Nominations are now open for the inaugural LUNECY AWARDS 2009.

Awards will be given in the following categories:
Best Album
Best Live Act
Best Writer
Best Other Performer (eg dancer, actor, performance artist etc.)
Best Visual Artist

Please send nominations to me at by 18 January 2010.
Assuming sufficient interest shortlists will then be announced for you to vote for your favourites.

Richard Davis Exhibition at The Dukes

An exhibition of striking portraits from photographer Richard Davis will be showing at The Dukes from 4 January to 2 February 2010.

Lancaster 2009 is an intimate look at the local arts scene and includes images of musicians, comedians, poets, dancers, writers, storytellers, artists and DJs.

Richard has photographed over 100 people in the course of 2009 and plans to stop on New Year’s Eve. The inspiration behind the exhibition came from an earlier project in 1990 called Entertainment UK. Entertainment UK opened in Manchester and featured people living in the city at the time. Many were unknown artists but have since gone on to become household names including Steve Coogan, Dave Gorman, Caroline Aherne, Happy Mondays and Vic and Bob.

Richard said:

“I’ve seen that Lancaster has the capacity to contribute towards a healthy North West arts scene, even though it isn’t on the scale of Liverpool and Manchester. This collection illustrates the breadth of creativity in Lancaster and the surrounding area. And who knows? Maybe some of the people featured will go on to become household names!”

The Dukes Gallery is open from 10am to 11pm, Monday to Saturday. Please call box office on 01524 598500 to check opening times if you’re making a special journey as occasionally the space is closed to the public.

Word Soup 8

The Continental’s monthly live literature night returns on Tuesday 22nd December.

This month’s readings are centered on the theme ‘Old’, and the night includes readings from several North West based writers.

There will be performances from Zoe Lambert, Peter Crompton and Rachel McGladery, along with a special showcase spot from ‘sCribble’ – Preston’s newest creative writing group.

We will also have music from Karima Francis! (who actually appeared on Jools Holland’ TV show earlier this year)

The night will be compered by writer Jenn Ashworth. Open mic reading slots will be available on the night for anyone willing to read three minutes of poetry or prose of their choosing.

Please also join the brand new ‘Lancashire Writing Hub’ facebook group which has been set up to connect writers across the region…

Previous Word Soup performers can be viewed online at the brand new ‘Lancashire Writing Hub youtube channel which features clips of They Eat Culture volunteer, Norman Hadley.

Word Soup 8 occurs at The Continental on Tuesday 22nd December at 8pm. Tickets are just £3. Discounts for group bookings are available so please ask at the bar.

The Continental, South Meadow Lane, Broadgate, Preston, PR1 8JP. Tel: 01772 499425

How was it for you?

Yes, tis the season to compile lists of all that you enjoyed most in 2009. And where betetr to post them than right here on the Lunecy Review…
so here’s the idea, in the comments below, or as a separate entry should you wish to elaborate, we would like to know what rocked your world, blew you away, or gave you that special feeling in 2009. And just this once you can break the local only rule, so if you saw a great band in Cleckheaton or read a fantastic book from Ulaan Bator, lets hear about it. If it was a personal event like getting your work out in public or a global thing do tell.
I’ll give it a day or so then put mine up there… (mostly cos I havent decided yet…)
— Kev x

Christmas cabaret at The Dukes

Tuesday 15 & Wednesday 16 December

If you’re dreaming of a different kind of seasonal celebration this Christmas, then look no further as The Dukes will be decking the halls with an alternative Christmas Cabaret on 15 and 16 December.

Sip on a chilled glass of Kir Royal whilst enjoying a festive buffet from Lancaster’s Quite Simply Food and wait for the fun to begin.  The house band will be playing live music and Cliff Richard is definitely off the agenda.

Then its ‘show-time’ with a line-up as camp as Christmas. The incomparable Henning Wehn, the self-styled German Comedy Ambassador, will be keeping the evening on track with his impeccable German timing.  You’ll also be treated to some of the finest comedy, magic and music from the likes of The Re-Entrants and comedy performer Kriss Foster.  A few surprises are also promised along the way, and thanks to the wonders of theatre technology, The Dukes can guarantee you snow!

