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Arts & Entertainment

Brit award winner plays Sound Knowledge gig

Ethan JohnsEthan JohnsWith a reputation for showcasing up-and-coming bands, Marlborough record shop Sound Knowledge will be playing host to a far more established artist in November.

Ethan Johns is a Brit Award-winning record producer, engineer, mixer, musician, and songwriter who has worked with such artists such as Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne,The Vaccines, Laura Marling, Tom Jones and Crosby, Stills & Nash to name but a few.

Having worked alongside some of the biggest names in music, Ethan has been drawing inspiration and decided to put out an album in his own right.

Twenty years in the making and produced by his legendary producer father Glyn Johns – who has worked with Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan – the album is keenly anticipated in the music business.

Ethan will be performing songs live in Azuza and signing copies of his album in Sound Knowledge on Friday, November 16 from 6.30pm.

Lucy RoseLucy RoseMeanwhile, Lucy Rose – a regular guest vocalist with Bombay Bicycle Club – will be playing a live show and signing copies of her new album, Like I Used To, on Friday, September 28 from 6.30pm.

Vogue magazine has described Rose as “One of indie music’s breakout stars for 2012”.

Attendance to both gigs is free by registering on the Sound Knowledge Facebook Page

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Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town

Ella, Ceri and Hannah from Gifford's Circus urge the crowds to roll up, roll up! Ella, Ceri and Hannah from Gifford's Circus urge the crowds to roll up, roll up! Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town.

And not just any old circus, but Gifford's Circus. Gifford's put on a particularly 'Marlborough-ish' kind of show – part traditional English circus, part cabaret, part physical theatre.

Each show has a theme – Joplin came to Marlborough in 2006, with its 1960s theme reflected in costumes and music. Caravan (2008) was set around a horse fair and 2010's Yasmine was inspired by the life of legendary equestrienne Yasmine Smart, who played herself in the production.

Last year's tour was called War and Peace and explored Napoleon's disastrous intrusion into Russia from a Russian Aristocratic family's view. It is, perhaps, what you'd expect from founder and creative producer Nell Gifford, who has a degree in English literature from Oxford.

This year's tour is called The Saturday Book. Somewhat aptly for a town with a growing reputation for literary excellence, organisers promise a witty collection of vignettes, tableaus, stories and paintings based on an annual miscellany, published between 1941 and 1975, which provided literary and artistic commentary.

Writers included John Betjeman, Graham Greene, Laurie Lee, Philip Larkin, George Orwell, Siegfried Sassoon and PG Wodehouse, while LS Lowry provided pictures.

Gifford's Circus, in all its artistic gloryGifford's Circus, in all its artistic gloryThe show is directed by Cal McCrystal, who has worked with The Mighty Boosh and Sacha Baron Cohen, and whose Royal National Theatre's hit show One Man, Two Guvnors – on which he was physical comedy director – transferred has played the West End and Broadway.

The cast includes loveable clown Tweedy, a veteran of children's television and a star on both sides of the Atlantic, Bibi the Ethiopian horse-riding juggler, Ukrainian gymnastics troupe The Godfathers, while Francois Marietta and Sarah Schwarz will be providing ariel thrills above the ring.

There'll be animals too, including Sallyann and Ionut Ronescu’s Comedy Dogs, pony trick riding with The Victorians and Giffords favourite Brian the goose.

The Saturday Book opens tomorrow (Friday) at Marlborough Common, with performances at 5pm and 7.30pm, and runs until Monday, September 3.

Once again, the circus will be bringing a most unusual pop-up restaurant to the town. Artistes and audience members dine together on a three-course meal made from seasonal and local ingredients for £25 a head.

Circus Sauce is also serving afternoon teas at £11 a head, and it will open during the intervals, serving freshly baked cakes, traditional ice creams and beverages.

Performance tickets cost £21 for adults and £14 for children under 14. For a full list of showtimes and booking details, log on to www.giffordscircus.com

Pictures from show are now on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MarlboroughNewsOnline

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Festival-bound Spector play intimate Marlborough gig

Indie five-piece SpectorIndie five-piece SpectorIndie rock band Spector will be making an intimate live appearance in Marlborough in August, ahead of their appearance in front of thousands of music lovers at the Reading and Leeds.

