We are thrilled to welcome THE CARRIVICK SISTERS for our first Live at Lunchtime concert on Saturday 2 March.

These events are family-friendly and under-18s go free (accompanied by a paying adult). There will be a very relaxed atmosphere, and if children make some noise, that's fine! There will be activity and colouring sheets for younger children and a break-out room at the back for anyone that needs it, where there will be toys and a bit of space, with the audio of the gig piped into the room.

The Carrivick Sisters are one of the UK's top young bluegrass and folk acts. Twins Laura and Charlotte perform their original songs and instrumentals along with a few carefully chosen covers on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and clawhammer banjo. Their busy touring schedule is rapidly building them a reputation for engaging and entertaining live performances with tight sibling vocal harmonies and multi-instrumental virtuosity. Having grown up in South Devon, an area rich in folk lore and legends, much of their original material is inspired by their local surroundings and history.

The concert itself is not specifically aimed at children, although is very family-friendly. These events are aimed at people who perhaps cannot make our usual Friday evening events, as well as our regular audience. And remember, if you already have a season ticket for Spring/Summer 2024, you get this one for free!

The concert will be shorter than normal (just over  an hour with a short break halfway though) and there is no support. Doors open at midday and the music starts at 12.30pm. It will finish at around 1.45pm.

The event takes place at our usual CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND venue, tickets are £10 per adult (plus booking fees) and are available HERE, or, as usual, from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend (cash only). There will be tea, coffee and a small selection of soft drinks and THE GREAT CAKE COMPANY cakes available to purchase, and free squash for children, available from our bar. Please note that we will not be serving alcoholic drinks at these events. For further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find us on FACEBOOKX or INSTAGRAM.



“This is the first gig we've done in ages”, says Hannah Martin. “Please be kind”. Martin (of Edgelarks) and Miranda Sykes (of Show of Hands) have been away for ages. There was Covid, having children, illness, all of which conspired against touring. Tonight, though, is the start of a new tour in support of a brilliant new album, Unquenching Fire. All in all, kindness was never going to be a problem.
The joy of SYKESMARTIN, the reason for the kindness, is the glorious interplay between the two voices. Martin's is deep, and rich, Sykes has a voice that is sweeter, smoother, the perfect voice for telling tales. When the two harmonise, the traditional songs sparkle into life.
Little Margaret has its roots in a seventeenth century ballad but SykesMartin reach towards the Appalachian Mountains for their version. The ghostly fragility that shimmers around the two of them doesn’t leave them all evening. Old songs of love, loss and longing are plucked from their dusty libraries and shone until they glisten.
The SykesMartin stage is a very full one. There may just be the two of them but there's a double bass, several guitars, a banjo, a fiddle and a shruti box. All of this might suggest busy, tangled arrangements but that couldn't be further from the truth. As Sykes sings If I Was a Blackbird to Martin's swooping fiddle accompaniment, she adds the occasional double bass thrum and a whole seascape opens up. Sykes sings Blow the Candle Out too and her bass gives a silken slink to the story of secret love. She sings with such an honesty that it becomes easy to picture a forbidden tryst.
Much of the set is made up of traditional songs but Hannah Martin has always been a wonderful songwriter and her own songs slip easily in amongst the older ones. They give her Sorrows Before Dawn a world premier and it is exquisite. Reflecting on the 4am horrors, when all of your worries hover around your bed, it is reflective and slow, tender and gentle. Martin's velvet voice perfectly suited to the pre-dawn darkness. On the title track of the new album, Martin has taken a fragment of an old song and made it her own, adding new verses. It is epic, Sykes adding heartbeat-bass to a gorgeous song that is the very essence of romantic folk. 
If their version of Anne Briggs’ Go Your Way belies Miranda Sykes’ folk-rock roots then it is an acapella The Parting Glass that perfectly shows how amazing this duo is. Unamplified yet utterly captivating, two distinct voices becoming one incredible thing.
Another wonderful interpreter of the folk canon was support act HOLLY CLARKE. Having driven all the way from Newcastle for her short set she made sure to leave an impression on this corner of South Gloucestershire. 
She gave the likes of Young Collins and John Barleycorn tremendous new arrangements, neither fussy nor laden with tricks but both allowing the stories to be told. Her voice wonderfully strong, refreshingly honest and, set against some dexterous guitar playing, she's the epitome of a great storyteller. She is also a brilliant contextualiser of the songs that she sang, adding details and open-hearted asides. Especially wonderful was her version of Chris Wood's Bleary Winter. Winding folk horror dread around left-wing politics, it was gloriously resonant. 
SykesMartin may have been away for a while but, by the end of this beautiful evening, they were engulfed in great waves of kindness.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photos: Barry Savell

Two of the most recognisable faces from the UK folk scene come together in a new partnership to headline Downend Folk & Roots concert this month.

SYKESMARTIN is the new collaboration from two of the UK’s finest folk singers. Miranda Sykes (Show of Hands) and Hannah Martin (Edgelarks, Gigspanner Big Band, Saltlines) draw on the tradition to form a set of songs that celebrate the power of two voices singing in harmony. Double bass, fiddle, banjo and guitars all come together around the duo’s vocal arrangements, taking their deep knowledge of roots music, adding a contemporary twist, and then singing these old songs back to their heart. Delivering beautiful ballads and rousing chorus songs, this duo  showcases two mesmerising storytellers joining voices to create a spine tingling testimonial to our shared musical heritage.

“As soon as you see the names Miranda Sykes and Hannah Martin together you’re excited. Two of the finest voices on the contemporary folk scene, this is elemental modern folk song,” said Songlines magazine.

Opening the evening will be HOLLY CLARKE, a singer who draws from the old ballads and stories, conjures a performance that immediately captivates any listener.

As a performer, Holly transports the listener into the heart of ballads, immersing them in the narratives that have shaped humanities experience through time. From songs of the supernatural and folklore, to the tales of love and loss, Holly Clarke sings with an infectious energy and passion for traditional song.

Rising in popularity among folk audiences and performing with the likes of Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Queer Folk, Holly Clarke has made a name for herself as a powerful singer and accomplished guitar player.

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 16 February 2024, are available online HERE and from MELANIE'S KITCHEN in Downend (cash only). They are priced at £14 each in advance or £16 on the door. Doors open at 7.00pm and the music starts around 7.45pm.

There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and real ale from locally-based HOP UNION BREWERY. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the drive to be more environmentally aware; there is a 50p discount for those that do. There will also be sweet treats available at the bar courtesy of Radstock-based THE GREAT CAKE COMPANY, as well as a prize draw, which helps to fund the support artists for each concert. For further information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find us on FACEBOOKX or INSTAGRAM.