Great things come in threes. Worrell, Weekes and Walcott. Led Zeppelin 1, 2 and 3. ELP (alright, not ELP. They were rubbish). ALDEN, PATTERSON AND DASHWOOD. As mesmerising as West Indian cricketing gods; packed with as many great tunes as a run of classic albums; significantly better than a dodgy prog rock band. Armed with dobro, guitar and violin, the Norwich three-piece brought more than a hint of country to Downend Folk Club and proved that three is the magic number. 

Playing in South Gloucestershire as part of a huge tour in support of their second album, By the Night, it's pretty clear that APD are a beautifully well oiled machine. Harmonies do what harmonies should; they blend and soar. Each of the three compliment the others. Classic country instruments fit together like they were born to. And, of course, they were. Noel Dashwood's dobro is especially wonderful, layering country goodness all over these songs. Raiding the folk tradition on either side of the Atlantic we are treated to the very best of America and the UK. Going Across The Mountain has its heart in Tennessee but the voices put it firmly on the English east coast. It's not the only one. Bonny Blue Eyes is a song of the sea, heading for the new world, looking back to the old country. With Christina Alden's voice to the fore it is fabulous.

Having that voice in your arsenal would be enough for most bands but these three have a bit more than that. Red Rocking Chair starts as a bluegrass-y a capella and ends with all three instruments tearing it up with Alex Patterson’s earthy fiddle leading the charge. All three take it in turns to show their musical might and all three have that simple, unshakable knowledge that they're brilliant. It's a highlight of the early part of their set. 

The highlights come thick and fast though. The Time Song is inspired by The Time Traveller’s Wife and feels like a lazy afternoon in front of the fire with a good book. The Dyeing Room is a joyous instrumental and Waterbound is all a capella and bluegrass, three friends singing for the pure love of it around a beautiful old microphone. Three songs. Three styles. All find appreciative Downend ears. 

It comes to something when a band cover a song that you love and you don’t miss the original singers. It’s even better when those original singers are Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch but when APD unplug for an acoustic I'll Fly Away that's precisely what happens. Faithful to the O Brother Where Art Thou version that we all know, it was the perfect summation of everything that this band does. Glorious, simple, joyful.

They even slipped in a little bit of politics in the anti-Brexit Sail Away. It's hard to argue with the sentiment that "we didn't ask for this but did nothing to stop it happening". There weren't too many dissenting voices as they left the stage. Just wild applause. 

To start the evening Gloucester country-ish singer MOLLY-ANNE floated across five lovely, self-penned songs. Wearing a proper country hat, strumming an acoustic and blowing a mean harmonica she was one hell of an opening act. On both Long Road Home and Talkin' 'Bout Somethin' Molly found some Country grit, a great tune and an enthusiastic audience.

Another fantastic Downend Folk Club night effortlessly proving the power of three. No more, no less.

Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Alan Cole

Love may be the theme of the weekend, but it will be music filling the air on Friday 15th February, when we welcome one of the most highly-rated young trios on the scene to headline our monthly concert.

Norwich based three-piece ALDEN, PATTERSON AND DASHWOOD weave rich vocal harmonies, fiddle, dobro and guitar around beautifully written original songs and melodies. Their music takes influence from folk traditions from both sides of the Atlantic with uplifting instrumentals and self-penned songs depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home.

Comprising Christina Alden on guitar and vocals, Alex Patterson on fiddle and vocals, and Noel Dashwood on dobro and vocals, they have drawn praise from many quarters, with Mark Radcliffe, host of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, hailing their music as “lovely stuff”, and Songlines Magazine saying their album was “something of enormous promise”.

Alden Patterson & Dashwood followed up their debut album Call Me Home (2016) with By The Night, which was released last year to much critical acclaim.

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be MOLLY-ANNE, a young and upcoming musician from Gloucestershire who is looking to make an positive impact. With a soulful, country inspired sound fused with elements of indie folk, Molly accompanies herself on the harmonica and acoustic guitar.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 15th February 2019, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online HERE. They are priced at £12 each in advance (£10 for members), or £14 on the door. There will be a full bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO., and also locally-made NAUGHTY BROWNIES. There will be a raffle with prizes including CDs, gift boxes of beer and sweet treats. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of our drive to be more environmentally aware.

Most of our events sell out, so please do buy your tickets in advance.

For further information and ticket updates, find us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and INSTAGRAM or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

First of all… there’s a (whisper it…) trumpet on the stage as the near capacity audience settle into their seats in the familiar surroundings of Frenchay Village Hall. It’s cold outside but there’s a warm buzz in here, a crackle of expectation in the air. The audience knows they are in for something not just special, but perhaps a little out of the ordinary.

You see, Downend Folk Club has, quite rightly, become known as a place where you will find some of the very best folk musicians in the country. It’s a place where you’ll often hear a swooping fiddle, a gently lulling harp or a swelling melodeon.

That’s not what GAVIN OSBORN is about… in fact, he’s not even sure that what he does is “folk music”, as he explains in his first song, What Kind Of Thing. Whatever kind of thing it is, though, the audience love it.

Clad simply in a pair of jeans, t-shirt and checked-shirt combo and what look from this distance like a pair of Converse, and grasping a slightly battered acoustic guitar, Gavin even looks slightly different to what we’ve come to expect. But as soon as he’s underway, everything makes sense.

This man, with his tousled strawberry blonde hair and three day old stubble, is an absolute master storyteller and songwriter. From the first note to the last, the audience are hanging off his every word. There are tales of friends 18th Birthday Party gone wrong (Charlie’s 18th Birthday), old men sneaking out at night to go to a concert (Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands, probably the highlight of the evening), trying to take a romantic bath with his wife (Another Bath) and even an ode to pop-star-turned-scientist Brian Cox (entitled… well, Brian Cox) everything that Gavin strums from that battered guitar just works. There are rhyming couplets to match even the very best rappers from the Bronx, and stories that you just have to hear the end of.

He delivers a sharp social commentary, too. Gavin has gained a reputation as a bit of a protest singer in the Grace Petrie mould (indeed, we first met him at Downend Folk Club when he opened for Grace in late-2017). He’s much, much more than just a protest singer (as is Grace, by the way!), but songs like I Am European, Born In The NHS and Priced Out make us stop and think in the middle of the laughter.

The aforementioned trumpet belongs to John Hare, who is the sole member of Gavin’s backing band, The Comment Section. One man, yes, but not limited to one instrument. As well as the trumpet (and it’s slightly smaller cousin, the cornet), John also treats us to some beautiful piano playing, some exquisite backing vocals and, on just a couple of numbers, and almost as if he felt he just “ought to” (well, this is a folk club!), an accordion. He’s a superbly-talented musician, who fills in the texture as Gavin weaves his tales. In his day job, John is a music teacher at a Bristol school. One is left feeling assured that the next generation of musicians are in good hands.

Before all this merriment and thought-provoking numbers, there’s another welcome return to Downend, as KATHERINE PRIDDY delivers an opening set packed with promise. The highlights are the title track of her debut EP Wolf, and an old favourite, Indigo. Her voice soars to the rafters and gentle guitar accompaniment brings the songs shimmering to life. She’s come a long way to her first set at the club, as long ago as December 2014, and if she keeps going the way that she is, we’re bound to see more of her in the future.

But this is Gavin’s night. Whatever it is, we like it.

He rounds off the evening with a rendition of Rolling Home, which he learned from the singing of the late, great Roy Bailey, who sadly passed away late last year. It’s the perfect way to end the evening. Perhaps this is folk music after all?

Words: Ant Miles
Photo: Chris Dobson