Our 2017 programme kicks off with a visit from one of the hottest properties on the thriving UK folk scene, as we continue our commitment to showcasing the best emerging talent around.

MOORE MOSS RUTTER are a trio of musicians who are reworking traditional native English tunes and songs into something far more contemporary. They aim to breathe life back into ancient material through complex arrangement, virtuosic musicianship, powerful aesthetic and an ear for detail. Their tools - violin, melodeon, guitar and voice - may be simple enough, but they allow MMR to take the audience on a journey through utmost subtlety, rustic artisanal beauty, and tempestuous climax.

Their second record, simply dubbed 'II', shows proof of their six-year development both as a band and individual musicians. Tom, Archie and Jack have travelled the length and breadth of the UK (and further afield) performing together and honing their craft, but have been involved in a range of important musical projects as individuals, too. These have included EFDSS commissions, Royal Festival Hall performances, and European tours.

Tom Moore has been playing violin since the age of 4, and learnt using the Suzuki Method, an alternative educational philosophy which primarily focuses on teaching the instrument by ear. He is now studying Music at Goldsmiths, University of London. In addition to Moore Moss Rutter, Tom also performs with violinist/viola d’amore player John Dipper and duet concertina player Nick Hart in Oss; and has done deputy and session playing for a range of prominent artists including Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Alex Heffes for BBC films, Robert Mitchell, Bellowhead, Antonio Forcione. He is also part of new folk-rock band, False Lights featuring Jim Moray and Sam Carter.

Archie Churchill-Moss is one of England’s top melodeon players. Having been tutored by Andy Cutting, Rob Harbron, Saul Rose and many others, he is well positioned to carry the baton of virtuosic diatonic accordion tradition. Archie also performs with Breton/Folk/Rock outfit, Dragonsfly.

Jack Rutter is a respected guitarist and multi-instrumentalist working within the English tradition. Self taught, he is known for his for his highly rhythmic tune backing, flatpicking and fingerstyle playing. In addition to his contribution to Moore Moss Rutter, Jack plays in the Seth Lakeman Band, and he is in high demand as a session guitarist for numerous other artists and outfits in the British folk scene and further afield. 

Opening the evening’s entertainment with be another of the folk scene’s best young talents.

HARRI ENDERSBY is a singer-songwriter from the North-East of the country. Her debut EP “Ivy Crown’ was released last year to critical acclaim, and her first full-length album is due for release in early-2017. Harri will be joined on-stage by husband Rich Endersby-Marsh… a former resident of nearby Stoke Gifford.

The concert will be held at our regular home of Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 20th January 2017. Tickets cost £14 each, but if you buy before Friday 13th January you can take advantage of our ‘Early Bird’ scheme and get them for just £12 each. Tickets are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend or online HERE. Members tickets are £10 each (again before Friday 13th January) and are available direct from Chairman Ant Miles or from the Members Only area of the website.

Doors open at 7.30pm and the music will begin at around 8pm. There will be a full bar, serving locally-brewed GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO. real ales, cider, soft drinks and tea/coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/bucket as part of our drive to be environmentally-aware.

It’s the 16th of December. The kids (and teachers) have broken up. Advent services have been sung. Shepherds in tea towels have been seen cantering across this very altar.  And yet ...and yet... it still doesn’t feel really Christmassy. Maybe it’s because it’s warm and wet, not cold and crisp. Maybe it’s because this year has been so full of disappointment that we are all expecting another one around every corner. Maybe it’s because there seems to be little Christian kindness around just now. Or maybe it’s because we all just need something to put us in the right frame of mind.

Fortunately Downend Folk Club are riding to our rescue, in a big, tinsel strewn sleigh, cheap supermarket lights twinkling and driven by two men who are feeling, quite frankly, a little bit silly. 

