"I have to declare an interest here. I really like a singing. Often looked upon as the poor relations on the folk scene – they don’t have to learn an instrument, see – there’s a lot more complexity than you’d expect.
November's guests, THE YOUNG'UNS, are current holders of the Radio 2 Best Group award so this was always going to be a bit spectacular. You don’t get to beat the likes of et al by sticking a finger in your ear and wearing a chunky sweater. But not content with leaving it to the headline act, the organisers went out and booked a second set of singers to get the audience warmed up. And we certainly needed that on the coldest evening of the year.
Evolving out of a pub somewhere in Clifton, THE ROARING TROWMEN have built up quite a following singing tales of the salty deep. So ignoring the nautical heritage they opened with a song about beer, and you immediately knew this was going to be different from the usual folk nights. After a quick trawl (?) through a few standards and a couple of self-penned songs, we met Brian, the Optimistic Pilot – not your average sea-dog but blending in perfectly with both the repertoire and the general tone of the evening.
A discreet time check revealed that we were now over-running by significantly more than a minute or two, but you just sensed that it wasn’t going to matter on this occasion. Before long a different Brian appeared on stage. Not a pilot but probably optimistic, he gave a short talk about the RNLI, tonight’s raffle beneficiaries. It wasn’t the last we’d see of him.
Photo: Julian Cox
The opened with Billy Bragg’s 'Between the Wars', as unlike the original as you could imagine. 'Benefits Street' followed, an everyday story of the proud folk of Stockton who refused to take part in the Channel 4 series – ‘I may be down but I’m not beat’. Curiously it was a bit like being back in school – Sean the laid-back English teacher, Michael the headmaster trying (and failing) to keep David the unruly pupil under control. This is the sort of easy-going rapport you get when you’ve spent half a lifetime in each other’s company. Sean Cooney is such a great songwriter, real songs about real people like Private Hughes and his message in a bottle. 'The Streets of Lahore' felt almost out of place amongst the general Englishness of the set, and the audience was totally silent as the song ended with the words 'there’s no honour in killing’. Sadly appropriate in today’s climate.
"This is the sort of easy-going rapport you get when you’ve spent half a lifetime in each other’s company."
Overall, though, the general feeling was that everyone was having lots of fun. Not just the punters but also The themselves and The Roaring standing at the back trading one-liners. A comment about the latter’s t-shirts for sale was met with "We haven’t sold out!". Take that as you will. We all knew, and they knew we knew, that most of David’s ad-libs were probably well-rehearsed, but the majority of us had never heard them before.
Proving that their set was not all about social commentary they introduced a medley of sea-shanties, saying they don’t normally do requests followed immediately by Michael’s opinion ‘Oh no, not that one’. He might have been smiling. As the evening drew towards its conclusion it was time to bring the up on stage again for a pretty solid ‘Rolling Down The River’. If only the England rugby team had tried this in the World Cup they might have competed with the All Blacks' Haka.
Just time for a quick encore then. But wait, folk club artists don’t normally get standing ovations so maybe it wasn't time to go home just yet. Returning to the stage the lads sought out the aforementioned Brian and 'invited' him to help them out with the old ' standard 'I went to market'. Far too sophisticated for mere farmyard animals, the audience suggested buying guinea pig, eagle and goldfish to really test Brian's impressionist skills. The man could go far.
And finally it really was time to stop, This may have been the first occurrence of a second encore since the club started 18 months ago. As if unable to reach the stage, the trio ignored the microphones and remained in the centre aisle while we all joined in with ‘Sing John Ball’.
The lady in the row behind said it was the best evening we’ve had at Folk Club, and not many of the audience were in the mood to disagree. That’s live music for you."
- Cliff Woolley, DFC regular
Well, we think we've done it again with our programme for Spring 2016... we hope you'll agree!
On Friday 15th January, we'll be joined by TOBIAS BEN JACOB & LUKAS DRINKWATER, February's guests are GILMORE & ROBERTS on Friday 19th, LUKE JACKSON will be with us on Friday 18th March, while the programme is completed with a visit from MAIREARAD & ANNA on Friday 15th April.
There's something for everyone there, with traditional and contemporary sitting comfortable aside one another, with a nice mixture of established acts and emerging ones!
The programme is complemented by some great support acts, as IAN ROLAND opens the show in January, The SUSIE DOBSON TRIO in support in February,HANNAH CUMMING joins us in March and STEFFAN LEWIS & RACHEL FOSTER kick us off in April. Please note that support acts are subject to change.
Tickets are on sale right now via the "Gigs & Tickets" section of this website, so do support YOUR folk club and book in advance!
The next gig is a real coup, if we do say so ourselves... we've been looking forward to this for ages!
A night of glorious harmony singing awaits, as The Young’Uns welcome you into their world. Their close, involving sound will for perfectly into the intimate confines of DFC’s base at Frenchay Village Hall, and we encourage you to enter the spirit of the night, and, along with The Roaring Trowmen, sing along to your heart’s content.
Picking up a boat-load of awards this year, including BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Best Group, Spiral Earth Awards’ Best Live Act and FATEA Awards’ Best Group, Sean Cooney, Michael Hughes and David Eagle are described as a “force of nature on stage.” Blending alarmingly impressive harmonies, humour and social commentary, they have hit the heights of Glastonbury, and Cambridge Folk Festival,and regularly find success on BBC Radio 2 and beyond. ,
“Glorious harmonies, waspish wit, powerful songs and relentless banter…..irresistible” - The Guardian
Since their first tentative steps over a decade ago, they have tapped into the sound of their native North East, developing their identity and their mission, and performing in front of many thousands of appreciative people, from tiny pub sessions to huge events up and down the country.
Now onto their fourth album, Another Man’s Ground, which “celebrates working class heroes of the past and present with powerful and poignant tales of struggle, poverty and peace”, the group are set to be another highlight for Downend Folk Club.
“Robust beauty…an evocative love letter to the North East. In Cooney, The Young’uns clearly have a songwriter of considerable talent” - Songlines
Support will come from The Roaring Trowmen, four hearty souls from old Bristol town, who supply sea shanties and songs of the salty deep. Rousing, rolling and roaring, the group are guaranteed to add a unique element to the night. New songs, old songs and everything in between, the Trowmen ply their trade at festivals, fundraisers, weddings, parties.. .and now Downend Folk Club!
As is fitting for a night of nautical expression, the event will also include a raffle in aid of the RNLI, and also an info stand to find out more about the organisation.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Thursday 20th November 2015. Doors open at 7.30pm and there will be a full bar serving GWB real ale, cider, wine and a range of soft drinks, for which we encourage you to bring your own glass.
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