We are thrilled to reveal our programme for Autumn/Winter 2016. it’s jam-packed full of the finest folk musicians in the country… so much so that we honestly believe it’s our best yet!
Kicking off the programme in September will be the incredible LEVERET, which features three of England's finest folk musicians in an exciting new collaboration. Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron are each regarded as masters of their instrument and together their performances combine consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity.
Returning to the club in October will be a firm DFC favourite, this time as part of an exciting new duo. ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER formed as a duo for the 14-night tour that accompanied the multi-award winning ‘Esteesee’, and their appearance at the club will be part of an October tour of their new duo album ‘Findings’.
Our headliners in November will be the spellbinding LADY MAISERY, as they too tour a new album, ‘Cycle’. With their unique approach to harmony singing and thoughtful, striking arrangements of both traditional repertoire and original compositions, Hannah James, Hazel Askew and Rowan Rheingans are skilful explorers of the power, beauty and vitality of folk song. Each member is also an accomplished instrumentalist; they expertly create a rich tapestry of fiddle, banjo, harp, concertina, accordion and foot percussion.
Rounding off the programme as part of their annual Winter tour will be BELSHAZZAR’S FEAST, a duo hailed by R2 Magazine as “a bona fide English classic”. In 1995 Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals) shared a musical passion borne out of the desire to earn sufficient money to support their extravagant lifestyles. Their amazing musicianship coupled with wry humour has stunned audiences around Europe and the States.
As you've come to expect, we've also got some great support acts lined-up as we welcome THE HUT PEOPLE to open proceedings for Leveret in September, MIKE WEAVER supporting Ange & Lukas in October, while ASHLAND will kick off Lady Maisery's show in November. The final support slot of the year will be provided by Bristol-based old-time string band THE NINETREE STUMBLERS (in duo form) in December.
Tickets for each event are £14 each, but each one is available for an 'Early Bird' rate of £12 up to the Friday before each gig. available online now here. And we’ve listened to your feedback, too, so now, for the first time, you can purchase a ‘Season Ticket’, which gets you tickets for all four gigs in one easy move, which you can get here, but be quick... it will only be available until Friday 9th September. Due to the high-profile artists we’re bringing you, we’re anticipating a huge number of tickets to go quite quickly, so early-booking is strongly recommended.
We hope you’ll be as thrilled with this programme as we are!
I was pleasantly surprised when ANT MILES messaged me this morning to ask if I’d like to review the evening’s gig – I’ve been a supporter and member of the excellent Downend Folk Club for a couple of years now, and I continue to be amazed by the quality of live acts that they attract – nearly all have been personal favourites, and, although it’s nearly 30 miles away from my home in the Forest of Dean, it is very convenient to get to (road closures permitting!), and I think of it as my local club – always a friendly, appreciative crowd, and usually a sell-out.
The evening started a with the support act, singer/songwriter STEVE PLEDGER, whose songs have ‘something to say’ – he started with a very lyrically powerful, poignant song about the relationship between a son and his father, and the feeling with which it was delivered seemed to me that it was auto-biographical. He then treated us to a series of emotionally charged songs, stripped back to basics with very delicate, yet effective arrangements – his emotional voice grabbing your attention to the subject of each song. ‘This Land is Poundland’, perhaps a parody of the famous Woody Guthrie song with a similar name bemoaned the death of our High Streets and consumerism reducing goods to cost, not value, and he finished up with ‘Striking Matches In The Wind’, dedicated to Jo Cox and Idealism. All the songs make you think, and are written & delivered sincerely, skilfully & emotionally – very impressive.
Photo: Alan Cole
After a short break, SW Australian based LUCY WISE took the stage with her ukulele, the mics & instruments tastefully decorated with Flower & Fairy lights. Her first song is very upbeat and we know we’re in for a treat… She switches to guitar for her next song ‘Song for Shanti’ -, this, and the next song ‘Sleepwashed Morning’ were inspired by poems written for the National Schools poetry competition for 6-17 year olds, and the imagery evoked is enchanting. She tells us that her father is a Luthier, and she also makes instruments – all the instruments she is using this evening were made by her family – impressive! She sings a song for her Dad, reminding her of their walks in the Indian Ocean. Well travelled, she tells us of volunteering with little/no experience for an Ocean-going yacht trip from Darwin to Ambon, and sings a very delicate song recalling the trip. SIMON DUMPLETON (piano/accordion), whom she only met yesterday, then joins her on accordion for the next song – ‘Little Bag’, into which everything that is important can be fitted, and they play together like seasoned professionals – superb.
