Skip to main content

Happenings In The Valley....

I made my first visit to Todmorden for 18 months last weekend to visit the latest micro pub to open in the town. Meanwhile, further down the valley, there was some great music to be heard in Halifax and Hebden Bridge....
The mean streets of Todmorden....
I had overlooked the fact that a second micro pub had opened in Todmorden during the summer, but I decided to rectify that last weekend when I was in the area to see Brix and The Extricated at the Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Saturday night.

After a quick visit to the Grayston Unity, I got the bus from Halifax to Todmorden. Unlike my last visit up the Calder Valley a few weeks ago, when severe roadworks in Mytholmroyd took the edge off my entire evening, the traffic seemed to be moving better, and it didn't seem that long before I was getting off the bus at Todmorden Bus Station. About 5 minutes walk away on the Burnley Road is the Ale House, situated in a row of shops and takeaways. It was originally a shop, and more recently, a restaurant, but when she couldn't sell it, owner Jackie decided to open a micro pub.

And what a friendly place it was! Comfortably busy, with the odd couple and dog dotted about, whilst in the middle of the single room a happy group of senior citizens occupied the bar's main table. I ordered a pint from Burnley brewers, Worsthorne, and retired to a corner overlooking the happy throng to study the football results(Town had been thrashed 4-0), and had a look around the room. A big shop-style window, white-painted walls save one with exposed brickwork, a small counter bar. 5 hand pumps on the bar, with a small notice offering bowls of home-made chilli. I finished my pint, which to be honest was a bit nondescript, and decided to get a quick half of Pale Eagle, from the local Eagle's Crag Brewery, which was much better. This is the house regular, and as I took my empty glass back to the bar, a guy sat there asked me if I had enjoyed it. It turned out that it was Dave, the brewer from Eagle's Crag. I said I had, and as we chatted I thought I recognised him from when I attended the brewery's launch night a couple of years ago in the town at the Golden Lion. I quite liked the Ale House, and whilst overall the beer choice was a little uninspiring, on this visit the place was warm, welcoming, and unpretentious.
The Ale House, Todmorden
From there it was just under 10 minutes to Tod's original micro, The Pub, which I had visited not long after it opened last year. The early evening streets were quiet as I walked back into town, but that didn't deter me from the sense that Todmorden at last seems to be a place on the up, finally emerging from the shadows cast by its neighbour, Hebden Bridge, and more recently, Halifax.

The Pub, just beside the market, is one of those glue pot places that once you get comfortable, it is hard to leave(though definitely not in the Royston Vasey sense!). It is extremely friendly, and also extremely small(although there is a further room upstairs). This means that it is hard not getting into conversation with anyone. As I ordered a pint I got talking to a friendly chap sat at the bar, and from there on in I was drawn into the events of the day in and around the Pub by our friendly customer - we'll call him Calvin - and Lea who was working behind the bar, and who must be one of the friendliest bar persons anywhere. I learnt there had been a trip from The Pub to Rawtenstall that day which unfortunately Calvin had had to miss. As the evening moved on, the steady churn of people brought more stories of characters, more vignettes of the local day-to-day life where The Pub is clearly the hub of the local community. A quick pint turned into a more leisurely two and a half, it is that sort of place. I had to leave to get the bus to Hebden for food and music, but I thoroughly enjoyed my second visit to The Pub. Don't ask me what the beer was, it was fine, but with it being such a welcoming place that's almost not the point.
The Pub: Also sells beer....
I landed in Hebden Bridge, where I called in at Vocation & Co, Calan's, and Drink?, food great at Vocation & Co, beer great at all of them. I couldn't linger in any of them, though, time had moved on, and I needed to get to the Trades Club to see Brix and the Extricated.

