Get ready for Readipop

Karen Neville

music

The friendly music festival is back in Caversham with another great line-up

Reading’s friendly homegrown music and arts festival is back at Christchurch Meadows from 12th to 14th July.

And this year Readipop Festival is set to host the biggest line-up yet including headliners the Brand New Heavies, Sleeper and The Orb.

Reggae chart toppers Musical Youth and 80s Indie group The Primitives also feature alongside Fuzzbox, Mark Chadwick from The Levellers and Mark Morriss of The Bluetones.

Grammy nominees are set to rub shoulders beside artists behind almost 80 top 40 UK hits, Radio 1 and 6Music staples as well as a huge range of local Reading acts.

In addition to the music, there’ll be circus performances from Aim to Fly UK and workshops, an Indie market courtesy of Etsy and Thames Rivercruise boat trips to enjoy as well as much more.

All profit from the festival goes to help Readipop’s charity music projects in the area.

Readipop works to make a positive difference to people’s lives by developing creativity and developing communities. Their work often includes reaching out to socially excluded people and emerging artists.

The charity, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, offers a variety of projects for young people including sessions with experienced mentors, intensive week-long courses for NEETs and a range of workshops. It also offers programmes in primary and secondary schools as well as projects for adults and older people such as community bands, choirs and bands for retired people and concerts in care homes.

Weekend tickets for Readipop Festival are £40, with day tickets from £18 to £23 available until 30th June (under 14s free with adults).

Find out more

For more information and to get tickets visit the Readipop website

 

Bjorn Again

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Bjorn Again are set to shine at the black-tie cultural extravaganza that is Henley Festival on the banks of the River Thames, between 10th & 14th July

One of this year’s headline act started out with a pub gig in Melbourne which had an audience of 350, from just a chalkboard outside the pub that day in 1988.

Scripted and choreographed as a tongue-in-cheek satirical parody of ABBA, the show rapidly achieved cult status. Having been acknowledged by Bjorn Ulvaeus as being the show which single-handedly initiated the ABBA revival in the late 1980s early 1990s, the Bjorn Again show is hailed as the most popular and successful show of its type. Now, just over 30 years later Rod Stephen, who founded the group brings Bjorn Again to the Henley Festival.

Growing up in Australia, who was the first band Rod remembers following and seeing live? “I was probably more into the rock scene than music like Abba,” he says. “The main group who I liked at the time started off as a New Zealand group Split Enz (you probably know them better as Crowded House); it was not just their musicality and vocals, but also, they opened my eyes to the theatricality of pop music. I remember seeing them once live and the entire stage looked like a front room, the keyboard player was playing with a standard lamp behind him.”

So, how did the idea of an ABBA parody band come about? “It was 1988, and none of the groups I had been in amounted to anything. I felt like doing something different and thought of a parody band. I had three choices, Queen, The Beatles or Abba, growing up in the 1970s I had the flared trousers so picked Abba. I got together a group of musicians and we spent months rehearsing and watching videos of Abba, then came our first gig. It was at a pub in Melbourne, and the only publicity was on the chalk board outside, “Abba tribute band here tonight”. We had 350 people in, they couldn’t hold any more! We were invited back the next month, and before we knew it, we were performing quite a few nights of the week in either Melbourne or Sydney and the media picked up on us.”

Is this your first time in the Thames Valley, or indeed floating! “I think it is the first time we have appeared at the Henley Festival, and we’ve performed on floating stages though I hope it doesn’t put us too far from the audience. We did make an appearance just up the Thames at the Reading Festival in 1992. I had this call from my agent to say we were needed to play the Reading Festival, and I said needed, why? Apparently, it was one of the late Kurt Cobain’s requests that we open for Nirvana. It was a great gig and that night we really rocked the Abba hits. To this day, I can still remember the cheers of the crowds.

What can the crowds at the Henley Festival look forward to? “All the great well-known Abba hits and some of the others they can sing along to. With Bjorn Again in authentic costumes, hopefully we can get everyone dancing in the aisles.”

