Gloucester Blues Festival 2015: The Finale

Last week I blogged about the first half of the Gloucester Blues Festival 2015, but that is the easy part. At the beginning of the festival you are still fresh, but as the week progresses the constant late nights, poor diet and over-drinking start to catch up with you.

At the same time, the festival gets into its full swing: the music starts earlier, goes on later and there are more bands to see. The sensible festival-goers amongst us take a couple of days off work. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is hard work, but we rose to the challenge – and we loved every minute of it!

Here is the story of that challenging second half of the week.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Having the day off work meant getting to Peppers for the early evening session was much easier, so we were in plenty of time to see Keith Thompson. Last seen playing with Alter Ego on Wednesday, here he was solo and acoustic and, as ever, very good.

Keith Thompson at Peppers

Keith Thompson at Peppers

Keith Thompson at Peppers

Keith Thompson at Peppers

We stayed to the end of the set and headed out to catch the end of the set in the Old Bell – the only day that they are joining in on the blues trail this year. Due to some scheduling oversight the intended band wasn’t able to make it, so at short notice Barney Porter agreed to step into the spot. The fact that he is the son of Tim Porter, the man responsible for organising the bands for the whole event probably helped! Tim also stepped in to accompany on harmonica – the second time this week and this time for a whole set.

Barney and Tim Porter at the Old Bell

Barney and Tim Porter at the Old Bell

Next we headed off to the Cross Keys to see Blue Street, who played some superb blues covers – all stuff that you know and can sing along too – although I generally don’t, by popular request.

Blue Street at Cross Keys

Blue Street at Cross Keys

With no work tomorrow it seemed rude not to finish the evening at Cafe Rene, just managing to catch the end of Red Butler, more good high-energy blues rock – I will be looking out for them again to catch more of their set.

Red Butler at Cafe Rene

Red Butler at Cafe Rene

Friday 31 July 2015

Now things are getting really serious. As we are both off work for the day my friend Kate and I agreed to get into town for the4:30pm start in the Fountain for Taffy Was A Thief – and we were glad we did!

The weather was warm and sunny, so the music was in the Fountain’s attractive courtyard. Taffy Was A Thief “we prefer not to be known by the acronym” were extremely good, singing both covers and their own compositions – some of which were very funny although maybe better suited to a post-watershed slot!

Taffy Was a Thief at Fountain

Taffy Was a Thief at Fountain

Unable to drag ourselves away, we stayed to the end of the set, meaning that we were late getting to Peppers for the always excellent Sons of the Delta and had no chance of a seat in the packed courtyard. We were therefore reduced to eating our sausages in the back passage. Oh dear, I think Taffy Was a Thief may have rubbed off on me.

Sons of the Delta acoustic at Peppers

Sons of the Delta acoustic at Peppers

With Sons of the Delta finished we returned to the Fountain for the always popular Worried Men, who were now inside the pub playing their trademark blues inspired rock music to a packed pub.

Worried Men, Fountain

Worried Men, Fountain

There was a difference of opinion amongst our group for the next venue. Some of us plumped to head for the Dick Whittington to see Chicago Bytes, who played some very good slide guitar and harmonica based blues.

Chicago Bytes at Dick Whittington

Chicago Bytes at Dick Whittington

The others went to Cafe Rene to see the Soul Strutters who, by the time we joined them, had finished their set. We’ll just have to catch them next time as they are regulars at Cafe Rene.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Music started early on Saturday: 1 pm at Dick Whittington and 2 pm at Cafe Rene. We decided to hold back a little, however, meeting up at 3:15 to see Blues Festival regulars Damon T and Luke Philbrick on the Cafe Rene Green Stage at Greyfriars.

Damon T and Luke Philbrick on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Damon T and Luke Philbrick on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Damon T and Luke Philbrick on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Damon T and Luke Philbrick on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

The weekend programme was extremely busy with a lot of excellent acts:some very tough choices had to be made. In the end we decided to head off to the Dick Whittington to catch the end of Memphis…

Memphis at Dick Whittington

Memphis at Dick Whittington

…and then the start of Rumblestrutters, who play superb prohibition era blues and do actually use a jug as one of their instruments.

Rumblestrutters at Dick Whittington

Rumblestrutters at Dick Whittington

Rumblestrutters at Dick Whittington

Rumblestrutters at Dick Whittington

Next we headed to the New Inn to catch Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band. We had been advised not to miss these as they travelled from Scotland to be with us and were therefore unlikely to be regular visitors to Gloucester. The recommendation proved valuable – they provided a superb high energy blues/ rock set to a New Inn courtyard more packed than I have ever seen it.

