Reflections from the Lantern Society, Hastings’ Candlelit Acoustic Club, by Trevor Moss.

At the beginning of each Lantern Society, after darkness descends and the flickering flame is ignited, my wife Hannah-Lou and I play a few songs to open proceedings. ‘Welcome to The Lantern Society, home of The Lantern Society Radio Hour,’ has been my habitual introduction, until this month. Since establishing the Hastings club, in January 2017, I have recorded the performances then produced and presented a monthly show featuring, ‘The very best live performances fresh from the stage,’ for broadcast online and on Conquest Hospital Radio.

I passionately believe in radio as a medium. I am from the last generation to have grown up sneaking the radio under the bedcovers. Regrettably, the long hours sitting alone in my darkened basement, speaking into the mic to fewer and fewer people, doing my best John Peel meets Bob Harris meets Alan Lomax impersonation are simply no longer justifiable. 

It’s a difficult time for curated content radio and indeed printed press, trying to resist the inexorable stomping jackboot of progress. The streaming and playlist culture, with every song in the world at your fingertips, accessible for free at any moment, is formidable competition for ear-time for a niche music show made up of unknown players.

Whilst announcing the sad demise of the radio show on stage, I was distracted by a member of the audience in the front row. His face illuminated bright blue by his smartphone, which he persisted to dementedly swipe away at like a hypnotised chimp all night long, while singers but feet away from his glowing nose attempted to ignore him. He was oblivious to all around, looking up only to loudly share whatever hilarity he had discovered with those beside him.

As the club commenced the field recordist in me was sweating with guilt. What if I miss something great? What if tonight is the night the next Bob Dylan shows up and I haven’t got my recorder?

This month’s club did indeed seem to be among the best I can remember. Or was it that I was, for the first time, present. Not thinking about the show, the recording levels, how I am going to edit together a presentation of what’s going on, but just in the room, listening to music for no reason other than to just listen.

I don’t know what crucial social admin my blue-faced friend was engaged in, but like me, his fear of missing out on something was distracting him from what he was really missing out on: everything.   

The next Lantern Society is Thursday 4th October, and takes place every first Thursday of the month at the Printworks on Claremont Rd. 

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.