On an evening when many people’s minds were on events over the pond as the new President of the USA was inaugurated, a sell-out crowd in a tiny corner of South Gloucestershire allowed themselves an evening of something beautifully uplifting.
The tunes of MOORE, MOSS, RUTTER filled the charming little hall in Frenchay, transporting over 120 music fans to a relaxed and comfortable place.
“Comfortable” was the word of the evening. Tom Moore, Archie Churchill-Moss and Jack Rutter have been playing together since they were in their early-teens, which brought a BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2011. Their incredible talent has seen them, individually, work with the likes of Seth Lakeman, False Lights and Ange Hardy, but it was clear from early in their set that these are three musicians who are entirely at ease together on stage. They know each other inside out; you can tell that from the little glances, the knowing looks, the instinctive way they bounce off each other and the way they pass the tune to each other seamlessly. And they take you with them; sat in the audience, one can’t help but be drawn into their comfort. It almost makes you feel like part of their team.
Not that they’re not different; they’re clearly individuals. Moore (fiddle) is often lost in the tunes that he is playing. Eyes closed, shoulders hunched, Tom Moore is absolutely at one with the music. Rutter (guitar) brings the energy. His feet are planted far apart as he rocks from side to side and dips to the music, smiling and looking at his bandmates; and Churchill-Moss (melodeon) is a slight figure on the right of the stage. Feet close together, and upright, he almost splits the difference; eyes in the back of his head at times, but also engaging with the others and allowing himself the indulgence of the odd foot-stomp.
It’s mostly tunes; Moore, Moss, Rutter, clad comfortably in jeans, checked-shirts and sneakers (or, in the more substantial and undoubtedly northern Rutter’s case, substantial boots) steer us excellently through tales of dead pets (‘Dougal’… “it’s not that funny!”), Cheltenham hotels that gave them beer when they probably shouldn’t have (‘The Big Sleep’), and an ode to the room in Moore’s house where two (soon to be three) albums have been conceived and practiced (‘The Beeches’).
There are a couple of songs too, fronted by Jack Rutter’s engaging northern vocal. ‘Wait For The Waggon’, an American song found in a book of Yorkshire folk songs (it made its way back to the UK courtesy of the song-collecting of George Hall) has the packed-out room finding its collective voice; while the second-half’s offering, ‘The Dalesman’s Littany’, has us singing along with the refrain “From Hull, and Halifax, and Hell, Good Lord deliver me”. Moore, Moss Rutter decline to link this to events in the USA.
And, as if to counter the “folk” feel of the evening, Moore hits us with a couple of tunes from Purcell. It’s inspiring stuff. The man is a genius; you’d never know they weren’t folk classics.
The audience, of course, demand more. We're given a couple of choices and plump for, in Rutter’s words, something “a bit silly and grrrr”… Moore’s tune ‘The Scorpion’. It’s a great end to the evening.
If Moore, Moss, Rutter are all about the tunes, the opening act is a complete contrast. HARRI ENDERSBY is a singer-songwriter from Durham and, joined on stage by husband Rich Marsh, we see two guitars and one voice weave their way through some beautifully-written modern folk songs.
The first couple come from Harri’s 2014 EP ‘Ivy Crown’, while the second-half of her short spot features songs from her soon-to-be released debut album ‘Home/Lives’. Harri’s final song, ‘Noise’, is a highlight, but it’s a set filled with great songs, a stunning voice and sensitive musicianship. Harri Endersby is going places. Mark our words.
Trump? Whatever. Live music is alive, well, and comforting people in South Gloucestershire.
Roll on February.
Our 2017 programme kicks off with a visit from one of the hottest properties on the thriving UK folk scene, as we continue our commitment to showcasing the best emerging talent around.
MOORE MOSS RUTTER are a trio of musicians who are reworking traditional native English tunes and songs into something far more contemporary. They aim to breathe life back into ancient material through complex arrangement, virtuosic musicianship, powerful aesthetic and an ear for detail. Their tools - violin, melodeon, guitar and voice - may be simple enough, but they allow MMR to take the audience on a journey through utmost subtlety, rustic artisanal beauty, and tempestuous climax.
Their second record, simply dubbed 'II', shows proof of their six-year development both as a band and individual musicians. Tom, Archie and Jack have travelled the length and breadth of the UK (and further afield) performing together and honing their craft, but have been involved in a range of important musical projects as individuals, too. These have included EFDSS commissions, Royal Festival Hall performances, and European tours.
Tom Moore has been playing violin since the age of 4, and learnt using the Suzuki Method, an alternative educational philosophy which primarily focuses on teaching the instrument by ear. He is now studying Music at Goldsmiths, University of London. In addition to Moore Moss Rutter, Tom also performs with violinist/viola d’amore player John Dipper and duet concertina player Nick Hart in Oss; and has done deputy and session playing for a range of prominent artists including Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Alex Heffes for BBC films, Robert Mitchell, Bellowhead, Antonio Forcione. He is also part of new folk-rock band, False Lights featuring Jim Moray and Sam Carter.
