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Issue 347 – Cheese & Grain breaks box office records

The Cheese and Grain celebrated the most successful weekend in the hall’s history from 17th to 19th February with a Friday night concert by The Lightning Seeds and a ground-breaking two-day Frome Folk Festival.

The Lightning Seeds, playing to a capacity audience, soon had fans out of their seats with a wave of hits like ‘The Life of Reilly’, ‘Marvellous’, and football’s most famous anthem ‘Three Lions’, the chorus of which almost lifted the roof from the Cheese and Grain, complete with its newly installed solar panels.
Staff then worked through the night to open at 9.00am Saturday morning, for the two-day Frome Folk Festival. Over 600 folk music fans attended each day of the festival from all over the UK. The Cheese and Grain’s programme manager Martin Dimery said, “ We were delighted to have been selected to host this new folk festival and I’d like to thank all the staff at the hall and those volunteers who helped over the weekend.
“Some of our staff, all of whom are casual or part-time, dedicated their entire weekend to the festival, day and night, to ensure it ran smoothly and efficiently. Changing the hall from a breakfast cabaret setting, to an open dance space for a ceilidh, and then to a formal setting with rows of seats, in the space of minutes, was a remarkable achievement in terms of dedication and teamwork. The bar and cafe were at full stretch for most of the weekend. The whole enterprise was fraught with potential difficulties, but it ran remarkably well.”
The Cheese and Grain was a central venue for the Frome Folk Festival. At the end of each evening, all 600 in attendance converged on the Cheese and Grain to hear headliners Spiers and Boden on Saturday, and Steve Knightly on Sunday. Spiers and Boden are renowned as both a duo and as key members of the award-winning folk band Bellowhead. Steve Knightly has developed a successful solo career whilst remaining in the hugely popular trio Show of Hands.
Cara Dillon, one of the top British Isles’ folk singers, and a Frome resident, accepted the role of president of the Frome Folk Festival and declared the event open on the Saturday morning.
No fewer than eight nominees in the recent BBC Folk Awards performed at the weekend, including category winners Tim Edey and Brendan Power, whose popularity amongst folk fans is in the ascendant. Their Sunday morning slot was a highlight, and there was a bonus performance at the Westway Cinema on Sunday evening when they stepped in at short notice.
Martin said, “Many of this year’s audience members have already bought tickets for next year, and we’re now hoping the Frome Folk Festival becomes an annual event. In bringing so many people into the town, to visit our shops, pubs and restaurants, stay in our hotels, and take in the attractions of the town, the weekend must have made a significant impact on the local economy. When the final accounts are done, we anticipate something like £25,000 was spent on tickets alone. The festival comes at a time of year when it is often difficult to fill the programme, which makes it all the more significant.”
Details of next year’s Frome Folk Festival are available from the Cheese and Grain box office on 01373 455420.

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