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Issue 334 – Frome to host new ‘top name’ folk festival

Frome is to get its first ever folk festival in February 2012.

EarlyBird tickets for England’s newest folk festival are now on sale and available from the Cheese & Grain. Some of the top names in English folk have already been booked to appear at the winter weekend festival, which is set to take place on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February next year.
Award-winning Irish songstress Cara Dillon, who lives in Frome, has accepted an invitation to be Patron of the inaugural festival.
The Cheese and Grain will be the focus of the folk festival, but other venues will be used including local pubs, Rook Lane Chapel and the Westway cinema.
The festival is the brainchild of West Country music promoter Jan Ayers, who successfully brought a folk festival back to Bristol after 32 years this spring and who will be promoting shows by top UK folk and acoustic stars Bellowhead and Seth Lakeman in Frome before Christmas.
Jan said, “I can’t think of a more perfect place for a ‘banish your winter blues’ festival. Frome has a great tradition for live acoustic music.
“It will be in complete contrast to Bristol Folk Festival – boutique and rural as opposed to big and urban – but there will be no stinting on the calibre of performers. We will be bringing some of our best English folk stars to Somerset over the weekend. There will also be a lively Morris dance programme as well as workshops, singarounds, market stalls and lots of warming winter soup. Frome will be fizzing in February!”
Honey-voiced Cara Dillon, who will be the festival’s patron, is a spellbinding performer who has been described as ‘one of the best Irish female singers of all time’. Her latest album ‘Hill of Thieves’ won the Best Album title at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards while Cara was named Best Female Singer in the 2011 Spiral Awards.
Saturday and Sunday headliners are still to be announced but among an already strong line-up is one of the finest female acts on the current roots scene. Popular young fiddle-singer Bella Hardy hails from Derbyshire’s Peak District and is a three times BBC Folk Award nominee with a mesmerising voice, captivating stage presence and intricate fiddle skills. Her most recent album ‘Songs Lost and Stolen’ has won widespread critical acclaim.
Inspired young North Devon singer songwriter Jenna’, who was ‘discovered’ by Show of Hands and has appeared many times with them, will also join the bill. Critics have compared her to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny and her debut album, released whilst still a teenager, earned her a 4* review in the Financial Times.
Key members of the Lakeman dynasty, Dartmoor-based Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts will be a main attraction combining Sean’s expert guitar playing with Kathryn’s exquisite vocals. Sean and Kathryn appeared together in the folk-rock band Equation and have recently returned to the touring scene to great acclaim.
Young singer songwriter phenomenon Luke Jackson – just 17 years old –will head to Frome to show just why there is such a buzz around him and his astonishingly mature voice. Kent-based Luke has a startlingly mature voice and has already supported the likes of Steve Knightley, Martyn Joseph, Little Johnny England, Paul Brady and Megson.
Wickedly inventive Belshazzar’s Feast can be counted on to dish up a spellbinding set. Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals) were nominated for Best Duo at the 2010 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and are described by BBC Radio 2’s Mike Harding as “playing like no-one else you’ve ever heard.”
Flying the flag for local talent will be Somerset favourites Dyer Cummings. The funky young Ceilidh band features four top performers; Jon Dyer on bass guitar and flute, Penny Dyer on bassoon, Hannah Cumming on fiddle, and Alex Cumming, the band’s caller, on piano accordion and bouzouki .
Also announced for Frome are hot new duo Tim Edey & Brendan Power. Two of the most respected and active artists on the acoustic and Celtic scene, UK-based Kiwi harmonica maestro Power and brilliant Anglo-Irish multi instrumentalist Edey opted to join forces following an impromptu festival jam session. The inspired improvisation was such a success they decided to bottle the potion on the debut recording ‘Wriggle and Writhe’ (out 19th September).
A potent partnership fizzing with alchemy, they are delivering storming sets at festivals across Europe and over the Atlantic, their freewheeling feelgood sound captivating audiences from Estonia to Cape Breton.
Frome Folk Festival will run from 9.00am-11.00pm both days. Early Bird weekend tickets, price £58 (£48 concessions) are now on sale and available from the Cheese and Grain box office on No booking fees apply.
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