Fringe Review

Day Planner

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Day Planner

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Luke Joynes

Interview: Luke Joynes

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Eighteen year old, Luke Joynes, is right at the beginning of his career on the Isle of Wight. Luke is a prime example of a young person just finding his feet in the creative industry. I thought it was about time to find out how Luke feels about beginning his career over here and what he sees for the future.

Hey Luke, so how are you involved in the Fringe?
I coordinate the Free Fringe side of the program, which involves programming all the people who applied to play at the Fringe for free and curating where they perform and who else they perform with.

How did you get into all of this?
In 2015 I did the Fringe Review [Luke was our journalist for the Free Fringe, weird how that’s come about]. Then last year I did a gig of my own at St. Catherine’s Church, now this year I’ve been promoted, and here I am now.

You’ve been working at Ventnor Exchange this year, what have you been doing?
Yeah, we’ve just been making sure that everything is in place for this week and I think we’ve done a pretty good job apart from the weather, but that’s a bit out of our control.

As a young person on the Isle of Wight do you plan to continue your career on the Island?
I do plan to continue living here, obviously it’s a bit difficult to make it in music here purely because of the logistics side of it. It costs so much to get people over here from the mainland, but then you have things like the Ventnor International Festival and Strings that’s just opened up in Newport shows that there is a demand for original live music on the Isle of Wight. Perhaps I’d like a slice of that too.

What other festivals have you worked with?
I have a festival news blog, we cover Isle of Wight festivals and I’ve done a bit of PR for Jack Up The 80s.

You’re working in curating events at the moment, is that what you’d like to continue doing?
Yeah, so I run my own business called Atmos Music, currently got gigs with Vant, Clean Cut Kid, S Club and Blazin’ Squad coming up.

Where are these events?
Vant and Clean Cut Kid are in Southampton and then Blazin’ Squad are at Strings in Newport, and that’s mid-September. I also manage events for the Blacksheep in Ryde.

Do you find finances difficult at the moment with the gigs that you’re putting on?
I find it more difficult on the Island than I do in Southampton, simply because there is a student population in Southampton and you also don’t have to pay ferry prices.

What would be your dream band to put on, and what venue would you put them on at?
That’s a tough one. I’m really into Everything Everything at the moment, so probably them and I’d put them on at The Joiners (In Southampton) I think.

What venue would you choose on the Island?
Blacksheep Bar, for it’s underground vibes. It’s the best grass-roots venue on the Island.

Describe Little Mammoth in one sentence…
Ruckus rock and roll fronted by an ex-Noah and the Whale member.

Come along to Luke’s next gig with Little Mammoth at The Parkside on Sunday @ 7pm.
Luke’s Blog can be found @

Nakamarra by Tobias Penner

VIF Review: Nakamarra

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It’s going to be a hard gig, even for an up-and-coming Isle of Wight band. You’re the first band on, the opening act to the Ventnor International Festival. You’re playing at two in the afternoon and in a cavernous venue that is notoriously hard to (a) sound engineer and (b) fill.

Local band Nakamarra took these issues in their stride and walked on to the stage to the Jurassic Park main theme, indicating extremely good taste in soundtracks and a cheeky, playful approach to their imminent performance.

The Naka-vibe is a full, riff-and-hook-heavy one; a sound born from the festival scene. Well structured, catchy songs with a penchant for the dramatic. Charlie’s vocals are effortlessly powerful, soaring above the thoughtfully layered arrangements. You can tell that there is honest camaraderie between these young musicians, with a passion and enjoyment that is clear to see, which is no easy thing to convey in such a large venue.

Overall it was a varied set; with changes in mood and musical influence so that the listener can appreciate each song individually, and on its own merit.

However, some constraints of the venue prevented Nakamarra from truly shining. Due to the intrinsic echo chamber effect of the venue, a lot of lyrics were lost on us, which is a huge shame. But not enough of a shame to prevent us from loving what they brought to VIF though.

They are a dynamic, energetic, thoughtful and intelligent band on their way to rather good things. Our Island benefits from young musicians staying here and working at their craft, putting on gigs and creating a live music scene that inspires the next generation as well as pushing current bands and artists to up their game. I, for one, am thankful Nakamarra are here.

I would like to see Nakamarra explore layered harmonies, as I saw two other mics on stage, but did not hear them being put to full use. I would like to see them strip back on one or two tracks, to really vary the set. I think this would really bring the lyrics through and truly reflect the depth of the music. Ultimately, I want to see them do well. They are a shining light on this Island, a marvellous example of home grown talent excelling, despite perceived geographical limitations.

