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Welcome to our Hot List 2015: your guide to the Kent bands, venues, talents and artists who will set your world alight this year

Everybody knows New Year is the time to look to the future. At What’s On we love to give you the heads-up on sizzling new talents and the breaking news in leisure, so step on in to our Hot List 2015!

Get Inuit
Get Inuit


They only formed 16 months ago but keep your ears out for Get Inuit.

The indie/guitar/pop band made up of members from SITTINGBOURNE and FOLKESTONE is already on the books of the international management company Three Six Zero Group, which is part of an entertainment firm owned by Jay-Z. They were taken on the video to their song Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated which went viral on YouTube.

Like most groups starting out, Get Inuit have gigged at Kent’s live music venues including Ramsgate Music Hall and Tunbridge Wells Forum, but their most notable performance was at the NME Magazine Awards Show.

Now the four-piece group is hoping 2015 is the year they really get noticed.

Made up of former Borden Grammar School students James Simpson, guitarist; his brother Rob on drums; Jamie Glass, lead singer, plus bass player Ollie Nunn, from Folkestone.

The latter three, who are all aged 23, started the band in August 2013 with James coming on board after they visited his Newington-based recording studio to record a demo.

He said: “I thought it was really good and I wanted to be a part of it. We put our video of Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated on YouTube last August and within a day or two we were contacted by BBC Introducing in Kent. We were asked to perform at their sixth birthday in March.

“When we started out we were playing in front of 20 to 30 people but our following is gradually building and we’re releasing our debut EP with Alcopop! Records in February.”

Visit www.facebook.com/GetInuit

Conningbrook Lakes, Ashford
Conningbrook Lakes, Ashford


Sailing, canoeing, swimming and rowing will be on offer at a new country park due to open this spring. The development at Conningbrook Lakes in ASHFORD will include a 300-home lakeside village, an activity centre, pub and a restaurant.

The work will also link the Julie Rose Stadium to a lakeside launch area with floating pontoon and storage facilities for water sports clubs. While the public will be able to walk freely around the park, participation in the water-based activities will be through specialist clubs.

The local council’s Jessamy Blanford said: “This park will be another stunning attraction for Ashford and reinforces the its reputation as a great place to live, work and relax.”

Visit www.ashford.gov.uk/conningbrook-lakes

Andy Kirkwood, far left, and his staff at Victuals, in Deal
Andy Kirkwood, far left, and his staff at Victuals, in Deal


One of Kent’s new bread of restaurants, Victuals & Co has already been mentioned in the Michelin Guide. Owner Andy Kirkwood, who opened the eatery in 2013, is delighted with the listing, especially as Victuals & Co is tucked away in the lesser-visited St George’s Passage, off DEAL High Street. Good food is assured, but don’t tell everybody – some secrets we like to keep to ourselves.

Visit www.victualsandco.com

James and Antonio of Fuoco look set to make 2015 their year. Picture: Justina Kaupaite
James and Antonio of Fuoco look set to make 2015 their year. Picture: Justina Kaupaite


Singer and guitarist James Gale calls his band’s sound “Black Sabbath mixed with Nirvana”.

Fuoco, which comprises James and musical partner-in-crime Antonio Mennecillo, are bringing their heavy grunge songs to a number of big venues and will be supporting some of their idols on stage along the way.

On Wednesday, February 25, the SITTINGBOURNE duo will appear with Glasgow rockers Baby Strange and another up-and-coming band, The Slaves, at the Tunbridge Wells Forum.

James, 19, is the lead singer, with Antonio, 20, thrashing drums and providing backing vocals.

They pair met a couple of years ago, “clicked musically” and formed a band the next day. Since then, they have been making musical waves and now have fans spread all over the county.

“We’ve got quite a big following in Canterbury, Sittingbourne and we are one of the main bands that does a lot in the Margate scene,” said James.

“If this year is anything like the one we’ve just had, it will be phenomenal.”

