Bringing the music back to Battle bandstand

Bexhill-based doctor musician Jo Wood reckons she has found the perfect outdoor rehearsal space for frustrated locked-down musicians – Battle bandstand.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 7:00 am
Jo Wood

With permission from owner Stephen Jempson, Jo is determined to bring Battle bandstand back to life, with regular rehearsals by small groups offering live music.

She stresses they won’t be offering concerts. They are not permitted to attract crowds. And nor will they be busking for money.

They will simply be rehearsing outdoors.

“This is all to do with the awfulness of this time. There are a lot of debates about whether musicians can blow or sing together safely or not or if they risk becoming super-spreaders. I love to play my music, but I can’t rehearse indoors unless I am playing in enormous barns.

“You can go and rehearse outdoors, but it if rains you have got thousands of pounds worth of instruments that are going to get wrecked.”

Battle bandstand offers the perfect solution, says Jo, who runs Some Like It Hotter, an 18-piece all-girl swing band with cross-dressed guys and burlesque singers.

“At last the bandstand has come into its own – a safe, covered space with a good circulation of air where singers and players can safely practise together once again. Battle bandstand belongs to the Jempson family, an East Sussex family business who run haulage and supermarket businesses. Stephen Jempson is a musician’s friend. He happily gave me permission to use the stand.

“This is what bandstands are designed for. And you see lots of them around that are falling into disuse, and it is often difficult to find out who owns them or to try to get permission to use them – and you will get a job’s worth who doesn’t know and it is simpler for them to say no.”

But Jo is thrilled to have got the permission – and is now keen to draw up a rota. She would like to put people on there eight hours a day, seven days a week, with each session lasting an hour. Already she has got a string quartet and a ukulele band lined up, plus all sorts of little combinations. Max six players at a time. Amplified music isn’t possible: “It has got its own limitations, but it is such a fantastic building.”

Anyone wanting to join the list to use it should contact Jo on [email protected]


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