It's a Wonderful Life…

…isn't it…?

Where on EARTH have I been?! September 13, 2012

Have I been swanning off round the globe? Have I contracted a horrific flesh eating illness that has prevented me from accessing my computer? Were my hands chopped off by rogue pirates?

Alas, no, dear readers, the reason I haven’t been able to keep you updated on my Wonderful Life of late is that I have simply been too busy spinning too many plates. We’re organising a charity fundraiser, you see: a Ball, in fact, (well, a less starchy affair than most people might envisage when we say ball) to raise funds and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Care Support. So, many a sleepless night has been had fretting about how this event is going to pan out with lots of jolting awake at 5am worrying about floor plans and welcome drinks and I’ve been so busy persuading some lovely local businesses to support us that I simply haven’t had time to blog. But we’re just 16 days til D-Day now so I figured I had better let you lovely lot in on it in case you wanted to come along: I’ll be doing a speech and everything (anyone who knows me well knows this is likely to be comedy highlight of the year considering my track record with public speaking)! What will this ball of ours look like I hear you ask, well:

Sessions House (our amazing, donated, venue) is a beautiful grand building with a red carpet entrance up a grand staircase. With a professional photographer (the very talented Ben Anker) taking photos in the sumptuous “members lounge” and vintage teas, coffees and cupcakes in the public gallery (very kindly being provided by the gorgeous Benny&Boo) we’d understand if you thought you wanted to stay there all night.

But there’s more: the mobile bar (provided by the lovely team at Mobile Bar Hire) will be on hand to mix you up a delicious special Macmillan cocktail, there is are delectable goodies to consume at the buffet (kindly donated by Maggies Cafe), our confirmed live music act (The beautiful songstress Andrea Magee) will blow you away with her voice and the prizes you could win in the raffle are not to be missed. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of so people who have made this raffle and silent auction a must-take-part. Some of the amazing donations we have received include:

A Pandora bracelet from the new collection worth £130

A week’s stay at a luxury apartment in Cyprus

A stay at a luxury Bed and Breakfast

Plus…

Two tickets to a Chelsea Champions League Match courtesy of Heineken UK!!!!

We do still have tickets available for just £15 per person so if you would like to attend this event or wish to hear more about our fundraising efforts please do get in touch with Lea or Karen at the Boots store in Fremlin Walk, Maidstone. Alternatively you can book your tickets online via:  http://www.bootscharityball.bigcartel.com/

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Interviewing Jay from The Find *again* lucky old me! August 15, 2012

Chequers_Fest_PosterHiya Jay, great to have you back on “It’s a Wonderful Life”, your last feature went down a treat so I can’t wait to hear all about what you’re up to this time. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions (again), nosy parker that I am: I just love keeping up with what’s happening with The Find.

Q. So, how did New to This Solar System (the event I last interviewed Jay for in aid of Breast Cancer Care) turn out?

It was a very well organised and successful event. They had a great turn out and the theatre was a great venue to play at.  I am still waiting to hear how much we all raised in the end but a lot of friends and family came down to support us and Breast Cancer Care. It’s a great cause.

Q. I hear you are doing another gig for charity this weekend, can you tell me a bit more about this?

I was asked to help organise and play at a music and beer festival at the Chequers Inn which is in Heaverham on the 18th August. It’s a lovely little country pub with a huge piece of land on the side of it. I asked Dave, the landlord, whether I could turn this into a fundraiser if I could get sponsorship for the stage and sound. It’s now turned into a big event in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. We have a hog roast, BBQ, bouncy castle, face painters, main stage and acoustic room kicking off at 3pm. The whole of my community has been very supportive and I have booked some great acts including the Skinny Machines who played with us at Cornbury Festival this year.

Q. So why is GOSH so important to you?

My little girl has a condition and Great Ormond Street have been amazing: myself and a few of my friend’s children have been to GOSH and they are a great cause for Children.

Q. It sounds like a really great time will be had by all (all those that are smart enough to go along of course), what other events have you got coming up soon?

