“I’m a collector of folk tales and myths. It’s basically an obsession,” Kim Lowings told a packed out Frenchay Village Hall at the latest Downend Folk Club concert in September.

She’s right; mythology and hundreds-of-years-old stories are the thing that underpin the music of KIM LOWINGS AND THE GREENWOOD, this highly-rated West Midlands-based ensemble. These are songs that tell stories, weave tales and paint pictures, whether the traditional material given the Greenwood-treatment or the songs that flowed from the pen of an increasingly-impressive songwriter in Kim Lowings.

The subject matter might conjure up and evening of downbeat melancholy but nothing could be further from the truth; Backing band The Greenwood favour a driving, rhythmic style for the most part. It’s a refreshing change… there is foot-tapping and even the odd hand-clapping moment. 

Touring their third studio album ‘Wild & Wicked Youth’, the show kicks off in the same way at the critically-acclaimed record. The first-few bars of ‘In Spirit’ are whistful and whispy… and then The Greenwood kick into gear and the evening takes off.

The band, made up of Andrew “Jarv” Lowings (who also happens to be Kim’s dad) on bouzouki, guitar and bhodran, Dave Sutherland on double-bass and vocals and Tim Rogers on cajon and percussion, are all highly-skilled musicians, but it’s no doubt that it’s Kim who’s the star of the show.

Blessed with a beautifully rich voice that suits her chosen genre perfectly, Kim slips effortlessly between mountain dulcimer and piano (there was a lot crammed onto that little stage!), whilst also showing that she is comfortable fronting the band with just a microphone at her disposal. Her stage presence is warm and relaxed, and she takes the (off-mic) jibes from dad in her stride. Only the first few rows will know what was said but everyone smiled nonetheless.

The set weaves through tales of fiddles made out of bones that can only play one tune (Oh The Wind and Rain’) and drunken relatives saved from the sea by a formidable wife (‘Maggie’s Song) as well as taking in some other traditional numbers (‘The Newry Highwayman’, from which the new album takes its name; sea-shanty ‘Bold Riley’ and a very enjoyable take on ‘The Cuckoo’)… but it’s as the first-half draws to an end that the “special moment” hits us… and it’s as unexpected as it is beautiful.

Shorn of her backing band for this one number, Kim takes to the piano to deliver the self-penned ‘Firestone’. It’s stunning. Voice and instrument intertwine to tell a tale of soul-searching and wondering. After the driving rhythms of the rest of the set, you could hear a pin-drop; one audience member took quickly to Twitter to tell the world that it had almost brought him to tears. It’s that good, it’s that beautiful and with it Kim Lowings surely announces herself as one of the best songwriters on the scene.

The evening was opened with a set from GAV BALL. A regular in the Downend Folk Club audience and some time singer with Bristol-based rock band BUSK, Gav has been trying out some more acoustic, folky numbers in his solo material, and he delivered the perfect support slot. Funny, engaging and even topical, with a newly-written number in honour of a DFC regular who is fleeing to Cornwall (‘The Ballad of the Barefooted Man’… we’ll miss you, Brian and Edwina!), he has the audience singing along and crying with laughter.

But it is to Kim and her gang that the evening rightly belongs. In his introduction, MC and Club Chairman Ant Miles told the expectant crowd that this was a band who are “the epitomy of the phrase ‘one to watch’.” On the evidence of this gig, it’s hard to disagree.

Photo: Chris Dobson

One of the country’s fastest-rising folk stars will headline our September event as KIM LOWINGS AND THE GREENWOOD's ‘Wild & Wicked Youth’ album launch tour stops off in South Gloucestershire.

Kim and the band first appeared at the club back in July 2015, when they were the opening act for Jackie Oates. Their set was so well-received that we immediately invited them back for a headline gig of their own.

Inspired by the folk tradition, Kim Lowings and The Greenwood perform their songs with a contemporary twist. Their live shows are an energetic blend of original compositions and traditional songs. Kim Lowings, Andrew Lowings, Tim Rogers and Dave Sutherland bring together their multi- instrumental skill and individual experience resulting in an innovative and sensitive approach to arrangements. The motivation is to keep the tradition alive and to share their own tales.

The group began as a collective in 2011 with Kim and her Dad, Andrew, collaborating with Midlands musicians. Since then the Greenwood has become an established four-piece on the British folk scene. Their recorded work prior to this latest album includes their debut album This Life (2012), EP Deepest, Darkest Night (2013) and Historia (2015), heralded as "beautiful and enchanting” by Living Tradition and "absolutely captivating” by R2 Magazine.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be local singer GAV BALL.

Gav is the lead singer of local band BUSK. He has been writing songs and playing in bands for over a decade. He loves performing and interacting with a crowd and has more recently been inspired to write songs about his beloved hometown of Bristol.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 15th September 2017, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online HERE. There will be a full bar, stocking Severn Cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based brewery GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO., and locally-made NAUGHTY BROWNIES. There will also be a raffle. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/ bucket as part of our drive to be ecologically sustainable.

We're taking a well-earned break in August, but we thought we'd just leave you with a reminder of what's coming up after the holidays.

Our Autumn/Winter Programme is full of the quality and diversity that you've come to expect from Downend Folk Club. It's a lineup that we feel very proud of and we hope that you'll agree that it's one of our best yet!

Kicking off our concerts after the Summer break will be the fast-rising four-piece KIM LOWINGS & THE GREENWOOD. Many of you will remember Kim and the band from their breathtaking set opening for Jackie Oates a couple of years ago. Well now, after many requests from you our members, they're back in their own right; they headline at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 15th September as they tour the UK with their new album, 'Wild & Wicked Youth'. Opening the evening's entertainment will be DFC regular GAV BALL.

Another exciting young band will be our headline guests on Friday 20th October as we welcome the fabulous GRANNY'S ATTIC to Frenchay Village Hall. This trio went down a storm at Bristol Folk Festival and tickets are bound to be very much in demand! Support on the night will come from local band EMBER (including DFC regular Mike Richards), who also hope to have a new EP out around that time.

Described as "one of the most important voices to emerge on the folk scene for years", November's guest is the inimitable GRACE PETRIE. Grace is a protest singer, but much more than that... she's a brilliant songwriter and exudes warmth and charm on stage. This is one not to miss, so be at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th November... and make sure you get there in time to catch the wonderful support act for the night, GAVIN OSBORN. Please note that this event is restricted to over-14s.

December sees us put on our most ambitious event to date, as Patron JIM MORAY returns for a full band show on Friday 15th December. Performing songs from his latest album 'Upcetera', as well as some favourites from his back catalogue, Jim will front a five-piece band as we venture out to Resound in Mangotsfield for the first time (while our regular larger venue at Christ Church is closed for refurbishment). Tickets for this one are a little more expensive but we've kept the cost of the others down and we're certain you'll find this show is worth every penny. The highly-rated DARIA KULESH will get the evening's entertainment underway.

Tickets for all the events are on-sale now HERE, where you can also buy a Season Ticket for all four gigs and save almost £5 in booking fees!