Our 2020 programme continues to deliver pure class with a return visit for a multiple award-winning duo this month’s offering for South Gloucestershire’s music lovers.

Contemporary folk/acoustic duo GILMORE & ROBERTS combine award-winning songwriting with astounding musicianship and their trademark harmonies to create a powerful wall of sound. 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 and released their debut album in 2008.

Since then, the duo have toured Canada and mainland Europe, played some of the UK’s biggest acoustic festivals, toured with folk rock legends Fairport Convention and won countless accolades for their genre-spanning work. Gilmore & Roberts released their fifth studio album, A Problem Of Our Kind, in October 2018.

Recorded at the duo’s home in South Yorkshire by co-producer Ben Savage (well-known on the UK roots scene for his own acclaimed musical output with The Willows and Hannah Sanders), A Problem Of Our Kind contains some of the most stripped-back arrangements of Gilmore & Roberts’ career so far, alongside full-tilt band numbers featuring their regular festival rhythm section of Fred Claridge (drums) and Matt Downer (double bass).

And as always, there’s not just one great act on the bill, but two, as MATT QUINN & OWEN WOODS open the evening’s entertainment. Matt and Owen are a concertina and melodeon duo, performing traditional and contemporary dance tunes from around the world. Having been part of the short-lived melodeon quartet Boxtet, they both wanted to continue working together. With Matt changing from melodeon to his duet concertina, they create an infectious sound, performing traditional and contemporary dance tunes from around Europe and Canada.

Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 21st February 2020, 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 discount for those bringing their own receptacles.

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We are thrilled to reveal our fantastic line-up for Summer 2020. We say this every time… but it just doesn’t get much better than this! Have a good read through the information below, and please do continue to support us and buy your tickets well in advance... it makes such a difference!

Kicking off the programme on Friday 22nd May, will be a very special evening in the company of SAM CARTER, who will be accompanied in the beautiful surroundings of CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND by a the Home Waters String Quartet. Sam is on tour armed with a first new album in four years, and the string quartet show is one of only two in the whole of the UK… we really are very lucky to have this one! The evening's entertainment will get underway with a set from the highly-rated young folk singer LIZZY HARDINGHAM. Please note that this is actually the fourth Friday of the month… we’ve moved it back by a week to make space for Bristol Folk Festival.

Our June event, on Friday 19th, will be headlined by HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN. Well-known to Downend Folk Club regulars as one third of Lady Maisery, Hannah met Toby in Summer 2018 at Floating Castle festival in Slovenia. After seeing Hannah perform one of her solo pieces Toby suggested she should keep him in mind if she ever needed a cellist. After a short jam in the Slovenian sunshine it was clear that these two musicians shared a common approach to music making and a real artistic chemistry. Toby Joined Hannah at a solo gig a few days later and a new duo was born! Opening the evening’s entertainment at FRENCHAY VILLAGE HALL will be popular local duo COOPER & TOLLER.

Friday 17th July sees our Summer Programme rounded off by a long-awaited return for UK roots star LUKE JACKSON. An accomplished performer who impresses from the outset and takes his audience on a shared journey with a full bus down the bye-ways of love, hope, sorrow, and melancholy via the service stations of folk, roots, blues, Americana and soul. Getting the evening underway will be PEARL FISH… you might not have heard of her yet, but you’re gonna love her! We're at our FRENCHAY VILLAGE HALL HQ for this one, too.

Each concert starts at 8.00pm, with doors and the bar opening at 7.30pm. Tickets are on-sale now HERE. We're offering the Season Ticket option again, which means you can buy tickets for all three gigs in one go and avoid those pesky booking fees. You can also get tickets from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend.

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I have been fortunate to see ODETTE MICHELL, unquestionably one of my favourite artists, play many times and she always is a joy to see and hear. This show at Downend Folk Club, where she was promoted to headline status, was up there with her best shows. Odette possesses a stunning, beautiful voice, plays some great guitar and bouzouki and writes outstanding songs, often with uplifting lyrics, bringing sunshine into the usually dark world of folk music.

Performing with her trio - Rory Innerd on violin and mandolin and Alex Duncalf on cello - Odette truly smashed her show, playing to a large crowd at Frenchay Village Hall. The trio were tight and in top form, with wonderful sound from the Downend crew. Rory and Alex add so much to Odette's already brilliant live sound.

Opening strongly with the title track of her debut album, The Wildest Rose, Odette, Rory and Alex set the bar high following with her lovely take on the traditional True Lover's Farewell. Other first set highlights included two of Odette's stunning new songs: Song For The Birds and All The Bonny Ships, a song about her grandfather. Also great to hear her sing I Once Loved A Shepherd, one of her few sadder songs.

Odette began the second half solo with her lovely After The Hurricane from the By Way Of Night EP. There was also a great versions of The Blue Cockade and The Outside Track. Odette and the trio closed with one of her best songs, an ode to life centered on the London Northern Line Tube, The Great Old Northern Line before returning solo for a well deserved encore, The Lakes Of Pontchartrain.

Opening the evening, ANT MILES played a rare solo set (indeed his first). Based on this, I think he should do some more! Out of his comfort zone, he has a good voice as shown by songs like Bring Me A Boat and The Yorkshire Couple. He also invited Anita Dobson (who like Ant is a member of ROAD NOT TAKEN) to sing My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.

A fabulous night at this great, well run and friendly club.

Words: Keith Bache
Photo: Chris Dobson