A newbie’s view of Rye, Part 7

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The Carry On Boys performing in the Ypres garden
Part 7: Rockin’ Rye

In the seventh of our monthly series of articles describing how one couple finds their new life in Rye, we open our ears to local live music. Does it hit the high notes?

Welcome my friend to the show that never ends

Growing up in a northern mill town, my teenage friends and I quickly learned one thing: If a pub was putting on live music, that was the pub to avoid.

All the bands did covers. Badly. They would murder your favourite tracks without mercy. Their lack of talent and originality was made up for in the sheer volume of the drums and guitars – a wall of aural mud.

Every Friday evening, we could at least take refuge at the heavy-metal disco (yes, such a thing did exist; it was run by the local council!), and happily headbang to hard-rock LPs.

Stephen East at Olde Worlde Wines
Stephen East at Olde Worlde Wines

Decades later, moving from London to a small town, I had to wonder what musical delights (or not) awaited us on the shores of Sussex.

The show must go on!

Of course, I wasn’t expecting to find an enclave of AC/DC fans or the like. Perhaps something more in keeping with the sedate demographic – bearded ale-loving chaps gently strumming old English folk tunes?

Yet again (as previous articles have revealed), we were in for a surprise.

Music is a big part of the Rye Arts Festival. And we had the privilege and joy of seeing Wilco Johnson and his band on his “back from the dead” tour with grateful visitors who are lifelong Dr Feelgood fans.

Meanwhile, our new friends in Rye were anxious that we shouldn’t miss out on the many regular gigs. So we’ve now seen live artists at the Globe, the Queen’s Head, the Standard Inn, the King’s Head, Olde Worlde Wines and the Ypres Castle Inn.

This suggests sufficient quantity, but what of the quality?

Wakin' Snakes on Hallowe'en
Wakin’ Snakes on Hallowe’en
Scaling the heights.

So far, sampling the music of Rye has been an utter pleasure. Yes, the artists generally do include covers in their sets, but they are produced with imagination as well as respect to the original. Favourite bands include the indefatigable Carry On Boys, who pop up at various local hostelries playing an energising variety of genres.

In contrast, last Hallowe’en, we were treated to some mighty fine Cajun music from Wakin’ Snakes at the Queen’s Head.

Given the small scale of most pub venues in and around Rye, solo artists (such as Stephen East) are also much in demand.

Rhymes and rhythms.

And now, thanks to Steve Wilson and Danny Delenio, Olde Worlde Wines hosts a monthly open-mic event, which boasts a mix of poetry, music and spoken word performances.

We have found ourselves standing in front of a crowded room (including genuine literary aficionados) reading Ted Hughes and John Cooper Clarke – this was something we could never have imagined would be part of our new life.

Photos: Simon Kershaw

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