Chord Spring Edition 2014 Issue One Free
Ben Russell and The Charmers Kent’s biggest reggae band talk naked fans and losing teeth
Ones to watch Maidstone’s newest talent
Stringing together Maidstone’s music
Chord. Spring Edition
Chord. Spring Edition
Hello and welcome to the first ever issue of Chord!
Chord is a free quarterly online magazine exposing you to the Maidstone music culture supporting musicians from Maidstone and all across Kent. We let you know what events are coming up and what bands to look out for and what music you should be listening to! Chord gives musicians, fans and live music lovers from across Kent the chance to support each other and find out how the Maidstone music scene is developing. These days music fans are sometimes so engrossed on what they see on the music channels or talent shows, they forget about the evolving talent at their fingertips and Chord aims to bring back the awareness without having to post a selfie wearing no make up onto Facebook. In this Spring issue we spoke to three bands who have upcoming shows in the county town. Two who are quite well known and have been on the scene a while – Ben Russell and The Charmers and One Day Elliot - and one band, SNIDE, who have come back on to the scene after a small hiatus. We have also brought you the latest news which shows how Maidstone students are breaking into music and bands you should look out for who have just burst onto the scene. Over the past few years the our music scene has slowly improved with the opening of new venues and many new musicians are jumping out. We are looking at how the Maidstone music scene has improved and what it can do to improve even more. We hope Chord can help bring in more supporters as often local bands do not get enough recognition for their hard work and amazing talents. Whether you are into pop, punk, rock, reggae, RnB or disco, Chord can guarantee we will have a feature to suit your taste as Maidstone is bursting with a variety of musical talents and genres.
Canterbury-based reggae band BRC have been smashing the Kent music scene for four years now and they are just getting started. Read Chord’s interview with Ben Russell and The Charmers on page 9 and our review of their single on page 5.
4 Find out what is happening in your town. Reviews.
5 We look at the best venues, songs and bands in the county town
We look forward to seeing you in June!
6 The biggest events this spring
Ones to watch.
Above: Out of Fashion playing at Rafters event on St Patricks Day weekend
Chord speak to SNIDE who have recently come back together after a small break
We spoke to One Day Elliot following the release of their album.
9 BRC have made it big in Canterbury and are reaching out to Maidstone
After a successful performance at Beluga Bar Maidstone on 15 March, Ms Dynamite will be returning to the town during the Fringe Festival to perform at the Source Bar. (Left)
One Day Elliot have been a successful local band for 15 years now and have just released a new album
RoKoKo (above) performed at The Rafters Raise the Roof in March along with Out of Fashion, but who did Chord like best? And who do we think dressed the best?
The Maidstone has changed over the past few years and Chord looks at how this has happened and how it will continue to improve.
Find out when and where you can see Zane Lowe on page 6.
Look out for the second issue out on the 31st June!
Chord. Spring Edition
Maidstone student manages local talent A Maidstone student is now managing a local upcoming teenage band who recently played the 02 academy, Islington. Chris Hutchinson, 20, from Maidstone is studying mystic practioner with independent college group Supajam in Tunbridge Wells and has recently taken over as manager for four piece band Tempests who recently released their first self-titled EP. “Managing them is stressful but good, I push myself as a manager to get the boys where I want them to be,” Chris said. “They have got
the talent and I have got the contacts.” The Tempests formed around six months ago and consist of four band members aged between 17 to 18, Tom, Elliot, Makill and Danny. Previously Elliot managed the band before Chris took over in February. “I like having a manager for the band,” 17-year-old bassist Elliot Morgan said. “It takes the stress off of our backs.” Kent gig review website, GIGgle pics, describes the Tempests as a band that “transports you back to the nineties.” The band describe
for the students that shine as this is the next wave of talent and there are plenty of job opportunities coming through for those that want them.” David co-founded Supajam with Nick Stillwell in 2008. From this year the music collective will be helping to organise the weekly event. Supajam have been supporting emerging bands over the past six years and have partnered with many festivals to showcase new talent such as Hop Farm Festival and Benicassim festival. They also find bands to play the MTV EMAS and in the past, the 2012 London Olympics. The three hour Show Us Yer Guns event showcases four different bands each week for a small entry free of £5. Supajam are bringing the students to the Forum to see how they work in a real environment. Maidstone Supajam student, 19-year-old Kelsey Roche, is working on the event. The forum are con-
Ben Russell and The Charmers - Always Summer Somewhere
Ben Russell and The Charmers create original feel-good reggae. Their latest single, Always Summer Somewhere creates a happy, chilled-out vibe and the perfect song to listen to over the next few months to get you in the mood for summer, even if we do not have much sun this year. The catchy chorus will get you singing and make you want to get out those shorts and shades! The band combine their vocal and instrumental talents to create a professional sound proving the Canterbury based band will go on to more successes and continue to transfer their happy vibe everywhere they go. The song gives you an instant buzz and there is no way you can fault it, you will definitely have it on repeat. You also will not be able to get the song out of your head, with its simple lyrics but unique beat it is a song you cannot forget. Always Summer Somewhere is different to anything you will hear in the charts at the moment and also something different to anything other Kent-based bands have produced. Check out our interview with Ben Russell and The Charmers on page 7.
