Late November 2010
Hello again. After a series of short “club only” newsletters this one casts the net much wider. In consequence, and with a backlog of news items, it is a long one. I hope you find it both useful and interesting.
CONCERTS & CLUB NIGHTS
1. VIN GARBUTT. There are still some tickets available for Vin Garbutt’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music this coming Wednesday, 1st December. Happily, we are well past the “break-even” point on sales, but it would be great to have a really full house for our final NCEM concert this year. Chris Euesden does the support set (stepping in for Stan Graham, who can no longer appear) and doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start. Tickets are £13 (or £11 concessions) – at www.ncem.co.uk, on 01904 658338 or on the door.
2. STEVE KNIGHTLEY. There has already been huge interest in our first NCEM concert of 2011, Steve Knightley on 11th February. We had intended to open booking in January, but we’ve brought that forward and tickets are on sale NOW. Buy early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are £16 (£14 concessions) at www.ncem.co.uk, or on 01904 658338.
3. WIZZ JONES. Our club guest on Thursday 2nd December is one of the truly great veterans of the British folk scene, acoustic guitar maestro Wizz Jones. He may have turned 70 but happily Wizz shows no sign of retiring yet. A musicians’ musician, Wizz is also a fine singer and a delightfully modest performer with a wide repertoire of modern songs, blues and original numbers. He formed his first band way back in 1957(!) and through the 1960s worked with and influenced musicians such as Alex Campbell, Rod Stewart and Ralph McTell (who remains a close friend), while in the early 70s another protégée was a youthful Steve Tilston. Bert Jansch once described Wizz as “the most underrated guitarist ever”. Find out more at www.wizzjones.com.
We’ve enjoyed Wizz’s playing many times over the decades and always look forward to his return visits. Chris MCs this one and amongst the floor acts we a promised a couple of songs from West Yorkshire blues player Dave Speight (www.myspace.com/davespeight), another musician who cites Wizz as a formative influence. Tickets are £8 (£6.50 concessions) from www.wegottickets.com or on the door – plenty left.
4. EWAN McLENNAN. From veteran to young whippersnapper! Ewan McLennan, our guest on 9th December, has made some big waves in the last few months. He’s played at lots of clubs and festivals and received glowing praise for his debut CD release Rags & Robes (e.g. folk album of the month in Mojo). There was a feature interview on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show recently, and he has now been nominated in the Horizon category of the BBC Folk Awards 2011 (see item 13 below). He’s also in the running for the Scots Trad Music Awards, which are announced on 4th December.
So what is all the fuss about? Ewan is a Scottish-born musician now based in Leeds, blessed with a powerful and expressive singing voice and a fine classical-influenced guitar style. He performs traditional music from around Britain and beyond, with a particular focus on the songs of Scotland, alongside his own earthy, self-penned songs and covers which reflect his political sensibilities, from writers such as Ewan MacColl (“Jamie Foyers”) and Ian Campbell (“Old Man’s Song). In fact one thing that really strikes me is how Ewan (and some of his contemporaries) are rediscovering the repertoire and the spirit of the folk scene of 40 years ago. He has been compared to the young Dick Gaughan, for example, and not just for his compelling vocal sound. Find out more and hear samples at www.ewanmclennan.co.uk.
Eddie is MC for this one (Scottish solidarity!) and tickets are a modest £6 (£5 concessions) from www.wegottickets.com or on the door.
5. AN APPALACHIAN CHRISTMAS. We try to book something extra special at this time of year and this seasonal show certainly fits the bill. “An Appalachian Christmas” explores the music and customs of what has been called “the birthground of American folk music”. Here is an extract from the show’s website:
“Many of the midwinter traditions of the Appalachians have remained virtually unchanged since they were brought there by settlers from England, Scotland and Ireland. Others are newer customs developed within individual families and larger communities in the often isolated regions that stretch from the Cumberland Gap to the Indian Ladder.
As the show explores these traditions, we also hear the rich and varied seasonal music of the region – ancient ballads, old-time country, Sacred Harp, hymns ancient and modern and newer compositions by the region’s legendary residents: A.P. Carter, Jean Ritchie, Maybelle Carter, A L Phipps and James Lord Pierpoint.
The group’s four musicians perform in costume using a range of instruments associated with the region; between songs the narrator takes us on a journey through time to Christmases past but not forgotten.
In the show’s two hours you’ll hear some familiar favourites in less familiar form, some seasonal classics well known in America but largely un-played over here and some lost gems that you’ll not have heard before. Let the Appalachian Xmas Show take you somewhere both strange and familiar, fondly remembered and long forgotten.”
The musicians are Lynda Hardcastle and Helen Hockenhull, well known to us as two thirds of Grace Notes, together with their husbands Alan Rose and Mike Hockenhull, with all four singing, and instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin and concertina, while folk polymath Nigel Schofield acts as narrator. Phil Cerny MCs this one (who better?) and with it being a two hour show there will not be time for any other floor singers. Tickets are £8 (£6.50 concessions) from www.wegottickets.com or on the door.
6. LOOKING AHEAD TO 2011. Our club diary is now full up for the first half of next year, with only a couple of confirmations awaited. Here is a brief summary:
Johnny Dickinson (Jan 6), Singers Night (Jan 13), Blackbeard’s Tea Party (Jan 20), 4Square (Jan 27), LanderMason (Feb 3), Singers Night (Feb 10), Duncan McFarlane & Anne Brivonese (Feb 17), Chris Foster & Bara Grimsdottir (Feb 24).
John Kirkpatrick (Mar 3), Singers Night (Mar 10), Sam Carter (Mar 17), Brian Peters (Mar 24), Julie Felix (Mar 31), Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts (Apr 7), Singers Night (Apr 14), Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (Apr 21), Young Performers Night (Apr 28, line-up tbc).
Singers Night (May 5), Kirsty McGee & Mat Martin (May 12), Boo Hewerdine (May 19), Lissa Schneckenburger (May 26), Singers Night (June 2), Katy Moffatt (June 9), David Francey (June 16), Singers Night (June 23), Joe Penland (June 30 tbc).
There are about a dozen guest nights left to fill in the second half of next year. We have no shortage of ideas about whom to book, but do please let us have your suggestions as well.
7. WE ARE NOW ON FACEBOOOK! Thanks to Chris Euesden, the Folk Club now has a presence on Facebook. See www.facebook.com/BlackSwanFolkClub for upcoming events, pictures and more. In the near future I would like our online presence to be further enhanced, both our main site and our MySpace page alongside Facebook. What would you like to see? For example, would you like sound clips from either upcoming guests or club residents? Do let us have your feedback.
8. AND SEE US ON YOUTUBE. Back in late August we had an excellent club night with Australian duo Cloudstreet, who were joined on a few numbers by Emma Nixon on fiddle. A friend filmed some songs and posted one, “Ship Repairing Men”, on YouTube. Watch at www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIjiTPwBQY8
9. PHIL CERNY ONLINE. Now retired from the day job and settled full time in York, our American resident Phil Cerny plans to devote more time to his music and to that end has begun to develop a website at www.philcerny.co.uk. Sadly Phil has been unable to sing for the last few weeks due to a viral infection. We all wish him a swift recovery.
10. HANS TAKES THE AMADEUS. The Amadeus Awards are Austria’s premier music awards and this year the Dutch-born but Vienna-based bluesman Hans Theessink carried off the Amadeus Trophy in the Jazz, World & Blues category. Hans was on tour in York on the day of the awards (16th September) and actually heard of his success in a phone call between sets at the Black Swan. Perhaps that was why he was in such cracking good form that night – the very best we’ve ever heard him, some of us thought. Meanwhile, one Theessink newcomer emailed the next day to say what a memorable night it had been, “thanks for getting such brilliant performers to the club!” You can read two reviews of other gigs on Hans’ last tour at www.bluesinthenorthwest.com.
11. CHURCHFITTERS WOW! Another great show this autumn came courtesy of The Churchfitters, for whom we organised a Sunday Special in October. “What a brilliant night...an amazing band... (I) hope they will be back again” emailed one satisfied visitor the next day. Another audience member was Tony Charnock from Bradford, who has penned an appreciative and thoughtful review which you can read in the newly published Winter issue of Tykes’ News (on sale at club meetings, £1.50).
12. SETTING RECORDS? One guest night I missed this autumn due to poor health was The Askew Sisters in September. Afterwards one correspondent pointed out that there had not been a single guitar in the room that night. Is this a club “first” he asked? It could well be.
There were certainly plenty of guitars in evidence at our October Singers Night, another event I felt too unwell to attend. We had no fewer than 23 acts during the evening, equalling the previous record, and had three hours of non-stop music, song and verse.
WIDER FOLK NEWS & MISCELLANY
13. FOLK AWARDS NOMINEES 2011. The recently announced shortlists for the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011 include (as usual) a high number of artists we have promoted at either the NCEM or the Black Swan. Examples include Chris Wood (Folk Singer of the Year, Best Album and Best Original Song), Megson or Nancy Kerr & James Fagan (Best Duo), Breabach or Coope Boyes & Simpson (Best Group), Andy Irvine (Best Traditional Track), and Brian Finnegan (Musician of the Year). The Horizon Award for up and coming artists is always of particular interest. The shortlist this year includes not only Ewan McLennan (as mentioned above) but also Fay Hield (our club guest last March) and Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell (Young Performer guests a year ago).
14. FOLK CLUBS USER SURVEY. A fellow club organiser (Graham Dixon, of the Gregson Lane club in Lancashire) has sent up a national online survey for folk club users, whether audience members, performers or organisers. Posting to the online discussion group for club organisers, Graham writes: “I thought that if we could collectively ask our members / regulars / guests to give their opinions / points of view we can all benefit from the results”. It sounds good to me, so if you can spare a few minutes please go to https://sites.google.com/site/folkclubsurvey and complete the questionnaire before the 31st March deadline.
15. CONGRATULATIONS PHIL & JACKIE. Phil Williamson has been a supporter of live music at the Black Swan and elsewhere for many years, both as a performer and an audience member. He and his wife Jackie run The Ferry Boat Inn, a lovely rural pub on the outskirts of Thorganby, where they host their own informal folk gathering on the third Sunday of each month. We were delighted to hear recently that the Ferry Boat had been named Yorkshire Pub of the Year by CAMRA, the Campaign For Real Ale. Well done both!
16. VAT AND CD SALES. Many of us buy CDs online from big operators like Amazon. Have we ever fully understood why they are so cheap, or why our payments seem to be routed via Jersey or Guernsey? I received the following a few weeks ago from an independent record retailer, and while I don’t entirely agree with all their assertions it is certainly food for thought. I have shortened and edited slightly.
For over 10 years the UK government has allowed a VAT avoidance scam to dominate UK music retail. Put simply, major online retailers have their stock shipped to the Channel Islands, immediately shipped back to the UK and so avoid paying any VAT.
· It has destroyed the traditional record shop with 600 closing in the last five years. Now there are less than 270 left.
· It has destroyed the livelihood of many people in music retail.
· It has created an oligopoly of powerful corporate music retailers.
· It has reduced income for struggling new artists and record labels who rely on indie retail to develop new music.
· It takes away tax revenue from the UK mainland that could reduce the deficit and save many services and jobs. Each year the tax lost to the government on CDs alone is £160 million.
· It lines the pockets of people not resident in the UK who have no interest in UK music.
With VAT going to 20% in January 2011 the end of UK music retail could soon be a reality.
If you want to find out more there is a website at www.vatloophole.co.uk
OTHER GIGS & EVENTS IN YORK
17. TAP & SPILE CLOSES SUDDENLY. The Tap & Spile pub on Monkgate closed suddenly last Thursday following the announcement that owners Local Heroes Pub Group had ceased trading. The lively and long-running Friday night folk session was hastily relocated to the Lamb & Lion Inn at Bootham Bar but its longer term home remains uncertain. Having been down this road ourselves exactly two years ago, when the Black Swan closed down briefly, we have every sympathy. Local Heroes also owned the Golden Fleece on Pavement, home to Chris Barnes’ Wednesday night folk session, so that too might be affected. Watch the local press for updates. See www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/8706832.Popular_York_pubs_close/
18. SLIP INN SOME SONGS. Meanwhile, there is a new acapella singing session in York. It's at the Slip Inn, Clementhorpe, off Bishopthorpe Road, Sunday nights from 8.30. “So far it's mainly sea shanties and folk songs” says organiser Paul Young (of Blackbeard’s Tea Party fame) “but other singing styles are welcome as well, as are listeners and joiners-in. It's strictly no instruments though.” For more information contact Paul on 07776 122746.
19. FAMILY FRIENDLY FOLK. Word also reaches me (second-hand) of a new Sunday afternoon folk club aimed primarily at parents with children. Wee Folk will meet on the first Sunday of each month, 3pm – 5pm, at the Black Swan Inn, no less, beginning next Sunday, 5th December. “No cruddy kiddy songs, no Jedward, just folk. Sing, play or just slur along with the choruses” says organiser Alison Morgan, who adds that it will be “free, as long as you buy ale, chips etc.” For more details email Ali@multistoryarts.co.uk.
20. DAVID PRESENTS DAVID. As previously reported in this newsletter (E120), David Ward Maclean hosts a monthly music night in the Bistro Bar at the Dean Court Hotel on Duncombe Place. His guest this coming Tuesday (30th) is David Swann. The evening begins at 8pm, entry is free and there will be a raffle with CD prizes. Incidentally, a couple of weeks later, 13th December, David Swann headlines at Barnsley Folk Club, in a double bill with Hull/Cottingham duo Hissyfit. See www.myspace.com/barnsleyfolkclub.
21. UNION CENTRAL AT THE BLACK SWAN. York’s excellent modern bluegrass band Union Central holds a Christmas concert at the Black Swan Inn on Saturday 18th December. Tickets are £6 on the door, with advance reservation advised from Phil Quin on 01904 783029. Doors open at 8pm for an 8.30pm start. Find the band at www.unioncentral.co.uk.
22. DYLAN’S CHRISTMAS BASH. Don’t miss out on live music entirely over Christmas week. Bob Dylan tribute band Blonde on Bob (fronted by our very own Chris Euesden) hold their annual Million Dollar Bash on Tuesday 28th December at the Black Swan Inn, along with special guests and the customary Dylan photo quiz. Tickets at £8 will be available soon through www.wegottickets.com.
23. JON IN THE BASEMENT. Leeds-based guitar stylist Jon Gomm performs at City Screen Basement Bar on Wednesday 8th December. Tickets are £5 in advance (students £4) on 0871 902 5726 or £6 on the door. Not strictly folk but very good!
24. FROST & FIRE TOUR CANCELLED. Sadly, the annual Waterson:Carthy “Frost & Fire” tour has had to be cancelled as Norma Waterson has been taken ill. Regionally, that means their shows in Bradford and Halifax. If you have booked for either of those, contact your ticket vendor to arrange a refund.
