Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith

May 28 2016

Live in downend Folk Club (With support from Kitty Macfarlane)

jimmy and sid

Live in downend Folk Club (With support from Kitty Macfarlane)

Occasionally… just occasionally… an audience goes home raving about the support act. It doesn’t happen often. But it happened this time a year ago, when JIMMY ALDRIDGE AND SID GOLDSMITH opened Downend Folk Club’s May 2015 concert. This month, the duo returned to the club for a headline appearance… and they didn’t disappoint!
Kicking off their set with ‘Hold The Lantern High’, performed with sumptuous vocal harmonies from two undeniably English voices, Jimmy and Sid showed instantly why the club were so keen to secure them for a longer slot.
‘Gaol Song’, from the duo’s debut album ‘Let The Wind Blow High Or Low’, quickly followed as the pair set out their stall as a “proper” folk act. How would the audience react? The rapturous applause (with the odd whoop) said it all.
Make no mistake, this was “folk”. But it was “folk” of the very highest quality. Sid claimed to have played their version of Geordie sea-shanty singer Ron Angel’s version of ‘The Chemical Worker’s Song’ at every gig he’s ever done (“sometimes twice”… we assumed he was joking!), but on the evidence of this performance, dropping it from their set would be a disasterous move; while Jimmy’s forays into songwriting, showcased in the first half with ‘Moved On’ (a song about the forced relocation of communities), proved that there is more to this duo that reinterpreting traditional material.
The first-half closed with Jimmy and Sid’s self-proclaimed “jollier number”, ‘Paddy West’, which had the 100-plus audience clapping and singing along before heading to the bar to recharge their glasses with the excellent, locally-brewed, GWB real-ale.
The second-half kicked off with Jimmy’s hint to Americana, ‘The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore’, before the pair showed off their multi-instrumentalist tendencies. Having spent the opening set entirely with their primary instruments (Jimmy on banjo and Sid on guitar), they welcomed back the enthusiastic crowd with a virtuoso concertina performance from Sid (‘Shallow Brown’) and a fiddle debut from Jimmy (Strafe Flanagan’s ‘The Grazier Tribe’, accompanied by various sheep jokes, despite a very serious subject-matter). But that’s what this underrated duo do so well… their songs are heavy on gravitas, but their warm and engaging stage-presence puts the audience immediately at ease.
The highlight of the set was saved for the title-track of their first album. As Sid’s only allowed love-song, Walter Pardon’s ‘Let The Wind Blow High Or Low’ was an absolute triumph.
The duo’s closing song, ‘The Cottager’s Reply’ (based on a poem by Cotswolder Fred Mansell, with a nod to Chris Wood’s arrangement) was the perfect end… but of course, the faithful wanted more, so Jimmy and Sid returned to the stage for the folk club classic ‘Bonny Ship The Diamond’.
The evening was kicked-off by highly-rated folk singer-songwriter KITTY MACFARLANE, whose six-song set was utterly enchanting. Playing mostly her own songs, with one Tim Buckley cover thrown in for good measure, Kitty’s beautiful voice and delicate guitar-work showed just why she is making such a name for herself. She’s just moved to Bristol, and you can bet this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her at Downend Folk Club.
But it was to the headline duo that the evening belonged.
Words: Ant Miles
Photo: Chris Dobson



Kirsty Bromley & Lucy Wise

Next at Downend Folk Club
Kirsty Bromley & Lucy Wise with Simon Dumpleton
(support from Steve Pledger)
Frenchay Village Hall,
Friday June 17,
Doors open 7.30pm

Last April, a young folk singer from Sheffield captured the hearts of the Downend Folk Club faithful with a superb unaccompanied set, opening for Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin at Christ Church Downend. Her pure, beautiful voice filled the very rafters of the old church, so having her back for a headline slot was a bit of a “no-brainer”.
That young singer was Kirsty Bromley, and she’s back this month, at the club’s regular home of Frenchay Village Hall, for a double-bill with Australian folk singer Lucy Wise.
A bringing together of two travelling songstresses, one from a remote seaside town in the south-western corner of Australia, and the other from the Steel City. Kirsty and Lucy's songs tell stories of love, people and places which zoom in on everyday moments of light and darkness. Their melodically-rich music is steeped in the Celtic, American and English folk music traditions that surrounded them growing up. Both recognised in Australia, New Zealand and the UK for their stunning vocals and intimate and moving performance styles, Kirsty and Lucy come together to tour both Australia and the UK together in 2016. This really is an evening not to be missed!
Kirsty Bromley is a young contemporary folk singer who draws upon a wide range of traditional music. She has a most disarmingly transparent voice, but also the uncanny and beautiful knack of drawing attention to the song rather than the messenger, by the manner in which she employs it.
Hailing from the far South Western corner of Australia, singer-songwriter Lucy Wise has delighted audiences across Australia, New Zealand and the UK with her masterful storytelling, intricate ukulele and guitar playing and soulful voice.
“Wise is a natural storyteller, infusing songs with a sense of place so strong you can almost feel the dusty earth crunch beneath your feet as she sings” - The Brag
The pair will be joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist Simon Dumpleton, who last visited Downend with his trio Bright Season for the club’s launch night in April 2014.
Opening the evening will be singer-songwriter Steve Pledger. Born in Cambridge, England, Steve grew up in the nearby market town of St Neots. From a very early age, one constant in his life has been music; a love for it, a need to express himself through it and, in more recent times, the opportunity to share his own songs with a growing, wider audience.
The concert will be held at Frenchay Village Hall on Friday 17th June. Doors open at 7.30pm, and the music will start at around 8.00pm. There will be a full-bar in the foyer area, open from 7.00pm, serving locally-brewed GWB real ale, Severn Cider, wine, a range of soft drinks and tea and coffee. You are encouraged to bring your own glass/tankard/bucket/mug as part of the club’s drive to be environmentally aware.
Tickets are priced at £11 each, but if you buy before Friday 10th June, you can get them for the ‘Early-Bird’ price of just £9 each. Tickets are available from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend or online from www.downendfolkclub.co.uk. Members tickets are a bargain £8 each (before Friday 10th June) and are available from the Members Area of the website or direct from Ant Miles. Email downendfolkclub@live.com.