Out & About

Student Lock-in

The Mall shopping centre is calling all local sixth form, college and university students to an exclusive lock-in taking place later this month. If you fit the bill, love shopping and are looking for a great night out then this is an event for you! Having been run successfully for the past few years, the lock-in provides students with a host of freebies offered by local retailers and other organisations as a welcome to the new academic year.

From 6.30pm to 9pm on Tuesday 13 October, The Mall will be open strictly for students only with musical entertainment and a guest appearance by former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan. Many of the most popular stores and brands will be opening their doors with exclusive offers, discounts, giveaways and freebies all night long, including Topshop, Topman, Schuh, New Look and River Island. And if just the thought of all that shopping has you famished, pop into the fab 1950s-themed Ed’s Diner and get 50% off all food that night.

To attend you must pre-register for this exclusive free event by 5pm on Tuesday 13 October so that you can enjoy all these awesome offers and entertainment. To register, simply visit www.themall.co.uk/Luton or visit the Ask Me Point in-centre. Don’t forget to let all your friends and fellow students know so they don’t miss out either. Join The Mall’s Facebook event at www.facebook.com/themallluton Plus, follow them on Twitter and Instagram for exclusive updates and a sneak peek into the action coming your way on the night! www.twitter.com/themallluton or www.instagram.com/themallluton or search @themallluton

70 Years of Mondays

Luton Library Theatre will kick-off another season of ‘Music on Mondays’ for an astounding 70th year on 28 September at 7.30pm. This is no small achievement as few if any towns can boast a voluntary sector-run 20-concert classical music season of the quality on offer in Luton. In fact the town is well known in musical circles for this unique series and it needs to be more widely appreciated and enjoyed by the Luton public generally as something to be proud of.

The new season starts with another glittering line-up of imaginatively programmed concerts aimed at offering top-class music and great entertainment. It will be the third and final season of its ‘Celebrating British Composers’ initiative which has involved presenting at least one work written by a British composer in every concert. The series offers a great deal of variety and there will be something to discover and enjoy for all classical music tastes. The 20 concerts will run from the end of September 2015 until the end of March 2016.

All but three of the events will take place at its regular home in Luton’s Library Theatre and for the remainder the series will be visiting different locations, broadening the reach to ever newer audiences in and around Luton. Not only will instrumental classical chamber music be very much to the fore, as usual, but there will be several concerts featuring music with song, narration and verse. A full listing of concerts and ticketing information is available on www.Lutonmusic.org.uk or collect a season brochure from the Central Library.

Royal Return

Luton Poetry Society will welcome back Her Majesty’s Lord-lieutenant for Bedfordshire Helen Mellis at their National Poetry Day celebration on Saturday 31 October. This event will feature poetry readings and classical music recitals on ‘light’, which is the national theme for this year.

Luton Poet Laureate and Founder of the group Mary Emeji, who has penned six books of which one is entitled ‘Royal Luminosity’, said: “What better day to have a luminous royal guest with us? The Lord-lieutenant is such a special lady with a radiant smile and she warmed up to our poetry last time. We look forward to welcoming her back!”

In her comment about her visit last year, the Lord-lieutenant pointed out: “I am delighted to meet a group of artists who are actively engaged in writing poetry and composing music in Luton. It is through sharing in events like these, that we learn more about ourselves and other people in our fantastically vibrant communities.”

Luton Poetry Society regularly meets at the Central Library on the last Saturday of each month at 2pm, and any poetry mind wishing to join them can contact them at www.lutonpoetrysociety.com or Twitter @LutonPoetrySoc

Love Luton Marathon

The third Love Luton Half-Marathon will take place this month on Sunday 25 October 2015, now one of the town’s largest sporting events. Measured by UK Athletics, the marathon officially covers the distance of 13.1 miles from Stockwood Park Athletics Centre, eventually finishing in the Town Centre. Run through the town on road the route takes in part of the Luton Hoo estate, passing the iconic mansion house before heading off towards Barnfield Avenue, where it loops back towards the finish line. During the Marathon the roads will be closed and the event is fully marshalled by a team of local volunteers. There will be drinks stations located every three miles and the course is not suitable for wheelchair competitors. There will be a strict three-hour limit on the event and there is still time to enter via the website www.loveluton.org

Meet the Murphys

As part of their whistle-stop UK tour, The Murphys, the award-winning family band from County Kerry, will arrive in Luton later this month.

Having secured this appearance the organisers have been delighted to announce that they will perform at Luton Central Library on Friday 23 October from 7.30pm until 10pm.

