About two songs into THE CARRIVICK SISTERS' set, on the first of Downend Folk & Roots Saturday lunchtime shows, a tiny pair of feet storms forward, dashing headlong towards the stage. They are caught. Scooped up. Returned to safety. For about 30 seconds. 
Ant Miles, head honcho at Downend, is determined to broaden the scope of folk audiences so he’s thrown the doors of this wonderful place open to families for a relaxed, completely non-judgemental gig. As a consequence, Christ Church is thrumming with little voices, it's awash with blackcurrant squash and filled with tiny dancers. It is an utterly heartwarming afternoon, ridiculously brilliant. While there are Downend regulars here, there are so many new faces too.
The soundtrack to all of this loveliness are Devon's Bluegrass Queens, The Carrivick Sisters. Laura (on fiddle, dobro and guitar) has brought her own children - in fact the near stage invasion was perpetrated by her eldest - whereas Charlotte (banjo, mandolin and guitar) has left hers at home. Between them they provide lullabies, tales of knights and castles, musings on maps, toe tappers and music that's just right for a tiny bit of infant joggling.
If there's any truth in the idea that twins share some kind of telepathic link then Laura and Charlotte set out to prove that it is, indeed, the case. It's the only explanation for the gorgeous harmonies that they produce. Don't the Road Look Rough and Rocky is a lullaby, led by Laura's pure, high voice but it’s when Charlotte joins her that magic happens. Two voices, overlapping and overlaying, creating multiple textures, multiple colours. They conjure MGM Western technicolour right there in front of you. 
In true bluegrass style the Carrivicks gather around one central microphone, each taking a lead or delivering an exquisite musical break. Charlotte’s mandolin on Lazy John nips along, rousing the dozing babies enfolded in parent's arms, while Laura's hazy lap steel on Already Gone lulls them once more. On Gillian Welch's Dear Someone the sisters use a guitar each as swoony, sleepy magic wands, effortlessly casting a calming spell.
I Love You Honey has a cheeky swish of Western swing, it's a tasselled rhinestone skirt of a thing, a pink cowboy boot. Patsy Cline would be proud. The instrumental, Digging up the Rose Bush, is a Wile-E Coyote cartoon dash, a swirling dust cloud and meep-meep acceleration. Both see the little ones stirring, see feet stamping and arms whirling.
A brand-new song, probably called Primrose and Narcissus, is sunshine bright. Written for Laura's children it's a new song that sounds old, as timeless as mountains, as familiar as parenthood. Those harmonies, once again, bringing huge smiles. Equally golden is Today Is a Good Day, two guitars chiming away, picking up pace, bursting with sunbeams. These are wonderfully old-timey tunes, perfect for any age group.
Having set feet stomping and brand-new eyes flickering, The Carrivick Sisters end with a kiddie-folk classic. Sleeping Bunnies seems to leave the littlest ones entirely bewildered but their parents love it.
After just an hour, the music comes to an end. The Carrivick Sisters have beguiled everyone, have woven their harmonised magic. There’s still colouring to complete, squash to drink and racing about to do though. A tiny pair of feet storms forwards… there’s still fun to be had. The first Saturday lunchtime at Downend is as joyous as anything that you could imagine.
Words: Gavin McNamara
Photos: Barry Savell