It will be an evening of endings and new beginnings as we return after the Summer break.

The concert is the first under our new name of Downend Folk & Roots, which comes along with an extensive rebrand including a striking new logo featuring a fox. But it will be an ending for the headline guests, ROAD NOT TAKEN, as they visit the venue where they were formed for the last time (for the foreseeable future anyway), the concert part of their farewell UK tour.

From humble beginnings in 2014, the band has seen an amazing rise, finding themselves supporting the likes of Lady Maisery, India Electric Co. and Jim Moray, and spreading their wings further afield with performances at many of the country’s top folk festivals. Their album Fragment was released in September 2019, and was accompanied by a full UK tour of 14 dates, as well as a myriad of radio plays and press coverage.

Made up of singer Anita Dobson, fiddle-player Claire Hamlen, guitarist Ant Miles (the founder of Downend Folk & Roots), and multi-instrumentalist Joe Hamlen, Road Not Taken perform a mix of original material and inventive and atmospheric arrangements of traditional folk songs and tunes, "songs given enough of a twist to make them something new. It feels as though they’ve been draped in glittering cobwebs and that is a very fine thing indeed.” Their music was hailed by FATEA Magazine as “folk with all the feels of the romantic period composers.”

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be 2016 Celtic Connections Danny Kyle Award winner BELLA GAFFNEY, who writes and performs folk inspired songs along with her own original arrangements of traditional pieces. 2022 will see the release of Bella’s new album which is inspired by connections made over the lockdown period. Her latest single Fair and Tender Ladies, a duet with Sam Kelly, was released in April to great acclaim along with airplay on BBC radio. Bella is also part of sought after folk band The Magpies who were the headliners at Downend last September).

Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 16th September 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 locally-based HOP UNION BREWERY (formerly GWB). Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of our drive to be more environmentally aware. There is a 50p discount for those that do. There will also be sweet treats available at the bar courtesy of the Radstock-based GREAT CAKE COMPANY, as well as a prize draw, which helps to fund the support artists for each concert.

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As you can see, we’ve taken the opportunity this Summer to give ourselves a bit of a glow-up.

We’re thrilled to reveal our new look, as well as a slight change to the name. We’ll now be known as Downend Folk & Roots, and we’re sure you’ll agree that our new images, featuring a fox and accompanied by the strap-line "The Village in the City" give us a striking new presence. All of the logos and images were designed by NICK SMITH ILLUSTRATOR DESIGNER, and we’re very grateful to him for all the time and effort that he’s put into getting this just right for us.

Regulars need not worry, though… all the things that you’ve come to know and love over the last eight-plus years will still be in place when you head back in September.

Why change?

When we started back in April 2014, we used the name Downend Folk Club… but in truth, we never really were a folk club at all! What we do is put on monthly, professionally run concerts, and we’ve found that the words "folk club" conjures up certain images for some people… images that aren’t really a reflection of what we do.

We’ve also had our original logo since we began, and whilst it has served us well, the organising team felt that it was time for something fresh. The fox, and the idea of urban wildlife, and "The Village in the City" strapline are both intended to nod to the idea that Downend has its own identity as well as being part of Bristol. In the silhouettes in the background you will see factories, houses and our Christ Church Downend HQ.

What’s changing?

As well as the name and the logos etc, there are a few other minor changes that you’ll spot. Firstly, all of our concerts will now be held at Christ Church Downend, which becomes our permanent home. Frenchay Village Hall has served us well, and we loved it there, but the flexibility that the church gives us, and the better accessibility, has made it an obvious choice to relocate there on a permanent basis.

The church also offers the plasma screens, which we’ve been using to preview future concerts… and we’ll be doing more of that. The website will be moving to a new home at downendfolkandroots.com (although the old address will redirect there so you won't lose us!). Our main contact email address moves to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (but again, the old one will still work).

Finally, there are a few changes behind the scenes and to our constitution but nothing that will make any difference… please ask if you want to know! 

What’s not changing?

Our concerts will still feel very much the same as they always did. We’ll still have two artists each month (a support and a headline), there will still be the same great beer and cakes on offer, and the “stealth raffle” stays too, although it will now be called the monthly prize-draw. You’ll still be welcomed in the same way that you always have been, and the other thing that’s not changing is that we still need your support! Downend Folk & Roots remains “not-for-profit”, so without you, it doesn’t work!

We hope you like the new name and logos. Please let us know what you think!

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Voting is now open as we decide on the recipient of the inaugural Cliff Woolley Memorial Award.

All of our support artists from September 2021 to July 2022 are automatically entered into the award, with the winner awarded a small bursary for them to spend on the advancement of their music career, as well as the headline slot at the Cliff Woolley Memorial Concert, where they will be joined on the bill by Bristol Morris Men and The Magnificent AKs… two groups with whom Cliff loved to dance and sing. This concert will take place on Friday 20th January 2023 at Christ Church Downend, and tickets will go on-sale along with the rest of the Spring programme in mid-October.

Voting is open to anyone, and there are many different ways to vote. The best way is to record your response in our Downend Folk Club Chat group on Facebook. Anyone can join and vote. If you’re not on Facebook, you can contact us via any of the usual channels, including emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Voting closes at 9pm on Sunday 7th August 2022, after which the DFC organisers and Cliff’s wife Gaynor will make the final decision. The public vote will very much be taken into consideration but please note that it is not the only deciding factor.

The award has been created to honour the memory of our dear friend Cliff Woolley, who sadly passed away last Summer. Cliff was a long-serving member of our committee, membership co-ordinator, bar volunteer and much, much more.

Cliff was a passionate music lover and could most often be found, with his wife Gaynor, at many concerts around Bristol and beyond, at loads of festivals. And if he wasn't singing, dancing or listening to music, he was usually talking about it (or about his other passion, Aston Villa FC (hence the colour scheme!). His musical tastes were very diverse; from Jethro Tull and Neil Young through to Jackie Oates and Martin Carthy.

He remains sadly missed, but we’re thrilled to be able to do something to reflect Cliff's passionate support of emerging talent on the folk scene.

VOTE ON FACEBOOK
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