The Murphys have successfully presented their own television shows on Irish TV with videos of their hit songs regularly featuring on other television channels such as Ireland’s West on Channel 266, Hot Country and Malachy and Susan’s Show on Irish TV. The band consist of father Pat, who plays keyboards, accordion and sings, alongside daughters Cindy, Candy and Katie who play guitar, fiddle, mandolin as well as sing between them.

The band has represented Ireland and UK at the CMA Global Artists Party in Nashville Tennessee. They have had hits with their own songs including: My Connemara Marble Ring (written by Candy and recorded by in excess of 90 different artists to date), The Empty Room (co-written by Candy and Katie) and Streets Of Promise (co-written by Candy and Katie and one of the most requested songs on Radio in the past year as well as having 181,000 plays on YouTube up until today.)

The new single from The Murphys (written by the band) is just about to be released and is entitled “Working Mom”.

Tickets cost £12 with concessions priced at £10. To book call the box office on 01582 878100 or book online at www.lutonculture.com

At Large in Dunstable

Community Awards

Some great stories are emerging from wonderful local individuals and firms who have been nominated for this year’s Dunstable and Houghton Regis Business and Community Awards. The closing date for nominations is in early October and there are some additional categories in this year’s competition, which has a host of sponsors from the local community.

Zoe Johnson has been nominated for Role Model of the Year for raising money for Cancer Research. The person who nominated Zoe wrote: “Zoe has seen many of her friends and family struggle with cancer and has decided to do something about it which is to raise money for Cancer Research. Her main challenge to achieve a goal and funds was to shave her hair off and then donate the hair to Princess Trust. This will allow a young girl to receive a wig to help her come to terms with her cancer also see her smile with lovely locks. She also raised over £1,000 towards the charity, too. An inspiration and fabulous role model to so many of us!”

Sahira Ward has been nominated for Volunteer of the Year for her dedication to her project, Incredible Edible, which provides an opportunity to knit communities, educate children on food production and foster an ethos of ‘work equals reward’.

A new business on the Dunstable scene, Jaccs Coffee, has been nominated for Customer Care of the Year. The person who nominated Jaccs wrote: “The costs are so good it means we can have more than one drink if we get chatting. There are so many different people who go in on a regular basis, from professions, elderly, mums of young children along with others.”

Also nominated for Customer Care of the Year is D.I. Butchers. The person who nominated the business wrote: “Great customer service, really look after us old folk. I buy from the butchers every week and they know me well. I always feel I get a lovely friendly welcome and they care about us too.”

The awards night will be held in Dunstable on November 12, but the deadline for getting nominations in is October 5, so there is still time to get nominating. The judges will be meeting in mid-October to decide the winners.

For more details and to enter the variety of business and community categories online, visit the website www.dunstableawards.co.uk

You can also follow the awards on Twitter @DunRegisAwards or like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/dunstableawards

Best Bar None

Dunstable and Houghton Regis pubs and bars are vying for your vote to make them top spot in this year’s ‘People’s Vote’ in the forthcoming Best Bar None awards.

Venues that have been shortlisted for the prestigious award include Club Cookies, Go Houghton, Freasey Park CFC, First & Last, Bird in Hand, Dunstable Leisure Centre and Go Bowling.

Criteria that you can use to assess which venue you think should win can include the clientiele, cleanliness of the venue, value for money, atmosphere, staff, entertainment and food, among other considerations. This is the only award that is decided by the public. All other merits will be decided upon by a team of multi-agency judges.

Best Bar None is a national scheme that recognises standards at pubs, bars and nightclubs with the aim of raising standards and awarding businesses that attain them.

You can have your say on which venue is the best by visiting www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk /surveys/bbn/best_bar_none.htm

Hot Gossip

As I write this article, preparing for what could classed as one of Luton’s biggest ever dance music events featuring Pete Tong, I have just been hit for six with the announcement that another major dance music DJ/producer is coming to town this month. The legendary former BBC Radio 1 and Kiss FM DJ Danny Rampling is scheduled to appear at Unique Nightclub in Dunstable on Saturday 31st October. Well, what more can I say?

Rampling is another DJ who needs no introduction. Danny is a British house music DJ who is widely credited as one of the original founders of the UKs rave scene. His long career started in the early 1980s when, believe it or not, he played hip-hop, soul and funk around numerous bars and clubs in London. He was the first ever winner of the ‘Number One DJ in the World Award’ by DJ Magazine in 1991 and is a five-time DJ Awards recipient; in 1998 and 1999 he was voted ‘Best Radio DJ’, in 2000 Danny was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’, he was ‘Best Radio DJ’ again in 2001 and in 2005 he received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

During a holiday in Ibiza in 1987 Rampling, alongside fellow DJs Paul Oakenfold and Nicky Holloway, attended open air nightclub Amnesia in San Rafael, where they were inspired by the unique electric style of DJ Alfredo playing new house music exported from the USA. On his return to the UK Rampling recreated this style of music at the UK’s first Balearic rave club ‘Shoom’, run from a gym in Southwark, and this was the launching point for Acid House. Rampling retired in 2005 to run a restaurant and property business but his love for music brought him back to the music industry in 2009, where his popularity remains as strong as ever.

