In May last year, Downend Folk Club featured a fast-rising duo as their support act… and they were so popular that the regulars DEMANDED to hear more!

So, back by popular demand, the club’s headline guests this month will be JIMMY ALDRIDGE AND SID GOLDSMITH.

Jimmy and Sid play traditional and original folksong of the British Isles. They tell stories of hardship, joy, struggle and celebration held together with driving banjo and guitar arrangements and close vocal harmonies.

They have both been heavily influenced by the songs and singers of East Anglia, where they both grew up, but their music also reflects the diversity of voices within the folk and acoustic world. They weave traditional English folksong with Irish, Scottish and American tunes, and their own compositions draw on many different styles.

“A cracking album, full of really terrific songs” – Mike Harding

The songs on their new album have been picked up from sessions, singarounds, gigs, recordings and learned from friends. The stories are varied but there is a common thread of political struggle and resistance, and the decline of the industries that were the backbone of England for many generations.

Opening the evening will be KITTY MACFARLANE, a 22-year old Somerset-based singer and songwriter. Her lyrics combine honest snapshots of everyday humanity with the bigger questions that have connected minds and voices for centuries, driven by her own fingerpicked guitar.

Kitty’s debut EP, ‘Tide and Time’, was released in March to critical acclaim… so it really is two great acts for the price of one!

The concert will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 20th May. 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.

Tickets are priced at £11 each, but if you buy before Friday 13th May, you can get them for the ‘early-bird” price of just £9 each. Tickets are available from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend, Bristol Ticket Shop or online here. Members tickets are a bargain £8 each (before Friday 13th May) and are available from the Members Area of this website or direct from Ant Miles.



What a night! I woke up Saturday morning and remembered, just before he took to the stage to welcome the excited audience at Christ Church, Ant had asked me to write a short review of the evening. I jotted down some notes… now where did I put them? Ah yes, on the back of my Summer Programme flyer. What does it say? “Inflatable Unicorn Horn”. “Musical Flowers”,  “Bottle of Botanist”, “T Shirts in March (with thigh slaps a la Motown)”, “Highland line dried washing” etc.

What? Had I drank more of the wonderful and literally, ‘Bees Knees’ brew from GWB than I had thought? Or had I inadvertently picked up Cliff's and Gaynor’s shopping list by mistake?

OK I'll come clean: for me, MAIREARAD & ANNA's performance was superb; so great was the experience that I soon forgot about writing notes and just let the beautiful music wash over me.

I was not alone… so many people after were saying the same: “wonderful musicians”, “great atmosphere”, “the music just brings a smile to your face”, “loved the stories between the tunes and songs”, “Lovely personalities”. Roger said “I just loved soaking up the whole buzz of the evening” (and he was not referring to the PA!).

Photo: Brian Smith

The evening got off to great start with a couple of old friends of the club, STEFFAN LEWIS & RACHEL FOSTER, from Yate and Totterdown respectively. I love the music they make. Beautiful harmonies, great guitar work and unique material. Their songs are delivered in an Americana/country style but the subject matter is much closer to home. The Battle of Lansdown, Chipping Sodbury's Mop Fair and my favourite Stover Road, in the country tradition of a trucking song but set on the Stover Road Trading Estate. Steffan and Rachel have an infectious enthusiasm combined with great musicality, we look forward to seeing them again.

Then to the main act of the evening, Mairearad Green and Anna Massie. Mairearad played accordion and for one, (all too short) tune to open the second half, highland bagpipes. Anna played, guitar fiddle, tenor banjo. And wow can they play! I bought Anna's CD 'Glad Company' when it first came out in 2003 and have followed and loved her and Mairearad's music since that time. I have to say Friday’s gig only served to heighten my enthusiasm for their music.

I can't list all of the music they played, for the above stated reason, but as far as I remember from my sketchy notes, they played; five reels, at least three jigs, at least one polka, two hornpipes and a couple of waltzes as well as six songs, several of which we joined in with the chorus and on one occasion Motown-esque thigh slapping.

