“You’re not messing about, are you?” says the smiling young man from the stage, as he peers into the audience. “You’re going to give it some on this singing-along lark!”
Some people make it easy to sing along, and Downend Folk Club’s July guest JACK RUTTER is certainly one of them. Much of his set is taken from the traditional canon, and Jack has chosen a good few that have easily rememberable choruses… but it’s much more than that. From the moment he steps onto the stage, he immediately puts you at your ease. He’s amiable, chatty, self-effacing and relaxed. He occasionally bumbles in his northern accent, which is most endearing.
He’s something of a rarity, is Jack Rutter. He’s a folk musician, but he does something that’s become less and less common: he smiles on his album covers and in his promotional photos. And he carries that smile with him onto the stage, too… he clearly loves what he’s doing, and isn’t afraid to show it. He’ll smile at the lyrics in a song, but he’ll also smile as he nails a tricky looking riff on the guitar or bouzouki (and nail it he does, every time).
So when he asks the healthy audience to sing along, they are seemingly powerless to resist, and join in with great gusto on various numbers, including The Dalesman’s Litany (which rounds of the first half perfectly as the audience belt out “From Hull and Halifax and Hell, good Lord deliver me”) and Hey, John Barleycorn… a popular choice among folk singers lately, although Jack’s version is certainly amongst the best.
But to attribute the success of Jack Rutter entirely to his warm, infectious personality would be to do him a tremendous disservice, because he’s an immensely talented musician, and shows us frequently why he’s been so in-demand of late, playing with folk luminaries such as Seth Lakeman and Jackie Oates. Whether guitar or bouzouki, Jack is one of those players who looks totally at ease with his instrument… almost as though it’s an extension of his own body. Tricky riffs, like the one in I Was Once A Young Ploughboy (the lead single from Jack’s new album Gold Of Scar & Shale, out in October) fall from the instrument with seemingly little effort. Of course, that’s not the case… that ease comes from years and years of practice, and a good dose of natural ability too. And Jack can sing, too, as the second, unaccompanied song Down By The Derwent Side, proves beyond any doubt.
Before all Jack’s northern loveliness, there’s something from closer to home to get the evening underway. ELLIE GOWERS hails from Warwickshire but up until quite recently she’s been based in Bristol. But, no matter where she’s from and where she’s living, she is one to watch. With a crystal clear voice (the opener Robin has the audience spell-bound from the start) and a guitar style that sits somewhere between John Martyn and Joni Mitchell, Ellie delivers a six-song set that has the audience desperate to hear more. She’ll be back at Downend Folk Club, of that I’m certain.
So the club now has a well-earned month off before returning in September… but the Summer season left our hearts warm with the sound of singing. Long may it continue.
Words & Photo: Bea Furlong
We round off our Summer programme this month with a visit from one of the best young folk singers currently treading the UK circuit.
Still in his mid-20s, JACK RUTTER is a highly respected singer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist making music within the British folk tradition. The release of his debut solo album Hills, which is a collection of eleven traditional folk songs, and recorded completely solo and live in the studio with no overdubs, has been received with across the board acclaim and recognition. Critics are praising his traditional style of singing (“beautifully sincere, timeless and beguiling” - Songlines), and playing (“guitar, bouzouki or concertina accompaniments are beautifully constructed and played; never getting in the way of the song, but supporting and building it” - The Living Tradition Magazine) that have come together to create ‘Hills’, an album which “takes him to a whole new level, quite simply outstanding”.
Jack, who has played at the club before as part of Moore Moss Rutter and has also played with folk luminaries like Seth Lakeman and Jackie Oates, grew up in the Holme Valley area of West Yorkshire, a place steeped in a wealth of traditional song and since graduating from Newcastle University with a BSc degree in Countryside Management in 2014, he’s gone on to forge a hugely successful career playing music professionally in various guises across Britain and Europe. In this new solo outing, the BBC award winning musician delivers folk songs with a rich, unassuming Yorkshire charm and an easy going stage presence that gives a live performance which is “wonderful, pure and simple. The audience just falls head over heels for this man, and rightly so.” (English Folk Expo).
He recently announced a second album, Gold of Scar & Shale, which is due for release in October. Jack will be performing songs from the new album, and there may even be a chance to get your hands on an exclusive pre-release copy... you never know!