Archie Churchill-Moss is one of England’s top melodeon players. Having been tutored by Andy Cutting, Rob Harbron, Saul Rose and many others, he is well positioned to carry the baton of virtuosic diatonic accordion tradition. Archie also performs with Breton/Folk/Rock outfit, Dragonsfly.
Jack Rutter is a respected guitarist and multi-instrumentalist working within the English tradition. Self taught, he is known for his for his highly rhythmic tune backing, flatpicking and fingerstyle playing. In addition to his contribution to Moore Moss Rutter, Jack plays in the Seth Lakeman Band, and he is in high demand as a session guitarist for numerous other artists and outfits in the British folk scene and further afield.
Opening the evening’s entertainment with be another of the folk scene’s best young talents.
HARRI ENDERSBY is a singer-songwriter from the North-East of the country. Her debut EP “Ivy Crown’ was released last year to critical acclaim, and her first full-length album is due for release in early-2017. Harri will be joined on-stage by husband Rich Endersby-Marsh… a former resident of nearby Stoke Gifford.
The concert will be held at our regular home of Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 20th January 2017. Tickets cost £14 each, but if you buy before Friday 13th January you can take advantage of our ‘Early Bird’ scheme and get them for just £12 each. Tickets are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend or online HERE. Members tickets are £10 each (again before Friday 13th January) and are available direct from Chairman Ant Miles or from the Members Only area of the website.
Doors open at 7.30pm and the music will begin at around 8pm. There will be a full bar, serving locally-brewed GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO. real ales, cider, soft drinks and tea/coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/bucket as part of our drive to be environmentally-aware.
It’s the 16th of December. The kids (and teachers) have broken up. Advent services have been sung. Shepherds in tea towels have been seen cantering across this very altar. And yet ...and yet... it still doesn’t feel really Christmassy. Maybe it’s because it’s warm and wet, not cold and crisp. Maybe it’s because this year has been so full of disappointment that we are all expecting another one around every corner. Maybe it’s because there seems to be little Christian kindness around just now. Or maybe it’s because we all just need something to put us in the right frame of mind.
Fortunately Downend Folk Club are riding to our rescue, in a big, tinsel strewn sleigh, cheap supermarket lights twinkling and driven by two men who are feeling, quite frankly, a little bit silly.
Photo: Julian Cox
BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST are Pauls Sartin and Hutchinson. Stalwarts of the folk scene (Sartin used to be found bouncing furiously in Bellowhead and is still in the magnificent Faustus) who have regularly lugged their Christmas sack full of ancient carols and folk loveliness around the country at this time of year. And we are so glad to see them. They start with their version of the 'Sans Day Carol' and immediately have the audience gently harmonising from the pews. Although just as we were thinking this was going to be a gentle sweep through beautiful, obscure Christmas tunes something happens. The accordion and violin duo start throwing snatches of other songs in. Better known carols, TV themes, radio favourites, staples and classical music. Songs shift and slide with deftness and wit. There are laughs - proper laughs - as the audience recognise something. Slowly that "Bah Humbug" feeling is gently ushered away and replaced with chuckling.
There is simply no way that two men in faded denim jeans should be this entertaining.
Don’t go thinking that this is some sort of dreadful "comedy-folk" nightmare from 70s Christmases past though (Jasper Carrot, I’m looking at you). Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are amazing musicians and nowhere is this proved more certainly than when they smash together Mozart and Vivaldi at break neck speed. This also featured a tiny bit of ritual humiliation for the Club’s Chairman, Ant Miles, including a triangle, far too many beats to the bar and an impossible time signature.
All of this light heartedness is undoubtedly Christmassy; the carols, the old folk songs, the warm wit, dreadful punning and good natured teasing conjuring nothing less than Christmas afternoon, after a few too many glasses of sherry when you favourite uncles set to story-telling, bickering and laughing. These are Christmas songs to be loved the whole year ‘round.
Just as good-natured and heart warming were the support band for the evening. THE NINETREE STUMBLERS are Bristol-based but their heads and hearts are somewhere near Kentucky in about 1932. Describing themselves as 'old-fangled string band music' they are utterly charming. Obscure American folk songs dredged from crackly old 78s are gently persuasive and have feet tapping in no time. Strange drunken waltzes rub shoulders with Hawaiian instrumentals, hushed spirituals with raucous fiddle tunes; they create a delicious time warp with an enthusiasm that is infectious. There’s even a Christmas number, “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over” that is only Christmassy if you happen to be in a far flung corner of the American deep South wrestling an alligator. Or something.
If we weren’t feeling that Christmas spirit at the start of the evening we certainly were by the end. It was due to two men in denim and three Bristol folk with a string band obsession. As Tiny Tim might say "God bless ‘em, every one".
- Gavin McNamara