Never before has the announcement of a returning act been met with such excitement by South Gloucestershire’s music-lovers as was the news that BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-nominated duo O'HOOLEY & TIDOW would be back at Downend Folk Club in March.
With a personal invite from Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, sessions on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2, five star reviews and a feature in The Guardian, the songwriting, voice and piano partnership of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow is regarded as “one of British folk music’s mightiest combinations” (MOJO).
Belinda and Heidi’s boundless songwriting has been described by The Guardian as “exceptional" and The Independent as “defiant, robust, northern, poetical, political folk music for the times we live in.” From an emotionally charged song about an elephant orphanage in Nairobi, to a joyous celebration of the Leeds cycling champion Beryl Burton, they explore, consider and connect subjects and stories in a distinctive, inventive and memorable way.
Having the originality and skill to invite comparison with the most celebrated harmony duos, from early Simon and Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle, 6 Music’s Tom Robinson says “they sing together in the way families do. Normally, you only get that closeness in the voices with family bands like The Coppers or The Watersons.”
Opening the evening’s entertainment will be another friend of the club, MIKE WEAVER. Mike is a singer-songwriter originally from Cheltenham but now living in Worcestershire. He is a writer and illustrator by day, and an acoustic performer by night, and has been compared to James Taylor, Jim Croce and Ralph McTell; thoughtful, lyric-based folk with a mellow hint of country.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 15th March 2019, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend 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 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 our drive to be more environmentally aware.
Most of our events sell out, and this one is selling particularly quickly, so please do buy your tickets in advance.
We are thrilled to reveal our rather excellent programme for Summer 2019.
We’ve got something for everyone on the third Friday of every month between May and July. We’ve ticked every box in the broad church that is the folk genre, from astute observational song-writing right through to traditional English folk songs and tunes.
Kicking off the programme on Friday 17th May, is THE DOVETAIL TRIO. Presenting England's traditional songs with a bold and fresh approach, the band explores familiar narratives with infectious energy and a passion for musical heritage. This collaboration effortlessly combines the distinctive voices and acclaimed instrumental talents of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominee Jamie Roberts, BBC Performing Arts Award winner Rosie Hood, and Newcastle Folk Degree alumnus Matt Quinn. They release their second album this May. The evening's entertainment will get underway with a set from fast-rising local four-piece ROAD NOT TAKEN.
Our June event, on Friday 21st, will be headlined by KITTY MACFARLANE, one of the most exciting singers to emerge on the scene in recent years. Kitty, who has twice performed the support slot at Downend Folk Club, is a songwriter and guitarist from Somerset, whose music is rich with visual imagery and written with an eco-eye. Her highly anticipated debut album Namer Of Clouds, released last September, gathers inspiration from the sky to the seabed. Opening for Kitty will be hotly-tipped Bath-based guitarist and singer LOUIS CAMPBELL.
Rounding off our Summer programme, on Friday 19th July, will be JACK RUTTER. Sheffield-based Jack first graced our stage in January 2017 as part of Moore, Moss, Rutter, but since then his solo career has really taken off and we're thrilled to welcome him back. Still in his mid-20s, Jack is a highly respected singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist making music within the British folk tradition. His debut solo album Hills, which is a collection of eleven traditional folk songs, has been received with across the board acclaim and recognition. Getting the evening underway will be up-and-coming Bristol-based singer-songwriter ELLIE GOWERS.
Each concert takes place at Frenchay Village Hall, starting at 8.00pm. Doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are on-sale now HERE. We're also offering the Season Ticket option again, which means you can buy tickets for all three gigs in one go and avoid those pesky booking fees. You can also get tickets from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend.
Great things come in threes. Worrell, Weekes and Walcott. Led Zeppelin 1, 2 and 3. ELP (alright, not ELP. They were rubbish). ALDEN, PATTERSON AND DASHWOOD. As mesmerising as West Indian cricketing gods; packed with as many great tunes as a run of classic albums; significantly better than a dodgy prog rock band. Armed with dobro, guitar and violin, the Norwich three-piece brought more than a hint of country to Downend Folk Club and proved that three is the magic number.
Playing in South Gloucestershire as part of a huge tour in support of their second album, By the Night, it's pretty clear that APD are a beautifully well oiled machine. Harmonies do what harmonies should; they blend and soar. Each of the three compliment the others. Classic country instruments fit together like they were born to. And, of course, they were. Noel Dashwood's dobro is especially wonderful, layering country goodness all over these songs. Raiding the folk tradition on either side of the Atlantic we are treated to the very best of America and the UK. Going Across The Mountain has its heart in Tennessee but the voices put it firmly on the English east coast. It's not the only one. Bonny Blue Eyes is a song of the sea, heading for the new world, looking back to the old country. With Christina Alden's voice to the fore it is fabulous.
Having that voice in your arsenal would be enough for most bands but these three have a bit more than that. Red Rocking Chair starts as a bluegrass-y a capella and ends with all three instruments tearing it up with Alex Patterson’s earthy fiddle leading the charge. All three take it in turns to show their musical might and all three have that simple, unshakable knowledge that they're brilliant. It's a highlight of the early part of their set.
The highlights come thick and fast though. The Time Song is inspired by The Time Traveller’s Wife and feels like a lazy afternoon in front of the fire with a good book. The Dyeing Room is a joyous instrumental and Waterbound is all a capella and bluegrass, three friends singing for the pure love of it around a beautiful old microphone. Three songs. Three styles. All find appreciative Downend ears.
It comes to something when a band cover a song that you love and you don’t miss the original singers. It’s even better when those original singers are Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch but when APD unplug for an acoustic I'll Fly Away that's precisely what happens. Faithful to the O Brother Where Art Thou version that we all know, it was the perfect summation of everything that this band does. Glorious, simple, joyful.
They even slipped in a little bit of politics in the anti-Brexit Sail Away. It's hard to argue with the sentiment that "we didn't ask for this but did nothing to stop it happening". There weren't too many dissenting voices as they left the stage. Just wild applause.
To start the evening Gloucester country-ish singer MOLLY-ANNE floated across five lovely, self-penned songs. Wearing a proper country hat, strumming an acoustic and blowing a mean harmonica she was one hell of an opening act. On both Long Road Home and Talkin' 'Bout Somethin' Molly found some Country grit, a great tune and an enthusiastic audience.
Another fantastic Downend Folk Club night effortlessly proving the power of three. No more, no less.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Alan Cole
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