The first thing I did this summer, after leaving a bag at my tutor and friend’s place on Anglesey, was head to Wrecsam/Wrexham in Flintshire, northeast Wales, for the FOCUS: Wales festival. 2016 marked the sixth year of the three-day, multi-venue festival, created to showcase and present Wales’ creative talent. The festival includes several ‘tracks’: Music (international acts in addition to Wales-based ones), Art (including a live painting session with Pete Fowler this year), Film (including a screening of Twin Town), and Interactive Sessions with leaders in the industry, to help groups succeed. All these tracks are presented at various venues throughout central Wrecsam, which is a lovely small town with a university.
Though I was a bit tired from well-earned jet-lag, I managed to see quite a few performances; photos and clips of which are in the attached gallery, below. Sophie Mckeand (http://sophiemckeand.com) was luminescent performing her poetry to a packed house. I picked up one of her limited edition, hand-sewn books of poetry, as well as a CD of her performing her work. All the music acts I saw were fabulous: Ysgol Sul (Sunday School), Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog (http://crhb.net), Meilyr Jones (http://meilyrjones.com), Maddie Jones (http://maddie-jones.co.uk)…the list goes on.
I also met a charming local guy, Richard Jones, who had bleached his beard and dyed it rainbow colours to raise funds for the local hospital’s (Wrexham Maelor) special care baby unit, which he credited with saving his son’s life. We had a wonderful far-ranging chat while I was between shows!
Most groups also had music and/or merchandise for sale, which was a bonus, though it did make my backpack a bit heavier the next day as I set out on my walk on the coast path. I was amazed and my heart was gladdened to see and hear creative groups of all types supporting and encouraging each other——the support and camaraderie seem unique.
See the FOCUS: Wales website for more information about next year’s upcoming production. Flying into Manchester and heading straight to FOCUS:Wales in Wrecsam is a fabulous way to start a musical adventure——book with us today!
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