The Tempests have burst onto the Maidstone scene and exploded
their influences as Arctic Monkeys, Oasis and Blink 182 and focus their music on teenage blues such as love, girls and partying. The band have played Maidstone venues Earls, Rafters and Stepping stones. They said they love to play their home town for the crowd and because all of their friends are there. On Valentines day they played the 02 academy in
Islington and now they hope to expand from Maidstone to other Kent towns. “We are going to do a lot more events from Canterbury to Rochester so more people can hear the music and see the band play,” Chris said. “We also might be doing some work with local charities.” The band are now looking to play festivals across the UK and Europe this year. They will be playing Maidstone Fringe Festival this May.
Supajam are helping create music careers for youngsters Local music collective Supajam are helping to boost music careers for young people by giving students the opportunity to organise events at the Tunbridge Wells Forum. Students from the local area who are studying with independent music collective for bands and fans, Supajam, based in Tunbridge Wells, have been given the opportunity to help run a series of live shows at NME awarding winning venue, the Forum, called Show Us Yer Guns. The event showcases Kent’s best musical acts each week and this new project is helping to develop more jobs for young people in Kent. “It is fantastic working with the Forum. The people behind the Forum are some of the nicest in the industry and they are fully behind getting the Supajam students into putting on these events,” said David Court, joint CEO of Supajam “Not only that but we all have one eye out
Chord. Spring Edition
Album: Ben Russell and The Charmers
Out of Fashion vs. RoKoKo. 15 March 2014 - The Rafters RoKoKo
Out of Fashion
Each week at Rafters’ Saturday event, Raise the Roof, three bands take to the stage. Maidstone band Youthblood headlined the venue on March 15 and Out of Fashion and RoKoKo supported. Out of Fashion are a five piece rock/indie band from Maidstone and RoKoKo are a three piece rock band from Medway. Out of Fashion took to the stage first at 10pm for their 30 minute set. The audience could tell by front man David Glennon’s shirt that their name, Out of Fashion, probably was based on their fashion sense because his look was well, out of fashion (see page 2) but this did not affect his performance. David had a great stage presence and you could see in his movement he was passionate about the music he was singing yet it failed to get the audience moving. You could see David oozed with confidence and his facial expressions showed how much each song meant to him. Unfortunately the guitar was too loud and the vocals were difficult to hear. This seemed to knock the confidence of the audience as they stood back in the darkness of the venue and watched instead of coming forward and embracing the rock. It was only after a minute into each song the audience were able to identify what song they were playing. An audience favourite appeared to be their song Dreams, their latest single which they recently performed live on KMFM radio show, as then a few heads began to nod and toes started to tap. However, as soon as RoKoKo took to the stage the audience livened up. Maybe this was after a £3 cider or two but their stage presence was undeniably enthusiastic which brightened the audience too, the band and punters bouncing in beat to each track. Starting with a cover of Same Jeans, originally by The View, really pumped up the audience creating an electric atmosphere. The sound also was much more identifiable and every word from a Brit-pop inspired song vocalist Kirk Taylor sang could be heard. Each song was upbeat with a strong bass and this was obvious to the audience as soon after they entered the stage the audience moved nearer towards the front and a group began to dance along. Their performance ended on a high with a standing ovation from those who were too comfortable on the Rafters sofas to get up and dance.
