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Music and vibes at neighbourhood drinking hole fave

WE wonder if a dulcimer has ever been played in the Chorlton bar of that name… Given the eclectic back story of its music offering, who would bet against a rare outing for this ancient stringed ancestor of the piano. Let us know, diehards!

The history’s certainly there. On the bar’s distinctive blue façade it still proclaims ‘Fine Ales and Finer Folk’ and, though that folk bar focus is less dominant a decade on, every Tuesday it hosts a regular folkie session from the local Beech Road Band.

Just to survive 10 years as a highly respected live music venue takes some doing when so many are falling by the wayside. It helps that Dulcimer has a terrific upstairs stage and gig area. Intimate, but acoustically great.

In contrast to its West Didsbury stablemate Saison, with its emphasis on food and craft beer, Dulcimer is all about the neighbourhood drinking hole vibe with a varied roster of DJs and live sounds.

Manager and Svengali behind much of this, Mike Bulfield tells us: “We are a different kind of place to Saison, which inherited a full-size kitchen. Our facilities are limited, so it’s just a core offering of pizza at £5 a go – classic margherita, chorizo and red pepper, pepperoni.”

Interesting specials, Mike? “Well, my deputy manager came up with an artichoke with jerk seasoning one that was surprisingly great.”

The jerk seasoning sounds perfect for a bar that’s definitely big on its rum; try a pint chaser from the bank of five cask pumps, featuring regulars Wainwright’s Bitter and house ale Golden Loom, brewed specially by Bury’s Outstanding, and the nationally acclaimed likes of Dark Star and Wild Beer.



What’s new on the music front for 2018? “Live Blues every second Wednesday from slide guitarist and acclaimed songwriter Sam Jefferson. He was brilliant on his recent debut.”

Wednesdays is the most eclectic of all the free music nights. Every first and third it’s the popular Afro-Caribbean Night, while each fourth Wednesday offers Country Club.

Thursday is usually a live band or open mic or both, while weekends has a rotating array of fine DJ sets such as Heavy on the Haddon, epicentre of the recent four-day weekender to celebrate the bar’s 10th birthday.

The bar’s walls are full of artwork tracing that turbulent 10 years. Past star guests have included Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band and California’s Vetiver plus local luminary Badly Drawn Boy, but Dulcimer is always looking forward.

Mike’s especially looking forward to Friday 22 January when they are filming their debut Friday Night Live, starring acts from BIMM, the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, which has a college in Manchester. Headlining the night are Sprinters, a band showcasing the melodies and hooks of main man Neil Jarvis. It’s an evening not to be missed. And don’t neglect the Plantation Rum and pizza!

Dulcimer, 567 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 4AE. 0161 860 6444.

Manager Mike Bulfield