Downend Folk Club - Jackie Oates Review

Published on: 06 Aug 2015

Jackie Oates

Here’s a story that came to mind recently.  Several years ago two people were in a car travelling to Bristol.  After listening to the driver’s new CD, she asked the passenger for his opinion.  The passenger gave it a few seconds thought and then suggested that it might have been better if the two songs about drowning weren’t so close to each other.  Note the definite article.  It’s the relative positioning of the songs that raised the comment, not the quantity.
And that’s the thing with a Jackie Oates gig.  You know exactly what you’re going to get.
Here we all were then.  Another full house in Frenchay Village Hall on the hottest Friday evening since the previous hottest Friday evening, ready to witness more deaths than you’d get in a whole series of Midsomer Murders.  
The evening had started well, Kim Lowings and the Greenwood playing the first half-hour or so and proving that a four-piece band including drum and bass can actually sound quite relaxed.  Dark Eyed Sailor, familiar to many of the audience, was followed by an a capella number here, a longish instrumental section there.   I’d happily sit through a full headline session or a festival spot.  This really is a folk club that gives a lot of thought to booking the warm-up artists.  But let’s face it, outside of the immediate family and diehard fans, no-one is ever drawn to a concert by the first act.
After a quick changeover, time to refill the glasses and buy a raffle ticket, we launched into The Miller and His Three Sons, a bouncy little ditty with a refrain that ‘doesn’t really make sense’.  And then something quite unexpected happened.  ‘I’ll be playing a few songs from my new CD’ said Jackie.  ‘Unlike all the others it’s actually quite cheerful’.  Hold on a minute, we thought.  This isn’t what we signed up for !  Then, as if she’d seen the look of collective bemusement, ‘Actually this first one’s a bit sinister’.  Phew that was close.  Normal service had been resumed.   
And on we meandered, through a series of little gems illustrating the diversity of Jackie’s six albums over nearly ten years.  A couple of Lullabies from her record of that name, three Cornish tunes that I don’t remember hearing before, John Blunt, a new singalong song that could easily fit into a community choir repertoire (mental note to suggest this at our next meeting).  A fleeting reference to her Annus Horribilis preceded Wishfulness Waltz, a personal favourite written by her brother who just happens to be the Folk Club Patron.  A subtle change in the lyrics implied that maybe life wasn’t so bad these days after all.
Now all of this could begin to sound pretty ordinary, were it not for the second person on the stage.  On keyboard, accordion, guitar and vocals Mike Cosgrave was the perfect accompaniment to Jackie’s voice and fiddle.  Not afraid to throw in the occasional one-liner either.  ‘Mike will attempt to evoke memories of the trenches’ said Jackie in one introduction.  ‘Mostly through smell’ added Mike in the sort of delivery you’d expect from Jack Dee.  ‘Do you like Poldark?’ asked Jackie excitedly.  Pause.  Close your eyes and you hear Jack Dee responding ‘Yeah, I like Poldark’.
And then it was all over.  Well almost, because there’s always time for one more, and this one more just happened to be another personal favourite.  May the Kindness was the ideal encore, ending with the lines ‘And the flame that warms your heart burn with love and hold us now we part’.
I queued to buy a CD.  The lady in front bought four.  It was that sort of night.
Cliff Woolley

Next at Downend  Folk Club

Chris Cleverley
(support from Noey McElwee)

Frenchay Village Hall, Friday August 21, 2015,
Doors open 7.30pm

Downend Folk Club is throwing open its doors for something very special indeed this August. The club are very proud to present a summer special, with a relaxed, intimate show from one of the finest up-and-coming names on the new British Folk Scene.
Downend Folk Club are proud to present Chris Cleverley, who visits the club on Friday 21st August. Chris will deliver his range of traditional and original songs, accompanying himself on guitar and banjo. A relaxed and confident singer and player, his sound ranges from the individual, to a ‘big band’ level, all courtesy of his own command.
Describing himself as a singer of “haunting tales of ghost women, lonesome clock towers, lovelorn mariners and hospital beds”, Chris delivers a range of songs, taking in different moods, influences and styles. He’s toured with Spiers & Boden, Martha Tilston and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, and we can’t wait to see him at Downend.
“Wonderful stuff” – Steve Tilston
Despite the reputation which has built up around Chris, he remains resolutely in touch with his audience, with a rapport which is both tender and humorous. It’s bound to be quite a show, so, after last month’s sold-out Jackie Oates gig, we recommend you get your tickets quickly.
“The Sublime guitar playing of Chris Cleverley; One of the highlights of this year’s festival” – Stroud Folk Festival
Chris will be supported by local performer Noey McElwee. Noey’s been singing and playing guitar since childhood, playing in many different bands and now as a soloist. She also performs as a support act to Black Sheep Harmony, a vocal group she helped to establish in Bristol.
The night will be a fundraiser for local charity Christians Against Poverty. The charity does good work in the local community, including organising a food bank. Those attending the gig are encouraged to bring an item for a food bank collection, and are also encouraged to bring their own glass, to enable to club to cut down on waste at the bar.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 21st August 2015. Doors open at 7.30pm and there will be a full bar serving GWB real ale, cider, wine and a range of soft drinks, as well as a raffle.
 Tickets are £8 in advance, £10 on the door, and are available from Melanie’s Kitchen, Bristol Ticket Shop and Members tickets are £7 and are available from the website or direct from Ant Miles.
 For further information, please contact Ant Miles on 07837881941 or email


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