So where was I? Oh yes, I left you at the end of Part 1 of this saga as I arrived home at a sensible time on Thursday night. I enjoyed a restful and much needed night’s sleep and, due to my foresight in taking Friday off, a nice lie in, so I was refreshed to start a long weekend of the blues…
Friday 1 August
We started once again at Peppers, this time to see the Sons of the Delta acoustic set, and for the first time this week I was accompanied by my wife Sharon. The weather had not been kind during the day, so the band was moved into the upstairs restaurant, which is not large, so it was extremely packed.
Here we met up with Kate, Dave and Philo. By the time Paul and Nick arrived a short while later there wasn’t even any standing room. It was a great gig though, and I even managed to eat something other than a hot dog: a superb Thai curry.
You may remember in Part 1 that I mentioned the sport of taking pictures of me taking pictures: well, by now they were starting to appear on Kate’s Facebook page. I start to feel hunted.
I had declared the day a cider day as my next stop was the Cider Tree at the Coach and Horses to see King Sized Slim. Here we met up with more friends in the shape of Mark, Jane and Steve.
We decided the music wasn’t really our cup of tea and headed back into town, stopping briefly in the Cross Keys to see the Rumblestrutters Blues Jug Band. I was disappointed that there were no actual jugs being played whilst we were there, but they were very good.
Next we headed to the Cafe Rene, where the music had now moved outside to the ‘Green Stage’ at Greyfriars. This wasn’t great timing as it was still raining, but it was worth getting wet to see King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, who are not just great musicians, but also very entertaining.
By now time was getting on, so I delivered Sharon safely to the bus stop to catch the last bus home before heading to the New Inn to catch up with the others and see the end of the Sons of the Delta electric set. There was some overlap from earlier, but that didn’t detract from an excellent show.
There are times when, if you are sensible, you call it a night. Luckily none of us are that sensible. Instead we headed back to Cafe Rene to see the Soul Strutters, who were still going strong inside the bar despite the fact that it was now well past midnight. The bar was packed with wet people and the night was exceptionally humid, turning the whole place into a sweaty mass of bodies which made a Hieronymous Bosch painting look like a quiet night in. Photography was impossible.
And so the night bus left and I was still at the Cafe Rene – another night in bed after 3am.
Saturday 2 August
The problem with not getting to bed until 3am was that I had arranged to meet friends for Brunch in Tewkesbury. Luckily Sharon drove: it took a pint of coke, three coffees, about a gallon of water and a good fry-up before I felt anything even closely resembling human!
The weekend is mostly about Cafe Rene’s “Green Stage” outside at Greyfriars. It started at 2pm on Saturday, but before venturing to the Blues I spent some time wandering around the Paint Jam Festival, which was brilliant. Unfortunately, at around 3pm it rained. Not just a few spots, but rain of biblical proportions. Thankfully it didn’t last long and by the time I got to Cafe Rene the sun was out once more.
It was about 4:30pm by this time and things were in full swing. A good gang of friends were already in attendance with a rudimentary encampment set up. The usual suspects were supplemented by Jane, Mark, Reg and Deb.
I arrived in time to catch Funke and the Two Tone Baby. He was followed by Lewis Creaven, who is only young, but has the vibe of a 1980s hair rock band about him and he is an excellent guitarist. Then it was the Clarksville Mountain Band, who were great fun and had the crowd singing along.
Victimisation of my photography was on-going, to the extent that people were threatening to de-friend Kate on FaceBook because they were fed up with seeing me on her news feed. I also threatened to de-friend her, but she told me if I found new friends they wouldn’t be as much fun. I fear she is right.
Next up was King Size Slim, who we’d already seen at the Coach and Horses earlier in the week, so I chose to head off to the New Inn to catch the second set of the excellent No Parkin Blues Band instead. Unfortunately everyone else was comfortable and couldn’t be dragged away from camp, so I went on my own. It was well worth it and at least I could take pictures with impunity.
I was back at the Rene in time to catch the end of 24 Pesos and it was clear that everyone was flagging. At around 10:15pm Nick asked about catching the bus and I said I definitely intended to be on a bus, but probably the 1am night bus. What felt like two hours later I noticed it was still only 10:30pm, so I suggested the 11pm bus might not be such a bad idea after all. Much to my surprise everyone else was on it too – that must be a first for a Saturday night!
Sunday 3 August
Another blissful lie in! I got up in time to head into town for lunch with Sharon: we went to Wetherspoon’s, but I stayed on the Coke, not wanting to peak too early! I took another wander around Paint Jam to check up on progress and then headed to Cafe Rene to catch the start at 2pm. It was lovely and sunny, so it was already filling up, but I managed to grab a reasonable space and stake a claim. I was first to arrive, but others soon followed: we had a good crowd with Sharon, Kate, Paul, Nick, Ken plus first timers for the week Linda, Louise and Tim.
And so the afternoon drifted by in a haze of beer and music: the ever present and always excellent Damon T opened proceedings with Mark Cole; followed by Matt Woosey, who once again had a good following from the ladies in our group; Steve Morrison, who arrived late; and the Keith Thompson Band providing a bigger sound than he could alone earlier in the week at Peppers.
Today I decided that stealth photography was the order of the day and I became sneakier at avoiding being caught. However, some people I thought were allies turned out to be traitors – you can’t trust anyone!
By this time we decided that a change was in order so, although I would have liked to have seen The Spikedrivers, hard choices had to be made and we headed to the Fountain to see Rollo Markee. This turned out to be a good choice as he was excellent, playing some good, old fashioned blues. Ken also took the heat off me a bit as he had his camera with him and went photo mad. Meanwhile, Paul thought we were in the presence of George Clooney, but the rest of us were unconvinced (you had to be there!).
When the set finished we returned to Cafe Rene to see Connie Lush and Blues Shouter bring the festival to an end in style. Dave, who had turned up late, was driving so he’d be fit for work tomorrow. We kept him hanging around whilst we had another drink, but finally it was time to leave. I caught a look at my watch as we left: 23:54. No matter how much I pleaded I couldn’t get him to stay for just 6 more minutes to see the end of the week out.
Thank god I had the presence of mind to take Monday off…
And so that was it for another year: bring on the Gloucester Blues Festival 2015 – I don’t know how they’re going to top that!