We'll now be adding a review to the website a few days after each gig. In the first of these, GAVIN McNAMARA takes a look back at July's event.
Earlier this year the decidedly un-Folk folk at Classic FM voted The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams as their favourite piece of classical music. Its heart-stopping violin line echoing the sound and flight of a lark, it never fails to bring a tear to the flintiest of eyes. It also conjures a particular Englishness. One that is forever green and pleasant. One that is calm and beautiful. One where every sadness in the world can be washed away with a soft rain and birdsong.
JACKIE OATES perfectly understands this type of Englishness. Where other folk singers might throw in a bit of American folk song or the odd country tinge Jackie Oates is English Folk. With a capital E and a capital F. Over the course of a delightful evening at the Downend Folk Club she lead us down English country by-ways and onto wave washed beaches, a gentle rain and birdsong washing away every care.
With a voice as crisp and clean as a cider apple she tells us stories that are, in that great folk tradition, often sad and filled with longing. The title track of the new album, “The Spyglass and the Herringbone”, is a song about the Foundling Hospital. It is a delicate, poignant tale of lost children and regret set to a beautiful piano and violin refrain. Oates is joined by Mike Cosgrave throughout the set. He adds piano, guitar and a wry sense of humour to proceedings and under-cuts some of the gentle melancholy with a sideways glance and baffled smile. Together they make an utterly lovely sound.
Just after “The Miller and his Three Sons” we hear the first example of the Downend Folk Club Sigh of the evening. Does this happen at every folk club? Who knows? But here, after a song of particular beauty, the audience give a little moan. A collective breath, as much to say “Ahh, that was lovely”. Jackie Oates gets to hear The Sigh a lot this evening.
While her set, generally, settles for the hushed and the sad two moments stand out. A set of Cornish barn dance tunes bring to mind wood smoke, the wide open sea and clattering feet while the best song of the evening is a song written by her brother. Jackie Oates’ brother is Jim Moray. He, surely, needs no introduction. “The Wishfulness Waltz” was written by him, for her during a time of heartbreak. It is snow covered and sparkly. Not in keeping with a humid July evening but entirely transporting. We sighed as it finished.
Starting the evening were the best support band that the Folk Club has seen so far. KIM LOWINGS & THE GREENWOOD were bewitching. Bouzouki, double bass and percussion box humming and thrumming around another crystal clear, female vocal. Songs were of witches and labouring boys and one about a supermarket self-scanning machine that was more beautiful than the subject matter gave it any right to be. Folk songs can get a bit bogged down in wronged maidens and drowned sailors; these made you want to drum your heels and swirl through very English fields.
Every once in a while, you might chance upon a singer with a voice which might just change your life. Come along to Downend Folk Club, on Friday 17th July, and you will hear that singer. You will hear JACKIE OATES.
Fresh from last month’s fantastic gig, we welcomes the critically acclaimed singer and fiddle player. Jackie will be presenting songs from her new album, "The Spyglass & The Herringbone", as well as from her five other records. Combining wit, stage presence and a disarmingly beautiful voice, Jackie’s take on traditional English ballads and songs will take you on a journey far and near.
Jackie’s career has seen her nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003, and win two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards including the Horizon Award for best newcomer, as well as her 2009 album Hyperboreans receive a nomination for the fRoots Critics’ Poll Album of the Year. She was also a founder member of Northumbrian group and Mercury nominated Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.
"Hers is such a different world that whenever I hear [her] I just want to be part of it" - Word
We are rightly excited about Jackie’s appearance, as we continue to build their profile as one of the most exciting folk venues in the country. Jackie’s crystal clear singing, sensitive fiddle playing and Mike Cosgrave’s accordion and guitar will mean a night to remember.
Opening proceedings will be KIM LOWINGS & THE GREENWOOD, a four-piece from Stourbridge whose repertoire spans the traditional and the original. With vocals, piano and Appalachian dulcimer from Kim, and guitar, percussion and more from the band, the audience is assured a diverse and invigorating set from a group who have performed at Moira Furnace Folk Festival, Bromsgrove Folk Festival, and Warwick Folk Festival, winning the New Folk competition.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th July 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, as well as a raffle.
Tickets are £12 in advance, £14 on the door, and are available from Melanie’s Kitchen, Bristol Ticket Shop and online HERE. Members tickets are £11 and are available from the Members Only area of the website or direct from Ant Miles.
The winners of Best Group and Best Duo at April's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards head up another stunning programme to round off 2015 at Downend Folk Club.
Top performers THE YOUNG'UNS will be the guests in November, while the highly-acclaimed duo JOSIENNE CLARKE & BEN WALKER will headline the December event at Christ Church Downend. The programme is completed by two former Horizon Award winners: SAM CARTER joins us in September, while October's guest will be EWAN McLENNAN.
Support acts will be announced nearer the time.
Tickets will go on sale during the next 24-hours at www.downendfolkclub.co.uk. You'll also be able to buy tickets for each event from the Monday following the preceding event at Melanie's Kitchen and Kafe Karma. Finally, tickets will be available from Bristol Ticket Shop soon.
So, grab your tickets and join us for four absolutely top-notch concerts! Remember that's it really is a big help to the club if you buy tickets in advance.
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