Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 109

Early November 2009


  1. YOUNG PERFORMERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT. This week’s club gathering (5th November) is another showcase night for up-and-coming young performers, in this case two of the winning acts from last spring’s annual New Roots event (see also item 9 below). Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell are from Hexham in Northumberland and were already known to us, having been invited along by Rachel Unthank and the Winterset to be their support act at an NCEM concert in 2008. This autumn, Jonny & Lucy have again been on the road with The Unthanks (as they are now called) as openers on their entire tour, but fortunately they had a night off to honour this prior engagement with us. “We play a mixture of traditional and self-penned material” they say, “and over the past year we have been playing all over the place at festivals, folk clubs, theatres, pubs and a variety of music venues throughout the UK.” Jonny plays guitar and is the main songwriter, while Lucy plays violin and they both sing. Sample their music at
    From Edinburgh, Fiona Rutherford has been a harp player since she was 14, with a particular interest in composing new music for her chosen instrument. She graduated First Class from Dartington College of Arts in 2008 and is now a freelance performer, composer and music teacher. Listen to her at She will be joined at the Black Swan by fellow Dartington graduate Martha Bean on double bass, guitar and vocals, for a combination of Fiona’s harp tunes and Martha’s self-penned songs. See or for more about Martha.
    Once you’ve launched all your rockets and burned all your sparklers, why not come along to the Black Swan on Thursday and see if we can’t have some musical fireworks. Doors open at 8pm, with entry £ 6 (£ 5 concessions). Tickets will be freely available on the door, though you can if you wish book beforehand at Tony Morris acts as Master of Ceremonies, but to give both acts plenty of performance time we will not have the usual quota of floor acts. I gather that each act will do two sets, one in each half of the evening.

  2. PLAYING BY THE QUEENSBERRY RULES. The Staffordshire trio of Phil Hulse and the Wilcox brothers, Gary and Duncan, otherwise known as The Queensbury Rules, make their third visit to our club next week, 12th November. Since their York debut almost 6 years ago they’ve worked hard up and down the country and have attracted a steadily growing fan club. After three self-produced CDs they were signed up by top folk label Fellside, and their third Fellside release Take Your Own Roads came out just last month.
    There’s a strong sense of their Potteries roots in much of the Queensberry’s writing, but not in any parochial sense (think Jez Lowe and the North East), while songs such as Landlocked and I Still Believe In England have real lyrical and musical bite. The instrumental line-up includes guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, double bass and percussion, and the vocals are particularly fine, both individually and in three-part harmony. “Strong, direct, urgent and sincere” was fRoots’ reviewer’s verdict, while on Radio 2 Bob Harris praised their “brilliant modern folk music”. Find out more at or sample their music at Chris Euesden hosts this one and tickets at £ 7 (£ 6) can be booked online beforehand or bought at the door from 8pm.

  3. EMILY & HAZEL RETURN TO YORK. After the November Singers Night (19th), our final club guests of the month (26th) are two incredibly talented, energetic and enthusiastic champions of English traditional folk music, The Askew Sisters. These young women first played for us a couple of years ago and won many admirers that night. Songs and dance tunes are played with fizz and genuine affection by Emily on fiddle and Hazel on melodeon and vocals. John Cherry acts as MC and the price is set at £ 6 (£ 5 concessions).

  4. CHRIS WOOD’S HANDMADE LIFE. Wrapping up the November programme is a very special concert at the Early Music Centre. Singer, songwriter, guitarist and fiddle player Chris Wood performed to a packed and delighted Black Swan crowd almost exactly one year ago. Three months later he carried off two BBC Folk Awards, for Best Album and Singer of the Year. Since then there has been a Double CD retrospective collection, Albion, and now the ever restless Mr Wood has embarked on his next big project, Handmade Life.
    Joined in a highly unusual line-up by Andy Gangadeen (drums), Barney Morse Brown (cello) and Robert Jarvis (trombone), and with Arts Council financial support, Chris is about to do a short (11-date) tour, which includes the NCEM on Monday 30th November. Expect songs from the forthcoming Handmade Life CD (exclusively available at the concert ahead of general release) alongside some radical reworkings of older favourites.
    This is one the most ambitious – and costly – concerts the folk club has ever staged and we need at least 150 people in the audience just to break even. Happily, and despite a price tag of £ 17 (£ 15 concessions) we have already sold around 130 tickets. Book yours soon at or on 01904 658338. The excellent Scarborough-based singer/songwriter Joe Solo does the support spot and Eddie Affleck does the introductions.

