Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 259

September 2023

 Hello everyone


Almost into Autumn now and here’s the programme for the next few months starting off with our concerts:-


At THE CRESCENT CLUB, 8, The Crescent, YORK YO24 1AW we begin the next season of concerts on Tues Sept 12 with DAPHNE’S FLIGHT (the fantastic 5-piece band featuring MELANIE HARROLDJULIE MATTHEWSMIRANDA SYKESHELEN WATSON and CHRIS WHILE).

First time in York for this ground-breaking ensemble who contain five top rate vocalists, instrumentalists and songwriters in their number. They’ll be including songs from the already highly acclaimed new album ‘Love is the Weapon of Choice’. With 5 fine singer-songwriters the music of Daphne's Flight is a unique and magical blend of individual styles, completely captivating and inspiring audiences with complex harmony arrangements, unbridled energy and the infectious joy of performing together.


Over to the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR EARLY MUSIC, Walmgate, YORK YO1 9TL Wed October 25 for our next concert which features the return of MARTIN SIMPSON.

Nominated ‘Musician of the Year’ – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018 the remarkable intimate solo performances Martin gives go from strength to strength – every gig is a masterclass. He travels the length and breadth of the UK and beyond, giving rapt audiences passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majesty through his playing. “What’s it like being the best guitar player in the world…?” Martin’s modesty and grace prevented him from answering this BBC Radio 4 interviewer’s question recently, but the facts speak for themselves. 40 years after he recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, Martin is still known as a guitarist of formidable talent. He is equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions.


We continue the concert series with our Christmas Show which this year will feature ST AGNES FOUNTAIN with Julie Matthews, Chris While and Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention). This takes place at The National Centre for Early Music in York. The date is Friday 1st December.  

Although they’ve been doing the rounds at Christmas for over 20 years this is the first time in York for the band. Christmas (as they say) starts with St. Agnes Fountain performing carols with a curve. Since their first get together, to record the eponymous St Agnes Fountain album in 2001 the quartet, David Hughes, Fairport Convention's Chris Leslie and multi award winning duo Chris While and Julie Matthews, have brought musical invention and laughter to the star-dust atmosphere of the season. Founder member David Hughes sadly passed away earlier this year but Chris, Chris and Julie are keeping the Christmas Aggie spirit alive and touring as a trio. They are celebrating 23 years together with newly arranged songs and those old Aggie classics.


Back to The Crescent Club for Tuesday 12 December and we present a locally based band rapidly developing a national name THE MAGPIES. You’ve probably already seen them and you’ll know that they’re a breath of fresh air, peddling engaging, bright and breezy transatlantic folk and making it seem as easy as breathing.

All under 30 they are one of the most exciting acts on the roots scene, combining first class musicianship with sublime harmonies and increasingly impressive song and tune writing. A fervent thread of feminism runs through their music and indeed the three are champions of gender equality in the music industry. Here are themes of sisterhood and solidarity, tricky relationships and rueful reflection as they seamlessly switch between Anglo and American roots – traversing traditional folk, bluegrass, Celtic and Appalachian trails. It’s a rich melting pot of luminous, flawless music by gifted young performers.

They’ve already played a large number of festivals both home and abroad and made their mark as hosts of their fast-growing signature Magpies Festival in the parkland of stately home Sutton Park, near York.



That’s the concert schedule and of course there’s plenty more great folk music at The Black Swan Folk Club held at The Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, YORK every Thursday evening. Here’s what you can see there over the coming months.


Thursday 7 September VIKKI CLAYTON A powerful vocalist, guitarist, singer and songwriter, Vikki is New Zealand based so we don’t get a chance to see her at the club very often. Many will remember her taking the Sandy Denny role with Fairport Convention some years ago. A UK tour was announced, and we stepped up to give her a date immediately.


