"Bearded balladeer S J DOWNES opens the night solitary on stage, bearing his soul with only his guitar to accompany his haunting renditions. While early birds tiptoe around tables draped in gingham so as not to disturb his gospel-tinged, finger-picking blues, you begin to wonder why, when a man as talented as he can obtain the hushed respect of a room full of revellers, that same reverence and recognition cannot be gained by musicians such as himself from a corrupt and increasingly meretricious industry." 

Bethany Garrett - BIDO LITO

 “Starting with the traditional blues of S.J. DOWNES, a man very much devoted to his love of 1920’s Mississippi blues. Although whilst his listed influences might include the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charlie Patton, vocally he brings to mind the distinctive calm of Nick Drake. Downes’s set was in fact something of an homage, celebrating the vast array of early blues talent, now oft-forgotten with the passing of time. The precision that these renditions are delivered with is not lost on the crowd who sit quietly and appreciatively before what rapidly became a blues masterclass.” 

Pete Robinson - Glasswerks