SOUNDS OF THE WELLS

Originally printed in October Tunbridge Wells ‘Town Crier’ magazine.

SOUNDS OF THE WELLS

Within a few years of Lord North’s discovery, and promotion of, The Wells near Tonbridge, a small spa town resort was growing, providing entertainment for visitors, as well as healthy chalybeate water to drink. For a long time the basis of the town was a summer resort, that closed down during winter, with even some shop-keepers shutting up shop here and re-opening in London.

So it’s been quite fitting that we carry on this summer tradition, under the promotional banner of ‘Sounds of the Wells’. Starting with Unfest in May, then Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists Competition and Local & Live in summer, and concluding with Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival in October.

I asked Cllr Caroline Derrick the reasons behind ‘Sounds of the Wells’ which aims to promote Tunbridge Wells as a main live music destination in the South East. “Growing up in Tunbridge Wells, and having a small family heritage background in the local music scene, I have always been aware of how much talent there is and really didn’t feel we shouted about it enough. Once I become a councillor, I started to mention it to anyone who would listen. Then in 2012 the Cabinet member for Tourism, Leisure and Economic Development Cllr Jane March said ‘that she felt I had a point, and did I think I could do something to help promote it more, but unfortunate there wasn’t any funds to help me’ “

Since then Caroline has gathered together all the key players in the town music scene and explained how she would like to help: “What I was hoping to do was to promote what musically is going on in the borough, but not actually be involved directly with what the individual organisers were doing, and so Sounds of the Wells was born….” Without any funding from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Caroline has set up a home page website (courtesy of Click Creative Design) which links the festivals, and she shares any updates via facebook and twitter. She has also liaised between event organisers and the central offices of TWBC, and sent out a pre-season 2014 press release to assorted media sources.

I suspect many of us have enjoyed at least one element of these festivals during 2014. Unfest ran for three days at the late May Bank Holiday, based around the Forum. This year the festival expanded further than before, with events in venues along the Pantiles and High Street, and at The Royal Oak on Prospect Road. The festival features a wide range of local music as well as art and spoken word. It also brings in acts and artists from outside the town, giving them a chance to showcase to a non-paying audience. Run by volunteers, Unfest included the creative elements of a promotional video and an old style fanzine (or two).

The basis of Local & Live is local, unsigned acts, and this year was the first in which the event expanded into Calverley Grounds and a range of fringe venues. The town was literally alive with the sound of music. Still masterminded by Paul Dunton, aided by a team of volunteers who supported the event from mixing-desks and merchandising stalls at each venue, to fund-raising and clearing-up. The whole festival seems to have been a great success, aided by the lovely weather during the Calverley Grounds weekend.
TWIYCA held their finale in The Assembly Hall, after days of competition rounds hosted at Kent College.
TWIMF runs from Thursday 16th October to Saturday 1st November 2014 at several locations, concluding with luncheon at Chartwell. See http://www.tunbridgewellsfestival.co.uk/ for full festival details, and tickets can be booked through the website.

There will continue to be musical events during the winter in these modern times… but it’s not looking too good for the Pantile’s chalybeate water – maybe in ‘Spring’ ?

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