Monday, June 18, 2018

Back in Frome, with words & music

Another of those excellent writer's events at Hunting Raven last week saw local author Sarah Scholefield's talking about debut novel Redferne Lane, already getting great reviews on 'Goodreads'. Sarah's degree was molecular biology, so no-one was more surprised than her at the digression to novel writing. Her work on the Bath MA course brought immediate attention from an agent, and after a rocky road (is there any other route to publication? answers on a postage stamp...) Sarah's novel reached publication with Thistle as an e-book and a handsome paperback. Her talk was entertaining and encouraging, with a useful Q&A afterwards.

A stunning week for music, even by Frome's cornucopian standards: Ben Cipolla Band gave us a great Grain Bar Roots Session on Wednesday, and a wonderful party at the Cornerhouse on Friday turned into an unforgettable open-mic session for Nicki Mascall and her talented friends.  Saturday night was more than usually frenetic due to a clash of two of Frome's favourite bands: Captain Cactus and the Screaming Harlots at The Sun, and The Back Wood Redeemers at The Cornerhouse... Both pubs were rammed and bopping, both bands on top form in splendid costumes and engaging full-on with their avid audiences, so the only thing to do was run between venues at the breaks. No chance of pix of the Back Wood boys through the dancing throng at Cornerhouse, and a crushed stage for the Cactus Crew - there are nine of them! - so here's just a taster of the night: the delightful Screeching Tartlettes, as the blackboard tagged our favourite vocal quartet.
And after all that frenzy, a mellow end to the week with jazz from the Graham Dent Trio & Nick Sorensen on sax, at the Cornerhouse.

To further complicate Saturday evening, the Merlin Theatre joined the event-clash with Thrill Me This demanding drama is as slick as it is grim, which is an impressive but uncomfortable combo. Based on an allegedly true tale of a mindless murder in 1924 (the facts are true but accounts differ, and motivations of psychopaths are unfathomable) Stephen Dolginoff has written a musical which is really more Chill Me than Thrill Me. The two actors and the onstage pianist are brilliant and the effect is powerful, evoking that horror-movie feeling that there's more evil around than we can ever guess as director Guy Retallack emphasises destructive obsessions - sadism and control both physical and mental - as primary narrative threads with no real suggestion of private tenderness. Credit to Merlin programming for bringing this Richard Williamson and CliMar production to Frome as one of only six venues on an international tour: Sam Johnson played the piano, with Harry Downes and Ellis Dackombe as the amoral law students.
Final footnote for this week: after scouring the galley proofs with magnifying glass and tweezers, my endlessly patient and supportive editor/publisher feels we are nearly nearly ready for a launch...  so here's a sneak preview of the draft cover - I have permission from the e.p & s editor/publisher for this reveal....)
Excited? let's just say right now the moon is looking tiny down there...

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