It’s a dark and cold November night with whispers of winter in the air. We needed something to warm the cockles, and with a local ale and brownie at the ready, it was time to see if Downend Folk Club could step up to the challenge!
Many years ago I found myself at an impromptu party where a couple played guitar and sang songs together, holding the attention of a room effortlessly. MEGSON conjured up the same feeling for me tonight, albeit on a much grander scale! There is an authenticity that courses through their modern story telling, and it is utterly absorbing. They make the audience genuinely laugh aloud during some of their witty songs such as Generation Rent and The Barrington Judo Club. However, this is juxtaposed with points of delicate intimacy on songs like Patterns, a tale of the impact of redundancy and the death of the steel industry in the North East, and A Prayer For Hope.
The song writing and playing are superb, but it is the interplay of their voices which captures me the most tonight. The harmonies speak of a couple who musically inhabit the same space. Nowhere is this more apparent than on In A Box, a beautiful song about memory, what we value, and why. On this song the harmonies are present but also a wonderful interplay of vocal and counter vocal. I had been wanting to see Megson for a long time, and they entirely matched my expectations.
Tonight’s support comes from KIRSTY MERRYN. Again, Kirsty is an act I’ve wanted to catch live for a considerable time. She didn’t disappoint, weaving tales of famous women from history in The Fair Tea Maker Of Edgware Road and the haunting Forfarshire. She plays the piano with arresting ease accompanying the kind of singing that can take your breath away. Whether performing her arrangements of traditional tunes or self penned songs, there is a fluidity that is spell-binding and completely immersive. She is engaging and assured with the audience, and I look forward to seeing a longer set in the future.
With acts of Kirsty’s quality providing support and performances like Megson’s as headliners, Downend Folk Club clearly has the means to warm us during the colder months ahead. Bring on December!
Words: Mike Richards
Photo: Chris Dobson
The quality acts just keep on coming!
Four times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards, our November headliners MEGSON draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create a truly unique brand of folk music.
The husband and wife duo bring an infectious mix of heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars. Comprising Debs Hanna (vocals, whistle, piano accordion) and Stu Hanna (guitar, mandola, banjo), Megson have gained fame on the British folk scene, not only for their arresting & intelligent songwriting, but for their exquisite musicianship and northern humour. As fRoots Magazine puts it “if you don’t like the music here then you have a problem”.
Summer 2016 saw the release of their much anticipated new studio album Good Times Will Come Again, gaining them much critical acclaim. “One of the most original political folk sets of the year. Ewan MacColl would have been impressed,” said The Guardian. “Relevant, thought-provoking songs that would make Woody Guthrie proud,” said Acoustic Magazine; while folk broadcasting legend Mike Harding described it as “one of the top albums of the year!”.
Opening the evening’s entertainment will be KIRSTY MERRYN, one of the most arresting and unconventional singer songwriters on the UK folk roots scene, with a style uniquely her own.
Kirsty launched her debut album She & I at London’s Union Chapel in November last year, whilst supporting folk superband Show of Hands on their 22-night Cathedrals tour. Beguiling and mercurial, Kirsty’s music consists of emphatic piano-based songs with sharply observed lyrics, packaged with panache in elegant, beautifully balanced settings and delivered in crystal clear, assured vocals. Her album tells some of the diverse stories of inspirational women in history, from Emma Hamilton to Annie Edson Taylor, and has received extensive air play including the Mike Harding Folk Show, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show, the BBC 3 World Music show, as well as many regional BBC channels.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 16th November 2018, 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.
We are thrilled to reveal our rather brilliant (if we do say so ourselves!) programme for Spring 2019.
We’ve got something for everyone on the third Friday of every month between January and April. We’ve ticked every box in the broad church that is the folk genre, right from astute observational song-writing right through to traditional English folk songs and tunes.
Kicking off the programme on Friday 18th January, and back by popular demand, is GAVIN OSBORN. Gavin went down a storm when he opened for Grace Petrie back in November 2017, and we’ve listened to you, our regulars, who were desperate to hear more than the 25 minutes he gave us. Known for his storytelling shows with comedian Daniel Kitson, and now with five studio albums under his belt, Gavin is a regular on the festival scene and is also familiar to listeners of BBC Radio 4. KATHERINE PRIDDY will provide the support slot at 8.00pm.
Our February event, on Friday 15th, will be headlined by ALDEN, PATTERSON & DASHWOOD, one of the most exciting bands to emerge on the scene in recent years. The Norwich based trio weave rich vocal harmonies, fiddle, dobro and guitar around beautifully written original songs and melodies. Their music takes influence from folk traditions from both sides of the Atlantic with uplifting instrumentals and self-penned songs depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home. Opening for the trio will be MOLLY-ANNE.
Making a triumphant and long-overdue return on Friday 15th March will be multiple Folk Award-nominated duo O’HOOLEY & TIDOW. Belinda and Heidi first played at the club in 2015 to a sell-out audience, who demanded that we book them again… we’ve never had more requests for an act to return! With a personal invite from Billy Bragg to play Glastonbury, sessions on BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, five star reviews and a feature in The Guardian, the songwriting, voice and piano partnership of Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow is regarded as “one of British folk music’s mightiest combinations” (Mojo Magazine). DFC Favourite MIKE WEAVER will be the support act.
Rounding off the programme on Friday 19th April are THE ASKEW SISTERS. Hazel is a familiar face to the DFC faithful, having featured as part of Lady Maisery, but now she returns in duo form with her sister Emily. The pair’s live performances brim with the depth and connection not only of two sisters, but also of two musicians who have been immersed in folk music all their lives. In April they release their long awaited fourth album, a collection of songs about enclosure, place and power. Opening the evening's entertainment will be NICK HART.
Each concert takes place at Frenchay Village Hall, starting at 8.00pm with the support act. The headline act will start at around 8.40pm. Doors open at 7.30pm.
Tickets for all of these events are on-sale now HERE, and will be in-stock at MELANIE'S KITCHEN very soon. We have again added a Season Ticket, where you can buy tickets for all four events in one go and avoid those pesky booking fees!
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