Our Summer Programme starts this month with a visit from THE DOVETAIL TRIO, as the three-piece visit South Gloucestershire as part of a UK tour of their new album, Bold Champions.

Recorded in just a few days in October 2018 in a beautiful 160-year-old schoolroom overlooking their adoptive home city of Sheffield, Bold Champions showcases The Dovetail Trio’s impressively tight harmonies and sensitive, skilled playing. Known for their compelling live performances and entertaining on-stage dynamic, The Dovetail Trio’s second album features songs from sources both written and recorded, ranging from archive recordings of Gloucestershire singers to the living breathing tradition of The Copper Family of Sussex. These songs transport the listener through tales of tragedy and death, romance and seduction, the adventure of the sea, and even a tragic case of mistaken identity.

“I feel that folk songs are like a window to the past, providing us with wonderful, poetic tales of romance, adventure and misery”, says duet concertina player Matt Quinn. “We chose the songs on this album as they give us an insight into the stories and characters of a bygone era.”

Captured in one room as a live performance by keen-eared producer Tom Wright, Bold Champions has the authentically raw, classic sound of many seminal folk recordings. “We are really proud of our first album Wing of Evening but when playing gigs people would tell us how they wished the album sounded more like we do when we perform live”, says vocalist Rosie Hood. “This brought us to the decision to record the album all together in one room” adds guitarist Jamie Roberts. “It really captures the live energy of the early classic folk recordings that have inspired us.”

Performing England's traditional songs with a new energy, The Dovetail Trio have been exploring folk narratives with musical skill and a passion for their heritage since forming in 2014. Effortlessly combining the distinctive voices and acclaimed instrumental talents of Jamie Roberts (guitar & vocals), Rosie Hood (vocals), and Matt Quinn (duet concertina and vocals). Since releasing their debut album Wing of Evening in 2015, The Dovetail Trio have toured folk clubs across the UK and Canada and played at leading festivals around the country including Cambridge Folk Festival and Sidmouth Folk Week, as well as performing live on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 3.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be locally-based four-piece ROAD NOT TAKEN. Made up of singer Anita Dobson, guitarist and founder of Downend Folk Club Ant Miles, fiddler Claire Hamlen and multi-instrumentalist Joe Hamlen, Road Not Taken are starting to make waves on the UK folk scene with their their unique brand of melancholy music, described by one reviewer as “songs that sound as though they have been draped in cobwebs... and that is a very fine thing indeed.”

2019 promises to be a big year for the band, with appearances lined up at Bristol Folk Festival, Wimborne Minster Folk Festival, Beardy Folk Festival, Keynsham Music Festival, Priston Festival and London Folk Festival, and a full UK tour in September to mark the release of their first full-length album. 

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th May 2019, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online from HERE. They are priced at £12 each in advance (£10 for members), or £14 on the door. There will be a full bar, stocking Severn Cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO., and also locally-made NAUGHTY BROWNIES. There will be a raffle with prizes including CDs, gift boxes of beer and sweet treats. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware.

Most of our events sell out, so please do buy your tickets in advance.

 

There’s a woman that works as a Weather Girl called Sara Blizzard. And a bloke called Les McBurney that works as a firefighter. Both delicious examples of nominative determinism - names that fit a job. You might expect, therefore, that a folk duo called THE ASKEW SISTERS would be a little bit wonky, for the two of them to not sit quite right.

You'd be wrong. And pronouncing their name badly too.

Emily and Hazel Askew are two complimentary sides of a very shiny coin. Two halves of a perfect circle. Two colours that create a vibrant hue. As a duo they've been playing together for fifteen years but Downend Folk Club has seen Hazel several times before. As one third of the unsurpassed Lady Maisery she has always played her various instruments with the lightest of touches and sung with a purity that others simply don't possess. Hers is a voice that most of the young pretenders would kill for. If, that is, folk singers ever did such a thing. It’s everything that you want it to be - sweet, crystalline, melancholy. Her sister, Emily, isn't to be outshone though. Harmonizing with such elegance and subtlety as well as coaxing the loveliest of melodies from varying stringed instruments. Her cello hums, drones and croons while her violin frequently adds splashes of colour to the evening.