The London-based five-piece – whose music has been described as 'somewhere between Roxy Music and the Strokes' – will be playing in town on Tuesday, August 14, the day after the release of their debut album, Enjoy it While it Lasts.

Fresh from supporting Florence and the Machine on a nationwide tour, Spector will be performing at Azuza bar at 6.30pm before signing copies of the album at Sound Knowledge record shop.

Attendance is free through the shop's Facebook page

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John Jones of Oysterband fame walks the White Horse Trail – with three local folk gigs

John Jones, who sings with the award-winning folk-rock Oysterband, is taking to the White Horse Trail in July with a series of five gigs in five days – and a hundred miles of walking with his dogs and with his fans.  Joining him are his band, the Reluctant Ramblers - they’ll be performing gigs in Marlborough and Devizes and a session in a Pewsey pub.

John will be accompanied by his two dogs – deerhound-lurcher crosses with the length of leg that makes them anything but reluctant ramblers.  The darker one (in the photo) is Tarn and the lighter one, Celt. John Jones has already been on several summer walking-and-performing tours – including the Welsh Borders, Dorset and the Peak District. 

Why did John decide to mix walking with his folk singing? “I had the crazy idea of walking to gigs a few years ago and somehow managed to persuade reluctant musicians and a smiling but sceptical agency to help.” “Rushing from gig to gig, crowded motorways, increased stress levels and time wasted staring out of tour bus windows at inviting hills rolling by just made me think: walking 20 miles, setting up in a pub, church, canal-side…anywhere…was worth trying as a much-needed alternative. It caught people’s imagination.”

This year’s tour starts at Goring-on-Thames on July 16 and takes in gigs at Nettlebed, Wantage, Marlborough and Devizes and an informal session at The Crown in Pewsey, ending on Saturday, July 22 with a gig at  Westbury’s Village Pump Folk Festival.  He’s played in Marlborough before – an acoustic gig about two years ago at the Town Hall for Marlborough Folk Roots.

John and the band want as many people as possible to join them walking, listening and taking a pint or two of real ale or cider: “This year’s tour includes exhilarating walking by day and fun gigs at night. I hope as many people as possible will join me, for a short walk or a longer stretch, to say hello over a pint at lunchtime or evening, or just for a gig.” John stresses that it’s not an outward-bound experience or a route march – not more than twenty miles a day: “Once up on The Ridgeway the walking is easy under foot and the views tremendous...a chance for a really unique shared experience. And I will be debuting new songs especially written for the occasion!" Details of the route and how to join in are on the tour’s website.

However, for those with sore feet cars are allowed: once John and the walkers arrive in Avebury and have had some refreshment in the Red Lion, they’ll be driven in a small fleet of cars to the gig in Marlborough – full details below.

The Oysterband are on something of a roll this year.  Joined by June Tabor, the band won Best Group in the 2012 BBC Folk Awards – also taking Best Album (for Ragged Kingdom) and Best Traditional Track (for Bonny Bunch of Roses.)  And they are a top featured band for the Great British Folk Festival at Butlins Skegness at the end of November – currently being advertised with a prominent picture of the band and June Tabor.

They’ve just finished hosting a major festival at Catton Hall in Derbyshire.  It rained and rained and rained, but over two thousand fans sat through the rain: “They were really stoical – and enjoyed themselves.”  John is certainly hoping for a dry and sunny July.

What exactly is the Oysterband sound?  The shorter version runs: “Oysterband make a modern, folk-based British music, acoustic at heart, sometimes intense, sometimes rocking. Since 1978 they've toured in 35 countries - festivals, concerts, bars, rallies, jails, bring 'em on! - and made 12 studio albums. Music for the head, the heart & the trousers. And still improving in the bottle.” You can find the full, unabridged official history as well as a slightly more objective view on their website.

The day after John’s White Horses tour ends at Westbury, John and Dil will be re-joining Oysterband on the main stage for the final day of the Village Pump Folk Festival. This is the fourth year John Jones has led his fellow musicians on a walking tour.  He will be supported by his band the Reluctant Ramblers: Dil Davies is Oysterband’s drummer; Al Scott who produces for Oysterband, plays guitar and bouzouki; and Tim Cotterell who plays with bands including McDermott’s 2 Hours and with Martha Tilston and the Woods, will be playing fiddle, guitar and mandolin. Then there are the guests who’ll be joining along the way: in Nettlebed and Marlborough the Ramblers will be joined by Benji Kirkpatrick of Bellowhead.  And there’s the promise of a secret “special guest” as well – watch this space for details.