Opening the evening’s entertainment will be ELLIE GOWERS, a singer-songwriter originally from Warwickshire but currently based in Bristol. At only 22, Ellie yields powerfully quaint songs with thought-provoking mature themes. Embedding heavy lyrical inspiration from the early greats like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave, Ellie has produced her own folk-driven contemporary style. Traces of Katie Melua, John Martyn and Laura Marling creep into her melodies.
Being a self-taught guitarist and lyricist, Ellie adopted a soothing disposition towards the composition of the guitar around her voice, letting the accompaniment of the guitar express the sentiment of the song as much as the lyrics do. Over the years, Ellie has encountered a range of singing styles including musical theatre and choir and her voice has developed into a mellisonant swirl of warm, dulcet tones and a secure sense of her own voice..
Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 19th July 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 to be more environmentally aware.
We are thrilled to reveal our brilliant programme for Autumn/Winter 2019. We honestly believe that this might just be our best lineup yet as we continue with our promise to bring the very best folk, roots and acoustic music to South Gloucestershire.
And we've also got exciting news about where you can get tickets, which will even save you a bit of money! Read on...
Kicking off the official programme will be MIDNIGHT SKYRACER on Friday 20th September as we make a welcome return to DOWNEND SCHOOL. An IBMA Momentum Award nominated bluegrass band, Midnight Skyracer have been tearing up the UK bluegrass and folk scene since their inception just over two years ago. Their all star lineup and exciting live performances have sent them racing skywards at an astounding pace right from the start, with Leanne Thorose’s powerhouse vocals and driving mandolin; Tabitha Agnew’s sweet voice and virtuosic banjo playing; Eleanor Wilkie’s rock solid bass grooves; Laura Carrivick’s flair, being equally adept on both fiddle and dobro; and twin sister Charlotte’s agility on the guitar, with both sisters filling in the vocal harmonies. The evening's entertainment will kick-off with a set from highly-rated folk/country singer-songwriter CHARLIE LIMM.
Back at our FRENCHAY VILLAGE HALL HQ, our October event, on Friday 18th, will feature GEORGIA LEWIS, whose exciting rise to prominence was recognised with a nomination for the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards last year. In 2015 Georgia released her self-titled 5-track EP, and since then she has performed at festivals and folk clubs and received air-play on national and internet radio stations. In 2017 Georgia released her debut album The Bird Who Sings Freedom, recorded in her parent's kitchen, featuring five musicians Georgia plays whistles, accordion, piano, guitar, sings and has been seen tapping out various traditional dancing styles. She will be joined on stage at Downend by a full six-piece band (it'll be a squeeze, but we'll manage thanks to the new stage!), and support on the night will come from another rising star, ROSIE HODGSON.
Friday 15th November will see a performance from TALISK at DOWNEND SCHOOL. In their five years, the Scottish firebrands have stacked up several major awards for their explosively energetic yet artfully woven sound, including 2018’s Belhaven Bursary for Innovation & 2017’s Folk Band of the Year both at the BBC Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, and a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award. Mohsen Amini – the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards’ Musician of the Year 2018, 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. 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.” CALUM GILLIGAN will open the evening with his infectious mix of traditional and self-penned songs.
Last year's Christmas concert will live long in the memory, and our 2019 festive event will be no different as we welcome folk superstar JACKIE OATES to CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 20th December. 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 festive songs will be the acoustic bass-wielding THOM ASHWORTH.
Each concert starts at 8.00pm, with the doors at each venue opening 7.30pm. Tickets are on-sale now 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. You can also get tickets from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend.
If you login to buy tickets for the Autumn/Winter 2019 Programme, you'll notice a few changes. That's because we've agreed a link-up with Bristol-based ticketing and promotions company HEADFIRST BRISTOL, which we're very pleased to announce.
The main difference you'll notice straight away is that booking fees are significantly lower than the old system with WeGotTickets... generally 65p rather than £1.00... quite a saving over time. But we're also pleased about this because Headfirst is a local company, started by one man in his spare room, which very much fits with our ethos of supporting local businesses.
You may find that you need to create an account, and we hope that this won't put you off... it's been done for all the right reasons and we hope that you'll back our decision to move our ticketing to this great initiative. Of course, you can still avoid ALL booking fees by buying a season ticket online, or by heading to MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend... but if you're an online buyer, we're certain that this will suit you down to the ground!
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