This is the perfect way for friends, couples and groups alike to celebrate the season, and there’s not a Little Drummer Boy in sight.

Tickets for the evening cost £28.50 with discounts for groups of 10 or more.  Please call The Dukes Box Office on 01524 598500 or see to book.

Mitch Benn and the Distractions

The Round – 22/11/09

Reviewed by Reza Mills

Musical comedy has had something of a renaissance in the past few years thanks to the efforts of Bill Bailey, Rich Hall (as Otis Lee Crenshaw) and ahem; Tim Minchin. You can now add Mitch Benn to that delectable list. Mitch has been plying his trade since 1994 and is a regular writer and performer on Radio 4’s ‘The Now Show’ as well as ‘Its’ Been a Bad Week’ on Radio 2.  You might even have seen him on BBC1’s Watchdog at various times. In addition to all this Mitch has a regular touring band called ‘The Distractions’ (a knowing nod to Elvis Costello’s The Attractions perhaps?) which he formed back in 2003 and with whom he has released 7 full length CD’s, the latest of which is called Where Next?. Lancaster is the penultimate show on the current tour.

The Distractions are a trio consisting of obviously Mitch Benn on Lead Vocals/Guitar, long time collaborator Kirsty Newton on Bass/keyboards and back-up vocals and a replacement drummer (whose name I’ve forgotten, sorry whoever you are!) for other regular Tasha Baylis. The Round is for the most part packed with what seems to be your stereotypical ‘Radio 4 listener’, something Mitch picks up on. Curiously there are very few younger people present, could it be that Mitch is too cult even for them?

Those not familiar with Mitch’s work, think of a less surreal, more topical Bill Bailey and your halfway there. Like Bailey, Benn is an extremely proficient and talented musician, capable at turning his hand to most musical styles. He covers the gambit of genres ranging from Jazz-fusion, heavy metal, rock opera, hip-hop, and ska. The Distractions work very well as a collective unit, very tight and cohesive despite the many technical difficulties present on the evening. You could say there were many ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ present tonight; see this comedy stuff is contagious. Its’ credit to Mitch who shows himself to be the consummate professional that he continues and preservers through all the hitches and difficulties with the equipment. Lesser men would probably have thrown in the towel in frustration. In fact Kirsty does a fine job of entertaining the audience whilst Mitch tries to iron out the problems faced by his guitar. Whilst Mitch is clearly the star and the reason why we’re all here, Kirsty should not be forgotten. She does have a very fine voice and in fact takes the lead on an early 60’s twisted love song called ‘Now he’s gone’.

The evening is a successful mix of friendly banter and music, Mitch often giving a brief synopsis of the number about to be played. Highlights include a great Heavy Metal pastiche called ‘Oh IKEA’; Mitch doing a great Steve Harris interpretation, with the old machine gun bass and yo-yo eyebrows. He also does a hilarious Morrissey micky-take, whining away in ‘Never went through a Smiths phase’ and a great Eminem/Shakespeare collaboration called ‘(Macbeth) My Name is’ complete with hockey mask and gangsta strut. In tribute to The War of the Worlds, he performs his own rock opera ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ a song that recalls Meatloaf in places, suitably bombastic and silly this is a new song taken from ‘Where Next?’ Referencing the constant slew of ‘previously unreleased’ Beatles albums flooding the market he performs ‘Please don’t release this song’.  Could equally be applied to the countless Jimi Hendrix albums released posthumously.

‘A minutes noise for John’ is a lovely, heartfelt tribute to legendary Radio DJ John Peel done in the style of a 1977 punk band (in this case The Undertones – one of John’s favourite bands) and ‘Sing Like an Angel’ is a savage satire sung in the perspective of an X-Factor wannabe. Mitch also shows off his improvisional skills when just before the break he asks the audience to come up with at least 3 topics that he has to write a song about in the interval. The 3 topics were Floods (my suggestion), Tuition Fees and a murdered girl who was served as a kebab. He plays this song at the start of the second half.

Needless to say there were many highlights to the show, but I thought I’d give you all a taster of what you can expect when you go and see him for yourselves. You can catch Mitch either on air on numerous programmes (too many to list at present) or on Watchdog, believe me its’ even worth putting up with Anne Robinson.