For the past week Gloucester has once again hosted the annual Rhythm and Blues Festival. Anybody who follows my Gloucester Pubs Facebook page will be in no doubt that I am a big fan of this event.
For most people there is some regular annual fixture in the calendar that has a particular impact upon their lives. For many these are sporting events: Wimbledon, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Cricket Festival, etc. For others it may be the big music festivals such as Glastonbury, or for the more literarily inclined, the Hay on Wye Literature Festival. For me, this is it.
Unlike the Cheltenham Festivals, the Rhythm and Blues Festival is largely run by the pubs and it is free. It brings together in perfect harmony the opportunity to support both live music and your local pub.
There are a number of Gloucester’s fine hostelries that have a long tradition of supporting the Blues Festival: chief amongst them is the Café Rene, with the Pig Inn the City and the Cross Keys close behind. This year they were joined by other venues: the newly refurbished New County Hotel hosted a couple of bands, including Maxwell Street on the opening night; the New Inn opened a new blues Club in the Tree Tops Bar and the Dick Whittington teamed up with the Pig Inn for the Lower Westgate Beer & Blues Festival.
So it has been quite a busy week; I have seen some excellent bands and drunk far too much cider – much of it inadvisably strong! It all came to an end last night when, having spent the day enjoying Café Rene’s outdoor stage, it all moved inside for a loud and fun finale with the distinctly non-blues Papa Burgundy. My only regret was that I couldn’t be in three places at once as I would also have loved to have been at the Pig Inn to see their bands and the New Inn for their end of festival jam session.
I have included a couple of photos here, but if you really want to see some decent pictures to remind you of the fun you had or to see what you missed, check out the Gloucester Rhythm and Blues Festival Facebook page. There you will find photos by Katie Thomas, who made the monumental effort to see and photograph every band throughout the nine day festival. Give that woman a medal! (Although you may need to be patient – I’m guessing it will take a while to get them all uploaded!)
So that’s it for another year; time to get some sleep and let my liver recover. But remember, live music is not just for the Blues Festival: most of these pubs host live music throughout the year, so go out and support them.