Wonderland Nightclub Maidstone Gig: Rafters
CEOs Nick and David (right) have recently starting teaching at Supajam
tacted by bands who want to perform at the shows and Kelsey is one of the students who reviews the bands and picks who goes forward into the shows. “In all honesty it is amazing being able to work so closely with this great venue, As a member of a band who played here, it is a big thing to get the pleasure of playing the Forum, let alone actually
helps keep the shows going and contributes to the continued success of the venue,” Kelsey said.“For some bands, Show Us Yer Guns could be the break they need.” If your band would like to play at one of the Show Us Yer Guns events send an email to showusyerguns@ gmail.com. The next event will take place on April 3.
Once you have finally passed the three flights of stairs and escalator you will finally reach the world of Wonderland. The pumping music as soon as you enter the venue and the purple enchantedly decorated walls makes you realise this place is like no other, it really is a Wonderland. The bar decorations such as a ‘DRINK ME’ and ‘EAT ME’ ornaments and a dummy model dressed in an blue Alice dress fits the Wonderland theme perfectly. The mirror decorated walls and chandeliers surrounding the dance floor screams elegance making Wonderland the perfect place for a champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget as you can grab a bottle of house bubbly for just £10. It depends which day you go but you are sure to find a night to fit your music taste. On a Thursday they run SOAP, a pop, rock night with each week having a different theme. Think free Krispy Kremes, fish and chips and a bucking reindeer. Each week there is something new and crazy for you to experience. Every Friday their Pick n Mix event is aimed at a different audience, one week it could be indie, urban OR house. Saturday nights are the busiest for the venue where they almost fill their 1800 people capacity with two rooms open. Head to the room Yesterday for RnB and kisstory style music or venture into the Today room to be blasted with commercial house music. The nightclub is beautifully decorated and you can sit down and relax in one of the multicoloured booths or dance the night away on the dance floor which hosts one of the best light and sound systems in Kent. Each Saturday the Wonderland team put on a different light show which will blow you away. Chord gives Wonderland Nightclub Maidstone four out of five stars. You lose a star for making our legs ache with all those stairs!. Prices vary per event for Wonderland so it is best to check their Facebook Page: Wonderland Nightclub Maidstone. They offer a variety of cheap drink deals and cloakroom costs £1.50 per item.
What’s on 6
Chord. Spring Edition
L!sten 2014 Grand Final – Pizza Express Maidstone - 12th April @ 7.30pm
A talent show in aid of Kent Air Ambulance is a competition for singer-songwriters which has toured Kent looking for local talent and the grand finale will be in Maidstone. You can buy tickets from the venue.
Landed - Millennium Park - 20th April @ 11am
An all day outdoor house music event in Millennium Park’s amphitheatre. Tickets can be bought off their Facebook:
LANDED - Millennium Park Maidstone.
Maidstone Fringe Festival 2014 – Across many venues - 1st May - 5th May – All day
The five day festival is coming back to the county town this year and playing across a variety of venues celebrating the diversity of music.
Event of the season Zane Lowe
Where? Wonderland Nightclub Maidstone When? 5th April @ 10pm
Ms Dynamite – Source Bar - 3rd May @ 10pm
SNIDE - PAGE 8
Ones to watch One Day Elliot Page 10
Something for you RnB fans! Ms Dynamite, who recently featured in DJ Fresh’s famous song Dibby, will be coming to Maidstone.
Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle - Hazlitt Theatre - 23rd May @ 7.30pm
Scouser Mitch comes to Maidstone to show his love of music and fellow Liverpudlians, The Beatles. Mitch does not put on a tribute show but has been called the fifth Beatle. Buy tickets on www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk.
The worldwide famous BBC Radio 1 DJ will coming to Wonderland for an exclusive DJ set. Zane was recently in charge of revealing the 2014 Leeds and Reading festival line up on his radio show. Earlybird tickets are currently available from Wonderland office or website for £5.
Live on the couch – Stepping Stone Studios – Every Thursday 4pm - 8pm
Stepping Stones brings you a bunch of soothing artists playing you live music to get you ready for the weekend!
John Gomm live in Maidstone – The Rafters - 5th June - 8pm
Named a genius by Stephen Fry, the singer-songwriter will be returning to Maidstone for a ticket only event. You can buy tickets from the venue or from www.boxofficediva.com for £10.
Roller Disco – Mote Park Leisure Centre – Friday 13th June – 6pm
This is an enjoyable event for everyone, including families. Have fun skating around whilst listening to some old classics. Skates and safety gear are included in the price. Call 08451 552277 for tickets.
