This newsletter is going out earlier than originally intended, partly because eagle-eyed readers pointed out that I had omitted a crucial piece of information in the last edition – while enthusing about RANT’s appearance at the NCEM I somehow failed to mention the date. Senility must be creeping up on me faster than I thought!
With a few other changes and developments to report as well, I have brought this newsletter forward by a couple of weeks but will try to keep it (relatively) brief.
NCEM CONCERTS – RANT AND BEYOND
1. SCOTTISH FIDDLE MUSIC WITH RANT, MONDAY 3rd OCTOBER. Our first concert of the new season at the National Centre for Early Music is now only two weeks away, bringing to York the superb Scottish “chamber folk” quartet RANTon Monday 3rd October.
RANT comprises some of Scotland’s finest fiddle players, Jenna and Bethany Reid from Shetland, Lauren MacColl from the Highlands and (standing in for Sarah-Jane Summers who is on family leave) the redoubtable Anna Massie. Using just their fiddles, they weave a rich and vibrant tapestry of melodies, textures, layers and sounds across a wide repertoire of traditional, modern and self-penned tunes. Also known for their work as soloists and with bands such as Blazin’ Fiddles, RANT made their collective mark in 2013 with a critically acclaimed debut album and a string of festival and concert appearances across the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia. Brand new follow-up release Reverie consolidates their reputation as a significant and joyous force in modern Scottish music.
Jenna Reid is a delightful musician who has headlined for us twice before at the NCEM, in 2008 and 2012 (joined by her sister Bethany on both occasions as I recall) while Anna Massie appeared last year at both the Black Swan (with Mairearad Green) and at the NCEM (with Blazin’ Fiddles). This show is the group’s only date south of the border on the Reverie launch tour and should be a must for all lovers of well-played and innovative folk music. Check out their website at www.rantfiddles.com (now working again) where you will find both audio and video samples.
Support comes from local guitar virtuoso Alex O’Neil, who regularly contributes impressive original numbers on his nylon-strung classical guitar at our singers’ nights. Tickets for this one are £15 full or £13 concessions (www.ncem.co.uk, 01904 658338), with the usual £5 student standby available 15 minutes before the performance if there are unsold tickets left. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
2. MORE GREAT NCEM CONCERTS TO COME. A different take on Scottish folk music comes to the NCEM when Breabach pay us a return visit on Monday 24th October, following triumphant performances there in 2010 and again in 2013. This dynamic five-piece performs thoughtful and moving songs in both English and Gaelic, alongside driving instrumentals, step-dancing and mouth music. They comprise Calum MacCrimmon (pipes, whistles, bouzouki and vocals), Ewan Robertson (guitar and vocals), James Mackenzie (pipes, flute and whistles), Megan Henderson (fiddle, vocals and dance) and James Lindsay (double bass). Support is from Bradford’s young Bella Gaffney, winner of the prestigious Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections earlier this year (and just about to move to York as a postgraduate student, I’m pleased to report) and tickets are priced at £16 full, £14 concessions.
We switch the emphasis to English contemporary folk song in November with appearances by O’Hooley & Tidow on Tuesday 1st November(support from Duncan McFarlane, tickets £14 and £12) and by Chris Wood on Wednesday 30th November (support from John Storey, tickets £16 and £14), then for our winter seasonal show Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman present Celtic Christmas Strings on Wednesday 21st December (tickets £14 and12, with special child rate of £5 and no support act). Lastly, Steve Knightley returns on Friday 3rd February on his soloLandlocked tour. All tickets for that one are £18 and there will be no support act.
ALL these shows are now open for booking at www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338 and all are at 7.30pm.
THURSDAY NIGHT CLUB EVENTS
3. A DEBUT BY HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE – THIS WEEK, 22nd SEPTEMBER. We first came across Hannah and Ben when they turned up at a Singers Night about 18 months ago, a long way from their home base in Cambridge. They greatly impressed us then with just two or three songs, and when I saw them later in 2015 at the English Folk Expo that first impression was amply confirmed, hence this booking. Blessed with a stunning voice of unaffected beauty,Hannah Sanders is building a reputation as one of the most exciting new singers around of traditional English folk songs. She accompanies on guitar or dulcimer, with Ben Savage(also a member of The Willows) adding tasteful Dobro or guitar.
