Centenary Issue, May 2009
Yes, it has been a long time since E-News 99 back in early April. I have been very busy with other stuff, such as Folk Weekend planning and club brochure production and mailing, which alongside a couple of short holidays seems to have eaten up all my spare time until now.
It’s all systems go for the City of York Folk Weekend over Saturday and Sunday 30th and 31st May. Read on...
- A VERY FULL PROGRAMME. There’s an incredibly full and varied menu of events scheduled for the Folk Weekend. In the Marquee we have about 20 hours of live music over the two days, with smaller scale concerts indoors on both Saturday evening and Sunday tea-time. As usual, the bigger front bar (Bowes Room) will be given over entirely to Musicians’ Sessions, while other opportunities for all-comers to perform themselves will include a Rolling Folk Club on both afternoons, plus Singarounds and evening “free and easy” sessions.
Special events include repeats of the very popular Jake Thackray Hour, this year on Sunday lunchtime, and of the Yorkshire Folk Songs session with members of the Yorkshire Garland project. The spoken word gets a look in with a Poems & Pints hour on Sunday and storytelling by Adrian Spendlow on Saturday. York Songwriters Circle takes over the upstairs room on Sunday evening to showcase their “Song For York” material, and Soundsphere host a singing workshop on Sunday morning (just down the road at St Crux Church Hall) followed by an Open Sing at the Black Swan.
See the full programme through this link: www.blackswanfolkclub.org.uk/folkweekend09/prog.pdf or find it printed on the back of the new club brochure.
- THE BEST OF OUR LOCAL PERFORMERS. It feels as though just about everyone on the local folk and acoustic music scene is due to take part at some time or other during the weekend, together with lots of talented visitors from other parts of Yorkshire. Indeed, it would almost be simpler to list those few performers who for one reason or another cannot be with us!
Artists appearing on the main stage include favourite bands such as Union Central, Los Yobos, The Basement Band, Diad, Beneath The Oak and Amy Atkinson & Midnight Special. Singer-songwriters featured include Edwina Hayes, Stan Graham, Holly Taymar, Dan Webster, David Ward Maclean and David Swann, while amongst the acapella vocal acts are Soundsphere, Monkey’s Fist, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion and Ripple.
Visitors from further afield include the North Riding band Blind Summat!, Anna Shannon from Scarborough, Geoff Watson from Hebden Bridge, Bob Chiswick from Doncaster, Paul Pearson from Sheffield and Wakefield duo Blackwater. Amongst the local stalwarts taking the stage are Susie Fox, Eddie Affleck and Phil Cerny, and there is a special appearance by the re-formed former York University student band OK Brandy. Saturday also brings a main stage appearance by members of the York Young Fiddlers and dance displays by Minster Strays Morris and Ebor Morris.
The indoor concerts include local artists such as Paula Ryan, Tim Pheby, Sarah Dean and Sixpenny Wayke, together with visitors such as Wendy Arrowsmith, Easingwold-based blues duo Stony Plain, Black Swan regular from Ilkley David Kidman and Bradford duo Otra.
- CALLING FOR HELPERS. Quite a few of you have already volunteered your services as stewards or general dogsbodies and I will be in touch in the next few days to finalise those arrangements. If anyone else wants to come forward, please get in touch by return. There is one particular task for which we need volunteers. Could somebody (single or couple) provide overnight site security on Saturday by camping out inside the marquee? This would save us the enormous hassle of dismantling all the equipment at midnight Saturday only to re-install it on Sunday morning, for which we’d be immensely grateful. The pub management would give you a breakfast on Sunday. Get in touch soon if you are up for this.
- PRACTICALITIES. Our dynamic new landlord Andy is making careful and extensive planning for the folk weekend. He has actually bought his own Marquee, complete with stage, seating and lighting. This will be erected down the south side of the car park, beyond the stylish new outdoor drinking area now placed where previous marquees have stood. Catering will include not only a barbecue but also a hog-roast and fish & chips. As well as ample stocks of real ale and other drinks at the main bar (which is due to be enlarged) there will be a second bar adjacent to the marquee serving keg beer and lager. Also, we are looking at the feasibility of a Record Stall where artists appearing over the weekend can pool their CDs. (We did try to interest an external retailer in coming along as well but had no takers.)