Henley Festival

Bjorn Again are on the floating stage on Saturday, 13th July; visit the website

Make Music Day

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Hit the right notes with Make Music Day

June 21st is the longest day, so what better way to mark the extended hours of daylight than as part of a worldwide celebration of music. 

Make Music Day was launched in France in 1982, it is now held on the same day each year in more than 1,000 cities and towns in 120 countries. 

Make Music Day is unlike any other music festival – it is open to young and old, amateur and professional, to play music of any genre. People gather in public places, on streets, in parks and porches to share their music and it’s all free and fun. 

There are several themes for this year including electronic music, music in libraries, performing in rural locations and sharing it online and performing the Make Music Day anthem, Morecambe & Wise’s Bring Me Sunshine where musicians are encouraged to perform weird and wonderful versions in unusual places. 

Abingdon is hosting a variety of events to celebrate Make Music Day starting with a drumming workshop at Abingdon Library at 2pm. From 3.30pm, there are music workshops in the Guildhall Rooms including song-writing, ukulele, fiddle playing, singing and body music.  

A range of local musicians will take to an outdoor stage in the Market Place from 5-9pm and in the evening the music will spread to the local pubs and venues with a blues jam, a band night for teen artists, acoustic acts and more – and all for free! 

Join accordionist Pete Watson at Oxfordshire County Library, Queen Street, Oxford, for a live performance in your lunch time from 12.30pm-1pm. 

All that is needed to make music happen is you

So if you want to take part, either as a performer, an event or a venue – click below for more information about the day and how you can get involved. 

Abingdon’s big party

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Hundreds will be looking forward to enjoying the popular Fun and Music in the Park on 1st June

Abingdon’s popular Fun and Music in the Park returns to the historic Abbey Gardens on Saturday, 1st June with a variety of entertainment for the whole family.

The grounds will be full with rides, stalls, face painting, street food, live music and dance, bouncy inflatables and loads more free activities to keep you enthralled all day.

Fun in the park is a free walk-in event from 10.30am to 3pm and open to all.

It’s also a great opportunity to find out about some of the wide range of local societies and community groups in and around Abingdon and they amazing work they do and how you can get involved.

From 5pm until 10pm, Music in the Park takes over with some fab local bands including Jake in the Duke Box, Nevada, Fallen Angels, The Voodoo Penguins and Hope and Glory, taking to the stage.

Take along a picnic and enjoy dancing on the grass before a proms style concert by Abingdon Town Band accompanied by fireworks to make the evening finish in a very special way.

Music in the Park is entry via wristband only with sales online and over the counter at Roysse Court from 1st May. On this day too, there will be an early morning celebration of May Day in the Abbey Grounds.

Abingdon Town Council, which organises the event is reminding revellers to take all litter home with them after the fun ends.

For more information contact the council on 01235 522642 or visit Abingdon.gov

Let’s Rock the Moor

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Get ready to rock the moor in Cookham

It’s festival season and there are so many to suit every musical taste – if retro style is your thing then Let’s Rock The Moor in Cookham is for you.

Celebrating 10 years this year, Let’s Rock The Moor began in 2009 as a charity event attended by 1,200 people and headlined by Nick Heyward (who remains part of the Let’s Rock family). In 2019, almost 10 times that audience will be treated to non-stop entertainment and hits from many of the biggest names from the 80s including Erasure’s Andy Bell, Marc Almond, Shalamar, Jason Donovan, Go West and Nik Kershaw.

This is the first of 12 Let’s Rock festivals taking place over the summer, expected to attract in excess of 150,000 party goers who will be entertained by some of the biggest names of the era, with different line-ups.

Let’s Rock organisers Nick Billinghurst & Matt Smith said: “We’re really proud of what we’ve created with Let’s Rock and it’s such a thrill to work with so many iconic artists.

