10th August 2013
1. COMING UP THE YOUNG ‘UNS. Our guests this coming Thursday (15th) are Teesside trio The Young ‘Uns. Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes have a burgeoning national reputation for their close harmony arrangements and irreverent sense of humour, and also these days for the high quality of their original material, mostly written by Sean and often using guitar and accordion backing behind their three great voices. They seem to be on countless festival bills this year, following the acclaim which was heaped on their first major-label CD release last year, When Our Grandfathers Said No, on Navigator Records. Indeed, they have recently taken the brave decision to give up their day jobs and go fully professional. Only last night (10th) they were the studio guests on Radio 3’s World on 3 (available to listen to again on www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037v5hy).
I saw the group perform just a couple of weeks ago at Warwick Folk Festival, where they did a superbly judged main stage performance and an equally fine small venue acoustic set – the latter interrupted by a (false) fire alarm but continued by the lads out in the open air once we had cleared the building. That’s professionalism for you!
We have already sold around half the tickets, so be warned that we could be on course for a full house, which would be a notable achievement in the middle of summer. If you plan to come, I would urge advance booking for this one (£9 or £7) at www.wegottickets.com. Paula Ryan will be acting as MC. And if you want to know a bit more about the band before deciding, check out their comprehensive website at www.theyounguns.co.uk where you will find audio and video samples, podcasts and much more.
2. A NIGHT OF NISH AS RISH. Our guests on 22nd August are five young people who first met while studying music at York University four or five years ago. Calling themselves Nish as Rish, their music defies easy classification, they say. “Rooted in the Celtic folk tradition, we draw Manx, Scottish and English threads together, but move beyond them to reference rock, Klezmer, medieval and classical”. Anna Goldbeck-Wood plays fiddle and sings while Ruth Keggin plays flute or whistle and also sings (and is the main source of the band’s Manx influence, being from the Isle of Man). Also with a Manx background, Karl Kramer plays bodhran and mandolin, while Dave Pearce provides the guitar and Vanessa McWilliam, who still lives in York, plays double bass.
Nish As Rish have performed in several countries and have represented the Isle of Man at the Interceltique Festival in Brittany. They released an album in 2011 and last year they were invited back to the University of York to give a stand-alone concert on campus. Tickets for their Black Swan show are very modestly priced at £8 (£6.50 concessions), through WeGotTickets or (probably) on the door. John Storey is the MC for this one, and the floor spots will include a return for former York busker (and occasional Black Swan singer) Rachel Dawick, now based in New Zealand, who is joined by musical collaborator Jon Sanders.
3. EMILY & BEN RETURN TO TOWN. After a Singers & Musicians Night on 29th August, the guest programme resumes on 5th September with the return to York of Emily Weygang & Ben Harker. This talented couple were mainstays of the local folk scene a few years ago, before a young family and a career move to Manchester took them out of action. Happily, they are now gigging again occasionally, with the old mix of folk songs, political songs, instrumentals and originals. Emily is an expressive vocalist and spirited fiddle player and Ben provides some finely crafted guitar accompaniments. It is a real pleasure to bring them back to town. Entry for this one will be £7 (£6 concessions), on the door or online in advance, and Phil Cerny is marked down to be MC.
4. SARAH McQUAID TO OFFER A GUITAR WORKSHOP. Our club guest on 19th September is Sarah McQuaid, who as well as being a delightful singer with a wonderfully diverse repertoire, is a celebrated guitar player particularly noted for her use of the DADGAD tuning in arrangements of Irish music. Indeed, her publication The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book has become the standard reference on the subject, described by The Irish Times as “a godsend to aspiring traditional guitarists”.
Sarah McQuaid is a skilled tutor and she has agreed to run her one-hour workshop An Introduction to DADGAD earlier that evening. Here is a synopsis: “topics covered include basic chord shapes in DADGAD, the capo and its uses, backing guitar styles, chord patterns for accompanying tunes, ornamentation, and an overview of the modes (Mixolydian, Dorian, etc.) typical of traditional tunes and songs. By way of illustration, Sarah will “take apart” a song and an instrumental number, demonstrating how different patterns and variations can be introduced to make both backing and melody playing more interesting for the listener.”
Organised by local enthusiast Trevor Appleton, the workshop will be limited to a dozen participants, and needs a minimum of five to take place at all, and so early booking is strongly advised. It will run from 6.30pm in the downstairs Oak Room at the Black Swan, and the cost is £15. For bookings or further information, please contact Trevor on email@example.com (note, booking is not via WeGotTickets).
Tickets for the later club performance are available through WeGotTickets in the usual way, priced at £8 full / £6.50 concessions.
5. IAIN MATTHEWS TICKETS NOW ON SALE. My announcement in the last Newsletter, that we had added the wonderful Iain Matthews to our autumn club schedule, generated quite a bit of interest and was picked up and repeated in our local newspaper The Press. In view of that early interest, we decided to put tickets on sale straight away. Iain will be doing an entirely solo performance as a Sunday Special on20th October and tickets, all priced at £12, are now available through www.wegottickets.com. It will be doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start, with a single support act (from Chris Euesden) rather than short floor spots.
With a 45 years (and more) career that takes in early Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort, Plainsong and countless other projects, both solo and collaborative, Iain Matthews has written an entire library of great songs, while he retains one of the purest and most evocative voices in the business. He has been one of my personal favourites since the early seventies and it will be a real pleasure to have him sing for us in the intimate “up close” setting of the Black Swan function room.
6. DICK GAUGHAN ALSO NOW BOOKING. We’ve also had early interest in Dick Gaughan’s visit to the Black Swan in December, which as usual with Dick will be a two-night stand on Wednesday 4th andThursday 5th. Hence we have also opened these shows for early booking at WeGotTickets, priced at £12 full or £10 concessions.
Incidentally, I hear that Dick was the recent victim of a social media hijack, where someone created a false Twitter account in his name and used it to post offensive and abusive messages. Happily, the fake account has now been closed down, and on his official website Dick says emphatically “I do not have a Twitter account, I do not use Twitter, and any posts there in my name are forgeries.”
7. NEWS SEASON BROCHURE & TICKETS COMING SOON. Before the end of August I will have written the next club brochure and sent it off for printing. Once that is done, I can expand the entries on the club website and also set up details on WeGotTickets and open everything else up for ticket sales.
To remind you, the line-up is Lucy Ward (3rd October), Long Hill Ramblers (10th October), Maz O’Connor (24th October), Tom Lewis (7th November) Clive Carroll (14th November) and 4Square (28th November). Blast From The Past return with “A Brief History of Music” on 17th October and our season finale comes from Brooks Williams on 12th December. The brochure might even run into January 2014, which begins with Jackie Oates on 9th.
8. FAUSTUS – THE BEST OF ENGLISH. “One of Britain’s outstanding folk bands” says The Guardian’s critic, “a distinctive blend of subtlety and attack … a no-nonsense, classy set”. One-time nominees for Best Group in the BBC Folk Awards, Faustus are our NCEM concert guests on Friday 27th September. This powerhouse English folk trio comprises Saul Rose on melodeon (Waterson:Carthy, Warhorse), Benji Kirkpatrick on guitar (Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin on fiddle and oboe (Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast), with all three of them singing. Following a two-year break, Faustus recently returned to the fray with an acclaimed new CD and a series of tours, with York being the first date on a substantial autumn outing. Saul, Benji and Paul have vast musical ability and experience and share a deep love of traditional folk song. With new local outfit Rakish (their name now shortened from Rakish Collier) doing the support, this will be a great show. Tickets are now on sale at £14 full or £12 concessions fromwww.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338.
9. BREABACH – THE BEST OF SCOTTISH. Voted Best Folk Band in the 2012 Scots Trad Music Awards, Breabach are now one of the most celebrated and successful groups north of the border, and they return to York for an NCEM concert on Wednesday 30th October. Fronted by the bagpipes and whistles of Calum MacCrimmon and James Duncan Mackenzie and the fiddle, step-dance and lead vocals of Megan Henderson, and underpinned by James Lindsay’s double bass and Ewan Robertson’s guitar, Breabach command the stage with flare, charisma and a sound that is as expansive as it is distinct. Their repertoire effortlessly fuses traditional and contemporary, songs and instrumentals, displaying passion for their musical heritage alongside eagerness to explore and challenge boundaries. Booking for this one has also now opened, and the prices are again £14 full and £12 concessions.
