Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, is a festival celebrating the local musical talent surrounding Hastings, in a way that both intrigues and tempts. Sets lasting only 15 minutes gives the spectator a tease of the talent, before the band packs up and moves off to the next venue.
Arriving in Hastings town centre, we are greeted by buskers, bag pipes, fancy dress and the sound of live music emanating from pub doorways. Streets that by a normal day are the same as any other sea-side town, were bursting to overflowing with bewildered tourists, as much as live music aficionados holding itinerary maps and looking for shortest routes to their choices.
The Saturday of the festival is an un-plugged variety, with 200 gigs across the pubs and restaurants of Hastings Old Town - where else can you sit and have lunch whilst being serenaded by a skiffle band blasting out Johnny Cash songs?
Starting off at the Admiral Lord Nelson pub, a long time favourite Matilda's Scoundrels are my first gig of the day. 15 minutes isn't long when you are this popular, but rules is rules!
Setting up, when you've 'jogged' from a previous venue, playing a 15 minute set, then packing up for the next, must take it out of you after a while; bad enough as a spectator wading through crowds.
Next up, 100 yards across the road to The London Trader to see 40 Shillings on the Drum - what a voice. To be heard in a busy pub over your band mates without a microphone takes some doing, but do it he did.
A short walk back to The Dolphin at Rock-a-Nore and a tight squeeze of one in one out to catch Jamie Smart playing in a space certainly not big enough to swing the proverbial dead cat in; vocal range and pitch was something to behold (without said cat duetting).
Now I have a soft spot for skiffle music, as my father was in a skiffle band back in the 60s, so Cheap Dates were on my must-see list. They were to play at Porters in the High Street next, so a quick dash avoiding an inevitable drizzle - this is Hastings in late winter, what does one expect. Brilliant is all I can say - belting out what they themselves describe as 'inappropriate cover versions in the worst possible taste.' Tea chest bass made from a packing container, washboard, spoons, and kazoos give this bunch a unique sound outside of the mid 1900s.
Did I get to see everything of course not - a family meal dictated I had to cut it all short; there's a reminder written to keep this weekend BLANK for next year. Should you come along and see this...damn right you should. There's genres and styles for everyone.
Make the date in your diary and check the Fat Tuesday website to keep abreast of happenings.