New season: Norwich Arts Centre

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor Norwich Arts Centre has lined up another packed programme of music, comedy, theatre and more. Event editor Trevor Heaton reports.

TREVOR HEATON, EDP Whats On Editor

One of the busiest arts venues in East Anglia has announced its winter and early spring programme - and it's another mix of the familiar and the new, the mainstream and the eclectic.

Operating out of a former church off St Benedict's, Norwich Arts Centre has an enviable record of supporting local music and spotting fast-rising talent.

That excellent soul singer Ola Onabule makes a welcome return on March 17, while another “returnee” is the reconstituted the Zombies, featuring Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent (March 31).

Folk - both of the traditional and the 'nu-folk' styles - includes visits by Churchfitters (January 19), Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (February 14) and Cara Dillon (March 28). There's English folktronica retro-pop courtesy of Jim Noir on February 13 or King Creosote's acoustic indie-folk DIY noodlings on March 1. Kathryn Tickell - who has done so much to bring the rich Northumbrian smallpipes musical heritage to a wider audience - will be in concert on February 28.

Jazz and world music is also heavily featured, with artists from Algeria, Israel, Greece, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Italy and Sweden among others. Zimbabwean band Batanai Marimba will celebrate both the past and future of African NuRoots dance music at the world music ROUTES night on December 9, while on January 28, an eclectic fusion of Balkan gipsy songs, rhythms and funky dance grooves comes together with the Baghdaddies. That excellent pianist Julian Joseph will be a winter warmer for jazz fans on January 25 - look out too for Julia Biel's achingly beautiful tones on March 24.

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Delta blues guitarist Kent DuChaine returns to the NAC on January 11, his beloved National Steel guitar Leadbessie in tow, and the Gentle Giant of the Blues, Otis Grand, brings his Big Blues Band on March 4 for his umpteenth annual NAC date.

The arts centre can claim credit for much of the thriving music scene in the Norwich area (not that they would ever do so, modest people that they are).

The centre is also a formidable venue for stand-up comedy. Look out for Perrier winner Daniel Kitson (January 12), radio favourites Lee Mack (January 27) and Jo Caulfield (February 22), plus a Best of Edinburgh Double Bill on March 23 with Rob Deering and Russell Howard. Another centre favourite is Lucy Porter (March 2).

Theatre, too, is promised including surreal drama Goldfish Swimming (February 23) from Fluid Theatre, Small Change Theatre's spoof personal development seminar Making the Difference (March 6) and on February 15 Pip Utton's portrayal of artist Francis Bacon in his show Bacon.

Families should look out for Tall Stories' Them With Tails on February 17, featuring myths and legends from around the world - and a lot of silliness!

There will also be a full programme of exhibitions - including open exhibition, 25, celebrating the work of women, photographers from across East Anglia (February 20-March 23) to mark the centre's 25th anniversary.

Oh, and there's digital, software and photography courses too.

Phew!

More details from 01603 660352 or www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

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