We are delighted to announce our exciting programme for Spring 2022, with four amazing concerts, from January to April, featuring some of the very best folk, roots and acoustic artists. As always, we’re thrilled to be able to bring musicians of such quality to our little corner of South Gloucestershire/Bristol!
Kicking off the Spring Programme on Friday 21st January will be JIM CAUSLEY. More than simply a folk-singer, multi award winning singer-songwriter, musician and proud Devonian Jim is an all-round entertainer and during the past decade Causley has been nominated no less than six times for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award. Since the release of his debut album in 2005, Causley’s unique voice and persona have helped him become one of the most well-loved and respected figures of today’s contemporary roots and folk scene.
SUTHERING combines the musical talents of Julu Irvine and Heg Brignall, and they will launch their new album If We Turn Away at Downend Folk Club on Friday 18th February, wirer they will be joined on stage by Olivia Dunn (Phil Beer Band, Mad Dog Mcrea) and Sarah Rickets (The Nightjar). A couple in life and in music, Julu and Heg have taken the folk scene by storm with their unusual and fresh approach to folk. The pair champion female characters, creating new narratives for women and unearthing the female heroines of folk.
Headlining on Friday 18th March will be PETER KNIGHT & JOHN SPIERS. The pairing of violin and melodeon is not a new one, but in the hands of Knight and Spiers, improvisation and invention meet the listener at every turn. Together they have created a musical document that resonates with history, but also something to inspire future generations of musicians to engage with Britain’s folk dancing heritage, and the beautiful, mysterious tunes that can be found within that heritage.
Two of Scotland’s most revered multi-instrumentalists will round off the programme on Friday 22nd April MAIREARAD GREEN & ANNA MASSIE are a truly captivating duo, providing a highly energetic performance with an instantly warm and friendly stage presence. Having played alongside each other for over ten years, they revel in an intuitive approach to each other’s musical ideas and interpretations, and an “almost telepathic communication” on stage (Hi-Arts), effortlessly showcasing the fruits of duo partnership to the highest level, creating “music more than the sum of just two parts” (The Scotsman).
All four concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. We hope to be able to return to something like full capacity but we’re limiting the audience numbers to 100 for the initial release. Seating will be unreserved. All tickets are £14 in advance (£16 on the door) but you can also buy a season ticket for all four concerts for £50, saving £6 plus booking fees. All tickets are non-refundable. Tickets are available HERE. They will also be available from MELANIE’S KITCHEN in Downend ahead of each individual gig. Please note that they can only take cash payments.
It must be nearly Harvest Festival time, mustn't it? At Christ Church Downend, just next to the altar, is an offering of food. A collection of gifts. A cornucopia. A bounty. This evening, just in front of that altar, is SAM CARTER. Delivering gifts, laying out an overflowing cornucopia, bringing us his bounty of glorious songs and delicate melodies.
Just after the third song of the evening a voice, a throaty, possibly slightly drunken voice, shouts "Yes, mate!". It's a simple, heartfelt affirmation, a phrase that says all that you need to know about Sam Carter this evening. Unequivocally "yes". Yes to the songs. Yes to the guitar playing. Just..."yes".
The song that gave rise to that was She Brings Me Home. A massive slice of joy from Sam's new(ish) album Home Waters. He calls it "a good, old fashioned love song" and he’s not wrong. Just as delightfully happy is Our Kind of Harmony from How the City Sings. It's simply such a beautiful song about singing and love and togetherness. These are songs that bring an instant smile to your face, an extra tap to your toes. They are songs to fall in love to.
The songs are one thing but Sam is, almost certainly, the very best folk guitarist in the country. Silvery dewdrops cascade from his fret board, leaving even those that know one end of a capo from the other (or, indeed, where to put one) grinning behind their hands. Can you imagine being able to play like that? Even a little bit like that? It's astonishing. He often cites Nic Jones as an influence but even he wasn't as good as this, was he? Sam's version of Oh Dear, Rue the Day is certainly a match for Jones'.
So that cornucopia then? Amazing guitar playing, beautiful love songs and Sam Carter is not even half done. There's some politics too. From the Sweet Liberties project comes Dark Days. A proper Dickensian, street stalker of a song. Wearing a battered coat and a sinister leer, taking pot shots at these nasty political times it's joined by Fly the Flag. As anti-Br*xit a song as you're likely to hear, more devastated than outright furious. It goes without saying that the throaty cheering was back again. Beneath his mild mannered exterior a seriously annoyed, politically aware beast lurks.
Hold Back The Storm tackles the climate crisis with the heartbroken yearning of the deeply wounded while Dreams are Made of Money still sounds like a stone-cold classic of modern songwriting. In all honesty every single song feels special. As he says "every true story told turns lead into gold". Everything could be met with a lusty "yes".
Equally deserving of relentless positivity was a short opening set from FLO PARKER BOMBOSCH. Rumour has it that this was her first proper set ever, but you'd never know. She mixes superbly chosen covers (Jason Isbell, The Frames) with her own songs... Something That Scares Me is a particular highpoint... and there were times when it felt as though we'd slipped through some sort of 90s indie wormhole. Very welcome echoes of the brilliant Juliana Hatfield rather than straight-up folk but very fine for all of that. Her voice is goosebumps inducing, the songs clever and honest.
All in all an amazing evening of gifts and blessing. Oh "yes".
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Barry Savell
October’s headline guest will need no introduction, as a "brilliant guitarist and songwriter who combines the observational with social comment and personal reflection", according to Songlines magazine.
Midlands-born guitarist and songwriter SAM CARTER has earned a reputation for vivid, narrative- driven songwriting and captivating live performances. He is a highly-regarded instrumentalist, renowned by many as "the finest English-style fingerpicking guitarist of his generation" (Jon Boden). Over the past fifteen years, Sam has toured the world, won a BBC Folk Award and made appearances on national TV, including a spellbinding performance on Later... with Jools Holland. Sam has recorded and performed with some of folk’s leading lights, including Richard Thompson, Eliza Carthy, Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr.
When Sam envisioned his fourth album Home Waters as "a search for a sense of belonging and stability in unfamiliar territory”, he couldn't have known how prescient that would turn out to be. Recorded pre-pandemic in a converted church in rural Northumberland by producer and multi- instrumentalist Ian Stephenson (Kan, Baltic Crossing, Andy May Trio), Sam’s live acoustic guitar and vocals sit at the heart of the album. Many of his performances were left unadorned, while Stephenson’s cinematic string arrangements created the rich emotional landscapes on other tracks. Released during lockdown in May 2020, Home Waters brought solace to many and was heralded as "an album full of quiet pleasures by a musician at the top of his game" (R2 Magazine).
Sam will be joined on the bill by FLO PARKER BOMBOSCH, who will get the evening underway with a short set. Flo is a singer/songwriter, coming from punk rock college bands and folk harmony-focused duets, Flo now mainly plays her own brand of indie folk music, influenced by the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and The Frames.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 15th October 2021, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend or online HERE. They are priced at £15 each and must be purchased in advance. There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally- brewed real ale from Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of our drive to be more environmentally aware. There is now a 50p discount for those bringing their own receptacles. Please also note that seating at this event is unreserved.
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