Leeds singer John Gomm will be at The Rafters
Ben Russell and The Charmers Page 9
Our recommendations this season
Chord. Spring Edition Chord. Spring Edition
Ben Russell and The Charmers
Originally forming in Spain eight years ago, Kentbased band SNIDE have been bringing in lovers of punk rock from all over the South East to their shows. Roxii Hoare-Smith spoke with bassist and backing singer Nobby about spooky coincidences, falling onto drum kits and Kent’s punk scene. SNIDE consists of five members aged between 29 and 50, Nobby being the oldest who turns 51 this June. SNIDE consists of five members aged between 29 and 50, Nobby being the oldest who turns 51 this June. In SNIDE there is Lou on vocals, Ray playing lead guitar and vocals, Rob on rhythm guitar, Scruffy on drums and Nobby. Nobby describes the band’s music as punky and rocky, “fastish with some kind of tune,” he says Nobby describes the band’s music as punky and rocky, “Fastish with some kind of tune,” he says and when we chat the band are yet to play their first gig together after only recently forming in December. Nobby originally grew up and went to school in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex but moved to Maidstone 20 years ago to live with his wife in Parkwood, Maidstone. He has been playing music since he was a child and currently tours with his two bands, both based in Maidstone, which he formed – SNIDE and Vince Vortex and The Cucumbers – around the UK. The original SNIDE line up formed eight years ago in Spain. Nobby first got involved by answering an ad in local English weekly newspaper in Spain. “A guitarist had just moved out to Spain where I was living for a little while with my wife and he was looking for musicians. The spooky thing was, we both started work at the same place the same day too
before we knew of each other,” he says. Unlike Maidstone, the music scene in Spain was really dire, Nobby, says it only consisted of karaoke or one man on guitar with some backing tracks and tribute bands. By forming SNIDE they wanted to give the area something different. “We thought we would start a punk covers band. Unfortunately, the word ‘punk’ still scared the
up with playing empty venues up and down the country. Their new plan for 2014 was to stay local as Kent has a very strong punk scene at present. Although this plan has been altered after being offered gigs they could not refuse in Skegness and Houghton Regis. The future is looking bright for SNIDE and Nobby hopes to continue to tour and possibly record new songs.
time playing in Romford when past vocalist Tom got a bit too excited on stage. “If you are in a band, there are so many fun times, but I guess the two times we still look ‘New age’ Canterbury based reggae band Ben Russell and The Charmers regularly play popular Maidstone venue The Rafters on weekends back and chuckle about “You learn quickly spits you out.” The Charmers is the one is once our then vocalist Their name is no lie. The music Ben Rusabout jealously and that Ben refers to The Beafor you. Their 40 minute, Tom, got a bit excited in sell and The Charmers create is rather you can never change the tles song ‘In The End’ and nine track album is now his movements on stage, charming. It is relaxing, feel-good, ‘new haters and we wouldn’t the particular lyric ‘and in available on Amazon. tripped backwards over want to go to their level. the end, the love you take Beware their music a cable and fell into the age’ reggae. Their music instantly proThe people that matter is equal to the love you is addictive and by the drum kit mid song. Luck- vides you with a happy summer feeling, know the truth, so it was make’. end of the album you will ily the drummer was not it feels as though it is time to go outside just powerful lesson for “That to me sums it most likely have the altoo phased, did not miss us really,” Ben says runup, what ever you put in, bum on repeat. a beat and carried on!” and start that BBQ, even if it is raining. ning his fingers through you get out,” he adds. Check out of review Nobby says. Their music is difing in the Catherdral City his long brown hair, If you are looking for of their song Always His second funniest ferent, it is something he formed Ben Russell again showing that not a new summer playlist Summer Somewhere on memory was at a bikers unique, something that and The Charmers (BRC). only is his music relaxed, then Ben Russell and page 5. pub in Spain. German has not stepped out of BRC have had their so is he. bikers walking into the Maidstone or Kent bememorable moments. BRC have many gigs bar, ordered their drinks, fore. “We have had full lined up across Kent, insaw them sound checkThe band consists of frontal nudity exhibitions cluding playing the Maiding then left. Ben Russell, who refers from the punters both stone Fringe Festival in Being in a band cre“They complained we to himself as Papa Smurf, male and female May. They have also been ates a strong community. were too loud! Oh dear!” and his seven Charmers “Once we played a gig in the studio recording Nobby says the best part Nobby says. who are aged between and a bunch of Gypsy’s a new 15 track album about being in SNIDE