Five years of festive fun as the Southsea Alternative Choir plans a special show at The Wedgewood Rooms

Southsea Alternative Choir at Victorious Festival, 2016. Picture by Paul Windsor
Southsea Alternative Choir at Victorious Festival, 2016. Picture by Paul Windsor
Driftwood Festival organiser Paul Cobb  Picture: Malcolm Wells (142242-6774C)

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It’s not bad going for something that started out as a bit of fun and to collect some money for a friend’s fundraising appeal.

But five years on from their first gig, the Southsea Alternative Choir are about to play their biggest-ever show at The Wedgewood Rooms this weekend.

The group is made up of eight musician friends who play a few festivals each summer (they are practically Victorious Festival’s house band) and then their own gigs each Christmas. Performing indie favourites and classics from down the decades, they have become a popular draw.

However, this year, the group has been less active on the festival circuit thanks to new parenthood.

‘We only did Victorious this year,’ says singer Jim Lines. ‘We deliberately kept it a bit more low key because we’ve had two new arrivals among our members this year, so getting all eight of us together has proved tricker than ever.’

And how does it feel to be five?

The first time around, eight old friends drunkenly singing their favourite songs, I thought that novelty would wear thin, but somehow it hasn’t and it’s become more and more popular

Jim Lines

‘I never thought we’d last this long, it was just a bit of fun – it still is – but it seems to attract a disproportionate amount of attention!

‘I thought we’d do that first Christmas and if it went well we’d do it again the next year, but we had no idea it would do so well. The first time around, eight old friends drunkenly singing their favourite songs, I thought that novelty would wear thin, but somehow it hasn’t and it’s become more and more popular.

‘Drinking as we play has become a real trademark, which is lovely as people throw drinks at us while we play – not literally, obviously!

‘In all seriousness, it’s been a lovely thing to be involved with, and when you wake up with a hangover the following morning and think about how much money you’ve helped raise, it’s a nice way to battle the hangover.’

The group raised its target of £12,000 for its original cause Samuel’s Fund, so this year they have been raising money for Portsmouth-based charity, Cystic Fibrosis Kids.

‘This started with a very specific aim and it’s evolved since then,’ explains Jim. ‘We’d reached the target we wanted for Samuel’s Fund so we had a chat earlier this year about switching to another charity, but we wanted to keep it local. We’ve picked it without any personal link to any of us, it’s just a very worthy cause, and the guys behind the charity have been very supportive.’

As for this Christmas’s big show at The Wedge, Jim promises a few surprises. ‘We’ve got a lot of different stuff happening. This gig is going to be a bit different and I’m sworn to secrecy on the details. There are going to be a number of friends involved and a lot of new tracks with some unexpected moments, I think. It should be a tremendous amount of fun.

‘I’m confident that people will walk away feeling they’ve seen something special.

‘There’s a lot of people and a lot of effort going into it. I wish I could say more!’

Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Saturday, December 17

wedgewood-rooms.co.uk