Because of the new marquee position, and for health and safety reasons with people milling around outdoors, Parking will be strictly limited and tightly controlled this year. Access to the few available spaces will have to be by prior arrangement and priority will be given to disabled drivers and to artists delivering bulky and/or heavy equipment. Contact me soon if you think you will need to park on site. There is plenty of city centre parking nearby and don’t forget that the Black Swan Inn sits on several major bus routes, including the Monk’s Cross Park & Ride and the Coastliner service from Scarborough, Malton and Leeds.
- PUBLICITY AND PROMOTION. Please do all you can to help us publicise the Folk Weekend. The landlord is investing a lot of time and money into making it work for us and we need to reward his efforts with a packed venue on both days. I’ve spent over £ 300 of club money as well, on adverts in publications such as York What’s On and Your Local Link. Our very special thanks go to graphic artist Richard Nagy (www.myspace.com/richardnagy) who has produced some excellent promotional materials for us free of charge.
- WHAT ARE WE DOING WRONG? Sad to say, Thursday night club attendances have slumped badly in recent weeks. In fact, they’ve been in decline ever since early March. Only one guest night since then has passed the 30 paying customers mark and the last two guests have had audiences in the low teens. Even last week’s Singers Night was a disappointment numbers wise (though not in the least musically) – rather than the 20+ performers to which we have become accustomed we had only 6 acts. This is all rather worrying, especially for what is supposed to be the “Folk Club of the Year”. Morale is suffering and of course our funds are being eaten into. So, can you tell us why you’ve not been along to the club so much (or at all) in recent weeks? Is it something we did wrong (e.g. programming, presentation) or is it the recession beginning to bite or is it just down to rival commitments? All feedback would be appreciated.
- NEW CLUB BROCHURE PUBLISHED. Determined to keep going regardless of such (short-term?) setbacks, we have just published our next club leaflet, covering the summer period until 10th September. The guest artist “blurbs” have all been loaded on the club website as well, and booking is now open at www.wegottickets.com. Leaflets are available at the Black Swan and at places such as York Library, York Tourist Information and City Screen.
Programme highlights include the return of Irish legend Andy Irvine (4th June, already selling well at WeGotTickets) and the debut of Canadian Nathan Rogers, son of the late lamented Stan Rogers (18th June). There are also York debuts for the Irish songwriter and entertainer Anthony John Clarke (30th July) and BBC Folk Awards Best Duo nominees Megson (3rd September). Two other duos make return visits, HowdenJones (27th August) and Judy Dinning & Kenny Speirs, last enjoyed with Real Time (25th June), while full guest nights go to two previous Young Performer participants, Gilmore & Roberts (16th July) and The Young ‘Uns (13th August). We welcome back a phenomenally talented singer/guitarist Jon Brindley (2nd July) and say hello to three talented young folk/blues/roots players from Leeds, Broad, Barrett & Rossiter (20th August). Finally, Blind Summat! follow up their Folk Weekend spot with a club gig (23rd July).
- ACOUSTIC WORLD MUSIC THIS WEEK. The Anglo-Alaskan duo Tania Opland & Mike Freeman are back with us this Thursday, 21st, for the first time since 1997. They play a wide variety of instruments: dulcimer, guitar, cittern, fiddle, native American flute and sundry percussion and describe their eclectic repertoire as “acoustic world music – a whirlwind trip round most of the northern hemisphere – songs in many languages and rhythmic roots from Siberia to Morocco”. Tania is the Alaskan one (yes, there’s more to Alaska than Sarah Palin!) and has a singing voice described as “smooth, powerful and tremendously versatile”, while Mike is originally from Manchester. They have been on the road together for about 15 years offering “a memorable evening of musical contrasts laced with quick-witted humour”. Find out more at www.opland-freeman.com. Stan Graham hosts this one (newly returned from his own travels) and entry is £ 7 (£ 6 concessions) on the door, or in advance at www.wegottickets.com.
