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Hastings Empire

Hastings Empire

Bloodtub Chairman revives Music Hall in The Pig front parlour in Hastings

In an experimental session, Tim Whelan comes to The Pig in order to demonstrate some of his bloodtub thumping interpretations of Music Hall on a late Sunday afternoon. Jude Montague shares some thoughts on Music Hall in advance of his visit and encourages HOT readers to share their knowledge of Music Hall with her.

Blood Tub Orchestra

Blood Tub Orchestra

Music Hall has been an important part of critical camaraderie a mixture of resistance and entertainment since the early nineteenth century, growing up in drinking and eating houses. Blood Tub Orchestra is a much-acclaimed contemporary manifestation of the form meeting in music halls, deconsecrated chapels, decaying docks, derelict factories and disappearing drinking dens. Their mission is to rouse the beleaguered ghosts of the past in the filth and squalor of the present. They use the songs of the past to shed light on social issues and conditions today.

Empire Theatre Programme

Empire Theatre Programme

Tim Whelan is the pianoforte player of this motley bunch. He’s a composer and multi-instrumentalist in the collective Transglobal Underground and as Bloodtub Chairman he’s bringing in the nineteenth century music hall forms into the bars. He is also known at Alex Kasiak one of the many Transglobal and club culture invented names that the group created.

I personally met Tim through the collective community of Scaledown, the Fitzrovia music club that’s been going about 20 years, meeting in the room above The King and Queen pub in Foley St, London W1. He visited Hastings really for an informal gig at Twelve Hundred Postcards on Queen’s Road.

Tim Whelan

Tim Whelan

This post is partly a call out for information on Music Hall in Hastings as I would like to dig into the local history further for a future article. Marie Lloyd performed here and many other variety acts. The major venue from the grand and later age of Music Hall was the Empire Theatre of Varieties, formally opened in 1899. It still dominates that area of the seafront.

There was always a moral battle over the purpose of music hall and how its rough elements could be incorporated into respectable entertainment.  The ERA reported, on 1 April 1899 that the Mayor gave a speech at the opening that he had been promised ‘that the entertainment should always be of a healthy and elevating character.’

The other major music hall in Hastings was the Gaiety Theatre on Queen’s Road which closed in 1932 when the building was converted to a cinema and is currently the Odeon. But the form emerged from much smaller ad hoc drinking bars, and the Pig front parlour is a good place to revive its early character and mix it in with street sensibilities.

Animator, academic and musician/composer Suzie Hanna created this video for BBCIdeas with myself which is an introduction to music hall.

The Hidden Meanings in Music Hall Lyrics

Music Hall with Bloodtub Chairman is at the Pig, 37 White Rock, Hastings seafront on Sunday 24 March at 4pm.


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Posted 16:10 Friday, Mar 22, 2024 In: Music & Sound

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