Monday, July 16: Nettlebed Folk Club -The Village Club, High Street, Nettlebed, Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 5DD. 8pm. Tickets £13 - 01628 636620 (evenings before 9pm and weekends).

Tuesday, July 17: Wantage  - The Swan, 28 Market Place, Wantage OX12 8AE. 8pm. (Buffet before the gig at The Shoulder of Mutton - call Peter 07870 577742 to book a meal).

Wednesday, July 18: Marlborough - Marlborough Folk Roots - St Mary’s Church Hall, Silverless Street, Marlborough SN8 1JQ. 8pm.  Tickets £13 available from Marlborough Folk Roots, 2/3 Silverless Street Marlborough SN8 1JQ  tel 01672 512465 and from Sound Knowledge, Hughenden Yard, Marlborough.

Thursday, July 19: Pewsey - The Crown, 60 Wilcot Road, Pewsey SN9 5EL. 8pm.

Friday, July 20: Devizes - The Southgate, Potterne Road, Devizes SN10 5BY. 8pm.

Saturday, July 21: Westbury - The Village Pump Folk Festival, main stage, Saturday evening.

Photo credits:  black and white photos of John and his dogs by Alex Ramsay. Colour photo of John singing with the Oysterband by Michael Pohl.

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Britpop star Albarn brings opera to muddy Marlborough field

Damon AlbarnDamon AlbarnA very special performance by one of the world's leading contemporary musicians was given to a small festival crowd in near-freezing conditions in a muddy field outside Marlborough at the weekend.

 OneFest – billed as the UK's first music festival of the year, and the successor to last year's community pub-related HoneyFest – was headlined by Damon Albarn, the maestro behind Britpop champions Blur, cartoon band Gorillaz and more leftfield works like 2007's Oriental pop-opera Monkey, Journey to the West.
 
Before arriving at the festival site, at Rockley on the Marlborough Downs, Albarn was seen in Marlborough shopping for thermal clothing – and with good reason: by the time he took to the stage at 8.30pm the temperature had dipped to a positively chilly five degrees.
 
Albarn was at OneFest to play songs from his new concept opera, Dr Dee, based on the rise and fall of the Elizabethan mathematician, scientist, alchemist, occultist and inspiration for Marlowe's Faustus, which premiered at last year's Manchester International Festival.
 
Populist it wasn't, and anyone up for a warming jump-around to jaunty numbers from the singer's back catalogue was in for a shock.
 
Albarn brought with him a gaggle of seven classical musicians playing 16th century instruments, including the recorder and the lute,  instruments from West Arica, including the kora, and three vocalists, including some wonderfully haunting falsetto from Christopher Robson. 
 
Name-checking nearby Silbury Hill in the sublime Apple Carts, the star himself delivered vocals, guitar and keyboards from behind a harmonium. The first half of the set was performed without introduction or explanation, before he broke into his trademark grin to gently mock the crowd: “Is everyone getting a little cold? Well, you did turn up in a field in April.”
 
He then insisted on playing the lively Watching the Fire That Waltzed Away – the only upbeat song in the set – twice “because it will help us get warm again” and warning the crowd that “that's as much excitement as you'll get – it kind of goes back in on itself now.”
 
The performance was a teaser for the release of the album, which comes out in May, followed by the London premiere with the English National Opera this summer, and was probably the only time an outdoor festival crowd will get to hear the set. 
 
It was a demonstration of how seriously Albarn took the performance that he had brought along his parents and his daughter, whom he welcomed from the stage. 
 
As the set finished – with Albarn playing an old 78 vinyl record on a vintage portable turntable – he thanked the audience and the organisers of the festival, and later took to Twitter to say “OneFest was a brilliant experience, a lovely festival and there for all the right reasons, I'll be back."
 
If he does return, he'll be in good company. Michele Stodart, who performed at HoneyFest last year as one quarter of harmonic pop rock band the Magic Numbers, was back again as a solo artist to perform a reflective folksy set. 
 
