Published on: 02 Feb 2016

Tobias Ben Jacob & Lukas Drinkwater
Tobias Ben Jacob & Lukas Drinkwater
Support from Ian
Roland with Simon Yapp
Friday January 15
Frenchay Village Hall

“OK. What happens now?”

The first words out of the mouth of Double bassist Lukas Drinkwater as he, and singer-guitarist Tobias Ben Jacob, took to the stage. It was a question that several of the audience were asking too. This month Downend Folk Club were, once again, showcasing up and coming talent rather than an established folk name; but what a talent they turned out to be.
From the opening moments of “We are the First Ones Now” they were absolute class. Hushed and restrained, they created magic with a bowed double bass and an acoustic guitar. While Drinkwater was the more garrulous, Jacob was clearly the star of this particular show. His voice sways from high, nasal and pure to something deeper, darker and more sinister. As early as the first tune it was obvious that here were songs that were worth paying attention to.
Although this pair have only been together for a year they have already been creating quite a name for themselves. BBC Radio 6 are lauding their debut EP “Burning Low”, they’ve appeared at countless festivals, including Glastonbury, and seem to pop up at any folk club that you care to name. The “folk” tag is one that doesn’t entirely fit perfectly with them, however. They’re “folk” only in the way that the classic Island Records artists of the 70s were “folk”. That is to say that they take a traditional form and push, bend and shape it somewhere else. Intricate jazzy patterns wrap around beautiful pop tunes. Think John Martyn without the grizzled alcoholism, think Nick Drake without the crippling insecurities. They pour so many things into the mix- jazz, pop, folk, 60s psych and Spanish flourishes – but it all works.
In a set packed with highlights, the title track from the EP inspired finger clicks from audience members while “The Devil & Tobias Ben Jacob” is a spooky Western echo searching for a film to soundtrack. Imagine if mariachi-inspired Americans Calexico were from Exeter. Or the procession in the Wicker Man was lead by a Spanish guitarist.  
Amongst all of the incredible musicianship, wonderful vocal harmonising and carefully constructed atmospherics there was still a moment of humour. During “I Won’t Let You Down” Drinkwater’s double-bass drops through the stage, the end pin slotting through a small gap. He carried on playing on his knees to be joined by Jacob, also on his knees, finishing the song before collapsing in a fit of giggles.
Before these two created their world to wallow in, a pair from Brighton warmed up the crowd. Ian Roland and Simon Yapp bought with them a 12 string acoustic guitar and a fiddle. Although they weren’t polished, they were deeply charming. An almost 80s indie-pop sensibility with a ragged and raucous fiddle tearing through the middle of it bought huge applause. Their last song, “Passing Through”, was a good time hoedown; they saved their best ‘til last.
“OK. What happens now?” Well, it seems that Downend Folk Club has kicked off another year in fine style, uncovering yet more fantastic music. Gilmore & Roberts are up next and it will be another one not to miss.
Gavin McNamara


Gilmore & Roberts
Support from
The Susie Dobson Trio
Friday February 19
Frenchay Village Hall

YET more award-winning music is coming to the area this month, as Gilmore & Roberts headline Downend Folk Club’s February event.
The club are really excited for the upcoming gig, coming as it does on the back of the duo’s recent fourth album, and extensive touring all over the UK and the world.
After gathering worthy attention for their songwriting and performing alike, Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts are now a mainstay in folk and acoustic circles. Their trip to Downend will be a chance to experience their exceptionally dynamic live show and prize-winning songs. Perfectly capturing mood, meaning and more in their songs, they ably accompany themselves on guitar (Jamie, just wait until you see how he plays it!), fiddle and mandolin (Katriona).
They’ve been nominated twice at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, and have teamed up with producer Mark Tucker and musicians Matt Downer (Jamie Smith’s Mabon), Phil Henry (Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin) and James ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt) for their latest album, ‘Conflict Tourism’.
The range of styles which Gilmore & Roberts are able to easily demonstrate is impressive. “From the industrial weight of ‘Cecilia’ and the insistent energy of ‘Peggy Airey’ to the hauntingly hypnotic ‘Jack O Lantern’ Gilmore & Roberts’ songwriting touches many emotions.
As their career has progressed, from 2008’s ‘Shadow’s & Half Light’, to 2010’s ‘Up From The Deep’ and 2012’s ‘The Innocent Left’, the duo’s sound has diversified and grown in its confidence, and last year’s ‘Conflict Tourism’ is a wonderful expression of their vision of music and beyond.
“I’ve been a fan of Gilmore & Roberts for a long time,” said Downend Folk Club’s chairman Ant Miles, “so to get them along to the club is really exciting. They’re innovative, they do things differently, and their sound is phenomenal. I know I say this every month, because it’s always true, but this really is one not to miss.”
Support in February event comes from The Susie Dobson Trio. Just 17 years old, Susie is contemporary folk singer from Downend, with a real love of performing. She takes inspiration from a wide range of contemporary folk and acoustic artists, and her YouTube videos have really made people sit up and take notice. Since her debut performance at the club’s local showcase event last March, Susie has opened for Hattie Briggs and Said The Maiden, and will be performing at Bristol Folk Festival in May. She will be joined on stage by guitarist Joe Futak and fiddle-player Amy Reynolds.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday February 19. 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 you are encouraged to bring your own glass.
Tickets are £12 but if you book by Friday February 12, they cost £10. You can get tickets from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend or from Members tickets are just £9 and can be bought from the Members Only area of the website, or direct from Ant Miles.

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