We are delighted to announce our exciting programme for Summer 2022, with three amazing concerts, from May to July, featuring some of the very best folk, roots and acoustic artists. As always, we’re thrilled to be able to bring musicians of such quality to our little corner of South Gloucestershire/Bristol.
Kicking off the Spring Programme in May will be CUP O'JOE, a progressive bluegrass and folk band founded in Northern Ireland by three siblings Tabitha, Benjamin and Reuben Agnew, later joined by Tabitha’s husband David Benedict. Their unique mix of original compositions and re-imagined traditional songs paired with their lively performances has given them a growing presence in the acoustic music scene surrounding Ireland, The United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, and beyond. Opening the evening's entertainment in May will be CHARLIE LIMM, a songwriter, singer, guitarist and flautist, currently based in Bristol.
INDIA ELECTRIC CO., who headline our June gig (at the fourth time of asking!) are perhaps best described as “a veritable musical magpie’s nest” (BBC Radio 3) . Blending traditional instruments, folk melodies and subtle electronic influences, they’ve extensively toured throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including UK shows at The London Palladium and Hammersmith Apollo. Getting things underway will be Downend's own SUSIE DOBSON, now partially based in Cambridge, whose career as a singer-songwriter has flourished since she made her debut on our stage as a nervous teenager!
Weaving a musical dialogue between fiddle, guitar and voice, July's headliners KIT HAWES & AARON CATLOW explore the rich musical heritage of the British Isles, and create original music inspired by the traditions they grew up in. In demand as musicians, writers and arrangers, Kit and Aaron have worked with many established artists including Grammy Award-nominated Yola, Seth Lakeman, Afro Celt Sound System and Roni Size. Joining Kit & Aaron on the bill will be GOOD HABITS, an alt-folk duo composed of singer-cellist Bonnie Schwarz and accordionist Pete Shaw, telling stories and turning heads across the globe.
All three concerts will take place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND. Seating is unreserved. All tickets are £14 in advance (£16 on the door) but you can also buy a season ticket for all three concerts for £37.50, saving £4.50 plus booking fees. 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 the stealth raffle, all proceeds of which go towards booking our support artists. Doors open at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start.
The word 'suthering' means 'the sound of the wind through the trees', apparently. On the day that Storm Eunice battered her way through the country, there could have been no more appropriate band to headline our February show.
Indeed, at various times throughout the day, it looked as though SUTHERING might not make it. Julu Irvine and Heg Brignall, who make up the duo, moved to Devon from Bristol just before the March 2020 lockdown, and their corner of the world took a good bit of Eunice’s brunt. And then there was the milk lorry that overturned on the M5.
But make it they did, and the sizeable audience were glad that they did. Joined by Olivia Dunn on violin and Sarah Ricketts on double-bass, the duo were here to launch their debut album If We Turn Away into the world.
As the audience descended into an expectant hush after a rapturous, almost raucous, welcome Julu and Heg took them on a journey filled with tales both true and mythical… stories of the fantastic and the everyday.
Partners in life as well as in music, the chemistry between the pair was obvious from the first number, Blood and Gold, delivered unplugged and a cappella from the front of the stage. Their voices intertwining together with delicious crunchy harmonies a plenty, Julu and Heg showed that they are right up there with some of the very best singers treading boards of the folk clubs and arts centres at the moment. Each of them are great singers, but it’s when they sing together that the magic happens.
It’s not only the voices, though, as Julu (flute and guitar) and Heg (piano) demonstrate what fine instrumentalists they are too, as do the band that they’ve brought to accompany them. It’s a dream come true, they tell us, to have their own 'girl-band', and their sense of excitement is palpable.
The songs themselves are of an exceptionally high quality. Stand-outs include the first two singles from the album; Gather came to the pair when they were going through a dry songwriting patch after they’d first relocated, and speaks of attempting to overcome that sense of displacement, while Kingfisher is an ode to the bird that they’d spot during long lockdown walks and became sign of hope. But each and every song is a lovely thing. Don’t take our word for it, get a copy of the album!
Before Suthering took to the stage, the Downend crowd were treated to a glimpse of another rising star… and what an impression he made! DOM PRAG is about to launch a debut album of his own, Needle & Thread, and it’s another one that’s definitely worth getting hold of.
Dom’s short set included mostly traditional songs, with Oakey Strike Evictions a particular stand-out which brought whoops from the crowd, along with a self-penned song, Come All You Fine Young People and a nice take on Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, and prompted many of the folk club regulars to remark that he is the best support artist they’d ever seen in the club’s almost eight year history… quite an accolade and one that surely means that Dom will return for a headline show of his own in the not too distant future.
So, Eunice howled outside and battered the doors of the church, but try as she might she could not put a stop to the beautiful things happening within its walls.
Words: Bea Furlong
Photo: Barry Savell
A very special evening indeed awaits South Gloucestershire’s music-lovers as one of the country’s most highly-rated emerging folk duos launch their debut album at the award-winning club this month.
SUTHERING (which means "the sound of the wind through the trees or wind under a birds wing”) combines the musical talents of Julu Irvine and Heg Brignall. A couple in life and in music, the duo have taken the folk scene by storm with their unusual and fresh approach to folk. Julu and Heg are true story-tellers who champion female characters, creating new narratives for women and unearthing the female heroines of folk.
What sets them apart is their wonderful chemistry and charisma on stage, natural humour and two beautifully matched voices. With an unusual mix of cascading, dramatic piano; intricate, fingerstyle guitar; flute, whistles and harmonium, Julu and Heg bring an exciting take on folk storytelling with their evocative and distinctive sound. Their arresting a cappella arrangements have been memorable favourites with audiences.
Their debut album If We Turn Away explores themes of community, connection, environment and conscience is very much a reflection of the times we are living in and has been influenced by the duo’s experiences during the pandemic. Each song is carefully crafted and arranged, telling tales of struggle and triumph against all odds; from both their own lives and from stories they have found. The album is a tonic for the divisive times we are living through. “We’re searching for light in this long, cold winter” sings the chorus of the first single Gather, which is an offering of strength and hope and is accompanied by a beautiful video filmed on Dartmoor.
Julu and Heg will be joined by Olivia Dunn on violin and Sarah Rickets on double-bass, the launch gig being the only opportunity to see this expanded lineup on their tour. The evening’s entertainment will get underway with a short set from DOM PRAG, whose music knits together British and European folk tradition, classical guitar, mining songs, unaccompanied singing, poems set to music (e.g. Keats, Larkin), compositions influenced by Schubert and Shostakovich, bluesy riffs and raw vocals.
Tickets for the event, which takes place at CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND on Friday 18th February 2022, 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. There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and locally-brewed real ale from Hambrook-based HOP UNION BREWERY (formerly GWB). Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/tankard/bucket, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the club’s drive to be more environmentally aware. There is a 50p discount for those bringing their own receptacles. We will also have fantastic cakes available on the bar, courtesy of THE GREAT CAKE COMPANY, the Radstock-based company fronted by our happily-retired former sound engineer Chris Webster.
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