And folk rock band Dry the River were back too. Canny Marlborough music lovers will have caught their intimate live set at Azuza back in March, courtesy of record shop Sound Knowledge 
 
And when the five piece played at Honeystreet last year they performed as relative newcomers, having only just released their first single. 
 
This year they took second place on the main stage, having just returned from a 9,000 mile slog across America to promote their debut album, Shallow Bed.
 
“We did it in an RV,” vocalist Peter Liddle told the crowd. “We did all the tourist stuff – Niagara Falls, giant redwoods...”
 
“... but to be honest it doesn't get better than this,” interrupted bassist Scott Miller, who had chosen to maintain his rock god image by wearing a sleeveless vest. “I thought it might make us all feel warmer,” he joked. 
 
Dry the River played a blinding set worthy of a headline slot; an eclectic mix of folk and heavy rock.  The penultimate song, Bible Belt, was – said one Marlborough festival-goer – worth the entry fee alone, while their final song, Lion's Den – also the last track on the album – swelled from a pastoral ballad to an ear-splitting wall of sound which left the crowd baying for more, and looking forward to OneFest 2013.

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Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee beacon - music, food, a full moon and a big bonfire

What links Marlborough, St Helena, Treetops in Kenya, Gunjur in the Gambia and Hadrian’s Wall?  They are all hosting beacons to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – but not all of them will be graced by a glimpse of the full moon.

VICTORIAN BEACON 2 230pxVICTORIAN BEACON 2 230pxAnd not all of them will be on the scale of this beacon built for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee Beacon will be above Barbury Racecourse on Jubilee holiday Monday, June 4 –under a full moon.  The event will be open from 6.30 pm – the sun will set at 9.20 pm and the beacon will be lit at 10.00 pm.

Marlborough’s beacon – organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group – will include a hog roast, fish and chips, and a bar in the racecourse barn.  There will be music from a trio led by Marlborough’s favourite saxophonist, Mick Allport – with dancing encouraged.

At about 9.30 pm people will stroll up the hill from the barn, along a torch-lit route, to the beacon.  And while the huge bonfire burns on, people can camp close by for the night.  At least one other local beacon will be visible from the hillside – the one on Martinsell Hill.

Admission will be by ticket.  These cover the hog roast supper (with veggie alternative and with sausages for children) and are on sale now from the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough High Street.  There’s a family deal available.

Access to this event is only from the Marlborough-to-Broad Hinton road.  There is no way through from the Barbury Castle side of the hill.  And as there are horses about – it’s strictly a no firework occasion.

A coach will take people from Marlborough High Street but only by prior arrangement.  This service will only be available if you book seats by close of play on Monday, May 28 by phoning Marlborough Brandt Group on 01672 861116.  And it’ll bring them back again.BEACON 1897 1 300pxBEACON 1897 1 300px

Why a beacon?  Once used to communicate from hilltop to hilltop – especially to warn of an approaching dangers like the Spanish Armada – beacons have become a feature of celebrations, notably royal ones.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was the occasion for some major beaconary – as the photo on the right shows some were so big the plate camera could not see the top and show the bonfire builders clearly as well.

Beacons were organised for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver (1977) and Golden (2002) Jubilees.  This year the aim was to have 2,012 beacons lit around the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.  That target has been left far behind:  over 4,000 beacons are now registered with the Queen’s Pageant Master.

These includbrazier beacon brazier beacon e sixty beacons (one for each year of the Queen’s reign) along Hadrian’s Wall; a beacon on St Helena in the South Atlantic; and one at Treetops in Kenya where Princess Elizabeth was staying in 1952 when she heard about the death of her father, King George VI.  And they’re building a beacon in Gunjur in the Gambia which has had a thirty year link with Marlborough through the Brandt Group.

The chain of beacons will be completed at 10.30 pm in London when the Queen will light the national beacon at the end of the celebratory concert.

Some beacons will be the brazier type (see left) – and this year there is a gas-fired version which is safe enough to install on church towers.  Marlborough’s beacon will be a huge bonfire some eight to ten metres high, designed to burn for a long time.


 

Watch this space for more news about the Marlborough beacon.

