This weeks Almost Famous by Paul RichardsNEWS: THE VARSITY WIN STRAWBERRY FAIR UNDER-18S BAND COMPETITION Congratulations to The Varsity who have won this years Strawberry Fair Under-18s Cambridge Band Competition. The quintet only formed in April this year but won the contest thanks to their original rock-funk sound with rap infused harmonies. Runners up were acoustic duo Two Intents and third place was taken by accomplished 11-year-olds, Static. GIG OF THE WEEK: HOPE STREET MUSIC CHRISTMAS SPECIAL Were entering that time of the year again when many gigs are being billed as Christmas Specials, but in this case the show really will be special as local promoters Hope Street Music have put together an outstanding acoustic line-up for their final Living Room gig of the year. Taking place, as always, in the cellar of CB2 Restaurant (Norfolk Street, Cambridge), the event will be headlined by local singer-songwriter Ben Smith who will be playing a rare full-band show, fresh from supporting the likes of Joan Armatrading and Robert Cray. Main support comes from another local talent, Beth Walthew. A hugely popular and acclaimed songwriter on the local scene, Walthew appeared to have taken an early retirement from the gigging circuit since giving birth but the talented songstress has been persuaded to perform at this event. Opening the show will be singer-songwriter/pianist Cara Winter, who released her third album earlier this year. The Christmassy show, which is expected to include mince pies, starts at 8.45pm on Friday evening with the doors opening 15 minutes beforehand. Entry is £5.NEWS: FAILED BAND PODCAST Local singer-songwriter Adrian Aidy Killens. from Cambridgeshire indie band The British IBM. is behind another episode of his successful podcast about the music industry. Focussing on subjects such as marketing, promoting and organising your band, recent episodes include tips on how to organise a UK tour. Lovingly titled, Failed Band Podcast, it can be downloaded for free from iTunes.NEWS: GREEN MIND ANNOUNCE NEW YEARS EVE PARTY GIG Popular Cambridge promoters Green Mind have announced early details of their ever popular New Years Eve party, which will be held at the Portland Arms in Cambridge. With live bands (including punk covers outfit, The Stand Ins) and DJs throughout the evening, there will also be a buffet, cocktail menu and games. Tickets are available from www.greenmind.co.ukGIGS ROUNDUP Friday, December 7 Two Birds and a Band are playing at the Barley Mow in Hartford, meanwhile excellent covers band Ghost Repeaters are at the Hare and Hounds in Eynesbury. Three great gigs to chose from in St Ives, notably the outstanding party band, Big Cheese who are at the Seven Wives. You can also catch The Synthetix at the Royal Oak and James Coppolaro (with Dave Brooks) at Floods Tavern. Saturday, December 8 Legendary duo Ezio are back in their home town playing at The Junction in Cambridge, complete with a full band. In Huntingdon, 60s covers band Time Machine are playing at the Montagu Club, and Hopes and Fears are playing at the Victoria. Meanwhile, in Eaton Socon, you can catch Black Dog playing at the George and Dragon, and in St Ives you can catch 3 Days Of Freedom at the Royal Oak. Sunday, December 9 Long-serving blues rockers Split Whiskers are playing an afternoon show at the Nelsons Head in St Ives from 3pm, and later in the evening there is acoustic music from Trevor Jones at the Royal Oak from 7pm.