Sunday, February 05, 2017

spring celebrations: satire, music, media, and birdsong

February 2nd is Groundhog Day (the all-knowing American rodent foresaw shadow, by the way) and the day of Celtic goddess of poetry Brigid: this is the time our northern hemisphere officially passes from dark winter days into the coming lightness of spring. The US ritual as we all know requires you to go to your metaphorical room and stay there till you say you're sorry, and for Imbolc celebration you invoke healing power with flame and prayer ~ definitely preferable ~ but I chose instead to go and see Jonathan Pie at the Komedia in Bath. Pie live delivers exactly what you'd expect: furious rants at every aspect of social order and disorder, with some especially pithy contempt for the UK party of opposition ("the Left have made themselves irrelevant - Labour have fisted themselves to death") using the dystopian irony of Children In Need's Pugsy as specific focus of his rage. As unexpected bonus, a very good warm-up spot from Andrew Doyle too.

Over in Warminster on the Community Radio station, 'Kowalski', aka John Walton, has an apt name for his show: Painting Coconuts in Paradise seemed just right for a pleasant Monday afternoon of music and chat about writing... discussion of poetry, blogging, and courses for writers all interspersed between african rhythms and 1960s hits... mm that's the way it's meant to be... (Anyone else remember Concrete and Clay? just asking...)

And linking chat to music with another question, does Frome need another Acoustic Club? As King Lear would say, reason not the need, just enjoy. The Artisan had a terrific session on Monday evening, neatly summarised by Paul Kirtley, himself a superb contributor: I believe the phrase 'eclectic mix' would be appropriate... ranging from soulful folk to a WW1 piece, to acoustic blues, to Americana, to modern "pop", to freestyle rap, to beat box (now I know what 2C-I is), to covers and original stuff.  Another good night and a free pint... what more could one ask for, pray tell?  MC Ross p was the brilliant rapper, and this enjoyable mix also included Julian (Bugs) Hight and Hello Hopeville.

This week's main guest at the Grain Bar Roots Session was Katey Brooks who combines soulful words with powerful voice and dramatic performance. In an unexpected highlight she quit the stage and sat on the bar for an 'unplugged' version of a her new recording Never Gonna Let Her Go: sometimes the sweetest things were meant to pass you by..

Sessions in different style filled the Cornerhouse on Friday, as more than a score of musicians and singers settled in for a night of celtic carousing with guitars, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, flutes, accordion, washboard, spoons, tambourine, bodhran, and much good humour. Great sounds and wonderful atmosphere of enjoyment and fun.

Frome town is on the telly again, this time with the story of our Food Fridge. Literally a free-for-all, exclaimed the voice-over in Jamie and Jimmy's Food Feast this Friday on C4, explaining people both donate and take... it's a simple solution to a massive food problem. Jamie suggests the system should extend across the country to supplement provisions of food banks. It ain't rocket science, he says, and he's started a community fridge scheme in Southend. It's not only for local growers with a surplus: supermarkets have signed up too, diverting their excess away from landfill. Now there's even an app for it ~ and it all started in Frome!

Looking ahead there's good news for Fromies with the reopening of Westway! Our much-loved independent cinema will be back in business later this month, refurbished and triple-screened, while retaining those invaluable features of movie-going: the licensed bar, the old-style intermission, and fixed ticket price of four quid... cheaper, as The List points out, even than streaming at home.

And good news for everyone: Frome Festival is already taking shape. Brochure entries are being assembled, and from the look of that motor-cycling Jane Austen, this one will be a scorcher. Those of you who saw our Nevertheless production Timeslides will realise we actually unwittingly anticipated this theme last year ~ but look out for a dramatic promenade piece with a hint of regency... And this year is the hundredth anniversary of the death in action of poet Edward Thomas who wrote about his travels close to our town so he will be featured too, with an Edwardian swimming party and Adlestrop moments at the Poetry Cafe. I'll leave you with birdsong, and thoughts of spring.

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