Thursday, 1 June 2017

Get ready for NewburyFest 2017!

11 June - 23 July

Celebrating all that is good about Newbury, summertime’s NewburyFest is now in its sixth year. This is the event that takes over the town with fabulous, fun activities for all the family. Just some of the events this year include:

11 June: Boules in the Square
Newbury Rotary bring Boules in the Square to Newbury Market Place in this tournament which is now a much anticipated annual event on the town’s calendar. It’s great fun to watch but also a great opportunity to take part, including for local businesses and groups. Further information from

3–9 July: Shop Local Week
Many people enjoy living in or visiting a town with independent shops, restaurants and businesses, and they are an important part of our street scene here in Newbury. Shop Local Week is an opportunity to celebrate the independent retailers who help to make Newbury the special town it is. Everyone is encouraged to support them by making a determined effort to ‘shop local’ for a week, and make it a regular habit.

4 July: Independents’ Day
As part of Shop Local Week, Independents’ Day (in line with American Independence Day) is a double whammy of a celebration applauding our independent businesses. Let’s all wave the flag for Newbury’s great independent retailers!

9 July: Day of Dance
Hosted by local Morris dancing side the Garston Gallopers, the tradition and heritage of Morris dancing is celebrated in style on this Day of Dance in Newbury. If you might want to become a Galloper yourself, musicians and dancers can contact the Gallopers via their website:

15/16 July: Jazz & Blues Festival
A weekend of excellent music is in store with Newbury’s very first Jazz & Blues Festival. Taking place in the Market Place on the Saturday evening 6–10pm and on the Sunday afternoon/evening 2–8pm, this is a great event for all generations to enjoy together – and it’s FREE! Take time to enjoy a drink or meal in one of the many restaurants and bars in the area while appreciating an array of amazing talent promised in the programme which features everything from modern and contemporary jazz through jazz/blues fusion to high-energy electric blues and more melancholic, traditional blues music that celebrates its roots. Appearing are: Bob Long Trio (Saturday: 6–7pm); Andy Kennedy Quartet (Saturday: 7.15–8.15pm); Robin Bibi Band (Saturday: 8.30–10pm); Rag & Moan Men (Sunday: 2–3pm); Fleur Stevenson (Sunday: 3.15–4.15pm); Chicago 9 Blues Band (Sunday: 4.30–5.30pm); Ma Bessie (Sunday: 5.45–6.45pm); Jon Walsh Trio (Sunday: 7–8pm).

16 July: Newbury Carnival
Whoop whoop! It doesn’t come to town every year, so when it does the Carnival really brings out the crowds and is cause for celebration! The Carnival Parade starts at 2pm as the procession wends its way through the town centre to finish in Park Way, followed by the traditional Carnival Fete in Victoria Park, with live music, stalls, activities, rides, food and drink. What a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon with friends and family!

23 July: Waterways Festival – Beatlemania
Kennet & Avon Canal Trust presents the 2017 Newbury Waterways Festival to be held at Victoria Park. This year’s theme is ‘Beatlemania’ which is surely an opportunity to spot some fantastic yellow submarines! The Acoustic Beatles Shambles will perform, and there will be food and drink, stalls and entertainment to be enjoyed by the whole family.

23 July: Get Active Day
Roll off the couch, pop on your trainers and get along to Northbrook Street 10am–4pm for a chance to unleash your inner ninja! This is an opportunity to try out all sorts of exciting activities, including a ninja assault course and face-to-face climbing wall. Meet members of local sports clubs and associations to find out more about what they offer to get the whole family active.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Newbury Market Place is the place to be on the weekend of 15 and 16 July when it will be pumping and jumping, swinging and swaying with the mellow, soulful, exciting sounds of the town’s first ever Jazz and Blues Festival. And what’s more it’s a FREE event!

The Jazz and Blues Festival starts on the evening of Saturday 15 July, 6–10pm as the sun goes down; on Sunday 16 July the show starts in the afternoon at 2pm, closing at 8pm that evening.

In its excellent central position, with loads of popular places on hand to enjoy drinks or a meal, this is a great event for all generations to enjoy together, and an array of amazing talent is promised in the programme which features:

Bob Long Trio (Saturday: 6–7pm)
The Festival opens to the exciting sound of the Bob Long Trio. You can look forward to a mixture of original compositions and jazz standards from the 1950s and 60s, performed by veteran jazz musicians from San Diego, Chicago and New York.

Andy Kennedy Quartet (Saturday: 7.15–8.15pm)
Regulars on the Basingstoke and Southampton jazz scenes, these musicians are known for playing modern and contemporary jazz standards in energetic and adventurous style. Taking their lead from such artist as Herbie Hancock, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker and Miles Davis are Andy Kennedy on saxophones, his father Mike Kennedy on piano, Brian Throup on upright bass and bass guitar, and Damian Hayes on drums.

Robin Bibi Band (Saturday: 8.30–10pm)
Robin Bibi is recognised as one of the UK’s top blues/rock guitarists. Having paid his dues working with such names as Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Ben E. King, The Pretty Things and Helen Shapiro, he launched his own band in the late 1990s. Blues and jazz fusion come together in the band’s feel-good concoction which will make this a night to remember.

