Skip to main content

A Tale of Two Festivals....

This wasn't the original plan. Months ago, I'd booked a ticket on the recommendation of Kirsten and Lorraine to see the Treacherous Orchestra in Bury. Some friends of mine were also playing the same day at the Holmfirth Folk Festival, but obviously I couldn't be in two places at the same time! However, when I realised that, due to the times involved for both events, I could call at the Holmfirth Folk Festival and catch both Roger Davies and The Rainey Street Band, and still have time to get over to Bury, I thought, why not, let's do it!

They were both on at Holmfirth Parish Church, and with Roger starting around 4.15, I left home before 3 thinking I'd have plenty of time to park up and have a leisurely wander around the place first. Wrong. Holmfirth was rammed, with the sunny weather no doubt having an influence, and after a 15 minute wait to get through the lights in the centre, I ended up parking near Compo's Cafe on the road to Greenfield! So a bit of a trek back down to the village, I grabbed a quick pint at the Nook where there was music playing, a barbecue grilling, and a lovely atmosphere.

I got to the Parish Church where Roger Davies had just started, and he performed a great set which went down well with a decent-sized audience. I have been following him for over 10 years, from when he was a hesitant performer in such illustrious places as The Tipp Inn in Brighouse. One thing never in doubt though even then was Roger's ability to pen a great song. And over the years he has grafted, first locally, then spreading out further across the country, and then earlier this year he was support act for the legendary Fairport Convention on their nationwide tour. He sings of 'Brighouse on a Saturday Night', about the paintings of my old art teacher, Peter Brook, and 'Percy Shaw', the Halifax character who invented Cats Eyes. But despite his last album being called 'The Yorkshire Songwriter', his songs have a much wider appeal. If you like a good tune, a good chorus, and a good story, then it doesn't matter whether you're in Bradford or Bristol. And, what's more, he's a thoroughly nice chap as well.  

Next up were The Rainey Street Band, of whom, regular readers will know, I am a great supporter. Unfortunately though, putting a Bluegrass and Americana band on at a folk festival at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, straight after Roger Davies who was in his natural environment, was not the best piece of scheduling. A microphone problem in the first tune, 'Whisky', didn't help. The band's remaining tracks were as good as ever, it was just somewhat incongruous seeing them performing to a backdrop featuring an altar, cross, and hymn numbers! 

I left the lads as they lit up a post-gig cigarette and I headed back up the hill to the car. The traffic and crowds had thinned out, and I set off without any trouble over the Isle of Skye road across the Pennines. I got to Bury about 45 minutes later, checked into the Premier Inn and headed out into town.

The Treacherous Orchestra had originally been due to play at the Met, but had been moved to the Elizabethan Suite in the Town Hall as refurbishment was taking place. However, I was pleased to find the Automatic Bar, which is part of the same building, to be open. I opted for a pint of Irwell Works Costa Del Salford, which was spot on. I dined here too, very nice it was, good value, and there were very few empty tables when I left about 8. I headed around the corner, to the Clarence, and tried a pint of Silver Street Session, brewed on the premises, which I have to say was disappointing.

The Town Hall is a couple of minutes away from the Premier Inn, so quite handy! There was real ale on in the entrance, Silver Street Session it was, and better than the Clarence! The gig was part of the Big Whistle Festival, dedicated to all things tin whistle, and indeed there was an impressive selection on sale. Not tempted, I moved into the main hall which was of a reasonable size with a bar down the side but with no real ale.

Now if you are thinking by now that the Treacherous Orchestra are merely a group of Scottish whistle players, think again! Yes, in Ross Ainslie and their hyperactive frontman, Ali Hutton, they have 2 excellent exponents, but that is only part of the story. They exploded on to the stage, all 12 of them, with Ali running up and down the place, and with them an impressive array of instruments - guitars, bass, accordian, drums, fiddles, bodhran, keyboard and bagpipes. And can they play them.

They build an amazing wall of sound, all instrumental, all written by themselves but with their roots in traditional tunes. The bagpipes inevitably prompt comparison with the Peatbog Faeries, and like them they get the feet moving, but whilst the Peatbogs veer towards electro and ambient, TO are much rockier. Indeed, with their tattoos, black clothing, chains, etc, they look more like a metal band, and if you looked at the cover of their most recent album, 'Grind', that's what you would think they were. They also come over as such a good set of lads, they are all laughing and joking with each other as they play, and their enthusiasm rubs off the audience.

The crowd were loving it, the band were loving it, Ali a non-stop figure, running from one band member to the next, when an alarm sounded. No, it wasn't the band, it was a fire alarm! We all had to go outside, wait on the steps, where the band mingled with the crowd, joking, posing for selfies and keeping us all amused. A fire engine turned up to much cheering, and after 20 minutes or so we were allowed back in. False alarm, no problem, except the real ale bar staff had done a runner!

The band picked up where they'd left off, and left to a tumultuous applause after another 40 minutes or so, which included a couple of times when Ali and Innes the fiddler leapt into the audience mid-song! They were excellent, a very varied audience loved it, and I would urge you to track them down whatever music you like as they will not disappoint.

I wandered over to the the Two Tubs, probably Bury's oldest pub, and calmed down with a good pint of Wainwright. A few of the concert goers I'd been talking to followed, as did some of the band, and there was an excellent atmosphere.

I headed back to the hotel. I'd enjoyed my visit to two festivals....





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Town That Thinks It's A Village....

My time has been a bit limited recently for venturing too far afield, so last weekend I made the short journey to Elland to check out a few of the town's pubs and bars. Here's what I found.... Elland is a small market town in West Yorkshire, located between Halifax and Huddersfield beside the River Calder. It goes back a bit, being recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and over the centuries the town grew as a result of the woollen industry, with the town becoming home to several large mills. The coming of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the railways further helped the growth of the town. The subsequent decline of the woollen industry in the town meant that there were a number of empty mills left standing, and those that didn't burn down were put to other use, such as the home of Gannex, the now-defunct textile company whose raincoats were worn by the rich and famous, including former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. More recently, several mills have been converte

First Trip to The County....

The County in Huddersfield has just been taken over by the Beerhouses Group, whose other pubs include the West Riding Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury, the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge, and the Sportsman, also in Huddersfield. So one evening last week I went over to check it out and look in on a number of other places in the town.... The County is situated in a quiet area of Huddersfield, just off the precinct below Wilkinsons and opposite one side of the town hall. It is one of those places that has never been on the real ale circuit and has just quietly seemed to have got on with its own business over the years. I had certainly never been in it before and so I had absolutely no pre-conceptions of what to expect when I visited. The County is blessed with a narrow frontage at the end of a solid row of buildings on a slightly sloping street. The Beerhouses livery is on the signage, with freshly-painted white steps, and an old John Smiths lamp by the door and the Magnet design etched in the wi

New Team Breathing Fire Into Elland Brewery....

I paid a visit to Elland Brewery recently to meet the new team there who are aiming to build on the brewery's heritage and develop the business. Based in the West Yorkshire town of the same name, here's what I found..... There is a buzz about Elland Brewery these days. That was evident when I called in to see the team recently to find out some of their ideas for moving the brewery forward over the coming months and beyond. The brewery, much loved both in the local area and beyond, had been the subject of speculation over recent months as added to the fact that the erstwhile owners had gone their separate ways, other members of the team had left, consequently setting off rumours about the business's future.  The roots of Elland Brewery can be traced back to the Barge and Barrel pub, across town by the side of the canal. In the 1990's a brewery had been set up by the avuncular John Eastwood in the former children's playroom, where he developed beers such as Nettle Thr