We are thrilled to reveal our brilliant programme for Spring 2020. We've got a couple of returning DFC favourites as they bring their new songs, as well as some new faces as we continue with our promise to bring the very best folk, roots and acoustic music to South Gloucestershire.
ODETTE MICHELL is a British folk singer-songwriter, guitarist and bouzouki player with a bold new take on the acoustic tradition and a voice capable of demonstrating the finer points of both folk and traditional song with genuine craftsmanship. In May 2019, Odette released her enchanting debut album The Wildest Rose. The album gained widespread positive acclaim and featured notable musical contributions from Phil Beer (one-half of multi-award-winning acoustic folk band Show of Hands) who plays fiddle on two of the tracks and sings backing vocals on one other track; and Toby Shaer (Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys). Our very own ANT MILES will get the evening underway on Friday 17th January with a short solo set.
Our February event, on Friday 21st, sees a welcome return for contemporary folk/acoustic duo GILMORE & ROBERTS. Nominated three times at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Katriona Gilmore (fiddle, mandolin) and Jamie Roberts (guitar) met while studying at Leeds College of Music. Their 2018 album A Problem Of Our Kind is the fifth studio album from the duo, who combine award-winning songwriting with astounding musicianship and their trademark harmonies to create a powerful wall of sound. Supporting them will be MATT QUINN & OWEN WOODS.
Described as “a gentle, lulling delight” by The Guardian, Scottish trio SALT HOUSE are our headline guests on Friday 20th March, as part of their tour to launch their new album, Huam. Songs are central to Salt House. New songs that sound as if they’ve always been here. Ancient ballads woken up. Poems given the tunes they’ve long deserved. Songs about place, politics, landscape and birds. Kicking off the evening's music will be the impressive JON WILKS.
Rounding off the Spring programme, on Friday 17th April, will be the first act ever to sell out a DFC concert... and one that our regulars DEMAND that we have back every three years or so! Sometimes folk, sometimes not, INDIA ELECTRIC CO. use traditional instruments in contemporary styles to explore diverse themes from Eastern Europe, Irish traditions and modern urban alienation to end up with something “quirky and glittery - a veritable musical magpie’s nest” according to BBC Radio 3. They're back at Downend with a new album in hand, and will be supported by Bristol-based French singer-songwriter JANE.B.
Each concert will be held at Frenchay Village Hall and starts at 8.00pm (doors open at 7.30pm). Tickets are on-sale now, from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend, or online HERE. We're offering the Season Ticket option again, which means you can buy tickets for all four gigs in one go and avoid those pesky booking fees.
Towards the end of their first set The Georgia Lewis Band play a version of The Raggle Taggle Gypsies. It is full of love, passion and wildness. A song to blow away the mundane and the ordinary. A song for dreamers and seekers. It was a song that perfectly summed up this Autumn evening.
GEORGIA LEWIS is a piratical storyteller, a tangle haired buccaneer. She steals songs and holds them to ransom, forces them to walk a plank, wrings every last drop out of them. Her voice is pure, strong and utterly free and has justifiably won several “Future of Folk” awards. For four minutes at a time she becomes a new character, grasping at air, gazing after her lost loves and searching for freedoms.
It is, however, the unaccompanied voice that takes all of the gold this evening. For much of the evening she finds a willing foil in Rowan Piggott. He's a violinist with a voice of the highest tone. When this band catches fire it's the times that he adds a spark to the gunpowder that Lewis provides. When they sing together they create something that is pin-drop beautiful. The Gaelic poem, I Am Stretched on Your Grave, is heartbreakingly sad but intensely beautiful. As the two voices harmonise towards the end of the song so a tragic yearning is uncovered. It is performed to absolute silence. It is gorgeous.
Equally gorgeous is a version of Another Man's Ground. It is, equally, just the two voices telling a well-worn story and it is wholly affecting. In lots of ways it's hard to work out why there's a band here at all. With Georgia Lewis' accordion and whistle and Rowan Piggott's violin they surely have all that they could possibly need.
And then all five band members come together and it becomes perfectly clear. An Appalacian take on The Factory Girl swings delightfully. Andy North’s piano gives even greater poignancy to the extraordinary Must I Be Bound, which is dedicated to mental health heroes MIND, and Finbar Magin’s Spanish guitar conjures a little more exotic wildness for The Brown Girl.
The evening has a poetic thread that runs through it. The title of Georgia Lewis' new album is The Bird Who Sings Freedom. The title track is a Maya Angelou poem; it’s a cry for freedom. The words are delivered with a fevered reverence but with that, now familiar, desperate yearning to be free.
The twin threads of poetry and unaccompanied voice are first seen in the support act for the evening. ROSIE HODGSON is an absolute revelation. A traditional singer from West Sussex, she sings old songs, including a lovely version of Kipling’s A Tree Song/Oak, Ash and Thorn, with a velvet voice, one flecked with Autumnal colours. She adds splashes of guitar but it's her voice that truly adds the magic. The remarkable Rowan Piggott pops up on two songs too.
In both voices there is love, passion, wildness and freedom. There is nothing better on an Autumn evening to help you escape the ordinary.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photo: Alan Cole
Our Autumn/Winter programme continues apace back at our Frenchay Village Hall HQ this month with a visit from one of the most highly-rated young singers on the scene, and a rare chance to see her full band line-up.
GEORGIA LEWIS is folk singer and avid accordionist from the depths of Wiltshire. In 2015 she released her self-titled EP. Since then, she has performed at many folk clubs and festivals in the south of England, in solo, trio and band line-ups, and received air-play on various national radio stations including the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show and the esteemed Mike Harding’s Folk Show. In 2015 Georgia won The Future of Young Folk Award at Bromyard Folk Festival and won the band competition at Ely Folk Festival in 2016.
Her debut album The Bird Who Sings Freedom saw Georgia hailed as the best voice to emerge from the English folk scene in recent years. Well-worn traditional songs sit alongside two originals, together with an AE Housman poem and, opening the album, a setting of the words of Maya Angelou. Throughout, Georgia seeks the timeless themes in old words. Stories of love and loss, conflict, betrayal. A nomination in the Horizon category at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards followed in 2018.
Georgia will be joined on-stage at Downend Folk Club by her full band, featuring Rowan Piggott (fiddle), Finbar Magin (guitar), Andy North (keys) and Tom Sweeney (double-bass).
Opening the evening’s entertainment will be ROSIE HODGSON, a folk singer/songwriter from Midhurst, West Sussex. Having grown up surrounded by traditional music (and dancing with Knockhundred Shuttles!), her voice possesses a naturalness and maturity, bringing "a ruby-richness to lyrics new and old". (Folk Radio UK). After winning the newcomer competition at Ely Folk Festival in 2011, Rosie worked hard to carve out her niche on the UK folk circuit. She released her EP Somewhere North in 2012 and has since played numerous festivals and folk clubs across the land. In 2013 she was nominated as a finalist for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award before joining the up-and-coming London-Irish band CrossHarbour, who subsequently released their eponymous debut album.
Rosie is currently touring her debut album Rise Aurora with fiddle-singer Rowan Piggott.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 18th October 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 locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based GREAT WESTERN BREWING CO., along with cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks 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 the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There will now be a 50p surcharge for disposable glasses.
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