KIRSTY BROMLEY now joins them on stage, and they explain that this is Part II of their Two Hemispheres tour, and that they have in common The Spookie Mens Chorale, whom each of them supported on UK tours. Lucy had flown in from an extensive solo US tour just a couple of days ago, so rehearsal time has been at a premium. They sing together ‘Neighbourhood Song’ with delicate counterpoint harmonies, and understated accordion.. lovely – the 1st half ends with rapturous applause….
"Another triumph for all the hard work of the volunteers at Downend Folk Club!"
Restarting after the raffle, as announced by Ant’s son Josh, Kirsty sings, unaccompanied, a song 'Season of Peace, Season of War' about hope / joy, a poignant tribute to recent world events. Lucy & Simon then join her to sing ‘The Valley Song’, very harmonious & atmospheric, with delicate percussion from Lucy on the shiny red egg! Kirsty then sings a traditional chorus song English Ground including an accordion solo William Tailors Table Top Hornpipe from Simon. Kirsty tells us that she’s spent the last 6 months touring Aus/NZ with Lucy & Simon Taberner – the first half of the 'Two Hemispheres Tour', and we hear that Ant Miles has organised all the UK dates on the tour. Kirsty then sings the title track of her recent album ‘Time Ashore’, a sailor’s lament, and we all join in the chorus… very atmospheric song. Kirsty then sings a new song which she wrote in a café in Melbourne, simply called ‘I cannot write this song’ – a gentle, beguiling song with metaphorical imagery – when she finishes, she tells us it’s the first time she’s sung it in public. Next is the trad. song ‘Twas on One April Morning’, about the fickleness of young men – another opportunity for us to add our voices. Kirsty then sings unaccompanied her new Single ‘Absent Mother’, about the relationship between a mother & her daughter… enchanting. Next is a very soft & gentle song penned by Kate Fagan – ‘Roll Sweet Rain’ about rain & bush fires in the Aussie Outback. It’s time for the last song! ‘One more Time’ about friendship, and we add our voices to the best chorus of the night.. superb. To enthusiastic applause, they return to the stage for an encore, and the trio sing accapella ‘Row On’ to finish the night in style…. Another triumph for all the hard work of the volunteers at Downend Folk Club.
Kirsty sings traditional & self-penned siongs with a maturity way beyond her years, and has enthralled me since first hearing her back in 2011, when she did a short support slot for Nancy Kerr & James Fagan at Ruskin Mill – she was travelling nanny to their children at the time. Her voice is used as an instrument, and many of her songs are sung unaccompanied, beautifully, and poignantly – she deserves every success.
- Chris Hedges, DFC regular
Last April, a young folk singer from Sheffield captured the hearts of the Downend Folk Club faithful with a superb unaccompanied set, opening for Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin at Christ Church Downend. Her pure, beautiful voice filled the very rafters of the old church, so having her back for a headline slot was a bit of a “no-brainer”.
A bringing together of two travelling songstresses, one from a remote seaside town in the south-western corner of Australia, and the other from the Steel City. Kirsty and Lucy's songs tell stories of love, people and places which zoom in on everyday moments of light and darkness. Their melodically-rich music is steeped in the Celtic, American and English folk music traditions that surrounded them growing up. Both recognised in Australia, New Zealand and the UK for their stunning vocals and intimate and moving performance styles, Kirsty and Lucy come together to tour both Australia and the UK together in 2016. This really is an evening not to be missed!
Kirsty is a young contemporary folk singer who draws upon a wide range of traditional music. She has a most disarmingly transparent voice, but also the uncanny and beautiful knack of drawing attention to the song rather than the messenger, by the manner in which she employs it.
“(Kirsty has) a fine young voice, poised but unaffected, a confident, heartening debut” - The Guardian
Hailing from the far South Western corner of Australia, singer-songwriter Lucy has delighted audiences across Australia, New Zealand and the UK with her masterful storytelling, intricate ukulele and guitar playing and soulful voice.
“Wise is a natural storyteller, infusing songs with a sense of place so strong you can almost feel the dusty earth crunch beneath your feet as she sings” - The Brag
The pair will be joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist Simon Dumpleton, who last visited Downend with his trio Bright Season for the club’s launch night in April 2014.
Opening the evening will be singer-songwriter STEVE PLEDGER. Born in Cambridge, England, Steve grew up in the nearby market town of St Neots. From a very early age, one constant in his life has been music; a love for it, a need to express himself through it and, in more recent times, the opportunity to share his own songs with a growing, wider audience.
The concert will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th June. Doors open at 7.30pm, and the music will start at around 8.00pm. There will be a full-bar in the foyer area, open from 7.00pm, serving locally-brewed GWB real ale, Severn Cider, wine, a range of soft drinks and tea and coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/tankard/bucket/mug as part of the club’s drive to be environmentally aware.