Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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News Item

Plan B to go wild in the country

Plan B tour, film and album news (PHOTO: SIMON REDLEY)
Plan B tour, film and album news (PHOTO: SIMON REDLEY)

If you go down to the woods today…………….you will probably bump into rapper and chart star Plan B, who has announced plans to play a string of gigs in UK forests this summer.

Plan B, aka Ben Drew, will play seven shows as part of the Forestry Commission Live Music events. He also appears at The Eden project in Cornwall on 6th July. 

His dates begin in Thetford Forest in Suffolk on June 15, and end in Delamere Forest in Cheshire on July 7. Both of those dates already sold out. Tickets selling well for the remaining shows. 

He calls it “a real adventure,” and says he is “really up for this and hope to see you there." The shows will debut material from his forthcoming brand new CD, his first since 2010. 

The shows will include hits from his quadruple platinum-selling smash “Defamation of Strickland Banks” album, and tracks from the new album. Plan B will also be joined by a number of special guests, names of which as yet unannounced.

Benjamin Paul Ballance-Drew, aka Plan B has a busy year; with the tour, his debut as a film director and his big screen career high - starring with tough guy film star Ray Winstone. The film iLL Manors, written and directed by Ben, will be hitting cinemas in the UK nationwide on May 4th.

In the summer, the 20-year-old East Londoner stars in the British cops and robbers movie The Sweeney, a re-make of the hit 70s TV series. The gritty TV show starred the late John Thaw, and Dennis Waterman. Plan B plays Waterman’s character Detective Sergeant George Carter, alongside hard-man and Flying Squad boss, Inspector Jack Reagan, played by Ray Winstone. The film is directed and co-written by Nick Love, who had success with The Football Factory and The Business.

Ben previously had a part in Harry Brown, alongside Oscar winner Michael Caine, and he appeared in Adulthood and 4,3,2,1. Plus some short films.

His next CD will be the same title as his film,” iLL Manors,” and is set for release through Atlantic Records on Monday, May 7th, a few days after the film’s cinema release.

He says the album is “bass-line, soul, hip-hop.” He adds: “ The album has the lyrical depth of my first record but the musical composition is light years ahead, as it's informed by everything I've learnt in the last five years - writing, producing and playing with a live band. I feel I'm better than I've ever been.”

Plan B first emerged as a hip hop artist, releasing his critically acclaimed debut album “Who Needs Actions When You Got Words” in 2006. His second studio album, “The Defamation of Strickland Banks,” was an out and out soul record. It shot straight into the UK album chart at number one. He has collaborated with Chase & Status, notably on the top ten single "End Credits" (2009). His fans include Elton John.

The East Londoner is a talented MC and rapper, but can become the blue-eyed, white soul boy when he chooses. He plays acoustic guitar in a finger-picking style. His lyrics are usually accompanied by a warning sticker, X-rated, but with a depth of wit as well as social comment.

Plan B’s ‘”The Defamation of Strickland Banks”, released in 2010, went on to become the fifth biggest seller of the year, with a continued chart presence through 2011. Featuring hit singles “Stay Too Long,” “Prayin’’ and ‘”The Recluse.” He has won many awards, including Brit Award for Best British Male, and a trio of Ivor Novello gongs for Songwriter of the Year, Album of The Year and for “She Said,” - Most Performed Work.

Forestry Commission Live Music is an independent programme, bringing music to new audiences without commercial branding or sponsorship. Income generated from ticket sales is spent on improving the local forests, for people and wildlife. The settings for the concerts are usually unique, tranquil and beautiful.

Plan B’s forest tour dates are:
June 15 - Suffolk, Thetford Forest
June 16 - Nottinghamshire, Sherwood Pines Forest
June 22 - Kent, Bedgebury Pinetum and Forest
June 23 - Gloucestershire, Westonbirt Arboretum
June 29 - Staffordshire, Cannock Chase Forest
June 30 - North Yorkshire, Dalby Forest
July 7 - Cheshire, Delamere Forest

The full series of 2012 concerts within UK forests, which include Plan B, will also feature such artists as: Ed Sheeran (his show at Thetford now sold out) and Will Young, among others.

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