We are a heady mixture of proud and excited to announce our programme for Autumn/Winter 2023 as we continue to deliver on our promise to bring the very best in folk, roots and acoustic music to South Gloucestershire. We're featuring four top-quality headliners, four very exciting emerging talents as support artists, and we'll continue to cater for our online audience as we'll be live-streaming two of the four concerts in partnership with our friends at LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM.

So, who's coming to Downend? Read on...

We begin our season on Friday 15 September with a highly-anticipated return for Downend Folk & Roots favourites THE BLACK FEATHERS. To say they're back for a third appearance by popular demand would be an understatement... they've been the most requested artists over the last couple of years! Sian Chandler’s soaring, dramatic, melodious but powerful voice is a perfect counterpoint to Ray Hughes’ piquant vocals and his sparkling and occasionally spicy guitar motifs. Americana to some, folk to others, this is a duo who love what they play and play what they love with panache, humour, delight and rather a lot of commentary on the downside of being a human. Joining them on the bill will be BARNEY KENNY, who is quickly carving out a name for himself as a solo artist across the folk circuits. Armed with a 6-string and a lap steel slide guitar, Barney's music doesn't fall into the normal trappings of 'folk'. Heavily influenced by world music, blues and rock, Barney blends storytelling and acoustic music with his foot-stomping somewhat delta style. This concert will be live-streamed in partnership with LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM.

HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE headline our next concert, on Friday 20 October. Since emerging in 2016, Hannah & Ben have been defying all conventions of style, genre and compartmentalisation. A touch of Americana, yet quintessentially English. Traditional, yet contemporary, with their individual writing style. Playful and instinctive, they constantly do the unexpected; yet they do it with such panache and natural chemistry it makes perfect sense. Hannah & Ben released a new album Ink of the Rosy Morning on Topic Records in early 2022. Opening the evening will be LAUREN SOUTH, a Rugby-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose self-penned and traditional songs have gained her a reputation as one of Warwickshire’s finest folk musicians. Tenor guitar, fiddle and shruti box provide backing for songs full of emotion and imagery, inspired by Lauren’s love of traditional folk, the night sky, nature and motherhood. Her eagerly-awaited album Tiny Boat is due out in 2023.

WARD KNUTUR TOWNES found their sound when the world fell silent. In 2020, these three singer-songwriters - Lucy Ward (Derbyshire), Svavar Knutur (Iceland) and Adyn Townes (Canada) - were selected to take part in a virtual global music sharing experiment called Global Music Match. Teamed up together, they spent several lockdowns turning their stories into soft harmonies and intricate melodies. This year, they cashed in their stagnant travel points and recorded their debut album in Iceland. It will be released in Autumn 2023 and they headline our concert on Friday 17 November, where they will be supported by MADDIE MORRIS. Maddie strives to make a difference in the world. Bold, insightful and refreshingly unique, she takes traditional song in new directions to shine a light on contemporary issues. Described by our Patron Jim Moray as “leading the next generation of socially conscious songwriters”, she uses her work to highlight inequality, challenge viewpoints and provide an inclusive space for shared experiences.

Rounding off our Autumn/Winter programme and headlining our now legendary Christmas concert on Friday 15 December will be one of the most exciting young trios to emerge in recent years, as they embark on a festive-themed tour. Taking their name from a Gerard Manley Hopkins classic, THE WILDERNESS YET fuse the clear, charismatic vocals of former BBC Young Folk Award finalist Rosie Hodgson with the fine, sensitive fiddling of Rowan Piggott and the deft guitar and flute playing of Philippe Barnes. Lockdown saw the trio record Turn The Year Round, a winter album featuring classic carols and carefully arranged seasonal favourites. The album has proven to be hugely popular, with the band even playing live on BBC Radio 3 on Christmas Day 2022. Joining the trio on the bill will be LEO MACKENZIE, a singing cellist who is unique in using the baroque cello to accompany his own voice. Drawing on an eclectic mix of styles and almost two decades of live performance, he is now embarking on his first solo project. This concert will be live-streamed in partnership with LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM.

All four concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. Seating is unreserved. The concerts are priced at £14 in advance, £16 on the door, but you can also buy a season ticket for all four concerts for £50 (no booking fees!), a saving of almost £10. All tickets are non-refundable. They are available online HERE, and they will also be available from MELANIE’S KITCHEN in Downend ahead of each individual gig. Please note that Melanie's Kitchen can only take cash payments and season tickets are not available at the shop. There will be a full bar at all concerts, as well as a prize draw, all proceeds of which go towards booking our support artists. Doors open at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start. 

We're really excited about this season, and we hope you will be too. Keep supporting live music!