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

We welcome back some familiar faces for our October event.

ANGE HARDY & LUKAS DRINKWATER have both graced the stage at Frenchay Village Hall before, but not together! Ange was one of the club’s very first guests back in June 2014 when she performed solo, while Lukas was at the club at the beginning of the year, as part of his other duo with Tobias ben Jacob.

But this time, fresh from a live set on the BBC RADIO 2 FOLK SHOW, they’re back as a pair, as they tour their brand-new album ‘Findings’.

Since she burst onto the scene in 2013 Ange Hardy has racked up an impressive array of awards including a nomination at last year's BBC Ra­­dio 2 Folk Awards and winning three consecutive FATEA awards: Female Vocalist of the Year (2013), Album of the Year (2014) and The Tradition Award (2015).

The duo perform live with a staggering array of ever-changing instruments and equipment: a 27-string harp, 4 different guitars, a double bass, an array of traditional whistles, an Indian shruti box, two loop pedals, a stomp box and anything else they've decided to bring with them to keep their sound engineer on his toes. It’s Ange’s innovative and spellbinding use of loop pedals to build layers of vocal harmony live from the stage that have gained her the most attention as a live performer - the dexterity of timing and skill required to harmonise with herself is almost as impressive as her ability to seemingly never perform the same set list twice.

‘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.

Lukas Drinkwater has previously been seen performing in a duo with regular BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominated Jim Causley, as one half of Jacob and Drinkwater, with European festival favourites Tankus the Henge and 3 Daft Monkeys, playing Jazz percussion for Lisa Marini, performing with The Little Unsaid and recording countless sessions with esteemed funk & soul producer Lack of Afro. Lauren Laverne recently called him “the hardest working musician of Glastonbury Festival” on BBC Radio 6.

Folk broadcaster Mike Harding referred to Ange as “one of the most interesting, powerful and talented singers and songwriters to come out of recent years” and this new tour with Lukas Drinkwater seems certain to cement their position as two of this generation's greatest performers. There are songs and music here that span generations – so come along and see them live!

The evening’s entertainment will be kicked off by another long-time friend of the club.

MIKE WEAVER last performed back in October 2014, when he opened for the Jennifer Crook Trio, and we are thrilled to welcome back the Worcestershire-based singer-songwriter, whose latest album ‘The Others’ was released late last year to great reviews.

The concert will be held on Friday 21st October at Frenchay Village Hall. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start, and there will be a full bar, serving Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO. real ales, SEVERN CIDER, a selection of wines, soft drinks and tea and coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/tankard/mug as part of our drive to cut down on waste. There will also be a raffle featuring some great prizes including CDs, beer and more.

Tickets are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend, BRISTOL TICKET SHOP and online here. They are priced at £14 each, but if you buy before Friday 14th October they’ll cost you just £12 as part of the ‘Early Bird’ scheme. Members tickets are a bargain £10 each and are available direct from Ant Miles or from the Members Only area of this website.

You can find the event on our Facebook page HERE... why not click and tell the world you're coming?

 

There are no words to describe just how beautiful this evening was. No words that express the perfect, harmonious relationship between musicians. No words that could possibly tell you why LEVERET are one of the “must see” folk acts of 2016. Fitting really, as this instrumental trio don’t really need words at all.

Sam Sweeney, Andy Cutting and Rob Harbron are three of the finest traditional folk musicians around. You might have seen Sweeney leaping from speaker stacks, pogo-ing madly and attacking his violin with Bellowhead. Cutting and Harbron play melodeon and concertina, respectively, and have played with some of the finest musicians out there, including Nancy Kerr, Fay Hield and Jon Boden. All three are incredible. They weave the old and the new together; new tunes (so new that they don’t have names) are paired with traditional English tunes hundreds of years old.  And you barely notice the join.

Photo: Julian Cox

At the beginning of the set Cutting wryly says “this is dance music, just so you know” and it is, but it’s dance music played for love, not for hedonism. There are no pounding beats or furious crescendos, nothing of the huge Bellowhead-style chorus to bring us all to our feet. Yet there are so many moments where you become swept up in the whole, where all you want to do is waltz around this perfect church. This is music that is transcendent, ascendant and utterly joyous. You only need look at the faces of the three musicians to know how much enjoyment goes in to this. Sweeney throws his head back repeatedly, seemingly desperate to jump from his chair.  Incredibly the three of them hardly ever look at each other. This intricate, intimate music is played with complete intuition by people who know precisely what they are doing.

Over the course of their two short sets we are treated to tunes from both of their albums, ‘New Anything’ and ‘In The Round’, but song titles become almost irrelevant.  As the light slips from the evening Leveret create layer after layer of gently warming genius. Hornpipes, jigs, waltzes and morris dances fuse together in to something approaching a classical repertoire. A delicate blanket of pastoral loveliness, English roses intertwined with wild flowers, spreading out through the nave. If, however, you need one tune to seek out go and listen to Cutting’s self-written ‘Milford’. It’s just delightful.

Providing support for the evening were THE HUT PEOPLE. Another band entirely dispensing with words, an accordion and percussion duo set us up wonderfully for the main event. Accordionist Sam Pirt describes them as being “like Easy Jet but with better leg room” and, as their tunes whizz around the world from Sweden to Quebec, Sussex to Louisiana, you understand why. After half an hour of feel good dance tunes they left with the sort of applause that support bands don’t usually get ringing in their ears.

The whole evening left us speechless. There are simply no words.

- Gavin McNamara