It is almost that time of year again.
People who know me or who are regular readers of this blog will probably be aware that I am a big fan of the Gloucester Rhythm and Blues Festival.
This is a superb annual event that beautifully combines my love of drinking beer in Gloucester’s excellent pubs with the chance to see some brilliant live music at the same time.
This year’s event starts on Saturday (25 July) and runs for nine days through to the following Sunday (2 August). The Festival line up has been published and it looks like it is going to be as brilliant as ever.
For some reason there are fewer pubs involved in the festival this year – there are only six this year where there were eight last year, plus Peppers cafe is also participating again. This reduced number of venues isn’t going to make the choice any easier, however, as those that are involved have pulled out all the stops to put on an excellent line up of bands.
Here’s a brief rundown of the pubs involved along with some pictures from last year’s event.
The Fountain has bands on for the whole nine days of the festival – more than one in several cases. The Fountain gave us all a scare by closing for a couple of weeks recently, but Paul Soden, owner of Cafe Rene, has entered into a partnership with landlord Ben McCullough to get it back open again. This inter-pub cooperation is a great thing to see in the city and nicely sums up the supportive atmosphere of this event.
The New Inn also has a great line up of bands across all nine days: presented in association with the Gloucester Blues Club, they will be playing on their Courtyard Stage – what better place to enjoy a pint and some live music than in the courtyard of the finest example of a medieval galleried inn in Britain!
The Dick Whittington is also going all out this year, with bands on for seven out of the nine days, including both weekends. On the closing weekend they are going head to head with the Cafe Rene with a full day line up of bands playing in their beer garden. Once again an incredible setting for the music, squeezed between the fifteenth century pub and the twelfth century St Nicholas Church.
The Cafe Rene is undoubtedly the best known venue of the Gloucester Blues circuit. They declare their own blues festival within the Gloucester Blues Festival, which starts on Monday 27th and runs throughout the week culminating in a weekend extravaganza of music on the Green Stage at Greyfriars. They also run a beer festival alongside the blues festival.
The Cross Keys is one of the city’s stalwart music pubs and of course is not going to let the side down on this important week with a fantastic line up over seven of the nine days (no music on Sundays). This is a great, intimate venue for some fabulous music, including the Official Rhythm and Blues Open Mic on Wednesday.
The Old Bell only has music on one night during the week: Thursday. It is nonetheless well worth a visit to enjoy the intimate, historic setting of this seventeenth century pub with a magnificent fireplace and music by some of Gloucester’s greatest blues stalwarts.
And it may not be a pub, but Peppers must get a mention here. One of the city’s finest cafes, Peppers puts on music throughout the year and has been involved in the Blues Festival for many years. They have bands on in the early evening every day throughout the festival except Sundays; it is a great place to start and get something to eat.
I told you that the choice wasn’t going to be easy – my aim is to get around to all of the pubs during the period and just soak up the atmosphere, I’m sure the music will be good everywhere!
Now if someone could just have a word with the weather to make sure we get some sun for the festival that would be about perfect.
For more pictures and reminiscing on last year’s Gloucester Blues Festival see:
STOP PRESS: Another venue added which missed the final programme – The Station Hotel has music for one day only on the closing Sunday; see details in comments below.