"I never fail to be amazed at the quality of artists that Downend Folk & Roots is able to attract", enthused one local music lover on social media recently. That sentiment could surely never be truer than it is this month, as genuine folk royalty NANCY KERR & JAMES FAGAN headline our June concert.

They are a duo that team behind the scenes have been keen to book ever since the early days, an astonishing ten years ago, but the dates have never quite aligned... until now!

Nancy & James are one of the best-known and most experienced folk duos on the British circuit today. Outstanding musicianship, a lifelong grounding in traditional singing and instrumental playing, acclaimed original compositions but most noticeably a visceral chemistry between these two make them a perennial favourite at festivals, venues and clubs across the country.

They met in December 1995, and formed the duo and life partnership that has become the backbone of their professional career in music ever since. They won the inaugural Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2000, and were also the first ever recipients of the Best Duo Award, which they won in 2003, and again in 2011.

The duo have toured internationally, most notably in the British Isles, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They have thousands of fans and despite now having two children, they continue to work and tour constantly from their home base in Sheffield. Their duo shows are now special and sought-after events... so it’s great to have them coming to South Gloucestershire!

Opening the evening will be DAVID MITCHELL, who describes his guitar playing as “folk-classical fingerstyle”, combining these genres to create a beautiful and unique take on some well known pieces as well as performing his own original compositions.

As well as being a talented musician, David is also a skilled luthier, usually playing a lovely nylon- stringed Classical Guitar that he crafted himself. David also plays other stringed instruments as well as whistles and recorders.

Upon hearing David perform at Lyme Folk Weekend, Ralph McTell was heard to say, “I wish I could play the guitar like that.”

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 21 June 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.



We’re excited to announce our lineup for Autumn/Winter 2024. As usual, It’s a great mix of the traditional and the contemporary, the established and the emerging… the very best that the UK folk scene has to offer.

We kick off after our Summer break with FILKIN’S DRIFT, who return to headline on Friday 20 September, after performing a well-received support slot a couple of years ago. Seth Bye and Chris Roberts reimagine traditional melodies through pizzicato grooves, intricate guitar tunes, and boundless improvisation. Their recent 870 mile foot-powered tour, described as ‘committed and fascinating’ by BBC 6 Music’s Cerys Matthews, has recently propelled them into the spotlight. Opening the evening MICHELLE HOLLOWAY, who performs unaccompanied traditional songs and plays whistles alongside the duo in their 15-piece folk orchestra Filkin’s Ensemble.

RACHAEL McSHANE & THE CARTOGRAPHERS release a new album this Autumn, and their tour brings them to South Gloucestershire on Friday 18 October, for a show that will also be streamed live in partnership with LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM. Rachael is a renowned folk singer, cellist, fiddle and viola player from the North East of England. She gained fame as an original member of the award-winning folk big band Bellowhead. Joined by guitarist Ian Stephenson (Kan, Baltic Crossing), and melodeon player Julian Sutton (Kathryn Tickell, Sting), they bring a powerful blend of traditional folk and contemporary sounds, with Rachael's stunning voice and instrumental skills leading the line. The evening will begin with a set Yorkshire’s JOHNNY CAMPBELL.

It’s hard to believe that GRANNY’S ATTIC have been playing together for 15 years, but they have… and their celebration tour brings them to Downend on Friday 15 November. The trio have been heralded for their lively performances and skilled delivery of traditional material, playing with verve, energy and their own inimitable style. Though grounded in tradition, they are keen to push new boundaries by exploring fresh approaches and writing their own compositions.. Described by Folk Radio as “one of the most exciting and accomplished English folk acts on the scene right now”, Granny’s Attic can hold audiences in the palm of their hand. They’ll be supported by HEATHER FERRIER, a fresh new talent from the vibrant Newcastle folk scene.

