Gecko groove for local good cause

Hastings Friendship Group (HFG) showcased a wide range of local musical talent on Sunday (September 20) in aid of Horizons Community Learning.

HFG is largely the brainchild of Hastings Borough and East Sussex County councillor Trevor Webb. HFG has now hosted 40 gigs over two years, raising more than £3,000 for local and international charities.

Among those performing at the Gecko Bar were Oksana Kirjuskina. Latvian in origin, Oksana sung a couple of ballads, one in her native language, the other, a power ballad in English. Although Oksana performed the latter very well, its overblown style made me wish she was still singing in Latvian.

Oksana competed in the southern heats of Britain’s Got Talent. In December she will hear whether she is going through to the next round - it would be criminal if she wasn’t.

By way of contrast, the very local Jack Apps, armed with just an acoustic guitar, growled and menaced his way through some self-penned, loosely Americana-style, songs. Incomparable.

The award for the bravest act goes to the youngest, Vincent Turner, the singer and acoustic guitarist. Performing in only his second ever solo gig, Vincent writes his own songs and, like many of the performers, sometimes had to battle to be heard in the busy bar.

Dan Wahnon, sometime musical partner of Nina Nicola, gave us urban/RnB unplugged before detouring into an acoustic cover of the timeless Johnny B. Goode.

The best covers man of the night though, and the hardest working, was Saspirella Sam. Real name Pete Garofolo, Sam is a singer and electric keyboardist. He gave us old-time jazz and blues grooves, including Minnie the Moocher, originally made famous by Cab Calloway.

Ghostfingers are Mike Guy on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Patrick McGurr on keyboards. The duo were unassuming but impressive. Their melding of La Bamba and Twist and Shout got a sometimes diffident crowd engaged.

Nick Warren did some nice covers, including songs by Tom Waits and Loudon Wainwright III, and an impressive take on In A Broken Dream by Python Lee Jackson.

Saspirella Sam sent the people home in a good mood, and £87 was raised for Horizons. Keep the gigs coming HFG.

Review by Neil Partrick