I guess the next big event will be our EP launch which is currently on hold due to me having another little baby due to arrive in the next four to five weeks.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Yes if you are in the area Saturday please come down and support us for a very special day. I know the staff and the children of GOSH would be most grateful. I have booked some great acts and if you love music and want to see some great unsigned talent perform see you at 3pm.

Oh and the event is free all I am asking for is a small donation on the day. It will be a great day out.

 

Thanks again for spending time with my readers and I, break a leg for Saturday night and I look forward to being able to update everyone with more of your exciting events!

 

The Dog that Doesn’t Speak English July 8, 2012

I may have mentioned, once or twice, that my parents have a penchant for rescuing waifs and strays. This week I have received a constant stream of hysterical text messages from my mother. You see, she decided, this time, to rescue a dog from a group of ex pats out in Spain who have been lovingly rescuing and nurturing some very sad cases of animal cruelty and neglect. This dog hadn’t been neutered and, despite only being a baby herself, had gotten caught out and ended up with a litter of mouths to feed. My Mum took pity on this little being and decided she should come and live with us.

Bonita – means “pretty little one” in Spanish

 

Text message received after Bonita’s first night in her new home:

She’s following me everywhere like a lamb. Poppy [my dog] hates her. She has chased the cats out of the house and won’t let them back in the garden. She won’t listen when I tell her to stop

Text message returned:

She doesn’t speak English, what do you expect?

Text message to Mum the next day:

How are you today, much sleep? Still hysterical and a silly English woman getting between a dog and her toys?

Reply:

No. Yes. She’s been on the roof.

My response:

HAHAHAHAHA. You mean the house roof don’t you? How did she get there?

Reply:

Yes. Landing window was open.

Text message back:

Senorita Bonita thinks she can fly. Nuhnuhnuhnunnuh BAT DOG!

That evening, to calm my Mum’s hysterics about having this loony puppy that doesn’t speak English climbing on the roof, we went out for a walk. Surprisingly, the expected arch enemy, Poppy, actually rather likes bat dog now and they walk along side by side like the best of friends.

However, our nice, peaceful walk was interrupted when they both tried to give chase to a pair of wild bunnies lolloping merrily across the golf course. And then.

SQUIRREL

SQUIRREL.SQUIRREL.SQUIRREL.

Turns out our little Spanish one is quite fond of a squirrel. Sees them everywhere in fact. If you have ever seen the film UP you will understand what I mean when I say that she is every inch Dug the Dog.

 

I have also been obliged to point out that it’s very much a “dogs and their owners” thing as she displays “squirrel” tendencies on occasion: breaking off midway through a conversation and interjecting with an entirely unrelated topic. Anyone who has read my post “My Boyfriend Has Renamed Me Jim” will understand exactly what I’m talking about here.

SQUIRREL

 

There, undoubtedly, will be more to follow on the adventures of the dog that doesn’t speak English so stay tuned, lovely readers J

 

Interviewing Sarah Lillie July 5, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

Hi Sarah! I’m so excited to see you perform live at New to This Solar System tomorrow night; thanks so much for finding the time to answer my questions

Q. Tell me, how did you get started?

A. Guitarist Ben Hood and I met at Southampton University and have been performing together with drummer Rob Austen since we graduated last July. For the Sevenoaks Festival, Ben and I will be performing as a duo.

Q. So, what you do for your day job?

A.  I live in East London and work as a professional singer. Aside from Ben’s solo work, he also works as a professional songwriter, singer and teacher.

Q. And, how did you get into music?

A.My Dad, Grandparents and Mum were all music lovers, so my sisters and I played music and sang from an early age. Ben has been a songwriter for many years; since watching blues-guitar band Divided by Three with his Mum in concert.

Q. Aside from the love of music, do you have any other creative outlets?

A. We both love cooking, Ben makes incredible paella and I bake most days. I love my knitting, painting and writing too.

Q. Do you have any particular musical inspiration?

A. We’re both big fans of Elbow; their music, lyrics and production are all incredible. I listen to a lot of the female jazz singers including Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London and am greatly influenced by music and instruments from China, India and Africa.