- POWERFUL SCOTTISH MUSIC & SONG. Next week, 28th May, we are delighted to welcome back on of the great names in Scottish folk music, Brian McNeill. He plays a host of instruments, notably fiddle, guitar and concertina, and has written many fine tunes and songs. Amongst the latter the biting “No Gods and Precious Few Heroes” and the stirring “Muir and the Master Builder” are two of the best known, thanks to Dick Gaughan’s cover versions, while the late John Wright often sang “The Snows of France and Holland”. For 21 years Brian was a member of Battlefield Band, which he co-founded, and latterly he has been Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
Brian McNeill did us two magical club gigs in 1997 and 2000, but since his academic appointment he has performed little in England aside from an annual tour with Feast of Fiddles. Hence I was both surprised and delighted to be approached by his agent asking if he could return to a club where he had thoroughly enjoyed playing in the past. This one surely deserves a packed full house, so do come along. Find out more at www.brianmcneill.co.uk. Eddie Affleck (who else?) acts as MC and tickets are £ 9 (£ 7). Advance booking ought to be advisable for this one.
NCEM CONCERTS UPDATE
- WHIPPERSNAPPER EXTRA. While our Thursday club functions have been going through lean times, the Early Music Centre concert programme has been very successful. The first four NCEM folk events this year were all full houses and last week’s Tams & Coope show was not far off being sold out either. Emboldened by this success, we have added a really exciting extra concert to our current season. Whippersnapper comprises Dave Swarbrick, Chris Leslie, Kevin Dempsey and Martin Jenkins and they visit NCEM on Monday15th June during a short UK tour.
Recently re-formed, Whippersnapper was the brainchild of legendary fiddle player Dave Swarbrick. During the second half of the 1980s it was one of the must-see bands on the British acoustic music scene, commanding a stunning array of instruments with awesome virtuosity and helping to define English folk music after the heyday of folk-rock. Band members went their separate ways in the 1990s, with Chris (for example) joining Swarbrick’s old band Fairport Convention, while Dave himself revived his duo partnership with Martin Carthy. Following Dave’s near-miraculous return to good health in 2007, the band decided to get back together; news which was greeted as a dream come true by their legion of admirers. Twenty years down the line they have rekindled their old spirit and indeed they are said to be playing better than ever.
Box Office is now open for this very special event, with tickets priced at £ 14 (£ 12 concessions). It was arranged too late to feature in the widely circulated NCEM Spring Brochure, so we are totally reliant on own efforts to sell this one. Please come along if you can – it should be a splendid show. Go to www.ncem.co.uk, book by phone on 01904 658338 or get in touch with myself.
- ERIC’S BOGLE’S FAREWELL. A reminder that also booking now (and selling quickly) is the York concert on the “Waltzing Matilda No More” farewell tour by Eric Bogle & John Munro. This one is on Monday 7th September and tickets cost £ 13 (£ 11 concessions).
- AUTUMN NCEM SEASON CHANGE. Sadly, Breabach have had to postpone their English autumn tour, including the proposed York show on 18th November. That leaves us with a strongly English flavoured series comprising Faustus (28th September), Jackie Oates (19th October) and Chris Wood’s Handmade Life (30th November). I’ve already written the programme copy for these shows but note that booking will not open until August or so, by which time NCEM hopes to have a revamped website up and running.
- YET MORE CONGRATS TO EDWINA. This issue’s Edwina Hayes story is that she has been chosen as support act on next month’s British tour by American Byrds legend Roger McGuinn. This includes a Sold Out Pocklington show on 11th June. Meanwhile Nanci Griffith’s new album “The Loving Kind” is released in June with her version of Edwina’s song “Pour Me A Drink”. Sample Edwina at the Folk Weekend (5.55pm Sunday) then have a full night of her music at Friargate Theatre in York on Saturday 6th June. Find out more at www.edwinahayes.com.
- AND CONGRATULATIONS TO PHIL TOO. Club resident Phil Cerny recently appeared at the New Jersey Folk Festival, where for one set he shared stage with Jean Ritchie (!), looking at British songs which had migrated to Appalachia. Phil, who is working on a second CD right now, is back in York in time for Folk Weekend then with us on and off through the summer months.
- EASINGWOLD FOLK CLUB. Things have moved on a-pace since my piece in E-News 99 about folk events at The New Inn on Long Street in Easingwold. It now hosts a weekly folk club on Monday nights, offering singarounds with occasional guests, the next of which is Canadian singer Ric Bockner on 1st June. Rebekah Findlay (who is also a member of Blind Summat!) is acting as organiser and they have a web presence at www.myspace.com/easingwoldfolkclub where you can find out more. Good luck to them.
