ONE of Sunderland’s biggest bands is coming off the road for two months in a bid to bring arts and free gigs to its home town.
Instead of travelling the UK promoting the release of their second album, Frankie & the Heartstrings will now be ploughing all their time into their pop-up shop venture.
The unique idea to turn a derelict shop in Fawcett Street into a record shop, arts and music venue – which has attracted national attention – has proved so popular that the five-piece have decided keep it open.
It was only intended to be a fortnight-long experiment, but bringing big names such as Edwyn Collins, Badly Drawn Boy and Ross Jarman from The Cribs to the city for a series of free gigs has hit the right note with Mackem crowds.
As a result, the band have pledged to bring more big names to Wearside, and will run their Pop Recs Ltd shop daily for at least another two months ahead of a set at Reading and Leeds Festival at the end of August.
Frontman Frankie Francis, from Houghton, told the Echo: “The shop has been a real success and we want to thank the people of Sunderland for coming down to the free events and supporting it.
“The crowds have been great and we had a queue around the block for Edwyn Collins on Saturday. We’ll be coming off the road for a couple of months because we really want to make a conscious effort to put our all into the shop.”
He added: “We really want to expose the people of Sunderland to arts and music and we’ve tried really hard to make it inclusive for everyone, from tiny ones to older people.
“The feedback has been great and everyone’s been saying we should stay open so we are.”
The series of free gigs will begin again on Sunday from 1pm with local acts The Generals and Purple Groove performing. Bigger names are expected to be announced in the next few days.
Frankie said: “We’ll be aiming really high again and will hopefully be building on the names we’ve had play so far.
“Everyone we’ve approached like Edwyn and Badly Drawn Boy have been so supportive of the project.”
One of the biggest success stories of Pop Recs Ltd has been its coffee, with people popping in to snap up independent brews which include Tim Peaks, created by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans, and The Days Run Away, a special blend named after the Heartstrings’ second album.
l Pop Recs Ltd, in the former Tourist Information Office in Fawcett Street, is open daily from 10am to 5pm, and 7pm for evening gigs.