Sunday, September 20, 2020

Wake me up when September ends...

23 Bath Street is the unassuming name for one of the town's best pubs, especially in these difficult times when staff and premises struggle to create a space both welcoming and legal. The small upper terrace at the back is a great place to enjoy a cool drink on a hot day, and owners Lark & Toby well deserve the Arts Council grant they've been awarded as part of the Culture Recovery Fund. Last Friday night they gave us the popular Gundhi Brothers in a mission to Make Frome Fun Again, with a hybrid set of Bhangra combined with Hip Hop, Garage, Drum n Bass and Soul.  Table-discipline doesn't really allow for dancing, but can't stop a great atmosphere.

More music in another short-notice-while-we-can live session, also with careful social distancing, as host John again welcomed the Tribe to The Mill at Rode. This is always a lovely event, and the line-up this time included brilliant work from Jim Cook, the only man I know who can play two saxes at once...  music included some great blues numbers. Here's the line-up, with David, Paul, Steve, Chris Chapman, and Jim.

Moving to art now, with a fascinating exhibition at the WHY Gallery in Stony Street: Dan Morley has been painting butterflies, life-size and in immaculate detail and vividly exact colours. His 'boxes' of various species are exquisite, and there's a tale behind the prize of his collection, on camera obviously: the incredibly rare Large Blue, now a protected species which can be seen only on  Collard Hill.  Really worth a visit, to admire the paintings and read the story. Here's one of the 'boxes' - the one with my favourite butterfly, the Adonis blue. 

As September sunshine continues, the Silk Mill yard once again brought entertainment to the customers of 42 Acres fabulous al fresco meals, with a musical session from Paul Kirtley's shape-shifting 'Don't Scare Easy Tribe': this time Paul and David Goodman were joined by Ray Bradfield -with sound-man Steve on cajon from time to time. This was a real 70's style 'happening, triggered by the poetry event by the inspiration of Steve & support of 42 Acres' Jo Harrison and Sarah Callan, with drop-in additions too. Here's Sarah on the other side of the counter, with husband Vin Callan also commandeered... a really great session.

Meanwhile Frome artist Sarah Godsill has been using the summer to create snapshots commissioned from around the world. Sarah says her 64 snapshots from England, Spain, Chile, Canada, USA, Venezuela, Scotland, Mexico, Singapore, Northern Ireland have "kept me relatively sane over three months this very strange Summer 2020 whilst I've thought about each person or family as I worked on each section." - you can commission your own memory here

And prolifically-successful writer Clare Reddaway created a story-trip round Bath you can find here. This linear walk from Walcot Memorial Chapel to the Botanical Gardens has regular stops to listen to stories about the cityscape that inspired them, written by  local writers and read by the equally talented Kilter Theatre team.


Also in the wordy-information bit, I was interviewed on Tuesday about my book The Price of Bread by the inspirational Eleanor Talbot for her Variations on a Theme show on mtri - that's Mixed Tape Radio International, broadcasting in buzzy forward-looking places all around the world and thus, of course, Frome. We sat on River House Cafe terrace talking about the violence of the Troubles in Belfast, as the newspapers of the week featured lead articles about fears that the Good Friday agreement has become precarious because of the ignorance, indifference, and stupidity of our current leadership. Eleanor is an incisive reviewer and an excellent interviewer so I'll be interested to hear the broadcast result - with musical interjections - in a couple of weeks.



This will be the last blog from Frome, and indeed from the UK, for a while, so I've held it over to include Bottom's Dream from on Saturday afternoon on the Merlin's ECOS amphitheatre.  Devised by 2m Theatre with the aim "to create socially distanced performances during the current pandemic",  this  talented young company demonstrates how Shakespeare never goes out of date. Bottom, dreaming that a beautiful woman might fall in love with a donkey like himself, is maybe a more interesting story than the upper-class couples bickering in the woods, and this one-hour devised show cleverly uses Shakespeare's text with a shift of focus.

Ending with another session at the Silk Mill from Paul's tribe, now named Fair Play for Frome and raising money for the town's charity: sadly I missed some good guest acts as this clashed with the Merlin show, but arrived for the final hour - and a bean stew from the excellent cuisine of 42 Acres. 



No comments: