It's still an "interesting" time, isn't it? We recognise that buying tickets in advance is a real step of faith at the moment... "what if I test positive on the morning of the concert?" is never far from anyone's minds when they're parting with their hard-earned cash. And yet, advance sales are the MOST IMPORTANT thing for small venues like Downend Folk Club.

 

So we've decided to do what we can to make it a bit more comfortable for you, and add a little bit of flexibility to our "no refunds" rule for the short-term. If you have tickets for an event and are not able to use them because you test positive for Covid-19, you will be able to transfer those tickets to any future concert at Downend Folk Club. You can keep these in reserve for as long as you need to, so you can wait until there's something else that tickles your fancy.

 

We hope that this will give you a bit more confidence to buy in advance... starting with this month's concert, as we welcome Mairearad and Anna on Friday 22nd April.

 

More info HERE.

We welcome to two of Scotland’s most revered multi-instrumentalists this month as MAIREARAD GREEN & ANNA MASSIE return to the club for a long-awaited second time, after first captivating the audience way back in 2016. 

Having played alongside each other for over ten years, the pair 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).

Mairearad and Anna both grew up in the Scottish Highlands amidst very similar musical backgrounds (most notably, mandolin playing Dads!), and so share an innate understanding of Scottish culture and music. As a duo they have enjoyed many successes, including five stars in The Scotsman and high praise from KT Tunstall, becoming a much-loved live act.

The duo’s fourth album, called Farran which is the Scots word for the starboard side of a boat, is to represent exactly how this virtuosic duo perform live.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be CHRIS ELLIOTT & CAITLIN JONES. Described by Bright Young Folk as "experienced storytellers" who bring "timeless quality" to their music, Chris and Cait have been playing music together since they met in 2014. They have recently released their debut album, Carry Me Home. Both proudly from Staffordshire, they bring a mix of traditional and self-penned ballads about place, identity, old and new. 

Driving guitar and bouzouki accompany haunting whistles and harmonium along with intricate and warm vocal harmonies.  Expect to hear songs written for and collected from all around the Midlands and beyond, accompanied by the heartfelt human stories that inspired them. With their charming storytelling and warm Midlands humour, the pair love to take audiences to "an area of diverse landscapes, history and traditions, a patchwork of Staffordshire and beyond".

Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 22nd April 2022, are available online HERE and from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend (cash only). They are priced at £14 each in advance or £16 on the door.

There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based HOP UNION BREWERY (formerly GWB). Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There is a 50p discount for those bringing their own receptacles. There will also be sweet treats available at the bar courtesy of THE GREAT CAKE COMPANY (run by our former sound engineer Chris Webster and his partner), as well as the 'stealth raffle' which helps to fund the support artists.

Please support live music and buy your tickets in advance. It really makes a difference, especially in these times as we try to restart the live grass roots music scene.

“We’re an instrumental band,” explains the man holding a trumpet (yes, a TRUMPET!). “We don’t sing, we don’t use words; we use music to paint pictures”.

THREE CANE WHALE weren’t even supposed to be here tonight. We were supposed to be listening to Peter Knight & John Spiers, but nasty covid got its tentacles into that plan, and Downend Folk Club heroically found a replacement with just a day or two’s notice. Of course, we wish John a rapid recovery and hope we’ll see them at Downend in the future.

But the last-minute replacements did not disappoint... far, far from it. This trio of men in flower-patterned shirts sit on their chairs, surrounded by a dazzling array of instruments both familiar and considerably less so. There’s the aforementioned trumpet, a guitar (albeit a right-handed one being played upside down by the left-handed player) and a mandolin. That’s fine, we know what they are. Indian harmoniums are pretty familiar to the regulars here too, but it’s probably the first time we’ve seen a flugelhorn, a bowed psaltery, a zither and a mandocello. And the first time I’ve seen a glockenspiel since school, I think.

As soon as this trio launch into their first number, Brazen Head, it’s clear they’re a little bit different to most of the artists featured at the club since its inception back in 2014. We’ve got used to the trad numbers, the fiddle and guitar duos, the singer-songwriters and a sprinkling of blues and bluegrass. This doesn’t fit into any of those boxes. In fact, it doesn’t really fit into any conventional genre box at all… and it’s all the better for it.

This is hypnotic, it’s beautiful, it’s fascinating and no words are needed. Pete Judge (mostly trumpet but sometimes flugelhorn, glockenspiel and harmonium) sits in the centre of the three and most often, but not always, carries the melody. On one side of him sits Alex Vann (mostly mandolin but sometimes mandocello and, most interestingly zither and bowed psaltery), and on the other side sits Paul Bradley (always the upside down left-handed acoustic guitar, but making it sound like an orchestra all on its own).

The three parts weave around one another and intertwine, creating sounds that are unique and fascinating. And they really do paint a picture. Pete introduces set of tunes and tells the transfixed audience what inspired it, very often being landscapes, but even those words are hardly needed. The highlight comes in the second half as a set of tunes from their latest album 303 takes us on a journey around Cadbury Castle in South Somerset. Pete describes how the tunes take us off the A303 and down dark lanes and by the landmark itself… but close your eyes and you’re there anyway, meandering along. There are no words that can describe just how enchanting the music of Three Cane Whale is.

Before all this, there’s a set of huge promise from EVE APPLETON, who’s brought her fellow third-year songwriting student Ben Parfitt with her. Together, the pair treat us to a five-song set that showcase their talents, and Eve’s voice in particular… there are shades of Suzanne Vega at times, and that is some compliment indeed. The Railroad Blues is a particular highlight. Written by Eve, it’s the tale of someone travelling the vast land to be with their love, but facing difficulties along the way: alcoholism and hard weather to name a couple. Whether Eve and Ben continue as a duo or forge their own paths as solo artists, you can be sure that there’s plenty more to come from both of them. 

But it’s to Three Cane Whale that this evening belongs, and the rapturous applause and demands for an encore show just what a hit they’ve been with the Downend faithful. A departure from what we’re used to? Yes, perhaps, but hopefully this is a sign of things to come as there just aren’t the words to describe this wonderful evening. More please.

Words: Bea Furlong
Photo: Barry Savell