The Tunbridge Wells Mela took place for the first time at Dunorlan Park on July 29 and attracted around 5000 people. The free festival ran between 1pm and 7pm and the audience in attendance were able to see a number of exciting performances including Olga Zaitseva and Band who performed traditional Ukrainian folk songs in a modern crossover style, Nurjahan Shilpi a popular Bangladeshi Singer who performed a number of her hits, the Cohesion Plus produced “Talking Dhols” Fusion piece which featured Four by Four Bhangra and Cultural Beats. The Mela was headlined by bhangra Superstar Jassi Sidhu who had the Mela audience dancing to the bhangra beat and the leading Madness Tribute Act “One Step Behind” who sang all the supergroup hits including “Our House”.
Jassi Sidhu commented “I really enjoyed performing at the Mela. It is great for artists like me to expose my music to new non-Asian audiences and the response I had was great. Despite the rain the crowd really got into my performance and I am grateful to Cohesion Plus Kent for their on-going work to promote culturally diverse arts and artists around Kent.”
In addition to the full stage programme there were a wealth of stalls for Mela visitors to enjoy including food, arts and craft and information stands. The Mela was organised in partnership by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Cohesion Plus Kent.
The Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus Kent Gurvinder Sandher who programmed the Mela commented “ We had a diverse programme ranging from European Folk to Bhangra Pop. I was especially pleased with the positive response to our produced performance “Talking Dhols” which the crowd really joined in with. The first part of the performance is about how the dhol drum talks to the dancers and how they interact together on stage, in the second part it is about how the dancers and drummers interact with the audience and it was great to see everyone dancing. I am pleased that our long standing partnership with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council was able to deliver a great Mela and also very grateful to Arts Council for their on-going support. We aim to use the arts to bring communities together and all the hard work is so worthwhile when people come and enjoy your events like what happened at Tunbridge Wells.”
Check out footage from the Mela below: