Tag Archives: Hastings music scene

This week’s featured artist: Hastings-based folk duo The Limbs of Romney

The Limbs of Romney are a duo formed during lockdown by East Sussex musicians Andrew Myers and Chris Watkins. Although they are Hastings-based both have connections to Lancaster, where Myers is originally from. So, as a Hastings-based blogger also originally from Lancashire, this was bound to pique my interest.

The pair have just released a digital-only four-track EP Home to Shore.

Explaining how the duo came about, Andrew Myer explains:

“Chris and I met during one of the gaps between lockdowns. He literally knocked on my door one day and asked if I wanted to make music with him. Someone had told him I was a musician. We live in Hastings but we both have connections with Lancaster, where I’m originally from. So – we had a chat and started playing together. We immediately established a great rapport and working relationship. We write everything together, although Chris writes all the lyrics and so far has been responsible for the final mixes, laying up from the basic piano and guitar. We managed to play together regularly for a few weeks, then it was the second? third? lockdown and we had to resort to communicating by email and sending stuff backwards and forwards.”

The EP is very much inspired by tales of the sea. They weren’t trying to cash in on sea shanty craze, they are keen to assure me, as neither of them claim to be up to date enough with modern day culture to cash in on any new-fangled craze. The duo’s music is narrative folk very much driven by piano and guitar but they aren’t afraid to throw in some experimental touches, too, giving the EP a slightly ethereal, other-worldly quality. The maritime themes clearly provide a rich basis for the duo’s storytelling and down here in Hastings, of course, there’s no shortage of source material to provide inspiration.

“Our first effort ‘Home to Shore’ is a celebration of the sea – it’s three songs, with a ‘storm interlude’ which depicts a shipwreck. Chris likes to research a topic and base lyrics on that, so these songs are the fruit of many an hour spent at the Shipwreck museum in Hastings.”

All four tracks are available on YouTube here, as well as being available on Spotify.

And what next for The Limbs of Romney?

“Our current project is writing music for the ‘Town Explores A Book’ festival in St Leonards – all based on the life of Edward Lear. We should be getting some local exposure through the festival.”

Home to Shore is available on Spotify here

https://www.facebook.com/The-Limbs-of-Romney-100311922040915

Mick Bolton: 1948-2021

Some sad news to start off 2021 was waking up on New Year’s Day and finding out, via social media, that Mick Bolton, the talented pianist who played with Mott The Hoople in the 70s and Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the 80s, has passed away.

Following the departure of Verden Allen and his eventual replacement by Morgan Fisher, Mick ended up touring with Mott The Hoople throughout the second half of 1973 and can be heard on the much-celebrated ‘Mott The Hoople Live’ album.

Reflecting on his introduction to the world of Mott, Mick wrote on his website:

“In May 1973 I auditioned for Mott The Hoople as piano player. They had a huge hit in 1972 with David Bowie’s song All The Young Dudes and, following the release of their 1973 album Mott and the departure of organist Verden Allen, they were about to take on a piano-player and a Hammond organist to promote their new album. I didn’t get the piano job – it quite rightly went to Morgan Fisher. But a couple of days later Stan Tippins the band’s manager phoned to ask if I could play Hammond organ. When I answered yes I was told I had got the job.”

“The US and UK tours were virtual sell outs and we played some memorable concerts with some great support acts.”

Former Mott The Hoople colleague, Morgan Fisher, paid tribute on social media, writing:

“RIP Mick Bolton. My organ buddy in Mott the Hoople, 1973. One of the sweetest of men, and a fine musician.”

I met Mick at several Mott The Hoople related events over the years, where he was always happy to discuss his time with Mott and his fond memories of touring with the band.

However, when I moved to Hastings in 2016, where Mick and his wife also lived, I would see quite a bit more of him. He was a much in-demand performer on the local music scene around Hastings and Rye. Indeed, the first ever gig I attended as a Hastings resident, as opposed to occasional seaside visitor, was seeing Mick perform at a local bar. You can read my write-up here.

I’d often see Mick and his wife Carol out and about, walking along the seafront in St Leonards or enjoying gigs from a plethora of visiting bands at the De La Warr and other local venues, spanning everything from classic rock to folk.

A talented pianist and a warm-hearted man his passing is a real loss to music and to the local community here in Hastings.

https://www.mickboltonmusic.co.uk/

Further reading:

Mick Bolton and Simon Shaw at Gecko, St. Leonards 2016

Mott The Hoople Fan Convention, Hereford 2016

Mott The Hoople at Shepherd’s Bush Empire 2019

News: Grand Elektra, Hastings on Music Venue Trust’s critical list of 30 UK venues facing imminent closure

Throughout the Covid crisis the Music Venue Trust has worked to help secure the future of hundreds of grassroots music venues that have been hit by the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic. The campaign is now focusing efforts on those venues under most imminent threat of permanent closure, ones where all other avenues of available funding from government schemes have been exhausted. Grand Elektra of Robertson Street, Hastings is one of thirty such venues on the #SaveOurVenues Red List of grassroots music venues most at risk of closure, nationally.

A number of major acts, including Ash, Muse, Kasabian and The Kooks as well as jazz icon Gil-Scott Heron, have all played there. Previously known as ‘The Crypt’, the 450 capacity venue was brought back from closure and fully refurbished back in 2015 and rebranded as the Grand Elektra. With the support of the Music Venue Trust a crowdfunding appeal has now been launched to save it.

Venue operator, Paul Mandry, told me:

“Grand Elektra fund raising via crowdfunding is so important to grassroot music venues, especially ones like us that didn’t successfully get the governments arts recovery fund, due to not ever filling out these forms before. As an independent I’ve never assumed we were viable and on top of the first lockdown, not getting certain information from accountants left us non eligible. Since that deadline we’ve had no signs that we could reapply which is a double blow because now we would be eligible as we know how to make a better case and have all the details from accountants ready to resubmit.

Not having the support from the arts council left us not being able to cover fixed bills like rent and lease hire which are mounting up daily, putting the venue in to the critical zone with #saveourvenues. The Crowdfunder is to cover these costs until March 2021 so we can stay open and entertain the town community like we want to do, without crippling debt, which could push us off the cliff edge we are on.”

Paul is full of praise for the role the Music Venue Trust have played throughout this crisis:

“Without the support of MVT this dreadful situation could have been a lot darker and harder to circumnavigate through to this point. We are not alone Beverley, Mark and Gang at MVT should be knighted for what they’ve accomplished throughout this global crisis. So many of us are forever grateful for their relentless energy to support and help save as much as they can of this decimated sector. I personally can’t thank them all enough.”

Donate to the crowdfunder here.

Music Venue Trust is a UK Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists. Read more here.

Pier proves a welcome saviour for live music in Hastings

By Darren Johnson

This was originally published by the Hastings Online Times here

For a town that rightly prides itself on the quality of its frenetic live music scene, the closure of pubs and entertainment venues across the country back in March hit Hastings especially hard. And while the summer has witnessed a tentative return to some sort of normality for many pubs, social distancing requirements mean it is likely to be some time yet before the sound of live bands can be heard wafting out of any of them. In recent weeks, however, live music has returned with a bang in the shape of the ‘Live and Unlocked’ sessions on Hastings Pier.

Starting in late July and continuing throughout August and September, the pier is hosting live music every Friday evening from 5pm, every Sunday lunchtime from 1pm through to 3.30pm, and occasional gigs on Saturday. John Bownas, one of the key figures behind ‘Live and Unlocked’, explains how the project started.

“As with so many things, luck played a big part in how I got involved with this project,” says John.

“I was lucky to have got the job a few years ago as manager of Love Hastings Ltd – effectively making me the town centre manager. I was then lucky to have been able to recruit Peter Rolfe as the business ambassador for the town.

“Peter has a long history of involvement with the local DJ scene, and when he found out that the Music First team were taking over the management of the pier he had the foresight to set me up with a meeting with James and Tuf – who are the brains behind the operation.

“These guys have a real passion for Hastings and their history of promoting events on the pier before the fire makes them the perfect team to breathe life into the space. It’s been amazing to watch it transform over the last few weeks from an empty stage into a thriving tourist attraction and community facility for the town.

“In chatting to them I mentioned how I had run various festival stages in the past (including the Left Field at Glastonbury) and how I currently ran the Hastings Flyer website as a local music listings resource. In turn they told me that getting a live music programme going was a big priority for them – and things just sort of developed from there.”

John explains that, initially, the team were just thinking about Friday nights but the project soon became more ambitious. “I have a habit of trying to squeeze as much out of any opportunity like this that I can,” he says. “So Friday nights quickly became late afternoons as well, as we agreed to kick off the live shows from 5pm to cater for the crowds who like to find somewhere straight after work.

“It wasn’t long before I realised that even with eight weeks worth of Friday nights there wasn’t enough time to put on all of the local acts who deserved a space – so we decided to add Sunday lunchtimes to the programme… and a few Saturdays got thrown into the mix as well.”

The live gigs have undoubtedly proved a huge success. “Everything kicked off with a Sam Calver show,” says John. “Straight away we knew we were onto a winner. Since then we’ve had two Friday nights and one Sunday gig, and the bands and crowds have absolutely loved it. I’m getting dozens of requests to perform every week and tables fill up in no time.”

In past decades, of course, Hastings Pier was a legendary venue hosting many legendary bands. Following its multi-million pound refurbishment after the 2010 fire destroyed most of the original buildings, its sleek new minimalist look was not without its detractors. However, in these current times, when social distancing is key to the viability of any live entertainment venture, the pier has proved the ideal venue.

“What has dawned on us is that the pier is a unique space right now,” explains John. “We haven’t yet found anywhere else that is able to stage regular live music to so many people. It’s quite possible we’re actually the largest live music venue in the country at the moment … or possibly in the whole of Europe. That’s a really humbling thought!

“And the important thing is that it is a safe space. Tables are well-spaced, and as long as people are sensible there are no more risks than those associated with a trip to the supermarket. What’s for certain is that this proves beyond a doubt that the pier’s future as a live music space is assured.”

For more information on forthcoming Live and Unlocked sessions on the pier visit https://hastingsflyer.com/pier/

Lack of plan no impediment to enjoying Saturday Unplugged – live review Hastings Fat Tuesday 22/2/20

This review was originally published by the Hastings Online Times here

Darren Johnson couldn’t get any friends to come with him to savour the delights of Saturday Unplugged, when a myriad of lesser known bands play short acoustic sets in numerous pubs across the Old Town and now St Leonards. But that didn’t daunt him, and of course he had a brilliant time, as logged below. Darren also took the photos.

“Ooh, we’d have loved to have come to Fat Tuesday again but we’re dog-sitting.”

“I really wanted to come but I’ve got to spend the weekend preparing something really important for work.”

“I was definitely going to come but I woke up feeling full of cold so I’m just going to spend the day mooching in bed.”

My various attempts at rounding friends up for Fat Tuesday’s Saturday Unplugged session proved utterly fruitless this year. But I’d agreed to do a write-up for HOT, plus I was really looking forward to it so, sod it, I’m not going to let a complete absence of drinking buddies put me off. What it does mean, however, is that I arrive in Hastings Old Town – where 40 artists play multiple sets across 20 different venues (plus, for the first time, an additional 15 artists across five venues in St Leonards) – without much of a plan for the afternoon.

Plans for previous years had involved doing a bit of background research on each of the acts and working out who to see, or everyone choosing one or two acts and formulating a rough plan from that, or simply holing up in one pub for the whole afternoon and enjoying whatever came along. This year, however, I arrive with no plan at all.

I make my way to the Royal Standard on the seafront, always a nice pub with a great selection of live music throughout the year, and arrive just as the band are about to take the stage for the first slot of the day. Lost Revellers combine gypsy jazz, Celtic folk, Eastern European traditional music and classical to deliver something quite delicious. It’s a wonderful start to the afternoon and they go down a storm as I’m sure they did for the rest of the day.

I decide to hang around for the next band: the Hastings-based Buddha Triangle. There’s an equally diverse range of musical influences on display once more, but this time it’s a blend of soul, funk, reggae and rap. In their 15-minute set they deliver to the audience a taste of each of those. It’s fun, quirky and highly entertaining, but creative and original, too.

Still in the Royal Standard I’ve already had several pints, we’ve not even been going an hour yet and I’m starving. I take some time out from the bands and pop across the road to Neptune Fish and Chips restaurant for a plate of plaice and chips and a cup of tea before deciding to head along Rock-a-Nore to the Dolphin for more music. I get there just as Creature Creature are finishing off their last song. Hmm, they sound quite good. I check where else they are playing so I can catch them later on. Next up in the Dolphin is Earl Grey. No strangers to Fat Tuesday, their acoustic Americana-flavoured vibe with some delicious electric guitar goes down a treat.

Ft Earl Grey

Earl Grey at the Dolphin

Another pint downed and it’s time to work out where Creature Creature are playing and catch up with them (as per my highly improvised plan). I make my way down George Street to the Anchor but before I get there I’m waylaid at Butler’s Gap. A crowd has gathered to watch a busker playing some beautiful slide guitar and the drummer out of Buddha Triangle has set up his kit on the pavement next to him to provide an impromptu rhythm section. The crowd lap it up and it carries on like this until the drummer’s band-mates drag him away in time for their next scheduled appearance. It’s never just about the scheduled appearances at Fat Tuesday though…

I make it to the Anchor just in time to hear Creature Creature. The Brighton-based five-piece initially started out as folk-punk outfit 40 Shilling On The Drum before moving into hard rock territory. For their Saturday Unplugged acoustic set though they return to their folk-punk roots. Highly enjoyable, I will definitely explore this band further in future.

Next I move on to the London Trader and catch most of Doghouse Outhouse. A precociously-talented young bunch of musicians from Kent, their laid-back soul-infused sound gets a huge round of applause. I’m slowing down a bit drink-wise now but decide to head on to the Stag to catch old friends Milton Hide. Amidst all the fun and drunken revelry of Fat Tuesday there’s sometimes a danger that the eccentrically raucous bands on the circuit are the ones that grab people’s attention but I’m pleased to see the gentle and thoughtful observational ditties of this lovely acoustic folk duo are well-received.

FT Milton Hide

Milton Hide at the Stag

We are now moving towards the end of the five-hour Saturday Unplugged session and I glance through the programme to work out where I want to be for the final slot of the day. A taste of Memphis rhythm & blues and early rock’n’roll in the shape of Sister Suzie and her band at the Jenny Lind seems like a perfect way to finish up. It is absolutely ram-packed. I just about squeeze in at the back but can’t hear a thing so, like several others, I go out on to the street to watch her set crowding around the open doorway next to the stage.

An afternoon of great music and terrible fashions – why do musicians’ ideas of quirky always involve one of just three outfits: Hawaiian shirts, ex-military uniforms or those waistcoat/trilby combos? Never mind. A huge variety of music, a great array of talent and copious amounts of tasty beer, Saturday Unplugged 2020 is another big success.

https://hastingsfattuesday.co.uk/

Related posts:

Fat Tuesday preview 2020

Fat Tuesday preview 2017

Review: Hastings Fat Tuesday 2017 – Unplugged Saturday 25/2/17

Dodgy at The Carlisle, Hastings (Fat Tuesday headliners 28/2/17)

Live review: Glen Matlock headlines Hastings Fat Tuesday 5/3/19

Milton Hide release fund-raising single to raise awareness of male suicide

 

 

Preview: Hastings Fat Tuesday weekend 21st-25th February 2020

This article was originally published by Hastings Online Times here

Fat Tuesday festivities break out on Friday

Now in its eleventh year, Hastings’ annual Mardi Gras celebration, Fat Tuesday, where scores of acts converge on dozens of venues to entertain thousands of punters for five days of music and general madness, launches on Friday 21 February this year. Darren Johnson surveys the rich offer of music and entertainment which lies in store.

Friday 21st

In what organisers claim is the most diverse line-up ever this year, Baxter Dury (indie singer-song-writer and son of the legendary Ian) will headline the opening night at the White Rock Theatre. He’ll be supported by Hastings’ own Kid Kapichi.

Earlier in the day the White Rock Hotel next door will host another Unconvention conference, a day of panel debates, discussion and workshops for those involved in some way in the grass-roots music industry – or looking to break into it. Keynote speaker is singer and broadcaster Tom Robinson.

While most of the Fat Tuesday weekend gigs are free, these two are ticketed events which you can book via the Fat Tuesday website.

Saturday 22nd

As usual the centrepiece of Saturday’s proceedings is the mega Saturday Unplugged session. Running from 1pm until 5pm 40 artists from a wide variety of genres will play 15-minute sets across a number of participating bars and restaurants in Hastings Old Town. Brand new for this year, St Leonards will also be part of the action with 10 acts spread across five venues.

Always a great opportunity to seek out new talent or enjoy old favourites, you can either stay in one place and catch the whole programme for that venue or you can move from bar to bar seeking out the acts that particularly catch your eye. For the really dedicated you can simply stalk your favourite artist all afternoon and watch them perform each of their sets.

In the evening there’s another ticketed event at White Rock Theatre, where the The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club, featuring Red Dwarf and Corrie star-cum-radio DJ Craig Charles, is the headline act at Le Grande Mardi Gras Ball.

Sunday 23rd

The pace, but not necessarily the volume, quietens down a notch on the Sunday when two venues, The Carlisle and Printworks, play host to Under The Radar. Aimed at showcasing the best emerging young talent from across the country, it’s curated by BBC Introducing, the Academy of Contemporary Music, Incubate and the Joe Strummer Foundation. The organisers are touting Kudu Blue, Brighton-based indie rising stars, as one to watch out for this year.

For those on the look-out for something a bit more traditional, there’s always the eccentrically quirky Umbrella Parade which culminates in an afternoon of music and some flamboyantly extravagant brass at the White Rock Theatre.

Monday 24th

Now an established fixture on the Monday evening, the Lord Nelson plays host to acoustic blues/roots musician King Size Slim for a laid-back evening prior to the frenetic madness of The Fat Tuesday Tour the following day.

Tuesday 25th

This is the big one. Twelve venues will host The Fat Tuesday Tour where 24 bands will play 20-minute sets in three venues apiece. Again, there’s a ticketed aftershow at the Brass Monkey with live music from Buddah Triangle and a DJ set from Greentea Peng.

Announced so far

While the full weekend programme is yet to be announced, all of the following acts have been confirmed so far:

Baxter Dury, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club, Plaid, DJ Food, Greentea Peng, Sam Wills, Kudu Blue, Kid Kapichi, Duke Garwood and the Rank Panache, Nova Twins DJ set, Dizraeli. Hayley Ross, Buddah Triangle, Loud Noises, Georgia Meek, The Great Malarkey, Funking Barstewards, Mzz Kimberley, Sister Suzie, Dr Savage, Aris, The Colleens, Blabbermouth, Otto, The Curst Sons, The Shady Pines, King Size Slim, Johanna Bramli, Georgia May, Trevor Watts with Grassy Noel & APE, Leila (DJ Set), Mr Thing, Creature Creature, The Village Metronome, Massicot, Tim Exile, Silent Natives, The United Stoats Of America, Victoria McDonnell Band, Milton Hide, Sugar Loaf Band, Frank From Blue Velvet, Anna Page, Kahlla, Dayana, Claire K Nicolson, Edward Sanson, Oli Barton & The Movement, Glashin, L, Now and Then, Someone Anyone, Abstract Source, Crunchy Bat, David Toop & Rie Nakajima, Gawd Status, Dave Malone.

Keep an eye on the Fat Tuesday website for more information as it’s published.

Header photo: Loud Noises - image supplied by Fat Tuesday PR team

Related posts:

Fat Tuesday preview 2017

Review: Hastings Fat Tuesday 2017 – Unplugged Saturday 25/2/17

Dodgy at The Carlisle, Hastings (Fat Tuesday headliners 28/2/17)

Live review: Glen Matlock headlines Hastings Fat Tuesday 5/3/19

Live review: Steeleye Span at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings 21/11/19

Twenty-odd musicians passing through the ranks over the years, twenty-odd studio albums, a top five hit and countless songs depicting the cruel, the gruesome and the other-worldly, the folk rock institution that is Steeleye Span is fifty years old this year. This tour is being billed as a celebration of that and the band’s new album Est’d 1969 emphasises the point further.

