Review Maz O’Connor (with The Black Feathers) at Downend Folk Club
Published on: 05 Mar 2015
(with The Black Feathers)
Friday February 20,
Christ Church Downend
“THIS,” according to The Black Feathers “is a posh gig”. The Black Feathers are supporting the utterly divine Maz O’Connor at the Downend Folk Club…and they are not wrong in the slightest.
Christ Church, once again, rings to the sound of folk music and a damn fine job it makes of it. The Black Feathers are up to the task too. Delightfully acoustic, beautifully country, a tiny bit folk. Just lovely.
“Just lovely” would be a perfect way to describe tonight’s headline act. Maz O’Connor is everything a modern folk singer should be. She has a foot in the traditional but enough modern suss to make Radio 2 take notice. And she has a voice. Oh man, does she have a voice. On the opening tune she soars, scrapes the arched ceiling and sends tiny sparks of stardust sailing out into the night air. The irony is not lost as she sings “Lord knows, I’m not the praying kind.” In a church, of all places.
The highlight of her recent album, ‘The Grey Selkie’, is delivered later. All longing and understated beauty. Earlier on she warns us; “I hope you like sad songs”. Yeah, they’re sad . But they’re gorgeous sad. Velvet sad. The album is called ‘This Willowed Light’, it’s produced by folk super hero Jim Moray, and needs to be in your iTunes playlist, or wherever you keep your music.
Considering she’s barely out of her teens Maz O’Connor is incredibly assured. Old songs sit next to new ones. Historical references and folk tales are embroidered with fluid guitar parts. Maybe all of those BBC Folk award nominations do that to a girl. She is witty and wry, dry and amused. All the while singing songs that swim around us, luring us onto rocks. She even has another stab at gently baiting the religious. Her ‘alternative creation myth’, ‘Mississippi Woman’, is lyrical and warm. A feminist message whispered on the breeze.
It’s at times like this that you wonder two things. First, how do these songs not find a place in every radio station and living room on the land; ‘Nightcap’, for example, is a proper pop tune. Second you have to wonder how this little folk club in Downend keeps booking priceless gems.
It might be a “posh” gig but it’s hard to imagine that there’s a better night to be had in this part of the world tonight. Or any other night. Lucy Ward is up next and she’s nothing short of brilliant. But not posh.
Downend Folk Club regular
Next at Downend Folk Club
An evening of the very best of local folk and acoustic talent
Friday March 6
Fenchay Village Hall
Friday March 20
Fenchay Village Hall
DOWNEND Folk Club is bringing you not just one but two events in March. Kicking off the month is an evening of the very best of local folk and acoustic talent on Friday March 6. Downend-based foursome Road Not Taken are headlining the event, which also features Edd Donovan, Steffan Lewis & Rachel Foster, Geoff Pugh, Noey McElwee, Max Tremlin and Susie Dobson, as well as singing led by the Mangotsfield Kitchen Project.
Tickets are £5 each, while folk club members go free. Please see www.downendfolkclub.co.uk for details of how to get tickets.
The main March concert features yet another superstar of the UK folk music scene.
Lucy Ward is an award winning acoustic artist from Derby. She plays guitar, ukulele and concertina but considers her voice to be her first instrument.
After getting her first guitar at the age of 14, Lucy ventured into acoustic clubs, it was there that she first heard the traditional music she now loves. Captured by the lyrics and stories of traditional song, Lucy delved further into the world of folk music, visiting clubs and sessions up and down the country before getting booked to play gigs in her own right. In 2009 Lucy reached the final of the BBC Young Folk Award and she hasn’t looked back since.
After winning the Horizon Award for best newcomer at the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Lucy’s career has gone from strength to strength establishing her as one of the hottest performers on the UK folk scene, pulling a full capacity audience for her Cambridge Folk Festival début.
In 2013 it was announced that she had been nominated for the acclaimed ‘Folk Singer of the Year’ at the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, making Lucy one of the youngest people ever to be nominated for this most prestigious award.
Downend Folk Club’s Alan Cole told Downend Voice: “When we started the club back in April last year, Lucy was immediately someone who we really wanted to get along. She’s one of the best live performers on the scene at the moment. It’s going to be a great night.”
Lucy will be joined on stage by fiddler Joy Gravestock, while the evening will be opened by the highly-rated singer-songwriter Felix M-B.
Tickets for the event are £10 in advance (£9 for members, £12 on the door). Doors at Frenchay Village Hall open at 7.30pm and there will be a bar serving Great Western Brewing Co. real ales, Severn Cider and a range of wine, soft drinks and teas and coffees, as well as raffle during the interval. To find out how to get tickets, please visit www.downendfolkclub.co.uk