During Nakamarra’s set at the Winter Gardens, I felt a nostalgia. Local young bands used to play there weekly in my formative years and there was an atmosphere of excitement, a feeling that each band could make it, and we would be the crowd that discovered them. Yesterday afternoon Nakamarra brought that feeling back.

Childhood by Tobias Penner

Island Sounds

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YESTERDAY WAS HECTIC. Start of the day, we had Island bands Nakamara and Goo Lagoon in the Winter Gardens and Warehouse, then everything turned somewhat international. It’s say somewhat because, all, bar one of the VIF acts were from the UK. So hats off to The Parrots for making this year’s VIF thoroughly international.

The media team were very busy yesterday, running around to different venues to get film, photo and radio coverage for you lovely people.
All Ventnor International Festival coverage can be found on the Ventnor Fringe and Ventnor International Festival Facebook/ websites.

“It’s a really good line up here, it’s a really quaint town but it’s got a really quite diverse line up. It’s a nice surprise.” – Childhood

“We have time to enjoy it, go to the beach. We really want to come back here – it’s a very peaceful and quiet place.” – The Parrots

“I think the Isle of Wight has a sound – I don’t know how to describe the Island’s sound – I think it’s quite free spirited.” – Pale Seas

“Go see Puma Blue who is on after me, it’s funny because he’s from where I’m from Lewisham, and I never get to see him – It’s a good festival – The power of Ventnor has brought us together.” – Moses Boyd

“We climbed onto the tiny Isle of Wight island in the children’s paddling pool, because we thought it would be a good photo, but we just ended up scaring the children I think.” – Happyness

Listen to the Ventnor International podcast here. 

Hannah George by Julian Winslow

Interview: Hannah George

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Sometimes it’s nice to just to sit back and celebrate the achievements of a child of Ventnor who has gone on to do great things in their field. When I think of ‘home girl done good’, it’s hard not to think of Hannah George – writer, director, good natured bon viveur.

At 19, Hannah won the Paramount Comedy Student Comedian of the Year award and things just went from there. She has performed at hundreds of comedy gigs around the country including at our very own Ventnor Fringe. As if that wasn’t success enough, it’s in the last few years however that Hannah has really found her feet. Since taking a hiatus from stand up, Hannah focused on her writing and has since worked for (to name but a few) the BBC, Sky, Disney Channel, and Nickolodeon. She also creates work with her own company, Somewhen Productions, including ‘S Band’ which was nominated best UK webseries at Raindance Film Festival and a hit viral video that amassed over 2 million views in a matter of days.

Not only that, Hannah has recently achieved an ambition of hers to write a novel by the time she was 30, finishing the first draft days before her birthday. She’s living proof that hard work can get you far. I had a very brief chat with Hannah about how things have been going.

Hello, tell me about your connection to Ventnor.
I have lived in Ventnor since I was 6. My folks still live here and I constantly come back from London as it’ll always be ‘home’.

And what about your connection to the Fringe?
I went to the same school as Jack & Mhairi. And in 2012 wrote a piece and performed in Paines Plough ‘Come to Where I’m From’. That was the second Fringe. Then the next show I was involved with was ‘Ventnorville’ which was a mock vaudevillian cabaret, including a two-man, ten-minute rendition of Les Miserables complete with multiple wigs, and a loaf of bread. It was the greatest show on Earth. Even though I live in London I still come down and watch shows and gigs at the Exchange.

Ventnor seems to influence a lot of creative types, is that true for you?
Ventnor always offers inspiration in everything I do, and my writing partner still lives in Niton so he’s a big creative connection! When I’m not writing up in London, I often come back home; it’s a great place to be.

Talking to Hannah gives me hope. Although Ventnor and the Isle of Wight can seem a million miles away from the big smoke of London, it’s wonderful to see people who show that success can be had and dreams fulfilled. Ventnor has a history of nurturing creative people and releasing them into the world, but time and time again the pull home is strong and the impressions left long-lasting. It’s through people like Hannah that the Ventnor vibe is going national.

The Parrots

Interview: The Parrots

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All the way from Madrid are the garage purists, The Parrots. From the same recording label as Hooton Tennis Club, H.Hawkline and Stealing Sheep – previous performers at the Fringe – this latest VIF band maintain a unsullied mid-late 60s sound.

Imagine: A party fifty years ago, 13th Floor Elevators and The Troggs have been talking a while and drunkenly stumble upstairs to find a room. A few songs are sung, a bed is broken and a few months later a baby is born. A messy custody battle pursues, the adolescent matures and 20 years later bumps into tall, dark and handsome, Black Lips, at a bar in Madrid. One thing leads to another (wow, garage bands have high libidos) and nine months down the line The Parrots are born.