The focus tonight, however, is not on self-reverential backslapping but firmly on the songs. As lead singer and founder member, Maddy Prior, said when I interviewed her for the Hastings Online Times recently it is the material that has been at the heart of the band’s success. And what a choice of songs we get tonight: from those like ‘The Blacksmith’ that appeared on the band’s very first album to several (like ‘January Man’ and Mackerel of the Sea’) that appear on their latest. There’s plenty of familiar material, like the wondrous ‘Alison Gross’, from the band’s 1970s commercial heyday, but one of the really nice things about a Steeleye Span gig is they never let the set-list become over-familiar. They mix it up from tour to tour, retrieving old songs from their back catalogue, giving others a rest and introducing the audience to new material. Indeed, the set-list tonight is quite different from the last time they performed at St. Mary in the Castle back in 2017.

The line-up of this constantly-evolving band is pretty much the same as the last time they performed here for us, save for Violeta Barrena filling in on violin for Jessie May Smart who is taking time out from the band on maternity leave. On stage the seven musicians really work well together. The ‘electric’ trio of Roger Carey on bass and Julian Littman and Spud Sinclair on guitars provide some real oomph as the band rock out on some of their harder-edged arrangements and provide a lovely contrast to the elegant beauty of Barrena’s fiddle playing and Benji Kirkpatrick’s mandolin. Long-standing Steeleye Span member and local Hastings musician, Liam Genockey, holds it all together on the drum-kit and all of the band members provide some lovely vocals on the choruses alongside Prior.

Of course, there is one song that never leaves the set. “You know what’s coming next,” says Prior when the band come back on for an encore and they launch into a thunderously energetic and suitably celebratory rendition of their 1975 Top 5 hit ‘All Around My Hat’. Rather than delving into yet another familiar old favourite the band finish the night with ‘Dodgy Bastards’, the title song from their excellent 2016 album and we are all able to leave thanking Steeleye Span for fifty years of incredible music.

Set-list:

First half:

Thomas the Rhymer
One Misty Moisty Morning
The Elf-Knight
Alison Gross
The Blacksmith
The Boy and the Mantle (Three Tests of Chastity)
Roadways
Mackerel of the Sea
Seventeen Come Sunday

Second half:

Tam Lin
King Henry
Black Jack Davy
January Man
Wintersmith
Old Matron
Domestic
All Around My Hat
Dodgy Bastards

img_0060.jpg

http://steeleyespan.org.uk/

Related posts:

Interview with Maddy Prior

Interview with Julian Littman

Review: Steeleye Span at Ashford 2019

Review: Steeleye Span at Hastings 2017

Interview with Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior

This article was originally published by the Hastings Online Times here

Steeleye Span are celebrating 50 years with an anniversary tour. Ahead of their gig at St Mary in the Castle on 21 November, Darren Johnson talks to founder member Maddy Prior.

DJ: You start your winter tour very soon. What can we expect from this fiftieth anniversary tour?

MP: Well we started in the Spring – this is the second part of it. We do some songs from our new album which is called Established 1969 and some classic pieces which are part of our catalogue if you like, so it’s a sort of a mixture. We always do a mixture actually.

One of the things that I like about Steeleye Span is that you vary your set-list from tour to tour. There are old favourites in there but they tend to be a different set of old favourites each time.

We try to keep it varied. If you sing a song for a long time you want to leave it to ‘green up’ as it were. You leave it fallow for a year or two so it sort of greens up again and you have a fresh look at it. And quite often we do slight readjustments of the arrangements and things like that. Sometimes we completely re-arrange them.

You’re at St Mary in the Castle on 21 November. Steeleye Span has had quite a connection with Hastings over the years, hasn’t it?

Yes we do. There’s Liam (Genockey) our drummer – he’s been here forever. And also now there’s Roger Carey in the band as the bass player – so there’s quite a strong connection. And we’re rehearsing here at the moment in Hastings. And also, of course, Peter (Knight) was here for a long time as well. So, as you say, we’ve got strong connections here and we always come here regularly over the years. It’s strong on our map!

For the benefit of our readers who might not have kept up with who’s in the band these days, can you quickly talk us through who’s playing in Steeleye Span these days?

