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The Arboretum has been put on the live music map in recent years with a series of small festivals over the Summer months.
The latest addition, and one wishing to stand out from the crowd, is Chill in the Park. This modest event with big ambitions, to quote their programme, supplied me with an excuse not to stay in for Live8. This festival day featured The Nottinghamshire Chinese Women's Choir, Rapunzel M.A.P., The Laidback Project, Samantha Carty, TTN, Unique World feat. Sami Haque and DJ DCI.
First act The Nottinghamshire Chinese Women's Choir have a small, mainly Chinese, following who loyally attend their select performances around the city. With singing to backing music quite commonplace, the choir made a refreshing, if slightly cheesy in places, change with their Cantonese songs. As with his opening set DJ DCI blended dub, indie, Bollywood and trip hop as a prelude to busker-about-town, Rapunzel M.A.P. She deserved this official gig and didn't disappoint with her angelic voice and charming songs.
Her Laidback Project in which she sang original songs over instrumentals quickly followed her short set. A bold and brilliant departure from her more traditional performances. DCI continued with more trip hop, French rap, a remix of Neneh Cherry's Woman and some Mali reggae which led perfectly into late addition to the bill, poet and singer Samantha Carty. Poetry you usually find in an arts & performance type tent at festivals. Not an option here, Sam shone with her passionate poems and soulful acapella songs. Next up, another late addition, TTN, nicely represented our thriving hip hop scene with their commentary on the nation's Murder Capital telling it how it really is.
Don't believe the hype. A track called Staring at the Sun encouraged the weather to give the afternoon another sunshine break and, D? rewarded, continued with indie, hip hop and Arabic grooves that set the stage for Unique World featuring Sami Haque. There's still a buzz going around about this group with their collective approach to fusion music, which can often result in up to 10 musicians/singers being part of a percussion-based performance. This time opting for only five members, they actually benefited from a smaller ensemble performing their unique world music. A final set by the DJ brought the event to a beautiful close with Billie Holiday ytime We Say Goodbye.
Earlier on I overheard a man comment to D? C.I. You should play some dancey music. Something to get the crowd going."You just don't get it do you" came the reply. True, many did not. However, like myself, the majority of the audience will be back in 2006 to see where they take their excellent debut.
Chill in the Park was at The Arboretum Park on 2 July 2005