Downend Folk Club Gilmore & Roberts Review March 2016
Published on: 01 Mar 2016
Just as the set was ending the tiny, elfin girl peered out into the packed Frenchay audience; “That was about an eight a half”, she said encouraging the faithful to sing, “You guys look like an eleven to me.” We sang. She was right. We were an eleven.
The girl was Katriona Gilmore, the female half of Gilmore & Roberts; she sings, plays mandolin and violin. Jamie Roberts is more substantial, more Northern and he plays the guitar. Together they make just about the most perfect modern folk that it is possible to imagine. They have been nominated for countless BBC Folk Awards and, this year, stand a pretty good chance of winning the Best Duo award. If they walk away with it it will be richly deserved.
From the very first tune, “Doctor James”, it’s pretty obvious that these two have honed their skills and paid their dues. Years of playing the folk circuit and pitching up at every folk festival you care to name has made them tight as anything. The Devil-Went-Down-to-Georgia style violin cavorting about all over the thumped guitar and making the most glorious noise. It’s danceable, it’s exciting, it’s just damn good. The fact that the song is about the death of a female doctor who had to impersonate a man in the dim and distant past makes it about as “folk” as you can get too.
From there it’s just a giddying, dizzying mix of styles. From mini epics, laden with intricate chord and tempo changes through wintery acoustic tunes, from chart baiting folk pop through rousing dance tunes, all bases are covered by two ridiculously watchable musicians. There’s even the merest hint of country at times, proving that country music is nothing but American folk. When Gilmore breaks out the mandolin there’s something Bluegrass about it all. In “The Stealing Arm” fabulous story telling combines with a stomped beat and gently picked country line to great effect. It’s just amazing.
At times there’s something cracked and ghostly about Katriona Gilmore’s voice. It could, of course, be that she’s got a bit of a cold but the strained, rough edges lend a bit of dirt to some of the polish. Nowhere is this more affecting than on “Ghost of a Ring”, played entirely unplugged to a total hush, it is gentle, heartfelt and honest and taken from their latest album “Conflict Tourism”..
Gilmore and Roberts might be about to be crowned Folk’s Best Duo but you have to wonder how long it will be before the support band for the evening are afforded the same honour. Susie Dobson and Joe Futak are Downend’s very own and they were delightful. Only seventeen and clearly nervous, by the end of their short set they had found an entire roomful of new fans. It was a set filled with cover versions. Had they been ancient things, filled with swooning maidens and Trad Arr they’d be lauded by the folky chin-strokers. As it was they plundered their own record collections for songs by Anais Mitchell, Passenger and The Staves. Dobson has a powerful, expressive voice that already seems wonderfully flexible and in Futak she’s found a perfect foil. If they’re not back at the Folk Club soon there might be some sort of (very quiet) riot.
Gilmore & Roberts? Dobson & Futak? They look like an eleven to me.
Friday March 18
Frenchay Village Hall
With a talent that belies his tender years, Luke Jackson is a star both on the rise, and at the top of his zenith, and he will grace the stage at Frenchay Village Hall as he headlines Downend Folk Club’s March concert.
As a singer and songwriter strongly in the roots vein, Canterbury-based Luke has already made a reputation for himself as a solo performer as well as with his trio. Festival appearances and support slots with the likes of Show of Hands, Steve Knightley, Martyn Joseph and Karine Polwart have wowed crowds up and down the country, including on two short tours of Scotland, where he’s played at the Belladrum and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. His international touring has included Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany, and now brings his disarming singing and guitar playing to South Gloucestershire.
All of this hard work on the road has resulted in some great recognition. As well as nominations for the Horizon Award and the Young Folk Artist of the Year at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Luke was rightly named Fatea Magazine’s Male Artist of the Year 2014.
“He reminds me of Jeff Buckley, which can only be a good thing.” – Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2
Luke’s style is both rich and tender, with a percussive guitar technique to match his impressive voice. His songwriting, too, has come on leaps and bounds in the years he has been performing. His stories will envelop you in their words and melodies, and we just know he will be a hit with the Downend crowd. He’ll be performing songs from across his career, from debut More Than Boys to the 2015 EP This Family Tree. These releases are supplemented by 2014’s Fumes and Faith. Luke will also be playing songs from his new record, to be released later this year.
“It’s been a great start to the year, and Luke’s appearance at Downend Folk Club just reinforces that,” said chairman Ant Miles. “Luke’s a very rootsy singer and player, and he is seriously talented. We fully expect yet another sell out, so we really would urge people to buy their tickets early.”
“Two words, bloody brilliant.” – Maverick Magazine
Support on the night comes from the superb fiddle singer, Hannah Cumming. After classical training, Hannah learned a more folk-leaning style and has gone on to find success in the band Dyer:Cummings and performing and running workshops with her brother Alex. Playing at Towersey Festival as part of the Shooting Roots programme exposed Hannah to yet more influences, she joined young klezmer group The Klezbians whilst at University. She will kick off what is guaranteed to be a great night.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday March 18. Doors open at 7.30pm and there will be a full bar serving GWB real ale, cider, wine and a range of soft drinks, for which we encourage you to bring your own glass.
Tickets cost £10 each, but you can get them for £9 if you book before Friday 11th March. They are available from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend, Bristol Ticket Shop in the city, or online from www.downendfolkclub.co.uk. Members tickets are £8 eafh and are available from the Members Only area of the website or direct from Ant Miles (before Friday 1th March.
For further information, please visit the club’s website, www.downendfolkclub.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find the club on Facebook or Twitter.