We asked the guys some questions a few weeks before the Fringe and this was their response…

We’re super excited to have you guys coming over to the Isle of Wight. Have you ever visited before? Do you know anything about the Island?
Yeah, Diego stayed in Newport and Ryde for three weeks a long time ago, he loved it!

You’re based in Madrid but have now played lots of shows here in the UK, how do audiences and gigs compare between the two countries?
In the UK people go to shows with the idea of listening to the songs and watch a good performance, while in Spain people kind of want to get crazy and party as much as they can, but everyday they look more similar and now we can’t really tell the difference.

You’re signed to one of our favourite labels Heavenly Records, how did that relationship come about?
It was a long thing before we signed with them, but I think that made us feel more close and also sure that we wanted to sign with them. They came to a show and, being honest, it was a complete mess. Nothing came out as planned, no sound engineer so we had lots of problems. But it was fun and then they were again on the next show so we started talking and realised we wanted to do something together.

What’s next for you guys? Do you have any plans for a second album?
Yes, we just finished touring and we already have some new songs, so the idea is to use those and write a lot more so the next album comes very soon.

How would you describe your music in three words?
Mayhem, sangria and raw.

Are there any other Spanish bands you think we should be listening to?
Of course! Los Nastys, Joe Crepusculo and Favx.

Photo by Catriona Macaulay

Love Not War

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The escalating crisis of North Korea and how it will affect Ventnor Fringe. So you might have heard about the little problerino going on across the pond, so let’s cut the nonsense, put the bird on the table and talk turkey. Is Kim Jong Un going to ruin our festival? I’m glad you asked.

In recent days it has been determined that North Korea are now capable of fitting a nuclear warhead onto an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile)… yeah, that’s bad news. They are now considerably further along with their research than first thought and are to be considered a fully fledged nuclear power.

The good news? A medium long-range ICBM has a range of about 3,400 miles. We’re 5,200 miles away here in Ventnor, meaning we’re in the all clear. So let’s strip off, get down and dirty and party like it’s 1999.

DISCLAIMER: We don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time; – Jermaine Stewart et al.

That’s quite enough nonsense from Tom. Now over to our editor…

Well this week so far has brought us beautiful bagpipes, puppet psychosis, a topical debate about maintaining and creating creative communities in the Fringe Forum and so much more. Today is only going to get better, yes, it’s finally here; Ventnor International Festival!

Make sure you get your ticket, we’ve got Nakamarra, Dead Pretties, Elder Island, Cosmo Pyke, Moses Boyd, Bad Sounds, Puma Blue, Sleep Well, Champs, Her’s, Girl Ray, Happiness, The Parrots and Childhood.

Is this really happening in Ventnor? The answer is yes, and you’re welcome. It’s one ticket for the whole day – available at the Ventnor Exchange. This will be the most artist to play at Ventnor International Festival. Ever.

We in the media room cannot stress how exciting it is to have all these bands playing at Ventnor Fringe this year. VIF has got ever base covered this year, from garage to Motown psychedelia.

“I really love Happiness who are kinda of like dark-surf rock and don’t miss Childhood with their first ever headline show with full brass section. It’ll be fantastic!” – Mhairi Macaulay

“I met The Parrots last night and they’re really great guys, super excited to see their set. Also, really looking forward to seeing a new band on the set called Puma Blue, people should really go and see them.” – Jack Whitewood

Puppet Bingo Bang

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Can you believe it has taken this long for Bingo to come to the Ventnor Fringe?

It’s an outrage I tell you. An absolute outrage. Thank goodness someone has finally done something about this sorry state of non-bingo related affairs. Well, to be precise, a few people. Well, to be more precise, a few puppets.

Proving the old saying “if you want something done properly, then puppets”. These particular puppets are no strangers to Ventnor, having performed in the hit play Wireless
last year. We are very grateful to them for coming back to V-town and taking control of the appalling lack of Bingo.

I was unsure of what to expect. I mean, hey, I’ve bingoed. I’ve experienced the panic inducing, heady rush of adrenaline as the numbers are called. I’ve stained my fingers with the florescent ink of the bingo marker and I’ve felt the dizzying highs and the soul crushing lows of games won and lost, but never have I ever done so with puppets involved. Anywhere. Let alone hosting.