is You can check out 20 and 30. Mel the band crashed the venue and which will be released mostly the punk comSNIDE on Facebook for manager who plays keys we got asked to play this spring. Their website munity as many bands upcoming events: Face- and sings and who Ben UB40 Cherry Oh Baby is currently being created help out each other and book.com/pages/SNIDE. is engaged to, Kev on about 20 times,” Ben and they are planning a bass and vocals, James says. “We have had gigs tour around the UK. The the drummer and dep so rammed with people future is looking charmdrummer Brian. The band that I have nearly lost ing for the band. just employed Tenor Sax my teeth from the mic “I’m am truly grateful player Danny, Tom on stand being constantly that I can do this for a Trombone and Matt on knocked.” living, so I guess if I can Trumpets for when they But just like their feel continue it then I will be play larger shows. The good chilled out music, happy,” Ben says. band originate from Canhis personality is the Ben adds that being terbury but are no stransame, “But hey we love in a band is probably one gers to Maidstone venue it!” he says, even at the of the hardest things you The Rafters, which is one thought of having his can do hence why so litof their favourite venues teeth almost knocked tle become successful. to play. out. “It is like being marBen Russell, who In a band there are ofried to all the members,” writes all the bands muten lessons to be learnt, he says, although for him sic, originally moved to as they worked out a and Mel soon this will be Canterbury from Australfew weeks ago from a the case. ia where he grew up as a rude photographer who “When you are a child leaving his reggae left offensive comments weekend band, its fun. band Pontoon behind. about them on social netBut when you gig four to He moved to Canterbury working site Facebook five times a week and run in November 2010 to live after offering the band it as your only income, with his British girlfriend, a free photo shoot then you need to be clever, now fiancee, Mel, who he demanding a fee from otherwise the industry is in the band with, and them, which they refused just chews you up and Front man Ben Russell is originally from Australia The new SNIDE line up played their first show together in February at a Deptford pub after just one week of beto pay.
“Punk scared the locals”
locals, and gigs were almost impossible to get,” Nobby says. “Many venues even refused us to play when we arrived as we would upset the regulars.” As they could not play in their local area in Spain, they wrote their own material and played Spanish venues on which he calls, the ‘real’ music circuit. Eight years later the Maidstone-based punk rock band, with just Nobby as the only original member, play shows around the South East. So far this year they have played a show in Deptford which was their first gig with the new band line up, and have gigs coming up in Canterbury and Houghton Regis and as far as Chapel Saint Leonards near Skegness for a three charity event for the homeless. SNIDE disbanded over a year ago after seven years together, mostly due to getting fed
there is a strong network. A previous band member mentioned that he was shocked how friendly and appreciative the punk bands and crowds were. This was something he had not experienced when working with metal bands. When asked about the bands friendship and how they get along Nobby, who appears to be extremely stubborn and secretive, simply replies: “You can make your own conclusions...” As with many local bands, full names and how nicknames and band names came about, they are reluctant to tell. When asked what Nobby Snide’s real name is he replies “Why do you need to know? It’s not necessary, and people in music only know me as Nobby,” Showing that his hard punk rock persona maybe isn’t just for show. Nobby talks about a
Chord. Spring Edition
One Day Elliot Following the release of their third album, Maidstone lads One Day Elliot spoke to Chord about catching on fire, being paid in beer and arguing over the Star Wars prequals. Local boys One Day Elliot have had a successful 15 years by supporting big acts such as Feeder and The Blackout. They have played over 800 shows across the UK as well as touring America twice. The pop, punk and metal band released their third album, Mastering the Art of Self Preservation, at the end of last year. One Day Elliot, who are all in their 30s now and have been friends and band members since they were teenagers, sing all original songs. The band got together when Paul and past band member Jamie met at Maplesden
Noakes school in Maidstone and used to write songs together. Jamie is no longer in the band but his little brother Pud is. The band consists of singer Paul Richards, guitarist and backing vocalist Crooks, real name Richard Crooks, drummer Dan Purton and past Maidstone Grammar School boy, bassist and backing vocals Pud, who has been known to everyone as Pudding Greenlees since a teenager. Vocalist Paul is reluctant to explain how the band got their name. “It came about by accident, but the final story is
The band in the States. From left to right, Paul, Crooks, Dan and Pud.