Visit www.facebook.com/fuocoband

Three Half Pints, in residence at Gulbenkian Theatre
Three Half Pints, in residence at Gulbenkian Theatre


This slapstick trio from FOLKESTONE and CANTERBURY have made the finals of a national comedy awards in February, are organising a comedy festival at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre in the same month, and have a UK tour later planned for later in the year.

Former University of Kent stand-up comedy students, Richard Franks, Callum Donnelly and Robin Hatcher, emerge on stage as their alter egos Dick, Derek and Ernie respectively, ‘three shorter-than-average brothers struggling to get by in a world that’s just too big for them.’

“Richard is the most vertically-challenged of us,” says Callum. “We’re quite short, that’s how the name ‘half pints’ came along. The sketches follow the brothers’ struggles, and each one is stupid in his own way.”

Three Half Pints have just enjoyed success at the Gulbenkian where they are now the resident theatre company.

“We didn’t have an urge to leave Canterbury as a creative group, so we spoke to Liz Moran [manager] at the Gulbenkian. She mentioned us becoming the resident company there, and we’ve been taking advantage of that ever since!” said Robin.

Next month, the trio have the Comedy Feztival corr to look forward to, so named because of the group’s love of Tommy Cooper. The Feztival will be held on the last weekend in February, and guests booked so far include the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Before that, though, Three Half Pints will perform in the national finals of the Hobgoblin Comedy Award on Saturday, February 7. Watch this space! 

Visit www.threehalfpints.co.uk

Tamera Foster
Tamera Foster


No, you’re not caught up in a time warp - familiar face Tameracorr Foster, pictured, really IS tipped to be one of Kent’s hottest new acts of this year!

Last seen on TV in the live shows of the 2013 series of X Factor, Gravesend’s Tamera, 17, has been kept under wraps and recording tracks in LA ahead of the release of her album in 2015.

The former North West Kent College student did not win Simon Cowell’s singing contest of 2013, but did secure herself a record deal.

Tamera has amassed a legion of more than 230,000 fans on Twitter. While they wait for the album, fans’ appetites have been whetted by a documentary released on Twitter on Christmas Day, which revealed snippets of some of the new songs.

Mum Rachel says: “Tamera has been working really hard in the studio pretty much every day, we’ve come back from LA. She’s still in touch with Nicole [Scherzinger] and she’s become friends with One Direction.”

Tamera only recently swapped LA for Gravesend when she headed back to her home town for Christmas.

“We had everyone back around my house and hopefully we’ll have Tamera back in 2015, too,” said Rachel.

Visit www.twitter.com/officialtamera

Scott Goss used to be head chef at The Swan in West Malling has opened Twenty Six at Tunbridge Wells
Scott Goss used to be head chef at The Swan in West Malling has opened Twenty Six at Tunbridge Wells


He appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word in 2009 and now WEST MALLING chef Scott is bound to be the name on Kent diners’ lips in 2015 with his latest restaurant.

Scott, formerly off The Swan in West Malling, has opened Twenty Six in TUNBRIDGE WELLS as one of his first ventures with new company, I’ll Be Mother, which he has launched with Peter Cornwall and David West.

The difference with this restaurant in Church Road, Southborough, is it’s menu.

It opened with a blank menu in October and creates what Scott describes as “humble foods” with locally-sourced produce. Each day’s menu is different, using his daily inspiration.

Scott and his two partners worked together at highly regarded The Swan, in Swan Street, and their portfolio includes the restaurant at Chapel Down Vineyard in Tenterden.

Visit www.thetwenty-six.co.uk or call 01892 544607.

Sisters Shannon and Leanne McCree who are the due McCrei. Picture: Martin Apps FM3543796
Sisters Shannon and Leanne McCree who are the due McCrei. Picture: Martin Apps FM3543796


A pair of sisters who write and sing their own songs are recording their first album with a producer who has worked with Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and the Lighthouse Family.

McCrei is teenagers Shannon and Leanne McCree from SNODLAND, who were spotted by music producer Alan Glass through their Facebook page, which has more than 40,500 likes.

Impressed by what he saw, Alan is now helping them record their debut album at his studio.

