Another award-winning songstress is our headline guest for February as we welcome the fabulous MAZ O'CONNOR.

Fresh from winning "Female Vocalist of the Year" at the Fatea Magazine Awards, and a nomination for the Horizon Award for best emerging artist at this year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in April, Maz will be with us at Christ Church Downend on Friday 20th February.

Maz, who has been singing on the UK folk scene since she was 13 years old, is a gifted singer of traditional and self-penned songs. In 2013 she was nominated for the BBC Folk Awards Horizon Award and selected for a creative fellowship with the English Folk Dance and Song Society at London’s Cecil Sharp House, funded by the BBC Performing Arts Fund. She sings both traditional folk songs and her own compositions, and accompanies her uniquely pure voice with guitar, shruti box, piano and harmonium.

But it was while at Cambridge reading English that she fell in love with the folk songwriters of the 1960s; Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Neil Young. These influences, along with her literary leanings, make for a varied and intriguing body of work. She effortlessly blends traditional material such as the Child Ballad ‘The Grey Selkie’ with thoughtful, original songs like ‘Derby Day’ (which commemorates the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison) and ‘The Mississippi Woman’ (a feminist rewrite of the Adam-and-Eve story), which she was commissioned to write by Broadstairs Folk Festival.

Maz released her first album, ‘Upon a Stranger Shore’ in July 2012, just after leaving university, and 2013 was an even busier year: alongside her BBC fellowship, and singing Laura Marling’s music in the RSC’s ‘As You Like It’, she found time to team up with Downend Folk Club’s patron Jim Moray to record ‘This Willowed Light’, her extraordinary second album. Together they crafted this beautiful record which unites Maz’s contemporary sound with her love of traditional folk song. When ‘Derby Day’ was recently ‘Song of the Day’ on Folk Radio UK, Jim said of the album: “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever worked on”.

What higher recommendation is there than that?


Opening the evening will be Gloucestershire duo THE BLACK FEATHERS. The perfectly paired voices of Sian Chandler and Ray Hughes intertwine effortlessly to create a genre defying sound, combining elements of folk, roots, americana, and southern rock. The duo have been touring all over the UK for the past 2 years, winning over new fans of all ages everywhere they go.

For ticket information, please see the "Gigs & Tickets" section. Doors open at Christ Church Downend at 7.30pm and there will be a bar serving Great Western Brewing Co. real ales, Severn Cider and a range of wine, soft drinks and teas and coffees, as well as raffle during the interval.

Our next event is a special one-off fundraiser for Dorothy House Hospice Care.

Pecussionist JO MAY will be joining us on Friday 6th February to run two spoons-playing workshops. Jo is in the area as part of her "SPOON FOR DOTTY" tour, which sees her visit a different place every day during February in a bid to raise much-needed funding for the hospice, which is near Bath.

Jo is an experienced percussion teacher and workshop leader. She has spent many years working as a peripatetic music teacher in schools; running African Drumming Workshops; and previously running a range of exciting rhythm-based workshops with her group, Tapatak. Jo currently runs Spoons Workshops for all ages, in schools, and for parties, festivals and other events. She teaches a variety of techniques and rhythms on an assortment of spoons, often accompanied by fiddler, Linda Game, or guitarist, Matt Sullivan. She recently played percussion on Ange Hardy's award-winning album, "The Lament of the Black Sheep". You can find out more about Jo by visiting her website here.

The first of the two workshops will be held at Baguette Me Not, in Downend, between 2.00pm-3.30pm, while the second will be at the Winter Stream Farm pub, near Hambrook, between 5.30pm-7.00pm. Admission to both events is free, with donations taken... please give as much or as little as you like. You can find out more about the crucial work of Dorothy House on their website here.

We are extremely grateful to both venues for hosting these workshops for free... do buy a cup of coffee from Baguette Me Not or a pint at the Winter Stream Farm (they have GWB beer!) while you're there.

Photos from December's visit of KELLY OLIVER and support act THE PORTRAITS are now available to view online.

These photos were mostly taken by the very talented Julian Cox. You can view them by clicking here or on the Photos tab on the menu bar. Please note that this will take you to an external website run by Alan Cole, where our photos are hosted.