Late April 2007
The month ahead looks like a particularly full and enjoyable one, so let’s get straight down to business:
- VAN EYKEN TO ROUND OFF NCEM SEASON. The spring season of club-run concerts at the National Centre for Early Music comes to a suitably rousing finale with next week’s concert by Van Eyken (Wednesday 2nd May). Fronted by former Waterson:Carthy member Tim van Eyken on accordion, guitar and vocals, the band evolved last year out of Tim’s highly-acclaimed CD Stiffs, Lovers, Holymen Thieves, and delivers a vigorously contemporary take on the English folk tradition. Tim was BBC Young Folk Performer of the year back in 1998 and has worked with many leading artists since then, notably Dr Faustus, as well as doing his long stint with Norma, Martin and Eliza Always an exceptional instrumentalist, he has also developed into a first rate singer under their considerable influence.
Celebrated fiddle player and singer Nancy Kerr also appears, making her final tour with the band before leaving to concentrate on her duo work with partner James Fagan. Lead guitarist Oliver Knight is known both as a gifted musician and composer (notably with his late mother Lal Waterson) and as a record producer and sound engineer (he is usually behind the mixing desk at a Waterson:Carthy concert). Completing the Van Eyken line-up is the top class rhythm section of double bassist Colin Fletcher and Bellowhead percussionist Pete Flood.
Tim van Eyken received a whopping 4 nominations in this year’s BBC Folk Awards and took the prize for Best Traditional Track with his version of Barleycorn, beating fierce opposition from Seth Lakeman, no less. His CD has received spectacular reviews in both the mainstream press and specialist music magazines. “Truly inspired” said The Sun (!!), “a triumph” said The Observer. The Sunday Times gave it four stars and named it Pop (!!) CD of The Week. The Van Eyken band formed last June and has already done numerous festivals and an autumn tour to an equally enthusiastic response.
Doing a half hour opening spot on Wednesday will be Leeds student duo Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, who have already impressed us with dazzling floor spots and who recently won one of the prizes at the annual New Roots contest for young performers. They are definitely a name to watch out for in the future.
There are still quite a few tickets left for this concert and (to be frank) we need another 30/40 of you in there enjoying the music if the club is to cover all costs, so do your ears a favour and book now! Tickets are available through the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338 or online at www.ncem.co.uk at £13 (£11 concessions) and it is a 7.30 start. There may be a few unreserved tickets left on the door.
- ALLAN TAYLOR, CRAFTSMAN SONGWRITER. If contemporary song is more your thing, make a firm date for next Thursday, 3rd May, when Allan Taylor returns to the Black Swan Inn. This internationally-acclaimed artist is widely regarded as one of our most sophisticated, literate and stylish singer/songwriters, responsible for many a timeless classic over a career that now spans 35 years. Allan is a consummate performer and by all reports is on excellent form right now. At Easter he headlined the “Folk In The Castle” weekend in Scotland and did an outstanding show, according to our man Stan Graham who was also on the bill.
As with Van Eyken there are still (and unaccountably!) quite a few tickets left. Get yours through myself (contact details below, but note that I am away for several days over this weekend), or better book them through the NCEM’s friendly Box Office facility, as detailed above. These ones cost £8 (£6.50 concessions) and again, there may also be some left for sale on the door on the night.
- FOLK DAY PROGRAMME TAKES SHAPE. It is now barely three weeks to the Fifth City of York Folk Day, Saturday 19th May, and the programme is fast taking shape. See www.bsfc.org.uk/folkday.php for the latest details. There were more performers wanting a spot that we could possibly accommodate and some hard decisions have had to be taken. Preference has been given to York-based acts, or those with a very strong York connection, and we have tried to give a balance of styles and formats, from solo singer/guitarists through duos to acapella groups and full bands, not to mention dance displays by two of our local morris sides. We hope there will be lots for you to enjoy in the course of the day.
Just as vital as the main stage are the events taking place inside the Black Swan building. There will be the usual packed Musicians Session all day long in the Bowes Room. If you want to know more about this event, contact Ken Meadows on firstname.lastname@example.org.
After much discussion and reflection we have come up with the following schedule for the other two rooms, which we hope will cater satisfactorily at some time or other during the day for all your various demands, from informal singaround / jamming space through open-mic type club session to a more formal mini-concert.
