Creating New Memories at St Mary in the Castle

It was a festival first as we kicked off 2020 presenting two exceptional concerts along the coast in Hastings. We were thrilled to have had the opportunity to present Judy Collins and the James Taylor Quartet in the stunning setting of St Mary in the Castle.

Judy Collins performed on Thursday 23rd January and what a coup this was for the festival. It was an honour to work with one of the most respected and iconic female artists of our generation. We were fortunate to secure a date with Judy as part of her European tour and she certainly did not disappoint.

Judy Collins at St Mary in the Castle

Judy was accompanied by her musical director and pianist Russell Walden on the evening which created a perfect musical harmony for this special intimate concert. As Judy heads towards her eightieth birthday on 1st May this year there were certainly no signs that she intends to be taking life slightly easier as she performed with energy, charm and charisma; interspersing her wonderful singing with real life stories of the many stars that she has worked with including Bob Dylan, Jimmy Webb, Joni Mitchel and Stephen Stills.

Judy’s star quality shined as brightly as ever as she performed both on twelve string guitar and grand piano. Her vocal range was as strong as ever and her performance included many of the songs for which Judy is famous, such as ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘River’ written by Joni Michel’, ‘Highway Man’, written by her good friend Jimmy Webb, ‘Tambourine Man’, written by Bob Dylan, and a wonderful rendition of ‘Send In The Clowns’ written by Stephen Sondheim.

Judy’s encore was the Christian hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, and she invited the audience to sing with her to round off what was a truly memorable evening.

The concert on Saturday 25th January with the James Taylor Quartet (JTQ) and the Fabulous Red Diesel most certainly lived up to everyone’s expectations, a packed audience that had travelled from far and wide were ready to get their groove on.

Fab Red Diesel

Hastings based band and festival favourites the Fabulous Red Diesel performed a supporting thirty minute set of their highly original compositions combining jazz, fusion and funky back beats. Lead singer and keyboardist Kat Lee-Ryan was in fine voice, with other talented members of the band performing superb basslines, guitar and trumpet solos and irresistible drum licks.


James Taylor Quartet then took to the stage performing a ninety minute set of trademark acid jazz funk. James Taylor is one of the most respected Hammond organ players in the world and you could see why with his effortless playing and his intricate chord sequences. .

The hits kept coming from JTQ’s back catalogue including ‘Love Will Keep Us Together’, a fabulous rendition of ‘Green Onions’ made famous by Booker T and the MG’s (you can see him live at the De La Warr Pavilion in May!) and the dance floor filler and signature hit the theme from ‘Starsky & Hutch’. The audience were up on their feet.

The band were joined on stage by guest vocalist Yvonne Yanney who gave a wonderful dimension to a thrilling groove ladened performance with Mark Cox on lead guitar, Andrew McKinney on bass and Pat Illingworth on drums.

The festival would like to extend thanks to Judy Collins, JTQ, the Fabulous Red Diesel, the friendly and professional team at St Mary in The Castle, the production team at On Stage for the superb sound and lighting, all of the passionate festival team, Hayley Redman, Peter Mould and importantly all those that attended the concerts.

To see photographs of the two concerts please go to our festival gallery here. Photos (c) Peter Mould Photography

Posted on 27/01/2020 by Ian Bowden

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