Monday, June 25, 2018

Frome on the UP in a week of solid sunshine

Summer has arrived at last, just in time for solstice and for a series of al fresco activities that would probably put Frome in the Guinness Book of Records if there was a category for street celebrations.
Saturday was the Word Up festival, with lively workshops on word-related activities, free to all, throughout the town centre including an inspiring all-age graffiti session from Tom Sturgess in the Cheese & Grain yard (my favourite picture of the entire exciting day, this one ) while within the Grain Bar there was an all-day live music event called 'I Knew Frank Turner Before He Was Famous' with excellent local musicians like Phil Cooper entertaining the cafe's unsuspecting customers.

And as the sun continued to glitter throughout a long evening, Catherine Hill snatched the UP tag and ran with the St Catherine's Summer Festival Pop-Up party... a bit like the Sunday Independent but without the commercial thrust, and with straw bales to sit on with your Aperol spritz and Rye Bakery pizza slice.
The cobbles on Catherine Hill were familiar with evening footfall by then, as the opening on Friday of L'Aperitivo, a new bar at the top of the hill, attracted the size of crowd you would expect on a scandalously sunny evening when drinks and antipasto are free and there's cake too! Congratulations Gabriel, Matt and Chris on a wonderful launch party.
 And to round off Saturday evening, the second garden party of the week (the first was the finale of a challenging creative day in the wonderful surroundings of Cooper Hall) and also in a luscious setting: a Sweet Summer Night's Dream of music, poetry and Indian thali, in the magnificent tiered grounds of the Merchant's House until the light finally faded - as choreographed by Liam Parker who hosts these seasonal events in his family home.

Musical performance segues nicely into this week's music sessions - or at least those I've seen, though there were more: much dancing as The Boot Hill All Stars at 23 Bath Street on Thursday delivered their promised 'banjo music fast, filthy and with more than a little cleavage',  while more sedately the Sofar mystery tour arrived at the Round Tower on Tuesday with several impressive young performers: Here's Billie Alderman, who was followed by Susie Mills with Joel Clements, and Ben Hutcheson with Avril Tricker.

And with unusual neatness, this location also segues into the visual art report, as Friday saw the opening of a fascinating exhibition here of Frome's cloth-making history and all things loomy: Back to Blue is the outcome of collaboration between 3-D artist Hans Borgonjon and painter & printer Sue Conrad  with wool expert Carolyn Griffiths, whose recent book Woad to This is the definitive chronicle of Frome's journey to riches and then rags -  here's a weaving demonstration on the hands-on loom.  HUBnub Gallery has a new exhibition too: Nicky Knowles' Paper Lands - collages that survive the challenge of the dominating windows of the old chapel and look terrific.

Sunday is always jazz day at the Cornerhouse, and this week ends with  'soul jazz funk' - Stevie Wonder songs from Emma Harris with superb trumpet from Gary Alesbrook and John Law on piano with Andy Tween drumming and Dave Wallace on bass. What a week. And it's not even festival yet...

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