25. CBS PLUS AT COXWOLD. There’s something a bit special this Friday, 3rd December, at St Michael’s Church in Coxwold. “Voice of the People: Ralph Vaughan Williams and Folksong” brings together the sublime voices of Barry Coope, Jim Boyes and Lester Simpson with Fi Fraser, Jo Freya and Georgina Boyes in a specially written production of songs and narrative. See www.laurencesternetrust.org.uk for more information. Tickets are £10 in advance on 01347 868465 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
26. RYEDALE CHRISTMAS WEEKEND. Tony Morris asks me to mention a free weekend of Christmas events taking place at Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton le Hole on 4th & 5th December, 10am-3.30pm. “Great for all the family” they say “with festive activities, demonstrations, crafts, cooking, stalls, music (from Tony and others), medieval re-enactors, mulled wine, mince pies, games and all round fun”.
27. WHAT A KERFUFFLE IN TERRINGTON. Youthful folk band Kerfuffle appear at the Village Hall in Terrington on Saturday 11th December, as part of their Midwinter Tour 2010, showcasing material from their album of seasonal songs Lighten The Dark. This is also the group’s farewell tour. Hannah James (accordion, vocal) and Sam Sweeney (fiddle) are increasingly busy as a duo, as well as with the Demon Barbers and Bellowhead respectively, while guitarist Jamie Roberts goes from strength to strength in his duo with Katriona Gilmore. Completing the Kerfuffle line-up on this final tour is ace concertina player Rob Harbron. Tickets at £10 are available from Terrington Stores or the Malton Tourist Information Centre. The concert begins at 8pm and there will be a licensed bar.
28. KATE’S CHRISTMAS CAROL. Recent motherhood hasn’t deterred Kate Bramley from keeping busy with both music and theatre. Kate’s latest production for her Badapple Theatre Company is A Yorkshire Christmas Carol. “Enjoy a family treat (it says) as Kate and her itinerant band of actors put their Yorkshire comedy slant on Dickens’ classic Christmas story. Have good chuckle while the blustering, skin-flint farmer Ebeneezer Scrooge gets his comeuppance and is forced to see the error of his penny-pinching ways. Full of local stories and carols, puppets and mayhem, and with original songs by Jez Lowe, plus a whacking great dose of seasonal bonhomie, this is a winter warmer to put a smile on everyone’s face.”
The show is touring village halls and other venues across Yorkshire throughout December, including Malton (8th), Sheriff Hutton (15th) and Green Hammerton (18th). Find the full list with booking links at www.katebramley.com/badappletickets.
29. GEORDIE’S WINTER ALMANAC. Kate’s other current project with partner Jez Lowe is called Geordie’s Winter Almanac Radio Roadshow, a seasonal presentation that harks back to the old Tyneside radio shows of the 1950's. “Gather round the winter firesides of the cottages and terraces in the shadow of the dockyard cranes and the pit-wheels, for an evening of songs, tunes, recitations and comedy, with a backdrop of archive film and photographs.” This also tours through December, with Jez and the Bad Pennies joined by Benny Graham and Andrew Cadie. Yorkshire dates include Whitby Coliseum (7th), Settle Victoria Hall (10th), Henshaw’s Arts & Crafts Centre, Knaresborough (17th) and Goole Junction (18th). Follow the same link as in item 28 for further details.
30. BELLA’S BRIGHT MORNING STAR. Another artist making a seasonal tour is Bella Hardy. “In Bella's north Derbyshire home Christmas songs have long been a local speciality. People flock from far and wide to sing the Peak District's local carols and in these dark winter months the villages are lit up with song to celebrate the time of hope and community. This year Bella takes this seasonal cheer on the road, with special guests Anna Massie and Chris Sherburn.” Local dates include Selby Town Hall (10th) and Otley Old Courthouse (18th). See www.bellahardy.com.
31. MALINKY IN REETH. Up in Swaledale John Little continues to do splendid work in promoting folk music concerts at Reeth Memorial Hall. His final event this year features Malinky (our own recent guests at NCEM) and is on Friday 17th December. Black Swann regular Paula Ryan is the support act. Dates already fixed for 2011 include Pete Coe (21st January) and Megson (11th February). See www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk.
I’ll probably issue another Newsletter during the Christmas break. Meanwhile, you have my best wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.