Hereford City Centric sent our local music wordsmith, Gavin Brown, to check out the Black Sabbath tribute act, taking place at The Booth Hall and supported by Herefordshire Punks on the up, The Youth Within. I am going to assume he really enjoyed it by the enthusiasm in his review.
The Booth Hall have launched a series of tribute-themed nights that have included Chili Peppers and Blink 182 tribute acts in the past. Finding myself in a crowd of super pumped Blink 182 fans a couple weekends ago on the night Blink tribute act One Eighty Two played was a pleasant change for me. The truth is, I have always found bands that do covers the most boring of the lot; especially those “pub” bands. Stale beer fragrance comes to mind. There is a difference between cover bands and tribute acts, although I love it when local bands do the occasional cover.
Tribute acts have something to live up to. They study the musicians/performers they are emulating and really have to put in the effort. There is always something distracting about them though, they never ARE the actual band, and I would hate to be a tribute performer knowing everyone is staring at every detail about me in search of the resemblance to the original person they are mimicking; guess that makes them pretty gutsy and confident too.
The May Day Bank Holiday in the Hereford city centre was taken over by the annual Hereford River Carnival, which attracts tourists from afar with it’s unique and colourful celebrations.
The liveliness and atmosphere of the Carnival carry on into the evening at the various nearby pub restaurants and music venues who offer up an interesting variety of live music and dance music, some until the wee hours of the morning. It seems to have become a tradition, or perhaps more of an opportunity for the pubs to entertain the carnival goers who are wanting to carry on with their merry celebrations and benefit from the trade.
“Marcin Zachara has recently inherited the position of manager and is working on expanding the cocktail menu by curating his own unique beer cocktails that consist of spirits he infuses on the premises with either fruit, almonds, coffee, vanilla pods and other interesting additives”
I was one of those carnival goers looking to carry on where I left off, which in my case was co-hosting an acoustic live music stage at De Koffie Pot for the carnival. Don’t ask me where I found the energy, but I had compiled a list of various planned stops at all the venues hosting music and decided to begin in theFirefly on King Street. Well, I never left, I stayed until 3 a.m. deploying all my favourite reggae and dancehall dance moves, or perhaps they were ones I had invented in the moment – I really couldn’t leave and I really couldn’t stop dancing.
The Firefly Hereford just celebrated one year of trading and is the second location outside of the original location in Worcester, which is known for its quality craft ales and live music. The Hereford location received a warm welcome from the moment its doors opened and has developed a loyal clientele who enjoy the aesthetic of the pub created by owners, Mathew Pugh and Ray Velasquez, and the continuously fresh selection of incoming craft beers and ciders that make each experience one of inquisitive beer sampling leading to a pint of something to ponder over with your newly acquired craft beer knowledge.
STEERING THE SHIP
Behind every great pub is an experienced manager and friendly, willing bar staff to support the ideology of the venture. Marcin Zachara has recently inherited the position of manager and is working on expanding the cocktail menu by curating his own unique beer cocktails that consist of spirits he infuses on the premises with either fruit, almonds, coffee, vanilla pods and other interesting additives.
Marcin was fortunate to be given an opportunity to train with some of the countries best bartenders during his time at the Malmaison in Newcastle and is a true mixologist with an expansive imagination and flair for creating complementing alcoholic fusions. Myself along with two very discerning foodie friends were introduced to his beer cocktail fusions one lovely evening last week and I think we all still fondly savour them in our thoughts.
We began with a ‘Snail’s Cup’ Cider Cocktail. Marcin combined gin he infused with lemon peel and cinnamon, the very tasty Herefordshire Snail’s Bank Pineapple & Pink Grapefruit Cider, (regularly available on tap), and topped it off with an extra crisp Prosecco. This cider cocktail was reminiscent of the summers one spends sipping on Pimms & Lemonade, but this cocktail has a bit more zest and edge to it. It receives a definite push as a summer favourite. This cocktail was priced at £5.
Then we bravely went on to try the ‘Kentucky Wonderland’ Porter/Stout Cocktail. This already looked like a proper gentlemen’s drink served in an old-fashioned bar glass with an orange peel. For this rather snazzy concoction, Marcin infused Woodford Reserve Bourbon with orange peels, coffee beans and vanilla pods. What a beautiful marriage of flavours! He then adds Thornbridge Brewery’s popular Cocoa Wonderland Porterand tops it off with a splash of Coke.