Well, we’ve got some new blood as it were. Violeta Barrena is on fiddle for this tour. She shares the fiddle slot with Jesse May Smart, but Jesse’s just had a baby so she’s taken a back seat for this tour. They’re both brilliant players and they’re both really good improvisers. We’ve got Roger Carey on the bass, Spud Sinclair on guitar and Liam Genockey on the drums. Julian Littman on guitar and Benji Kirkpatrick on various things – guitar, sitar, mandolin. Julian plays keyboards as well, so there’s quite a lot of variety instrumentally. I think that’s everybody – now we are seven!

Can you see Steeleye Span carrying on without you at some point in the future, or would that be like the Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger?

I don’t know. I’ve no idea. But I think Steeleye is mainly about the material. A lot of which came in with Bob Johnson. Peter Knight brought quite a lot in. Rick Kemp brought quite a lot in. This new band – we’ve done another album of traditional material very largely – which we play around with. We write new tunes and get tunes from all sorts of places. But it’s the material that I think is the point of the exercise really.

So that suggests that there could be some form of Steeleye Span continuing without Maddy Prior?

Are you trying to bump me off?? No, it is something that’s talked about. If you think about it as a small family firm that could go on forever. Just getting to know how the material works is the issue if you like, but I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t.

Have there been times when being Maddy Prior folk rock icon has got in the way of other musical projects you wanted to pursue or are you happy it’s never stopped you doing anything else you wanted to do?

I don’t think it’s stopped me doing anything I wanted to do. It’s usually helpful on the whole. There’s nothing I’ve missed out on. We were on Top Of The Pops. That was the biggest thing of the day. And we’ve done a lot of tours of big venues and we’ve worked with material that I dearly love.

There aren’t many people on the folk circuit who’ve done Top Of The Pops. Was that a bit of a culture shock?

We had done a lot of work by then. Sell-out tours and so on – it wasn’t out of nowhere. We were well-known by the time we had those songs and we were on the same week as Noddy Holder and Slade, so that was quite interesting.

When you look around at younger bands – and a number say they’ve been influenced by Steeleye Span – do you feel optimistic about the future of the UK folk scene?

Absolutely. There’s so many brilliant young players. They’ve got their chops together fantastically well and they’re interested in the music and there’s a big movement, so it will be interesting to see what happens and where it goes. But the music comes in and out of fashion and we have revivals every so often, but it never quite goes away. Folk music became extremely unfashionable but that’s all it is – fashion. I’ve been literally right outside of the curve and then it comes back to the middle a bit. It’s part of our heritage and it comes knocking on the door every so often.

Ahead of the tour and particularly ahead of the gig in Hastings, is there anything else you’d like to leave us with?

The band is really, really good at the moment. I had a look at us on Wikipedia and it was brilliant because every so often it said “They came back to form” and I thought that was a hell of a good way of putting it. Because over fifty years you’re not going to be perfect all the way through and it’s been like that. But we’ve been very largely led by the songs so if the songs are good we’ve tended to be better. But we found with different people coming in, they bring different energies and different musical styles and that’s what we’ve been like in Steeleye – things change!

maddy p

Steeleye Span 50th Anniversary Tour Thursday 21 November, 7.30m. St Mary in the Castle, 7 Pelham Crescent, Hastings TN34 3AF. Tickets £26.95 including booking fee available from 01323 841414 and online.

Related posts:

Interview with Julian Littman

Review: Steeleye Span at Ashford 2019

Review: Steeleye Span at Hastings 2017

Live review: Marry Waterson & Emily Barker at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings 16/10/19

Described as English folk royalty meets Australian soul the unlikely musical pairing of Marry Waterson and Emily Barker attracted many favourable reviews when the two released an album together A Window To Other Ways back in March this year. Following a successful tour to promote the album, the partnership is enduring and a second tour kicks off tonight in Hastings’ St Mary in the Castle.

For support, the two are joined by a more enduring (but no less talented) duo: St Leonards on Sea’s very own Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou. Now on to their fifth album together, they recently announced that they would be putting the duo on hold for a while so it was nice to be able to catch them together at least one last time. Delighting the audiences with songs such as ‘Everything You Need’ and ‘We Should’ve Gone Dancing’ from their latest album Fair Lady London, it’s good to hear that they are accompanying Waterson and Barker for the whole UK tour not just for this local gig. That should definitely win them over some new fans – even if expanding their fan-base isn’t particularly going to be their number one priority for the foreseeable future!

