Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Sarah Jane Morris (centre), with Henry Thomas (left) and Tony Remy (photo: © Nicholas Gionotti).

Sarah Jane Morris headlines at Ebola benefit gig

On Saturday 31 January, Hastings and St Leonards will party the night away to live performances and music and at the same time help protect thousands of children across the world from preventable diseases. The fundraiser is the brainchild of Mandy Curtis from St Leonards-based 18 hours production company.

Claire from Hastings Guerilla Circus.

The Clean Water, Safe Children benefit gig will raise funds for the Ebola Disaster Emergency Committee, Malaria No More and Water Aid. A host of local artists are featured – including singer Sarah Jane Morris who lived in Hastings for many years. Since topping the charts with Communards’ Don’t Leave Me This Way back in 1986, she has charted a compelling musical course beyond the mainstream. Her latest album Bloody Rain was released last September to rapturous reviews from the music press. (Read Erica Smith’s interview with Sarah Jane Morris at the end of this article.)

Sarah Jane performs with Tony Remy, a guitar legend who has released many solo albums and performed with Jack Bruce, Annie Lennox, Incognito, Pee Wee Ellis, Matt Bianco and more.

Chris from Ingrid Pitt Orchestra.

Other acts on the bill include: the Ingrid Pitt Orchestra (Transylvanian Gypsy Groove), Hastings Guerrilla Circus, Vocal Explosion, Swing Street, Michael Drinkwater (magician), DJ Solomon – plus bingo like you’ve never played it before with Pink Minx and Bob Ents of Cheap Thrills Bonkers Bingo.

Leader of Hastings Borough Council Jeremy Birch will be opening the event. “What better way to raise money for such important causes and lift post-Christmas spirits than doing one of the things this town does best – throwing a great party and playing fantastic music.”

Bob Ents from Cheap Thrills Bingo.

Mandy Curtis, of 18 Hours, said, “With recent news focusing on the devastating impact of Ebola, it’s easy to forget that poor water and sanitation kills 500,000 children every year and malaria claims a child’s life every minute. The tragedy is that so many of these deaths are preventable.

“I would like to thank everyone who is making this gig happen, giving up their time and resources for free: Hastings Borough Council for their poster sites along the seafront, 3 Degree Events for the venue (Masonic Hall) and for donating 10% of bar takings, Dynamic Scaffolding for providing a rig for the aerialists, Fastprint for printing posters, flyers and tickets, MKMD design for artwork, Worx Tech for sound and lighting, Nanette Payne – our volunteer coordinator, Romy Rook – a local malaria survivor who is providing  support on behalf of Malaria No More – and all our performers and artists (too many to mention in one post). It’s going to be a great night for a great cause.”

HOT meets Sarah Jane Morris…

SJM (photo: (© Marco Floris).

You used to be a Hastings and St Leonards local – we miss you – but do you miss us now you’ve gone?
I moved away in July 2011 and although we love the house and community we live in near Canterbury, we always miss St Leonards and Hastings and we are sure that we will return one day. We made great friendships there and come back as often as we can. Losing my best friend to cancer (Angie Biltcliffe) was a huge loss to me as Angie had been the main reason I moved down from London. I met many people through Angie – including Mandy from 18 Hours – usually at Aardvark Cafe in Marine Court (now under new management as Poffley’s). I also miss the pier but I hear there are plans for a rebuild. I miss Reza who is the best deep tissue hot stone masseur around. I miss the lovely guys at Land of Green Ginger and the wonderful WI markets at the hall in All Saints Street where we used to live. Being able to catch one of the best singers in the business, Liane Carroll, playing for free at Porters was amazing. Hastings and St Leonards is a magical collection of artistic people.

What motivated you to come back to headline this benefit gig?
Raising money for Ebola is very much in the ethos of my new album, Bloody Rain. It features many wonderful guests from the Soweto Gospel Choir to Courtney Pine, to Keziah Jones (Nigeria) to Eska (Zimbabwe), Seckou Keita, Senegal, Adriano Adewale, Brazil, Avishai Cohen, Israel, Pee Wee Ellis on brass arrangements, and the list goes on! It’s an album of songs inspired by the melodies and rhythms of Africa dealing with homophobia, honour killings, child soldiers, childhood, love, fear, freedom, to name but a few issues. We have had five-star reviews and are starting to get air play with a calypso influenced song which is about sexual protection – it’s the new campaign song for Terrence Higgins trust.

What other musical projects have you been working on?
Recently Tony Remy and I wrote the song for Leila Hussein’s Daughter’s of Eve Female Genital Mutilation campaign and a track from Bloody Rain is being used as the campaign song for Eve Ensler’s campaign called A Million Woman Rising launched in Marble Arch on 14 February.

Tickets cost £12.50 in advance/£15 door.
Advance tickets are available at: SHOP, Norman Road and Tourist Information Centre, Hastings seafront.
7pm–12.30am on Saturday 31 January.
The Masonic Hall, East Ascent, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0DR

Posted 19:45 Tuesday, Jan 13, 2015 In: Music & Sound

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