the usual festival riff raff! And for any ‘usual festival riff raff’ who are just out to have a cheap weekend of music and fun, I can’t recommend Smugglers any more. I thoroughly enjoyed it- by far my favourite festival, and in relation to the bigger festivals, it is right on my doorstep!

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