a secret – sorry!” he laughs. But he does admit one reason they started the band was not only because he had always been interested in performing to people and writing songs but because he noticed that people he knew in bands always had much better looking girlfriends. However it is just band member Dan who is married now. Crooks has a girlfriend but Paul and Pud are unfortunately – or fortunately for fans – now single. Although there may be the opportunity for better looking girlfriends it doesn’t mean they don’t get crazy stalkers just like any other band, but that just comes with the fame but Pud says it is probably the worse thing about being in a band. “I think one of the reasons we’ve been going for such a long time is the fact that we get on so well. There is plenty of banter between us but never any serious arguments. We are all good friends,” Paul says. “We have the best arguments, because they are about irrelevant and pointless things like the quickest way to get home or whether the Star Wars prequels should have ever existed. We seem to agree on the important stuff though,” Dan says. Pud says his favourite
memory was setting fire to himself at a past Maidstone show at the Union bar and that same night his dad had to pick him up to take him home. “We used to get paid in beer and this time everyone else was driving so I drank about 3 crates to myself. I accidentally set myself on fire with my lighter but luckily I or no one was hurt! I actually can’t remember most of the evening - My Dad had to come and take me home, he’s a dude,” Pud says. However Paul’s favourite memory is their first tour in the US where they played shows all over the American Southwest which he says were possibly the best three weeks of his life. They were able to visit cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, LA, Hollywood and San Francisco. Dan said their next goal would be to play stadiums but for now the band continue to write, record and perform. “It’s nice that people enjoy it and we totally appreciate all the support we get from anyone that comes to a show or listens to our stuff. As long as it’s still fun, we’ll keep going,” Paul says. They will be playing shows across the South East throughout April but return to Maidstone on May 2 for a gig at Earl’s pub in Earl Street.
Chord. Spring Edition
Chord. Spring Edition
‘Our music scene will rise’ Maidstone is not well known for its music and doesn’t have a strong musical past like other Kent towns but in recent years our music scene has been booming and it looks like it is here to stay, Roxii Hoare-Smith explains why. In the past it was mostly in London where the music scene developed yet the unique historical city of Canterbury progressed rapidly in the 60s’ and became a popular live music town and today it remains the same. ‘The Canterbury Scene’ which began in the 60s’ and moved onto the 70s’, is said to have influenced sound around the country. Now many English towns and cities are buzzing with their own music scenes and it seems as though Maidstone has joined them. In recent years Maidstone has seen the opening of new live music venues such as Stepping Stones and The Rafters and new bands are constantly coming out of Maidstone. Google ‘Maidstone live music scene’ and the page fills with recent gigs, future events and popular venues in the town but we do not see a thing about its past, Google Canterbury and you cannot get enough of it. Ellie Goulding was founded in Medway whilst studying in Canterbury and enjoying the music scene there, regularly performing. It could be possible that Maidstone may be the new Kent town for talent and sound, we could even find the next Ellie Goulding in our little town. With the opening of new venues and new events being organised in the town, the music scene is currently striving and shows real potential. Zoe Sparkle is production manager at Maidstone’s newest live music venue The Rafters. The late night venue opened in 2012 as a place to go in the town that was not so mainstream as other clubs and bars. The venue, in the centre of town above restaurant Flaming Henrys located in the High Street, is a large venue which hosts a
variety of bands from all over the country each weekend. The stairs lead you up to the brightly lit room which buzzes from the sound of the band and the loud and lively atmosphere. It creates a small community amongst live music lovers in the local area whatever your age. Zoe also organises annual festival Maidstone Fringe Festival, which sees local bands play a variety of venues across the town over May Day weekend each year. Zoe sees Maidstone has recently opened a lot of services for musicians in Maidstone which is helping to improve live music in the area. “There is a lot of music in Maidstone and
what goes on around their town musically. Unlike most Kent towns in Maidstone you can guarantee you will find somewhere any night of the week to see live music as many of Maidstone’s pubs are popular with local bands. This has been happening in the town for many years however with the expansion of new live music venues, there are now even more opportunities for live music events. “Places like Stepping Stone Studios are great for jams sessions and for musicians to meet up. But we need more encouraging of creativity at an early age such as more schools focusing on young people making their own music to improve the scene,” Zoe
Musicians travel from Belgium just for the music scene here
a lot of services available for musicians such as open mics, rehearsal rooms, gig venues and social spaces,” she says. “The most obvious way for me to see things are improving are the buskers. It feels like the town is more full of music now, and with live music events in the town centre it seems the council are relaxing much more and it is brightening up the town.” Live music in the town not only brings recognition to the local talent but it also creates a fun filled atmosphere moulding Maidstone into Kent’s new live music hotspot. Zoe believes Maidstone Fringe Festival has definitely helped to improve the scene as it showcases to the locals
suggests. Stepping Stone Studios is a unique and quirky cafe which opened in 2012. Originally opening as a volunteer run studio and art gallery it has expanded into a entertainment venue, bar and cafe situated down a little side alley off of Week Street. The secretive venue is no longer, well a secret, and is a popular day and night venue bustling with music and food lovers. The venue is not just known for their evening entertainment such as music jams, comedy and poetry nights but also their exquisite food and in the Alley Cafe in the venue which relaunched on 20 March serving sandwiches, salads and homemade savory snacks and cakes.