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St Peter’s Church hosts brilliant young pianists in new festival series for Marlborough

 Charles Owen (pictured) is an internationally renowned concert pianist, but his first experience of appearing before an audience was in Marlborough when he was nineteen.   Since then he’s played for Marlborough audiences fourteen times.

Now he’s Professor of Piano at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and wants to give some his best pupils the chance to share in the Marlborough audience experience.  So, working with Nick Maurice and with David Du Croz of the St Peter’s Trust, a new music feast has been planned.

A unique series of recitals will showcase some of the new generation of virtuoso concert pianists.

From June this year through to June next year five star pupils aged between fifteen and twenty-six and a group of Suzuki students will have the chance to follow in Charles Owen’s steps and play at St Peter’s – on the newly restored piano.  The series will open with a concert by Charles Owen on Sunday, June 17.

Charles Owen is certain that his Marlborough concerts gave a tremendous start to his career.  And he has been able to play programmes here before his big recitals – giving Marlborough audiences sneak previews of his national and international performances.

He has a busy diary: in March he has recitals in Rome, Teramo, Arezzo, Trinity College, Cambridge and the University of Leicester.  At St Peter’s Church in June he will be playing Schumann’s Carnaval and JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  You can get a sneak preview at www.charlesowen.net

The concerts will raise funds for two Marlborough-based charities the Marlborough Brandt Group (MBG) and BUILD.  MBG looks after the town’s link with Gunjur in The Gambia and supports development projects there – such as malaria eradication, health education and employment for women.   BUILD is a national organisation encouraging links and partnerships between communities and institutions – from schools to hospitals to local authorities – in the United Kingdom with communities and institutions in other countries.

Five of Charles Owen’s students will be playing in the series:

Ashley FrippAshley FrippAshley Fripp’s recital on Sunday, September 23 will include Bach’s French Suite No 5, Rachmaninov’s Ten Preludes and Brahms’ Vier Klavierstucke.  He has been described by the New York Times as ‘disarmingly precocious’ and has already played at most of the prestigious venues in this country.  Hear Ashley play here

 

 

 

 

Mai Charissa Tran RingroseMai Charissa Tran RingroseMai Charissa Tran Ringrose who was born in 1996, started playing in France aged five and continued studying when her family moved to Thailand.  She now studies at the music conservatoire in Vannes as well as with Charles Owen.  At her recital on Sunday, December 16 she will be playing Beethoven Chopin, Faure and Mendelssohn.

 

 

 

 

James KreilingJames KreilingJames Kreiling will play at St Peter’s Church next year on Sunday, January 27.  He will play Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Ravel’s Miroirs, Debussy ‘s Image, Book Two and Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, op 111. Apart from being a student of Charles Owen, James has also been taught by John York and Martin Roscoe.
Hear James play here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mishka Rushdie Momen plays on Sunday, February 17 – her recital includes Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, a Schubert sonata, Ravel and Chopin.  Mishka was the youngest pupil to be accepted at the Purcell School and is now a postgraduate student at the Guildhall School.  She won the Chopin Prize at the EU piano competition and in 2003 took first prize in the Leschetizky Concerto Competition in New York.
There’s more about Mishka here

 

 

John Paul Ekins’ recital is on Sunday, April 14, 2013. He graduated with First Class Honours from the Royal College of Music in 2009, won a scholarship to study under Charles Owen at the Guildhall School and graduated from there last year with Master of Performance (Distinction.)  He will play Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Mozart’s C minor Fantasy and Scriabin’s 4th Piano Sonata.
Check out John Paul’s website here

 

 

 





The series’ finale will bring a group of seven young Suzuki piano students from London to St Peter’s on Sunday, June 30, 2013.  Aged between five and fifteen they will represent the next generation of Britain’s concert pianists.

Tickets for each recital in this major new series will go on sale six weeks before the event at:
*  The White Horse Bookshop (136 High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1HN),
*  Sound Knowledge (22 Hughenden Yard, High Street, Marlborough, SN8 1LT)
or from the Marlborough Brandt Group (01672 861116 or The Dutch Barn, The Upper Office, Elm Tree Park, Manton, SN8 1PS with SAE.)

Tickets are £10 for the Charles Owen concert and £5 for each of the other concerts in the series.   In addition there will be a retiring collection for the two charities.

(Charles Owen photograph is copyright John Batten Photography.)

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