“What makes Let’s Rock truly special is our amazingly loyal and up-for-it audience, and every year we strive to improve their experience. Here’s to our best Let’s Rock summer yet!”

Let’s Rock continues to work with many amazing charities including Child Bereavement UK, The Wooden Spoon, and The Link Foundation. They also work with local charities wherever possible. To date almost half a million pounds has been raised for children’s charities by The Let’s Rock brand.

Let’s Rock is a family-friendly festival; children can enjoy complimentary activities within the ‘Kids’ Kingdom’. For adults, there are multiple bars and a ‘Club Tropicana’ VIP area, plus of course the all-important posh loos.

To find out more and book tickets go to Let’s Rock the Moor

Abingdon Jazz Festival

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Jumping for joy at Abingdon Jazz Festival

Jazz is alive and well in Abingdon this month when the town plays host to the Abingdon Jazz Festival courtesy of the Friends of Abingdon and Music at the Unicorn.

The festival will take place throughout the town centre including the ancient Long Gallery of the old Abingdon Abbey Buildings from 10th to 12th May. The festival will include at least eight main concerts in the centre of town.

This year’s artists will include Art Themen, Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble, Fleur Stevenson Trio, Funk Bake, New Jazz Sextet and many many more.

Themen will be well known to many music fans of all genres, over his long career he has played with Rod Stewart, Alexis Korner, Joe Cocker and Long John Baldry among others.

Gilad’s music is more of a cultural hybrid, he merges the music of the Middle East and Eastern Europe with jazz and contemporary music.

Exciting modern jazz ensemble Thixoitropy will play new compositions as well as some of the standards; the Fleur Stevenson Trio features one of the new breed of jazz singers and with the Alvin Roy Quartet, The Heavy Dexters, Funk Bake and the New Jazz Sextet there really something to suit every jazz buff.

Chairman of Friends of Abingdon, Brian Brown said they are delighted to be preseting the festival. He added: “The festival will be centred in the Friends’ medieval and atmospheric Abbey Buildings plus other buildings throughout the town. Great musicians, wonderful acoustics ad lots of fun.”

Michael Ward, chairman of Music at the Unicorn called it a “celebration of brilliant live music with something for everyone”. He said: “A third of the events are free so if you’ve never experienced live jazz before this is the event for you.”

Art Themen

a celebration of brilliant live music with something for everyone

For more information and to book tickets visit www.abingdonjazzfestival.org.uk 

Learn to Play Day

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music

Photo credit: Indigo James

Pick up an instrument and Learn to Play this weekend for free

Feel there’s a budding Eric Clapton or Charlie Watts just trying to get out or maybe you just want to give your guitar or drumming skills an outing? This is the perfect opportunity to give it a go…

Share in the joy of music on Learn to Play Day – actually two days – Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th,  as venues all over the country encourage thousands to pick up and play a musical instrument, whether you’ve never played before or once did as a child this is your chance to have a go for free.

The event has been running for eight years and in that time music shops, teachers, venues and schools have given tens of thousands of free lessons, including 10,000 last year alone.

Learn to Play Day (or two days to be precise) is run by charity Music For All and supported by a host of big names including Jools Holland, patron of the Music For All charity.

“I’m delighted to lend my support to National Learn to Play Day on March 23rd and 24th,” says Jools. “It’s a pleasure to be able to share the joy of music and this special day allows thousands to get involved as venues all over the country offer music lessons for free.”

Jazz star Jamie Cullum is another supporting the event. He says: “National Learn to Play Day gives everyone a chance to play an instrument, even if they’ve never played before. This wonderful day introduces thousands to the magic of music making, and often reunites people with a lost passion for playing. Get involved and perhaps discover a skill you thought you didn’t have.”

Spreading the joy of playing an instrument is the key element of the two days, as Music For All CEO Paul McManus explains: “While we all may have different tastes and preferred genres, there is no doubt that music is something that is universally loved around the world.

