In a recent blog post Richard talked about a new Jam Night that had started quite recently in Hastings, at The Havelock. You can read it here:
Jam Nights are a great way for musicians to get together and have a bit of fun outside of their usual commitments and maybe even get out of their musical comfort zone a little, as they try different genres and play with different musicians to those that they’re used to?
One thing about a Jam Night though is that it is generally all about the musicians. It is not normally a spectator sport, as i suspect many potential audience members may well be put off by the thought of a lot of musos playing amongst themselves and drifting into what seem like interminable jams. It is almost like going back to the dark days of Prog Rock and there can’t be many who want to go back there again. ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ anyone?
But, it doesn’t always have to be that way, as i discovered on Sunday when i went to one such Jam Night myself. It was at Tin Tins and was actually organised by Pierless Music’s very own Richard Lock, who wrote the aforementioned blog post. It also happened to be part of his own birthday celebrations as well. There was even cake. He sure knows how to attract people doesn’t he?
As i’ve suggested, a Jam Night is not something that i might normally go to, but i’m sure glad that i made the effort here.
I heard some great music on the night, much of which brought a huge smile to my face. But, there was something else about the evening that struck me. There was a realisation that i was watching a new, younger generation of local musicians.
During my time listening to, watching and also playing local music on the radio i have tended, probably quite naturally, to have mixed with musicians of around my own age. There have of course been exceptions, but generally those are the people that i have got to know.
Getting to know some of those people and then seeing them play at close quarters has been a real eye opener and a privilege. Standing at the side of the stage at an event like Beatles Day for example and seeing musicians such as Liane Carroll and Liam Genockey, to name just two, from behind, or being right next to them, really is something special for an ex musician like myself.
At an event such as Beatles Day there is also that added element, a bit like at a Jam Night, where the musicians are sometimes effectively making it up as they go along. They are often under rehearsed, or have not rehearsed at all. But, their professionalism, musical knowledge and natural ability carries them through. The fact that they all know each other well, as a local musical community, helps a great deal too.
Maybe it takes an ex musician to spot those almost secret glances, nods of the head, slight hand gestures, or raising of the eyes which indicate a key change, guitar solo, chorus, or the end of the song?
And maybe i’ve just ruined the illusion of some of those performances you may have seen yourself at Beatles Day etc? I certainly hope not. They may well have been real seat of the pants performances sometimes, but the fact that hardly anyone notices, just shows how good these musicians are and how well they know each other.
All of which brings me back to last night and the young musicians who played there.
All of them were under 30. I believe their ages ranged from teenagers to 28 years old. This means that they are all around half the age of the musical generation i’ve just been talking about and to which i also belong myself. But, you wouldn’t have known that and for me, that was the real revelation.
As i mentioned earlier, i have had contact with the younger musical generation over the years, but it has tended to be more fleeting and not always in person. After all, i’m old enough to be their father. That does tend to create, quite naturally, a kind of imaginary barrier. At first anyway.
But, music is a great leveller and over the past year, or so, I have started to see some of these young local musicians more regularly and at close quarters.
There are a number of reasons for that. The first being my involvement with the band Arivmia, i was the bands manager for a while. Another was the setting up of Pierless Music itself with Richard, who is nearly half my age and is therefore a part of that new generation.
I do also happen to genuinely believe that we have a crop of very talented young musicians currently in the Hastings area. Quite possibly the best that i’ve come across during my involvement with local music in Hastings.
I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that the standard of the music submitted to Hastings Rock, especially by the younger bands, has been getting better, more competent and also more experimental. The new kids on the block are spreading their wings musically and the results are all the better for it. All of this has led to a natural curiosity about the music being produced and the people who are making it.
So, there i was in Tin Tins on Sunday evening, knowing full well that a year ago i probably wouldn’t have bothered to have made the effort.
The group of musicians involved closely matched those mentioned in Richard’s earlier blog post (there are others out there as well btw). The main players being Brandon Hoadley, Dan Bransby, Harrison Caruana, George Macdonald, Jack Wilson, Sam Wills and Richard Lock himself. As with that older generation, these are players who have already built up a great deal of musical understanding amongst themselves and who seem to have formed their own local musical community.
What came across to me on the night was a depth of musical knowledge, possibly gained from their parent’s record collections, huge musical ability and an obvious love of playing music. This last point was emphasised when a suggested cigarette break was thwarted by yet another jam starting up, gradually drawing in all the musicians. I think they would have played all night if they’d been allowed to.
As suggested above, what i feel sets this current crop of young local musicians apart from previous groups is their musical knowledge. That night we heard a variety of genres including rock, jazz, reggae, rock n roll, indie and even an excursion into South American rhythms with a bit of Spanish guitar thrown in for good measure. And let’s not forget the added percussion supplied by beer glasses, coffee cups, a radiator and a beer tray. All played with great skill, verve and complete with those knowing glances of their seniors.
Yes, we had a few cover versions thrown in, namely ‘Moondance’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’. We even had some stripped down versions of local tracks by The Kid Kapichi and Adonis Fuzz. But, what we also had were jams in those previously mentioned musical genres. Jams that rose and fell in intensity and even sometimes meandered across those different genres.
As with my experiences at several Beatles Day’s and other local events, it was a real pleasure to see all of this at such close quarters.
On the evidence of both last night and from what i’ve seen and heard over the past year, it is obvious to me that the baton of local musical talent has certainly been passed down from the older generation to the next.
The musical future of Hastings is certainly safe in their hands.