It’s the early hours of Sunday morning, and I’m writing this because someone else, who is probably tucked up in bed by now, told me to. There is no photo, but I offer a link to a video of “King Jesus” by My Preserver. Please watch.
After sponsorship failed to materialise the by-now-annual-on -the-Pantiles-bandstand “Local and Live” weekend, it was cancelled by Paul Dunton. Straight away wheels were set in motion to make things happen over this Bank Holiday weekend. One plan was taken up by traders near the bandstand, to extend their Jazz on the Pantiles season into this weekend, giving their customers something to watch over dinner.
The other plan saw Paul link up with Jason Dormon at the Forum, to put on four nights of music in the Forum, on a paid ticket, which would help fundraise for next year. From this has also grown music inside the Pantiles Pubs, similar to unfest, and a Local and Live acoustic stage in Sankeys Bar & Restaurant in the afternoons.
So far two evenings of music have seen the varied acts of: Cyrano, In Tyler We Trust, Storm Engine, Stray Dogs, Intraverse, All The Above, Searching For Pie, Sarah Tonin, The Standard Lamps, My Preserver, and The Dirty Pillows. The evenings have already been full of drama – it was a final gig for Stray Dogs, who are now going to go their separate ways; All The Above were joined on stage by Tom Hunt and Tom Adolph for an impromptu Jam Night Style song; Sarah Tonin brought a noisy but enthusiastic audience. Sadly though, while Sarah Tonin were soundchecking, a man who said he was helping promote them filled me with words of gloom: lack of money to get to gigs to perform, success of One Direction, TV stars with unoriginal music… and very sadly these words of gloom stayed with me on the (very) wet walk home.
The Forum has been full (almost full?) each evening, with a mixed audience, all different ages, but including those who have come to support their friend’s band, and those who want to see something new, buy the CD, find out where they are playing next…. There has been an air of love, friendship and companionship. But beyond these walls, and with an increase in free, corner of the bar gigs, who is paying the musicians petrol money? Who is interested in the band struggling to get time off work together to get in the studio and record an EP – when One Direction are on the radio every hour? Increased use of social media should be raising awareness – but are we just shouting at the same minority?
Meanwhile, the rains that forced Noah to build an ark have fallen on Tunbridge Wells during Saturday, leaving photos of the Pantiles looking like a deserted wetland, and little sign of an amazing Jazz vibe. I hope to get out during the day on Sunday and see how the freebie afternoons are fairing with the general public – do they care if their music is either local, or live?