So we squeezed into The Fountain last night…and what a musical history the pub has.

Guy Gillo has got a lovely little venue going here.

Posters on the wall show how it has hosted the last night of a national tour by the UK Subs and has been graced by the likes of Don Letts on the decks.

So what more fitting a venue for Hastings’ current folk-punk upstarts, Matilda’s Scoundrels, to be hosting their pre-Christmas party.

It’s a pub of two halves, and the stage is tucked around the back of the bar in a space that has a capacity of maybe 80-100 very closely-packed punters. On the other side, away from the action, there is room to breathe around the pool table.

First up on a busy four-act bill was Jake Martin. Essentially, for anyone who missed out on tickets to see ex-Million Dead frontman and current darling of the folk-rock circuit, Frank Turner, play in Bexhill tonight Jake is a brilliant consolation prize.

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Jake comes fully loaded with all the hallmarks of an artist going places. Deftly crafted songs that are well-observed and perfectly judged to ring true with anyone who cares to take a listen.

He’s a no-holds-barred professional musician and if you get another chance to see him play you won’t be wasting your time.

Cheap Dates are next on the bill, and cause consternation on the sound front as there’s more of them than had been expected. So after extra mics have been plugged in and tested it’s time for a skiffle-infused set

that frolics along with wry punk attitude.

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Jimmy is aided and abetted on percussive duties by Miss Snotflower, who takes no prisoners with her washboard, bells and assorted other tappy things

John “Hot Fingers” Hornig and ‘Uke’ Andy round things off with guitar, banjo, and (not surprisingly) ukulele – as well as bringing in some vocal harmonies for good measure.

They are a well-known local Hastings busking team, and notorious for inappropriate cover versions in the worst possible taste.

Before Matilda’s Scoundrels take the stage the venue is treated to what is only the fifth ever gig by the Butane Regulators.

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Doug, Nathan, and Henry are on a mission to retrieve the spirit of 1977 with their crazed take on punk’s heyday. Doug’s mad staring eyes are hypnotic as he shuffles around the stage in striped socks and a white lab coat, occasionally leaping into the crowd and always giving his performance 100%.

Nathan and Henry definitely take a back seat to Doug’s dynamism, but they can play guitar and drums like nobodies business and the whole thing just works incredibly well.

 

And finally it’s Matilda’s Scoundrels chance to shine.

Led by Quinn on mandolin and lead vocals, the Scoundrels take folk-punk to the next level. They very deservedly supported the Levellers on Hastings pier earlier in the year and have played a string of festivals and gigs across the UK over the last year.

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They’re loud and brash and bolshie.  They know how to have fun, and that fun is as infectious as whooping cough. You’d have to be dead or in a coma to not be caught up in their angry and uplifting shows.

Tonight they give it their all and leave us all screaming for more.

Watch this band – 2017 is theirs for the taking.

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