So it looks like there will only be one Halloween party to consider this year. On Saturday 31 October Danny Rampling comes to Unique in Dunstable alongside support DJs Call Me Kay, O&G and guests. The night will also be supported by Dougie XL and Craig Johnson. For more details email beathive@yahoo.co.uk. Unique Nightclub is located at 25-27 High Street North, Dunstable.

As you will know if you read my column last month, October features another house music extravaganza when Pete Tong headlines Taste the Punch’s event at The UK Centre for Carnival Arts on Friday 16 October. I featured this event last month knowing well that tickets will sell out fast, however, the good news is that the promoters have ensured that there will be a few tickets available on the door on a first-come-first-served basis. Doors open at 11pm so get there early if you haven’t already purchased your ticket.

Taste The Punch connected with in excess of 16,000 people on Facebook within the first week of announcing the Pete Tong gig and sold 75% of the tickets within the first two days! In their first two years of operation they have had some pretty awesome statistics with 10 sold-out shows, including headline DJ sets from Btraits, Mark Knight, Darius Syrossian, Hector Couto, Weiss, Drumsound and Bassline Smith, Hauswerks and, of course, Pete Tong.

Having both these events featuring Tong and Rampling in October is unbelievable for the local club scene. Have Luton and Dunstable suddenly become the new home for the legendary house DJs? I hope so.

Well, let’s have a look at some more local gigs at Edge. Now Luton’s longest-standing nightclub, Edge has a pretty busy October with dance events, as well as alternative music nights.

Tuesday nights is ‘Intergalactic’, Luton’s longest running indie night. Your £12 entry fee includes a free bar, with selected drinks at a 50p premium. The music remains a mixture of indie, rock, pop punk and variations in between.

On Friday nights Edge offers free entry and shots with the online flyer which is available from their Facebook page. On this night you can guarantee the best of rock, metal, indie and hip-hop. Doors open at 10pm until 3am, with admission a mere £3 before 1am.

On Saturday 3 October House Benefits presents ‘Oli Furness’. This is a night featuring Sankey’s resident DJ, who this year has played Glastonbury and Fabric, plus dates in Japan and the Caribbean. He crafts sets that are dynamic, vibrant and educational, taking inspiration from the deepest realms of house, techno and beyond. With local support from Sax, Cusack, Aaron Farrell and Jimmy Boenke, this promises to be a great event. Doors open at 10.30pm until 6am and tickets are £10 in advance and more on the door.

Wednesday 7 October sees the return of Edge Comedy Night, featuring Alasdair Beckett-King, Lisanne Fridsma, Jack Bulough, Sara Jade Davidson and, back by popular demand, Dan Fardell. Guest MC on the night is Graeme Collard. Doors open at 7.30pm, with the first act on stage at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £6 in advance and more on the door.

Saturday 10 October sees the return of ‘Uh Oooh’. This is a night of dirty pop and RnB with DJs Ben and Saf laying down nothing but those huge hits. Doors open at 11pm and entry is just £3 before midnight.

On Saturday 17 October ‘Rub-a-dub’ is back! The pioneers of bass music return bringing their unique approach to dance music covering all genres.

Saturday 24 October is a really interesting night called ‘Wedding Crashers’. Ever wanted to crash a wedding? Well, now you can come along join the celebration in a beautiful wedding marque. Expect everything you’d imagine at your dream wedding; music, party poppers, a finger buffet, brides and grooms. Dress for the occasion, don’t look scruffy. Doors open from 10pm until 3am and entry is just £3 before 11pm.

Friday 30 October welcomes the Edge Halloween Ball. This is a huge event and a party not to be missed! Best scary costumes will win free entry to Edge for a year and there will be two floors of rock, metal, indie and hip-hop beats. £3 entry before 1am.

Finally, on Saturday 31 October, Dark Party presents ‘Ye Olde Zombie Halloween’. Dark Party is back with its annual Halloween extravaganza. Dress code is Witches & Wizards, Dungeons & Dragons or Zombies. Doors open at 11pm and close at 4am. £5 entry.

