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My first Fat Tuesday

Written By Hope Smyth

Over four thousand miles from the spicy soul of New Orleans, Hastings is making its own Mardi Gras impact on the world.

In its fifth year, Fat Tuesday hosted its biggest crowds yet, bringing in a mix of genres and ages, dressed up to the nines in true carnival attire; a cacophony of sounds spilling out onto the streets from all the bars and pubs involved. 

Officially the biggest authentic Mardi Gras event in the UK, Fat Tuesday is now a charity on a mission to discover and support local musicians and "promote Hastings and St. Leonards as a centre of musical excellence." 

Ghouls, a London based gypsy punk band, were one of the many artists involved, "Hastings as a place has a really cool vibe, and the live music scene seems to be really good." They have been together for just over a year, but have big dreams and an unusual sound. The band, who released their début album 'Ten Thousand Words On' on the 4th April, performed three sets at this years festival and had "a fantastic time. The people in Hastings just seem to know how to have a good time.”

Returning to Fat Tuesday for a second year were, The Kid Kapichi, a local indie/rock band. When asking locals prior to the festival which bands to go and see, The Kid Kapichi were definitely up there. "There seemed to be a real buzz around us playing, and we could barely move when we arrived at the venues to play" they said.

Being local to Hastings, the band have seen the effects of regeneration across 1066 country, and stated that Fat Tuesday "promotes not only the young bands, but the town itself. It honestly was one of the best nights we've had the honour to play in Hastings."

Their set at Dragon Bar, attracted such a crowd that people were spilling out onto the street, choosing to dance in the road, and viewing the band through the front window. Their loveable indie rock sound is perfect for the live music scene. "We don’t want to write songs based about hardships or experiences we've never had. So we take inspiration from what tends to happen around us." 

It seems that across the whole of Hastings, people feel really positive about what Fat Tuesday is doing for the town, and the young bands and musicians in the area. Bob Tipler, one of the Fat Tuesday organisers said; "The one thing we're really good at doing here in Hastings is putting on unusual, quirky events, and they've been a major part of changing the perception of the town." 

Bob is also a member of the Cajun Dawgs, a local band with a thick Louisianan sound that really fits the Mardi Gras theme. "[Fat Tuesday] really came from that. I needed to promote my band so I said, why not just use a Mardi Gras sort of thing?"

Five years later the event is growing bigger and bigger, and Bob told me he was excited that the event is attracting so many young people, "We'd like it to involve everybody, but we’d particularly like it to be seen by young people as something to be involved in. In ten years time it really will be a massive festival."

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