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Sittingbourne Hula Fest is top choice for The Chaucers

By John Nurden

There aren't many bands who would name themselves after a 14th century poet. But The Chaucers aren't ordinary.

The four-piece group of former Westlands schoolboys have only been together a year but they are already veterans of the Sittingbourne and Sheppey pub circuit.

To celebrate their first anniversary they took over the Appleyard in Sittingbourne on Friday to stage a Ka Hula Hawaiian music festival with free garlands for everyone.

Video: The Chaucers - Sweet Caroline

The Chaucers at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161131)
The Chaucers at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161131)

There is no natural connection between Sittingbourne (defunct brick and paper-making industries) and Hawaii (grass skirts, sandy beaches) but that didn't worry the lads. "We wanted something bright, colourful and fun," was as near as guitarist Jack Gledhill, 24, could get to any sort of reasonable explanation.

But in a weird way, it all worked.

Chaucer fans had a surprise when the band appeared as a six-piece, having Hoovered up keyboard-player Charlotte Crossley after a recent gig at the Ypres Tavern and asked cruise line singer Shannon Ella-Crouch (also from We Will Rock You) to climb aboard.

Shannon Ella-Crouch making her debut with The Chaucers at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161137)
Shannon Ella-Crouch making her debut with The Chaucers at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161137)

Suddenly, the fresh-faced foursome were transformed into a top-class function band as they hurtled through disco classics like Good Times, Greatest Dancer, September, Superstition, Karma Chameleon, Blame It On The Boogie and La Bamba before ending with the crowd-pleasing Sweet Caroline.

That would have been good enough but then music masters Marylebone Jelly ended the night with a top set including Play That Funky Music, Shut Up And Dance With Me, Livin' On A Prayer, Rock DJ and Champagne Supernova.

The only sad note is that MBJ's long-standing bass-player Saul Watson is quitting to "pursue other interests." Life on the road with one of Kent's busiest bands has taken its toll on the former session man with the lit-up guitar.

Bass-player Saul Watson of Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161169)
Bass-player Saul Watson of Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161169)
Ed Austin, left, and Saul Watson of Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161165)
Ed Austin, left, and Saul Watson of Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161165)
Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161167)
Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161167)

Video: Marylebone Jelly - Play That Funky Music

Singer Ed Austin admitted: "It's really sad. We are the best of mates. But Saul has made his mind up."

The band is now auditioning for a replacement.

Opening the sell-out show was Cakehole, a great four-piece with lead singer Nick Spink (Billy Wears Dresses) sporting a pink flamingo suit for an eclectic set from Teenage Kicks to Monkey Man.

The whole night was an awesome choice by The Chaucers.

Cakehole at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161143)
Cakehole at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161143)
Cakehole at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161145)
Cakehole at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161145)
Fans Karen Ganderton and Tracy Topsom watching Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161163)
Fans Karen Ganderton and Tracy Topsom watching Marylebone Jelly at the Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne (8161163)
The crowd at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne watchging The Chaucers (8161133)
The crowd at Ka Hula Festival Sittingbourne watchging The Chaucers (8161133)

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