10. CLUB FINANCES UPDATE. We reached the half way stage in our financial year at the end of July, so I have been looking at the figures. I am happy to report that the bottom line is a good one, in that we are only a few pence short of £700 in surplus on our overall activities over the last six months. However, there is one worrying trend within the figures: our core programme of club guests lost around £440, the first time it has been in deficit since early 2009. Put simply, fewer of you are coming to guest night events and more and more of those who do come are in the concessions price bracket. The average paying audience over the 17 guests nights of this half year was 31, compared with 34 last full year, 35 the year before that and 37 in 2010/11. The average ticket price paid was £8.39, barely changed from the year before.
Fortunately, our NCEM concert programme of 5 events generated a healthy surplus of around £1000, with an average ticket sale of 143, compared to just 116 last year. Our 7 singers’ nights bought in a further £325 and together with other bits and bobs (notably a generous donation by our landlord), those sums totalled enough to offset all administrative costs and the guest nights deficit and still give us that final £700 surplus. As reported in E-News 162, this year’s Folk Weekend broke even almost exactly, which was a big help.
11. MAGAZINES AT THE CLUB. One small area where we have been losing money recently is on the purchase and resale of folk music magazines, and I have taken the decision to cease stocking national titleThe Living Tradition. We will continue to offer regional publications Tykes’ News and Folk Roundabout for the time being, and we occasionally have South Yorkshire’s Stirrings for sale as well, courtesy of David Kidman. There will be new editions of all three of those in late August or early September.
12. CLASSIFIED LISTINGS HERE? Thinking of money matters, can I run something past you? This newsletter has evolved as a free service, promoting not only our own club functions but also events and news from the wider folk scene in and around York. A suggestion has now been made that we start a paid-for classified listings service, mainly where there is a commercial interest involved, e.g. people looking to sell musical instruments. I’m in two minds about this. What do you think? Feedback would be appreciated, as always.
13. A NEW GIG GUIDE FOR YORK. The other week I was interested to come across a new guide to the diverse live music scene in our city. York Gig has just been launched as both a website, www.yorkgig.com, and a printed monthly A5 magazine, with a commendably comprehensive set of listings, reminiscent of the long-gone and much missed YourK Music, but including in addition details of exhibitions and arts events. There is also an associated Facebook page. With the most recent music listings website York Gig Guide having recently closed down, this new venture could prove very useful. Check it out.
14. FAKE AND MARY ON THE FRINGE. John Watterson writes that Fake Thackray is doing a run of lunchtime shows on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There are 12 performances still to come for “Lah Di Dah: The Rise, Demise and Songs of Jake Thackray” at the New Town Theatre, daily at 1.45pm from 14th-25th August – that is to say as soon as Fake gets back to Edinburgh after festival bookings at Broadstairs and Cropredy. Find out more and read John’s festival blog at www.fakethackray.com.
F. Mary Callan is another friend of the Black Swan who is “sparkling and blazing” on the Fringe this year. Mary presents a morning show of New Legends and Fairytales at venue 65 from 17th-25th August, and an afternoon Bible drama at venue 122 from 17th-26th August. Find out more at www.edfringe.com.
15. OXJAM IN ACOMB. There is a musical street party in aid of Oxfam coming up on Sunday 18th August. The venue is Mowbray Drive in Acomb (YO26 5EU), a cul-de-sac which will be closed off for the event, which runs from 4pm until 9pm. There will acoustic music in a variety of styles and other entertainments, with a barbecue and refreshments. Find out more from Tracey Horton on 01904 780976,firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. SEARCHING FOR NIC ON RADIO 4. Did you catch the Radio 4 programme about Nic Jones last week? Presented by journalist Laura Barton and with contributions from Nic himself, his wife Julia and many others, it is well worth half an hour of your time. In Search of Nic Jones is still available on Listen Again at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037t1rk.
