Scaled-down Roots still determined to bring great music to Chichester

With no funding, with Chichester Festival Theatre no longer available and with a hostile economic climate, Chichester music promoter Mark Ringwood admits he could well have called time on his world music series, Roots Around the World.

But the determination to keep live music alive in and around Chichester has proved too strong in the end.

Instead, Mark has opted to retrench and regroup with a scaled-down series - but one which he insists will still offer a huge range of musical delights.

The CFT’s decision to withdraw as a Roots venue has left “the series and the whole of the district in a bit of a vacuum,” Mark said.

He said apparently it came down to a shift in the CFT’s programming emphasis: “With their theatre season longer, therefore the window for one-night activities is much shorter.”

Mark said it was disappointing, particularly as it now mean that big names will simply bypass the CFT and the Minerva.

“Given that these spaces have been used to promote artists as diverse as The Master Drummers of Africa, The Celtic Footprint Festival, Show of Hands, Richard Thompson, Toto la Momposina, and Martin Simpson it means that artists of this calibre will no longer be playing Chichester on their national tours.”

But Mark insisted he would make things work.

“We are now working with The Venue which is half the size. But it is an excellent venue which will work extremely well. It’s a very flexible space and it is very user-friendly.”

Mark will stage six evenings of music there between November and March, including Blazing Fiddles, Salsa Celtica, Fairport Convention, and The Celtic Footprint Festival.

In the meantime, Mark’s successful series of Wednesday nights at the Chichester Inn, launched earlier this year, resumes on August 24 with a real mix of folk, blues, and Americana, starting with Hat Fitz (Australia) and Cara Robinson (Northern Ireland).

Forthcoming artists include: Pokey LaFarge & The South Side 3, Jeff Lang, Betty Soo & Doug Cox, The Jazz Smugglers, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Peter Bruntnell, Steve Tilston, Michael Chapman & Rita Hosking, Eddie Martin, Bob Malone, Clive Gregson, Emily Barden, Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, The Toy Hearts, and Dave Swarbrick.

Village halls have always played a vital part in Roots’ programming and Boxgrove village hall will host the seven-piece Cuban band Asere, and The Empire Hall, Graffham, will host Congolese band Kasai Masai.

The Spring in Havant will host concerts by African bluesman Muntu Valdo, a farewell concert show by The Hamsters and The Ben Waters Band.

Plans are coming together for the second Celtic Footprint Festival which will take place from February 10–12 and to help fund it there’s a limited-edition bottle of beer being produced in association with a local brewery.

Performances are: Aug 24 Hat Fitz & Cara Robinson; Aug 31 Pokey Lafarge & The South Side 3; Sept 7 Jeff Lang; Sept 14 Bettysoo & Doug Cox; Sept 16 The Jazz Smugglers; Sept 21 Mark Ringwood’s Roots DJ Night; Sept 30 Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion; Oct 5 Peter Bruntnell; Oct 8 Muntu Valdo; Oct 12 Steve Tilston; Oct 13 The Hamsters; Oct 19 Michael Chapman & Rita Hosking; Oct 22 Asere; Oct 26 Eddie Martin; Oct 29 The Ben Waters Band; Nov 2 Bob Malone; Nov 3 Clive Gregson; Nov 9 Emily Barden & Jeff Leach; Nov 12 Blazing Fiddles; Nov 16 Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby; Nov 23 The Toy Hearts, Nov 26 Salsa Celtica; Nov 30 Dave Swarbrick; Jan 21 Kasai Masai; Feb 10–12 The Celtic Footprint Festival; Feb 26 John McCusker, Michael McGoldrick, John Doyle; Mar 3 Fairport Convention.

Tickets for shows at The Venue, Boxgrove Village Hall, and The Empire Hall, Graffham are available from Chichester Festival Theatre: for Chichester Inn they’re available from the venue and www.wegottickets.com, and for The Spring from 02392 472700 and www.thespring.co.uk. Full information on all shows is on: www.rootsaroundtheworld.info.