“There’s a well-known folk festival that won’t book me,” GRACE PETRIE tells the audience. “They don’t reckon I’m ‘folky’ enough”.

It’s probably fair to say that Grace is not what the Downend Folk Club regulars are used to. There’s no soaring fiddle threatening to lift the roof off. There’s no squeezebox, no mandolin, no banjo. There’s not a sailor or a highwayman in sight. Even the harmonica that Grace occasionally employs stays in its box tonight. There’s a guitar, but it’s rarely been played quite like this on the third Friday of the month in South Gloucestershire.

But that is not to say that she doesn’t belong in a folk club. Nothing could be further from the truth, actually. Make no mistake, Grace Petrie is a songwriter for our times. “I don’t know a lot about politics,” she tells the sell-out crowd, which includes more than a smattering of Grace’s highly-committed fan-base, “I just have a lot of opinions about a lot of things!” But her astute observations soon prove that her comment is at the very least self-deprecating. This is an artist who knows her politics. She’s been on The Now Show for goodness sake. Her songs are peppered with sharp, often satirical comments on subjects including fair pay (You Pay Peanuts, You Get Monkeys), equal rights (I Do Not Have The Power To Cause A Flood) and building a better future together (They Shall Not Pass).

Photo by Chris Dobson

Grace describes herself as a protest singer. More specifically, she describes herself as a left-wing, lesbian protest singer and activist (“it’s a full-time job”, she tells us). For many, the words protest singer conjure up images of a punky, guitar-thrashing individual, shouting the words on the front line of rallies. There’s a hint of that in Grace’s performance... there are more swear words than the gathered faithful are used to and she certainly has an energetic guitar style. But there’s more, much more, to Grace Petrie; her warm and engaging stage presence draws you into her world, and her songwriting is clever and sophisticated, and covers much more than politics. There are songs about unrequited teenage crushes (How Long Has It Been?), the birth of infant nieces (Ivy) and a myriad of songs about love.

She’s funny, too, is Grace; one of those artists that can having you crying with laughter one minute and crying at the state of the nation the next. That sounds pretty much at home in a folk club. The sadly-missed Vin Garbutt made a whole career of it. And still got booked by all the major folk festivals, year after year.

Opening the evening was another artist of a similar ilk. GAVIN OSBORN is based in Bath, and is another observational, humorous songwriter. Joined by John Hare (dubbed ‘The Comment Section’ by Gavin) on piano and cornet, he treats the audience to a lovely set that warms them up nicely. He claims not to be a proper musician. He’s either far-too-humble or wrong. The audience wanted more. Watch this space.

But it’s to Grace Petrie that the evening rightly belongs. Different? Certainly. Folk? Absolutely. Have another look, you festivals and venues that think she’s not ‘folky’ enough. This is what it’s all about. And it always, always has been. 

We are truly thrilled to reveal our programme for Spring 2018.

It features a great mix of musical styles, including traditional, world, singer-songwriter and contemporary folk, as well as a nice balance of new, exciting acts and returning favourites.

Kicking us off on Friday 19th January will be BLAIR DUNLOP. The award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist has now released three albums and toured widely around the globe. What sets Blair apart from his peers is the lyrical and musical maturity with which he writes. His third album ‘Gilded’ was released in May 2016. Support will come from KITTY MACFARLANE.

Returning for a second headline will be an act who have gone down as one of the most popular in our four year history… but with a new name. EDGELARKS - formerly known as Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin - first visited the club in April 2015, and now they’re back as they tour their new album of the same name. They’ll be headlining on Friday 16th February. Opening the evening will be IONA LANE.

HARRI ENDERSBY is a singer-songwriter based in the North East. We first met her when she opened for Moore, Moss, Rutter in January 2017, but as her profile continues to rise, we’ve invited her back for a headline slot on Friday 16th March, when she’ll be joined on stage by husband Rich Marsh on guitar and percussion. Getting us underway will be BEN ROBERTSON.

Rounding off the programme, on Friday 20th April, will be one of the most exciting acts on the UK scene at the moment. BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning duo THE RHEINGANS SISTERS, made up of Lady Maisery’s Rowan and her sister Anna, will be visiting South Gloucestershire as they tour their brand-new album ‘Bright Field’. Support will come from IAN A ANDERSON.

Tickets are priced between £11-£13 each in advance (£2 more on the door), while you can also take advantage of our Season Ticket for £48 and avoid booking fees.

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And now for something completely different…

Downend Folk Club’s November concert features one of the hottest properties on the music scene right now, and confirms the club’s commitment to bringing a diverse programme to the music lovers of South Gloucestershire.

GRACE PETRIE is a folk singer, songwriter, and activist from Leicester.

She first exploded on to the national protest scene in 2010 with the emotive anthem 'Farewell to Welfare', which captured perfectly the spirit of the new wave of dissent in austerity Britain. Since then, she has written, recorded and toured relentlessly. Her unique takes on life, love and politics, and the warmth and wit with which they are delivered have won over audiences everywhere, and she has quietly become one of the most respected and prolific songwriters working in the UK today.

Grace’s career boasts several studio albums, a dedicated fan base and national tours supporting Emmy the Great, Billy Bragg and comedians Robin Ince and Josie Long, as well as a string of festival appearances including regular visits to Latitude and Glastonbury. She has collaborated with some of the most respected names in folk, including Leon Rosselson, Roy Bailey and Peggy Seeger. She is a frequent guest on BBC Radio 4’s the Now Show and has appeared on Channel 4’s Random Acts, and has been featured in The Guardian, Diva Magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s 2013 Pink List of influential LGBT figures.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be GAVIN OSBORN.

Gavin is a humourous but heart-felt singer-songwriter, originally from Bedford but has resided in the Bristol/Bath area for several years. He's performed shows with comedian Daniel Kitson and supported Belle & Sebastian.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th November 2017, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online HERE. Over half the tickets have already gone, so advance booking is HIGHLY recommended as a sell-out seems a certainty. Please note that this event is not suitable for under-14s.

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 the our drive to be ecologically sustainable.