“Our Learn to Play Day events are all about spreading the joy of playing and inspiring those of all ages to take up something that will not only have health benefits for the future, but that also brings so many people together.”

Other Music For All ambassadors include Rick Astley, Aled Jones and Gareth Malone and who knows this could be your first foray into following in their footsteps!

Photo credit: Brian Slater

Photo credit: Alan Fletcher

There are various locations where you can begin your musical journey across the region:

Hickies Music Store, Reading 0118 957 5771
Hogan Music, Newbury 01635 37868
PMT Oxford, Cowley Road 01865 725221
Langdale Hall, Market Square, Witney 07904 397603
Archway School, Stroud 01452 330300
ACM, Bridge Street, Guildford 01483 501212
The College of Richard Collyer, Horsham 07470 964369
Westmount Music, Marlow 01628 481510
Unity Centre, Balham 020 8672 8095
Musicroom London, Denmark Street 020 7632 3950
Yamaha Music London, Wardour Street 020 7432 4400
PMT Music, Clerkenwell 020 7253 3283

Henley hits a high!

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As the UK’s only black-tie festival, Henley Festival, between 10th and 14th July is glamour personified, offering Michelin-starred food, award winning comedians, critically acclaimed artists and the biggest names in popular, world, jazz and classical music.

Many festival goers arrive by boat, and the green lawns of the festival are transformed into a Great Gatsby vision, as black tie clad revellers spill across the festival site, champagne in hand, while fireworks explode overhead.

Established 37 years ago as a classical music charity event, Henley Festival continues to be run on a not for profit basis supporting charitable projects at both a national and local level. This year grants from the festival will go to two charities. Dedicated to supporting young people with depression, and encouraging discussions around mental health, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up in memory of a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. The Teenage Wilderness Trust supports students who find it difficult to engage with mainstream education by offering reengagement courses using bush craft, wilderness learning techniques and practical life skills to encourage students to get back into learning.

Pop icon and mega star Boy George will open the festival on Wednesday 10th July night. Universally recognised as one of the music scenes most iconic artists Boy George was recently presented with the Ivor Novello lifetime achievement award.The new-wave legend will bring his extravagant showmanship to Henley to kick start UK’s most dazzling festival weekend of the year.

On the Thursday night, multi-platinum selling artist Jessie J will return for the first concert of a three-year retrospective bringing back some of Henley Festival’s most popular artists. On Friday night, the festival audience are in for a treat as Brit Award and Ivor Novello-winning songwriting sensation Tom Odell takes to the floating stage.  In a Henley Festival first, Friday night’s performance by Tom Odell will be followed by a DJ set on the floating stage by the legendary Jo Whiley! Bringing you all the best tracks from the greatest decade for music, think Blur vs Oasis, Fatboy Slim, Primal Scream, The Verve, The Chemical Brothers, Faithless, The Prodigy and a whole lot more.

If you love Mamma Mia! Saturday night is for you, as Henley Festival welcomes the internationally acclaimed BJÖRN AGAIN show. Designed as a rocked-up light-hearted satirical ABBA spoof, the show rapidly achieved world-wide Cult status and acknowledged for singlehandedly initiating the ABBA revival which brought about ABBA Gold, Muriel’s Wedding and Mamma Mia! Hailed as “the closest thing you can get to seeing ABBA” by Benny Anderson himself, this brilliant band will bring the party and leave you with very sore feet! Henley Festival is delighted to announce that Classic FM’s popular film music programme Saturday Night at the Movies will be brought to life with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Pete Harrison, with guest soloists Johanna Röhrig (violin), Oliver Poole (piano) presented by popular Classic FM presenter Aled Jones. This special showcase will be filled with popular classical music used in iconic films from the past 50 years together with some of the greatest Oscar-winning original soundtracks.