Of course, Nic has a particular place in our affections at the Black Swan. He and Julia lived in York for 25 years or so after his dreadful accident and Nic was an occasional and always welcome member of our audience. Indeed, he made his first very modest return to public performance when he and son Joe did a short floor spot in April 2002, on an evening when his old band-mates Pete & Chris Coe were being briefly reunited as our club guests.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
17. AUGUST 17th IN MALTBY, SOUTH YORKSHIRE. Our fellow BBC award-winning club The Rock At Maltby traditionally closes every August but this year, writes organiser Jonti Willis, they have a special Saturday booking on 17th August for American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter Lisa Mills, accompanied by Ian Jennings on upright bass. Find out more at www.therockmaltby.co.uk.
18. AUGUST 17th & 18th IN BRADFORD. The Shuttle Shuffle Festival is a charity event which will feature music of many different genres and other arts events. Bradford’s folk club, The Topic, will have its own dedicated folk and acoustic stage, with artists like Roger Davies, Bella Gaffney and Plumhall taking part. The venue is Factory Street Studios in Bradford (BD94 9NW) and tickets are reasonably priced at £10 for a day ticket or £15 for the weekend, with discounts for groups and young persons. Further information is available at www.theshuttleshufflefestival.co.uk or on Facebook.
19. AUGUST 24th IN ELLOUGHTON, EAST YORKSHIRE. Hunsley Acoustic Music presents “highly talented acoustic trio” The Crash Blossoms at the Half Moon in Elloughton, near Brough, supported by youngster Lizzie Goddard. Next month (21st September) the guest is one of my personal favourites, Jon Brindley. The website is www.msmm.org.uk.
20. AUGUST 25th IN BIELBY. A reminder about The Picnic, taking place on Bank Holiday Sunday from 3pm, with a line up which includes Edwina Hayes, Snake Davis, various rock bands and a community brass band. Bielby is near Pocklington, with the festival site at YO42 4JL. Contact Ian Simpson for more details, email@example.com. Tickets are £10 adult or £5 for children. There will be a bar and other stalls but take your own picnic.
21. AUGUST 30th & 31st IN HULL. Taking place around Hull Marina and at Fruit, the Hull Folk Festival mixes paid-for evening concerts with free music on Friday night and all day Saturday. Headliners are Holy Moly & The Crackers on Friday and Eliza Carthy with Saul Rose (of Faustus, see item 8) on Saturday evening. Find out more at www.hull-folk.co.uk
22. SEPTEMBER 7th IN PICKERING. One of our favourite club residents David Swann appears both solo and with his new band Freefall at The Kirk Theatre. Also on the bill at this evening of acoustic music are John Medd and Frozen Gin. Tickets are £7.50 from the local Tourist Information Centre. Incidentally, David is generally available for performances and for music and songwriting workshops in primary schools, as well as for supply teaching. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
23. SEPTEMBER 7th IN OTLEY. The new season at Otley Courthouse kicks off with Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, plus Gerry McNeice. See www.otleycourthouse.org.uk.
24. SEPTEMBER 14th IN SELBY. Another venue starting a new season, Selby Town Hall presents Kelly Joe Phelps. See www.selbytownhall.co.uk.
25. SEPTEMBER 15th IN HELPERBY. A reminder that The Carnival Band appear in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 (students and children £10) from the Ripon Festival box office: 01765 603994 and website www.riponinternationalfestival.com.
26. SEPTEMBER 18th IN POCKLINGTON. Promoted by The English Folk Dance and Song Society in partnership with Beverley Folk Festival, Folk Rising is a celebration of young musical talent with artists including BBC Young Folk winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (who will be at the Black Swan sometime next year) and Sarah Horn & James Cudworth (as seen at our recent Folk Weekend). The venue is Pocklington Arts Centre on the Market Place at 7.30pm, with tickets just £6.50 on 01759 301547.
27. SEPTEMBER 20th-22nd IN OTLEY. Tickets are still available for the 22nd annual Otley Black Sheep Folk Festival. See www.otleyfolkfestival.com for the guest list and ticket details.
28. SEPTEMBER 20th & 21st IN HINDERWELL, near STAITHES. Roots North takes place at Hinderwell Village Hall with lots of folk and other acts taking part, including Eliza Carthy & Saul Rose (again), Edwina Hayes, 4Square (also coming to the Black Swan in November) and Over The Yardarm. The website is www.rootsnorth.co.uk.
High summer is supposed to be a relatively quiet time, yet there seems to be lots to tell you about. Anyway, that is all for now. I’ll be back in early September.