The Downend Folk & Roots Christmas concert has seen some incredible lineups take to the stage in front of some of our biggest audiences, but the one that our regulars have kept talking about is A WINTER UNION, and they return on Friday 13 December in a gig that will also be live-streamed by LIVE TO YOUR LIVING ROOM. Featuring members of The Willows, Gilmore & Roberts and Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, this supergroup is now fast becoming thought of as the pre-Christmas knees-up for folk and roots music lovers all over the country. And, after the success of last year, we’re pleased to say that the brilliant folk-choir HEARTWOOD CHORUS will get us underway.

All four concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. Seating is unreserved. The concerts are all individually priced, but you can also buy a season ticket for all four concerts for £55. 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 the shop 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 7.00pm for a 7.45pm start. 

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



Sometimes folk music can take itself a bit seriously. There are a lot of drowned sisters and poisoned knights, lots of murder and longing. It's a bit of a relief, then, when a duo like GOOD HABITS come along. They are full of sunshine and stories, full of friendliness and fun. They blossom like dungaree-clad sunflowers. 
Bonnie Schwarz and Pete Shaw formed during a time when they were “happily stranded” in New Zealand over lockdown. What started as an impromptu tour became a two-year hiatus where songs were written, gigs were played and a formidable duo emerged. They return to Downend as they tour their brilliant new album Quarter Life, and effortlessly charm the whole place.
In truth it would be pretty hard to argue that what Good Habits do is "folk", in the strictest sense. There are no songs of death, instead Schwarz and Shaw shine their jazz-y, pop-y sunlight on songs of love, of vague uncertainty, of small earthquakes. They also play some wonderfully inventive covers too, and there's not a trad.arr amongst them.
Sunday, taken from Quarter Life, is suitably sleepy and sinuous, a reminder that taking a day of rest is a very fine thing. Schwarz's cello has a lovely, gentle buzz and is joined by Shaw's accordion in a sun-dappled sway, the musical equivalent of a lazy breakfast in bed. Eyelids are slowly prised open with a stomp-box and Schwarz's fantastic voice until the two of them hit a rise-and-shine groove at the end. The easy warmth that they exude is utterly infectious, they create a world where everything is going to be OK.
Even when singing about an earthquake, Good Habits manage to sound upbeat. The Earth Has Moved has an irresistible pop zing, driven by flicked cello strings and a bass-y accordion hum with Schwarz, again, soothing away the difficulties of life. Her voice is homely and tender.
Shaw is a restless accordion player, he almost never lets his instrument sit idle, even between songs it breathes and hums, impatient to tell its tales. On Itchy Feet it helps to create a see-saw groove and then swoops, full of romance, over the domestic romance of Fridge Photos. He really let's fly on Guinness Face/2 Minutes More, showing an impressively jaunty virtuosity, fingers flying across the keyboard, celebrating foam-y smiles and the increased daylight that you get at this time of year.
The joy that Good Habits bring is most obvious in the cover versions that they choose. Each is delivered with love and a "hey look at this" wide-eyed wonder. Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill is, simply, lovely, a swooning, languid take on something that swoons already. Praise You stops being a breakbeat banger and, instead, is an intimate adoration. Shaw and Schwarz gather around the cello and beat out the rhythm with chopsticks across the strings. They are so close to one another that the object of their praise is obvious. Finally, She Bangs the Drums, the Stone Roses classic, seems to bring together everything that makes Good Habits great. Cello and accordion set up a cosy thrum and then Schwarz sings up a storm, her affection for this Manc anthem utterly obvious.
Sharing the Good Habits’ love of a jumpsuit/dungaree thing is BILLIE MAREE, a singer of "folk-y-ish songs" about friendship and humanity that have a slightly more wintery feel than the sunshine which will follow. A Devonian singer-songwriter with a glorious voice, Billie Maree inspires absolute pin-drop attention. On Whale Eyes, their voice is deep and meditative, a simple acoustic line tracing countless strands back to Celtic folk traditions. On My Body, My Home the contemporary is, again, mixed with the traditional and it’s Billie Maree’s voice that will live long in the memory. 
In a world that can feel a bit bleak some days, Good Habits exist to spread some sunshine. They were very welcome indeed.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photos: Barry Savell