Rag & Moan Men (Sunday: 2–3pm)
Acoustic blues and beyond are brought to you by Martin Wood and friends who as the Rag & Moan Men play at various venues throughout Berkshire and North Hampshire. Expect their take on sounds from such legends as Muddy Waters, Furry Lewis, Blind Willie Johnson, Bob Dylan, Tampa Red, Van Morrison, St Louis Jimmy, Howlin' Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, J.J. Cale, Jimmy Reed, alongside some of their own songs.

Fleur Stevenson (Sunday: 3.15–4.15pm)
Alluringly graceful and charismatic, Fleur Stevenson is one of the new breed of jazz singers. She is known for her scat singing and passionate interpretation of jazz classics, and with influences including Carman McRae, Shirley Horn, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Chris Connor she performs a modern take on a variety of much-loved jazz standards, Latin favourites and vintage-flavoured originals. She enjoys collaborations with many wonderful musicians and has performed for many different events at venues across the UK, including the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.

Chicago 9 Blues Band (Sunday: 4.30–5.30pm)
Chicago 9 is a four-piece blues band whose main influence is the electric blues of Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. Their heroes include Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Magic Sam and Sonny Boy Williamson but their set also includes their own original compositions. This is one no-fuss, high-energy, 21st-century blues experience not to be missed.

Ma Bessie (Sunday: 5.45–6.45pm)
Julia Titus as Ma Bessie celebrates Bessie Smith, the American blues singer nicknamed Empress of the Blues. Today Ma Bessie delights in bringing the music of Bessie Smith – one of the greatest singers of 1920s and 30s – and her contemporaries to a new audience.

Jon Walsh Trio (Sunday: 7–8pm)
At the Festival finale expect the best of the blues from the Jon Walsh Trio (JW3), comprised of three long-time musicians and friends – Jon A. Walsh, Bill White and Dave Laing – who have been playing together since the 1980s. Specialising in original music and acoustic covers of singer/songwriter classics, the trio’s ethos is ‘less is more’ and playing the essence of beautiful songs is what it’s all about for JW3.

Monday, 3 April 2017

NEWBURY SPRING FESTIVAL: Bollywood to Hollywood and Beyond 6–20 May 2017

Whether you love a bit of Bollywood or if Hollywood is more your scene, or if your musical preferences lie somewhere else entirely, Newbury Spring Festival 2017 is sure to have a show for you!

Newbury Spring Festival brings to Newbury and West Berkshire a fabulous fortnight of world-class music in Newbury and its neighbouring villages, with over 40 events in venues ranging from Newbury Corn Exchange to Highclere Castle and from village churches to Lord Lloyd Webber’s private chapel.

Now in its 39th year, the aim of the Festival is to bring excellent, new and innovative work from around the world to the local area, creating opportunities for young people, existing and new audiences to enjoy the arts.

The Festival is renowned for bringing together an exciting mix of musicians and musical entertainment. Every year international symphony orchestras, ensembles and soloists rub shoulders with jazz legends, choirs and children’s entertainers, and this year brings together a particularly exciting programme, with something to suit every musical taste.

So – Bollywood, Hollywood or something else entirely? On 19 May Bollywood Brass Band delights with six hot horns and four funky drummers, blending hot Hindi film hits with riotous Indian wedding music and Punjabi beats for a uniquely ‘London’ take on this popular music genre. On 20 May Hollywood comes to town in the shape of Matt Ford and his show, ‘Close to You’, an evening of songs inspired by Sinatra’s legendary collaboration with the Hollywood String Quartet. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra perform on the opening and closing nights respectively, whilst versatile singing group VOCES8 and award-winning Brodsky Quartet come to two local churches – VOCES8 to East Woodhay on 10 May and The Brodskys to Shaw the following evening.

The name Dankworth is legendary, and the jazz bassist son of John Dankworth and Cleo Laine brings his band Alec Dankworth’s World Spirit to Arlington Arts Centre on 18 May, while Northumbrian folk music and traditions are heralded on 16 May at the Corn Exchange when Kathryn Tickell and The Side perform a show featuring evocative slow airs that could break your heart followed by dizzying jigs and reels.

The delightful musical comedy ‘Betty Blue Eyes’ is staged on 12 May; based on Alan Bennet’s award-winning film ‘A Private Function’, the story is based in 1947 and is about a pig named Betty who is being reared illegally for a very special event, with hilarious consequences!

With 2017 being the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, there are three Austen-inspired events, including an adaptation of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ narrated by none other than film-star Hayley Mills, with music by Carl Davis, on 7 May.

Particular events to appeal to children include Dr Dee’s Daughter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with live music, puppetry and storytelling on 13 May. In addition, Travelling By Tuba brings a world of musical instruments and fun (watch out for the exploding tuba!) on 20 May. Adults who love fun with their music are sure to enjoy Worbey & Farrell on 9 May – internationally acclaimed pianists with a wicked sense of humour!

With young emerging artists an important part of the Festival, the Young Artists Lunchtime Recital Series is a series of six concerts, three of which star young men with local links: trombonist Michael Buchanan (8 May), Benjamin Cunningham (12 May) and Leo Popplewell (17 May).

Tickets for the shows are at varying prices to suit most pockets and some performances are even free for children. A special opportunity for those aged 15–30 is the Young Festival Critics scheme –register to attend a show completely free of charge and write a review; on top of this, all reviews are entered into a competition to win £100.

This is truly just a taster of all that Newbury Spring Festival has to offer: check out their brochure for details of all the other delights at