New season: Norwich Arts Centre

Trevor Heaton One of East Anglia’s busiest venues has lined up another packed programme for its new season, with plenty of familiar names – and others who soon will be.

Trevor Heaton

Norwich Arts Centre in St Benedict's continues to be one of the region's liveliest entertainment centres, with a packed programme of music, drama, comedy exhibitions, workshops, courses and more.

It's backed, too, by a happy knack for picking “just-about-to-go-mega” artists, most famously the time when grunge gods Nirvana appeared there… as a support act.

Music, as usual, dominates. Eye-catching appearances for April include a double bill of outstanding guitarists on April 3, John Etheridge (who's played with Soft Machine and John Williams) and Kit Holmes (tickets £10, concs £8); Brazilian electronica from Cibelle, £10 adv, £12 door); Mercury-nominated Kathryn Williams appearing with Neil Maccoll (April 8, £15 adv, £16 door); award-winning jazz from the Neil Cowley Trio (April 10, £10, concs £8); Minnesota band Low (April 12, £15adv, £16 door); Nizlopi (remember the JCB Song?) on April 14 (£9 adv, £10 door); rapper Lethal Bizzle (April 15, £12/ £13); “punk tango” from La Chicana (April 19, £12, concs £10); “Monster” hit-makers the Automatic (April 20, £9/£10); Next Big Thing IV winners the Kabeedies (April 24, £5/£7); the return of fast-rising popsters Ben's Brother (April 25, £10); Scottish folk trio Lau (April 27, £12, concs £10), and alt country outfit Jason and the Scorchers (April 30, £10/£11).

May, too, is packed with goodies, including the Maconie/Radcliffe-tipped Royworld (May 3, £6); fast-rising Norwich singer-songwriter Rory McVicar (May 6); delightful Aussie brother-sister acoustic pop from Angus and Julia Stone (May 7, £8/£9); jazzers Acoustic Ladyland (May 8, £10, concs £8); a NR ONE showcase on May 9 (£4/£5); reggae with Foundation Sound (May 10, £7/£8); stunning flamenco from the Juan Martin Ensemble (May 11, £15, concs £12.50); electro-psychedelia from Caribou (May 12, £8/£9); award-winning traditional Irish band Altan (May 16, £13, concs £10); Gomez's Ben Ottewell (May 22, £12/£13); the return of Albert Lee and Hogan's Heroes (May 23, £15, concs £12.50) and blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards (May 27, £10, concs £8).

June and July includes Celtic band Solas (June 1), Teddy Thompson (June 2), satirical 1970s country star Kinky Friedman (June 4), pop-folk legend Judy Collins (June 9), acclaimed jazz from Christine Tobin (June 12), Dyko - featuring Wolfgang Flür (ex-Kraftwerk) - on June 13, the Balanescu Quartet (June 18), African music from the Seckou Keita Quartet (June 19), fast-being-noticed Sargasso Trio (July 4), Voodoo Glow Skulls (July 16) and Siberian throat-singing from Altai Kai (July 29).

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Comedy always features heavily in any arts centre brochure. One of the acts to watch in 2008 is Tom Binns with his spoof hospital radio show Ivan Brackenbury, winner of the Spirit of the Fringe Award and an if.comedy Award nominee (April 17, £10, concs £8); John Bishop (May 1, £12, concs £10); local comedy with Axis of Evil (May 2, £7, concs £5); former Perrier winner Daniel Kitson (May 26, £10, concs £8); a Leicester Comedy Festival tour with Count Arthur Strong and Josie Long (June 6); Pappy's Fun Club (July 2); Mark Watson, with a mix of old and Edinburgh preview material (July 8); Russell Kane/Steve Williams (July 22).

Drama and performance includes the gothic drama of Nightmare Café (April 7, £6, concs £5); The Monday Night Alternative is a new spoken word club hosted by Channel 4's Tim Clare (April 21, May 19 and June 23, £4/£5); prison multi-media drama Crackdown (April 26, £5); Niki McCretton's theatrical tribute to astronauts in Space 50 (May 28, £9, concs £7) and children's show Muttnik (May 29, £7, concs £5); the powerful story of imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi in The Lady of Burma (June 5); children's author/performer Valerie Bloom (June 15).

Photographic exhibitions include Martin Figura (March 28-April 28), Richard Heeps (May 2-June 14) and Norfolk Photographer of the Year (July 17-September 13). An application form for the latter - which has the theme Little Things - is available from holly@norwichartscentre.co.uk (closing date June 2).

t Norwich Arts Centre box office: 01603 660352, www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk www.norwichartscentre.co.uk