Younger sister Leanne, who is currently in year 11 at Wrotham School, fronts the duo.

She said: “Working with Alan has been amazing, he seems to really understand what we want to do and gets what we’re about. He isn’t trying to change anything. I love playing on stage with my sister and we get to practice a lot at home too so that’s a bonus.”

Older sister Shannon, 17, accompanies Leanne on guitar, bass, piano and backing vocals.

The music technology student at Mid Kent College in Gillingham said: “I’m looking forward to this year, we have some big shows lined up and are going to keep working to get our album right so we have something to give our fans.”

Local gigs lined up include the Hop Farm Festival in August, and a performance at The George at Trottiscliffe, near West Malling, on Friday, February 20.

It is hoped that their album will be recorded by the end of January but if you can’t wait, four songs are available at www.mccrei.com

The new Curzon Cinema at the Westgate Hall, Canterbury
The new Curzon Cinema at the Westgate Hall, Canterbury

CINEMA - CURZON CANTERBURYLights, camera, action... Kent’s newest cinema looks like it will go from strength to strength over the next 12 months. Curzon Cinemas operates three screens in a section of the Westgate Hall in CANTERBURY, and boasts 250 seats. The venue is a triumph of style and cool sophistication for those who battled to protect a building which had been earmarked for demolition.The cinema shows a varied blend of films from Hollywood blockbusters to arthouse offerings.Despite its eclectic offering the Curzon insists its appeal will be broad.The company’s Philip Knatchbull said: “This cinema is different to our competitor in Canterbury, but the important thing is that it is not elitist. We are going to have quality cinema, but that is not going to exclude Hollywood films. It will include the whole community and I’m sure it’s going to be a huge success.”Visit www.curzoncinemas.com/canterburyMUSIC - MOURNING BIRDS AND BEAT ROOT

Ben Jones and Andrea Magee of Beat Root
Ben Jones and Andrea Magee of Beat Root

Two MEDWAY bands look to be in prime position to take the world by storm after a busy 2014. Record deals are on the table for garage rockers Mourning Birds and roots/folk duo Beat Root, comprised of Medway favourites Andrea Magee and Ben Jones.

Jones and Magee will fly back to the USA for a new tour this year, after a Stateside roadtrip in 2014 won them a host of American fans and a record deal. New album Waiting on a Miracle is a quality collection of well-crafted songs, and will be followed up by further recording sessions later in 2015.

It’s something of a moral victory for both Ben and Andrea – the former having plugged away for years on the Kent music scene, and the latter now proving the X Factor judges were wrong to halt her progress on the TV talent show in 2013.

Medway band Mourning Birds
Medway band Mourning Birds

Mourning Birds are an entirely different proposition, relative newcomers who first caught the ear with a bunch of raucous songs delivered with rock ‘n’ roll energy, then followed it up with a stomper of a song, Breathe, which is probably what turned heads at P-Vine Records in Japan.

We’re not sure if Google Translate offers the most precise version of the Japanese label’s marketing blurb, but P-Vine’s enthusiasm for Mourning Birds is not lost in translation: “Strongest of Yasagure three-piece that put the raid in UK garage rock scene! Hear this if you want to hear the true ‘rock’!”

Visit www.beatroottheband.com and www.facebook.com/mourningbirds

Harry Reid as Ben Mitchell. Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes
Harry Reid as Ben Mitchell. Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes


EastEnders star Harry Reid is set to become a familiar face to the nation’s TV screens in 2015 after taking on the role of Walford psycho Ben Mitchell.

Harry, 22, from NORTHFLEET, joined the BBC soap in September to play the troubled youngster after his release from prison for killing Heather Trott. It is the former Northfleet Technology College pupil’s first big role since starting his career on the boards at the Miskin Theatre in Dartford.

His path to stardom began on the same stage that nurtured Bond girl Gemma Arterton and Emmerdale actor Dominic Power.

Now he is on screen portraying the psychotic Ben, son of hardman Phil Mitchell, and has already found himself at the centre of major unfolding plots. Audiences have seen him struggle with his sexuality by beginning a relationship with Abi Branning while also trying to kiss Johnny Carter.