The 2019 comedy line-up is set to be bigger and better than ever, with the likes of Ed Byrne, Andy Hamilton, Julian Clary and Murray Lachlan-Young among the biggest names of the 20 comedians performing at this year’s Festival. The comedy line up will also include a very special performance by the Richard Herring who will be recording the show for his podcast with Barry Cryer. One of Britain’s favourite comedians Julian Clary will also be bringing his jaw-achingly funny show to Henley. Brit pop era gem, stand up performer and poet Murray Lachlan-Young will present his latest stand up brilliance at Henley. After performing with the likes of Dita vo Teese and The Pretenders, Lachlan-Young’s set is not to be missed. In addition, up and coming comics including Vikki Stone, Kai Samra, Steve Bugeja and Luke Kempner will also be keeping audiences entertained.

Henley Festival’s very own Jazz Club in the stunning Spiegel Tent offers dining and live jazz music before and after the main headline act. Hailed as one of UK’s supreme boogie piano players after working with heavy weights such as The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, The Ben Waters Quartet will open Henley’s Jazz Club on Wednesday night with his delicious melting pot of musical influences. On Thursday night, The Dime Notes will bring their blues-drenched 1920s style New Orleans Jazz to Henley.

And there are loads more highlights including world and folk music in the Bedouin tent, Afrosamba are a Brazilian band covering styles such as Afro Brazilian Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova.

Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE will return to Henley Festival 2019 to run Europe’s biggest field restaurant, creating a bespoke menu exclusively for Henley, at the Riverside Restaurant. Angela Hartnett’s astonishingly creative, flawlessly executed dishes focus on purity of flavour and reverence for ingredients. A festival for food lovers, Henley caters for all tastes offering a huge number of restaurants and pop ups from street food to fine dining. Restaurant’s popping up at the festival will include Garden Bistro by Jimmy Garcia, Game Keeper, Halloumi Guys, BBQ Club and Snob Lobster, Hotel Chocolat, Jessecco Prosecco, Tonbo Japanese Kitchen and many more.

Artist duo Mike Blow and Alison Ballard will bring their unique British Arts Council backed audio visual installation Colony to the festival. Consisting of seven large spherical, sonic sculptures, the installation allow the audience to experience the physicality of sound through listening, touching, and hugging. Sculpture artists Brendon Hesmondhalgh and Laura Jane Wylder will also provide major works that will be placed around the festival site in addition to a plethora of galleries taking part in this year’s festival.

Henley Festival’s very own Jazz Club in the stunning Spiegel Tent offers dining and live jazz music before and after the main headline act. Hailed as one of UK’s supreme boogie piano players after working with heavy weights such as The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, The Ben Waters Quartet will open Henley’s Jazz Club on Wednesday night with his delicious melting pot of musical influences. On Thursday night, The Dime Notes will bring their blues-drenched 1920s style New Orleans Jazz to Henley.

And there are loads more highlights including world and folk music in the Bedouin tent, Afrosamba are a Brazilian band covering styles such as Afro Brazilian Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova.

Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE will return to Henley Festival 2019 to run Europe’s biggest field restaurant, creating a bespoke menu exclusively for Henley, at the Riverside Restaurant. Angela Hartnett’s astonishingly creative, flawlessly executed dishes focus on purity of flavour and reverence for ingredients. A festival for food lovers, Henley caters for all tastes offering a huge number of restaurants and pop ups from street food to fine dining. Restaurant’s popping up at the festival will include Garden Bistro by Jimmy Garcia, Game Keeper, Halloumi Guys, BBQ Club and Snob Lobster, Hotel Chocolat, Jessecco Prosecco, Tonbo Japanese Kitchen and many more.

Artist duo Mike Blow and Alison Ballard will bring their unique British Arts Council backed audio visual installation Colony to the festival. Consisting of seven large spherical, sonic sculptures, the installation allow the audience to experience the physicality of sound through listening, touching, and hugging. Sculpture artists Brendon Hesmondhalgh and Laura Jane Wylder will also provide major works that will be placed around the festival site in addition to a plethora of galleries taking part in this year’s festival.