The Cocoa Wonderland Porter has fast become a favourite of many and has a creamy chocolate taste with a hint of coffee bitterness. This cocktail was stunning and was not as rich as I expected it to be – it was balanced by the Bourbon and Coke. The selection of Beer Cocktails on the menu will change regularly, which in a way gives them an aire of exclusivity. I recommend you pop in soon to try one.
So of course, on this River Carnival evening, I joined in on the Reggae Pie DJ Night and was mesmerised by the selection of reggae albums being played and the dancehall and ska that had me busting out my one of a kind dance moves (laugh with me readers). Reggae Pie is a collective of DJ’s who come together with their unique personal vinyl collections of previously mentioned musical styles and put on a pretty fierce night.
Early on in the afternoon, there were sets from Dr. Nico Demus Puffalotand Ally Baba in the beer garden, followed by live music from singing electronic keyboardistRegor followed by a beatboxing session from General Jamswith whom audience members Mark Turner and Leo Bell joined in for some brilliant impromtu rapping. Once the music was moved inside due to cooling conditions, Owen Culture took over on the decks followed by BDS of Last Tree Squad. Finally there was theIdris Sound System trio with AshberB who came over from Aberyswyth.
The music carried until 3 a.m. and the Firefly soon was filled with like-minded punters joining in on the dancing, many who I recognised and realised were in a similar jolly state. Hereford has found its heart again and it is beating strong thanks to talented promoters like Reggae Pie and new establishments like the Firefly who bring their own kind of investment into our local culture, in this case, a pub with an urban and bohemian vibe that caters to people from the ages of 18 to 80. I don’t know if that is because Hereford is so isolated but young and old mix beautifully which is a sign of an intelligent, friendly and forward-thinking community. Who knew!
Another weekend full of festivities is upon us. The Hereford River Carnival has arrived and we are elated to share this roundup of music events for your convenience. There is a real festival vibe for all the family to enjoy, as well as, pubs hosting live music gigs adding to the energy the city emanates through channels of live music. Some of the county’s best local musicians volunteer to perform and there is no shortage of talent.
You won’t be able to avoid the buskers, music stages, venues hosting music events and all the other colourful festivities on offer. This is a carnival I look forward to every year with great anticipation, unless the weather disappoints, but even then the weather stops us not.
RIVER CARNIVAL WEEKEND, SATURDAY APRIL 29TH
RIVER CARNIVAL INFOGRAPH
This infographic is one of the most useful bits of kit you will need to get you around the different events and music stages the Hereford River Carnival has on offer.
The arrival of the new Body Fodderin Hereford city centre’s Church St. Independent Quarterdemonstrates a rise in the demand for environmentally-friendly beauty pro-ducts, and also growth in the apothecary approach to the wellbeing market.
This is certainly not a new idea, but with social media pumping out information warning us about parabens and over the counter products that are laden with unnecessary preservatives that do more harm than good, and a growing number of earth and vegan-friendly businesses developing an innumerable variety of organic wellbeing ranges that have been tried, tested and proven to work, the industry has found its footing in a big way.
Body Fodder is the extension of the city’s local independent organic food grocer,Fodders, who have accrued quite a loyal following. Their competitive prices and knowledgeable, warm customer service standards extend to the new business venture located just across the road.
“I instantly imagine a family harvesting their own herbs and pressing oils from them in a beautiful little kitchen located in a barn or cottage somewhere. These companies after all are the quintessential essence of the cottage industry”
It makes complete sense that Fodder has chosen to expand into this industry since they already have the clientele that will definitely support any of their endeavours, and there is only so much room in the location they originated in. Adding to that, it is a charming and desirable part of Hereford to expand in.
When I arrived at Body Fodder I was immediately drawn to it, and the aromas as you walk by are enticing! I was rather excited being a beauty reviewer and supporter of independent businesses in the city. With the arrival of each new independent, a mark of character is added to Hereford city centre’s more out of the way destinations.
Certainly places like Body Fodder would never afford to establish themselves in the Old Cattle Market, which contrary to its name, houses the shiny new, larger corporate shopping destinations duplicated a thousand times over around the country who are more concerned with number forecasts than an intimate relationship with their customers. Just think of the times you were greeted with averted eyes by an employee bothered by you reaching out for assistance, or the chaos on the rails and shelves with no one willing to help you maneuver around it all.