Thursday 14 September OWEN SPAFFORD and LOUIS CAMPBELL

Two excellent young musicians Owen Spafford (The Weaving) and Louis Campbell (Sam Sweeney) met as teenagers, as part of the first cohort of the National Youth Folk Ensemble. Since forming their duo in 2018, they have been nominated for the BBC Young Folk Award and performed across England and received national airplay on BBC Radio 2 and 3 alongside RTE1 in Ireland and BBC Scotland. A shared interest in their music enables the duo to make two instruments seemingly sound as one redefining the trad. fiddle and guitar duo idiom. Their debut album ‘You, Golden’ seamlessly blends traditional tunes with their own material. Improvisation, humour and musicality make each live performance unique, breaking forward into a new direction for English folk music. It’s a club debut for these two young performers who are keeping the tradition alive.


Thursday 21 September OPEN MIC

Join us for this one to sing, play perform or listen. Everyone is welcome and as we always say if you don’t want to use the mic and play and perform acoustically, that’s fine by us.


Thursday 28 September MAZ O’CONNOR

We tried to book Maz O'Connor to appear at The Black Swan Folk Club a few years ago but 'lockdown' put paid to that. Now at last we have been able to find a date for her. Described by The Observer as ‘a highly individual singer-songwriter’, Maz is known for her haunting, emotive vocals and her poetic lyricism. Her songs are most often short stories inspired by her love of literature, folklore and mythology. Winning a BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowship in 2014 (once won by Adele) brought Maz to wider attention, and later that year she was nominated for a BBC Folk Award for her first album, ‘This Willowed Light’. Maz has since released 3 further albums. Another Black Swan debut that we’re really looking forward to.


Thursday 5 October LYNNE HANSON (Canada)

Too tough for folk and too blues influenced for country, Lynne Hanson’s brand of ‘porch music with a little red dirt’ can turn on a dime from a sunshine, blue sky ballad to a full-on thunderstorm of gritty Americana swamp from one song to the next. She's known for her high-energy, roots guitar driven live performances, whether playing solo or with her band the Good Intentions. A closet stand-up comedian, Lynne often leaves the audience howling with laughter with her between-song-banter. Lynne is a two-time Canadian Folk Music Award winner (2018 English Songwriter, Ensemble of the Year with The LYNNeS), a two-time Indie Acoustic Project Alt-Country album of the year winner (River of Sand 2014, Uneven Ground 2017), a past winner of the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, and a two-time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville New Folk competition in Texas. Lynne has toured Canada, the US, Europe and the UK. She's toured the UK in support of Grammy nominated songwriters (Gretchen Peters, Steve Forbert), as well opening for guitar legend Albert Lee in the UK and Canada. She will be accompanied on this tour by ace Ottawan guitarist, Blair Hogan. We have a tradition of some great nights with Canadian artists at The Black Swan Folk Club and this one promises to be no exception.


Wednesday 11 October and Thursday 12 October

With an extra show for this one we present 2 exciting nights with guitar virtuoso CLIVE CARROLL accompanied by another excellent player DARIUSH KANANI.

For those who followed the folk revival of the 1960’s and the music of the cult band Pentangle, John Renbourn’s music needs little introduction. Spanning musical genres from blues and jazz through to folk, early music and original compositions he left behind a sumptuous catalogue of recordings which demonstrated not only his extraordinary talent as a guitar player but also his great musical depth. Any boundaries which may have existed previously were blurred by John’s eclectic taste, alongside a level of artistry and delicacy which led the way in the evolution of the steel-strung guitar. Here is a rare, one-off opportunity to hear some of John’s greatest compositions performed live by one of the world’s finest guitarists who regularly shared the same stage. Clive Carroll was recently described by Total Guitar Magazine as “...arguably the most accomplished fingerstylist in the world today…” and like John, he is equally at home playing Mississippi Blues as he is playing the Elizabethan lute music of John Dowland. On stage Clive’s entertaining performance transfixes audiences whether they are guitar enthusiasts or not. Coupled with Dariush Kanani’s stunningly good technique inspired by his heroes John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, this one-time show is not to be missed! This tour coincides with the release of Clive’s new album which features the music of John Renbourn.


Thursday 19 October OPEN MIC

Join us once again to sing, play perform or listen, and everyone is welcome.