And while the festival is an adult only event, Sunday daytime sees the festival turned into a huge playground for families and kids of all ages, with activities and entertainers, who captivate and enchant. 2019’s Family Sunday offers balloon making, glitter tattoos, music lessons, comedy for kids, toddler disco, choir performances. Comedian Murray Lachlan-Young will also be bringing his special performance of Modern Cautionary Tales for Children to Henley and Turn Around Theatre will be presenting the tale of The Thief, Fox and The Phoenix at the festival.

Birthday HuMP: Hurst Morris People

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Help Hurst Morris People (HuMP) celebrate their 30th birthday with a barn dance on Saturday, 2nd March and more…

Great live music from Chris, Patsy and friends and an easy-to-follow caller Howard Ballard are key ingredients for a night of celebration.

The barn dance will take place at Hurst Village Hall in School Road from 7.30pm (doors open at 7.15pm) and everyone is asked to take along a plate of finger food to share – and your own drink. HuMP will supply tea, coffee, squash – and a birthday cake! Tickets sold out quickly last year so do buy yours soon; they’re £7.50, with under-12s free; to buy please email [email protected]
There’s also a May Day celebration, on Sunday, 28th April, from noon at Hurst Village Hall. A maypole dance expert will show everyone easy dances to join in and you can take your own picnic. HuMP and other visiting morris dancers will perform and invite everyone to join in with a simple dance. Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be on sale and entry is free.

HuMP’s 2019 charity is Hurst’s own inspiring good cause, registered charity Just Around the Corner in Forest Road. More than 100 young people aged between six and 25 use JAC’s services every week. They are referred by Wokingham and Bracknell schools, social services, parents and by self-referral.

Music & more marvels

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Family-friendly Marvellous festival at Dinton Pastures Country Park over the weekend of 21st & 22nd July promises tribute acts galore and lots more!

Our respect for the talent of tribute acts has risen to such a point that whole festivals are dedicated to them. This certainly makes economic sense: in this time of austerity how else can you enjoy Tina Turner, Coldplay, Pink and Led Zeppelin in concert?

One of the longest running and best tribute festivals is the suitably named Marvellous which returns to Dinton Pastures Country Park near Hurst over the weekend of 21st and 22nd July.

Marvellous features 15 top tribute performers who perform their pitch-perfect imitations all over the world. On the Saturday you can have a fiesta with Oye Santana, listen to when Sting was great with Police Force and enjoy the sounds of Ed Sheeran (minus 100,000 screaming teenagers) in Jack Shepherd’s tribute.

Marvellous is well known for serving up an eclectic mix of musical genres and eras, and this year you will be right royally entertained by tributes to all your favourite artists and more as well as a second stage marquee featuring a plethora of unsigned local talent. Kids of all ages will find plenty to do with fabulous fairground rides as well as loads of free activities in the Big Kids’ Village – including balloon modelling, arts and crafts, games, and face painting.

New for 2018 is the Silent Disco tent where revellers wear headphones and can switch between two channels of music transmitted wirelessly to them by the DJ – great fun to do and to watch! The festival offers both day tickets and weekend tickets, camping and glamping packages.

Then there’s Sir Tom (Jones), P!nk, and Definitely Might Be (Oasis). That’s another great thing about tribute acts – you can watch unexpected reunions such as the Gallagher brothers or even reunions from beyond the grave in the case of T Rextasy who support Saturday headliners Ultimate Eagles.

On the Sunday the fun continues with Bruno (not Frank; Mars), Sounds of Simon (& Garfunkel), Boot Led Zeppelin, Typically Tina, The Fillers (The Killers tribute), Legend (Bob Marley tribute), and the headliner Coldplace.

Tickets for Saturday or Sunday cost £43 (£70 for the weekend) for adults, and £20 (£35) for children. If you plan to camp – or glamp! – then there’s an additional charge. For more details and to book visit: www.marvellousfestivals.com