20th July 2014
1. ALWAYS GREAT MUSIC, SOMETIMES FEWER THAT USUAL LISTENERS. In last month’s newsletter I talked about our problems in attracting enough of you to come along to the club during the summer months. Since then we’ve varied between a good turnout (last week for Hissyfit), a decent level of support - but not quite enough to cover the artists’ fee (Jaywalkers) and an embarrassingly thin audience (for Canadian unknown Sarah Jane Scouten). Needless to say, the music has been consistently good throughout, and in fact Sarah Jane’s ratio of CD sales to audience numbers was one of the highest I have ever witnessed, a sure sign of an impressive performer. Let’s hope more people support our remaining run of summer guest nights, as detailed below!
2. WELCOME BACK STEVE TILSTON, 24th JULY. No stranger to our crooked staircase and unique club room is Steve Tilston, coming to us this week for what is possibly his 13th booking at the Black Swan. Many of you will be well acquainted with the long and illustrious career of this great musician. Over forty years down the road from his first album, Steve remains firmly at the top of his game. As a celebrated song-smith and a superb acoustic guitar player, he has very few equals. Indeed, to quote the magazine Dirty Linen, Steve “can stand shoulder to shoulder with any guitarist/songwriter in the world”.
Steve is the writer of classics such as The Slip-Jigs and Reels, The Naked Highwayman and Here’s to Tom Paine and his songs have been covered by a who’s who of the folk scene, while The Reckoningwas named Best Original Song of 2012 in the BBC Folk Awards. He is also a blindingly, dazzlingly good guitarist with a style echoing the elaborate “folk baroque” of Bert Jansch and Davy Graham, but also drawing from classical, roots and the tradition to create a sound that is very much his own..
Steve was last here three years ago and it is a real pleasure to welcome him back. This one costs £10 full / £9 concessions and while it seems likely there will be tickets left for sale on the door, pre-booking at WeGotTickets might just be prudent and certainly makes things easier for us. Eddie Affleck acts as MC and doors open as usual at 8pm.
3. PRESENTING PLUMHALL, 31st JULY. Next week brings a club debut for contemporary folk/pop duo Plumhall, alias Michelle Plum (of Chumbawamba and Waking The Witch fame) and Nick Hall (of the Hall Brothers, who were club regulars once upon a distant time). We can expect powerfully played acoustic guitars, two strong voices both lead and harmony, intelligent lyrics, memorable melodies and an easy stage manner – all the ingredients for a great summer’s night of music. Take Steve Knightley’s advice on this one: "A fine duo - go and see them if you get the chance".
Just out is Plumhall’s debut album Thundercloud, produced by David Crickmore of The Durbervilles, which earns a 4 star review in the latest issue of R2 magazine. It is “chock full of the rootsy melodic treats they’ve been peddling on the live circuit for the past few years” says critic Oz Hardwick. “The studio sound is expanded with a full band but the focus is still on Michelle and Nick’s arresting vocals and that distinctive big acoustic sound. This is a debut of rare artistic maturity from a duo with a fine future ahead of them.”
Stan Graham will be MC for this one and tickets are £9 full / £8 concessions, on the door or in advance through WeGotTickets.
4. THE TALENTED MR BRINDLEY, 14th AUGUST. After our monthly Singers Night on 7th August, we move on to a personal favourite of mine, the Lancashire-based singer and multi-instrumentalistJon Brindley on 14th August. On his website, Jon writes “I’ve explored music through many forms: Celtic melodies, blues, contemporary folk, country, rock, popular songs and traditional ballads can all be (found in) my repertoire. Expect the unexpected!” I love that eclectic approach. He’s an engaging performer, with a great voice, considerable playing sills (on guitar, fiddle or accordion) and an easy stage manner. This will be his third visit to the Black Swan, so let’s make him welcome. Eddie Affleck is again the host and entry is £8 full / £7 concessions.
5. FIRST TIME SOLO FOR PATSY MATHESON, 21st AUGUST. Next up, we are delighted to present an evening with singer/songwriter Patsy Matheson on 21st August. She is now firmly back on the road after health scares and a major operation last winter. Patsy did a duo show for us in 2012 with fellow former Waking the Witch member Becky Mills, but this will be her first solo feature at the Black Swan. It comes at a very opportune time. Her new CD has attracted a shed-full of glowing reviews and there is a feature article in the latest edition of fRoots. Here are a few review quotes:
“One of contemporary folk’s finest voices and writers... it’s as musically accomplished as you would imagine, but it’s her relaxed, assured vocals, catchy melodies and wry lyrics that are its greatest strengths” – Mike Davies, Folk Radio UK.