“Absolutely fantastic … every track is a pearl” said Mike Harding of last year’s debut CD, while fRoots verdict was “refreshingly unafraid to take risks – a force to be reckoned with”, andMaverick Magazine wrote that Hannah’s “beautiful voice breathes new life into traditional material from both sides of the pond.” The duo have just released their second album Before The Sun and have an extensive autumn tour lined up to promote it. We are delighted to have the Black Swan included in that tour. Phil Cerny acts as MC and tickets are £9 full or £8 concessions through WeGotTickets or on the door. The artists’ website iswww.hannahbenmusic.com.
4. DAVID FRANCEY RETURNS TO YORK, 29th SEPTEMBER. Widely covered by other artists (including some of our own club regulars), this Scottish-born Canadian is rated one of that country’s foremost songwriters, composing memorable melodies and deceptively simple yet poetic lyrics about the lives and experiences of ordinary working people. A three-time winner in Canada’s Juno Music Awards, David Francey has a new album out, Empty Train, and we look forward to hearing some of his new songs alongside old favourites.
David has made three past visits to the Black Swan and we are delighted to welcome him back again, especially after a proposed visit last year had to be cancelled due to illness. In a late change, David will now be accompanied by guitarist James McKierather than originally advertised Mark Westberg. Eddie Affleck is lined-up to MC this one and tickets are £10 full or £9 concessions at WeGotTickets (and getting on for half sold already) with any leftovers on sale at the door.
5. MONTHLY SINGERS NIGHT, 6th OCTOBER. Phil Cerny acts as MC when we hold our next “open” evening on 6th October. For some unfathomable reason our September Singers Night last week was our quietest one for a couple of years, with only 6 performers and few listening audience members, but early indications are that 6th October will be a very different story, on both performer and audience fronts. We aim to kick off around 8.15 and entry is still just £3 full or £2 concessions, while performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty.
6. A NEW NAME FOR OLD FRIENDS - THE MILE ROSES, 13th OCTOBER. On 13th October we welcome to the club exciting new groupThe Mile Roses (13th) which combines the talents of three old friends, namelyEdwina Hayes (voice, guitar), Kate Bramley (voice, fiddle, mandolin) andSimon Haworth (voice, guitar, bass). Edwina has of course entertained us many times as a soloist, while Kate is a current member of Jez Lowe’s band The Bad Pennies (amongst many other things) and Simon is a former Bad Penny. “Contemporary British folk with a nod to Nashville”, they say, and with their pedigree it is sure to be a great night. Tickets are now booking online at £11 full or £10 concessions.
7. AND THE GOOD MUSIC KEEPS ON COMING. October’s guest list continues with the veteran Cork Irish singer Jimmy Crowley on 20th October, returning exactly 30 years (!) after he last sang at the Black Swan, and concludes on 27th October with a favourite Anglo-American duo Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby.
November guests include young Tyneside outfit The Rachel Hamer Band (10th) - I saw them in action at Whitby Folk Week last month, and they really were excellent, then lively Otley-based six piece The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band (17th) and a hot new name in Irish folk song Daoiri Farrell(24th).
December brings us two star attractions, bluesy singer guitaristBrooks Williams (8th) and English folk songstress supreme Jackie Oates(15th), while after the Christmas break we resume operations in January with a two-night stand by the legendaryMartin Carthy (Wednesday and Thursday, 11th & 12th), followed on 19th by our annual New Roots Young Performer Showcase, this time featuring singer songwriter Jack Patchett from Holmfirth and Sheffield duo Two’s Company.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK & (WELL) BEYOND
8. YORK’S LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC, 23rd SEPTEMBER - 1st OCTOBER. Several more folk / acoustic acts have been added to the line-up of York’s Little Festival of Live Music, taking place within the York Food and Drink Festival in Parliament Street from 23rd September to 1st October. Live music is on offer between 5pm and 9pm every day except Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th and entry is free. Recent programme additions include Polly Bolton’s new band Stillhouse, the aforementionedEdwina Hayes and up-and-coming folk rocker Joshua Burnell, as featured in the brand new issue of R2 Magazine. For the full running orders seewww.facebook.com/YorksLittleFestivalOfLiveMusic.