Thursday 26 October RORY McCLEOD

Rory McLeod, an ex-circus clown and fire eater, is a one-man-soul-band, and poet. He has a natural troubadour’s talent for weaving magical, musical, storytelling spells accompanied by his own bizarre solo orchestra of distinctive instruments. The spoons, finger-cymbals, bandorea, djembe-drum, harmonica, guitar, trombone and-tap-dancing shoes accompany the “rich, raw, deep and resonant” voice of this “singular and liberating performer.” “Expect the unexpected.” Rory has worked as a circus clown and fire eater with 'Circo Ideal' a small Azteca family, Mexican circus, touring campesinos, pueblitos and tobacco plantations on the Pacific coast and in mountain villages. “Rory Mcleod must be the musical equivalent of a six or seven ball juggler… ” - The Guardian. He says “I also got shot from a cannon. I got paid 3 pesos a mile and travelling expenses!” ” I wasn’t the lion-tamer,… I only combed the lion's hair and cleaned his teeth!” He is a musical Gypsy, his eccentric melodies are infused with influences from Flamenco to Country blues, through to Celtic, East European and Calypso rhythms creating a style of music and songwriting that has been described as:- “Intimate, revealing, political and powerful.” “Poetry and dance-stories with verve, sharpness, humour and warmth about people and for people.” “Great songs to dance to, infectious rhythms, flying harmonica!” “(Rory McLeod is a)…Rhythmic storyteller-Soul-Singing-Tap-dancing-Poet,Guitar-Picking,One-Man-Dance-Band” Rory has travelled the globe for different reasons at different times, from Asia to the Middle East from Gambia to Cuba, Afghanistan, China, Zimbabwe, Central America, Australia, North America, Canada, Europe and other nooks and crannies of the earth. He was voted Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2002. The award was presented by singer and songwriter Vin Garbutt. His other awards include:-Texas Harmonica Champion 1981 and Edinburgh Festival Street Busker of the Year in 1985.



Boo and Heidi have recorded and toured together extensively going all the way back to Heidi’s first solo tour of the UK in 2005. Born in Ireland, Heidi became a folk star in the USA as a member of the Irish American band Cherish the Ladies, and now lives in Edinburgh. With a background like that, it's hardly surprising she should develop a style that switches easily between Celtic and Americana, but subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient. From her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that has earned her rave reviews for her records and live performances. Hailing originally from Co. Kildare, Heidi spent several years in New York and slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal modesty rooted in traditional folk. Over the past ten years Heidi has performed all over North and South America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand performing in the finest Concert Halls and International Festivals. She is equally at home in front of a Symphony Orchestra, a Performing Arts Center, a Folk Festival or even at the White House. Her tour with Boo, one of England's most celebrated singer-songwriters celebrates their long-standing musical relationship spanning over 18 years.



That’s Richmond, North Yorkshire , not Richmond, Virginia : you could call it Americana from Swaledale. The Richmond Hillbillies - Paul Stokes and Lindsay Leonard - sing and play guitars, dobro and banjo, digging into a hundred and more years of songs from the States, culturally appropriating the Americana tradition from old vaudeville and 1920’s blues, to Jimmie Rodgers, Doc Watson, Norman Blake, and Gillian Welchwith a nod towards some more recent songs from the folk country canon. The twang is less Jed Clampett, more Fred Trueman and the drink of choice less moonshine, more Timothy Taylor. There are songs and tunes with upbeat guitar flat  picking, a bit of dobro, banjo and vocal harmonies, plus some clear-eyed reflections on some of the bleaker aspects of modern life in Appalachia. They’ve played for us before with spots in the Black Swan car park just after ‘lockdown’ at the Crescent supporting Andy Irvine – this time we’re looking forward to seeing them fill the guest spot in the Black Swan Folk Club room.


Two other pieces of news to round off with:-

The Minster Strays Morris team are looking for new members. Anyone aged 18 or over is welcome to go along and have a go and there's no experience needed.  The practice season starts in September at Sand Hutton Village Hall (just outside York). To find out more visit - or email


And at this early stage we can announce that the City of York ‘Roland Walls’ Folk Weekend will be held over the weekend of June 8 and 9 in 2024 next year.


Ticket links and availability for all the above concerts and club nights can be found by going to the Black Swan Folk Club Watch our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.


As always we’re looking forward to seeing you soon.

Chris and The Black Swan Folk Club