Since there is less than two weeks until Upton this year, here is the story of the very muddy 2012 festival .
2012 would mark my fourth year of attendance of the Upton-Upon-Severn Oliver Cromwell Jazz festival and in many ways it is fortunate that it is this one I have decided to log. As dear reader you will uncover in the narrative which unfolds, it has several deviations to the previous years of which I attended. In a way there seems to be a formula as how certain developments unfold on my own personal odyssey of the festival. As always I had a great time at the festival, heard some great music from bands who are old favourites from my visits to Jazz Club 90, the Shrewsbury Jazz Network and The Trumpet in Bilston; some bands who are established but are relatively new to me and some new players on the scene. My usual consumption of fine real ales also continued as of usual and this year I added a gimmick to my attendance.
I would like to thank the organisers of the festival for once again bringing a ray of jazzy sunshine upon this rain swept isle, the bar staff for the drinks and witty repartee and of course the bands themselves without whom….
Now a little bit about Upton upon Severn itself, it is a lovely historical town a few miles out of Worcester and in the district of the Malvern Hills and on the banks of the River Severn. The town is relatively small with few high street brand stores adorning its makeup, mostly its olde worlde type shops and pubs… there are a lot of pubs which is probably why it is very popular for Stags, Hens and pub crawls. There are at least eight and on top of that there is a social club and a sports club making this a drinker’s paradise. Upton upon Severn has distinctive tower which the only surviving part of a former church, this tower is locally known as the Pepperpot due to the copper clad cupola. On my first visit to Upton I did actually think that it was the parish church. Upton upon Severn is where Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers crossed the Severn to engage in the battle of Worcester, hence the festival being called the Olivier Cromwell festival, it is also sub-titled ‘Down by the Riverside’ for obvious reasons. I will go into more detail as the journal progresses, but for now if you want any more information on Upton upon Severn please go to http://www.upton.uk.net/index.php
In past experience I had found that accommodation around festival time is hard to come by and I increasingly have learnt you really need to forward plan booking digs, this year’s festival I booked my digs back in October 2011 and then it was tight, amazing considering the festival is always the last full weekend in June. For 2013 I have already booked my digs, I did it a week after my return from the festival.
So here we go, three days of fun, frolic jazz and beer; if you want to add a little fun to proceedings you can start a drinking game using whatever beverages you so desire, just make a note of how many times the term Quagmire is used and the amount of times I refer to the bar and the beer I purchase.
As is my tradition I arrived at my digs the day before the festival starts for various reasons, namely to get a feel for the area I’m staying at, because most check in times are in the afternoon and I don’t fancy hauling luggage around with me for half a day and also to find taxi numbers if needed, which for this year they would be, due to my hotel location. Due to me perhaps not doing my research properly or more than likely not thinking it through I booked myself in at the Days Inn at Strensham in Tewkesbury, which according to Late Rooms was 2.2 miles away and in strictly geographical terms it probably is correct. But in the reality of access it was more like 4.6 miles to Upton and… the Days Inn was on the Motorway Service Station which would kind of present a problem. Now I should of guess this as there is a Days Inn on the M54 services I go past every Tuesday, but never mind after a bit of research I did find there was a walking route which was a bit of a hike, but it would save me another thirty pounds on taxi hire. The Inn itself was perfectly fine, the bed was nice and comfy, the room was clean, there were adequate tea and coffee making facilities and the bathroom was good. To be fair I knew that the Days Inn would have good rooms as I’d stayed in one twice before when I was in Las Vegas on some college trips. The only problem was that this particular Days Inn had no Restaurant nor even a bar and the nearest place for food were the venues in the services. Motorway Service Stations aren’t exactly renowned for Michelin star food or even basic pub grub, this was no exception a hot food court and some fast food outlets were what were on offer to me, so I ventured into Upton and had a very nice meal at the King’s Head. The King’s Head is on the river front next to a pub called the Plough and it serves good pub group and is not too expensive for pub in a commercial area, especially at festival time. I had a good meal consisting of fried Calamari to start with and Vegetable Lasagne for main course, I’m not a veggie but every now and again I like to pretend I’m being good and healthy with my food consumption. I washed down this meal with two fine pints of real ale: St. Austell Tribute, a lovely pale amber Cornish beer with plenty of hop and Fuller’s London Pride, a mid brown to tawny coloured ale with a nice malty bitterness to it. The King’s Head had an additional bonus in that there was a band playing as well, it was a quartet of piano, double bass, drums and reeds which played mainstream and swing styles, with a few bits of rhythm and blues for good measure. They were very good, at first due to the layout of the pub I hadn’t spotted the pianist and had assumed it was a piano backing track, but as I had my after meal tea I spotted the pianist hidden in the corner behind some railing and the PA set up. After my meal I returned through a torrential downpour back to the Days Inn for a relatively early night. Once back I made myself a cup of Night Time Brew Tea and I started to read for a bit but found myself nodding off, that Night Tea really does help you relax.