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Joe Strummer Foundation

Hastings Calling

Written By Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by Ivor Levene

One of the most respected musicians of the past 40 years is probably Joe Strummer. Best remembered for his time with The Clash, one of the great bands to come out of the Punk era, and also for his solo material with The Mescaleros.

Joe Strummer sadly died in December of 2002 at just 50 years of age. Another great musical talent taken from us far too soon. But his legacy lives on, both through his music and also through The Joe Strummer Foundation (JSF), which is seeking to carry on with his ideals and ideas.

The JSF gives opportunities to aspiring musicians, and support to projects globally that create empowerment through music.

The JSF recently moved its headquarters to Hastings, so we thought it was only right to talk to the man running the JSF, Jamie Webb, and find out what the JSF is all about and also, why Hastings?

Andy Gunton: First things first, what is the JSF and when was it started?

Jamie Webb: The JSF was started in 2003, the year after Joe’s death, by his friends and family to continue his legacy and help people through music. It’s been going a long time now and I think we’re in a good place. 

Joe famously had a campfire backstage at the Glastonbury Festival for many years, where people used to gather, and we still do that every year, you could say it’s become our spiritual home really! It grew from that and now we’re in the main Festival space, and one of the uncovered gems of the Festival.

AG: How is the JSF funded?

JW: It’s mainly funded through donations. We have gone through ups and downs with money and funds, we’re only now really putting on fundraisers ourselves. 

Before, Damien Hurst, who was a good friend of Joe’s, was a Trustee. He’d sell one of his art works and that would generate a lot of money. We now get our money day to day though selling merchandise, benefits and donations. The small events we put on raise small amounts of money, but do help to raise awareness. Now we are having to have a think about fundraising a bit more and what we need to do. 

Last year we held our first Gala Dinner, during which we auctioned gifts from famous friends and people who loved Joe. We also did a fundraising event last year and managed to raise an amazing £80,000! 

AG: What do you do with that money?

JW: We are a global organisation. We have a main fund which is for just day to day things, and then we have specific projects, like music rooms in places such as Sierra Leone and Japan. 

We are a very small team, it’s just me and my guru colleague who lives in Peru, although we have a great team of Trustees. The nature of it being Joe’s charity means that people have fallen over themselves to help us. We are very lucky!

AG: It must be nice to say “I’m a part of the JSF charity.”

JW: Yes, that really does helps us to raise funds and publicity. It’s a great and very strong brand, with its own logo etc. 

AG: The JSF has been around for 12 years now and you’ve just chosen to relocate to Hastings - why did you chose Hastings?

JW: On a personal note, my partner and I came here for one of the Jack and The Green Festivals and we loved it! A few years later and few friends started trickling down this way, we’d visit and loved the place and the vibe. I work from home and with the expense of London and a young family, we thought ‘lets move to the coast’… it just happened in a few months. 

AG: What do you think of Hastings so far?

JW: There is definitely a lot going on musically. A few friends were down here for a birthday and we wanted to go somewhere for a few drinks and everywhere seemed to have music. 

I went to The Albion one Sunday and there was a band playing TV theme tunes (The A Team) and I couldn’t get in! It was about 4:00pm on a Sunday afternoon, so you must be dong something right down here! 

AG: I posted something myself about that because the Sunday afternoon gig scene has grown over the past 18 months or so. There’s always been music at that time, but other people have thought ‘They’re having music, so we need music too because it’s encouraging people to come out”. 

JW: it’s impressive because Hastings is a relatively small place, but on a Sunday you’ve got around 15 acts playing in various venues around town. You think of the concentration of the bands per person - it’s great!!

AG: Ongoing, what are the aims for the charity?

JW: To keep going! We want to revisit current projects and reinvest in Sierra Leone, as they need a bigger space. 

We are doing a lot of workshops this year around the country. For example, up in Hull that we’ve got to raise money for, some at The Roundhouse and also other parts of London that are maybe a little neglected. 

Then it’s all gearing up to September 10th this year, when I’ve booked The Roundhouse in London for a fundraiser which ties in with the 40th anniversary of The Clash. It’s all about baby steps and building it gradually.

AG: Now that the JSF is in Hastings, are you hoping to be able to support some local acts in the future?

JW: Definitely! There are tons of bands coming out of London and I’m sure there are many here too. We want to give people a platform wherever they’re from. Seeing as we’re in Hastings, we might as well work with bands in Hastings. 

 

To celebrate the JSF moving to Hastings Jamie has arranged a special, two part, ‘Strummerville-On-Sea’ event which takes place on Saturday 23rd April, which also happens to be St George’s Day.

Part one will be held at the Electric Palace Cinema in the High Street, Old Town Hastings from 3pm.

This will feature a special screening of ‘Hell W10’, a short black and white film written and directed by Joe Strummer himself.

There will also be a film from local artist Nichola Bruce of Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros playing ‘Police and Thieves’ on Hastings Pier in 2002, one of the last gigs that he ever played (I was lucky enough to have been at that gig and remember it very fondly. The encore was a rousing rendition of ‘White Riot’)

Following this, there will be a discussion about The Clash and Joe Strummer featuring Daily Mirror music critic and Hastings resident, Gavin Martin, plus Joe Strummer biographer and author, Chris Salewicz.

Tickets are available for this event from the Electric Palace Cinema and cost £10.

 

Part two of Strummerville-One-Sea is a gig which takes place at The Albion, in George Street, from 6pm. 

This event is free, but a £3 donation is recommended. This will go to Make Waves (Formerly ‘Live in The Valley’), which is a very worthwhile local music project.

There will be six acts playing during the evening, both local (Kid Kapichi) and some from further afield who are already supported by the JSF. 

It promises to be a great day, so why not come along and welcome the Joe Strummer Foundation to Hastings.

Find out more about the JSF and their work at: joestrummerfoundation.org

There is also a fund raising page for Make Waves here: Donate

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