“Patsy is a significant and stylish songwriter. Domino Girls is her most accomplished release yet” – Andy Kershaw, Broadcaster.
“There’s an overcrowded market of female singer-songwriter-guitarists, but Patsy Matheson stands out for the quality of her singing and more importantly, her songwriting ... her best songs are thoughtful, delicate and impressively original” – Robin Denselow, The Guardian.
“The Hollies – listen carefully to the lyrics of this song – it’s a great example of really good song writing” – Mike Harding.
It is back to Stan Graham to MC this one and the entry charge is £8 full / £7 concessions.
6. YOUNG MEN MAKING AN IMPACT, GREG & CIARAN, 28th AUGUST. There is quite a buzz developing about our final guests in August. Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar carried off this year’s BBC Folk Award in the Horizon category for best new act, having previously won the Young Folk Award in 2013. Their second album is just out and has been very well received, including a Playlist (best of the month) nomination in fRoots, where Colin Irwin writes: “Greg Russell’s voice has a rare sort of majesty, Algar’s fiddle is engagingly empathetic and honest with a lovely tone, the material is unhackneyed and well chosen, arrangements refreshingly simple and understated. These two surely are the real deal.”
Though young, Greg and Ciaran have had lots of performing experience (Ciaran played here with the group Trí back in 2011) and their music has a maturity which belies their years. Whether it is a traditional ballad, a modern cover (from such as James Keelaghan or Phil Colclough) or a set of instrumentals, they excel at everything they do. This one should be a cracker! Eddie Affleck is again the MC and tickets are £9 and £8, on the door or (preferably) pre-booked at WeGotTickets.
7. ONLINE BOOKING NOW OPEN FOR ALL AUTUMN GUEST ARTISTS. Tickets are now on sale at wegottickets.com for all our upcoming club guests, right through until Christmas. The full autumn line-up looks like this:
· September: Edwina Hayes (11th), Hans Theessink (18th), Wizz Jones (25th)
· October: Sunjay Brayne (9th), Bella Hardy & Cara Luft (16th), Mike Silver (23rd)
· November: James Keelaghan (6th), Judy Dunlop (13th), Gavin Davenport (20th)
· December: Martin Carthy (TWO NIGHTS, 3rd & 4th), the Churchfitters (11th)
Needless to say, early booking is advised for quite a few of these – Hans, Bella, Martin, etc.
8. AUTUMN NCEM CONCERTS ALSO ON SALE. In addition to the above, we have five great concerts lined up for the National Centre for Early Music this autumn, with booking now open for all of them. The varied line-up includes master guitarist and singer Martin Simpson (4th October), Celtic collaborators Ross Ainslie of Scotland and Jarlath Henderson of Ireland (20th October), top contemporary song duo Chris While & Julie Matthews (2nd November), a first headlining tour for Nancy Kerr with The Sweet Visitor Band (26th November) and the return of Blast From The Past with A Medieval Christmas (17th December). Also coming, but promoted by NCEM rather than us, is the mighty Chris Wood (20th September). Box Office is at www.ncem.co.uk, 01904 658338.
9. REMEMBERING STE KENWRIGHT. We mark with great sadness the death of local musician and all-round good guy Ste Kenwright. After a long struggle with cancer, Ste passed away at St Leonard’s Hospice earlier this month. He was only 46. Ste first came to our attention and friendship with the group Beyond The Pale around twenty years ago, playing a pleasing mix of Americana and folk. Later bands included Pale And Interesting and most recently Ostler’s Dog, seen in action at our 2013 Folk Weekend, while Ste was also an occasional solo performer at our Singers Nights. By day, he was a respected primary school teacher and an active member of his local community, alongside life partner Helen.
During his final months in the hospice Ste managed to record some of his songs for a fundraising CD “as a creative legacy and as a contribution to organisations that have helped me along this difficult journey”. There was a good feature piece in the York Press about this project; see www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/
Our deepest condolences go to Hellie, to band mates John Vaughan and Paul Robson, and to all Ste’s family and many friends.
