In the summer of 2016, the organisers of FolkEast Festival had the grand idea of pairing the legendary Steeleye Span fiddle-player Peter Knight and melodeon player extraordinaire, John Spiers (a founder member of folk juggernaut Bellowhead) for a special one-off KNIGHT & SPIERS concert at that year's festival.

In the event, it ended up being a genuine festival highlight, with no space to be found in the Marquee and people standing five deep in pouring rain. For a few minutes at the close of their performance, with a standing ovation and roars for more, it didn't seem as though the audience was going to let them go. As the MC commented, it was one of those occasions when people could say "I was there”. It was also clear that leaving matters there was not an option, and plans were made to record an album tour together... and their tour diary brings them to Downend this month; a rare opportunity to see a duo labelled “one of the most intriguing and exciting collaborations on today's folk scene” by Folk Radio UK. And now, Peter and John's Spring tour brings them to Downend Folk Club for a concert which is sure to prove popular with local music lovers.

The pairing of violin and melodeon is not a new one, but in the hands of Peter Knight and John Spiers, improvisation and invention meet the listener at every turn. Together they have created a musical document that resonates with history, but also something to inspire future generations of musicians to engage with Britain’s folk dancing heritage, and the beautiful, mysterious tunes that can be found within that heritage.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be EVE APPLETON, a young singer-songwriter performing in the folk tradition but bringing a fresh, contemporary voice to the genre.

Born and bred in the Dorset town of Bridport (noted for its bohemian colour and cultural vibrancy), Eve has been writing and playing live since she was 15 years old and now, at 20, has a considerable experience of live shows behind her and a collection of captivating, enchanting, self- penned songs. Eve is currently studying songwriting at the prestigious British Irish Modern Music (BIMM), in Bristol.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 18th March 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 Hambrook-based HOP UNION BREWERY (formerly GWB). Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There is a 50p discount for those bringing their own receptacles. There will also be sweet treats available at the bar courtesy of the Radstock-based GREAT CAKE COMPANY, as well as the “stealth raffle” which helps to fund the support artists.

If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. See you there!

We are delighted to announce our exciting programme for Summer 2022, with three amazing concerts, from May to July, featuring some of the very best folk, roots and acoustic artists. As always, we’re thrilled to be able to bring musicians of such quality to our little corner of South Gloucestershire/Bristol.

Kicking off the Spring Programme in May will be CUP O'JOE, a progressive bluegrass and folk band founded  in Northern Ireland by three siblings Tabitha, Benjamin and Reuben Agnew, later joined by Tabitha’s husband David Benedict. Their unique mix of original compositions and re-imagined traditional songs paired with their lively performances has given them a growing presence in the acoustic music scene surrounding Ireland, The United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, and beyond. Opening the evening's entertainment in May will be CHARLIE LIMM, a songwriter, singer, guitarist and flautist, currently based in Bristol.

INDIA ELECTRIC CO., who headline our June gig (at the fourth time of asking!) are perhaps best described as “a veritable musical magpie’s nest” (BBC Radio 3) . Blending traditional instruments, folk melodies and subtle electronic influences,  they’ve extensively toured throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including UK shows at The London Palladium and Hammersmith Apollo. Getting things underway will be Downend's own SUSIE DOBSON, now partially based in Cambridge, whose career as a singer-songwriter has flourished since she made her debut on our stage as a nervous teenager!

Weaving a musical dialogue between fiddle, guitar and voice, July's headliners KIT HAWES & AARON CATLOW explore the rich musical heritage of the British Isles, and create original music inspired by the traditions they grew up in. In demand as musicians, writers and arrangers, Kit and Aaron have worked with many established artists including Grammy Award-nominated Yola, Seth Lakeman, Afro Celt Sound System and Roni Size. Joining Kit & Aaron on the bill will be GOOD HABITS, an alt-folk duo composed of singer-cellist Bonnie Schwarz and accordionist Pete Shaw, telling stories and turning heads across the globe.

All three concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. Seating is unreserved. All tickets are £14 in advance (£16 on the door) but you can also buy a season ticket for all three concerts for £37.50, saving £4.50 plus booking fees. All tickets are non-refundable. They will also be available from MELANIE’S KITCHEN in Downend ahead of each individual gig. Please note that they can only take cash payments and season tickets are NOT available at the shop. There will be a full bar at all concerts, as well as the stealth raffle, all proceeds of which go towards booking our support artists. Doors open at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start.


The word 'suthering' means 'the sound of the wind through the trees', apparently. On the day that Storm Eunice battered her way through the country, there could have been no more appropriate band to headline our February show.

Indeed, at various times throughout the day, it looked as though SUTHERING might not make it. Julu Irvine and Heg Brignall, who make up the duo, moved to Devon from Bristol just before the March 2020 lockdown, and their corner of the world took a good bit of Eunice’s brunt. And then there was the milk lorry that overturned on the M5.

But make it they did, and the sizeable audience were glad that they did. Joined by Olivia Dunn on violin and Sarah Ricketts on double-bass, the duo were here to launch their debut album If We Turn Away into the world.

As the audience descended into an expectant hush after a rapturous, almost raucous, welcome Julu and Heg took them on a journey filled with tales both true and mythical… stories of the fantastic and the everyday.

Partners in life as well as in music, the chemistry between the pair was obvious from the first number, Blood and Gold, delivered unplugged and a cappella from the front of the stage. Their voices intertwining together with delicious crunchy harmonies a plenty, Julu and Heg showed that they are right up there with some of the very best singers treading boards of the folk clubs and arts centres at the moment. Each of them are great singers, but it’s when they sing together that the magic happens.

It’s not only the voices, though, as Julu (flute and guitar) and Heg (piano) demonstrate what fine instrumentalists they are too, as do the band that they’ve brought to accompany them. It’s a dream come true, they tell us, to have their own 'girl-band', and their sense of excitement is palpable.

The songs themselves are of an exceptionally high quality. Stand-outs include the first two singles from the album; Gather came to the pair when they were going through a dry songwriting patch after they’d first relocated, and speaks of attempting to overcome that sense of displacement, while Kingfisher is an ode to the bird that they’d spot during long lockdown walks and became sign of hope. But each and every song is a lovely thing. Don’t take our word for it, get a copy of the album!

Before Suthering took to the stage, the Downend crowd were treated to a glimpse of another rising star… and what an impression he made! DOM PRAG is about to launch a debut album of his own, Needle & Thread, and it’s another one that’s definitely worth getting hold of.

Dom’s short set included mostly traditional songs, with Oakey Strike Evictions a particular stand-out which brought whoops from the crowd, along with a self-penned song, Come All You Fine Young People and a nice take on Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, and prompted many of the folk club regulars to remark that he is the best support artist they’d ever seen in the club’s almost eight year history… quite an accolade and one that surely means that Dom will return for a headline show of his own in the not too distant future.

So, Eunice howled outside and battered the doors of the church, but try as she might she could not put a stop to the beautiful things happening within its walls.

Words: Bea Furlong
Photo: Barry Savell