There are no words to describe just how beautiful this evening was. No words that express the perfect, harmonious relationship between musicians. No words that could possibly tell you why LEVERET are one of the “must see” folk acts of 2016. Fitting really, as this instrumental trio don’t really need words at all.
Sam Sweeney, Andy Cutting and Rob Harbron are three of the finest traditional folk musicians around. You might have seen Sweeney leaping from speaker stacks, pogo-ing madly and attacking his violin with Bellowhead. Cutting and Harbron play melodeon and concertina, respectively, and have played with some of the finest musicians out there, including Nancy Kerr, Fay Hield and Jon Boden. All three are incredible. They weave the old and the new together; new tunes (so new that they don’t have names) are paired with traditional English tunes hundreds of years old. And you barely notice the join.
Photo: Julian Cox
At the beginning of the set Cutting wryly says “this is dance music, just so you know” and it is, but it’s dance music played for love, not for hedonism. There are no pounding beats or furious crescendos, nothing of the huge Bellowhead-style chorus to bring us all to our feet. Yet there are so many moments where you become swept up in the whole, where all you want to do is waltz around this perfect church. This is music that is transcendent, ascendant and utterly joyous. You only need look at the faces of the three musicians to know how much enjoyment goes in to this. Sweeney throws his head back repeatedly, seemingly desperate to jump from his chair. Incredibly the three of them hardly ever look at each other. This intricate, intimate music is played with complete intuition by people who know precisely what they are doing.
Over the course of their two short sets we are treated to tunes from both of their albums, ‘New Anything’ and ‘In The Round’, but song titles become almost irrelevant. As the light slips from the evening Leveret create layer after layer of gently warming genius. Hornpipes, jigs, waltzes and morris dances fuse together in to something approaching a classical repertoire. A delicate blanket of pastoral loveliness, English roses intertwined with wild flowers, spreading out through the nave. If, however, you need one tune to seek out go and listen to Cutting’s self-written ‘Milford’. It’s just delightful.
Providing support for the evening were THE HUT PEOPLE. Another band entirely dispensing with words, an accordion and percussion duo set us up wonderfully for the main event. Accordionist Sam Pirt describes them as being “like Easy Jet but with better leg room” and, as their tunes whizz around the world from Sweden to Quebec, Sussex to Louisiana, you understand why. After half an hour of feel good dance tunes they left with the sort of applause that support bands don’t usually get ringing in their ears.
The whole evening left us speechless. There are simply no words.
- Gavin McNamara
The fact that tickets for our September event are already well on the way to selling out will come as no shock when you hear that the headliners are the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-nominated LEVERET.
The trio features three of England's finest folk musicians in an exciting collaboration. Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron are each regarded as masters of their instrument and are involved in numerous collaborations with a huge range of artists. Together their performances combine consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity.
Leveret's music is firmly rooted in the English tradition but sounds fresh and new, with original settings of ancient tunes sitting alongside new compositions by some of today's finest tunesmiths in the folk field. Their music is not arranged at all in the conventional sense; instead it is played entirely in the moment, combining consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity in a sound which feels both timeless and contemporary. The material may come from archive sources and manuscripts, but there is nothing academic or historical about the sound; it's warm, listenable, engaging and refreshing.
“You won't find English folk music played better than this.” - R2
Fiddler Sam Sweeney is a former BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 'Musician of the Year', thanks to his work in Bellowhead, Eliza Carthy's Wayward Band, The Full English and his own Made In The Great War project. Melodeon genius Andy Cutting is the current holder of that award (for the third time, no less!), and as well as his new trio with Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr currently performs with Blowzabella, Topette, June Tabor and Roger Daltry. Concertina wizard Rob Harbron is known for his work with The Full English (Best Group and Best Album BBC Folk Awards 2014), Emma Reid, Fay Hield, Jon Boden and others.
“Three of England's finest traditional players weaving exquisite tapestries out of old and new tunes. Just sublime. I can't recommend seeing them live enough.” - Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3
The English folk tradition has not always valued its instrumental repertoire as highly as some of our neighbours, and yet the tunes exist in their thousands in manuscripts and archives. For every tune in current circulation, there are dozens more that are waiting to be rediscovered, and Leveret's music has helped inspire a growing interest in instrumental music. A Leveret gig is a current and contemporary performance of English repertoire by three top-notch instrumentalists with deep roots in the tradition.
“Classy players … their intuitive way with tunes is glorious” - Mojo
Opening the show at the club’s larger venue at Christ Church Downend will be THE HUT PEOPLE, a duo who are constantly gaining more of reputation as one of the most entertaining acts to appear on the folk scene in a long while.
In their surprisingly engaging and often hilarious show, they perform a truly unique high-octane blend of folk music from around the world - perfectly formed & embellished with a foot stomping accordion and mind-boggling array of exotic percussion (with some Quebecois foot percussion & dancing thrown in for good measure too!).
The concert will be held on Friday 16th September at Christ Church Downend. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start, and there will be a full bar, serving Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO. real ales, SEVERN CIDER, a selection of wines, soft drinks and tea and coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/tankard/mug as part of our drive to cut down on waste. There will also be a raffle featuring some great prizes including CDs, beer and more.
Tickets are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend, BRISTOL TICKET SHOP and online here. They are priced at £14 each, but if you buy before Friday 9th September they’ll cost you just £12 as part of the ‘Early Bird’ scheme. Members tickets are a bargain £10 each and are available direct from Ant Miles or from the Members Only area of this website.
You don't have to wait long for your next fix of fabulous live music, as we're bringing you a FREE extra event to celebrate the end of the Summer!
We've teamed up with our friends at FANCOURT MUSIC and CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND to bring you CLAUDIA SCHWAB & FRIENDS in Concert on Wednesday 31st August, when Claudia will be recording the entire event for use as live videos.
Claudia is an originally Austrian fiddle player and composer, who lives and works in Ireland. As a musician of the world, in her music she amalgamates different traditions and styles such as traditional Austrian, Irish, Classical Indian, Swedish and Eastern European folk.
Her musical journeys brought her to Egypt, California, Italy, Slovenia, India, New York, Moldova, Transnistria, Sweden, Germany and Hungary, as part of orchestras and bands as well as touring her solo project.
Since having completed her BA in music and psychology in 2012 and an MA in ethnomusicology at UCC in 2013, she works as a freelance musician.
Claudia will be joined on stage by STEFAN HEDBOG and MARTI TAERN (regular members of Claudia's trio) as well as top UK folk musician HANNAH JAMES.
And as if that wasn't enough, the evening's entertainment will be opened by rising local star SUSIE DOBSON.
Susie is a familiar face to the Downend Folk Club faithful, having previously brought her unique brand of contemporary folk music to slots in our local showcase and opening for Gilmore & Roberts, while she has also played at Bristol Folk House, Bristol Folk Festival, Folk on the Water and much more during a busy first year performing.
17-year old Susie will be joined on stage by another familiar face, multi-instrumentalist JOE BRYDON from local band Road Not Taken.
The event will take place at Christ Church on Wednesday 31st March 2016. Doors will open at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start. Entry is free (donations towards costs will be taken on the night but there is no obligation). There will be a bar run by Downend Folk Club, stocking the usual GREAT WESTERN BREWING COMPANY real ales, Severn Cider, a range of wines and soft drinks and teas and coffees.
There is no need to reserve places... simply come along and enjoy an evening of free entertainment. Please invite as many people as you can, as part of the point of this is so that Claudia will have a big audience for her videos!