 

Aside from the harmonies these sisters play a set that fits beautifully together too. The songs are delicate and sad, many of them familiar to the folkies in the adoring audience. GeorgieI Wandered By The Brookside and A Girl Cut Down In Her Prime are all shot through with love, loss and tragedy. All are perfectly pitched, all have the doomed beauty of an eighteenth century French heiress. The last on that list is especially lovely; it’s a song about death that positively swoons.

The songs are just a part of the whole though. There are waltzes, hornpipes and Morris tunes too. These chase the melancholy away. They grin and bounce, driven onwards by violin and melodeon. That melodeon even adds the tiniest hint of Yann Tiersen’s giddy sway; the French accent of the Amilie soundtrack that brings great bucketfuls of joy scattering smiles and European warmth. Particular mention must go to London's Loyalty/Heady Days, a nod to the greatest city on earth and headaches. It is so charmingly infectious, so loaded with happiness.

Much of their set is taken from their wonderful new album, Enclosure, and takes ancient ballads and gently, softly breathes new life in to them. Familiar songs are slowed and those powerful words hit you harder because of it. There’s a unifying theme through much of the songs tonight too, there’s politics with the lightest touch and a concern over where we can, and can’t, go. These songs are about freedom, personal and political. Both Goose and Common and My Father Built Me A Pretty Tower are prefect. They are dark and simmer gently.

Appropriately NICK HART, the support act for the evening, delivers a gorgeous version of the Child ballad The Two Sisters about half way through his set. It's played slowly, pain and heartbreak etched in to it. It's one of five fabulous songs from the folk tradition that he plays. All are brilliant, all have the mark of a classic folk singer and all are well worth finding. If you have any interest in Sam Lee, Martin Simpson or Nic Jones, then add Nick Hart to your list too. Wonderful.

There was nothing wonky, nothing off-key about this evening. Two acts creating yet another perfect Downend Folk Club evening.

Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Julian Cox

It’s bound to be a very good Friday night’s entertainment as we round off our Spring Programme over the Easter Weekend with a visit from a duo launching their first album in five years!

THE ASKEW SISTERS have become known as two of the foremost performers and interpreters of English folk music. Their live performances brim with the depth and connection not only of two sisters, but also of two musicians who have been immersed in folk music all their lives.

Together, Emily and Hazel Askew rework and reinterpret songs and balladry, creating breath- taking arrangements, which allow words that are hundreds of years old resonate profoundly with contemporary audiences. Alongside this, both women are also skilled multi-instrumentalists and expert players of dance music, using fiddles, melodeons, concertina and cello in their innate drive to bring old dance music to life.

In 2014, their third album In the Air or the Earth was released to widespread critical acclaim. Since then, the two women have been busy working on a number of other innovative projects; Emily has been touring with her vibrant fiddle band Alma, as well as releasing her first solo album, while Hazel has been busy working with her groundbreaking trio Lady Maisery, as well as folk super groups Coven and Songs of Separation.

Stirred by these new musical experiences, the sisters now return to their duo with a fresh vision. They spent 2018 deep in rehearsal, reconstructing and re-exploring their sound, unearthing old songs, as well as composing and creating new music. The culmination of this will be their long awaited fourth studio album, Enclosure, which is released as part of this tour.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be NICK HART, a folk singer deeply rooted in the English tradition. Raised in a family of morris dancers, Nick played instrumental music for many years before discovering his passion for traditional song. Whilst studying for an ethnomusicology degree, he began to explore the large body of recordings of traditional singers from the second half of the 20th century, and this led to several years of fevered study and many nights spent at folk clubs and festivals, honing his skills as an unaccompanied singer. 2017 saw the release of his first solo album, Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs, and the follow-up is due for release soon.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 19th April 2019, are available from Melanie ’s Kitchen or online HERE. They are priced at £12 each in advance (£10 for members), or £14 on the door. There will be a full bar, stocking locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO., as well as  soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-made NAUGHTY BROWNIES. There will be a raffle with prizes including CDs, gift boxes of beer and sweet treats. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of our drive to be more environmentally aware.

Most of our club’s events sell out, so please do buy your tickets in advance.