July 2020: Downend Folk Club News
We may have been stuck indoors for many weeks, but that hasn’t stopped Downend Folk Club from bringing the very best folk, roots and acoustic music to their regulars.
Within days of lockdown being announced, the club had announced a series of online events, with a guest each week joining the club’s founder and chairman Ant Miles for “an hour or so” on Facebook. The events have focused on chat, taking an informal interview style, but each guest has also played a handful of songs, while as the events have progressed, videos and photos have been introduced.
The club, founded in 2014, was forced to cancel its scheduled monthly concerts from March-July, meaning that local music lovers missed out on visits from Salt House, India Electric Co., Sam Carter and The Home Waters String Quartet, Hannah James & Toby Kuhn, and Luke Jackson.
“We could have just said, ‘we can’t do any of our concerts so we’ll just do nothing’, but we remain committed to bringing great music to South Gloucestershire, so we just had to think of a way to do it under lockdown conditions,” Ant told Downend Voice. “We use social media a lot to promote our concerts, so people are used to seeing stuff from the club there, so that seemed like an obvious choice.”
The chat-heavy format has been widely praised by the club’s regulars, visitors and musicians alike, resulting in a big increase in Facebook likes for the club. “The initial temptation was just to try and do online concerts, but as soon as lockdown happened lots of people started doing them, with varying degrees of success. We wanted to do something a bit different, based around chat with a sprinkling of music,” explained Ant. “That’s where the idea of ‘an hour or so with…’ came from, and it’s been a massive success.”
The series, which takes place every Friday evening at 8.00pm, has already seen appearances from some of the top names in folk, roots and acoustic music. Starting with the club’s Patron Jim Moray on the second Friday of lockdown, the club has since welcomed stars such as Sam Carter, Lucy Ward, Edgelarks, along with emerging talent including Nick Hart, Cup O’Joe, and Georgia Lewis.
The events are free to attend, but the club has been running a donations box each evening, with the proceeds going direct to the artist. “We really felt that we wanted to do something to support musicians during this time when many of them have lost all their work,” continued Ant, “so we’ve not taken a penny and we’ve raised over £5000 in total, which is amazing and I’d like to thank everyone that has donated. It’s made a real difference to the artists that we’ve featured.”
The club is lining up something a little different for the final online session before the Summer break, on Friday 17th July. The donations that night will go to the club. “We’re not letting the cat out of the bag just yet,” concluded Ant. “People will have to tune in and see!”