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When David Grimwood decided to turn his restaurant in Chillesford, near Woodbridge, Suffolk into an auditorium once a month, he approached it with the same attitude as he would when preparing a good meal. The ingredients should be of the best quality, be well presented, and once sated you would want to come back for more. But what is Folk at the Froize? We put that question to David.
Folk at the Froize came out of my desire to bring more quality music acts to East Suffolk. For years we’ve had to go to Norwich, Cambridge or Bury St Edmunds… all over the place, to see the sort of bands that we would really like to see in our neck of the woods
Once a month, after we have finished serving Sunday lunch, we transform the restaurant space in to a seventy-seater auditorium. All the tables are taken out, we bring in a proper stage, we have an old-fashioned lighting system which is a bit hot in the summer and very nice in the winter. We have done twenty-three now, we are coming around to our second anniversary plus one or two extras. Every night is sold out so we must be doing something right! And during the intermission we serve our famous Suffolk Tapas.
These events have become popular, and not just with your customers.
Yes, we have developed a following among, not just music lovers, but also by music agents and the artists themselves. They appreciate that they are coming to play to a listening audience. That is something that a lot of the artists treasure. It lifts their game and it does makes for something very, very magical.
Not content to fill your restaurant with seventy people you have experimented with events further afield.
We have, we get on incredibly well with Wayne Burns who has done such a fantastic job at Leiston Film Theatre. It is a unique film theatre in so far as it is council owned but Wayne over the years he has been there has transformed it from the flea pit I remember as a boy to this magnificent two hundred and fifty seater theatre with the most gorgeous dressing rooms and the best loos you’ll find anywhere. It is a delight and it is a film theatre. Yes it is a cinema but it is more than that, it has everything you need to put on very good live acts.
We have had Sam Kelly as a trio playing here at Folk at the Froize and by golly it was good. Sam is loved in Suffolk, he knows the area very well, he recently headlined FolkEast. This is bound to be an amazing gig, I am looking forward to that one. He plays with ‘The Lost Boys’ which is the full band but we have Sam Kelly and Friends, now who the other three are is anybody’s guess at this stage, but you can guarantee that it will be a most riotous night of incredibly good music.
Sam will be supported by Alden, Patterson and Dashwood who were delightful here last July when they supported those guys from Canada, The East Pointers.
Why move to Leiston when you have a formula that works in The Froize at Chillesford?
Those that know me know that I have always been a showman, I’ve been in the restaurant business now for forty-five years. I was very young when I started obviously! But it goes back to my college days when I was social secretary at Norwich, putting on the likes of Sutherland Brothers, Quiver, Gentle Giant and several other bands that went on to be quite famous. I have always enjoyed putting on a show, giving people something memorable. It has taken me this long to get around to doing it in my own establishment.
Tell us about Wantisden Valley – this year’s new venue.
We held our first ever Ceilidh last year in a marquee on our lawn here at The Froize. But knowing now of all of the things that can possibly go wrong with a tent on my back lawn in December, after very frosty nights and bright sunny mornings… it was a pool party in there.
We got away with it but I thought I’d find somewhere that will tick off all the bits I am worried about. We know the Kemball family down at Wandisden Valley very well. I got in touch with Kate, explained what I wanted to do, went and saw the venue, fell in love with it straight away. It is the most beautiful old Suffolk barn. It is their wedding venue and they do various parties in there. It has lots of room, a bar, a stage, a dance floor and central heating.
So, we thought we had better have a taster at this new venue. So we have booked two of our favourites: Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar along with another very favourite band in this area who cross over between folk and Americana and all sort of other things – The Willows.
What other delights have you lined up for us?
Lucy Sampson and I put the program together which is all set up to the end of December 2018. (editor’s note, that is not a typo, I have seen the list!) Lucy introduced me musically to the Mae Trio from Australia. They will be the in the UK in September. The only date they can do is a Saturday, and it also happens to be my birthday, join us for some beautiful harmonies and banjo playing on 30th September.
To find out more visit www.FolkAtTheFroize.co.uk
The Froize, The Street, Chillesford, Woodbridge IP12 3PU