|Jamma de Samba & Horning Glory leading the mini carnival on Milsom St|
Man, I love this city. There’s always so much happening in Bath, and last night it was one of my favourite events on the calendar – Party in the City, a huge night of live music in venues all over the city centre, to celebrate the start of the Bath Festival. Each year it gets bigger, with everything from tiny, intimate gigs to big club nights, in Bath’s streets and squares, restaurants, bars, churches and historic venues like the Assembly Rooms and the Roman Baths. Every single concert is free and the music ranges from jazz to funk to classical to choral to rock. It’s awesome.
Last night was the perfect evening for it – the sun shone and Bath was buzzing with infectious excitement. At one point we performed an impromptu medley from Fame in the street with a bunch of strangers. It was just that kind of vibe.
The team behind Party in the City and the Bath Festival had invited me along on a press tour for Instagrammers, Twitterati and bloggers, so we started the night in CAU for cocktails (I highly recommend the passionfruit martini), before heading up to the Assembly Rooms to catch the Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, who were seriously impressive (especially considering they’re all still at school) and the Jane Lilley Singers, a kick-ass all-lady choir that’s been going for an incredible forty years. Next, we sauntered through sunny streets to St Michael’s Without, one of Bath’s most beautiful churches, to catch the Silver Ring Choir, who’ve been around even longer – 65 years! – and reckon that making music together is one of the loveliest things a community can do. Amen to that.
|The Silver Ring Choir at St Michael’s Without|
After the tranquil air of St Michael’s, it was time to shake things up a little – we nipped round the corner to Milsom St where we could hear the awesome drums of Jamma de Samba bouncing off the Bath stone all around. Together with Horning Glory (an eight-piece brass band and winner of my prize for the best band name ever) and Bath Carnival (check out their website for details of this year’s carnival in July), they created a mini carnival that started at Milsom Place and travelled round to Queen’s Square, with feathered headdresses, facepaint and the most amazing dancers. It was hard to tear ourselves away to be honest – this was definitely one of my highlights of the night – but we eventually moved on to the Roman Baths, spotting several of the Natural Theatre Company’s brilliant street performers along the way, including lifeguards and fishermen complete with sou’westers and nets of fish (this year’s slogan for the Bath Festival is ‘Jump In’).
|The always-brilliant Natural Theatre Company looking for somewhere to Jump In|
It’s always wonderful to visit the Roman Baths in the evening, when the flaming torches are lit – somehow it feels closer to the ancient Roman temple at that time of day than at any other. Beautiful brass music from the Bath Spa Band was the cherry on the top, and the still green pool of the Great Bath was surrounded with people sitting on the ancient stones, drinking wine and soaking up the atmosphere.
|The Bath Spa Band at the beautiful, historic Roman Baths|
Finally, we finished our tour at Komedia, surely one of Bath’s coolest and most atmospheric club venues – formerly the Beau Nash cinema, opening in 1920, the Grade II listed building is full of beautiful details and character, and is quite simply the best place in Bath for a boogie. The fantastic Maitree Express (a seven-piece dub fusion band) filled the whole space with a brilliant energy and made it completely impossible not to dance – definitely another highlight of the evening.
Alas, if you missed Party in the City last night you’re just going to have to wait until next year – but the Bath Festival runs until the 28th of May with a great programme of events (it’s not just music either), so get yourself over to their website sharpish and find out what’s going on.