Last year's Christmas concert will live long in the memory, and the our 2019 festive event will be no different as we welcome folk superstar JACKIE OATES and her band to South Gloucestershire for a special Christmas concert in the majestic surroundings of CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND.

Jackie first performed at the club with Mike Cosgrave as long ago as July 2015, so when we heard that she was doing a Christmas Tour with a full band lineup, our minds were made up instantly! Jackie's is a name synonymous with the reinvigoration of English folk music, beguiling audiences with a delicate balance of tradition and reinvention.

Her mellifluous voice and imaginatively plaintive fiddle style has won her several BBC Folk Awards during a 10-year recording career that began as a member of the nascent Unthanks and has continued with six acclaimed solo albums. To quote the illustrious Mojo magazine, Jackie Oates enthrals. She will get everyone in the Christmas spirit by performing a selection of Christmas and winter carols and songs as well as songs from her new album The Joy of Living.

Opening the evening with some equally seasonal songs will be the acoustic bass-wielding THOM ASHWORTH, to add to the festive feel.

An acoustic bass guitar may not seem like an obvious choice as an accompaniment instrument, but Thom shows that this distinctive instrumental voice can find a home in folk music, and that four strings are enough to delve into the canon of British folk music. Equal parts interpreter of traditional song and insightful political songwriter, the press has repeatedly compared him to Martin Carthy, Chris Wood, and Billy Bragg. This selection of luminaries doesn't tell the whole story though as Thom's inventive musicality and powerful tenor voice shine through. Thom's debut album ​Head Canon​​ was released in earlier this year.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Christ Church Downend on Friday 20th December 2019, are available from MELANIE'S KITCHEN or online HERE. They are priced at £14 each in advance (£12 for members), or £16 on the door. There will be a full bar, stocking  mulled wine (for this month only) as well as 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 the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There is now a 50p reduction on the bar prices for those that bring their own vessels.

For further information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We again expect a bumper audience, so make sure you book early!

Just watch his fingers. Just. Watch. His. Fingers. As long as the head banging and foot stomping doesn’t distract you first, just watch his fingers. They are a blur.

There is no way that anyone other than Mohsen Amini can play a concertina like that. He is TALISK's not-so-secret weapon. The greatest musician that has ever played on this stage; a raconteur, a rabble rouser, an electric, restless, pounding presence at the heart of a massive tune generating machine. He won Folk Musician of the Year in 2018 and, if there's any sense in the world, the BBC may as well retire the award and give it to him forever.

Just watch his fingers.

Way back when (let’s call it the 1990s) Pixies and Nirvana did that loud-quiet-loud thing for American indie. Talisk are doing something similar for folk music. It's some sort of slow-quicker-much quicker-really flippin' quick-slow thing. As a consequence there's dancing before the end of the first tune. Crazy legged step-dance, immodest bouncing, improvised swing-your-partner-about, stomping and wheeling. There's whooping. There's hollering. There’s absurd amounts of clapping. Not always in time. However fast the dancers dance or the clappers clap there is no way of keeping up. Talisk are way, way ahead of this packed room.

Tunes race by – no, really, they race, they zoom, they cascade – none of them have words, titles don't matter. Everyone is having too much fun. What do you mean, you need titles? Are you some sort of a folk nerd? Literally no one cares. Folk art, let's dance. And smile. And dance some more.

If Bellowhead were the high water mark of “amazing folk bands that you have to see live" then Talisk are your next favourite live folk band. There hasn't been anything as exciting as this lot for years and, unlike the Bellowhead juggernaut, there are only three of them. If you can drag yourself away from Mohsen’s fingers then the other two are equally amazing. Graeme Armstrong’s guitar has a propulsion all of its own, it’s almost percussive, and Hayley Keenan's fiddle keeps the tunes in check when the concertina is flying about all over the place. In lots of ways she is the star of this band. Without her sense of timing and musicianly discipline the wheels would be off when the stomping starts.

If you really need highlights and titles then The Hills starts with a slow, beautiful fiddle air before ramping through the gears and ending in absolute delirious, smile inducing mayhem. Crooked Water Valley does the same. And so does Dystopia. There's a bit more crazy legged dancing for that one, the fiddle intro is a bit shorter and the mayhem a bit more fevered. Both of their full length albums, Abyss and Beyond, are mined for treats and the pace is never allowed to drop below frenzied. It should all be a bit exhausting but it never is. This is music that is thrilling and so full of joy that it’s almost impossible not to move; it is properly heart-warming.

CALUM GILLIGAN must be very glad that support acts don't go on after the main act. His soft, warm Scots folk-pop was too gentle to stand up to a Talisk shaped battering. As it was he was a beautiful opening act. A lovely voice with a few gloriously pop-edged tunes. There was a hint of Kris Drever about him, and that's no bad thing.

Fingers flying, smiles beaming, couples whirling, a roof raised. Talisk felt like the most fun you can have on a November evening. Follow that!

Words: Gavin McNamara

Photo: Chris Dobson

Scottish firebrands TALISK headline our November concert… and it’s a good job the event is at DOWNEND SCHOOL, because we've already sold tickets to more people than we could fit in our Frenchay Village Hall HQ!

In their five years, Talisk have stacked up several major awards for their explosively energetic yet artfully woven sound, including 2017’s Folk Band of the Year at the BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, and a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Musician of the Year 2018 Mohsen Amini, Hayley Keenan and Graeme Armstrong seamlessly meld concertina, fiddle and guitar to produce a multi-layered, enthralling signature that has effortlessly captivated audiences from the USA to Australia, and throughout the UK. Appearances at world-leading festivals - including Cambridge Folk Festival, Denmark’s Tønder, WOMAD UK and Las Palmas, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Celtic Colours, Milwaukee Irish Festival and five successive outings at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections - have amassed a die-hard following, whilst the world’s folk and world music media have also lauded high credits upon the trio.

The release of their hotly anticipated second album, Beyond, in October 2018 was met with a five-star “Top of the World” review in Songlines, praising the band as “incredibly infectious and endearing... fresh, invigorating, accomplished and playfully frisky.” 

Opening the evening’s entertainment will be CALUM GILLIGAN, a Scottish folk singer-songwriter born in Galloway and based in Liverpool. He has been writing his own music and gigging from an early age, playing around the UK and beyond over the years. He writes a subtle blend of Celtic folk and Americana music with influences ranging from Woody Guthrie and Christy Moore, to contemporary folk artists such as Kris Drever and Kate Rusby. His lyrics form the heart of his music, with melodic guitar and powerful vocals carrying the words aloft.

Having appeared at several festivals over the summer, 2019 has already been a resounding success for Calum, and with the launch of the Maybe Half a Lifetime EP in September, Calum says “it just keeps getting better!”

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Downend School on Friday 15th November 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 the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There is now a 50p surcharge for disposable glasses.

For further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And seriously, don’t hang about… get your tickets in advance. You don’t want to miss this!