Saints Beer & Blues Festival

A few months ago it was my pleasure to be involved in Ipswich’s very own Beer & Folk Festival. I curated the Friday night line-up and I was very pleased that so many people turned out to enjoy the music and fine ales.

That took place at St Peter’s-by-the-Waterfront which has become the venue of choice for the good folk at Beer And Co who are holding a similar event there on October 20 and 21. The man behind Beer And Co, Greg Cooper, has again enlisted my help with assembling the Friday night bill which features two of the star acts at the recent StowBlues Festival in Stowmarket – Keno Kings and Back Porch – as well as one of Ipswich’s very best blues guitarists Tim Ainslie.

I’ve known Tim since his teenage years when he exploded onto the local blues scene in Steamboat To Chicago. That line-up morphed into Swagger who became one of the must-see acts in town. Following their demise Tim joined Groove Doctors with whom he recorded some fine albums and in more recent times Tim has been part of Richard Everitt’s Delta Groove project. Tim also has his own little combo Ainslie’s Vibes and they’ll be opening the Saints Beer + Blues Festival.

Next on are Suffolk’s premier acoustic blues quartet Back Porch who really need no introduction to music fans in our neck of the woods. Original members Mike Rushmore, Jonny Miller and Steve Graham have been joined by Ipswich blues legend Toni Vines and he has fitted like a glove. Toni loves his country blues and I’ll always have him to thank for introducing me to so much wonderful Mississippi Delta blues including his big favourite Fred McDowell. Back Porch have had another great summer taking various events including The Bures Music Festival and StowBlues by storm.

Headlining the Friday night session of the Saints Beer + Blues bash are Norfolk’s very own shuffle kings Keno Kings. Why this band aren’t high on the bill at our national blues events is beyond me but I can assure you they are much appreciated in the Orwell and Gipping Deltas, hence the reason they are gracing St Peter’s this month. I love the way they combine great originals with covers by the likes of Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon. In Mick Alden they have one of the most under-rated front men in the business. He would have made a perfect replacement for Lee Brilleaux in Dr Feelgood but as it happened the Feelgoods did find a decent one in Pete Gage and, of course, the current man at the helm Robert Kane is filling Lee’s shoes rather well.

Tickets for the Friday night session are just £7 in advance or £10 on the door. It runs from 8pm to midnight and take it from me you won’t find a better evening out locally than that. The following day there’ll be Saturday sessions organised by West End Music. Those run from midday and entry is an absolute snip at £3. In what’s a lovely gesture Beer And Co support a local charity at  their events and for this month’s blues party it’s Musica who’re doing so much fine work to provide music for all in the Ipswich area.