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Issue 330 – It’s festival time in Frome!

THE town is getting into the festival spirit as the highly acclaimed Frome Festival gets under way tomorrow, Friday 8th of July.

A fantastic line-up of events has been planned as the festival’s reputation continues to go from strength to strength. Now in its 11th year, the Frome Festival has established itself as the most diverse and successful community arts festival in England.
From some of the best comedy acts and live musical talents the country has to offer, to interesting talks, exhibitions and workshops – the Frome Festival has it all. And the message from those who are working hard to pull the event together is simple – “make the most of it!”
Creative director Martin Dimery said, “This year we have a whole range of big acts including Cara Dillon, comedian Lucy Porter, Transglobal Underground, Turin Brakes and much more. The festival also highlights how much local talent there is in the town. Frome is such a creative environment and the festival is a great outlet for originality and creativity.
“Around 70% of the funding comes from ticket sales and the people of Frome recognise the festival as a showcase for the town and the business it attracts.
“With such a wide range of attractions, we’re sure there will be something for everyone. You can still book tickets for most events, so contact the box office at the Cheese and Grain on 01373 455420.
“There are nearly 200 events in this year’s Frome Festival. Many of them are free in the park and in the pubs. There is also, of course, the Frome Festival Feast on Saturday 9th July. So there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone in Frome to attend at least one event.
“And don’t forget, the town will also be bidding to get its name in the Guinness Book of Records with the largest gathering of fancy dress storybook characters ever assembled in one place. On Saturday 16th July, 10.30am-12.30pm, The Great Frome Festival World Record Attempt takes place at the Cheese & Grain – just turn up dressed as Harry Potter, Pooh Bear, Ivor the Engine or any other storybook character and help the town make history.”
Amongst the big selling acts in the festival are Turin Brakes on the opening night, Friday 8th July, at the Cheese and Grain. The Mercury Prize nominees have enjoyed a decade of success and will be appearing with special guest, singer songwriter Tom McRae. Advance booking is recommended.
There has also been a surge of interest in the return of American Appalachian folk band Harpeth Rising. A surprise discovery at last year’s Frome Festival, Harpeth Rising, who are based in Nashville, were featured in a classical concert with Bath Philharmonia, and played an intimate show on their own. Such was their impact, festival director Martin Dimery invited them back to the larger setting of Rook Lane Arts on Saturday 16th July, and it may be advisable to book in advance, given the early interest and that their next stop is the Cambridge Folk Festival.
Other popular acts include comedians Lucy Porter and Jo Caulfield, who appear at the Merlin Theatre on Friday 8th, and Friday 15th July respectively. Both have been frequent guests on TV shows like ‘Have I Got News for You.’ Jo Caulfield appeared last year in a sell-out show at the Granary, and like Lucy Porter, looks set to play to another packed house.
The Frome Festival is really flying the flag for classical music this year with big orchestral concerts by the European Union Chamber Orchestra and the National Schools Symphony Orchestra, both of whom appear at St. John’s Church on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th July.
One particular concert to have caught the public eye features The Amati String Quartet returning to the festival at St. John’s Church in a presentation entitled, ‘Christina Rossetti – Her Life in Frome.’
The concert features music contemporary to the life of the Pre-Raphaelite poet; Haydn’s “Sunrise” Quartet; Puccini’s “Chrysanthemums”; and Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden.” Between movements, the audience will hear extracts from Rossetti’s poetry and from her letters written when living in Frome in the 1850s. Christina Rossetti is played by Frome actress Tina Waller, who has enjoyed a successful stage career, and recently returned to the town.
Big audiences are also anticipated at the Cheese and Grain for some of the top performers in their field. On Monday 11th July, John Shuttleworth, cult stage and TV comedian, and star of his own Radio 4 series, brings his one man stand up musical “The Man With no More Rolls” to Frome. Shuttleworth’s first flush of fame was as “Jilted John” the famous punk pastiche, with the immortal “Gordon is a moron” chorus. Now a settled Sheffield suburbanite, Shuttleworth is the composer of more subtle social musical observations, such as the moving opus, “I Can’t Go Back to Savoury Now.”
On Friday 15th, the Cheese and Grain plays host to Cara Dillon, one of the finest and most revered folk performers in the British Isles. Accompanied by husband Sam Lakeman and their band, Cara’s set will include songs from her 2010 album “Hill of Thieves” which won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Album of the Year. The show will be fully seated, which limits capacity at the Cheese and Grain, so again, advanced booking is advisable.
A band that very much takes advantage of the Cheese and Grain’s all standing, all dancing capacity of 850, is Transglobal Underground. Much loved at outdoor festivals with their exotic and entrancing world fusion style, TGU will provide a great party night for the final Saturday of the festival.
Tickets were still available for all the above at the time of going to print, but for a full update, or to buy tickets for any of the huge range of shows, workshops, walks and talks taking place in this year’s Frome Festival, contact the box office on 01373 455420.