‘Sunday Seduction’ is back for Black History Month on Sunday 18 October at Chez Creole Bar & Bistro, 31 Upper George Street, Luton. Music will be provided by The Real Reminisce crew featuring Lee Drummond and guests. There will also be a black history quiz to stimulate those brain cells. Enjoy some French-Caribbean cuisine while listening to real independent soul, underground R&B, revival reggae, rare grooves and your favourite old skool requests in the company of your friends and like-minded revellers. Admission is free with doors open at 2pm until 8pm.

Leaside Hotel is proud to announce a night with Soul Rhymaz on Friday 16 October. This will be an exclusive intimate live performance by one of Luton’s top original bands, performing their eclectic brand of sexy hip-hop fused pop. The night starts at 7pm until late and yours truly will be spinning some sweet tunes to finish the night off. Tickets will cost £5 in advance and more on the door.

Here are a few dates for the Diary from Luton’s G-Casino.

Saturday 10 October is the 80s Legends Show featuring non-stop cover hits from Madonna, Tina Turner, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Cher and many more.

On Saturday 17 October Robbie Williams will be in the house, in the form of Paul Reason the winner of the 2013 National Tribute Awards and Stars in Their Eyes winner. Paul has the voice, look, mannerisms and stage presence of Robbie Williams absolutely down to a tee. The show starts 10.30pm.

That’s it for me for October. Enjoy Pete Tong and Danny Rampling if you manage to get those cherished tickets. I’ll catch you again next month.

Sparkling Entertainment

Sparks are gonna fly across Luton and Dunstable as we celebrate the return of Luton’s main Popes Meadow display and look forward to Dunstable’s big firework event at Creasey Park Community Football Centre, among others.

The big local news for Guy Fawkes Night 2015 is that Luton is back in the game. After a couple of years of bugetary issues for Luton Borough Council, London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) has stepped in with funding and offered to help bring back what was always one of the town’s biggest events.

The display will return to its traditional Popes Meadow home on Saturday 7 November and, thanks to the event’s generous sponsors, the event remains free to all who attend.

Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Borough Council, said: “Due to ongoing cuts to our budget we were forced to make a very difficult decision two years ago to withdraw funding for the Luton Fireworks event. Since we made that decision residents have been very vocal about how much they missed the event and wanted it back. We would therefore like to thank LLAL for their very generous offer which means that a display can take place in 2015.”

Meanwhile, Dunstable Town Council will once again welcome everyone to attend Creasey Park Community Football Centre for a family-friendly evening full of fizzes, whizzes and bangs as it hold its fireworks display on the traditonal date Thursday 5 November.

This event never fails to provide an explosive display, which will start at 8pm, however gates close at 7.30pm and if you are bringing little ones along, make sure you arrive early so as to meet Fireman Sam between 6.45pm and 7.30pm. Make sure you wrap up warm although hot food and drink will be on sale to keep the cold at bay and there will be fairground rides to keep you entertained while waiting for the display to begin. Visitors are reminded that entrance is via Brewers Hill School and Creasey Park Drive.

Admission prices are as follows: adults £4.00, children (under 16) and concessions £2.00, children under 5 are FREE, family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £10.00. For further information, please contact Dunstable Town Council on 01582 513000 or visit www.dunstable.gov.uk

There are many other firework displays set to take place, noteably the Marsh Farm Futures Fireworks at Lea Manor School, which will be attended by the Heart FM Crew and Tea Green Golf Club (teagreengolf.co.uk) always put on a memorable display on their driving range, with the added bonus of a roof to keep the audience dry if the weather is, well, November-ish.

Film Focus

The Martian (Sept 30) Cert. 12a He’s 50 million miles from home, alone, crashed, and stuck for quite some time on a planet where nothing grows. Several series of Strictly will pass before he’s able to again sample the BBC’s flagship weekend entertainment show… oh that’s if he ever makes it back at all – he has only 30 days of food supplies. Matt Damon’s spectacular return as a marooned astronaut is breathtakingly simple, but dynamically engaging. He is brilliant as Mark Watney’s solo mission for survival unfolds in the most inhospitable of galactic confines, with Ridley Scott painting a stunning first-person narrative around a sequel that feels very much in the mould of Tom Hanks’ Cast Away… although what Damon would give for a tree and a coconut. With Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels and our very own Sean Bean watching from afar with a NASA coffee in hand, this is a full-on survival mission and one of the best films you’ll see this year.


