Saturday, July 09, 2011

Frome Festival 2011 - Launch Party

The opening gambit was the launch party, held at Rook Lane Chapel, on Thursday evening. It was quite some event and to begin it were two artists that have featured in these posts before.

Barbara J Hunt (guitar and vocals) and Dizzi (percussion and dulcimer).
 The dulcimer appeared of course, not least because she has just released her own signature model, as did the hang drums.
The Frome Festival is not just about music, far from it, although that is mostly where my interest lies. I have however mentioned that Frome has a wide range of independent shops and one amongst them actually has a poet-in-residence.  Here she is...
...welcome to the (largely imaginary) world of Muriel Lavender.
From Frome's industrious Freecycle community to, via the topic of Marks and Spencer Food advertising, and the contents of Dervla Kirwan's fridge, not much was spared the searchlight. It was funny and then some... now I understand why there is a whole poetry arena at Latitude. If it is half as good as this I might have to check it out this coming weekend.
Local politics was mentioned too (there is no longer any music in Wiltshire, apparently) and one of this event's main organisers, Leander Morales, lives just across the border. A regular feature on the Frome scene, as Morales Watts, they were joined by a violinist for this set.
For the most part they play original material but, this once, included a seemingly improbable cover song as a sing-along. It worked. People sang! It was song that, thanks to The Animals' version of 'House of The Rising Sun', is one that almost everybody has some knowledge of and not least because this iconic version topped the singles chart in UK, USA and Canada. What is lost in this is that the song is a traditional one and it could easily have become extinct in the canon were it not for some recordings of local singers made in East Kentucky several decades before.
It is a recurring theme, one that Cecil Sharp well understood in relation to English folk dance and song.
Then there were some short films, conceived and produced by students at Frome College. They were very good too but do not lend themselves to still photography.
Next was Benji Kirkpatrick, one member of the recently all-conquering Bellowhead. Frome Cheese & Grain is again to be visited by the whole ensemble on Friday 25, November. The solo set was a rather different, and very personal, affair. The patter was excellent which, when faced with a guitar that goes out of tune and breaks strings, is some trial. I now want to hear some of the recorded solo material, much of which is about travelling.
This eight-string instrument and his 5-string banjo had no such tendencies.
He said, about the banjo, that apart from the accordion few instruments are less liked. In my world, and that of many others that I know on both sides of the Atlantic, this could be hardly be further from the truth. He then proceeded to play a Jimi Hendrix cover on it. Give me some time and I will remember which song it was!
Last up was Luke Concannon. Of course there was the 'JCB Song', as it was his to play as one of Nizlopi, (and as he reminded us, it kept fellow Irishmen Westlife from the #1 spot in the UK singles chart) but the rest was equally genius. If you want a party - and surely Ireland could use any excuse for one these days - then he was up for it. 
Who needs amplification and all that stuff anyway? I wonder if the staff at the venue thought it might never end...

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