Light From Darkness Studios
A Creative Environment - The History
Here is a picture of the first Light From Darkness Studio in the week that it opened in June 1991.
In those days there wasn't a rehearsal studio in Hastings and the idea was to provide a "creative environment" for groups of musicians (of any persuasion) to get together and CREATE. For information about how some took it quite literally, please read on.
Not visible in the foreground is Mick Walker playing guitar. Soon after this Mick's first ever band, Lapidari, opened the first ever LIAISON in Hastings supporting Blue Stone Mor on Hastings Pier. Liaison was the name given to the studio's gigs organised and promoted by Phil Little.
Lapidari became Helium Lovesok brought out three albums. They played all over the South East of England enjoying unusual popularity in Dover of all places. They have also appeared at several major festivals in the South and in Holland and Portugal.
Phil outside the Studio front door (far left of this alley)
In September of 1991 Blue Stone Mor recorded ten songs at Light From Darkness Studios and the results inspired everybody into a frenzy of activity. Led by Dave Cutmore and featuring the excellent songs and vocals of Simon Steadman Blue Stone Mor were a great success in the first Liaison gig in November 1991, which, was attended by none other than Jeff Beck. In January 1992, Liaison moved to The Yorkshire Grey pub were the gigs were put on free thanks to the good auspices of landlord Keith.
Blue Stone Mor
At about this time Simon Steadman approached Phil and asked him for support to put together his own band which would have a different approach and a different musical style. Simon started off with just a drummer, Chris Vane, who lent some energetic and funky rhythms to push Simon's songs. Within a week auditions were underway for other musicians and a major step forward to the new band was the addition of Ellie Hopkins on violin.With Simon's acoustic guitar a new happy acoustic sound was forming which was driving at the same time.
The band were rehearsing three or four afternoons a week at Light From Darkness and the sound that echoed throughout the rest of the huge disused building got more appealing and tighter after every session.
Within a month Simon had arranged the bands first gig and had decided to call the band "The Dharma Bums". Phil had a quiet word with him about that and Simon elected to shorten his new band's title to The Dharmas.
Chris Vane went off to University and Simon Steadman asked Phil if he knew any drummers and he said he would keep an eye out. A short time later the two bumped inot each other and Phil told Russell about The Dharmas and the next thing he auditioned and was in.
The rest, they say, is history, which will be more accurately detailed elsewhere. To recount briefly, people went mad for The Dharmas very quickly. All their local gigs were packed out and in a year they would be putting on their own shows at Hastings Pier's huge ballroom. A couple of years after their inception they were a good festival pull and appeared several times at Glastonbury. Finally signed to a major record company for a six figure sum, fate struck them a blow in the form of a conglomerate takeover and The Dharmas wondering what move to make next. The Dharmas issued their CD themselves.
Simon Steadman kept a new band going with the same rhythm section from The Dharmas, Dave Walton on bass and Russell Field on drums for a while and is now a successful songwriter in America. Russell Field currently plays with Midge Ure.
Another band using Light From Darkness at this time was Buick Six an accomplished Blues band that featured a rhythm section to die for in Colin Gibson on Bass and Liam Genochy on drums. They have both played on sessions through the seventies, eighties and nineties too numerous to list here. Buick Six still play all over Europe and are a big festival attraction. Roger Hubbard fronts the band on vocals and slide guitar.
Buick Six at Light From Darkness
Left to Right Colin Gibson - Bass, Liam Genochy - Drums and Roger Hubbard - Guitar
I recall the most popular Liaison gigs at The Yorkshire Grey throughout this period were unquestionably the gigs by legendary Welsh progressive band MAN. I was fortuante to play with founder member Mickey Jones for eight years and Mickey is still the best guitarist I ever had the privelege to work with.
At about 8-30pm we left the studios to go to the Yorkshire Grey for the gig and this being only the second week since I had taken over the bookings at the pub I was thinking about whether there would be enough people there to cover the extra expense of getting MAN in for the gig.
I needn't have worried because when we eventually prised open the side door of the pub you could not move through the crowd which was packed into every square inch of both bars. Word had spread and people had come from miles. It was a fantastic night and the MAN band took everyone there on a cosmic trip which people talk about still.
Deke Leonard relaxing before his gig at The Yorkshire Grey ------ Dave and Martin from The Dave Thompson Band
Light From Darkness
(Click on the image for a full size view)
One of the many other bands that made use of the rehearsal and recording facilities at the Light From Darkness Studios in 1992 were teenage band, The Sand Fountains, who were all still at school at the time. LFD promoted their first gig which also was a sell out with the young group rallying all the support of their friends. Following a couple of personnel changes the band changed their name to Day Tripper and became very popular among the new generation of club goers at that time, playing regularly at The Crypt.
Other bands who used the studio were The Dave Thompson Band, Peter Kirtley, The Word, Etc Etc, The Ordinary Men and many more.
LFD's studio and office were in the basement of an empty five story building juct a few yards from the seafront and Hastings Town Centre. The building had once housed the local newspaper but had lain empty for a few years and was in a state of disrepair. We managed to open the studio there due to the broad minded and progressive attitude of the then owner, John Bee. But when the run down listed building returned to the ownership of a bank, it was time for us to move out. At last, in 2015, the Old Observer Building has finally been brought into use. My old office is demolished and the car park area was being used as a cinema when I got a look in for the first time in 20 years. A few weeks later I attended a banging party on the floor upstairs, which would be the ground floor in Cambridge Road. All signs of prgress in the rescue of the building for the first time since Light From Darkness Studios was in the basement.
In the Summer of 1993 Light From Darkness sponsored the Hastings Live Music Forum in an effort to bring together the different parties involved in Music in order to address problems which the once thriving music scene in Hastings was experienceing. Out of the Forum grew Music Files, a free local event guided which caught the imagination of the public and was published every month for five years up until September 1998. Now there are at least three free event guides in Hastings and nobody can complain that they can't find out what music is happening in the area. Read more about this period in Hastings live music scene at this link.
More recently, LFD organised a benefit concert on 30th April 1999 in aid of the Hastings and Rother branch of Amnesty International who regrettably have only a small membership in the area. This means that the members have to make up, out of their own pockets, the £750 per year required by Amnesty International to approve the branch.
The evening featured two Latin American bands, Mambo Jambo with polished and professional renditions of Salsa classics, and Sambalanco, who whipped up a storm with their twenty-piece Carnival Percussion band playing Brazilian Samba. The highlight was a roof lifting finaale from Saambalanco with Mambo's Vincent Salzfaas on Congas, which were nice and load through the PA so they could be heard over the "Bateria".
Held at De Niro's in Hastings Old Town we had a full house of 160 people and raised £540 for Amnesty. It was a fantastic night and without exception everybody had a good time, while we also raised the local awareness of Amnesty International.
As was hoped, since the first gig others have stepped in to organise and perform at more Amnesty International benefits in the Hastings area. That is really the purpose of Light From Darkness. To demonstrate that with a positive vibe and a little spirit, Anything Is Possible!
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please e-mail us.
All material on this site is copyright Phil Little 2000.