TheInternThe Intern (Oct 2) Cert. 12a When Robert De Niro parked the gangster movies in the mid-90s, many questioned whether his ability to raise a trademark curious eyebrow was going to be enough to maintain his status as one of modern movie-making’s true icons. But hanging around with Ben Stiller has obviously been good for the soul for the 72-year-old who fires back with his first flick of the year – director Nancy Meyers’ The Intern. Starring alongside Anne Hathaway, Bobby even turns back the clock in this touching drama – he’s playing someone a full two years younger than himself! The bigger storyline is that recently retired Ben Whittaker discovers that the quiet life isn’t really for him and accepts a position as an intern to businesswoman Jules Ostin. The fashion world in which he finds himself is a country mile away from what he experienced in his career, but morphing from PA to best friend this is the ultimate feel-good movie for the corporate generation.


SicarioSicario (Oct 8) Cert. 15 Emily Blunt treads a cautious path between bodice-ripping drama, sci-fi adventure, romance and comedy, yet in Sicario (that’s Mexican for ‘hitman’, if you were wondering), she’s firmly in the camp of FBI gun-toting killer thriller, with a kind of ‘road trip gone wrong’ assault on foreign lands. The plot welcomes her in as a young yet switched-on FBI agent enlisted to help the escalating war on drugs. She hooks up with the mysterious Josh Brolin in straying over the US border, yet rapidly discovers that her job description is rather more trigger happy than she imagined. With Benicio Del Toro putting in another devastatingly deranged performance, Blunt must wrestle with preconceptions and expectations alike if she is to escape Mexico alive, in an all-action thriller that rarely strays from maximum voltage.



TheWalkThe Walk (Oct 9) Cert. PG Wind back to August 1974 and the US would let anyone in the country. In this case it’s French high wire artist Philippe Petit (or Joseph Gordon Levitt to be precise) who brazenly informs the customs official that he’s going to walk from one World Trade Center to the other with only a piece of metal rope between him and a sticky ending. ‘On you go’ is the response. What follows is the unfolding of a seemingly deranged mission – the set-up, the setbacks, and numerous battles against the authorities for, ultimately, an illegal challenge. But more than that, Petit has to contend with the gripping reality that one slip will undoubtedly cost him his life. What makes this plot really sing however is that it didn’t come from the mind of a Hollywood director, nor the pen of a New York author. The story is true, and despite his passion for potential peril, Petit is alive and well today… whoops, there’s the ending given away! Of course, whether his feet remain on the ground for long following the release of The Walk, is another matter.

Rooney Finds the Net!

Luton at Large discovers the staying power of an all-weather sport that transcends generations…

With a surname like Rooney, you’d expect Bedfordian Michelle Rooney to possess some level of sporting pedigree. It’s therefore reassuring that, as well as being a headline writer’s dream, there is some substance behind the name, and in driving the popularity of netball back to its previous heights, there’s nothing to suggest Michelle’s efforts aren’t any less important than her Manchester United namesake’s.

That’s because there is presently a huge local drive for reigniting one of our oldest female sports. And so there should be – within the Luton, Dunstable and District Netball League there sits an array of qualified coaches, inspirational former players and even an ex-England captain (Wayne, you’re in good company). There’s also the legacy of a county league that is, this season, celebrating six decades of local action.

“Netball has been a part of Luton and the sounding area’s history for a long time,” begins Michelle. “It has always been a sport that comes with a great social scene, a healthy competitive spirit and the opportunity to get fit, yet perhaps hasn’t been put in front of enough people in the past few years. We’re looking to change all of that and are really excited about the next phase of the league’s history.”

The league Michelle mentions currently showcases 20 structured teams playing across three divisions, but netball’s revival is happening in more casual formats as well.

“The sport is definitely on its way back and it’s great to see Inspire Sports Village offering ‘turn up and play’ classes. Like a lot of other sports, it has been pushed a lot less in schools over the past decade or so and there is perhaps a missing generation who never had the chance to sample it. But whether it’s 14- or 114-year-olds, we’re determined to encourage players back in.”

Part of that programme is to give netball shared venues where the true community feel of the sport can be played out. Barnfield South and West academies have offered their facilities as a base where multiple teams can turn up and play, something that builds the sense of camaraderie behind one of the country’s longest established sports.

And that increased togetherness has been reflected by the national set-up, with England Ladies having recently finished a commendable third at the World Cup.

“It was a tremendous achievement by the girls and has really helped the sport’s exposure. Locally we’ve always had good teams, many who have progressed and competed nationally, but this project is as much about new players discovering how fun and how addictive the sport can be. Whether its women looking to make new friends, be competitive, get fit or even discover childcare solutions – we have one team, the Red Devils, who come complete with what resembles a working crèche given that all their kids accompany them to matches! There are so many reasons to get involved.”

