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Showing posts from July, 2016

Take Me to the River....UPDATED

"I want to know you'll tell me,
I want to stay,
Take me to the river...."
Words by Al Green/Mabon 'Teenie' Hodges

Had a great afternoon last Sunday at Sowerby Bridge's latest bar, the River Lounge, which is situated on Town Hall Street, close to County Bridge, down the cobbled street opposite The Firehouse and Lloyds Bank.

I visited with a group of friends to see some of the best musicians who play regularly in the Brighouse area at the first gig staged at the venue. So we heard some fantastic performances from seasoned blues wizard Diamond Dac, Chris Martin, who added some highly amusing between-song repartee to excellent blues featuring slide guitar, some lovely folk songs from Bella Gaffney, and then The Rainey Street Band, who treated us to their usual superb mix of bluegrass and Americana. 

The River Lounge is a Sports Bar, but with a difference. The TV screens are still there, indeed the cricket was showing during our visit, but the tag line of 'Craft, Ca…

Bilbao Baggin'....

'Sat here in the Cafe Bar Bilbao, in Plaza Neuva, with a cold glass of white wine and a plate of pintxos (basically the local tapas) waiting to be eaten. Of all the superb bars in all of Bilbao that I tried this is the one I have liked best, atmospheric, a tiled masterpiece with excellent food and very friendly staff.' 


I had wanted to come to the city ever since I read about the opening of the Guggenheim Museum some years ago. A jaw-dropping design from Frank Nehry, it literally stopped me in my tracks when I finally set eyes on it. The building is essentially a massive sculpture, reminiscent in part of a huge ship. Clad in titanium, it shimmers and glimmers in the light. Walking around you catch another corner, another angle. Its setting, beside the Rio Nervion is superb, and is a stunning sight from wherever you see it. Even without going in to see the works of art contained within, you have seen something amazing. And then there is Jeff Koons' 'Puppy', flowers a…

T'Ales from Shropshire....

An upcoming weekend in Shropshire has prompted me to dig this piece out, give it a good dusting, and a few tweaks. This was what happened the last time I visited the area.
It started with a great introduction on the way down at the Bridge End Inn, at Ruabon, near Wrexham, a previous CAMRA National Pub of the Year winner. The McGivern family have done a fantastic job in creating a warm and welcoming wet-led pub, complete with in-house brewery. Only a minute or two’s walk from the station, it is well worth a visit.
Shrewsbury itself is an attractive town, built around a loop on the river Severn, with some lovely old buildings and open green spaces. It also has some great pubs, including the Salopian Bar, Admiral Benbow, and Woodman. But for me the pick was the Coach and Horses on quiet Swan Hill, with wood-panelling and superb beers from the likes of Salopian and Stonehouse. We stayed in the Shrewsbury Hotel, which is a Wetherlodge, and offered clean, good-value accommodation with the add…

A Month of Riffs and Riff Raff....

Over the last month or so I have had the pleasure of attending no less than 6 fantastic gigs over the past month or so. This excludes local acts that I have seen in pubs in Brighouse where they are free to enter, but who were nonetheless excellent - The Rainey Street Band at Jeremy's, Nick Hall at the Beck. This is more gigs than I have been to in such a short space of time since I was a student, when every night in Manchester there seemed to be someone on.

I have already written about the brilliant gigs I went to featuring Neil Young and The Stone Roses recently, but I have also seen a further four over the last few weeks from generally less well-known artists that have all been superb. These were The Deslondes, Kurt Vile, Martin Carthy, and finally Hurray for the Riff Raff. All different, but all masters of their own musical genres.

First up were The Deslondes. I loved their eponymous first album when it came out last year, so much so that it ended up in my list of top albums of 2…

New Kids On The Block....

Away from all the recent political upheaval, the English lion being vanquished, and the Welsh Dragon roaring, there has been plenty going on in the pub and beer world.

Here, in Calderdale, I have recently visited a couple of new places, both different, but both welcome additions to the scene. The first is in Halifax, right beside the Town Hall, and is called the Grayston Unity. This is a new venture for Michael Ainsworth, from Doghouse Promotions, who are well-known for numerous events around the town, most regularly at Arden Road Social Club, but also from time to time at the Minster, where, amongst others, the likes of John Grant and Low have appeared in recent years. On my first visit, I got chatting to Michael, with the sound of Neil Young in the background. He was telling me that he also organises the Halifax Musical Heritage trail, along with Trevor Simpson, the former football referee turned writer, which takes in some unexpected places in the town which have some musical connec…