- DAVID DOES IT FOR CHARITY. Popular local singer-songwriter David Swann has just co-written a song with Ryedale Live organiser Rob Davies. “He was getting frustrated at not having the time to go to our Ryedale Songwriters Circle” says David, “so he wrote some very funny lyrics and I wrote a tune and it became a song called “I'll Never Have The Time To Write A Song”. We recorded it with some great singers and musicians and have just released it as a single. If you would like a copy let me know and I'll send one to you. It’s free but if you would like to make a donation to a fantastic charity called Ryedale Special Families that would be marvellous!” Find out more at www.davidswann.co.uk. Ryedale Live’s next show is on 3rd July at Kirkby Misperton and is headlined by American singer Brooks Williams – see www.ryedalelive.co.uk.
- ROGER DAVIES CELEBRATES PETER BROOK. Talking of CD singles, our NCEM concert support artist last week was Roger Davies who has just written a song celebrating the work of beloved Pennine landscape artist Peter Brook. Newly released as a single, “Peter Brook’s Paintings” is a fine song which Roger aired for us during his short set. Find out more and hear it at www.myspace.com/rogerdaviesmusic.
- TRAVELLING LIGHT WITH DAVID & MASHA. David Moss asks me to tell you that he and Masha, aka Light Garden (as enjoyed in a great club gig last year), have just released a new album. “Travelling Light” was due for launch at a concert in Whitby last Friday. Contact them via www.myspace.com/lgarden.
- JOHN CHERRY ARCHIVED FOR POSTERITY. Much loved Black Swan resident John Cherry can now be heard on the British Library’s National Sound Archive! In a recording made exactly 40 years ago at the famous Folk Union One club in Hull, John can be heard singing “The Village Pump”, a song which is still in his repertoire to this day. The recording is part of the NSA’s growing Traditional Music In England on-line collection. Follow this link: http://sounds.bl.uk/View.aspx?item=025M-C1009X0005XX-0100V0.xml
- FAIRPORT ACOUSTIC. A reminder that giving us a big Folk Weekend prequel, Fairport Convention (in acoustic mode) are at The Duchess in York on Friday 29th May. Support comes from TWO (Sharon Winfield & Helen Turner), who sadly cannot stay around for Folk Weekend either – they have a festival to play at down south. Booking at www.theduchessyork.co.uk.
- COMEDY’S BACK AT THE BLACK SWAN. If you’d prefer comedy to music on Friday 29th, there’s a show upstairs at the Black Swan Inn. Kill For A Seat Comedy presents stand-up musical comedian Silky and special guests. “A rare show in York for this one-time local resident [and Black Swan FC E-News subscriber]. He's played from Glastonbury and the Green Man festivals to the Falklands and China and now he's back to make with the funny. He runs the comedy club for the West Yorkshire Playhouse, amongst 13 venues around the UK, but tonight he'll have guitar and friends for an unmissable night of comedy.” See www.killforaseat.com.
- BOB’S BIRTHDAY BASH. In their annual Million Dollar Birthday Bash show, Dylan covers band Blonde on Bob and local hero Rory Motion appear at City Screen Basement Bar in York on Friday 5th June. Promising “Nothin’ but Dylan”, the evening costs £ 6 in advance or £ 7 on the door, kicking off around 8.30. Book through City Screen Box Office on 0871 704 2054. Under their alter ego of The Basement Band, Blonde on Bob will of course be appearing at Folk Weekend.
- MINSTER STRAYS AT BENINGBOROUGH. Energetic mixed Morris side The Minster Strays (who dance on Saturday afternoon of Folk Weekend) have a full Day of Dance at Beningbrough Hall the following Saturday, 6th June. Together with several guest teams, the Strays will be dancing from noon onwards. “Join us for this colourful spectacle” they say, “over one hundred dancers and musicians in this delightful setting”. Other than normal National Trust admission charges there is nothing to pay. Find out more at www.minsterstrays.org.uk.
- HANG ON AT THE STEER. Mo Burrows asks me to tell you that she and her world music percussion group HangOn have an event at The Steer Inn on Hull Road, Wilberfoss, on Tuesday 9th June. They’ll be joined by some guests, including singer Natacha Dauphin, from around 8pm.