With some of the sport’s standout names – Phyllis Charles, winner of a Goalden Globe for services to netball and Kendra Slawinksi, former England player who has an OBE – coaching, encouraging and empowering players with the inspiration to compete, the Luton, Dunstable and District Netball League is arguably one of the best regional divisions in the UK.

“We’ve done well to get to where we are, but we’d love more players to come forward and experience the thrill of netball. It’d be great to hear from anyone looking to get involved, no matter what their ability. We’re a friendly bunch and always play with smiles on our faces.”

If only the same could be said of Wayne… JE

To find out more about the Luton, Dunstable and District Netball League visit the official website at www.lddnetball.co.uk. Also check out the lively Facebook pages by typing in Lddnetball or 60 years Luton and District.

Autumn Accessories

Ever noticed how everyone comments on the weather when it is lashing it down with rain? We should be used to it by now surely, but come a heavy rain storm and us Brits never fail to make some sort of small talk of the weather variety. Working in an office I’ve realised that it’s become almost obligatory to exclaim about your commute woes / the awful weather / state of your hair when you first step through the door.

Unfortunately, weathering rain for almost 80% of the entire year doesn’t make us anymore prepared to it post summer. It always baffles me to see fellow commuters still rocking the sandals and bare legs – sporting the wet-dog chic look – when the autumn leaves start falling, still hoping for some late Indian summer to hit. Well I’ve been waiting for one of those for weeks to no avail.

Luckily the Fashion Weeks held in September weren’t a complete wash out. Victoria Beckham’s latest masterpieces to swan down the catwalk were hailed a success – not just by her adorable family – while Kanye West introduced his second collection to critical acclaim. Although I’m still not sure I’m a fan of his flesh-coloured, figure hugging range, even if it has been conjured up by an A-list rapper.

So the start and end of the Fashion Weeks officially heralds the start of autumn and now it seems acceptable to start introducing some staple autumn/winter items into the daily attire. While temperatures may not have plummeted to fluffy-coat-levels just yet, there are some accessories that will help construct the perfect transitional outfit.

Accessories are the cherries on top of the sundae, the finishing touches, what pulls it all together – and, if recent consumer spending trends are anything to go by, what you’ll be investing the bulk of your fashion budget in this season.

While the catwalk may have gone a little accessory crazy – think spray-on boots and septum piercings – the high street stalwarts have dulled some trends down a little to make them much more accessible to the average Josephine.

First up, one item on the must-have hatwear list this season takes inspiration from across the pond in France, in the form of berets. As the name suggests, Accessorize is a top place to find just the right one to suit your head, with a good range in different textures and hues.
Talking of textures, it’s all about the texture when it comes to footwear. Fur boots and velvet shoes get big ticks this autumn. They might not be rain-friendly but they are guaranteed to make a statement and Topshop nails this trend as always.

Good news girls as oversized bags are back en vogue too. Finally we can take everything-but-the-kitchen-sink out with us, as minimalist bags are out and bigger is certainly better. Flaunt your oversized bag with pride and head down to h&m to pick up some good bargains in all kinds of vibrant colours.

We’ve all seen the double denim trend take the media by storm and if you weren’t brave enough to rock a bit of blue-on-blue action, then you’ll have to get over that this season. Matchy matchy is in, and diving into one colour definitely won’t be frowned upon. You don’t have to go the whole hog, a matching bag and coat will work, especially in shades of purple, mustard and grey.

Heart FM

There’s so much going on over the next few weeks, it’s difficult to know where to start!

The Luton Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 25 October. This year’s half marathon will start at Stockwood Park Athletics Centre and run through Luton on road, taking in part of the Luton Hoo estate, passing the mansion house and completing the run in the heart of the town centre. It will be a closed road/traffic-free race and fully marshalled. There will be drinks stations located every three miles and there will be a strict three-hour limit on the event. For more details head to loveluton.org.uk or heart.co.uk

We’re already looking forward to being at the first of two big firework events in Luton this year. The first one is the Marsh Farm Futures Fireworks at the Lea Manor School on Thursday 5 November. It will be the first time at this event for us and we’re really excited about going along. The second sees the return of the big Popes Meadow firework event a few days later on Saturday 7 November.

London Luton Airport Ltd has generously offered to be the principal sponsor this year, which means the event returns after a two-year absence. So, if you live in the Luton and Dunstable area, you get to join Heart for the fireworks in Marsh Farm on the Thursday and the Popes Meadow display on Saturday. London Luton Airport Ltd said that it wanted to sponsor the event as part of its work to raise the profile of the airport, and as a way of acknowledging the support they get from Luton residents who value the Popes Meadow fireworks display.