9. PAULA & SARAH IN BEVERLEY. This coming Friday, 23rd, club regulars Sarah Dean and Paula Ryan are joint guests of the Beverley Folk & Roots Club, meeting at Norwood Methodist Church at 7pm. This monthly club (not to be confused with the weekly White Horse Folk Club – see next item) also has two great guest bands coming later this autumn who entertained us right well last year at the Black Swan – namely Harpeth Rising (21st October at Armstrong Social Club) and Harp & A Monkey(18th November at Norwood Methodist Church). See www.beverleyfolkclub.wordpress.com for more details.
10. NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE WHITE HORSE FOLK CLUB. Beverley’s long-running weekly folk club is of course the White Horse FC, currently meeting on Mondays mostly at Beverley Conservative Club on Wylies Road – but occasionally elsewhere. Their autumn programme includes two of our own recent club guests The Rheingans Sisters and Granny’s Attic, plus Teesside legends The Wilson Family and young guitar aceSunjay. The website iswww.whfolk.co.uk.
11. SOUNDSPHERE IN FRANCE, APRIL 2017. The above-mentioned Sarah Dean and Paula Ryan, together with Judith Simpson, of course make up vocal trio Soundsphere, who have a great reputation not only as performers but also as teachers of singing. As such, they have just announced a 5 day residential singing workshop in Normandy for spring 2017. Chantons á Chatillon takes place between 26th April and 2nd May and will cost you £200 for the workshop and £360 for accommodation. “Join us for an inspiring and creative singing experience in a wonderfully rustic setting in the beautiful Normandy countryside”, they say. Find out more at www.soundsphere.co.uk or ring 07963 792 504.
12. AN UPDATE FROM YORK SONGWRITERS CIRCLE. “We are trying to raise the profile of the long-running York Songwriters group” writes Rowena Simpson (incidentally, the sister-in-law of Soundsphere’s above mentioned Judith). “We are a ragtag bunch of singers and musicians of all ages and persuasions who happen to like writing songs. Some of us have been writing since Methuselah was still at school, some of us have only just started. Do you write songs? Would you like to write songs? If you answered 'yes' to either of these questions then why don't you come along to one of our regular monthly meetings? And by meeting we don't mean agendas, minutes and the Chairman's report. We just meet up in the Black Swan Inn on the 4th Monday of every month and play songs, talk about our songs and general lend encouragement to anyone who has written anything remotely resembling a tune.” The next meeting is at 8pm on Monday 26th September. There’s a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/YorkSongwriters, or you can firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. DICK GAUGHAN NEWS. Those of us who saw Dick Gaughan on his two-night stint at the Black Swan Inn last December were, it is fair to say, disappointed to a greater or lesser degree with his performances, which lacked some of his usual fire, passion and dexterity. Well, it now seems that Dick has acknowledged having health issues since last autumn, with an undiagnosed mild stroke one possibility, although I would stress that that has not yet been medically confirmed. His agent and good friend John Barrow has issued a statement:
“Dick has now stated publicly at two recent gigs that, "in order to prevent rumours spreading, I think I have had a stroke". It is untrue to say that he cannot sing or play guitar. However in saying what he has, Dick is acknowledging that 'something', as yet unconfirmed, is not right. He has an appointment with a neurologist in early October when the situation will, it is hoped, be clarified.”
Meanwhile Dick is mostly resting and not taking bookings, which obviously has financial implications for a self-employed itinerant musician. Tony Haynes of Vale Radio, who interviewed Dick at the Black Swan last December, has started a Crowdfunder campaign to help Dick out at this difficult time – seewww.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tony-haynes, where nearly £6,500 has already been pledged with 26 days still to go.
14. NAME YOUR ICONIC TRACKS. In another initiative, Tony Haynes of the Vale Radio FAB Folk and Blues Show (Mondays, 8pm) writes that “I am putting together a programme of iconic folk tracks that have changed the course of folk music/song or set new standards. I'm not particularly looking for chart success songs, more tracks over the years that have just made you go 'Wow!' I'm open to suggestions at email@example.com.” Over to you….
Our next mailing will be sometime around mid-October, all being well. Meanwhile, support and enjoy all that great live music taking place out there.