Waterson (of renowned Yorkshire folk family the Watersons – daughter of Lal) and Barker (Aussie-born, now UK-based, singer-songwriter) met up via a song-writing retreat and explain tonight how the spark of the ensuing partnership meant they both brought fragments of languishing half-written songs to one another and the album project emerged from there. There’s a lovely contrast between their voices, their delivery and their lyrical style – and they way they deftly draw inspiration from a whole range of musical genres from folk to jazz to country rock to bluesy soul. Having previously enjoyed both artists perform solo it is a privilege to see them work their magic on stage together tonight.

Performing songs mainly from their recent album, like the wonderful ‘Drinks Two and Three’ the two do a remarkable job bringing these songs to life. They are ably aided by two musicians who performed on the album: Lukas Drinkwater on electric and double bass and Rob Pemberton on drums, percussion and sampling.

After enthralling us with the songs they created together, the two give us one song each from their respective solo repertoires. As per a request from a member of the audience, Barker hits us with beautifully melancholic ‘No. 5 Hurricane’ from her last solo album, while Waterson delivers a breathtakingly powerful a cappella version of the traditional ‘Farewell Sailor’.

The evening concludes with the full band giving us a joyous, life-affirming version of ‘Bright Phoebus’ the title track of the ‘lost classic’ iconic folk-rock album by Waterson’s mother, Lal, and uncle, Mike. For all her gorgeous Memphis-tinged soul, Emily Barker it turns out, is a huge long-time fan of the Watersons. Maybe her and Marry might treat us to a performance of the full Bright Phoebus album at some future point?

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http://www.emilybarker.com/

https://www.marrywaterson.com/

Related reviews:

Emily Barker at Record Store Day 2017

Marry Waterson and Eliza Carthy – Hastings 2016

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou – Hastings 2019

Trevor Moss & Hannah Lou – Fair Lady London

 

Live review: The Counterfeit Stones at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings 12/10/19

This review was also published on the Gig Buddies website here

From the camp swagger of a stand-in in Mick Jagger, to the fag-in-mouth rock star posturing of a wanna-be Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards to endless tongue-in-cheek between-song banter (“Don’t worry we’re not going to be doing any of the recent stuff”) a night with the Counterfeit Stones is as much theatre as it is rock gig. However, they play just great and capture the sound of the 60s and 70s Stones really nicely.

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Photo credit: artist publicity

From the very early covers (‘Carol’ and ‘It’s All Over Now’) through to the era-defining Jagger/Richards compositions of the mid 60s (‘Time Is On My Side’, ‘Get Off My Cloud’, ‘Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown’, ‘Satisfaction’ et al) through to those perennial giants of late 60s/early 70s rock mega-stardom (including ‘It’s Only Rock n Roll’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Honky Tonk Women’) the band kept true to their word of not playing anything released in the last thirty years. The disco-funk of ‘Miss You’ from 1978 and what many consider to be the last really great Stones song – ‘Start Me Up’ (released in 1981) were the most recent material that made the set-list tonight.

Aside from their tongue-in-cheek personas and schoolboy humour stage name’s the band are highly competent musicians who play well together, the Nicky Hopkins soundalike adding a real touch of authenticity. Outfit-wise they eschewed the hounds-tooth jackets or menacing black suits of the early Stones and gone for a late 70s/early 80s Stones look.

The full band are:

  • Nick Dagger is played by Steve Elson.
  • Keef Rickard is played by Stuart Fiddler
  • Charlie Mott is played by John Prynn.
  • Ronnie B Goode are played by David Birnie.
  • Bill Hymen is played by Steve Jones.
  • Nicky Popkiss is played by Holger Skepeneit.

I work for a charity called Stay Up Late which campaigns for adults with learning disabilities to be able to choose the sort of lifestyle they want to live and we also run the successful Gig Buddies project across Sussex. Accompanying me to the gig was Daniel who is one of our participants and an active campaigner for the charity as well as being an avid gig-goer.

Daniel’s verdict: “It was brilliant. I enjoyed dancing. I thought I’d bring my earplugs just in case but I loved how loud it was. Afterwards, I managed to get the whole band’s autographs.”

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https://www.thecounterfeitstones.com/