Finally, Lionel Richie has revealed plans to launch a residency called ‘Lionel Richie: All the Hits’ in Las Vegas next year. He’ll be following in the footsteps of Elton John, Celine Dion and Britney Spears who have all enjoyed successful residencies in Las Vegas!

He will play 20 shows in April, May, September and October at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Lionel recently scored his first number one album in the UK, as ‘The Definitive Collection By Lionel Richie & The Commodores’ shot to number one in June, off the back of his brilliant performance at Glastonbury. He said: “I was overwhelmed performing at Glastonbury in front of all those people and for the fans to make the album number one is unbelievable.”

The Las Vegas shows, which begin on 27 April, will give fans the chance to see Richie perform classics including ‘All Night Long (All Night)’, ‘Hello’, ‘Stuck on You’, ‘Say You, Say Me’ and ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’. He said: “It’s a high energy show that is a perfect match for such a vibrant city”.

For more check out heart.co.uk

Soul Rhymaz

Two years after we last checked in with Soul Rhymaz, the Luton three-piece have raised their eclectic brand of sexy hip-hop fused pop to a veritable crescendo.

When your latest single clocks up 100,000 YouTube views in just three weeks, you know you’re on to something. They’re the heights Soul Rhymaz have scaled upon the release of Favourite Beat, a morphing, meandering fusion of sounds that epitomises the group’s polished, shimmering sound. Consisting of Beth, the sultry songstress on lead vocals; Leo, whose house music creativity has seen him land a regular Monday night show on Radio Lab 97.1 alongside Rebellious; and JA, whose lyrical adjustments have seen him cross-reference everything from rap to urban to grime, Soul Rhymaz are clearly on the verge of the breakthrough their efforts have warranted.

So their next move is a puzzle. Firstly, the name is changing – Soul Rhymaz are to become SR. Secondly, just as the calling card of the top 40 drops onto the doormat, the trio are splitting! Okay so it’s only temporary, but with burgeoning solo projects the band are furthering their educations in music by pursuing individual avenues for the remainder of the year.

Manager Jason Mayne explains the situation. “SR have had a fantastic year. Their music is really taking off, they’ve done promo stuff for Footlocker and Nike and have crystallised their sound, but the three have always been talented, original and dynamic artists in their own right.

“The logic,” he continues, “is for them to further their own individual sounds then return to bring what they’ve learnt back into the SR stable. That way the musical fusion continues to step forward and evolve, so taking some time away from each other ultimately benefits them all.”

Jason, whose Golden Global management company tend to the activities of SR and a number of local DJs, is a child of the acid house generation. “My first experiences in dance music were going to raves as a 13-year-old! I was probably too young back then but it was obviously the right thing for me because, 30 years later I’m still obsessed with music and everything it offers.

“We’ve had some fantastic experiences over the years – we’ve managed to get Samuel L Jackson to the Southport Weekender and worked on projects with the likes of Louis Vega and Kenny Dope. It’s an industry that never stands still – I may not be going out clubbing anymore but I can’t see a time when I’m not involved in the industry.”

Indeed, Jason may have been even more integral to SR’s recent rise to prominence had a freak accident not resulted in him losing a finger, and with that, a career as a keyboardist. “Everything happens for a reason,” he laughs, “and it’s been great looking after artists from the management side.

“Producing and doing stuff with labels is a thrill but the industry has changed so much. Take the availability of music, for instance – with an upcoming act like SR we know asking people to pay for music is difficult. The public have so much choice now and the expectation is that music is free. And actually, we’d rather it was too. If you make it free people will try it, download it and enjoy it, and the good news is you’ll know exactly how popular that track is. On the flipside, if you insist on charging listeners they will share illegally so you never really know what sort of audience you have.”

SR’s premise follows the latter – to know their audience and connect with it in every way they can. As a result, they have a fan base that ultilises the power of social media because they know that’s where they can listen to the latest SR sounds first – 8,000 followers on Twitter is evidence enough of that.

“Next year promises to be a big year for the band,” continues Jason. “They’ve worked so hard to fine-tune what is a positive and really listenable sound and with an album coming out in 2016 we know things are going to carry on growing.

“I think they are the perfect evidence that, in an industry where artists can have notoriously short careers, if you stick at something the rewards really are there.”

SR’s website can be found at soulrhymaz.com. Alternatively look out for group on Twitter and Facebook (search ‘Soul Rhymaz’).

Soul Rhymaz will be performing at an exclusive intimate gig on Friday 16 October at Luton’s Leaside Hotel on New Bedford Road. Tickets for the gig (£5 each) are available on a first-come-first-served basis by calling Keeley at the Leaside on 01582 417643. Luton at Large’s very own veteran superstar DJ Tony Hendrix is hoping to make an appearance after the guys have done their thing to help revellers party the rest of the night away with his blend of great commercial tracks and old school favourites. So secure your tickets now to catch an earful of the SR sound and perhaps witness Luton’s next big thing live.

