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

Back in the Summer of 2022, a young duo performed the opening slot at Downend Folk & Roots. Immediately after the gig, we were inundated with requests from the regulars to get them back for a headline gig. No, not requests, actually; demands.

That pair are folk-fusion duo GOOD HABITS, and we listened to you, as they are back to headline our monthly concert on Friday 17 May.

Composed of Bonnie Schwarz (cello + vocals) and Pete Shaw (accordion), the pair mix virtuosic musicianship and vocal harmony with vivid storytelling, drawing on their diverse musical tastes and weaving them into an action-packed narrative of folky goodness. After a pandemic spent ‘happily stranded’ in New Zealand for all of 2020 and 2021 where they were supported and endorsed by Amanda Palmer, they arrived back in the UK to spread their joyous music throughout Europe.

Since returning home, they have toured relentlessly around the UK and Europe performing at festivals including Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, and Shrewsbury Folk Festival whilst developing a loyal fanbase. Won Shrewsbury Folk Festival’s ‘Launch Pad’ and the Purbeck Rising Award whilst also being nominated for the prestigious Christian Raphael Prize. Their captivating debut album Going For Broke received glowing international coverage with FRUK describing their breath-taking live shows as impossible to resist. Their touring in New Zealand was non-stop, including performances at the country’s biggest festivals: Cuba Dupa, Festival of Lights and Lunasa.

Opening the show will be Devon-based singer-songwriter BILLIE MAREE. Billie writes and performs deep-feeling folk-esque songs, and the quality of their vocal has been likened to Sandy Denny and Judy Tzuke. They are, however, very much their own artist with a strong and infectious sense of spirituality and self.

Inspired by an upbringing in the landscape of Devon, their debut EP We Belong reflects the nuances of human experience – with a focus on accepting all parts of ourselves, the shadows and the light. Calling in a sense of belonging. They self-produced and mostly self-recorded the EP, and each song was written about moments that moved Billie during the darker months of Winter. Billie was inspired to learn how to record and edit their own music as they wanted to have as much input into their creation as possible.

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 17 May 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.



Back in 2014, a group of enthusiastic folk music lovers decided to put on some concerts. They didn't really know what they were doing, but they knew they wanted to bring some great music to the area. Thus, Downend Folk Club (as it was then known) was formed.

An exciting trio from Sheffield were booked to perform at the first concert, and it's fair to say that the quality of the music on that April evening cemented Downend Folk Club as a fixture in the calendars of local (and not so local) music lovers. The trio stopped playing together a year or two later as their musical journeys took them in different directions.

That trio was BRIGHT SEASON, made up of Michael J Tinker, Ella Sprung and Simon Dumpleton, and we're thrilled to announce that they have agreed to reform for a one-off concert as part of our 10th Anniversary Celebration this Summer.

Michael J Tinker has performed and recorded with Damien O’Kane (Kate Rusby band), and has worked on a collaborative project with Bella Hardy, Josienne Clarke, The Young’uns, Tom Oakes, Ian Stephenson and Gilmore & Roberts. In addition he has supported Bellowhead, Lucy Ward, Sam Carter, Maz O’Connor and many more.

Ella Sprung is a fiddle player, singer and dancer. She specialises in French, Breton, and Scandinavian folk music, and has performed with European folk dance band Trip the Light and folk groups Gallivant and Jack’s Rake. In addition to playing the fiddle she also plays the Swedish nyckelharpa.

Simon Dumpleton is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed with numerous people including Kirsty Bromley and in the ceilidh band Trinculo. He has produced recordings for Jess and Richard Arrowsmith, Hekety, Outre Manche and BBC Folk Award nominees, the Melrose Quartet.

Bright Season will perform on Sunday afternoon at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND, after a morning of community action (details to follow soon) and a complimentary lunch. They will be joined on the bill by HEARTWOOD CHORUS, who will close the celebration. The Sunday of the weekend is presented in partnership with Christ Church Downend and is free entry. It will really help us to have an idea of numbers for the lunch though, so if you can, please let us know you're coming by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..