But while he is causing chaos on Albert Square, back in North Kent, Harry is much more community-minded, having recently visited seriously ill adults and children being cared for by EllenorLions Hospices corr. 

See www.bbc.co.uk/programmes for more information on EastEnders’ Ben Mitchell character.

Business owners Steve Allen and James Caldon with members of their staff at One Pound Lane, in Canterbury
Business owners Steve Allen and James Caldon with members of their staff at One Pound Lane, in Canterbury


CANTERBURY’s Westgate Towers, at the centre of a controversial traffic trial for months, could become a wedding venue this year. The historic city centre site has undergone an ambitious £500,000 transformation with the neighbouring former gaol opening as a bar and café, which in itself looks destined to become a popular nightspot.

Business partners Stephen Allen and James Caldon are in the process of a phased redevelopment of the entire riverside site – parts of which date back to the 14th century.

Now the entrepreneurs are considering opening the main chamber in the towers, which is above the arch, as an events space.

Visit www.facebook.com/OnePoundLane

Laurie Vincent, left, and Isaac Holman of Maidstone based band Slaves in Austin, Texas
Laurie Vincent, left, and Isaac Holman of Maidstone based band Slaves in Austin, Texas


Two-piece punk band Slaves are officially ones to watch this year after they were included in a selection for BBC Music Sound of 2015.

Signed to Virgin EMI in March, the band is made up of 21-year-old Laurie Vincent, from MAIDSTONE, and former Hugh Christie pupil Isaac Holman, 23, from TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

After touring with indie supremo Jamie T, they also appeared alongside Irish megastars U2 on BBC2’s late-night live music show Later... With Jools Holland.

Their single The Hunter also received glowing reviews after being debuted on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show.

Their first album is set for release in 2015. Laurie, vocalist and guitarist for the band, said: “I’s more than we ever expected we could achieve.”

Visit www.youareallslaves.com

Blaise is the star of the Waitrose advertising campaign
Blaise is the star of the Waitrose advertising campaign

ACTOR - BLAISE ALLANThis year our money is on child actor Blaise, from BLEAN in Canterbury. She beat hundreds of hopefuls to front the Christmas marketing campaign for supermarket giant Waitrose.The 11-year-old starred in the multi-million pound adverts, which were launched on prime time TV during the X Factor. Waitrose held nationwide castings for the part of a young girl whose disastrous attempts to bake gingerbread prompt her to seek advice from the supermarket.Blaise, an aspiring actress who has been a member of the Kent Youth Theatre several years, was invited up to audition in London.KYT director Richard Andrews said: “She is a very good performer. Blaise is one of those who is perfect for the screen.”Visit www.kentyouththeatre.co.uk

Sian Bostwick Jewellery, Chatham
Sian Bostwick Jewellery, Chatham


It might seem like a bit of a late call to tip talented Sian Bostwick for success after a year which saw her pick up the UK Jewellery Awards New Designer of the Year title. But you wouldn’t bet against the CHATHAM jewellery designer hitting new heights in 2015.

Sian’s love of making jewellery was founded at the University for the Creative Arts’ jewellery and silversmithing course in Rochester, and each piece of jewellery, handcrafted in her workshop, has its own story to tell.

Sian draws on tales such as Alice in Wonderland, tales of enchanted woodlands and fairy glades, 20,00 Leagues Under the Sea and Tristan & Iseult to create jewellery with intricate detail and a touch of wonder. 

The fantasy looks set to continue with another magical year ahead. 

Visit www.sianbostwick.co.uk

Motion Picture Soundtrack are, from left, Graeme Blackwood, Nick Watts, Alastair Blackwood and Will Hasler
Motion Picture Soundtrack are, from left, Graeme Blackwood, Nick Watts, Alastair Blackwood and Will Hasler


Having come close to cracking it first time around, four-piece band Motion Picture Soundtrack have reunited for 2015 with a new album, Iconoclast.

