Downend Folk & Roots have revealed their programme for Summer 2023 as they continue to deliver on their promise to bring the most exciting talent to South Gloucestershire.

They begin their season with a visit from Jon Wilks, an acclaimed fingerpicking guitarist and singer of traditional folk songs and broadside ballads from the English repertoire. He has a great eye/ear for a story, and this shows in his live shows – an amusing mix of folk song performance and storytelling. The concert takes place on Friday 19 May, and Jennie Higgins will get the music underway.

Bella Hardy’s return to Downend is probably long overdue. Bella was one of our very first guests when we launched back in 2014 when she performed a solo set as the recently-crowned BBC Folk Singer of the Year. This time she’ll be joined by Sam Carter (guitar) and Daniel Wallington (keys) as they tour Bella’s latest album, Love Songs. We’ve pushed the boat out on this one because we KNOW you’ll love it, so we hope you’ll join us on Friday 16 June, when Hannah Scott will be in support before Bella’s trio take to the stage.

Rounding off the Summer season will be Owen Spafford & Louis Campbell, who will be the headline guests on Friday 21 July. Owen and Louis met as as part of the first cohort of the National Youth Folk Ensemble and they have been nominated for the BBC Young Folk Award and been played on BBC Radio 2 and 3, as well as RTE1. A shared musical ‘true north’ and lasting friendship enable the duo to make two instruments seemingly sound as one; creating subtle and emotive textures that re-calibrate the fiddle and guitar duo idiom. The opening set will come from singer-songwriter Minnie Birch.

All four concerts will take place at Christ Church Downend. Seating is unreserved. The concerts are individually priced, but you can also buy a season ticket for all three concerts for £38, a saving of almost £10. All tickets are non-refundable. They will also be available from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend ahead of each individual gig. Please note that they can only take cash payments and season tickets are NOT available at the shop. There will be a full bar at all concerts, as well as a prize draw. 

Words: Gavin McNamara

Photos: Barry Savell