Let The Music Play - And Other News

Hello again!

Here at #ISBF5 we’ve been beavering away in the background, trying to get you treats, both beery and non-beery in nature. This probably won’t stop until Wednesday 28th November. That has always been the nature of this event. Kind of a Salfordian take on “lastminute.com”. Personally, I (Jim) like to think that this amateurism adds to the charm of this event. But remember, I know nothing, Other than a lot of good people. Who do good things. And help.


Those who know me, know that – as improbable as it may seem – I love music MUCH more than beer. It’s true. From my first live band in October xxxx (The Damned), to my second in April xxxx (Joy Division) and onwards, music has been the thing. It can take you places that few other things can. It certainly does for me. Life would be so much poorer without great music.

We started (in 2014) with a single band. A group of young men who called themselves “Duke and the Darlings” on the Saturday night session. They played a lovely set. Then the session started to calm down as people drifted away from St Sebastian’s towards home. The band sat in what was then the only room. They sat around the table and just jammed. For the fun of it. It was a truly precious moment. And something I’ll never forget.


Duke and the Darlings played each of the first four years. Became part of the DNA of this event. Unfortunately, they won’t be with us this year. But Alex Reed, frontman, vocalist and local music promoter offered to make some calls and bring some fabulous live music. Music that would fit this glorious venue that is Hemsley House.

In my humble opinion, he’s done just that.

On the Friday evening session, we have a ”musician” (a word that doesn’t quite do him justice) called Zacc Rogers. If you’ve seen Zacc play, I think you’ll understand.

I quote “Zacc Rogers performs using the latest looping technology to create a sound scape which includes beat boxing, harmonica and guitar.  All this is done live in front of the audience (no prerecording).”

Kind of in a nutshell. And I’m really excited. Friday evening session (which is almost sold out!) is in for a rare treat – with Zacc playing two sets.


Saturday evening will see another artist/musician we haven’t hosted at St Sebastian’s. Elly Grice. An artist blessed with a fabulous voice. Alex’s word is enough for me. But I had a listen anyway. Oh yes. Listen / see for yourself here.

Saturday evening also sees the return of George Fell. At the risk of sounding like a fan boy, I’ll stop there. But those two evening sessions are going to be something special – and the vast majority of the beers will still be available on that Saturday evening session (no James, Lee, Steve, THAT’S NOT a challenge!)

When you also add on Mike & Jo and their “Rebellious Jukebox” (where you get the chance to affect the playlists!). They are both dear friends with exquisite taste. And the tunes will move……Like I said, I love music. And I’m genuinely excited by what’s coming up. With BIG thanks to Alex, Mike & Jo.


Going back to the beer....

 We have some additions to that rather lovely brewery list...

On keg, we’d like to say HELLO to Double Barrelled of Reading! I’ve heard some really good stuff from people I respect (and some of the beer that I’ve seen makes me DROOL) about this team and word is that they may not have even had a draught beer in Manchester yet? I keep repeating the phrase “genuinely excited”! But I don’t say things lightly. Can’t wait.

Returning again this year (except this time, on keg) are Cwrw Ial. With a Pilsner. Doug has been brewing in the remotest of remote locations (OK. Llanarmon-yn-Ial isn’t THAT remote. But it IS a drive!) and I’ve always been massively attracted to the community focus of this enterprise. The fact that Doug makes excellent beer is a bonus.

With an increased amount of beer on the #EvilKegFilth bar, I’m ultra keen to get more depth within styles. We’ve been far to heavy - in more ways than….. - in certain styles in the past. And I want to simultaneously broaden and deepen the range of styles and locations represented. With greater representation from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. And more sours, saisons, pilsners/lagers. Yes, the largest range will be of the “pale n ‘oppy” type. But I want something for everyone. From low abv Table Beers, to rich Imperial Stouts. And everything in between.

We’ve also got another new brewing venture coming to play. Distant Hills. There’s a certain level of mist around this. But I’m really looking forward to my first taste of their output. We might even get involved. Picturesque scenery may feature. And hops. Oh yes.

Being a rather rubbish multi-tasker, I’m trying to arrange collabs as I type. And travel details. There are some special things coming to Hemsley House. Musically, beerily, feel. It’s all about the feel.

And raising money for good causes. Always.

Come and join us. Saturday afternoon may be sold out. And Friday evening may not be far behind, but all other sessions have availability (with Thursday evening and Friday lunch deliberately limited). And remember, almost ALL the beers will be available come Saturday evening.

Click this link. Grab some tickets. And - by the simple method of drinking exceptional beer - help a good cause. You won’t regret it.