Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

We are all in St Leonards but some of us are looking at the stars…

HOT’s Erica Smith tracked down the multi-talented Bradford Gross to ask him some questions about Space, brogues, and why on earth is he here in St Leonards with a pop-up Planetarium on Thursday 5 April?

Q: Brad – where are you from in the States, and how on earth did you wash up on the beach here?
I’m originally from the “NEW” England area. It’s like Old England, but brand spanking new. I grew up in Mystic, Connecticut. Julia Roberts was in a movie about it called Mystic Pizza. The movie is about as interesting as the town is. Not very. How I got here is a much more interesting tale of love, loss, life, music and science. Before Sussex, I lived in London, travelled underground like a mole. Before that, I lived in Miami, strolling around like Don Johnson. And before that, Mystic, like Julia Roberts. Now I’m a dad, a dude, and a geek. And I’m happy with all three.

Q: What do you love about Hastings / and or St Leonards… if you prefer St Leonards, why is that?
If you have to live in England, you might as well live in Sussex. The longer I live here, the more I feel sorry for the rest of the UK. It’s good people down here. Open, kind, country folk. Excitable artsy types, open to new ideas, change and hip England with a modern usable twist. The landscape is lovely, the weather is almost tolerable, and I have learned a great deal about myself and others through living here. So I owe the patron St. Leonard a great deal of thanks. I have a little shrine to him in my office, him just sitting there in a pile of fag ends and stale chips. He knows the score.

Q: You wear threads like an English Country Gentleman. What’s that about? Are you a Squire trapped in the body of a Noo Yoiker?
I think England had the threads, and then something slipped away. Maybe it slipped on a tracky bottom. Plus Fours are very comfy, user friendly and completely ridiculous. And you never see people wearing them. So I love them for that reason alone. Tweed is THE material designed to protect YOU from all that the UK can throw at you, why would you avoid it? Brogues are good for getting around and are fun to polish. And why would you go out without a hat? It’s just not gentlemanly. I prefer flatcaps. My style is not exactly chap, nor is it rockabilly. Chapabilly, really. there. tomato/tomato. same thing. No?

The Lucky Ones – Brad is on the left

Q: You are a busy man… you work at Herstmonceux Science Centre, you push high quality caffeine from the diminutive Java Bus and you drum (and talk a lot) in two bands… can you tell us a bit about your day job and your night jobs.
I like to be busy. I love learning new things, meeting new people and experiencing things. My Lady Love Khadija and I love to cook, so we started a catering business. But we loved the coffee and cakes more, so we bought these silly little import mock VW vans and converted them into gourmet coffee machines on hotwheels. They make people so happy! We do weddings, parties and anything where delish coffee/cake/tea/love is needed. So that’s the JavaBus. As the drummer and vocalist with two groups, I get to play some some great venues, for some nice people. The Lucky Ones are as Sussex as a bull brass festooned fireplace, and have played some fab gigs these last few years. Jayne and Adam are great players, and it’s nice to have people you can count on. Fun, punchy covers, happy music. My other gig is a modern jazz trio called Letters from NYC, featuring Dirk Adams on Vibraphone, Rob Freedman on Bass. Cool Cocktail stuff with funky little mash ups thrown in. Modern Jazz with a twist of lime. I also do a bit of comedy Compère work, children’s birthday parties, MC-ing events and shows, and promoting my user friendly science books, Do try this at Home, perfect for that young scientist in the house.

…Then there is the Observatory Science Centre in Herstmonceux. During the week, I am the Outreach Coordinator for Science in Schools for East/West Sussex, and sometimes Kent. I bring live science shows, fire, fear, excitement and all things science into schools, and have an absolute blast doing so. People are starting to find out about this place, it’s amazing.

Q: What’s this I hear about a Pop Up Planetarium at the Masonic Hall?
As well as shows I get calls to bring out the Planetarium, a mobile 8 metre square dome that takes you out into deep space, in real time. Space is such a red hot topic right now, and there is so much to enjoy. Working with such amazing folks and learning so much from them (and having 6 massive telescopes pointed at the sky at closing time) keeps me very interested in Astronomy. My little boy Milo and I love to look at the Moon, and discuss solar flares, constellations and the conjunction happening in May (oh, you’ll want to know more about that). The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux do ‘open evenings’, special events, Transit of Venus, Planetary Viewings, Moon Mapping. It’s nuts. Check it out. just get over there. The Mobile Planetarium is available anywhere it will fit, like … a Masonic Hall on Thursday 5 April (tickets are going fast, if not already gone).

Q: It’s always a pleasure to hear your syncopated rhythms as well as your funny american gags. Where and when can we next get to see you?
With any luck the Java Bus will be at a train station/party/reception/barn dance/cocktail party/gig near you, serving hot Italian coffee. The Lucky Ones will be performing at Pissaro’s on Friday 27 April – and regularly at all good Sussex taverns. Letters from New York City jazz trio are at Porters Wine bar on the second Sunday of every month, and Chin Chin in Eastbourne on the first Friday of every month. People say I look tired. I say “get busy living, or get busy dying” –  Shawshank. Thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you in Sussex by the Sea (go ahead, sing).

Pop-up Planetarium – tickets selling VERY fast
The Observatory Science Centre, Herstmonceux
The Lucky Ones – a Power Trio from East Sussex and Mystic USA

Posted 12:31 Friday, Mar 30, 2012 In: Hastings People

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