10. A NEW BOOK FROM DON. Much loved local poet Don Walls has produced a new book of poems, entitled Somewhere Else. This is his sixth volume, and his first with Stairwell Books,www.stairwellbooks.co.uk. The book was very successfully launched at City Screen Basement a couple of weeks ago, with readings by Don himself and several other local poets, plus musical contributions from Toni Bunnell, Sarah Dean and The A-Rhythmics.
Sadly, Don does not get to our club nights very often these days, due to mobility problems and uncertain health, but I have obtained a small stock of the new book to sell on his behalf. His recent CD, Poems from In The Shed, has also been re-pressed and I have some of those as well. The book costs £8 and the CD is £5, on sale any Thursday night at the club.
11. LOCAL LAD GRADUATES AT NEWCASTLE. Local young man Dan Foster has just graduated from Newcastle University, one of 14 students this year to be awarded a Bachelor of Music with Honours in Folk and Traditional Music. His proud father Richard (formerly of the York Press and a keen folk enthusiast) tells me that Dan “earned a first class score for his performance and achieved a 2:1 degree overall”. His finals recital at the Sage can be viewed online at http://stream.ncl.ac.uk/flash/
12. TONY LETS OFF STEAM. Club resident Tony Morris writes “early in 2014 Dr Keith Armstrong of Northern Voices asked me to write some poems for a book to be published on George Stephenson’s work at Killingworth in North Tyneside, where he made his early experiments with steam locomotion. Four of my poems have been chosen for the book and I will be at the White Swan Centre in Killingworth this Friday, 25th July, to read them”. Tony will also be providing an introductory steam locomotive inspired piece of music, named Blutcher after Stephenson’s first moving engine, played on the Fujara (a very large Slovakian flute), “if the ceiling at the White Swan Centre is high enough”, he jokes.
13. CROWD FUNDING SUCCESS FOR SHIRLEY COLLINS. With two days left to go, I am happy to report that the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign which I mentioned last time has passed its threshold target of £25,000 to support a documentary film about the live and work of influential folk revival singer Shirley Collins. I pledged £25 on behalf of the Folk Club, but if you’d like to add your personal contribution, you have until midnight on Tuesday to do so at www.kickstarter.com/projects/
14. EDWINA IN CHINA AND NASHVILLE AND AUSTRALIA AND… Just before departing for her current tour of China (where she will be one of the first UK folk/acoustic Edwina Hayes to perform),Edwina Hayes updated us on future plans, which include a trip to Nashville and New York in November and a first tour of Australia next March, with European dates to follow as guest vocalist in Real Time in May and October 2015. This summer she has festivals such as Cropredy and Fylde to look forward to. Edwina is of course our own club guest on 11th September and she will also be special support act for Chris While & Julie Matthews at the NCEM on 2nd November, immediately before flying to USA.
15. BELLOWHEAD HIT THE CHARTS. I was delighted to see that folk big band Bellowhead crashed into the UK albums chart at no 12 last week (12th July) with their new release on Island Records,Revival. Even though they have dropped down quite a few places this week (19th July), they’ve still shown that folk music can reach a sizeable market. Their autumn tour should do the same, and includes a performance at the York Barbican on Wednesday 12th November.
16. FOLK AHOY TO REPEAT IN 2015 – PA & SOUND CREW NEEDED. Back in March there was a one-day event at the Black Swan Inn, called Folk Ahoy! and run independently of us, the folk club, as a fundraiser for York Against Cancer. The energetic woman behind it was Ellen Cole, who also organised the music at the recent York Festival of Food & Drink (E-News 176) and is involved in Music on Rails at the Railway Museum – see item 26 below.
Ellen now writes “we are doing another Folk Ahoy! event in September, however this time we are doing it over a weekend (27th & 28th, 5pm – 11pm), as 9 hours straight through on one day was a bit too much. We are looking for a technician and sound equipment for the venue.” Can anyone out there offer their time and suitable PA equipment to help out with this? It would have to be unpaid of course, as Ellen points out. “All the money we make we give to charity. We do the festival for the love of our music scene.” If you can help, contact her on email@example.com.
