Three years ago we ran a take-away sandwich and coffee shop. People used to come and ask to put up posters for events, and one day we were asked to put up a poster for arts at unfest. The girl who brought round the poster explained it was a music festival around the Pantiles, and they were having art stalls in the Corn Exchange. Only afterwards did my husband realise this was the event his Ukulele Group had been asked to play at.
We must have been working on the Saturday of the event, but went along on the Sunday, and wandered around the arts and music, had a nice pub lunch, then in the evening met up with the rest of the TWUNTS and headed over to The Forum. The place was packed, Tom Williams and The Boat were playing before TWUNTS, but most of the audience stayed for a set of ukulele playing. It was all free (well, not the pub lunch and the beers of course), and was the first time I used the twitter hash-tag to follow an event, and ‘follow’ some of the other people tweeting about it – all of whom I think I still follow now.
Two years ago the event was smaller, as it was the same time as the extended Bank Holiday for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and there were many other events on. We watched some, can only be described as, arty films, in an empty shop. TWUNTS played The Forum, after The Orange Circus Band.
Last year’s unfest was ‘three days in May’, starting on Friday evening, and by then I was involved in the poetry element, as well as TWUNTS playing at The Sussex Arms, and The Brainflowers at The Forum Unfest 2013 Sunday. We also knew many of the other bands and musicians by then, and had a list of people we wanted to see, moving from venue to venue, and mixing with different friends.
Unfest this year will run from Saturday through to Monday, and we are involved in several ways this year. It is still an event that centres around The Forum, and one which makes you realise the need to support local music venues through Music Venue Trust. Lots of extra places are involved, setting up their own stages and arranging schedules. Everyone will be playing for free, and an incredible amount of time has already gone into preparing the whole event, again by volunteers. There will be a chance to show your appreciation through a donate by text, with money going to Taylor Made Dreams and Rhythmix (but that’s another story). Most of all, the weekend will showcase music locally, for both townspeople and visitors. It harks back to our decadent past, when the Pantiles was full of gambling houses and musicians galleries. Let’s start The Tunbridge Wells Summer Season!