  5. WEBSITES UPDATE. Talking of concerts, freelance reviewer Allan Wilkinson attended our recent Jackie Oates show and has posted his account of the concert, plus a short post-gig interview with Jackie, on the reviews page of our club website – which prompts me to remind you about There you will find a selection of CD reviews contributed by David Kidman and club/concert live reviews mostly from Allan or from Oz Hardwick. Also, check out Allan’s own Northern Sky site at


  1. BARRY FINN RIP. Sad news has reached me that American work song and shanty singer Barry Finn died suddenly on 16th October. Barry was in Britain as recently as July for the Scarborough Sea Fest and with his partner Ken Schatz sang a couple of powerful songs as a floor act on the night that Blind Summat! appeared at the Black Swan, 23rd July. I can only echo the words of Joe Stead in his recent Ramblings: “I only met him for one evening, but he left a good unending impression”.

  2. YORKSHIRE FOLK CUSTOMS. A newly published book chronicles surviving traditional folk customs and events in Yorkshire - from Blessing the Boats in Whitby to the Sowerby Bridge Rush Cart to Page Egging, Carolling and much more besides. It has been compiled by veteran folklorist Tony Foxworthy (the founding Director of Whitby Folk Week) and is published by Country Books at £ 12.50. The ISBN is 9781906789176.

  3. NEW LOCAL CEILIDH BAND. Strolling through York city centre last Saturday I heard some lively folk dance tunes emanating from High Ousegate and tracked them down to four busking members of York’s newest folk band, Blackbeard’s Tea Party. The full line-up includes three players well known to us: former OK Brandy fiddle player Laura Barber, multi-instrumentalist Paul Young and bassist Tim Yates, along with a guitarist and two percussionists. They tell me they have just recorded tracks for a mini CD and are generally available for concerts and dances. They have upcoming gigs at The Melbourne in York on 27th November and at the remote Tan Hill Inn above Swaledale on 19th December. Find out more and sample their music at

  4. YOUNG FOLKIES GALORE. Applications are now invited for two Young Folk competitions. The next New Roots (mentioned above , Item 1) takes place in April in St Albans. This one is for “young performers of all styles of traditional or contemporary folk, roots or world music, whether you play traditional material or write your own”. There are two categories: under 18 and 18-24. Contact Alison for details:, 01727 852111.
    Closer to home, the Young Acoustic Roots Competition has its final at Wath Festival in May 2010. This one is open to musicians aged 12 to 21, with “all acoustic styles eligible”. Contact Pete Thornton Smith for details, or 01709 739093. Closing date is 16th April 2010.
    The big one is of course the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, for which the shortlist was announced recently. We were delighted to see Niamh Boadle on the list. We enjoyed a splendid performance by this (then 15 year old) singer and multi-instrumentalist at a New Roots event last year, and I caught up with her again this summer at Brampton Live. She will be doing the opening spot at our first NCEM concert of 2010 (headlined by Beoga) on 15th February. Also through to the Young Folk finals are 20-year old twins from the South West, The Carrivick Sisters, who play a mix of bluegrass and folk and who I had just booked for a club performance in July next year!


  1. PEGGY CANCELLED, MARTIN SOLD OUT. Sadly, Peggy Seeger’s appearance at The Duchess in York on 15th November has been cancelled by the promoter, due to very poor advance ticket sales. However, it’s a different story at the Early Music Centre, where Martin Simpson’s collaborative December concert with jazz player Martin Taylor has already sold out.

