Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Some song & musical highlights of 2012

Some song & musical highlights of 2012

HOT columnist Sean O’Shea looks back on some song and musical highlights of 2012 with additional commentaries from music scout Angie Phillip (AP) and HOT’s website developer Nick Weekes(NW).

His choices include a variety of local talent. Where possible links to the songs mentioned are included.

There were several songs that impressed me this past year which illustrate the diversity of local song writing talent. These included Drawer of Knives by Anita Jardine, And the Wind Blows by Steve Bennett and The Ballad of Hastings Pier by Stevie Stone. See HOT interviews at

 with Anita (Nov 13th), Steve (Sept 17th) and Stevie (Dec 9th)

The Ballad of Hastings Pier is a gem and Stevie Stone and his band Jiggerypokery hope to record this and some of their other songs in 2013. Jiggerypokery are performing at Porters on 6th January 2013. You can contact Stevie Stone at:

Steve Bennett’s And the Wind Blows,
is a haunting, wistful lyric chronicling the stages of life. Steve certainly has the gift of ink as well as being a talented musician. Steve looks forward to continuing his song writing and entertaining us with further new songs this year. He also intends to make his ballad The Bells of Rye available on You Tube.

In Drawer of Knives Anita Jardine advises us

So look deeply in your drawer of knives before you judge another’s life
Save your tears and do not weep for beauty that is but skin deep

Anita had a very successful film and album launch of Drawer of Knives at the Electric Cinema in November. Her song, which was made into a film, is about the critical gaze of society and how we willingly subscribe to surgical procedures and self-harm. It refers back to a famous poem by Philip Larkin called Deceptions which depicts the rape and abandonment of an impoverished girl in Victorian England and her exposure to the judgement of respectable society. Larkin writes, “All the unhurried day, your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.”

The link below also includes Anita’s brilliant lyric Semi-Century Fox, a song she wrote to celebrate her fiftieth birthday Anita Jardine “Semi-Century Fox/Drawer of knives” Lion … – YouTube. If you haven’t yet discovered well-travelled troubadour Anita, watch out for her rare local appearances in 2013.


As to bands, the Moors continue to be one of my favourite local groups.  Highlights of their year included their new album The Moors, which they launched at St Mary in the Castle in May, when they were invited to open the Hastings Jack in the Green weekend. Their previous recording, The Moors Are Here, which is now available as a free six-track download, remains a good account of where the band were three years ago, shortly after they were founded, but this full-length album is a much more ambitious affair, recorded and mixed over a period of a few weeks early in 2012. It showcases their musical inventiveness and wide range of souces, including klezmer (originally the music of East European Jews), Balkan music, English folk-rock and even some Cuban influences.

In 2013 they are looking forward to continuing to play in the Hastings area, but also hope to range further afield. The band tell me they will be playing a concert in May at The School Creative Centre in Rye, conceived as a musical journey from mediaeval times to the rock & roll era. They also hope to return to Brighton, where they played in the Fringe Festival last year. Do try and catch them live if you can in one of the local pubs – the Jenny Lind, the Royal Standard or the Stag.

Jazz with Liane Carroll (AP)

Liane is Hastings’ own darling international jazz star. As well as national and international gigs, she sings and plays at Porters as often as she can when not performing in venues around the UK, major music festivals or teaching at music colleges and universities. I was at one of her gigs just before Christmas and she said that of all the places worldwide that she plays she loved Porters most of all.

Liane sings straight from the heart with a good dose of humour thrown in so you often don’t know if you’re laughing or crying but it’s usually both. Every time I’ve heard her, the performance has been moving. It’s impressive that she still plays and sings locally for almost nothing with the international profile that she has and the prices she commands in London and the rest of the world.

Liane is accompanied by herself on piano and a variety of guest musicians. When I heard her, she had the fantastic bass guitarist Roger Carey with her as well as James McMillan playing a mean trumpet and Russell Field on drums. Roger Carey was the best bass guitarist I’ve ever heard.

In 2012 Liane won the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Up and Down voted Best Jazz Album of the Year and Best British Vocalist in British Jazz Awards. Liane is nominated for Jazz FM’s UK Vocalist of 2012 announced on January 31st 2013 see Jazzwise magazine

Together with trumpeter, producer James McMillan (also a Hastings resident), a new album Ballads is due for release February 2013. A taster is here:

You can listen to Liane singing on You Tube e.g. Picture in a Frame and check upcoming gigs or order albums from her website

Folk with Garry Blakeley and the Garry Blakeley Band (AP)

Garry Blakeley is a fiddler and singer extraordinaire who will make your heart sing and your feet dance.  He has played all over the UK this year with many wonderful events but the biggest highlight of all was the marvellous Wheel of the Year show that toured the southeast from September through to November.

