It was different to the pre-lockdown Downend Folk Club gigs that we’ve grown to know and love.

As we walked into the familiar Frenchay Village Hall, which has been the main home of the club since is was formed in 2014, there was quite a lot that was unfamilar. Firstly, there was no bar, no lovely GWB beer for sale, no delicious Naughty Brownies. In the main hall, there were a dozen pairs of chairs, meticulously placed the mandatory two metres apart. There were arrows on the floor and doors marking out the one-way system for going to the loo. There were two masked people setting up cameras and recording equipment on the stage. And it was quiet, compared to normal.

But you know what? None of those unusual things mattered, not one little bit. Because we were at an actual concert. And, even better, we were at a NICK HART concert.

Perhaps a new name to some, it’s certain not to stay that way. Nick Hart is an incredible performer. The MC, in introducing him, claims that “Nick Hart is one of the most important things to happen in English traditional music for many years” and, as soon as he starts playing, it’s impossible to disagree.

There are no gadgets. No bells or whistles. Live looping and effects pedals are not what Nick is all about. He is perhaps better known for playing the concertina, but there’s not even one of them. There’s just this large, slightly dishevelled man, and a guitar. Just one guitar.

Turns out, that’s all he needs. Well, that and his distinctive voice. There are shades of Chris Wood in the vocal, echoes of Nic Jones in the guitar style. The set-list is made up entirely of traditional English folk songs (aside from one slightly more recent one written by friends of Nick, called The River Don’t Run). And yet, Nick manages to make them feel new, exciting, relevant.

Highlights include The Molecatcher (featuring an hilarious ‘implied rhyme’… I’ll not spoil the surprise!), Riding Down to Portsmouth, Butter and Cheese and, saved for a well-deserved encore, The Yellow Handkerchief, but every song is delivered with authenticity and charm. Nick’s instantly likeable, too. It’s a slightly odd situation for everyone but Nick puts the audience at ease straight away, with a sharp wit and very informal manner on stage.

His first two albums are called Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs and Nick Hart Sings Nine English Folk Songs. This is very much in keeping with Nick’s uncomplicated style. During the evening, Nick reveals that he’s been working on a third album during lockdown, and that is has ten songs on it. The title, however, remains shrouded in mystery. Whatever it’s called when it’s released, you should buy it. And the other two. And tickets to see him perform whenever you can. He’s that important.

A word, too, for Downend Folk Club. It would have been very easy to just not bother putting anything on when the pandemic hit. But not only did they bring us weekly interviews/mini-concerts for free during the full lockdown, they’ve now managed to put on this concert, which was not only for a live audience but available to buy as a stream to enjoy from home the following Friday… and, I’m told, there are several more of these live/online gigs in the pipeline. Fair play to them for striving to bring us the music we love.

So yes, it was different. But my goodness, it was good!

Words: Bea Furlong
Photo: Tamsin Elliott

UPDATE: Physical tickets now SOLD OUT, unlimited stream tickets available!

We have some very, very exciting news!

We’re able to get a small, socially-distanced audience in to see NICK HART in concert on Friday 11th September 2020 at Frenchay Village Hall (please note that this is the Friday BEFORE the scheduled streamed concert). Tickets are on-sale NOW and are strictly limited... we can only get 20 or so people in while maintaining safe social distancing. They will be sold on a strictly first-come-first-served basis, and we expect them to sell out within a day or two, so don't hang about!

Important things you need to know:
* The event takes place on Friday 11th September (the week before the streamed concert
* The gig will be unamplified in the room (as we will be recording for the streamed concert) so you’ll need your listening ears!
* There will be a camera operator filming the concert, which may occasionally obstruct your view (which is otherwise much better than normal!).
* There won’t be a bar; you will need to bring your own refreshments and the means to consume them.
* You’ll need to bring your own hand-sanitiser and a face-mask (you won’t need to wear this during the performance but you will if you need to move around the building).
* It is a full 2 x 45 minute performance, with an interval, and you will need to stay in your seat during the performance.
* By purchasing tickets, you agree that your image can be used in the film.
* There will be NO refunds unless the event is made impossible by any restrictions put in place.
* You will also receive a link to the stream for the following Friday, which you’ll be able to watch as many times as you want in the month following the event.
 
Tickets (priced at £15 minimum per person) are on sale HERE for the live event. It takes place at Frenchay Village Hall, with doors opening at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start. It is important that you arrive on time.
 
We realise this won’t be for everyone, but we hope you’ll appreciate the opportunity to come and be part of something special! You can also still buy tickets for the streamed concert on Friday 18th September 2020 if you're not ready to venture out just yet. Stream tickets are £10 minimum (with a suggested price of £10 per person watching). You can get stream tickets HERE.

Do get on board and support the club as we make a little bit of history!
 

ABOUT NICK HART 

 
NICK HART is a folk singer deeply rooted in the English tradition. Raised in a family of morris dancers, Nick played instrumental music for many years before discovering his passion for traditional song. Whilst studying for an ethnomusicology degree, he began to explore the large body of recordings of traditional singers from the second half of the 20th century, and this led to several years of fevered study and many nights spent at folk clubs and festivals, honing his skills as an unaccompanied singer.
 
Nick's initially hardline attitude to the accompaniment of folk songs has softened over the years, but his love of the nuances of traditional singing informs his minimal guitar accompaniment, and his songs are delivered with a great emphasis on storytelling. His repertoire of songs, drawn largely from his native East Anglia, reflect his understanding of both the depth and breadth of material within the English tradition and he is fast acquiring a reputation as an engaging and entertaining performer.
 
2017 saw the release of his first solo album, Nick Hart Sings Eight English Folk Songs. Recorded by long-time collaborator Tom Moore, the album has been well received, being described as "one of the most rewarding and accomplished albums we've heard this year" (fRoots), "a cult classic in waiting" (Grizzly Folk), "absolutely excellent" (Folk Radio UK), and "the real deal" (Mike Harding).
 
Nick’s second album, entitled Nick Hart Sings Nine English Folk Songs, was released last year to further critical acclaim.
 

You asked, and we listened!

We've been bowled over by the response to our lockdown "hour or so" sessions. Lots of you have said how much you've missed them since we stopped in mid-July, so we've decided to do one last one, this Friday (21st August) at 8.00pm.

We've filmed a few songs and tunes at most of our concerts since we started in 2014, and on Friday, Ant will be presenting another selection of the most memorable performances that we've witnessed at the club. We're not going to tell you which ones yet (you'll have to tune in to find out!), but if there's an artist or particular song or tune that you'd like to see featured, please drop us a message on social media or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please note that we will not be able to include any requested on the night, so you must do this in advance, and we may not be able to include everything requested. We'd still love you to join in via the comments on Friday... if you're a regular at the club, you can share your memories; if you discovered us during lockdown, we'd love to hear what you think of the performances or, indeed, of our club.

Like all the other online events we've brought you so far, this event will be free to attend. There will be a tip jar (link below) as before, and we'll tell you on the night where the proceeds will be going..

We'll be going live on our FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE channels at 8.00pm on Friday, so please do join us.