Q.   So, what’s your mission for your music?

A. I’d love to travel with my music, and learn to play more instruments and techniques from different cultures.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you or given you great advice to get where you wanted to be?

A. I met an incredible musician called Rob Greenfield at my secondary school who encouraged my singing and song-writing, he will always be a musical inspiration to me.

Q.   Tell me a bit about your history as an artist?

A. I’ve led several acts and bands since school. Then, at University I began performing with Ben, we’ve been gigging, writing and recording together since. We play with friend and drummer Rob Austen and have begun rehearsals with bass player James Williams. We’ll be performing with cellists, a keyboard player and percussionist for some of the upcoming Summer gigs.

Ben joined a band at University and, since graduating, began performing his own material with them. He’s now recording his debut solo album with the same group of musicians.

Q. Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A.Selling out Ronnie Scott’s Bar and the Jazz Club Soho earlier this year with Ben and Rob are two incredible gigs we’ll never forget. One of my most memorable performances however, was a spontaneous, wine-fuelled jazz gig in the crammed cellar of a piano bar in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The owner of Aux Trois Mailletz  invited me to sing with the world-famous house band, it was brilliant.

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A.We’re performing at a new festival in Benenden on 10th August called Jack’s Festival, and again at Local and Live Music Festival at The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells over the August Bank Holiday. We’re in the process of recording for release later this year. Ben’s also been recording his solo album ready for Autumn 2012.

Q.How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A.We met Steph when lead singer of The Find, Jay, invited us to perform for Breast Cancer Care earlier this year. It was a wonderful gig for a brilliant campaign.

This is the first time we’ve been involved in the Sevenoaks Festival so we’re really excited to be performing this year.

And I’m sure everyone is really looking forward to seeing, what is sure to be, a stellar performance tomorrow night at Sevenoaks School for the Breast Cancer Care Benefit Concert. It’s been lovely getting to know Sarah Lillie and I wish you all the best for tomorrow evening.

To all those that are thinking of attending, tickets are available on the door and you are guaranteed to have an amazing night of music whilst raising funds for a very worthwhile cause. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

 

Interviewing Amy Coulshaw July 3, 2012

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I have been interviewing the performers listed for the New to This Solar System concert at Sevenoaks School this Friday. Today, you can read my interview with Amy Coulshaw.

Hiya, Amy, thanks very much for giving up your time to answer my questions: I know you are extremely busy at the moment but it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to get to know you before the Breast Cancer Care Benefit concert.

Q. So, I would love to hear a bit about your background and how you got into music?

A. I live in Kent after moving up from Devon three years ago following a mixed bag of destinations growing up: spending the majority of my childhood in Brunei. It was here that I first started training classically as a singer at the age of six.  Having spent several years working professionally as a performer and singing teacher I have since begun a career in childcare which I love but I still take any opportunity I can to help out at charity events with my music!! I have always had an incredible passion for music, especially singing and have done since I was a toddler. I could barely speak but always managed to sing nursery songs!  This passion is even stronger today and I spend a lot of my spare time playing the piano, singing and writing songs.

Q. Is there any one in particular that has inspired you to keep singing?

A. My family have been the inspiration behind my music as, if it wasn’t for their love and support and belief in me, then I wouldn’t have been given some of the amazing opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have.

Q. So, having spent most of your life as a songstress, are there any particular stand out events that you have been asked to perform at; or anyone you have worked with that has been memorable?

