Happy Birthday Belhaven, & of course, what a sell-out bash you’ve just given us! Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that one – a well-organised & friendly vibe, kids mingling with tipsy parents boogieing to cracking Celtic music, & only £3.50 drinks – including 1719, a specially brewed birthday celebration pale ale. I really do love a beer festival at source! Then, when the MD’s PA & her boyfriend drove up from Bury St Edmunds for seven hours to suddely find themselves pulling pints with a smile on their faces – thats what I call a proper family do. Sitewise, the stage was magnificent, wedged into the brewery itself with the dancing on tarmac. Nearby there were plenty of sun-kissed grassy knolls, some eateries, plus lots of toilets. Alas, & most, unfortunately, there were only bars!
Dunbar lived up to its meteorological reputation as the sunniest spot in Scotland – what a day. We arrived about 5.30, half-way or so through the festivities, with the sun lengthening & the beer queues shortening. Then the youth-bubbling Elephant Sessions started banging out some proper dancey 80’s-Celtic fusionica with a wee Tom Cruise type on violin as the de facto lead singer – his fiddle-playing was essentially his voice. Next up was Capercaillie, a more authentic sounding Scottish offering which we thoroughly enjoyed dancing to & drinking to thro’ a full set’s worth on the tarmac. Finally there was Niteworks, renowned for their fusion of electronica and folk music, who brought the celebrations to an electrifying close as the sun went west & the dusk drew out the stars.
We’re proudly Scottish and trade on our “Scottishness” in export markets around the world (around 30% of our beer goes overseas) so we’re always looking for ways to celebrate a fresh, relevant take on Scottish culture and I think the breadth of our line up does a great job of that. Read the full interview
There was a real buzz to the proceedings – a scintillating success. Everybody was happy to be there, you could tell, with smiles leaping lip-to-lip like playful puma cubs. I can’t see any reason Belhaven can’t throw a party every year, T In The Park style, & not every century or so. With Audio Soup & Linkey Lea both falling by the wayside in recent years, East Lothian is left bereft of its own festival. the Mumble firmly believes that the forces behind the organisation of Belhaven’s birthday bash could clearly handle it – as long as they chuck in my toilets.
Damian Beeson Bullen