The Easter weekend is traditionally a time for a lot of things. For some, it’s the chance to catch up with family, for some it’s time off work, for others it’s the actual meaning of this time of year, for many it’s chocolate and alcohol, but for the lucky people of Hereford this year, it was this double-header of live music (along with plenty of chocolate and alcohol too!) that made this an Easter to remember.
With a variety of bands and an eclectic mix of styles over the weekend brought to you by the wonderful people of HeyLittleMonster and The Underground Revolution, there was something for just about everyone to enjoy and every band played their hearts out.
RAPTOR, NEW REVIVAL AND AS MAMAS
“It’s a thankless task to be both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at the same time, but Fletcher did an awesome job of trying while the band’s talented rhythm section did their best to be the best Bonham and Jones they could!”
Starting Good Friday through to the following Monday after Easter Sunday, Hereford city centre will be buzzing with live music spread throughout Hereford’s different city quarters each night of the Easter Bank Holiday. Gather up your friends, partners or have a wander on your own and make new friends – they say there is no place like home.
Happy Easter from Hereford City Centric!
Good Friday, April 14
DJ Ally and Dr Nico Demus Puffalot will take you to warmer shores with their selection of Funky Latin Jazz and Calypso. The Fireflyhas a cosmopolitan atmosphere and a grand selection of craft ales, beers and ciders, as well as, refreshing cocktails. I say a spiced rum is in tall order.
Alternative, Indie and rock promoter Hey Little Monsterand Hereford’s 3-piece Psychedelic Blues band Raptor bring us a super-charged night of Psychedelic Blues and Rock in Hereford’s popular live music venue The Booth Hallon East Street. Three amazing bands for £4 only!
A solo show by accomplished singer-songwriter Chris Quinn who has been garnering highly favourable reviews for his debut solo album, across the divide and much radio airplay including from Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe.
His music is a fusion of Celtic, Folk, Bluegrass and Delta Blues. This event is hosted by The Wild Hare Clubat the extremely poetic De Koffie Pot. £10 entry.
This event can only be described as a music experience. The HCA inSTALL8 Fine Art students bring you a fusion of psychedelic jazz and folk bands for an avant-garde evening on the water. The money raised will go towards raising funds for their dream exhibition in London.
The Speakeasy is located in the Left Bank which is also set on the beautiful River Wye. £5 entry.
Mr Morris and The Low End will be spinning dapjam hip hop, funk and rare grooves. It’s all about the jams. Join them and bring friends to the Firefly on King Street. Free Entry.
Easter Sunday, April 16th
After you take the kids on their Easter egg hunts and have had your enormously indulgent meal, you will want to get some fresh air and be thankful it’s all over (please leave the dishes for another day).
DJ jus’jay & Rich will be playing family friendly music from their seasonal vinyl collection. Enjoy a pint and take in the river at De Koffie potfrom 2pm Easter Sunday.
For the more daring and adventurous souls who have now left Easter behind and care only for the free time off of work and university, The Underground Revolution host local punk band Teddy’s Leg’s hometown tour gig at The Booth Hall. They bring with them 2 similar lively bands.
Right about 8pm when doors open you will be thankful the dysfunctional family dinner is over. Just don’t blame them if you wake up hugging the chocolate Easter egg your nan gave you. £4 entry.
Local Psychedelic Blues bandRaptorjoined me on the sofa for a bit of banter in Hereford’s latest thriving music venue on East Street where they will also be performing April 15th.
…we are good mates and spend a lot of time together drinking cans, playing Space Invaders on our Playstation 2 and listening to records. Also making music and avoiding politics!
Hereford Indie/Alternative music promoterHey Little Monsterand Raptor are putting on a good and groovy show for you at The Booth Hall featuring two Psychedelic Blues bands: Hereford boys Raptor andAs Mamasfrom Worcester, and also Welsh rock band New Revivalwho formed in 2015 and have had plenty of national radio play. It’s like a magic carpet ride with a pint in hand. See the Facebook eventHERE.
