Yet again, Hastings (and St Leonards) delivered the goods for us tonight in the shape of Katie-Louise Wren and The Jam Collective.
Kicking off the evening way on down past the pier, we popped into The Gecko Bar.
Now under new management, the venue’s previously sporadic musical offerings have blossomed into a series of regular nights.
Walls adorned with quality original photos of bands and musicians (all for sale at sensible prices) mark this as a bar that takes its music seriously.
The panoramic windows give that all-too-rare view out to see that so few Hastings venues can actually offer. It may have the road between it and the beach, but having that giant Hastings sky and a glimpse of the horizon as a backdrop to the live music is something special.
(More photos at www.facebook.com/saralouise.bowrey)
The Gecko Bar also gets meritorious mention for having Brew Dog Punk IPA on draught…a very good thing in our book.
Tonight’s live session is from Katie-Louise Wren, with Henry providing extremely dextrous fiddle accompaniment to her nimble guitar work and heart-warming voice.
As a young artist just finding her feet Katie-Louise is blessed to live in a town where age seems no barrier to finding gigs. She’s been a regular at the London Trader open mics for some time now, and it’s clear those nights are a proving ground for new talent.
Playing a diverse range of covers alongside a handful of her own songs demonstrates two things.
Firstly, Katie-Louise has an ear for arrangement. She takes well-known tunes and deftly makes them her own.
Secondly, she has a good grasp of song writing as a means of telling a story or expressing an emotional journey.
Indeed, if we had to liken some of her self-penned material to anyone’s it might be someone like Frank Turner.
What we’d like to hear from her down the line is perhaps some experimentation with trying to bring a rougher edge to her vocals…maybe exploring her inner Janis Joplin to see if she can release a little more passion.
Because that passion for performance is certainly there – anyone who’s seen Katie-Louise live will vouch for that fact.
A ten-minute-or-so walk down alongside the gently crashing waves and a sharp left into the heart of town brought us the The General Havelock – and from some distance away it was obvious the joint was, as they say, jumping.
Elbowing through the crowd to the bar took a little doing, but before long we’d bagged a good spot and settled in for a masterclass in talented musicianship and a demonstration of the strength of Hastings’ current scene.
The Jam Collective is Sam Wills’ current new band project, and it rocks.
Sam is one of a handful of names that are firmly on the ones-to-watch list at present. He’s creating tunes that are in danger of making him very well-known indeed.
What tonight is about though is serious musicians having a whole lot of fun. There’s plenty of sharing going on as the likes of Harry Osborne (someone / anyone) jump up to guest in the lead role.
And there’s also plenty of jumping up on tables as the audience express their delight in the most time-honoured way possible – by raucously having a huge amount of fun.
Party bands come and party bands go, but The Jam Collective is way more than a party band and is a name to look out for in the future if you want to be sure of a night out that will involve a really good time.