This month’s headliners at Downend Folk & Roots’ monthly concert are a duo widely regarded as two of the best players and innovators in traditional folk amongst a precociously gifted generation.

TOM MOORE & ARCHIE MOSS’ finely-crafted arrangements wield a rare potency. Now, having toured with with some of the biggest and brightest acts in the British folk scene, they reconvene to perform as duo. Their second record Spectres further unites the deep and resolute harmony of Archie Moss’s accordion with the texture and flow of Tom Moore’s viola; with droning, whirring, sparkling layers of electro-acoustic grit provoking a subtle complexity of palette.

Whilst intrinsically borrowing from English and other European traditional dance form, sonically Tom and Archie have their heads firmly in the present, understanding the values of contemporary music and art making. The distinct pulse and intuition of trad-music haunts their playing as they continue to quietly reconsider English instrumental music, listening and responding to the world around them as much as their musical ancestors.

Joining Tom and Archie on the bill will be a familiar face, long-time friend of Downend Folk & Roots, MIKE WEAVER. Mike is a singer-songwriter originally from Cheltenham, but now living in Worcestershire. He is a writer and illustrator by day and an acoustic performer by night, presenting his own melodic songs which draw upon both contemporary and traditional influences.

His 2019 release A Moment In Time is a collection of tunes and songs which reflect upon childhood, the ageing process and indelible memories of life and love. Numerous tracks from the CD have featured on UK, Irish, Amercian and Canadian digital channels, as well as BBC local radio stations in the Midlands and West of England.

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 17 February 2023, 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 7.30pm and the entertainment starts around 7.45pm.

There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed 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 the Radstock-based GREAT CAKE COMPANY, as well as a prize draw, which helps to fund the support artists for each concert.


We are beyond excited to reveal our programme for Summer 2023. We think we’ve hit the perfect balance with this one, and we hope you’ll agree!

We begin our season with a visit from JON WILKS, an acclaimed fingerpicking guitarist and singer of traditional folk songs and broadside ballads from the English repertoire. He has a great eye/ear for a story, and this shows in his live shows – an amusing mix of folk song performance and storytelling. The concert takes place on Friday 19 May, and JENNIE HIGGINS will get the music underway.

BELLA HARDY’s return to Downend is probably long overdue. Bella was one of our very first guests when we launched back in 2014 when she performed a solo set as the recently-crowned BBC Folk Singer of the Year. This time she’ll be joined by Sam Carter (guitar) and Daniel Wallington (keys) as they tour Bella’s latest album, Love Songs. We’ve pushed the boat out on this one because we KNOW you’ll love it, so we hope you’ll join us on Friday 16 June, when HANNAH SCOTT will be in support before Bella’s trio take to the stage.

Rounding off our Summer season will be OWEN SPAFFORD & LOUIS CAMPBELL, who will be our headline guests on Friday 21 July. Owen and Louis met as as part of the first cohort of the National Youth Folk Ensemble and they have been nominated for the BBC Young Folk Award and been played on BBC Radio 2 and 3, as well as RTE1. A shared musical ‘true north’ and lasting friendship enable the duo to make two instruments seemingly sound as one; creating subtle and emotive textures that re-calibrate the fiddle and guitar duo idiom. The opening set will come from singer-songwriter MINNIE BIRCH.

All four concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. Seating is unreserved. The concerts are individually priced, but you can also buy a season ticket for all three concerts for £38, a saving of almost £10. All tickets are non-refundable. They will also be available from MELANIE’S KITCHEN in Downend ahead of each individual gig. Please note that they 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 absolutely buzzing about this season, and we hope you will be too. Keep supporting live music!


Folk music lovers from Downend and far beyond gathered as usual last Friday for the monthly concert, but this was an evening with a difference as the gathered crowd paid tribute to a genuine one-off.
Cliff Woolley was a passionate music lover, and could most often be found, with his wife Gaynor, at many concerts around Bristol and beyond, and at loads of festivals. And if he wasn't singing, dancing or listening to music, he was usually talking about it (or about his other passion, Aston Villa FC). His musical tastes were very diverse; from Jethro Tull and Neil Young through to Jackie Oates and Martin Carthy. He was very involved in Downend Folk & Roots (then Downend Folk Club) from early on, as a member of the organising team, membership secretary, barman and chief-rambling-anecdote-teller at planning meetings! He sadly passed away in the Summer of 2021, so this evening has been in the planning for many months... and when it finally arrived, it didn't disappoint.

Cliff was a member of BRISTOL MORRIS MEN, and so it was appropriate that they got the entertainment underway with six dances to start the evening. When CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND was refurbished a few years ago, they were keen to see the building used by more community groups, but surely even they couldn't have imagined that it would include this! The team really set the tone of the evening, surrounded by smiling faces and tapping feet as they worked their way through dances with hankies and clashing sticks. Superb.
CHRIS ELLIOTT & CAITLIN JONES headlined the night as winners of The Cliff Woolley Memorial Award, joined by Mike Seal on double bass. Their set was an absolute delight from start to finish and showed exactly why the Downend faithful had chosen them as their favourite support act of the previous year.
The West Midlands-based pair demonstrated glorious two-part harmony singing throughout the set, with Caitlin playing a variety of whistles and flutes as well as the odd bit of harmonium, while Chris is more adept with the string-ed instruments, playing bouzouki, guitar and fiddle over the course of the evening. Mike's bass really lifted the sound and added a new dimension since they were last here.
Both Chris & Caitlin work as teachers in their day jobs, and once or twice taught a few lines for the audience to sing along to. I'm sure I wasn't the only person who thought, "Cliff would have loved this". Maggie Manson, Game of Halves (the title-track of their soon-to-be-released second album) and Carry Me Home (the title track of their first) are highlights, while Go Along to Kinver is great fun... Cliff would have loved that too! For their encore, they head into the audience to perform, unplugged, their version of The Parting Glass. It's a poignant moment.
People are talking about Chris Elliott & Caitlin Jones, and it's easy to see why. I reckon more awards and more recognition is headed their way.

Another group of which Cliff was a dedicated member is THE MAGNIFICENT AKs, an all-male folk choir from over the border in Wiltshire, and it was they who rounded off the evening with a handful of glorious numbers.
They're "blokes" and they're proud of it. Many have beards and are happy to proclaim their own magnificence on more than one occasion. It's easy to see how Cliff would have fitted in perfectly with these "folk-blokes". Marshalled superbly by Chris Samuel, The AKs treat us to a varied, and frankly, hilarious set. There's a song about the Stroud-based inventor of the lawnmower and the adjustable spanner, Edwin Budding (whose middle name was, apparently, 'Beard' ... very fitting!), while they come even closer to home with their a cappella take on a 'traditional' Bristol folk song: Blackbird, I'll 'ave 'ee by... erm... The Wurzels.
And the evening ends in perfection. It turns out that they, too, had chosen The Parting Glass as their encore, and they almost didn't do it. Thankfully, they were persuaded to and what a good job they did. It was very different to the earlier offering from Chris, Caitlin and Mike but no less poignant. Glorious.
Cliff's wife Gaynor was thrilled with the event. "We may be biased but we always regarded Cliff as something special. His energy and enthusiasm for life was catching and we miss him every day," she said. "We'd like to say a big thanks to everyone. Not just those people who performed, but the team who organised it and friends who turned up. There were several people I hadn't seen for quite a while. The evening was just what Cliff would have loved. Music, folk dancing; relaxed and filled with like minded people who know how to enjoy all this. Thank you all again from us all."
Gaynor's not wrong. He would have loved it. A fitting tribute indeed.
Words: Ant Miles
Photos: Barry Savell