In Hastings the Wheel of the Year was on at the Stables Theatre where it was, unsurprisingly, sold out.  It was mostly original material with songs by Garry and lyrics by Rose Blakeley, a musical feast that was held together with short narratives and poems, which led the audience from one end of the year to the other.

Jane Downes of the Catsfield Steamers was the superb narrator whose warmth and humour kept the audience gripped throughout with not only poems but reports of weather “of bibilical proportions” that the UK had suffered in various years. It was a masterstroke, the weather reports, because we all remembered them and the Wheel of the Year story became our story.

Most of all we thrilled to the music. The excellent Garry Blakeley Band included guitarist Phil Hudson, drummer Jon Ewen as well as Garry’s son Edd Blakeley on bass and acting MD. Most of all there was Garry who sang and played with heart and soul. Every note was perfect, sheer delight and even now, months later, as I write this review I can feel my feet start to tap.

You can check upcoming gigs on Garry’s website

Latest CD is Wheel of the Year which you can order online

Avant Garde – splitting the atom (NW)

“Splitting the atom IX”, the second of these free noise/experimental all day events in Hastings was held at The Roomz on 25th November. A much better attended event than the last, it also featured visiting acts from Portsmouth, Bristol and London as well as familiar faces from the locality. Lama Dalai presented quite an engaging set of spoken word/drone mixtures drawn from their “Cage Rattling” performances in London. Their instrumentation was largely home made and it crackled just like a John Cage setup. Some beautifully executed solo guitar work from Legallienne, the haunting drones of Aqua Dentata and a fabulous folk/rock/electronic set by Hamilton Yarns nicely balanced the more wildly freeform outings that also varied from jazzy John Martyn style rambles to mentalist rock chaos and dense electronic noise. Overall this was a thoroughly inspirational and expertly curated cabinet of curiosities and we look forward to the next “Splitting the Atom” event at The Roomz on Saturday 16th February 2013.


A significant migrant who has left Hastings is Sarah Jane Morris. Sarah who is most commonly known for her association with the Communards has been described as one of the world’s great jazz-soul vocalists but she works on the borders of many genres as illustrated by her recent concept album of 10 pop songs entitled Cello Songs arranged and conducted for voice and cello orchestra by Enrico Melozzi

We shouldn’t take her departure too personally as she is a bit of a gypsy and has relocated some 37 times. She now resides in a snug hideaway in Kent but reportedly retains affection for Hastings. She is highly appreciated on the international circuit and has spent much of the past year in Italy. Can we expect a gig at St Mary in the Castle in 2013 from Sarah? Go on, get on to her website and invite her back.

A classical turn

It has been quite an exciting year for local composer and pianist Polo Piatti with his much acclaimed launch of the first International Composers Festival, of which he is the Artistic Director, at St Mary in the Castle in August followed by a successful concert tour in Japan. He performed to full houses in both Osaka and Tokyo as well as premiering his latest orchestral work, the evocative and romantic suite Sentimental Journey. This album which features his compositions for his Japan Tour will be released in 2013.

Polo has been commissioned by Musica Sacra to compose the first ever All-Faiths Oratorio, an extensive groundbreaking orchestral and choral work to be recorded and world-premiered in the United Kingdom in 2013.

Polo will be giving a guest performance on February 15th 2013 at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. After performing some piano improvisations he will be premiering a brand new work he has specially composed and dedicated to the Hastings Tango Club, true lovers of Argentine tango in this part of the world. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience Polo Piatti live!

Polo will be touring with the Osaka Concert Orchestra in the UK in September. There will be several concerts including at least one at the highly successful International Composer’s Festival scheduled for September 7th at St Mary in the Castle. Details will be published on Polo’s website soon.

Hastings Sinfonia

Polo is in the process of forming a new orchestra in Hastings and has managed to secure St Marys as the orchestral home for rehearsals and performances. If you’d like to join the Hastings Sinfonia contact via the website at

To sample some of the music mentioned above visit:

Help keep HOT hot

As you know HOT is a charity run by volunteers. It would be much appreciated if any of you musicians would like to do a benefit gig for us in 2013. If interested contact

In tough times we wish all HOT readers a Happy New Year, keep on singing  and remember…we still have the music.

SOS     1st January 2013


Posted 15:15 Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013 In: SOS

Also in: SOS

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