Festival looking to be sell-out success

Catfish Keith
Catfish Keith

THE curtain goes up on the 41st Rye Arts Festival this weekend.

And this year’s Festival is already looking to be a huge success with some events sold out and others selling out fast.

The Festival takes place at a variety of venues throughout the town and runs until September 30.

British jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine is looking to be the stand-out show in the contemporary music programme, playing at Rye College on Friday 21st September.

Festival spokesman Andy Stuart said: “They don’t come much bigger or better than this jazz giant and the gig is a must for all those appetites have been whetted by the recent Jazz Festival.”

The contemporary Music programme gets underway on Saturday, with a gig by Plainsong at Rye College. The Folk-Rock combo, featuring Iain Matthews who had a No 1 hit single with Woodstock as part of Matthews Southern Comfort in the 1960s, is playing its farewell tour, so it is the last chance to see them.

Another highlight is US bluesman Catfish Keith, a singer/guitarist, who plays classics rural blues songs from before the War, and will be performing at a new venue for the Festival – Tilling Green Community Centre on Thursday September 27.

Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys have been playing country music with a dark side for the last three decades or so – at the same time as Hank has had a day job as a consultant gynaecologist! Check Hank and his posse out at the Community Centre on Tuesday September 25.

Pete Morton has been described as bonkers and performing a tale by Chaucer using songs by Bob Dylan does sound a little off the wall, but the talented singer/guitarist has had rave reviews by the likes of the Guardian and is worth seeing on Thursday 20 for an entertaining evening at the Community Centre.

Back for the fourth time at the Festival, and with just a few tickets still for sale for the gig at Rye College on Saturday September 22, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are real crowd pleasers. These maestros of the midget guitar perform everything from George Formby classics to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, by way of Joy Division. Last time they played they converted much of the Citadel to grunge.

And check out the programme for a series of free gigs by bands at pubs in and around Rye that form the Festival ‘fringe’.

Classical Music highlights include the internationally-renowned Zemlinsky Quartet who will be flying in especially from Prague to perform their only UK concert this year.

The Classical programme has a big accent on youth – musicians who are starting to forge a career that will, hopefully see them as Stars in the future. Under the banner of Ryesing Stars there will be for the first time two lunchtime concerts, both at new venue St Anthony’s RC Church in Watchbell Street. The first, at 1pm on Monday 17, will be a chance to see young Australian baritone Duncan Rock accompanied by Elizabeth Rossiter, with guitarist Manus Noble playing at the same time on Thursday 27.

Literary talks by John Julius and Sandy Gall have already sold out but Sandy Gall has added an extra date.

For more information on all events, go to the website www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk

This year there is also a blog at www.ryefestival.blogspot.com which provides up-to-date information.

The Box Office at Phillips and Stubbs in Cinque Ports Street is open for bookings in person from 9.30am to 1.30pm Monday to Saturday.