GOING APE: Music store manager Dale Nash has led a project to promote unsigned bands SL1502103/2
ONE town centre music store is hoping to make Tunbridge Wells a platform for independent music.
With The Forum allowing local bands the chance to perform at a venue which has hosted household names like Oasis and Coldplay, the town's music scene is buzzing.
Now there are plans to make sure local talent is top of the bill, thanks to a new initiative by music shop Ape.
The store, on Mount Pleasant Road, is launching Ape Unsigned – a project to promote new music.
As well as stocking unsigned acts the shop will give a platform to local bands by hosting regular concerts.
Manager Dale Nash came up with the idea after considering the wealth of talent in the area.
He said: "I go to The Forum a lot and there are so many great acts coming through. People like Tom Williams And The Boat and the Charlie Rivers Band are showing how much local talent there is.
"I wanted that to be reflected in the shop."
Ape Unsigned will officially launch on March 12 with unsigned acts appearing on the shelves alongside mainstream artists and regular showcase sessions featuring local musicians.
Mr Nash said the move will only help to strengthen the independent music scene in Tunbridge Wells.
"Hopefully, it will really open people's eyes to what is out there," he said. "It's good to have the big music stores selling the famous names but every town needs a good independent music store that can cater for individual tastes."
Jerry Brennan, from Rok Skool – a St Johns-based organisation helping young people form bands – welcomed the initiative.
He said: "It's a sign of how the music industry is changing. The power of record labels is diminishing and especially in places like Tunbridge Wells, where local bands are regularly appearing at The Forum, there is an appetite for independent music."
Unsigned acts in the area can already take part in The Stable – a weekly showcase for new music at The Forum.
The competition, which offers a two day recording session as its grand prize, allocates each band a 25-minute set of which two tracks are recorded live.
A combination of voting by the audience and music industry executives listening to recordings will determine the grand final line-up in August.
For all your local music information see Go!
The man behind everyone's favourite alternative Christmas song has already set the bar for local acts to follow.
Shane MacGowan spent parts of his childhood in Tunbridge Wells.
The Pogues frontman was born in the town on Christmas Day 1957 and attended Holmewood House School in Langton Green.
He later became as famed for his distinctive look and teeth, plus his love of alcohol, as for his songs, which included the 1987 Christmas classic Fairytale In New York which he sang with Kirsty MacColl