Stepping Stone Studios is a venue to check out for daily live entertainment and can be enjoyed by all ages (above) Kent is filled with music venues which Druids and Earl’s are two pubs located as well as talented artists to Maidstone so often feature concerts with well known on Earl Street which are popular with bands hopefully other places can do similar things names. A popular venue is the Tunbridge on Friday and Saturday nights and have and I believe it can help Maidstone rise with Wells Forum which has a similar capacity been familiar with locals for many years and the music scene but it will definitely take to Maidstone’s Rafters, 300 people, yet has help to encourage fans. some time,” he says. hosted many well known bands over the Although some see the scene is improvVenues have come and gone over the years which Maidstone has not yet done. ing, band One Day Elliot who have been years but with the opening of new venues “Tunbridge Wells forum has had the playing shows in Maidstone since 1999 do and new live music events such as indie likes of Foals, Enter Shikari, Mumford and not completely agree. Singer Paul Richards night Porkchop and Tiger happening at Sons as well as huge acts such as Oasis, says he and the band, being together over Wonderland nightclub, it looks like the Muse and Coldplay in the past. Maidstone 15 years, have seen Maidstone change a scene is starting to get back on track. has had no-one of that stature except for lot. He believes the town need more venues Apparently music makes flowers grow when Radio 1’s Big Weekend happened a and the reason why the music scene is not faster, so not only will more music in the few years ago,” says 23-year-old Freelance as large as it could be is because of the town centre create a bigger community and Videographer Matthew Bolton who often internet. happier people, it will also make the town works with Maidstone live music venues “I guess that there is more for people look nicer too. Two birds with one stone! Stepping Stone Studios and The Rafters. to do now that does not involve going out, “The Rafters does get good bands to play, what with the Internet and all,” he says. but it has the potential to have great bands “I would love to see more specific music and it would make a huge difference to the venues in Maidstone. We used to have the town as it would attract more people from Union Bar where touring acts could come other area’s coming down specifically to and play as well as regular shows for local see those acts.” acts too. We played there a lot. There are a In 2008 Maidstone hosted BBC Radio few places around town.” 1’s Big Weekend in Mote Park which was Union Bar, which was located in Pudding a hugely success weekend featuring big Lane, was a live music venue which shut names such as Adele, The Kooks and down a few years ago. Paramore. However since then the town However Matthew Bolton records and has not held similar shows or festivals, even films bands and artists at Stepping Stone though it was successful. Despite the lack Studios once a week and has seen musiof huge names which have played the town, cians travel to the town from Manchester Matthew agrees with Zoe that the scene and as far as Belgium specifically to see the has improved in recent years and there is town as they love the musical vibe which potential for the town. they have witnessed through social media. “Maidstone has always had good bands This proves the internet has not hindered playing in local bars and pubs like Earls but helped improve the local music scene. and Druids, but there is a lot of cover bands Through his recordings Matthew continues that play, and play well… however I think it to get the word out about the local scene is original music that can make the differthrough social media and Stepping Stone’s ence in Maidstone, and there seems to be a online live sessions. Matthew records video for local venues recent rise to an extent,” he says. “We have attracted audience members