Spellbinding Jennifer Crook trio wow fans

October 31 2014

What’s the best thing to come out of Downend? Badminton Road? W.G. Grace? Keren and Sara from Bananarama? Or Jennifer Crook?

jennifer crook live at downend Photo- Chris Dobson

What’s the best thing to come out of Downend?  Badminton Road?  W.G. Grace?  Keren and Sara from Bananarama?  Or Jennifer Crook?

On a wet, dark night in October, when autumn leaves were just a little too slippery on Downend’s quiet streets, a girl came home.  Harpist, singer, songwriter and Downend School alumnus Jennifer Crook played in the hushed surroundings of Christ Church, home for the evening to Downend Folk Club.  If this was a homecoming it was an unreserved triumph.

For the last two months the Folk Club has had a good-time, foot-stomping feel. Fiddles have flown and roofs have been lifted, cheeky banter has been mixed with cheerful sing-alongs. The Jennifer Crook Trio offered almost none of this yet were as beguiling and bewitching as anything that we have seen this year. They took the hushed, golden glow of the church and wrapped themselves in it, creating the perfect soundtrack for this season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

As befits this time of melancholy and shadows this incredible band returned home to support an album that takes its inspiration, or at least its title, from one of the most romantic movies of all time. Carnforth Station is where Noel Coward set Brief Encounter and so it lends its name to a truly perfect folk album. The title track itself an absolute charming highlight of the set but one that was eclipsed by a tune that deserves far wider recognition than a busy church in South Gloucestershire is likely to give it. The Net is an epic.  A swirling, bobbing, sea-swept thing of beauty.  It marries a folk ear and tiny Irish reel to Americana yearning using a plucked harp to drive a lovely melody. The harp, by the way, banishes any fears of Clannad-style tweeness. Jennifer Crooks strums, plucks and shimmers over it. It’s simply magical.

The Trio is made up of Beth Porter on cello and Mike Cosgrave on accordion and guitar. Both are stupendous musicians with Porter, in particular, adding delicious melodies to Crook’s heartfelt voice.

Just as the darkness and melancholia threatened to overtake us all Jennifer Crook unveiled two absolute show-stoppers.  I’ve Forgotten Everything and Blame it on the Rain were delightfully uplifting and sent everyone back out into the rain with a ready-brek glow. What’s the best thing to come out of Downend?  The Jennifer Crook Trio.  And the Folk Club. Of course.  

Gavin McNamara


Next at Downend Folk Club –
Jess Vincent, with Marcel Rose

Friday November 21, Frenchay Village Hall

WITH a beautiful voice matched by an extraordinary songwriting talent, Jess Vincent will be Downend Folk Club’s headline guest in November.

Jess is a singer/songwriter from Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire and the owner of a highly distinctive and mature voice and song writing talent. Often compared to Kate Bush, and Iris Dement, she has two albums, Timeframe and Seesaw Dreams and is actively gigging and promoting these across the UK.

“Jess Vincent is a name that should become as familiar on the lips as the wind is upon the trees,” said one Fatea Records review, while the well-respected Reg Meuross is also a fan: “One of the most exciting singer songwriters I’ve heard in years, with a magical voice and an exceptional and truly innovative songwriting talent.” 

Playing guitar, ukelele and shruti box, she will be joined on stage by multi-instrumentalist Marcel Rose for the gig. To find our more about Jess and see some of her videos, please visit www.jessvincentsings.com

Opening the show at Frenchay Village Hall will be Mangotsfield-based ladies’ acapella chorus Black Sheep Harmony. The chorus was formed in April 2012 by a group of people who wanted to sing unaccompanied close harmony in a happy, relaxed environment where music is king. Their watchword is continual improvement so that their singing stands them out from the crowd (or flock)! Their appearance at Downend Folk Club continues the club’s passion for promoting local artists. They have their own website, www.blacksheepharmony.co.uk

The concert takes place Friday November 21 with doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 in advance (£7 for members via the website only), or £10 on the door. They are available from Baguette Me Not in Downend, Bristol Ticket Shop and www.downendfolkclub.co.uk, where you can also find more information about the club, including our membership scheme.