Let’s Go Gourmet!

There are a fair share of restaurants and take-aways in Luton where you can grab a bog-standard burger. But Luton’s Wellington Street is stepping things up a notch with one of its latest additions, G’s Gourmet Burgers.

You won’t need anything close to three guesses to work out what the name of the game is here – but, besides the fondness for a quality patty and a fresh brioche bun, the focus is very much on quality. G’s is entirely focused on offering a better quality burger – freshly made homemade patties cooked fresh to order with a wealth of flavour combinations that will suit the tame to the brave.

Opened just six weeks at the time of our visit, the restaurant is in its infancy but it seems already has made an impressive mark on the local dining scene, reporting a great welcome from the steady stream of customers discovering the delights of going gourmet. The family-run business comes to Luton from their base in North London, and when you step inside the door there’s certainly an industrial city vibe that echoes of the trendy outlets found in our nation’s capital. Chunky wooden planks, chipboard, clean lines and cold metals create a cool, hip contemporary dining space that would not be out of the place on the trendy stretches of Camden or Shoreditch. It’s strikingly different and really goes to setting the tone for the food here. It’s robust, quality, cool and on trend.

It will come as no surprise to realize the main fodder here is course burgers – there’s a great offering of both fixed flavours and bespoke options to give you full control of what you want. The majority of burgers on the main menu, bar the ‘Classic’, come in a thick 6oz patty, with some available in beef, chicken or lamb. Although tempted by the magnitude of dishes such as ‘The Rancher’ (beef or lamb patty with chicken steak, cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and chili sauce) and the mega ‘Sharing Platter for Two’, there was only one dish that caught my eye –the cheeky spice of the ‘Volcano Burger’, which, as the name suggests, held its fair share of heat in japelenos, sliced chilies, salsa sauce and chipotle mayo. I picked a lamb patty (the meat made an interesting point of difference in taste) and opted for some hand-cut chunky, crispy, rosemary-salted chips, which came served in a cup for that ever-so-stylish delivery.

My dining partner made it her own and utilised G’s personalised burger options to create something exactly to her tastes. You choose your type of patty, up to five fresh salad items, add premium toppings (which vary from hash browns, egg, chilli beef, coleslaw to name a few) to go fully bespoke on your burger experience. You can taste the quality of the meat both in flavour and texture and the wealth of goodies inside each of our burgers was impressive. We’ve heard good things about the Masala Fries with a hint of spice and during lunchtimes the ‘Muddy Chips’, topped with mince, tomatoes, chiliies, red kidney beans and cheddar are said to also be a popular in-house favourite.

I was also impressed to see there was a great selection of steak options on the menu too – from Sirloin to a full T-bone and the lunch menu also has chicken options including Chicken Skewers and Grilled Chicken Strips. Because of the bespoke option on the burgers, the menu isn’t and doesn’t need to be extensive as if you don’t like one of their in-house burgers, you simply make it how you like it. And with each dish cooked fresh to order, you really can grab a fresh quality meal just how you want it.

Milkshakes seem to be the new ‘in thing’ so we had to see how the G’s Shakes stood – and we were not disappointed. Thick, creamy, pure and super sweet, the quality again shone through in texture and flavour. This was a shake with no ‘padding’, delicious from beginning to end. The opportunity to whizz in one of our favourite chocolate treats didn’t go amiss on us either – opting for a Kinder Bueno and also a Snickers blend – again all made fresh to order and served in trend-tastic Masons jars with chunky straws.

In so many places a gourmet burger will come with an extra patty, cheeky extra wedge of cheese or onion rings and that’s it. G’s Gourmet Burgers for me really define was gourmet is – it’s not just about add-ons, it’s about quality in every component of the dish, and that is what G’s delivers here. You can appreciate the patties are homemade, see that the chips are hand-cut and see it cooked in front of your eyes.

That’s what sets this venue apart from so many others out there. It’s nestled right in the middle of town so easy to get to, they do a cracking lunch menu which can see you take a meal plus soft drink for as little as £5.95 and, of course, all meat served here is Halal too. Too often, the word gourmet is associated with big cost so I was pleasantly surprised to see prices here were very accessible, competitive and, considering the quality of the food served, overall very impressive. So next time you’re ready to grab some grub in town, it shows cheap and cheerful isn’t always the answer. I say ‘go gourmet!’

G’s Gourmet Burger
13 Wellington Street, Luton  Tel: 01582 956595

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