Final Rye Arts Festival weekend offers something for everyone

The 2019 Rye Arts Festival offers something to suit all tastes, from folk music to classical music by way of jazz and African; books and talks; films and drama; and art galleries.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 5:58 pm
Timberlina & Dr Aspalls

And this year the final weekend of the festival serves up plenty of mouth-watering treats.

Sunday, September 29, features some of the very finest of Rye’s artistic talents. The recently revivified Rye Players, who have merged with the venerable Rye Shakespeare Company, are dusting off a short, irreverent play called Shakespeare in Rye. Some people will remember the play being premiered around 20 years ago as part of the Secret History of Rye series of plays. Well, it’s back with two performances at the Tudor Room at the Mermaid at 2pm and 4pm.

Following the drama there is going to be a free Sunday Soiree at the Queen’s Head, which will wrap up the 49th annual Rye Arts Festival. Starting at 5pm the audience will be richly entertained by ecological, hirsute first hostess of drag Timberlina, accompanied by self-declared ‘jazz rebel’ and keyboard king Dr Aspalls, who looks strikingly like Phil Laws. They will be joined by a special guest chanteuse, the highly talented and youthful Rachel Cuming. Expect an afternoon of jazz standard and cabaret.

Dame Emma Kirby

Daily through to September 28 there will be a free exhibition at Bridge Point featuring the amazing work of Fred Cuming RA. Approaching his 90th birthday, Fred is still painting but this retrospective is not to be missed. Called Coastal Landscapes, much of the work focuses on his paintings of Camber, Rye Harbour, Winchelsea Beach and so on. Fred lives locally, paints locally and is inspired by his locality.

Turning to the Books & Talks menu, award-winning journalist Kate Bradbury, who was featured on BBC2 Springwatch and writes about wildlife gardening, will be giving a talk at 3pm on Saturday, September 28 (Rye Methodist Church). Kate will be bringing her own experiences to bear as she talks about how you can make your garden, patio, balcony or even just a window-box a haven for wildlife – everything from hedgehogs, bees, birds, bugs and bats. Kate’s message is that it doesn’t matter how much space you have available; you can do something to help wildlife and the environment.

In the evening the festival shifts gear, with common or garden, earthy and raunchy blues at their very best. On Friday, September 27, the Jim Hammond Blues Band entertain the town (Rye Community Centre). The band is fronted by Jim Hammond himself on lead vocals and who plays guitars and piano, switching effortlessly from slide guitar to boogie-woogie piano. He is joined on stage by blues harp player West Weston with Orlando Shearer on bass and Loris Peverani on drums.

Rye Arts Festival is thrilled to welcome back Emma Kirkby with Dowland works to sing and play ‘early music’ from the English cannon on Saturday, September 28 (St Mary’s Church). Starting with John Dowland’s music the concert will also feature his successors – John Danyell, the brothers Lawes and Henry Purcell. Emma Kirkby is world-renowned as an early music specialist and is one of the UK’s finest sopranos.

Jim Hammond

For more details of these and all other events visit or go into the box office at Phillips & Stubbs in Cinque Ports Street. Alternatively, call 01797 224442.

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