It took LUKE JACKSON quite a long time, and a lot of sweat and determination, to get here.
Standing in front of a socially-distanced, sold out audience at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND last weekend, he exudes confidence, stage-presence and genuine talent. And that voice. What a voice. He’s come a long way since we first met him over five years ago, back in March 2014 when he first played a headline show at Downend Folk Club. Already an engaging and impressive performer at that young age, Luke has taken in every step of the journey that has brought him to be the performer that now stands before us. Every gig that his dad drove him to, every note he played and every word he sang, have been part of the journey that have brought him to this point.
It took Luke Jackson quite a long time, and a lot of sweat and determination, to get here.
Because, although Luke set off for Bristol nice and early, the journey wasn’t kind to him. First, his car broke down and he had to wait for the RAC on the side of the motorway for an hour. Then, he got caught in the traffic caused by and M4 lorry-fire, in the sweltering heat, in a car without air-conditioning. And, to top it all off, he went to the wrong venue and had an extra five minutes to contend with when he thought he’d made it.
But both those journeys were utterly, completely worth it, as far as the gathered music lovers were concerned.
Kicking off with Nothing But Time and following it up with Home before even speaking a word to the audience, they’re grabbed from the start. Luke’s blues-y, roots-y style and clever song-writing drawing them in immediately.
Highlights include Honeycomb, which really showcases that voice, Eliza Holt and Richard Thompson’s Vincent Black Lightening, which Luke admits he thought he wouldn’t be able to master. Master it he has, though, and as his fingers flash along his fretboard, we know we’re in the presence of a consummate performer.
A tribute to John Prine, Angel From Montgomery, brings satisfied oohs and ahs from the audience, and, frankly, no-one wants the evening to end; least of all, one suspects, Luke himself. His encore, appropriately entitled The Road, brings the audience to rapturous applause.
"It was worth every miserable minute in that bloody car," he beams. “If you’ve had half as much fun as I’ve had, I still reckon that makes for a pretty alright night.” Well, Luke, it was considerably more than half as good, and considerably more than alright. It was special. Thanks for taking the journey. And for taking the journey.
Words: Bea Furlong
Photo: Barry Savell
NEXT AT DOWNEND FOLK CLUB: LUKE JACKSON IN CONCERT
We continue our concert series this month as we welcome back a firm favourite in LUKE JACKSON. The concert will be held at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND, on the third Friday of the month (16th July) and it’s already sold out, given the COVID-secure capacity of 60 at the church. But if you're too late, you haven't missed out altogether... scroll down!
Luke is an un-pigeonholeable (is that a word?) singer-songwriter who has travelled a fair few thousand miles around the British Isles, initially with his dad Paul into pubs and bars, well run house concerts and more recently into folk & blues clubs, venues and festivals. Luke’s songwriting draws on his experiences, family life, poignant stories he’s been told and fortunately, they’e all written in English as in his own words, he’s dreadful at languages.
An accomplished performer who impresses from the outset and takes his audience on a shared journey with a full bus down the bye-ways of love, hope, sorrow, and melancholy via the service stations of folk, roots, blues, Americana and soul. Luke regularly tours Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and all points of the UK as well as showcasing at the International Folk Alliance conference in Kansas, a residential songwriting train journey from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Montreal, Ontario in Canada.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at Christ Church Downend on Friday 16th July 2021, are available from downendfolkclub.co.uk. They are priced at £15 each and must be purchased in advance. At this stage, capacity is strictly limited to 60. There will be no bar or raffle, but ticket-holders are invited to bring their own refreshments.
NEXT AT DOWNEND FOLK CLUB ONLINE: AN HOUR OR SO WITH LUKE JACKSON
CANCELLED - SORRY
*** Sadly, due to Luke's travel problems on Friday evening, we will not be able to bring you the planned "hour or so" online session this Sunday evening. We're really sorry. ***
As part of our online plan moving forward, Chairman Ant Miles will also be sitting down for a bag of chips with Luke when he visits for the concert, as we continue with our hugely successful "an hour or so" online series, which ran throughout all three lockdowns... but in a slightly different way. Audience questions are invited but they must be submitted in advance. The best will be selected and put to Luke.
The resulting chat and tunes will then be streamed on Sunday 18th July 2021, at 8.00pm on the simultaneously on the our FACEBOOK page and YOUTUBE channel. Do make sure that you've liked/followed/suscribed! The show will be available to view for a week afterwards so don't worry if you can't make it on the night. As always, this “an hour or so” event will be free to attend, but there will be an online tip-jar, which you can contribute to below. It's still a tough time for musicians, so if you can't make the actual in-venue concert, please give generously if you can.
Way back when, around the only time when football actually did come home, New York was awash with folk singers. In 1966 Greenwich Village coffee shops strummed with politics, hippy ideals and tales from real folks. Fred Neil, Karen Dalton and Tim Hardin were writing classics, plotting to (gently) take over the world.
ELLIE GOWERS would have fitted right in.
Tonight it seems unlikely that football will have any sort of homecoming (out there somewhere a tense 0-0 draw with Scotland is being played out) but, after just a few tunes, Ellie leaves this socially distanced audience in little doubt that gloriously talented singer song writers are on their way back, if they ever went away. Admittedly, a church in Downend is hardly a meeting place for the counterculture - no revolution is going to start here - but that's not really the point.
To kick off with an unaccompanied version of Mimi and Richard Farina's The Falcon could be considered a brave move yet Ellie tackles it with aplomb. She sets her stall out and there's no going back. A little later she delivers a perfect rendition of the Anne Briggs classic The Snow it Melts the Soonest and every one of us are quite clear that this is someone that knows their way around a song. Her voice is clear and sweet, high and lovely.
In truth that voice is sort of a game of two halves. Unlike an England performance, however, both halves are brilliant. On Nest and In the Past she is every inch the modern female folk singer; sensitive and heartfelt. Every now and then, though, a different side pokes through. On Against the Tide that sweet voice is pushed to cracking. There's blues lurking and a hint of jazz, something that teeters on the edge. A folk restraint just hauls it back but there, tantalisingly, just for a minute, was an extraordinary thing. It's so thrilling when it happens.
Helping her to keep things tight are two fantastic musicians. Alex Garden adds beautiful violin, understated and nothing flash but adding a waltz-y flavour to the Fairground Attraction tinged For A While. Lukas Drinkwater, on the other hand, is a superstar bassist. Fluid, bubbly textures just cascade from his double bass. On Eva, from the recent Parting Breath EP, he almost swings, adding yet another dimension to this impressive display.
It's deep into the final moments of her thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes that Ellie pulls off a remarkable hat trick though. Richer was written for The Folk Effect project in 24 hours and is simply stunning; contemporary songwriting at its best. The title track from the Parting Breath EP follows that and just feels special - it starts unaccompanied, the trio slide slowly in to place and it blossoms in to the best tune of the evening. Finally Where my Heart Belongs is beautiful. It's a song of place, of returning, of falling back in love.
Out in the real world, football proved to be disappointing and slightly forgettable. In the world that Ellie Gowers creates, nothing could be further from the truth.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Barry Savell
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