Frome Folk Festival set to start on Sat 18th Feb
England’s newest winter music festival is on the cusp of opening and promises a cracking line-up as the cream of British folk acts flock to Frome.
The first Frome Folk Festival opens its doors on Saturday (February 18) with one of the most enviable line-ups of any festival this year.
The winter weekend West Country festival – one of the first UK festivals of 2012 - will see swathes of award-winning acoustic musicians and hundreds of festivalgoers descending on the picturesque Somerset market town at the edge of the Mendip hills.
Sunday headliner is Show of Hands’ multi award-winning frontman and songwriter Steve Knightley (Best Original Song, Best Duo and Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards), for once without his multi-instrumental partner Phil Beer, in a rare display of inimitable one-man showmanship, while Saturday’s headliners are the hugely popular John Spiers and Jon Boden, founders of the mighty Bellowhead mainstream crossover band. One of the most dynamic duos on the UK acoustic music scene the melodeon, fiddle and singing phenomenon are twice winners of Best Duo at the Radio 2 Folk Awards. They will host an afternoon ceilidh before performing their evening headline set.
Other headliners include arresting singer-songwriter Chris Wood, a five times BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner. Uncompromising and unpretentious, Wood is the “take no prisoners” songwriter and musician who coined the phrase “Folk music is the raspberry seed in the back teeth of the establishment!”
Hotfoot from their double win at last week’s 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be stand-out musicians Tim Edey and Brendan Power – UK-based Kiwi harmonica maestro Power and brilliant Anglo-Irish multi instrumentalist who scooped the Best Duo award whilst Edey went on to win the coveted Musician of the Year title. See their show stopping live performance at The Lowry award ceremony www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p0gb4 .
Also appearing is Bella Hardy, the popular young fiddle-singer from Derbyshire’s Peak District who jointly won the Best Original Song category at the Folk Awards, for her song The Herring Girl.
Other acts will include the irrepressible InterCeltic phenomenon Jamie Smith’s Mabon, Jackie Oates, Jim Moray, top duos Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman and Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, Jenna Witts, Belshazzar’s Feast and BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Emerging Act nominees Pilgrims’ Way from Manchester.
Somerset’s own blues musician Eddie Martin, singer songwriter Jane Taylor and young band Dyer: Cummings will also perform as well as rising stars Cole Stacey (recently seen supporting Midge Ure) and the incredible mature 17 year-old singer songwriter Luke Jackson.
Frome boasts steep cobbled streets, old weavers’ cottages and historic Georgian buildings as well as the popular entertainment venue The Cheese and Grain which will be the main focus of the festival (Feb 18 and 19). The venue takes its name from its previous existence as a 19th century market hall.
The festival is the brainchild of West Country music promoter Jan Ayers, who successfully brought a folk festival back to Bristol after 32 years this spring. Says Jan: “Some of our biggest folk stars will be coming to Somerset this weekend and what better place for a “banish your winter blues” festival. Frome has a great tradition for live acoustic music. Not only is it perfectly situated in the heart of Somerset close to the cities of Bath, Wells and Salisbury but it also has a number of characterful pubs and other venues we are using. Adding to the main stage attractions will be workshops, singarounds, market stalls, a big Morris dancing meet and lots of warming winter soup!”
The whole town will be buzzing, with other stages at the nearby Westway Cinema, Masonic Hall and Round Tower as well as pub sessions at The Griffin, The Cornerhouse and The Bear featuring musicians including Leander Morales, Dizzi Dulcimer and Bath’s acclaimed cellist Beth Porter and The Availables.
Award-winning Irish songstress Cara Dillon, who lives in Frome, is festival patron and will be introducing the Cornish/Irish duo Winter Mountain, the first signing to her new Charcoal Records label and due to support Seth Lakeman on tour in March.
Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston will be officially launching their eponymous debut album at the festival on the Sunday, complete with a glass of fizz for the audience whilst the North-West’s Gren Bartley heads south to perform a special preview of songs from his striking new album Songs to Scythe Back the Overgrown, on the same day.
Frome Folk Festival will run from 9am-11pm both days. Great value weekend tickets, price £58 (£48 concessions) and day tickets at £32 (£40 concessions) are still available from the Cheese and Grain box office on (01373) 455420, or online at www.fromefolkfestival.co.uk, www.cheeseandgrain.co.uk or via www.ticketweb.co.uk www.seetickets.com and www.Gigantic.com. A family weekend ticket for two adults and 2 children (aged under 15) is £190.No booking fees apply.
For those wishing to camp, there is provision locally for tents and camper vans. There are also numerous campsites, hotels and B & Bs in the area. More information on www.fromefolkfestival.co.uk