Downend Folk Club

June 30 2015

Downend Folk Club


O’Hooley and Tidow –
Downend Folk Club

Learning stuff is brilliant.  Did you know that a “Kitsune” is a shape-shifting fox?  From Japanese folklore?  One that transforms into a human woman?  Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow taught us that at the Downend Folk Club.  That and so much more.
The idea of the Kitsune is strangely fitting for two of the most remarkable singers to have graced the little Frenchay stage.  Before a chord was struck these two looked different from every other winsome folk duo.  No flowers in their hair.  No floaty dresses. No violins, cellos and accordions.  Hell no.  O’Hooley and Tidow are biker chic; tattoos and nose rings, muscles and attitude.  Then they sing.  And play piano.  
They start with the title track of the new album, “The Hum, a song about factories, working people and Huddersfield.  The two harmonise with ease, their voices twisting and weaving throwing out tendrils to drag you in. Then, just as you have them pegged as tellers of Northern tales, careful, loving painters of sad little lives, they transform.  They stop your heart with something beautiful.  They sing of song of such power, grace and majesty that the whole world seems to pause and listen.
After “Two Mothers”, also taken from “The Hum”, there was a moment of stunned silence.  Just a moment before the applause.  A song about Britain’s child migration scheme of the 70s (more stuff to learn about!) delivered with such intensity and heartbreak, with such anger and tenderness.  You would say it was a highlight of the night, were it not for the fact that almost every song was exquisite.  
Staggering a capella versions of songs by Ewan Maccoll and Massive Attack (a slowed, gorgeous take on “Teardrop”) as well as traditional Irish songs, learned from Belinda’s father, could almost make you believe that these two deal only in hushed folky airs.  But then they transform again.  Into Nothern folk club comedians, sending each other up, telling stories, cracking jokes and professing a love of real ale.
If folk music is about giving voices to the voiceless then O’Hooley and Tidow embody everything that is right with folk music just now.  “The Hum” reminds us about the smallest and the weakest, the hard working and defiant.  Raw, husky voices tell us things that we need to learn and remind us of things too easily forgotten.  Then, delivered with no amplification in the middle of the audience, they give us “The Parting Glass” and send us home smiling, privileged to have shared something damn special.  The night transformed.
Just a note has to go to the support act, Robert Lane, too.  He might not have the transformative power of the headliners just yet but he kicked the whole evening off in fine style.  A singer of Brummy 12 bar blues with strummed edges as well as acoustic, summery tunes perfect for campfires.  He inspired a mass sing-along to his cover of the Bee-Gees “To Love Somebody” and that, frankly, has to be applauded.
Jackie Oates is up next at the Folk Club.  It’ll be real.  

Gavin McNamara


Next at Downend Folk Club -

Jackie Oates with Mike Cosgrave (support from Kim Lowings and The Greenwood)

Frenchay Village Hall,
Friday July 17,
Doors open 7.30pm

Every once in a while, you might chance upon a singer with a voice which might just change your life. Come along to Downend Folk Club, on Friday 17th July, and you will hear that singer. You will hear Jackie Oates.
Fresh from last month’s fantastic gig from O’Hooley & Tidow, with support from Robert Lane, the Club welcomes critically acclaimed singer and fiddle player Jackie Oates. Jackie will be presenting songs from her new The Spyglass & The Herringbone album, as well as from her five other records. Combining wit, stage presence and a disarmingly beautiful voice, Jackie’s take on traditional English ballads and songs will take you on a journey far and near.
Jackie’s career has seen her nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003, and win two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards including the Horizon Award for best newcomer, as well as her 2009 album Hyperboreans receive a nomination for the fRoots Critics’ Poll Album of the Year. She was also a founder member of Northumbrian group and Mercury nominated Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.
‘Hers is such a different world that whenever I hear [her] I just want to be part of it’  The Word
The club are rightly excited about Jackie’s appearance, as they continue to build their profile as one of the most exciting folk venues in the country. Jackie’s crystal clear singing, sensitive fiddle playing and Mike Cosgrave’s accordion and guitar will mean a night to remember.
Opening proceedings will be Kim Lowings & The Greenwood, a four-piece from Stourbridge whose repertoire spans the traditional and the original. With vocals, piano and Appalachian dulcimer from Kim, and guitar, percussion and more from the band, the audience is assured a diverse and invigorating set from a group who have performed at Moira Furnace Folk Festival, Bromsgrove Folk Festival, and Warwick Folk Festival, winning the New Folk competition.
The event will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday July 17.  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 £12 in advance, £14 on the door, and are available from Melanie’s Kitchen, Kafe Karma, Bristol Ticket Shop and Members tickets are £11 and are available from the website or direct from Ant Miles.  
For further information, please contact Ant Miles on 0783 7881941 or email