TOWN Grassroots Music Festival

We were lucky enough to have guest list tickets to see Chantel McGregor with support from The Hazy Janes – playing at the Albany Arcade in Halifax Borough Market.  To make the most of the event we decided to head down earlier and catch a couple of the events that had caught our eye in the leaflet.  We had no idea what to expect from an event being held in a section of an indoor market and discussed in length how the acoustics would work.  Arriving at just before 4pm and getting a spot stood near the back we watched Bradford band; Natural Rhythm perform their soundcheck.  Bang on 4 they got going and what an utter delight from the start – a brilliant 5-piece Ska/Reggae band performing a mix of classic and lesser well known Ska tunes. They had great banter with the audience who were enthusiastic from the start dancing and singing along – looking round the market it was lovely to see a couple of traders wander about doing a ‘ska’ walk, what a place to work on a day like that!

The Arcade is the PERFECT spot for a gig – there is a natural slope that helps see the band from most positions, maybe a small stage might help but I cannot say it affected us at all.  It feels small and intimate yet holds a decent crowd with high glass ceilings looking up to the streets in the sky.  The sound system is superb and ably managed.  A small bar was in operation from The Grayston Unity with a good blend of IPA’s lager and cider – run well with friendly staff and never a queue as quick and efficient.  A few of the food stalls caught our eye and we decided to eat there later before our next gig.

Once the gig was finished, we checked our leaflet and headed over to The Temperance Movement.  We really wanted to see the Marcus Jack ‘Gold Chains in Gold Frames’ exhibition – a unique array of various rap artists.  It really was a fantastic exhibition, and I would like to see more of his work.  While there we bought a beer and soaked up the tunes from the Hip Hop DJ set upstairs – opposite at the Dukes Bar looked to have a good crowd in so we gave them a wave as well.  We will be returning to The Temperance for a coffee as they had a fabulous selection of good coffees to choose from and the food menu looked superb.

Back to the Albany Arcade for our gig – Chantel McGregor with support from the Hazy Janes.  We opted to eat from the Vegan/Veggie stall The Grain and chose the onion bhaji wrap – it was delicious and packed full of bhaji and fresh salad.  Bam Bams also had a roaring trade, I could see plenty of loaded fries being eaten and enjoyed as was Freddie Fowlers pizza stall – they looked and smelt amazing.  I wish we could have tried all the food.

The Hazy Janes got going and the crowd with them – a dynamic duo from Halifax and it really is incredible that it is just a duo.  The sound is bluesy, rock, and LOUD. It is a band we have been trying to see for a while, so it was fortuitous that they were the support this evening. It was an incredible set, and we will no doubt see them again.  Chantel McGregor next – a Bradford blues and rock singer and guitarist and a clear favourite with the crowd. She sang beautiful blues and rock interspersed with anecdotes of her time on the road.  I heard whisperings from the crowd that she had an air of Jimmy Hendrix about her and honestly, we could see that.

We had a great day/night out at the festival, and it is a credit to our town.  I wish we could have attended more events and definitely regret not getting CUD tickets in time before it sold out.

With a mix of free and paid events it makes it an affordable weekend.  Each venue is unique in its own way but there is something magical about the Albany Arcade – we both would really like to see more events held here and look forward to the next grassroots festival.

Well done to Michael Ainsworth and all at The Grayston Unity for curating such a unique and special weekend.

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