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John Lennon look-a-like - down to the guitar - at last year's Beatles Day (photo: Johnny Powell).

The singer’s going to sing a song…

It’s Beatles Day, one of the musical highlights of the year in Hastings, this Sunday at the White Rock Theatre. At this musical extravaganza which lasts from midday until 10.30pm, you can catch 93 different acts featuring more than 500 musicians. Nick Terdre can’t wait.

Mind you, you’ll have to move around like greased lightning to see them all, as this year the music will be presented on three stages – in addition to the main stage and the Sussex Hall stage in the basement, the café upstairs will provide a new and more intimate space for acoustic performances. So says Pete Prescott, who founded the  event back in 2000.

Roger, Adeline and Martin at Beatles Day 1, Pissarro's, 2000 (photographer unknown).

Now reaching its 16th edition, Beatles Day is a firmly established favourite in the town’s entertainment schedule, offering a wealth of creativity as acts small and large give their own take on the Fab Four’s rich back-catalogue.

We don’t have an exact scale for the pleasure it provides to punters and musicians alike, but we can put figures to its charitable purpose, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Last year some £21,000 was handed over to the charity, lifting the total over the years to around £160,000. The musicians give their services free.

The event continues to grow, with the third stage helping to add capacity. This year’s 93 acts and 500-odd performers compare with 70 and 350 in 2014. Twenty five of the acts are new. Tight discipline is needed to stick to the schedule, with 15 minutes allotted to each act – you can finish a few seconds early but you can’t overrun or you’ll wreck the schedule, Pete stresses.

Most of the acts are local, though a number of performers will be from out of town. They include Brooke Sharkey from London, who made a big splash last year, and north Kent band Wax Collector, making their debut appearance.

Young folk will be well represented. From 2014 (photo: Johnny Powell).

There are also plenty of youngsters, including some of Pete’s own music students. Not a few are acoustic players, so it’s not the case that youngsters only aspire to strapping on an electric guitar and turning up the amps to maximum. But there will no doubt be some of that too, so don’t forget the ear-plugs, Mum!

While many of the acts are solo performers and small bands, alongside them are larger units, such as the 60-strong Soundwaves Community Choir, also appearing for the first time. They will be doing a set with jazz singer Liane Carroll, who herself will have a second spot with a small backing group. The Conquest Choir, with a number of Macmillan nurses, will also be performing.

As usual, there will be no shortage of aging rockers, of which there is no shortage in Hastings. And judging by last year, they’ll be dosed up with Viagra or whatever performance-enhancing aid it takes to relive their energy-filled youth.

And fresh from their triumphs at February’s Mardi Gras festival come Dr Savage and the Fat Tuesday Second Line, while jazz luminary Mike Hatchard will be making a welcome return. Who could ask for more?

To find out where and when your favourites are on, you’ll need the schedule, and that means you’ll have to buy the programme. It’s all part of Pete’s cunning plot to increase revenues for Macmillan. See you there!


Beatles Day 2015 Sunday 12 April, midday-10.30pm, doors open 11.30am, White Rock Theatre, 1-10 White Rock, Hastings TN34 1JU. Admission £10, children 5-14 years £5, family tickets (two adults and up to three children aged 14 or under) £25.

Beatles Day website.



Posted 00:07 Friday, Apr 10, 2015 In: Music & Sound

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