Saturday, 12 April 2014


Saturday 12th April and here I am ready to set off on an epic adventure involving buses, trains, perfectly timed meetings in order to get to the Newmarket Beer Festival, with live bands, which was all part of Cambridge Rock Festival's 'Springfest' on over this particular weekend.

Your truly with the perfect shirt for the occasion 

In order for everything to work out as planned and to meet Chris along the way meant that not only did the bus have to turn up on time but also the 1st train, which, by some remarkable but unknown reason, they did! My faith in public transport was restored once more!

So there I was, on the 1st train to Cambridge, on time an in the pre-planned carriage in order to meet Chris as he boarded at Baldock, we were on our way, a quick coffee and change of trains at Cambridge and we were on the 11:44 to Newmarket on a picturesque line winding it's way through the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Remarkably nearer than it appeared on the Google map, the Memorial Hall was only a short walk down the road from the station and that is where we were heading.

Newmarket Memorial Hall

We arrived just after 12 mid day and although the Festival had opened at 11am the early lunchtime trade was quiet but the upside was that it was easy to get to that all important bar and dive into the first real ale of the day, a nice hoppy, light summer ale 'Celtic Queen' from the Iceni Brewery at 4%.

Not want to overdo things too quickly we swiftly followed up with Bartram's Brewery 'John Peel' a nice 3.7% 'session' beer, and the stage was there and waiting for the first band of the afternoon.

The stage was set and ready to rock and roll

In order to be nicely lubricated for the first band we found a splendid dark beer, 'Black Abbot' at 4.5% from the Indie Brewery, OK, now we were ready to rock!

Double Shot, excellent blues rock
 What a splendid way to start off the day's musical offerings, the fairly newly formed 'Double Shot' gave a great helping of blues rock to set those feet dancing (OK, the beer helped) but they did a fine job and their rendition of the Rory Gallagher classic 'Shadow Play' was one of the best versions I've heard in many a day.

It was lovely to see that the hall had somewhat filled up by now, the bar was busy and there were so many faces and friends from CRF and other local festivals and musical events, there was a lot of chatting and catching up to do, but first, a quick escape down the high street for food.
Bypassing the KFC we made for the local Halal Chicken shop which was not only a damn sight cheaper but also very tasty indeed with portions enough to fill even the most ravenous beer monster!

Lunch done I suppose it was time to get silly, Milestone Brewery 'Somer's' Wheat, a strong and very hoppy summer ale at 5.5% should do the trick, it certainly did, time then for the 2nd band of the day, 'Beguiled' .

What can I say about 'Beguiled'? I enjoyed them musically but at times the vocals were a bit weak, maybe it was the vocal PA but I don't think so, but, after a somewhat 'shaky' start they got right into their thing and served up some very good twin guitar work quite reminiscent of a certain well known Canadian prog rock band, I'm sure if you asked any of the guys in 'Beguiled' who one of their favourite bands they'd be in a 'Rush' to tell you!

Beguiled rock the stage

It was time to venture back to the Dark Side, the Purple Moose Brewery's 'Dark Side of the Moose' at 4.8% certainly hit the spot and a nice surprise was that a certain Kevin, having taken the Tiger out for a spin, turned up in time for 'Soulweaver'.

Tie that Tiger down, tame it my son.

With the Tiger nicely restrained outside we reached the point of the afternoon that many had been waiting for, 'Mr. Cambridge Rock Festival', Dave Roberts, introducing the one and only, 'Soulweaver'.

Dave introduces THE band of the afternoon, Soulweaver.

 There is something about 'Soulweaver', in fact there are many things about about 'Soulweaver' that make them very special, not only are they a great live band, the albums are great too but they are such lovely down to earth people and anyone, like Mark & Em, who combine a very heavy rock and roll work life with home education of their tribe of 'Mini Weavers' and get an Ofsted rating higher than most schools in the country, well, it's no wonder they have built up a very solid fan base, the 'Weavers' who, including us, were there en mass for this gig.

Mark gets us singing along

Emma, bassist extraordinaire

Soulweaver in full flow
Now, what to quaff during 'Soulweaver's' set? We made the mistake of trying a Burton Bridge, 'Stairway to Heaven' a 5% hoppy summer ale that had been somewhat over 'Burtoned' with a very sulphurous tang that made it smell like you were trying to drink a smelly fart!, That was quickly dumped in favour of a lovely rich Milestone Brewery 'Rich Ruby' at 4.5% which really lived up to it's name and hit the spot.

'Soulweaver' gave us a number, I think six, new songs from the forthcoming album, damn good they were too, there was dancing, there was singing along, there was fun and at the end a lovely photo gathering of the 'Weavers' (Apart from us who were of course taking the pictures!).

The 'Weavers' en mass, a real family thing
 What an afternoon, Real Ale, Real Music, Real People, Real Friends, after waving Kevin and the Tiger off it was time for Chris and myself to wander round, chat to people, finish off with another 'Somers's Wheat' and head off to the station for our journey home.

Chris points out the 'Soulweaver' Merch Desk (In case anyone missed it!)

All in all a jolly splendid adventure, so good to see so many people turn up, there was an evening gig to follow that sadly we couldn't stay for and another day of festivities on the Sunday, I can't wait for CRF this summer.

Cheers m'dears, that's it for now, so, until the next time, keep rocking!

Grant Meaby - April 2014 All words, pictures, thoughts above, Copyright GM 2014.


  1. Ill hazard a guess at the song with goodges finger up was probably cover of Dakota! Lol

  2. "Do you want one more" I think, no, we wanted more, more, more.