At 10pm I arrived at the Parkside Marque, took my artfully served G & T (those bar staff are as beautiful as they are talented in the ways of the booze) and settled down on a comfy cushion to get my puppet bingo on. And gee whiz, did I ever. Ted and Terry hosted the evening, creating an enjoyable tension you could taste, with vitriol laced banter and, ahem, unusual bingo calls. Karen and Carl worked the room, helped by a brilliant blue bearded assistant in the handing out of the bingo cards.

Karen, having had too many chardonnays pre show, was unable to work the magical bingo machine. A glamorous assistant was asked for from the audience. I took a breath. I raised my hand. I became that assistant.

There are moments in life that one never forgets, that etch themselves onto the very aluminium of one’s soul. Prizes were won, joy was had and no one left without a smile on their face and their puppet bingo needs unfulfilled. They were totally filled. Hard.

This evening at 10pm, Ted, Terry, Karen and Olly are hosting a pub quiz at Parkside and I hope to gosh they need another assistant.

Views with Matt and Questions with Kate

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As many of us creative lot have noticed over the last decade, there’s just not as much money being passed around in order for us to do what we like doing – creating.

This is seemingly even more of a problem for those of us that live outside the M25. With the recent announcement of Arts Council Funding for 2018 – 2022 there have been numerous artists who have been made all too aware of the cut-throat, world of funding applications.

Even those who have been successful in retaining the same level of funding as the previous term are facing a real term cut as the costs associated with running venues and staging productions increase.

As part of the new set of funding, it was highlighted through repeated criticism that not enough money was being spent in areas outside of London. ACE has increased funding outside London by 4.6% – or £170m from 2018-22. This sounds great in theory, although sadly this good news for us locals has been soured slightly by some recent controversy surrounding certain recipients of the cash.

In particular Wise Children, the newly founded theatre company of Emma Rice, ex Artistic Director of the Globe which has been awarded nearly £2million over the next four years, claiming that it is a company with its roots firmly grounded in the South West of England. However, it has recently been revealed that the company is set to spend its first year in residence at the Old Vic, in the centre of London.

There is no criticism of the work that this company may produce, indeed it could prove to be the most innovative, brilliant work we’ve seen for a while, but the criticism lays at the door of the Arts Council and the seeming nepotism by the way that funding is awarded. Some are asking the question would this company (only a matter of weeks old with no performances to it’s name) have got the cash if it wasn’t being run by the ex-Artistic Director of the Globe?

But art finds a way. Across the country creatives are coming up with new ways to keep the art forms they love alive. One example of this is the Errant Stage, which has joined us in Ventnor this week. The aim of this new venture is to enable small companies and new artists to perform their work in front of an audience, and intends to enable that audience to be anywhere. Arts funding cuts are greatly affecting the amount of new work being made and the cost of venue hire and production is restrictive to unfunded young companies. The Errant Stage is doing it’s own bit to help. I spoke to the driving force behind this exciting new venture.

Hi, who are you?
I am Kate Powell and I am a puppeteer and creative

Tell us about your relationship with Ventnor, and the Fringe?
My relationship with Ventnor is entirely Fringe based, I had never been before until I helped out on my first Vfringe in 2013 but obviously now after this many years, it feels like a second home! I was first introduced to Vfringe by my step brother Seb – who’s mum knew Kathy, Jack Whitewood’s mum – and he rang me up after his first year volunteering and told me I have to go – That these are ‘my people’. This will now be my 4th year. Normally I volunteer and venue manage the theatre, but last year we brought our show Goodnight Little Bear here.

So you’ve obviously got history here, anything new going on this year?
This year I’m coming down as an artist rather than a volunteer – Although I will definitely still be helping out – This year I am venue managing, but it’s actually my own venue…in a van! It’s called The Errant Stage and it’s a professional off-grid travelling stage that I am converting from a big red Luton Van! This is the soft launch in our journey to become an affordable, accessible and sustainable theatre venue of the future – there’s a long way to go, but we’re full throttle ahead! We’re hosting installations, and some other little surprises throughout the week and can be found parked up down on the seafront at The Plaza. Come have a chat about why we are retaliating against cuts to Arts Funding, what we plan to do to get theatre out to audiences – wherever they are, and what our crowdfunder is all about and how you can get involved.

Kate is doing good things, creating opportunities in a time of austerity and cutbacks. Obviously not all of us have an old Luton van lying around the place, but the one thing we all can do is support our local artists. Buy tickets. Go to gigs. Even something as small as sharing Facebook posts to help with promotion can help. Keep your local cultural scene alive!
The Errant Stage can be found on the Plaza, and you can also see Kate in action as part of the Puppet Quiz tonight @ the Parkside at 10pm.