  2. OTHER BLACK SWAN GIGS. Local heroes Los Yobos entertain in the Black Swan function room on Saturday 14th November. Entry for this evening of “Good-time Western Swing and Americana” is £ 5 on the door, from 8.30pm. See
    The following Saturday, 21st, it’s the turn of Beneath The Oak, with guest Kim Thompsett. BTO main man Paul Wale tells me that “trying to keep a constant line up and balancing around other peoples commitments just isn’t working”, so from now on Beneath The Oak will just be Paul and invited guest players. I don’t have a price or time for this one.

  3. BROZMAN IN THE BASEMENT. Cosmopolitan guitar maestro Bob Brozman does a remarkable small scale gig (for someone of his stature) at the City Screen Basement Bar in York on Friday 20th November. Tickets £ 8 in advance or £ 10 on the door.

  4. RACHEL IN BISHOPTHORPE. Formerly York-based singer songwriter Rachel Dawick gets a mention in these newsletters from time to time. She tells me she is returning to the area for a concert on Friday 13th November at St Andrews Hall in Bishopthorpe, where she will be joined by Nick Lewis on slide guitar and special guest Eliza Lynn from North Carolina. Tickets at £ 8 (£ 6) are available in advance from John and Anona on 01904 707090.

  5. SOUNDSPHERE CD LAUNCH. The celebrated and much-loved women’s vocal and percussion quartet Soundsphere have recorded another CD and give it a launch gig at The Winning Post in York on Saturday 28th November. Tickets are £ 6 (£ 5) and doors open at 8pm. Contact Angela for more information,

  6. CELEBRATING DON WALLS. Few of you will need any introduction to Don Walls, our best-loved local poet who is a regular favourite at the Black Swan on Thursdays and at many other local musical gatherings. Don (who is no relation, by the way) is approaching his 80th birthday and, to celebrate, some of his friends (principally Carol Henderson and David Ward Maclean) have helped him organise a party on Sunday 29th November at the Spurriergate Centre in York, starting at 7.30pm. All friends and admirers of Don’s are welcome. He has specifically asked for no presents and instead asks you to make a donation to the Centre on entry. There is no bar, so bring your own drinks. Also, if people could bring one sweet and one savoury snack, to put out for a buffet, the organisers would be grateful. Entertainment will be of the open-mic kind, and a PA will be provided.
    Incidentally, I was pleased to see an interview with Don in the latest edition of monthly news magazine Your Local Link. Don’s fourth book of poems, Somewhere, has been available for a while but is officially “launched” at Borders in York on Thursday 12th November at 6pm.


  1. GATHERING THE IRISH IN LEEDS. This year’s Leeds Gathering takes place between 6th and 15th November, “a citywide celebration of Irish arts and culture” with “dozens of events, including music sessions, literary talks and film events at venues across Leeds, bringing Ireland’s finest artists to the city”. Amongst the music shows are At The Racket (Otley Courthouse, 7th) and Nuala Kennedy (Seven Arts Centre, 14th) plus plenty of less formal pub sessions and other events. See

  2. RAISING BANNERS IN BRADFORD. The “Raise Your Banners” festival of political song takes place in Bradford this coming weekend (6th-8th) with events at St Peter’s House and in the Cathedral. Artists appearing include Chumbawamba, Leon Rosselson, Frankie Armstrong, Roy Bailey, Martin Carthy and the Alun Parry Band. See

  3. BAD PENNIES IN KNARESBOROUGH. The next folk concert at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough takes place on Friday 13th November and features Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies plus a young musician about whom I’ve heard great things, Ewan McLennan. Tickets £ 12 – contact or ring 01423 541888.

  4. FOLK IN A GOOD CAUSE IN DONCASTER. There’s an excellent line-up at The Regent Hotel in Doncaster on Sunday 15th November, as a fundraiser for Third World health charity the AHS Foundation ( Beginning at 4.30pm, you can enjoy Jez Lowe (again!), Clive Gregson, Steve Womack, Gilmore & Roberts and local star Ray Hearne. Tickets are just £ 10 from Hedley (01226 752901) or Eileen (08450 941768).

That’s all for now! I hope to be back in a month or so with more news.