Return of the Proms!

One of the best things about the Proms is getting everyone together again to enjoy live music. This year, on the back of the pandemic, it was a leap of faith and Shipston and the villages jumped with us. They attended events, bought raffle tickets in abundance, waited patiently while we got to grips with Sum-up and Zettle and even turned up to gigs modelling our new black T-shirts.

Over the fortnight we put on 40 events which included national groups, local bands, DJ’s, three children’s events, two choirs, solo artists, bell ringers and a Taiko drummer! The Swan in Kineton was a new venue for us this year. Unfortunately, here, there is not enough space to mention everyone, but thank you to all performers and venues (you know who you are) who contributed to a great Proms fortnight.

One memorable moment was when Uncle Funk invited the audience to sit down in a line and hit the floor for the Oops Upside your Head song during Launch Night at Townsend Hall. The Glastonbury band gave us a real disco trip down memory lane!

On the wettest night of the Proms, when the heavens opened, international blues guitarist Oliver Darling turned out to play a brilliant set to the crowd in the back room of the White Bear, as part of the Pub trail. I hope his suede shoes recovered!

On the hottest day of the year [This was written before we hit 40c in July! - Editor], The Hub was an ideal spot to hold a Kids Dance Party. DJ Tim Samsara entertained the children while they had a run and kick around outside as adults relaxed with a drink and ice-creams to keep cool. The adults having a chance to chill was one of the aims of the afternoon and it worked. In the evening the Hub hosted the Adult Dance Party and was a sell-out. Partygoers made the most of Ibizan rave beats played by DJs Tim, Symthy, and March Boyce until the early hours.

A new venture this year was ‘Shipston Introducing’ in the courtyard of El Café, replacing the Fame Contest, and this turned out to be a highlight of the festival. There were eight acts altogether and all the contestants were outstanding. Shipston’s Helen Stanford performed on the keyboard and sang three beautiful songs she wrote herself, and 21-year-old James Pullen, a former Shipston High School pupil had a great reception to the self-authored songs he played on guitar. Perhaps apt for Father’s Day when the contest was held; ‘The Weekend Warriors’, a father and son combo delivered an upbeat act that impressed the judges. The three youngsters, all from near Chipping Norton and under fourteen played keyboard, bass and drums accompanied by two of the dads.

The other act that grabbed the judge’s attention was Shipston-based Teresa Brooks with her strong confident Taiko drumming. Her interest in drumming originated from her love of sport and music and Japanese drumming combined the two. She played a modern piece that she had written herself, then performed a traditional Miyake Island drumming style with audience participation. For her final piece, Teresa moved to the ‘Odaiko’ a large Japanese barrel-shaped drum to give a very energetic loud last number. Wow!

The youngest entrant was 10-year-old Sam Connisbee, a protegee of local singer-songwriter Greg Brice (who has an album out this year), who played a note-perfect rendition of Link Wray’s Rumble. It was great to see him again later in the week at the Open Mic Night at the Black Horse and it emphasised what a competent player he is.

On that night, there was an array of local talent on stage, expertly organised by Barney Porter. 19-year-old Toby King impressed the audience with his rendition of a Kaleo song and his sister Lizzie gave listeners in the pub garden a fine finale with her gutsy cover of ‘Let’s do it’ by Victoria Wood. A visibly nervous Mike Powell left the audience staggering with his amazing Spanish guitar playing, an art which he picked up during lockdown.

It was good to have the support of Townsend Hall, who organise their own varied programme of music throughout the year. During the Proms, they put on a very well-attended evening of lively jazz music with ‘Baby’ Jools and the Jazzaholics.

On stage for the Last Night of the Proms, the Shipston Introducing Acts produced two confident performances with Teresa Brookes and Taiko drumming on first and the Weekend Warriors performing some Stevie Wonder – they really helped to get the party started in the High Street. Dusk Til Dawn stomped their way through some heavy rock numbers while the Shapes delivered some alternative indie songs they had written themselves. Rick Parfitt Junior came on to tumultuous applause and he and his band bowled the audience over with their sheer professionalism as they delivered hit after hit. Rick commented that the Last Night for him had been ‘joyous’ after what had been a brutal tour. Obviously responding to the ‘Shipston spirit’ in the crowd he expressed his admiration that the town had come together to provide such a great show.

So, many thanks to everyone who attended our events and helped make this another memorable Proms. We will look now towards 2023 and if you have any feedback or suggestions for future years, please keep them coming via our Facebook Page, or email to

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