For those that don't know, Brix Smith Start was married to the late Mark E.Smith of The Fall, and with 3 other ex-band members in the ranks, brothers Paul and Steve Hanley, on drums/percussion and bass respectively, and Steve Trafford(guitar/vocals), there is a strong presence from one of Manchester's most significant and influential bands. And yes, they finished with a blistering version of New Big Prinz("check the record, check the guy's track record"), but this is no Fall tribute band. They have their own style, with Brix a fizz bomb of energy, dominating proceedings on vocals at the front of the stage, and the band tight as a coiled spring keeping it all going. The band played plenty of tracks from their new album Breaking State, which is well worth a listen. It was a great evening, an excellent gig, with a fantastic atmosphere at the Trades Club as usual, and an absolute pleasure to meet Brix and the band afterwards.
Brix and The Extricated
Brix and the Excruciating....

*******************
The previous evening I had seen Norwich duo, Sink Ya Teeth at the Lantern in Halifax. The duo, Gemma and Maria, are signed to 1965 Records, the label owned by music industry legend James Endeacott, and their eponymous debut album is out now. They entertained us with tracks from it, and very good they were too, quite a bit funkier than I realised from hearing them on 6 Music. It was a shame that more people weren't there to see one of the most promising new bands around, as we were treated to an excellent show, Maria on vocals, keyboard, and percussion, Gemma on guitar and keyboards. And after the gig, it was a pleasure to meet the girls and have a chat.
Sink Ya Teeth...on top form at The Lantern
So, another good weekend, with some fine music, and good beer and pubs....

And here's some Sink Ya Teeth. This is Glass....



Twitter: @realalemusic

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Calder Valley Ale Trail - UPDATED December 2018

You will probably have heard about the Rail Ale Trail, which heads through the Pennines from Dewsbury through Huddersfield to Stalybridge. Originally made famous by Oz Clarke and James May on a TV drinking trip around Britain a few years ago, it reached saturation point on weekends to such an extent that lager and shorts were banned by some pubs and plastic glasses introduced to the hordes of stag dos, hen parties, and fancy-dressed revellers that invaded the trans-pennine towns and villages. There are some great pubs en route but you venture to them on a summer Saturday at your peril.

However, only a few miles away to the north, there is another trail possible which takes in some great pubs and travels through some lovely countryside via the Calder Valley. Not only can it be done by train, but because the canal runs close by for the full journey, it is possible to visit a load more places by doing some of the journey on foot. Or by bus - unfortunately in recent months, industrial acti…

Shouting Out for the Independents....

It was Independent Venue Week last week, and over that time, in and amongst a few beers here and there, I managed to visit the odd gig. Here's my reflections on the week....

A few years ago, Sybil Bell had an idea.

Having run a venue in Bath for a while, Sybil realised its importance to both the local community and the local artists and those from further afield who performed there. The fact that there were countless other places up and down the country where similarly dedicated people were working very hard doing the same thing helped her decide that something should be done to celebrate the contribution of these local venues, and the people who work in them. Much-loved venues which have helped to launch and nurture many a musical career. Venues without which there would be no music scene as we know it today.  Venues which, sadly, all too often, have ended up on the wrong side of planning decisions. And, sadly, many much-loved places that have closed over the years for a myriad of …

Stories from the Arcade.....

It was the first-ever Halifax Festival Of Words last weekend...and what a wonderful occasion it was. Here's a look back at some of the events that took place....

Plenty of places up and down the country have festivals based around books and writing. Cheltenham Literature Festival is the grandaddy of them all, going all the way back to 1949. And then there is the annual Hay Festival, which since its humble beginnings in 1988 in the small Powys second-hand book shop town of Hay-on-Wye, has grown to become a massive international event and is dubbed the 'Glastonbury of Book Festivals'. And if crime stories are more to your liking, then head to Harrogate, where every July for the past 14 years the Crime Writing Festival has been held at the Old Swan, the hotel where Agatha Christie stayed under an assumed name when she disappeared from the bright lights of London for a short time. All of them have their own different angle. And so, when the idea of a Halifax Festival was first…