A. I have been lucky enough to perform at some incredible events; the most recent being a spring ball at the Honorary Artillery Company house in London in aid of Help for Heroes. In terms of working with someone; as a classical singer, a real highlight for me was when I was given the opportunity to have a master class with Benjamin Luxon and perform with him!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. After moving up from Devon, I initially got a job working in Fatface in Sevenoaks which is where I first met Steph [for those of you that haven’t yet read my previous posts, Steph is the organiser of the Breast Cancer Care event that Amy will be performing at this Friday]. Steph is an inspiration for all women who suffer with breast cancer and is the reason I support and care about such an important and incredible charity. Steph soon found out that I was a singer and straight away put her faith in me asking me to perform at the annual BCC event, even though she hadn’t heard me sing (I did point out that I might be awful but she still went ahead anyway even asking me to do it the following year!) It’s because of these events that Steph asked me to perform at New to this Solar System, which I am honoured to do.

Amy, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you in action this Friday. Thanks again for your time. I hope some of my readers will come along and lend their support to your cause.

 

Interviewing Dan Clews July 1, 2012

Once again, lovely readers, I have a fantastic blog guest for you! I interviewed Dan Clews to give you all an insight into the artist before he performs at the New to This Solar System event next Friday.  Dan is donating his time and his musical talent to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Care at the Sevenoaks Music Festival event. For anyone that wants to see Dan (or any of my other New to This Solar System guests) in action; I’ve been told there are still tickets available.

Dan tells me that his day job, fortunately, largely revolves around: playing music, teaching music and recording music. He also mentions that he sells the odd Christmas tree [I, for one, will be asking him more about this on the night]. Dan has always been surrounded by music as his father is also a musician and he tells me it was a natural progression for him to follow that path too. When I ask if he has any other creative outlets, Dan tells me that he has a huge interest in music videos.

Q. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Dan! So, tell us, who are your musical inspirations?

A. Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan did I mention Paul Simon?

Q. What is your mission as an artist?

A. To play music that makes people feel like they’re not alone.

Q. Have you had any set backs in getting where you wanted to be?

A. Always, it’s not for the faint hearted, but I love what I do.

Q. Is there anyone in particular that inspires you or gives you great advice to get where you want to be?

A. My wife and my son – always.

Q.  Are there any especially memorable gigs you have played?

A. I’ve done Local & Live in Tunbridge Wells and I also played on the Arctic Circle once.

Q. Have you played at any particularly outstanding venues?

A. Definitely: playing at the Hammersmith Apollo and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire were real highligh

ts for me.

Q. I’m sure my readers would love to know about someone amazing you have performed with?

A. I recently played a duet with Tim Minchin in front on 5,500 people! That was pretty amazing!

Q. Do you have any future developments my readers might like to know about?

A. Well, there’s the Secret Garden Party on the 21st of July, Local and Live 2012 on the 25th of August, Over The Moon Festival on the 16th of September. Plus, as of recently, people can also find me on iTunes!!

Q. How did you end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. I believe Cancer is personal to everyone: I don’t know any adult that’s not been affected by it in some way. I met Steph at one of my gigs and we got chatting about her events. I’ve lived in Sevenoaks most of my life

Thanks, again, Dan for taking the time to answer my questions: I’m sure my readers are now all looking forward to seeing you in action at New to This Solar System on the 6thJuly – and so am I!

 

Interviewing Jay from The Find June 27, 2012

A Musical Benefit in aid of Breast Cancer Care

I really do get the best interviews: it’s true. Today’s was conducted in a lovely quaint village pub beer garden in glorious sunshine! Now, I wasn’t really there for the atmosphere: I was there to meet a very interesting person – only one of the members of the band that opened on the day His Royalness – PRINCE performed at the Hop Farm Festival last summer! So, how did it come to be that I was sat in a pub beer garden chatting to Jay about where his band had been and where it was going? Well, following my interview with Steph [see previous post: What on Earth IS New to This Solar System?] we thought it would be a grand idea to give you all the opportunity to get to know the acts that will kindly be donating their time and talent to the event in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

It turns out that Jay actually works full time for his own Digital Recruitment agency, whilst also writing music for the band (and supporting many a charity with their appearances) PLUS having a little blonde cherub in tow (who merrily rides round and round on her scooter while we chat) AND being 12 weeks away from being a second time Dad (something he is clearly very proud about) so he’s a busy chap indeed. Jay tells me how he and his partner decided to move away from the hustle and bustle of London life to raise their family and despite having lived in the area for just four years every single person that passes by the pub garden says hello to jay . He explains this by saying “music really reaches out to people”.

