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'I am reconnecting hip-hop to the Queen's English...' ; There's a real touch of class coming to the Riverside Festival at Victoria Embankment today...

August 3, 2013


'I am reconnecting hip-hop to the Queen's English...' ; There's a real touch of class coming to the Riverside Festival at Victoria Embankment today when comic sensation Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer, headlines the Bandstand Stage at the annual extravaganza. Oonagh Robinson catches up with the eloquent entertainer

YOU might have heard of hip-hop, but there's a far more elegant version of this musical style taking over the world these days - and one of its premier exponents is coming to Nottingham today.

Chap-hop is a distinctly British interpretation of the gritty US genre - replacing the typical subject matter of cars, girls and guns with much more tasteful observations on the weather, cricket or tea.

And the fellow who invented the style is a certain Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer.

He's travelled the world in his trademark tweed suit over the past decade to dazzle audiences with his hilarious stiff upper lip ditties - many of which are familiar hip-hop tunes parodied in received pronunciation. Mr B - real name Jim Burke - has already received acclaim from the likes of Marc Riley, Steve Lamacq and Tom Robinson on BBC 6 Music and he's performed live on air for Scott Mills and Rob Da Bank on Radio One.

Now the Glastonbury and Edinburgh Fringe Festival veteran will be taking to the stage at Riverside to perform some of his favourite tunes with his trusty banjolele - just before the traditional fireworks spectacular gets under way.

The distinguished gentleman took time out of his busy schedule to answer some probing questions from EG Daily: Is this your first time at the Riverside Festival? It is indeed and I am thoroughly looking forward to it.

What do you make of our fair city? I always enjoy my jaunts to Nottingham - it's rather splendid.

Can you describe your act to those who are unfortunate enough not to have seen it? I perform a musical genre of my own invention which I call chap-hop. I am reconnecting hip-hop and its ilk to manners and the Queen's English via ditties I perform on my banjolele to vintage beats, with subjects ranging from pipe smoking to cricket, from sherry to interfering with livestock.

Did you manage to catch The Ashes at Trent Bridge recently? As it's no longer shown on proper television (and because I have been away on tour) I have only been able to catch fleeting glimpses, but I did listen to the Trent Bridge Test on the wireless and it sounded like a bit of a corker.

Why do you like playing at festivals so much - we hear you're a big fan of Glastonbury and Edinburgh (although they're obviously not as good as Riverside)? Well, I play festivals because festivals appear to like having me along to play. I'm not a great camper, though. No Corby trouser press.

What kind of people come to your shows? All sorts, all ages, but largely wearers of tweed. And lovely ladies.

Do you see chap-hop taking over from hip-hop eventually? I see it not so much taking over as becoming an important part of hip-hop history.

Would you ever do a rap battle - and if so who with? I have battled my nemesis Professor Elemental once or twice. Being the two prominent chap-hoppers, we do occasionally have differences of opinion.

What kind of music do you enjoy yourself ? Crikey, I enjoy chap- hop, music hall acid, aristo-rock, big band big beat... the list goes on. That said, I also invented all of these genres too.

Where do you get your smashing clothes? Wherever I can find them. I have a couple of tailors I use, but a lot of them are from vintage shops all over the place. In fact this very week I bought a suit and two pairs of trousers from San Francisco. You can see Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer, on the Bandstand Stage at the Riverside Festival tonight at 9pm. For more information on his work, visit

There's so much going on for all the family THE Riverside Festival is jam-packed with entertainment for all the family this year - with thousands expected at Victoria Embankment for the extravaganza, which continues today and tomorrow.

As well as food, street theatre, fairground rides, steam trains and global crafts, there will also be boat trips along the River Trent and the spectacular fireworks finale at 10.30pm tonight. Other highlights include: Children's Zone: with professional artists, circus skill workshops and loads of craft activities. Kids will be invited to join in Artcore's two-year Web of Water project by creating artworks that show how water touches us in our everyday lives. The most striking works will be selected as part of a future exhibition that will tour the East Midlands. Other workshops include card-making, collage, sand-casting and block-printing using sequins and mirrors.

Sports Zone: including archery, climbing wall, golf exhibition, tennis and fishing. Don't miss the Beat the Goalie hockey challenge.

Dragon Boat Challenge: Cheer on this colourful spectacle on Sunday. The crews will meet from 11am with the first race around 11.30am. The grand final is expected to take place at 4pm, with presentation of trophies soon afterwards. Duck race: Traditional family fun on Sunday afternoon.

Static street theatre: Head to the river frontage for regular performances including trapeze artists, Sid Bowfin, Dan the Hat and Pandora's Boxes.

Street theatre walkabouts and animations: Look out for a range of colourful characters such as Damsels in Distress, The Golfers, French Fancies, Farmer Giles, PC Gone Mad and The Umpire Strikes Back.

Meanwhile, the musical programme has something for everyone. Take your pick from the following: SATURDAY Monument Stage: 2pm Sandeep Raval presents Drum Travel 4pm Ducie 5.45pm Son Yambu 7.15pm Alice Francis 9pm Txarango Big Top Stage: 2.30pm Folk Afternoon featuring Bushbury Mountain Daredevils 6.15pm Joe Danks 7.45pm Flats and Sharps 9.15pm Kelly's Heroes Bandstand Stage: Including Live and Local, an afternoon of music showcasing local talent from Nottingham 2pm The Honey Effect 2.50pm Sam Bennett 3.50pm GOA Choir 4.50pm Brad Dear 5.50pm The Joe Strange Band 7pm The Loophole Project 8pm Leo and the Seraphim 9pm Mr B, The Gentleman Rhymer SUNDAY Monument Stage: 1.15pm Swing Zazou 3pm GMH Salon Okestra 4.45pm Sarah Savoy and the Francadians Big Top Stage 1pm Hucknall & Linby MC Brass Band 3.30pm Mood Indigo 5pm Dagadana Bandstand Stage: 12.30pm The John Gill Band 2pm The Red Dirt Skinners 3.30pm Cold Flame 5pm Booba Dust

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