Photo: Julian Cox

BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST are Pauls Sartin and Hutchinson. Stalwarts of the folk scene (Sartin used to be found bouncing furiously in Bellowhead and is still in the magnificent Faustus) who have regularly lugged their Christmas sack full of ancient carols and folk loveliness around the country at this time of year. And we are so glad to see them.  They start with their version of the 'Sans Day Carol' and immediately have the audience gently harmonising from the pews. Although just as we were thinking this was going to be a gentle sweep through beautiful, obscure Christmas tunes something happens. The accordion and violin duo start throwing snatches of other songs in. Better known carols, TV themes, radio favourites, staples and classical music. Songs shift and slide with deftness and wit. There are laughs - proper laughs - as the audience recognise something.  Slowly that "Bah Humbug" feeling is gently ushered away and replaced with chuckling.

There is simply no way that two men in faded denim jeans should be this entertaining.  

Don’t go thinking that this is some sort of dreadful "comedy-folk" nightmare from 70s Christmases past though (Jasper Carrot, I’m looking at you). Paul Sartin and Paul Hutchinson are amazing musicians and nowhere is this proved more certainly than when they smash together Mozart and Vivaldi at break neck speed. This also featured a tiny bit of ritual humiliation for the Club’s Chairman, Ant Miles, including a triangle, far too many beats to the bar and an impossible time signature.   

All of this light heartedness is undoubtedly Christmassy; the carols, the old folk songs, the warm wit, dreadful punning and good natured teasing conjuring nothing less than Christmas afternoon, after a few too many glasses of sherry when you favourite uncles set to story-telling, bickering and laughing. These are Christmas songs to be loved the whole year ‘round. 

Just as good-natured and heart warming were the support band for the evening. THE NINETREE STUMBLERS are Bristol-based but their heads and hearts are somewhere near Kentucky in about 1932. Describing themselves as 'old-fangled string band music' they are utterly charming. Obscure American folk songs dredged from crackly old 78s are gently persuasive and have feet tapping in no time. Strange drunken waltzes rub shoulders with Hawaiian instrumentals, hushed spirituals with raucous fiddle tunes; they create a delicious time warp with an enthusiasm that is infectious. There’s even a Christmas number, “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over” that is only Christmassy if you happen to be in a far flung corner of the American deep South wrestling an alligator.  Or something.

If we weren’t feeling that Christmas spirit at the start of the evening we certainly were by the end. It was due to two men in denim and three Bristol folk with a string band obsession. As Tiny Tim might say "God bless ‘em, every one".

 - Gavin McNamara

It will be festive japes and tunes a-plenty at our December event as BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST's annual Christmas tour rolls into town!

In 1995 Paul Hutchinson (accordion) and Paul Sartin (oboe, violin and vocals) shared a musical passion borne out of the desire to earn sufficient money to support their extravagant lifestyles. Their amazing musicianship coupled with wry humour stunned audiences around Europe and the States.

As a singer, oboist, violinist, composer and arranger Paul Sartin is a former member of the sadly-missed BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Winners and Nominees Bellowhead and Faustus. He edits publications of music manuscripts, delivers workshops, and is Consultant and Director of the Andover Museum Loft Singers. Having gained an Honours Degree and Choral Scholarship at Oxford, he gained a First for his Masters in Traditional Music, and in 2007 recieved a 75th Anniversary Award from the English Folk Dance and Song Society. His recent composition, ‘The Hartlepool Monkey’, for Streetwise Opera, was nominated for a BASCA award.

Paul Hutchinson is well known from his work with Hoover the Dog, Karen Tweed and the Playford Liberation Front. He is a superlative accordion player with a unique style inspired by church organ music, violins & concertinas! Paul is an experienced workshop leader tutoring at Cecil Sharp House on a regular basis, Hands On weekends, Folkworks Summer Schools and Halsway Manor. His favourite colour is no longer pink.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be local old-time string band THE NINETREE STUMBLERS.

Born a hundred years late and 4000 miles too far East, The Ninetree Stumblers dredge up nuggets of the Old Weird America from the crackly grooves of 78RPM shellac. Three multi-instrumentalists - Liam Kirby, Dan Weltman and Ruth Gordon - from right here in Bristol, the band trade guitars, banjos, fiddles and more, clambering from song to song through shows that set Moonshine-fuelled hoedowns against sombre Baptist hymns, cockeyed ragtime and sweetheart waltzes.

The concert will be held on Friday 16th December at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. 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 the club’s 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 9th December 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.