Gerry Jablonski & the Electric Band at New Inn

Gerry Jablonski & the Electric Band at New Inn

Gerry Jablonski & the Electric Band at New Inn

Gerry Jablonski & the Electric Band at New Inn

Our final choice for the day was to return to the Cafe Rene Green stage to see the Zen Hussies, who were more jazz/ swing than blues, but nonetheless extremely good

Zen Hussies  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Zen Hussies on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Zen Hussies  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Zen Hussies on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Sunday 2 August 2015

The last day of the festival and we made on final push, determined to see it through to the end fuelled by beer and barbecue-based cuisine. Once again the weather was superb: hot and sunny, the best day yet. The weather gods have been kind to the Blues Festival this year, which always helps.

We met at Cafe Rene to see the full Sons of the Delta Band, who started the day in good style.

Sons of the Delta  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Sons of the Delta on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Sons of the Delta  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Sons of the Delta on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

I then made the difficult decision to miss Victoria Klewin and the True Tones at Cafe Rene and instead head to the Dick Whittington to see Steve Kent, playing with a full band rather than his usual solo act.

Steve Kent at Dick Whittington

Steve Kent at Dick Whittington

Steve Kent at Dick Whittington

Steve Kent at Dick Whittington

I then rejoined the others in the Fountain to see Mary Spender, who played some relaxed, mellow blues ideal for a relaxing Sunday afternoon in the courtyard.

Mary Spender at Fountain

Mary Spender at Fountain

We headed back once more to the Cafe Rene Green Stage to see Lewis Creaven, another Blues Festival favourite. This year his set was much more low key than previously, when he has tended to ‘throw shapes’ to a backdrop of rock lighting and, I think, maybe the better for it. Maybe I’m just getting old.

Lewis Creavan  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Lewis Creavan on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

We were torn next between staying for Ben Poole or returning to the Dick Whittington to see Steve Browning. In the end inertia won and we stayed and didn’t regret it.

Ben Poole  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Ben Poole on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

And then the festival finished almost as it had started for us with Laurence Jones taking to the Green Stage. Having seen him at the New Inn the previous Sunday we were keen to see him again and once again weren’t disappointed.

Laurence Jones  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Laurence Jones on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

By now though we were flagging. Our abused bodies ached and we were all desperate for sleep, so it was with some relief that, for the final time, we dragged ourselves off to the taxi rank and home.

So glad I had the foresight to take Monday off too….

We will, of course, be back to do it all again next year!

Postscript

So that is it for another year. As you can hopefully tell from my blog I have once again enjoyed it enormously. I think the approach this year of fewer venues all providing a more substantial programme of music has worked very well, albeit that it has resulted in some very difficult choices at times. I know that plans and discussions are already taking place for next year’s event – I can’t wait!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to all who played a part in making it such a terrific week. In particular, thanks to all of the venues that have put the bands on throughout the week at their own risk and expense; to Tim Porter for arranging the acts and liaising with pubs (and joining in from time to time on his harmonica); to Marketing Gloucester for supporting it; to the bands themselves for just being brilliant; to all the hard working bar staff throughout the city that have had to put up with our drunken ramblings; and last but by no means least, to those friends that have joined me along the way and made it such a blast – special mention has to go to Nick and James for managing the whole eight out of nine days with me and to Kate, Dave, Louise and Tim who weren’t far behind, as well as a host of others who have partaken with enthusiasm throughout the week.

Next year we’re going for nine out of nine…

Last (wo)men standing: watching Laurence Jones  on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

Last (wo)men standing: watching Laurence Jones on the Green Stage at Greyfriars, Cafe Rene

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About Darrel Kirby

I am what I am.
This entry was posted in Events, Gloucester, Photos & Photography, Pubs & Drinking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Gloucester Blues Festival 2015: The Finale

  1. Mark says:

    Nine out of nine eh? that’s dedication, right there.
    I agree with your comments about Taffy Was A Thief. Shame their van was ticketed by one of Gloucester’s finest during the gig! I heard the Sons of The Delta from the Fountains beer garden after attempting to get into the cafe. What a shame about the lack of room. The Worried Men were, brilliant, as usual but I thought that the acoustics did them no favours. Saturday and particularly the final Sunday were lost in a beer laden soup but I do remember having a great time and, unlike you, I saw it through and still made it to work on the Monday!

    Roll on 2016!!

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Taffy’s van wasn’t ticketed – looked like it was going to be and he was poised to rush out and defend it, but luckily he didn’t need to.
      Work on the Monday is just masochism – it’s not big and it’s not clever.

  2. Mark says:

    Ha ha! I have no choice with respect to the following Monday and it’s always been the same. The MD does the trail as well and he pulls rank every time. Damn it!

    Sorry to disagree but Taffy’s van was ticketed although during the gig they thought they’d got away with it. After the gig when they were loading the kit up they spotted the ticket and removed it from the screen. They had already said they were going to stay to watch The Worried Men so I suggested they reaffix before they were presented with a second!

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Bastards! Pity he didn’t get to remonstrate with him over the mic, that could have been amusing.

  3. Pingback: Gloucester Blues Festival 2016: Too Much of a Good Thing? | Darrel Kirby's Blog

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