Oak Room (Downstairs). 1.00-4.00: Singaround – mostly acapella. 4.30-6.00: Poems & Pints – an interlude for the spoken word. 6.30 onwards: Acoustic concert with short (20/25 minute) sets from artists we could not fit on the main stage. The line-up for this event will be decided shortly (see below).
Wolfe Room (Upstairs). 1.00-7.30: Rolling Folk Club – all-comers open mic session. 8.00 onwards: Evening singaround/jam – loose and very informal
Programme wise there are two remaining tasks to sort out, choosing artists and a running order for the Acoustic Concert and organising MCs, stewards and other helpers. I will be getting on with these tasks as soon as I return from a few days holiday this coming weekend. Meanwhile, can I please offer my apologies to those artists who have e-mailed me about a concert spot and have not yet had a reply from me. It has been difficult to keep on top of the huge correspondence the Folk Day has generated this year, and rather than reply piecemeal to individuals I thought it would be best to wait until I could send out a standard message to all of you, which should be within the next week.
Hopefully I will be able to issue a final Folk Day programme for all rooms in another E-Newsletter in around two weeks’ time.
And now for a miscellany of other news, in roughly chronological order:
- WATH FESTIVAL GOING STRONG. The early May Bank Holiday weekend traditionally sees a friendly music festival in Wath upon Dearne near Rotherham. Headliners at this year’s event (4-6 May) include Eliza Carthy & The Ratcatchers, Dougie Maclean, Chris Difford (of Squeeze), Jon Tams & Barry Coope, Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies, Ivan Drever & Duncan Chisholm (of Wolfstone), Pete Coe and Tom Bliss, plus strong supporting cast. Find out more at www.wathfestival.org.uk or contact the valiant organisers Ruth & Gary Wells on email@example.com.
- NORTHERN HARMONIES AT YORK UNIVERSITY. On tour from Vermont USA, Northern Harmony are an outstanding 14-strong vocal group, presenting music in a stunning range of vocal styles, including wonderful Appalachian gospel and shape-note singing (as heard in the church scene of the film Cold Mountain). They also perform traditional songs from the Balkans, the Caucasus and Corsica, South African numbers and villancicos from renaissance Spain – a real aural treat for lovers of fine singing. Northern Harmony are in concert at the Lyons Concert Hall on the York University campus on Wednesday 9 May at 7.30, preceded on the Tuesday evening by a singing workshop in the Music Faculty. Concert tickets are £12, workshop tickets £10, with a range of concessions and joint ticket offers. Find out more through the box office on 01904 432439 or via www.YorkConcerts.co.uk.
- KIRSTY & MAT FOR REETH. One of the most talented (and nicest) young contemporary duos on the folk/acoustic scene is Kirsty McGee & Mat Martin. They are the guest artists for May at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale. The date is Friday 11th May, tickets are £7 in advance or £8 on the door, and you can find out more at www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk.
- BOB DYLAN’S BIRTHDAY BASH. Following last year’s very successful event, Chris Euesden and his Dylan tribute band Blonde on Bob have organised another million dollar Bob Dylan birthday bash. This time it is at The Post Office Social Club on Marygate in York on Wednesday 16th May, starting at 8pm. Also appearing are Rory Motion, Dave Burland, Gerry Hallom and Tom Euesden, and entry is £5 with all proceeds going to Oxfam. You can make advance bookings on 01904 610899. In their alter ego state as The Basement Band, Chris and his mates will round off the marquee concert at the Folk Day the following Saturday.
- JULIE IN THE BASEMENT. Talking of basements, and also on 23rd May, noted guitarist and songwriter Julie Ellison does another performance at the City Screen Basement Bar in York. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are available at the cinema box office (01904 541144) at £6 in advance or £8 on the door.
- AN INTRODUCTION TO SONGWRITING. As part of the York Music Live weekend at the end of May, the North Yorkshire Songwriters Circle has organised an all day Songwriting Workshop on Saturday 26th May. Held at the Melbourne Centre on Escrick Street from 10am until 5pm, it is a “fun-based” event for beginner songwriters aged 16 and above, with sessions on lyric writing, melody, rhyme and song structure in both group and one-to-one formats. Tutors are drawn from the Circle’s membership. There is also a pay-on-the-door (£3) evening concert at 8pm. The workshop costs just £5 and places can be booked by contacting David Swann on 07933 239133.
I anticipate another newsletter in around two weeks with the final programme for Folk Day, then perhaps I can have a bit of a rest!