17. A WELCOME VISIT FROM JO & MO. I was particularly pleased to see Joe & Maureen Nicholson at our club last week for Hissyfit. This lovely Harrogate couple were regulars at the Black Swan in the later 1980s and indeed both of them did numerous turns as our Thursday night MC. They also ran their own club in Knaresborough for quite a while, and were frequently seen at other folk gatherings in the Yorkshire region. In later years they dropped out of the commute to York but continue to be famous as singaround hosts at Whitby, Saltburn, Fylde, Cleckheaton and numerous other festivals. They even earned a feature piece in Living Tradition magazine no 95, about 18 months ago. Joe is turned 80 these days but I must say he was looking in good shape. Long may they continue!
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK & BEYOND
18. GORDIE MacKEEMAN AT HARROGATE. Prompt readers are just in time to catch Canadian outfit Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys in concert at the Harrogate Theatre tomorrow night, Monday 21st July, at 7.30pm. Hailing from Prince Edward Island, this award-winning group “serve up old-time roots music with an energy level that practically yanks you out of your seat by the collar”. There is a special offer to Newsletter readers of tickets for £10. Quote RHYTHM10 online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk or at the Box Office on 01423 502116.
19. HARDRAW’S GATHERING. The Hardraw Summer Gathering takes place next weekend, 25th-28th July, at the famous Green Dragon Inn near Hawes in beautiful Wensleydale. There is a mixture of sessions, singarounds and concerts and artists appearing include York Weekend favourites the Duncan McFarlane Band and the Gerry McNeice Band. Find out more at www.hardrawgathering.com.
20. TAKE TO THE ORKNEY CHAIR. In a late addition to their programme, top Orkney group The Chair appear at Otley Courthouse next Saturday, 26th July, at 8pm, - “a big band at a small venue” says promoter Simon Heginbotham, “a seated show, but with space to dance for those who wish”. Tickets are £12.50 (£11 concessions) at www.otleycourthouse.org.uk or on 01943 467466.
21. DANCE THROUGH THE SUMMER. Like us at the folk club, York Ceilidhs are operating as normal through the summer season, on the last Sunday of each month at York Railway Institute from 7.30pm. That means there are all-welcome folk dances coming up on 27th July and 31st August. The website is www.yorkceilidhs.co.uk.
22. POLICE DOGS ON THE WOLDS. Seven piece London band Police Dog Hogan play fiddle, banjo, mandolin, drums and guitar and are described as “an exuberant fusing of country, pop, folk, and rocking urban bluegrass, fast gaining a cult following”. Members include journalists Tim Dowling (The Guardian) and Tim Jepson (Daily Telegraph). They appear at the Community Centre in Hunmanby, on the Yorkshire Wolds, next Sunday, 27th July at 7.30pm. Tickets at £12 are available on 01723 891507 or 01723 891514 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
23. MAGNOLIAS IN FARNDALE. A final reminder that Cajun women’s group The Magnolia Sisters are at The Band Room in Farndale on Monday 28th July. Tickets are normally £17.50, but if you contact Nigel on 01751 432900 or email@example.com quoting “Black Swan Newsletter” you can have a special offer price of £15.
24. SALTBURN FOLK FESTIVAL. The 17th annual festival of folk music, dance and song takes place in the lovely Victorian resort of Saltburn by the Sea over the weekend of 8th-10th August. As usual there is a very full programme. Find out more and book (tickets still available) at www.saltburnfolkfestival.com.
25. MUSIC PICNIC IN BIELBY. The annual Bielby Music Festival, The Picnic, takes place on Bank Holiday Sunday, 24th August, in this village near Pocklington. The line-up includes many different styles of music, including Americana from Route 64, jazz from Snake Davis and a brass band. Find out more at www.facebook.com/pages/The-
26. MUSIC ON RAILS AT THE NRM. The ever active Ellen Cole (see item 16 above), in association with MOR Music, has organised a ten hour “family friendly free music extravaganza” for the National Railway Museum on Saturday 6th September, starting at 2pm. Music On Rails will include a wide range of local singers and bands, with folk and acoustic music represented by the likes of David Ward Maclean, Aimie J Ryan, Holly Taymar and Boss Caine. “The acts will be playing in our atmospheric Station Hall” says Ellen, “as well as on a moving train, the Director’s Saloon, out in the South Yard”. Most of the acoustic acts will be on the latter stage, free tickets for which must be pre-booked, due to limited space. Find out more at www.nrm.org.uk/planavisit/
That’s all for now. Expect another burst of news towards the end of August