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John Bownas, left, with Beans on Toast.

John Bownas, left, with Beans on Toast.

Live music club off to a flyer

A local Hastings music promoter is turning the traditional model of organising a music gig on its head: rather than booking musicians and bands and then selling tickets, John Bownas has started a live music club, with members paying just £7 per month so that quality new bands can be brought from around the country (and beyond) to play in town. He told Nick Terdre about his brainwave.

This novel approach is already capturing attention amongst music fans, John says; within hours of launching the idea (with a short Facebook post from a train), over a third of the membership places had already been snapped up.

With membership planned at a maximum of 100, it looks certain there will soon be a waiting list.

“We were drawn to Hastings largely by the vibrancy of the music scene in the area,” John said. “It’s fantastic how many great musicians there are playing free entry gigs every week.

“In fact there are so many I set up a simple gig calendar called The Hastings Flyer to keep track of them all, and I’m already struggling to keep up with the huge number of shows.”

Touring bands in short supply

“But what I noticed was how we don’t get as many touring bands here as we should. There are various reasons for that – but one is that because so many gigs are free it can be hard to sell tickets. However, at the same time, I’ve spoken to tonnes of people crying out for more variety.

“I’ve had this idea for a club for a few years, but living up in London it just wouldn’t work there… there’s too much competition from other ticketed gigs.”

John plans to move the monthly nights to various venues in the town – the aim being to match the bands to suitable spaces. Although club membership is capped at 100, if venues have more capacity some additional £10 tickets may be sold, with the extra cash going towards bigger acts at future shows.

As an initial get-together, he may invite interested parties to the Gaz Brookfield gig at the Brass Monkey on 12 May or to see Beans on Toast at the Palace, date yet to be decided.

The acts to be booked will depend largely upon members’ tastes. “I’m keen to talk to people in the club about what sort of acts they want to see played,” he said. “We won’t be able to please everyone with every show – although we’ll do our best.

“We’re not talking about huge stadium headliners of course, but I’ve booked festival stages at Glastonbury and Beautiful Days festivals for years and I know how many high quality bands there are who would happily come to play to relatively small but guaranteed crowds in intimate venues.”


More information can be found here.


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Posted 06:48 Tuesday, Mar 21, 2017 In: Music & Sound

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