WemsFest plans unveiled

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Singer Judie Tzuke will be one of the stars at WemsFest this year as the organisers announce an ambitious programme.

Artistic director Mark Ringwood is delighted at the line-up which has come together for the fourth WemsFest which runs from October 1–18, covering the Westbourne and Emsworth area. Tzuke will be performing on Thursday, October 1 at 7.30pm in Emsworth Baptist Church, a great new venue, says Mark.

Mark Ringwood.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130980-1 SUS-150723-072845003

Mark Ringwood.Picture by Kate Shemilt.C130980-1 SUS-150723-072845003

“It’s the first public concert in the new baptist church which is a fabulous building.”

As Mark says, it’s all about finding the right venue for the right performer, and the church seemed perfect for Judie: “I put her on in 1980 at the Hexagon in Reading, and I didn’t see her for nigh on 20 years. And then I interviewed her when I had a radio show. She’s great. She has got talent and charisma in abundance.

“I am also pleased we are commemorating Black History Month, one of the only organisations in Hampshire or West Sussex to do so. We have got Les Freres Guisse from Senegal and we have got Lokito Ya Congo. Les Freres Guisse are three brothers. It’s all beautiful harmonies and some nice West African rhythms. Lokito is a full-on eight-piece.

“Really Black History Month is about awareness. The legacy is obvious in every single strand of today’s music.”

Mark is also delighted to welcome Eddie Martin to The Hewitts @ South Street, Emsworth on Wednesday, October 14: “He is one of the best UK acoustic bluesmen. I have worked with him before and always admired his work. I have always felt he deserves to be seen and heard, and he jumped at the opportunity. It’s his great ability - and his ability to engage with the audience rather than sit up on a pedestal. He just draws people in.”

Mark predicts another highlight will be a session with Neil Lawson Baker, driving force of the Open Art Exhibition which began life in Chichester. Neil is also a significant sculptor in his own right: “He has got such a fascinating story to tell..”

As for theatre, tying in with the fact that P G Wodehouse lived in Emsworth, the festival is offering A Damsel in Distress (with optional supper) on Thursday, October 15 at 8pm (P G Wodehouse’ birthday) at The Brookfield Hotel. The piece has been adapted by Lucy Flannery to be performed by Rogues & Vagabonds as a dramatised reading, radio-style, of the original book upon which the stage show was based.

“Located in Belper – his thinly-disguised hometown of Emsworth – it’s the usual wonderful Wodehouse cocktail where aristocrats, chorus girls, wily servants, inept policemen and golfing enthusiasts ensure total mayhem,” Mark said.

Also on offer will be Racton Follies 4. The latest edition explores local witchcraft, the visit of William Cobbett of Rural Rides fame, stories from public houses and smugglers tales. Mark is also lining up an intriguing post-festival evening, a silent disco with projections, provisionally called Set the Controls For... (October 23 and 24 at 8pm) at Emsworth gasholder. “This iconic structure is slowly being dismantled over the next few months so while we still can we’re projecting a series of images onto it and you can watch them and listen on headphones to Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk and selected mood music!”

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