Paul Dunton left school looking at a life of golf. However an injury in his mid 20s lead him to returning to an earlier love of music. Getting back into playing the piano and having a go at song writing, he and friend Sam Nesbitt formed a band called “Contrast”. In 2003 they played at The Forum, inviting along other local bands. From that he was asked to host at the Grey Lady: “An Evening with Paul Dunton”, showcasing local music in a ‘sit and listen’ setting, progressing to Festival 400 on the bandstand in 2004 and renamed “Local and Live” in 2005.
While Paul still performs with the Paul Dunton Ensemble and Orchestra, “Local and Live” as a weekend festival, booked for 23rd – 26th August this year, is the thing that most people think about. Although it is still six months away, people are already saying they are looking forward to it. The actual four days of local music festival you see are the tip of an iceberg in terms of time. The amount of hours put in to run twice weekly showcases at The Grey Lady (142 in one year), Sessions at Trinity Theatre (whose takings go towards the August event costs), and the festival ( on which preparations have already started), as well as golf coaching and performing… well it was amazing that there were two hours left for coffee today.
Despite the gruelling prospect of all the planning and co-ordinating, Paul is looking forward to “Local and Live”, and already has Goldie Reed lined up to headline on Sunday night. Every year there is the chance to re-assess, and improve; one thing you may notice this year will be more bins and so therefore, hopefully, less rubbish (the small things count!) You can watch a video here of Paul chatting about the finances, and there are many way you can help contribute .
When I wrote about “Local and Live” last summer there were suggestions that this was a get rich quick project for Paul. But the costs involved in running a trouble free four day event mean this is a labour of love. A ticket for five days at Glastonbury is £205, so a family wandering along to the Pantiles for the free event are very lucky. Sponsorship now, or buying a programme and a CD on the day, could be your way of showing your appreciation. Alternatively, go along to the Grey Lady on a Wednesday or a Sunday (there are some good ones coming up in March), or the nest session at Trinity on April 20th.
What came across this morning is this is now Paul’s life, although it’s not the one he imagined as a school boy. When asked if this was the unstoppable machine, if this was something he could suddenly stop, Paul went very quiet. Despite the fact it has not yet bought him a holiday home in the South of France, I don’t think he can imagine it any other way. It is a passion.