But if, as most did, you bought the CDs you will not need me to tell you what they played. At the beginning of the evening I was looking at the merchandise desk and seeing the mountain of CDs they had brought, and I have to confess I thought “that’s a bit optimistic”. But Mairearad and Anna know the power of their music better than I do, and at the end of the evening they were at the desk selling and signing CDs like hot cakes! I jumped in and grabbed mine, thrust my tenner into Mairearad's hand and received a smile that was worth every penny... so much so that I couldn't resist buying another one! I now possess that rarity, an unsigned Mairearad and Anna CD.

Do you know what was refreshing? I never once, all evening, heard the words 'I'm sorry this is yet another depressing sad ballad'. Not that the evening did not contain pathos and its reflective moments, in, for instance, the Dougie MacLean song, 'She Loves Me When I Try', or Nanci Griffith's song 'Always Will'. 

Ok, for me it was probably the best Downend Folk Club evening, but maybe I'm biased; I’m a jigs and reels junky. But more like this please… I know I'm not the only one!

- Steve Johnson, DFC Committee Member

P.S What about the inflatable unicorn horn? Well, you had to be there... but you could become a member, then you will be able to see the photo on the members page!

Two of Scotland’s finest musicians are the guests as Downend Folk Club continue to bring the cream of the UK folk scene to the area.

MAIREARAD & ANNA will headline the club’s April event on Friday 15th April 2016 at Christ Church, right in the heart of Downend itself. They will bring a new twist to what the club offers as the first visitors from a vibrant traditional music scene in Scotland, and are sure to delight audiences old and new. Mixing an eclectic repertoire with exemplary stage presence, this duo really is one to savour.

Both Mairearad Green and Anna Massie have been at the forefront of Scottish music for a number of years. Mairearad was awarded Composer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2009, and Anna’s success goes back beyond her win at the BBC Radio Scotland Young Musician of the Year in 2003. She was a nominee for the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2005; and a Nominee for Best Instrumentalist, Scots Trad Music Awards 2005, 2008, 2010. They both play with a number of other line ups, including The Poozies, Blazin’ Fiddles, Bella Hardy, and Box Club.

Sharing similar musical backgrounds in the Scottish Highlands, both Mairearad and Anna are proud to show off their musical and cultural roots, taking their music to heights such as five stars in The Scotsman and high praise from KT Tunstall, becoming a much-loved live act.

“…the camaraderie and sheer fun of musical collaboration is plainly evident and infectious.” – Songlines Magazine

The duo weave Mairearad’s accordion and bagpipes with Anna’s guitar, banjo and fiddle to create a unique and impassioned sound, pouring their energy and knowledge of the tunes to distill new and old versions together to bring you into the history and delivery of their music. Different combinations of instruments bring sparkling results to their sets.

They are responsible for three albums – 2009’s eponymous debut, ‘Doubling’ in 2013 and ‘Best Day’, released late last year. All of the albums were recorded in different ways, showing off the duo’s ambition and ability.

“An exuberant, beautifully recorded album…crisp, clean and crystalline.” - fRoots

Support on the night will come from local duo STEFFAN LEWIS & RACHEL FOSTER, who will open the evening with a selection of original folk and country influenced music.  Both veterans of many different bands, they’ve been playing together since 2014. Listen out for Steffan's songwriting and distinctive guitar style, combined with Rachel's natural vocals and harmonies.

The event will be held at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 15th April 2016. Doors open at 7.30pm and there will be a full bar serving GWB real ale, cider, wine and a range of soft drinks, for which we encourage you to bring your own glass.

Tickets are £13 each, but you can get them for just £11 if you grab them before Friday 8th April (a week before the event). They are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN, BRISTOL TICKET SHOP or online HERE. Members' tickets are just £10 each (again, until Friday 8th April) and can be bought from the Members Only section of the website or direct from Ant Miles on 07837 881941 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..