Junction Bluegrass `Bresfest` Weekend

30th June - 2nd July 2023


In 2021 Bluegrass events and festivals were thin on the ground due to COVID etc. It was clear that as restrictions were relaxed people were looking for a Bluegrass weekend venue. We had all missed our regular summer events. Dave Lee was the organiser of two Summer Picking Weekends in Cheshire at the Cotton Arms and the Bhurtpore Inn. Both premises had themselves suffered due to the Pandemic and for various reasons were unable to provide their premises for Bluegrass gatherings that year.

Some of the Junction players also attended the above venues and were as disappointed also that they were not going ahead.

The Junction has great facilities so after gaining permission from Paul Draper (the Landlord), we contacted Dave and suggested a Picking weekend at the Junction.

We had an informal meeting before our regular Wednesday session and Dave viewed the camping facility as well as the marquee and function room. We set a date in September 2021, and that was that.

To say it was a great success would be an understatement with visitors from up and down the country. The crew received nothing but positive reviews of the Pub and facilities plus the welcome and helpfulness of the staff. The large flat camping field was also well received. All the rooms were put to good use.

So here we are again for our third picking weekend at the Junction. We will be continuing the name Bresfest in honour of our friend Dave `Bres` Bresnen.

Last year was even better than 2021. Whilst still a festival for the pickers we had a Saturday night concert in the Marquee which has amazing.

Kicking off early doors where our friends `Run For Cover'. The newly reformed band that started the Saturday night festivities to a high standard. This group of musicians are going from strength to strength and are now taking bookings in the North West including being the starting band for this year’s Chester Folk Festival. We are glad to announce their return for this year’s Saturday night concert.

We were very proud that talented Stewart Williams – the BBMA's `King Of The North` - agreed to form a band with his wife Jo and Bluegrass stalwarts Lorraine Baker-Wakefield and her husband Pete Wakefield to be `The Bakerfield Bluegrass Band`. They appeared on stage as the main act on Saturday night. Such talented musicians, the skill level and tight arrangements was wonderful for sure. The audience was really treated to some great music and skill. The harmonies alone were worth the ticket price. In such demand as a band, they had to rush off the next day for another gig in Cheshire. Worth checking out for the future.

So, this year we have `Run For Cover` again to get things kicked off in Bluegrass wise and support our main band Scotland's `The Fountaineers`. The band consists of Callum Morton-Teng on Mandolin, Michael Wright on Guitar and Jeri Foreman on Fiddle. The Glasgow based band formed in 2020 and began appearing at concerts and festivals in 2022 On top of a busy tour schedule, the band released their debut EP, a 5-track love-letter to traditional Bluegrass classics, recorded and printed in Scotland.




Dave `Bres` Bresnen

So if your into Bluegrass music in the North West it’s hard to ignore or be influenced by Dave Bresnan. (or just Bres). Dave’s shop in the Fazakerley district of Liverpool, `Frets Old And New`,was quite an Aladdin's Cave of all things Bluegrass. He sold a selection of guitars and banjos including Martin’s, Stelling’s, Gibson’s as well as fiddles and mandolins. This was in the years preceding the internet so no ordering stuff on line. He repaired instruments. He stocked books on playing Bluegrass instruments but for me it was his imported Bluegrass CDs. It was 8 miles down the road for me so I’d often pop in and discuss what he had. He knew I liked progressive Bluegrass and steered me that way. He had great knowledge to impart and through him I learnt a lot about Bluegrass, the scene in the UK, the festivals and other sessions etc. 

We at the Junction are proud to say he was a regular to out Wednesday sessions. He travelled the length and breadth of the UK in his van. Selling his wares at all Bluegrass Festivals and as a result he was known widely by the UK Bluegrass community.

Not long after we started at the Junction he proposed we use the upstairs function room to host American touring artists and band. This opened up a new chapter in the history of Bluegrass at the Junction and though Bres we got to see some great bands of the time. The lads even got to jam with some of them later in the bar. He was at one time the Chairperson of the British Bluegrass Music Association. (BBMA).

Dave passed away in 2021 and following his funeral we returned to the Junction for his wake.

He is missed greatly.  In his honour Dave's family have allowed us to call our picking weekend Bresfest.