The nights are getting warmer and yes, the living is getting easier (III knooow…I nicked that from the song), and this lineup is just right for a bit of letting your hair down with friends during the Easter Break. I figured I should catch Raptor before they shuttle off to Bristol where they reside now and sit them on the sofa. It has been a year since I interviewed them at the first Hereford Rocks and I wanted to know how things changed over the span of a year for the two brothers who make up the original members of Raptor. Read Hereford Rocks Raptor interview HERE
KURT FLETCHER – guitar and vocals
ADAM FLETCHER – drums
LOU HOPCUTT – Bass
Herford City Centric: So let’s dive right into the nitty-gritty guys, what has changed about Raptor over a year? Any new members?
Raptor: Yes! We have a new bassist Lou Hopcutt.
HCC: Well Lou definitely has the Raptor look, tall and long hair with lots of gorgeous curls. Has the style of music you are playing changed or gone in a different direction? Has living in Bristol influenced your music?
Raptor: We are working more on our psychedelic side and taking the time to expand on our ideas more intricately. Doing our music course has taught us how to be more efficient, well-rounded and doing gigs helps us put what we learn into practice. Also, being around the Bristol music scene where something new is happening every week keeps our minds fresh and inspires our work ethic.
Find Raptors first EP on ITunes HERE
HCC: Sounds like a win-win situation. How does the Bristol and Hereford music scene compare?
Adam: The Hereford music scene is thriving at the moment, but the difference is Bristol has a larger population and is more widespead than Hereford, so more venues and opportunities, but it’s the people and the venue that make the experience where ever you gig.
HCC: I see your point. Do all 3 of you live in Bristol?
Raptor: We do. It makes things a lot easier besides we are good mates and spend a lot of time together drinking cans, playing Space Invaders on our Playstation 2 and listening to records. Also making music and avoiding politics!
HCC: Oh boy, Space Invaders! Love that game! Do you long for Hereford though?
Kurt: We miss the people and wish we could just transport all our friends over to Bristol.
Lou: I miss the trees.
Adam: It is pretty noisy in Bristol. We grew up near Leominster so there wasn’t a lot of noise pollution which I appreciate now.
HCC: I seriously understand how you all feel, it is always nice to have Hereford to come back to. Are you guys self-sufficient in the kitchen now that you live on your own and what is your favourite kind of food?
Lou: I am a standard steak and chips kind of guy.
Kurt: I am a pretty decent cook and love a good Thai Green Curry. Adam isn’t handy in the kitchen but makes a mess like he has been in there cooking.
HCC: Ha! That is funny. I know who’s doorbell I will be ringing next time I am in Bristol. Back to music, is there a new album in the works? New songs?
Raptor: We are about to go into the studio and hope to be done recording 8 or 9 songs by the summer. We will be playing 3 of our new songs at the Hey Little Monster gig on April 15th, so come along and check us out.
HCC: Nice! Any festivals lined up this year?
Kurt: So far we are playing Down on the Farmin August which is exciting. I have been going to Down on the Farm since the beginning. It is a fantastic festival that is perfect for Hereford. We are playing on the Saturday night just before the headliner.
HCC: It is such an affordable festival that has a great mix of local and national bands. Rich Lovell will be happy to know you have been supporting DOTF since the beginning – he puts a lot of effort into making the music happen on the main stage. Everyone does a brilliant job including Kirsty Morris (Hey Little Monster) who puts together the acoustic acts.
Soo tell me…what is your favourite alcoholic beverage?
Adam: Single Malt Whiskey (oooh)
Lou: Stella or just any lager I can afford that day. (guess that is why they call it “cans”)
Kurt: Lou drinks his lager out of a gravy boat. Newcastle or Goblin for me.
HCC: Beer with a Bisto undernote…not so sure. Kurt you are an artist as well. Do you design the merchandise and branding for Raptor?
Kurt: I do and I designed the shirt Lou is wearing. I have used marble art in the past as well for a more psychedelic effect.
HCC: Handy! Look forward to seeing your new album cover as well as listening to it now. It has been really fun having you guys. The last question is, I also noticed you all have really fun shoes on but none are quite the same…what’s the story?
Kurt: I like anything pointy
Adam: I can’t really do pointy shoes when I am doing the drums. Anything 60’s style when it comes to shoes.
Lou: Trainers! Addidas Trainers!
HCC: Thanks so much to Raptor for joining me on the music sofa (such lovely and talented dudes), The Booth Hall for hosting the ‘Sounds From The Sofa’ interviews, the bar staff for carrying the heavy sofa on and off stage for me and Grace Biddlecombe for being my lovely sidekick photographer.