Q. So, whats’s the story behind The Find? How did you come up with the name? How did you meet? What has been the mission driving the band forward?

A. Well, we got together about two years ago and had spent about a year trying to come up with a name that really fit with the band’s image. A friend of mine happened to comment that we were “such a good find – you should easily be able to come up with a name” and it was pretty much settled then that we were The Find. We believe a band’s name is so important as it’s how people follow what you do: I mean, Elbow is a pretty obscure name for a band – but they are also one of my favourite bands.

How did we meet? Well, a good friend of mine (whose uncle happened to be in the Hollies) invited us down to the studio for a session: the person we had lined up as our drummer fell through but, as it turned out, that was our gain as it just so happened that the sound technician was a drummer himself *enter Adam* and Chris we advertised for in the Lonely Hearts column [chuckles here], okay I’m kidding, but we did advertise for him. Alex is a very good, old friend and happens to be a bit of a legend! Its great working with people that really challenge you: the guys are always pushing me to sing in a key I wouldn’t have gone for but they can just get such confidence out of me. I’m always pretty nervous when it comes to entering the studio: especially when I’ve just written something new but they support me straight away. They genuinely are such great musicians and friends to work with.

We totally believe that music brings people together so we’ve performed a lot of gigs in aid of charitable causes including: Shooting Stars, Childline, and Breast Cancer Care [the band spent last weekend performing at a festival in aid of stopping violence]. There is always such a great energy at a charity gig. [As we’re chatting about this, the Landlord of the pub comes over and asks Jay what he thinks of his new pub furniture and to ask him if he would perform at the pub sometime soon. Jay immediately suggests that they arrange something that will also raise funds to support a local charity.]

Q. So, any highlights of the band’s performances so far? Most outstanding gigs played?

A.  Outside of The Find’s achievements I have to say that it was a massive opportunity for me to play at the O2 with my previous band. Plus I’ve also toured with TAKE. THAT. Amazingly, last year, The Hop Farm Festival organisers actually asked us to perform. It then turned out that they wanted us to open on the day that Prince performed! We’re playing at this year’s Cornbury Festival too!

Q. Does the band have any future developments such as gigs, new music releases or press features they would like readers to know about?

A. Well, the band’s goal has always been to get one of our own songs into the soundtrack of a film. And we’ve just gone and achieved that goal! Our song L.A. will be featuring on the soundtrack of a film called Welcome to the Punch, produced by Ridley Scott and written and directed by my good friend Eran Creevy. The film is being released later this year: so watch this space! This summer we will be launching our EP, independently of a record label. We’ll be going on a mini tour to reach a wider audience and will be looking for great support slots: this EP is a massive achievement for the band. We’ll be visiting festivals and handing out our badges and our cards: we’ve been really lucky with the amount of support we have received so far. Our next step is to shoot a music video. We do have such a great local network though that we’re keen to launch everything from here.

Q. So, how did The Find end up involved in New to This Solar System and fundraising for Breast Cancer Care?

A. We did an event at The Stag Theatre in Sevenoaks where we met Steph who we I got chatting with. We later did an event at St Cleres Estate that raised £3,500 and so now we’re performing at the New to This Solar System event. My dear friend Anne has suffered with Breast Cancer so raising awareness for Breast Cancer Care is very important to the band.

Thank you so much, Jay, for taking the time out of your hectic schedule to answer some of my questions and I really look forward to seeing The Find in action on the 6th July at Sevenoaks School!

If you would like to witness The Find in action you can get your ticket for just £10!

The Find features:

Jay Scott – Vocals, Guitar,

Chris Lukins –  Keys, Guitar, backing Vocals

Adam Smyth – Drums, Backing Vocals

Alex Kennard – Guitars