Folk Around Fishponds (FAF) is an acoustic folk club in Bristol run by live music enthusiasts. ‘Folk’ music can mean different things to different people, but basically FAF is a live acoustic music club with a foot firmly in the folk tradition.

During an average evening, music played ranges from traditional folk to blues, Americana, jazz, rock, pop covers, old favourites, humorous songs and more.  

The club meets at the The Cross Hands pub on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 8pm. It’s a non-profit community group and the £2 door entry covers the cost of hiring the room. Any surplus from this or ticket sales is put back into the club for costs, to subsidise ticket prices at occasional special guest events or is donated to charity.

FAF committee members Tony O’Hare, Grace Walsh and Pete Rowley (who acts as treasurer and looks after the website) tell us how the group was established, who attends and how it works:

Tony: “FAF started in 1999 as an informal musical get-together, and two of the four founding members - Colin and Richard - are still regulars at the club. Over the years, living up to its name, the club has at various times been held in a number of pubs in Fishponds - starting in The Cross Hands, residing for a couple of lengthy spells at The Cross Keys, and also briefly flirting with The Portcullis and The Star. Autumn 2012 saw the club move back to The Cross Hands, in the upstairs function room.

“We cater for different levels of ability, ranging from experienced performers to relative beginners, but you do obviously need to be able to hold a tune! We're a friendly bunch, very supportive of newcomers and regulars alike. Come along and give it a try! Normally there's an MC and other members of the committee are there to ensure that things run smoothly. 

“On a normal night we might start with each performer playing or singing two songs each in turn, then if time allows everyone gets a chance to play another song. We have special guests every three to four months, so on a ‘guest’ night other performers may be limited to one or two songs each depending on time.”

Pete: “Our regulars are mainly people from middle age upwards, but actually in the last few years we’ve also had people with their teenagers and 20-30-year-old children who like to play music come along too.

“We take it in turns to be the MC, checking in with people as they arrive to see who wants to perform and working out the running order and then introducing each performer or group.  We've got a few rules, a bit like traditional folk clubs, in that we ask people to be quiet when someone is performing. It's not an open mic so there’s no amplification - it’s all about giving the musicians a safe and respectful platform. We encourage the audience to listen and applaud at the end.

“I guess new people don't know that so you need to make sure that they do. And, you know, we're not hugely strict. I mean, at some clubs, you have to wait at the door until there’s a gap between songs, and some people do that, it depends on the occasion.” 

Grace: “It does really help if there’s an attentive and responsive audience, because although we have some really polished folk musicians, there are also many of us who are less confident and work hard at it. We don't put people down and we applaud and make sure people feel encouraged. I'm glad when I first came that some people clapped and were nice to me and gave good feedback, because it's really nerve racking.

“Over the years we’ve become a group of friends, we're not necessarily each other's best friends, but we are a group of friends. During COVID we switched to meeting on Zoom and people that used to come but have moved out of the area were able to join in again. There were some very touching performances and we had a bit more time for chit chat which I think really helped us to bond as a group.”


A lot of people who come along to the sessions probably wouldn't perform anywhere else, they wouldn't have the confidence or feel they have the ability or whatever, but they feel comfortable coming here to perform and listen to others perform.

FAF also raises money for local charities, either from tickets sold for their special events or from the sale of CDs they have produced with contributions from some of the regulars. Over the last few years they have raised over £1,600 for charities, including: Musicspace, Singing For The Brain, St Peter's Hospice, CLIC Sargent, Guide Dogs and Elm Tree Farm. 

You can find out more about their charity CD here:

Check out FAF’s website here and follow them at and on Soundcloud