Downend Folk Club’s Christmas Concert has become a fixture in the diaries of local music-lovers after a series of spectacular events... but this year’s has the potential to be the very best yet!

Both LADY MAISERY and JIMMY ALDRIDGE & SID GOLDSMITH have graced our various stages and played to packed houses in the past, but now they have teamed up for “Awake Arise - A Christmas Show For Our Times”, celebrating the riches of our varied winter traditions and reflecting upon the hope and resilience in music and song that can bring joy to us all in the darkest season.

Award winning trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Hazel Askew) have for nearly a decade produced “some of the most exquisite, thrilling vocal harmony work in the English folk scene" (The Guardian).

The beguiling musical partnership of Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith complete the powerful line- up, bringing the outstanding vocals, sensitive instrumentation and powerful social conscience that has won them widespread critical acclaim. "Rousing stuff" (The Observer).

And tickets for the event, at the newly-refurbished Christ Church Downend, are already flying out, with over 200 sold a month in advance of the event... so we thoroughly recommend booking in advance.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be DANNY PEDLER & ROSIE BUTLER-HALL, a folk duo with roots based in both English and French tradition. Danny plays hurdy-gurdy and accordion and Rosie plays five-string fiddle and sings. Their music is characterised by flowing melodies, intricate harmonies and strong rhythms while keeping the flavour of the traditional style.

The pair were finalists of the New Roots competition in 2012 and won the open mic competition at Shrewsbury Festival in 2013; since then they have played at folk clubs and festivals all over the country.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 21st December 2018, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online HERE. They are priced at £15 each in advance (£13 for members), or £17 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 the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware.

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It’s a dark and cold November night with whispers of winter in the air. We needed something to warm the cockles, and with a local ale and brownie at the ready, it was time to see if Downend Folk Club could step up to the challenge!

Many years ago I found myself at an impromptu party where a couple played guitar and sang songs together, holding the attention of a room effortlessly. MEGSON conjured up the same feeling for me tonight, albeit on a much grander scale! There is an authenticity that courses through their modern story telling, and it is utterly absorbing. They make the audience genuinely laugh aloud during some of their witty songs such as Generation Rent and The Barrington Judo Club. However, this is juxtaposed with points of delicate intimacy on songs like Patterns, a tale of the impact of redundancy and the death of the steel industry in the North East, and A Prayer For Hope.
 

The song writing and playing are superb, but it is the interplay of their voices which captures me the most tonight. The harmonies speak of a couple who musically inhabit the same space. Nowhere is this more apparent than on In A Box, a beautiful song about memory, what we value, and why. On this song the harmonies are present but also a wonderful interplay of vocal and counter vocal. I had been wanting to see Megson for a long time, and they entirely matched my expectations.

Tonight’s support comes from KIRSTY MERRYN. Again, Kirsty is an act I’ve wanted to catch live for a considerable time. She didn’t disappoint, weaving tales of famous women from history in The Fair Tea Maker Of Edgware Road and the haunting Forfarshire. She plays the piano with arresting ease accompanying the kind of singing that can take your breath away. Whether performing her arrangements of traditional tunes or self penned songs, there is a fluidity that is spell-binding and completely immersive. She is engaging and assured with the audience, and I look forward to seeing a longer set in the future.

With acts of Kirsty’s quality providing support and performances like Megson’s as headliners, Downend Folk Club clearly has the means to warm us during the colder months ahead. Bring on December!

Words: Mike Richards
Photo: Chris Dobson

The quality acts just keep on coming!

Four times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards, our November headliners MEGSON draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create a truly unique brand of folk music.

The husband and wife duo bring an infectious mix of heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars. Comprising Debs Hanna (vocals, whistle, piano accordion) and Stu Hanna (guitar, mandola, banjo), Megson have gained fame on the British folk scene, not only for their arresting & intelligent songwriting, but for their exquisite musicianship and northern humour. As fRoots Magazine puts it “if you don’t like the music here then you have a problem”.

Summer 2016 saw the release of their much anticipated new studio album Good Times Will Come Again, gaining them much critical acclaim. “One of the most original political folk sets of the year. Ewan MacColl would have been impressed,” said The Guardian. “Relevant, thought-provoking songs that would make Woody Guthrie proud,” said Acoustic Magazine; while folk broadcasting legend Mike Harding described it as “one of the top albums of the year!”.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be KIRSTY MERRYN, one of the most arresting and unconventional singer songwriters on the UK folk roots scene, with a style uniquely her own.

Kirsty launched her debut album She & I at London’s Union Chapel in November last year, whilst supporting folk superband Show of Hands on their 22-night Cathedrals tour. Beguiling and mercurial, Kirsty’s music consists of emphatic piano-based songs with sharply observed lyrics, packaged with panache in elegant, beautifully balanced settings and delivered in crystal clear, assured vocals. Her album tells some of the diverse stories of inspirational women in history, from Emma Hamilton to Annie Edson Taylor, and has received extensive air play including the Mike Harding Folk Show, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, the BBC 3 World Music show, as well as many regional BBC channels.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 16th November 2018, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN 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 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 the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware.

For further information, please find us on FACEBOOKTWITTER and INSTAGRAM, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..