Round-up of shows and events

ARUNDEL’S Willows Folk club launches into 2011 with another of its Showcase Special evenings featuring an extended set from a couple of local acts (Wednesday, January 19).

Willows spokesman Chris Davis said he was delighted with the line-up, which includes singer-guitarist Peter Bennett.

“Earlier in his career Peter was a recording artist for both Polydor and RCA (where he worked with The Eagles’ record producer), and has worked with some of the finest in the world including members of Supertramp, Thin Lizzy and even once shared a stage with Eric Clapton! He’s an extremely talented artist who’s just beginning to re-establish himself, and I consider that we’re very lucky to have him appearing at the Willows!”

The other act performing at the Showcase on January 19 is local bluegrass band The Southdown Ramblers, with whom Chris himself plays mandolin.

The Willows Folk Club meets every Wednesday at 8pm in the function room of Arundel Football Club, Mill Road, Arundel. More details 07790 511054 or www.willowsfolkclub.org.

COMEDY is a serious business, says comedian and Mock The Week regular Milton Jones - a business where you’ve simply got to put in the miles.

“Originally you start charging up and down the M1 for not much money, and gradually you think you will cut down on travelling but you never do”

And it’s not like you get to see the places, says Milton who heads to Crawley’s Hawth Theatre on January 20.

“It’s like you go to Manchester for two hours and then you come straight back again,” Milton says. “In terms of the hours you do, it’s like you are a paid driver. You judge the week on the number of miles you have done.

“Ideally you arrive in a place a bit early and find out something funny about the local area, but in reality you arrive ten minutes before and you just rush on stage and say ‘Hello Oxford!’ when you are actually in Cambridge. In between it is miles and miles of driving.”

But it’s not just part of the job; it’s crucial to it: “It’s all about hours clocked up on stage. There is no way around it. You can think you are being really funny, but the only way to find out how funny it is is to get on stage in front of a live audience. It’s like learning to play an instrument except that you have to do all your practising in public!

“You’ve got to put in those hours to develop your own voice (as a comedian). There will be the opportunity for a fair amount of failure along the way. It takes a long time. I tried to be an actor originally, and then just started trying to do stand-up. It was not until I stuck my hair up and put on a silly shirt that I got better at it.”

It’s about finding that voice and also, to an extent, your comedy character: “Some acts are more characterful than others, like The Pub Landlord. But really it’s about a combination of being someone and not being someone on stage. I don’t think anybody is ever completely themselves on stage. You just become a cartoon version of a part of yourself.”

And with time, you will change - or perhaps tone down some of the early stuff: “People now know where I am coming from. When I started I used to have to weird it up a bit, but now people realise that I am coming from that direction!”

SUSSEX band FranClassic have won their way through to the national finals of the Open Mic UK competition and will compete for the title at the O2 Arena on January 15 2011.

The trio was one of four acts that made it through the regional final which was held at the Portsmouth Guildhall.

Band members Roman Scott from Henfield, Dan Wheale from Albourne and Fraser Forbes from Hurstpierpoint played a three-minute set which included a cover of Jason Mraz’s Geek In The Pink as well as one of their own compositions Not Living.

Lead singer and guitarist Fraser said “We were a bit nervous before we went on but had a great time once we got out on stage. The opportunity to play at the O2 is amazing and we’re all really looking forward to the experience.”

Fran Classic have been together as a band for only a year although they have known each other since childhood and will be competing against more than 20 other acts in an effort to win the prize of a management contract record deal and 100-date expenses paid tour.

JACK And The Beanstalk is the panto treat from Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society at The Windmill Entertainment Centre from January 19-23.

Show spokesman Jan Combes said: “This great family show is action-packed and full of traditional fun, slapstick, colour, comedy together with well-known song and dance numbers as it follows the adventures of heroic hero Jack (Littlehampton’s Ryan Jupp).

“Is it deal or no deal as Jack tries to sell poor Daisy the Cow? What comedy capers will his mother Dame Trot (Tim Ede) and brother Billy (Sam Kirkwood) get up to? Will the evil Fleshcreep (Mark Roberts) and his sidekick Grabbit (Ruth Roberts) stop all the fun or will Fairy Moonbean (Rachel Toop) wave her magic wand and save the day as Jack climbs the beanstalk to defeat the Giant Blunderbore to rescue his girlfriend Jill (Charlotte Reader)?

“All these questions will be answered during this show produced by director/choreographer Carolyn Bennett along with musical directors Luke Marshall and John Woodman.”

Performances are Wednesday, January 19-Sunday, January 23 inclusive with matinees on Saturday at 2.30pm Sunday at 1.30pm and a further early evening performance on Sunday at 5.30pm. All other evening performances are at 7.30pm.

On the opening night Wednesday, January 19, the society has a ticket offer of two for £15; other ticket prices range from £8 to £10 dependant on performance with party rates available on request. Bookings are being taken by the Windmill Entertainment Centre on 01903 722224 between 9.30am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

THORNHAM Marina is to host The Boat Project as it sails into an exciting future with an Olympic medal winner at the helm

The marina will host a region-wide Olympic project that embodies the perfect marriage of sport and art, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, says spokeswoman Chloe Barker.

“The Boat Project will see a beautiful 30-foot seafaring vessel created from wooden objects donated by people and communities from around the region. It is one of 12 Arts Council funded Artists taking the lead public art commissions taking shape across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

“Thornham Marina will house the boatshed where the vessel will be built. When it opens to the public early next year, visitors to the boatshed will be able to donate some wood or a wooden object, help out with the boat build, or watch the boat take shape – everyone is invited to take part.

“And in 2012, the boat will set sail on a maiden voyage around the south east, manned by a crew made up of people nominated by the public.”

Chloe added: “Celebratory arts events created with local artists and arts organisations will take place when the boat docks, offering many more south east residents an opportunity to take part.

Arts organisation Lone Twin’s Gregg Whelan and Gary Winters won the Artists Taking The Lead Commission for the south-east in October 2009.

Gregg said: “This is something everyone get can involved in, whether you’re nine or 90, live by the sea or in land-locked Oxfordshire. The entire southeast, and indeed, the country is invited to get involved with The Boat Project.

“It’s an opportunity to see the stuff of our lives, our stories and our experiences come together and create something that will stand as a record of our time. And it’s something that will bring adventure and excitement to the region for many years to come.”

Heading the boatbuilding are yacht designer Simon Rogers and boat builder and British Olympic Silver medallist and America’s Cup sailor Mark Covell.

TRIO Anima blend flute, viola and harp as they kick off the 2011 programme for the Chichester Chamber Concerts series (Thursday, January 20, 7.30pm).

Formed in 2006 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trio Anima made their debut with the first performance of a work by Sofia Gubaidulina at the BBC Composers’ Festival 2007.

The Trio were finalists in the 2007 Royal Over-Seas League Competition and have performed widely in the UK and France. They have participated in a residency at Aldeburgh with David Dolan and appeared in London at LSO St Luke’s and the Bishopsgate Institute.

Their programme for Chichester will include music by Bax, Debussy, Britten, Ibert and contemporary pieces by Paul Benhaim and John Reeman.

Tickets on 01243 781312.