I am a recent convert to the tradition of live folk music and am still learning who people are and what I like - and don’t. From the moment I discovered Downend Folk Club I have enjoyed the variety of musicians, instruments and sounds. There is always something different to discover and no two evenings are ever the same. The welcome and sense of communal appreciation is warm and enduring – and the bar is always open.

This month we were treated to a blend of a solo artist, Mike Weaver who opened the evening, and a duo, ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER, for our main act. Neither disappointed and it was a blend of reflection, fun and challenge – I have come to expect nothing less! For me, feeling that I connected with the person behind the performance is a must to getting the most from the evening – just knowing that they are well known and supposedly fab musicians doesn’t do it unless there is a connection.

Returning for a second appearance at the club, MIKE WEAVER hails from Worcestershire and opened the evening with a blend of personal and traditional songs in his relaxed and informal style. Telling stories and reflecting on times gone by and people no longer with us, Mike demonstrated his heart and soul in his ‘Pembrokeshire Fair’, he echoed spirituality in his ‘From Here to Africa’ and brought this all together in ‘Gather I Must’ to close a set which exuded beautiful harmonies, clear storytelling and a passion for people.

Photo: Chris Dobson

Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater are both accomplished and respected musicians in their own right and have come together to tour their new album, ‘Findings’. They were joined for the evening by Archie Churchill-Moss.  ‘‘Findings’ are the parts used to join jewellery components together to create something beautiful; this new album is about bringing together two musicians to create something even greater than the sum of their parts. The duo’s material contains their own findings in the form of traditional songs that they’ve rearranged as well as lines from traditional material interwoven into their own songs.

We were treated to an evening of excellent musicianship, a wealth of instruments and talent and an insight into something of the people whom they are behind the instruments and the songs – all in all a beautiful blend to connect with, reflect on and enjoy fine storytelling and human warmth. The duo tackled the issues of the day: child refugees washed up on Greek beaches, children living out daily life as carers – ‘The Invisible Children’ and reflections on being a parent in this modern world, as well as the obligatory folkie ballards with a new take where people die and all is doomed! I particularly appreciated the rapport and ease between Ange and Lukas and the way in which this extended to the whole room throughout the evening. All in all a great night out that will linger long in the memory.

- Shelley Peterson