Marriage, babies and some difficult life experiences have filled the intervening years since the CANTERBURY band played the Leeds and Reading Festivals in 2010, on the back of the success of their debut album, The Shapes We Fear Are Of Our Own.

The foursome – lead by frontman Alastair Blackwood – took a break to prioritise family life, and have self-produced the imminent new album from scratch, with advice from friend and renowned sound engineer Vincenzo Townshend, who has worked with Blur, Kaiser Chiefs and U2.

“The past few years have been quite painful, in terms particularly of problems that one of my sons has had with mild cerebral palsy and speech problems,” said dad-of-three Alastair. 

“At the same time there’s been an awful lot of hope, joy, and areas where we’ve seen huge improvement.

“The album title, Iconoclast, means a tearing down of idols, and in this case it’s meant from an internal point of view - the band had become an all-consuming thing that was quite damaging to relationships, and had become an idol in itself for us. The songwriting this time has a lot more joy despite the pain, and overall it’s been a process of re-establishing what’s most important in our lives.

"We want this album to be heard by as many as possible, we think it will really make an impact on people."”

The voices of the Canterbury Community Gospel Choir feature in the recording of the first single, called Piano IV, from the upcoming Iconoclast album. Piano IV can be heard online now and the second single, Endgame, will be released on Monday, January 26 and is available for pre-order now. The launch of the Iconoclast album is loosely scheduled for May.

Visit www.motionpicturesoundtrack.com

Kosheen are playing at the Britannia Theatre
Kosheen are playing at the Britannia Theatre


Medway’s Britannia Theatre looks set to be the hottest place for concerts this year. 

Having last year attracted a string of big names to the venue at CHATHAM Maritime, including Gwen Dickey’s Rose Royce, showbiz impresario David Gest, and British ‘Queen of Blues’ Elkie Brooks, it has some equally top names already booked for 2015, including The Selecter, Kosheen, Toyah The Blockheads and The Buzzcocks.

Signs that the venue was on-the-up first came in early 2014, when it was announced the Britannia had increased its capacity to 800 and been fitted with one of the best sound systems in the country.

Sound technology giant Bose, whose headquarters is just down the road in Gillingham, fitted the new £85,000 system, designed to deliver live acoustics to rival the UK’s leading music venues.

It’s obviously worked a treat! Visit www.thebritanniakent.com

Kit in his studio in Maidstone
Kit in his studio in Maidstone


His debut as an author took the teenage fiction world by storm. Now MAIDSTONE-based Kit is set to continue flying high in 2015.

The 43-year-old only began his career as a writer in 2012, after a switch from counselling ex-servicemen.

A stand-up comedian in his spare time, Kit published How to Bag a Jabberwock: A Practical Guide to Monster Hunting that year, and kicked off the trilogy he has been commissioned to write with The Monster Hunter.

He’s busy working on the second installment, and they are based in Kent, with familiar scenes around the Maidstone and Canterbury areas for eagle-eyed readers to spot.

Kit is an avid steampunk fiction fan and dresses in historically-inspired gear. He even has a quill in his studio, although generally writes on a computer for speed.

The Monster Hunter is published by Book Guild Publishing, and costs £9.99.

Visit www.bookguild.co.uk

Only The Young, including Charlie George left, and Parisa Tarjomani right, from Kent, with Betsy Blue English from Brighton and Michael Bromley from Carlisle. Picture: Hannah Baker
Only The Young, including Charlie George left, and Parisa Tarjomani right, from Kent, with Betsy Blue English from Brighton and Michael Bromley from Carlisle. Picture: Hannah Baker


This foursome featuring Charlie George from CHARTHAM, near Canterbury, and MARGATE’s Parisa Tarjomani are set to go places. They took this year’s X Factor by storm, surviving week after week during the live shows. Now they are preparing to go on the live tour around the country.

Among their more memorable performances on the ITV show were Jailhouse Rock, Come on Eileen and Elton John’s Something About The Way You Look Tonight.

At one stage, judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini told the group: “Your chemistry is so natural. You are so together and professional.” 

Visit www.facebook.com/otyofficial

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