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The Cajun Mardi Gras Troupe, getting ready to rock and roll (John Fox Photos)

Fat Tuesday extravaganza kicks off Friday

Fat Tuesday – Hastings’ version of Mardi Gras or carnival, the days when everyone lets their hair down before putting on a hair shirt for Lent (or maybe in Hastings they don’t) – has taken a quantum leap forward this year to become one of the town’s leading festivals. As the clock ticks down to the opening event on Friday, Nick Terdre takes a look at the cornucopia of musical entertainment on offer.

“We’re looking forward to blowing away the chill of winter with our colourful musical extravaganza,” musician Bob Tipler, who co-founded the event with events producer Adam Daly in 2009, tells HOT. “With our strong tradition of making music and dressing up, we are able to embrace the spirit of Mardi Gras better than any other town in the country.

“The extraordinary concentration of creative types here – musicians and artists coupled with a local population that love to get involved – make it very fulfilling to put the event on and make something really Hastings and St Leonards.

Bosco Rogers, lined up for the Fat Tuesday Tour.

“We base the whole event around music, because that’s one of the many things Hastings is so good at. That and having a good time, because the two things do rather go hand in hand. I have no doubt that the festival will in time grow to become an internationally recognised event.”

Despite government-ordained austerity, the organisers have managed the impressive feat of growing the festival. This year Fat Tuesday has become a lot fatter, with 101 artists playing 320 gigs at 32 venues, a parade, a ball, sessions of experimental music and even a seminar. Most of it is free, though tickets are required for some events.

All this has been achieved with the aid of a £14,950 grant from the Arts Council and £7,000 from the Foreshore Trust, as well as in-kind assistance from the council – a great example of making a little go a long way.

Masks - an essential fashion item for Fat Tuesday.

Additions to the programme this year include the election of a Mardi Gras Monarch during the Saturday night ball, the Sonic Sunday programme of experimental electronic music across venues in St Leonards, Off Axis, an opportunity for up-and-coming bands to showcase their talents, also on Sunday, and the Un-Convention Hastings forum on Monday and Tuesday to debate the future of independent music. To mark the end of the festival there will be not one but two aftershow parties.

So that just leaves the rest of us to play our part in the true spirit of Hastings – expect crowded gigs, sold-out events, and a lot of dressing-up and partying for the festival’s five days.

After which maybe 40 days of rest are recommended?

Fat Tuesday programme.

Umbrella Parade.


Posted 08:33 Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015 In: Music & Sound

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