Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 117

Late March 2010


  1. BREABACH – SAVING THE BEST TIL LAST? Our final Early Music Centre of the current season takes place on Friday 16th April and this time it is an emphatically Scottish night with one of that country’s foremost young bands, Breabach. The group’s musicianship is formidable and their material pleasantly varied – one reviewer writes of “a wonderfully melodic combination of fiddle, flute and whistle” being followed by “a stunning barrage of pipe-driven reels”. Add to that a selection of heart-warming songs and some displays of Scottish step-dancing and it should be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
    Patsy Reid is the fiddle player and Ewan Robertson the guitarist, with both of them also singing, while bagpipes, flutes and whistles are shared between Donal Brown and Calum MacCrimmon, with Donal also step dancing. In addition, James Lindsay has recently joined the band on double bass. They have just released a new album, The Desperate Battle of the Birds; you can hear some short and varied samples from it at
    Doing the opening set for this concert is that fine North Yorkshire-based singer Wendy Arrowsmith, who is an expatriate Scot herself. Wendy has appeared at our club and at Folk Weekend in the past and she is steadily building a name for herself nationwide.
    Tickets are £13 (£11 concessions), available from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, online at and in person from ourselves at Thursday night club meetings. Tickets will also be available on the door from 7pm. The concert begins at 7.30 with Wendy’s spot, followed by two full sets from Breabach, and should wrap up around 10.15.
    For the folk club, running concerts like this is an artistic pleasure but a considerable financial risk. There are big additional costs (venue hire, box office charges, PA hire, etc.) which we don’t face on a Thursday night, and we can lose large sums of club money if things don’t work out. The recent Gráda concert, for example (enjoyable though it was), somehow failed to tempt enough of you along and we ended up losing almost £ 500 on the night! For the same thing not to happen again with Breabach, we need to double the existing number of ticket sales with only two and a half weeks to go. So do please support this one if you are at all interested in Scottish music – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

  2. AUTUMN CONCERTS AND BEYOND. Staying with our NCEM concert programme, I have just finalised the line-up for the autumn season. The Folk Club will be running four concerts, with a further two being promoted by the NCEM itself. The musical range is pretty wide, in contrast to the current season’s focussed Celtic theme. We have an evening with the virtuoso harp and guitar duo Maire Ni Chathasaigh & Chris Newman (11th October), and return visits by song-based Scottish band Malinky (27th October) and the ever popular Vin Garbutt (1st December). There is also a performance on 9th November from the brand new group put together by Brian Finnegan (the ex-Flook flute maestro) and Aidan O’Rourke (demon violin player of Lau and Blazin’ Fiddles fame). Meanwhile the NCEM have booked June Tabor & Andy Cutting for 25th September and Alistair Anderson’s Steel Skies Band for 26th November. Booking for all of these won’t open until late summer, but put those dates in your live music diary right now!
    We even have a couple of concerts arranged for Spring 2011, which you might also like to take early note of! Steve Knightley (of Show of Hands) does a solo show on 11th February and Spiers & Boden return during their 10th Anniversary tour on 11th April.

  3. PETE, EDWINA & BRUCE AT THE CLUB. Our Thursday night club programme continues with Pete Morton this week (1st April). Pete is one of this country’s most distinctive “folk” songwriters and a wonderfully direct stage performer. He also does some distinctive cover versions – both British traditional songs and numbers in other languages from around the world. Pete’s most widely covered and best known song is “Another Train” – Emily Slade did her own version of it at the club last week! Just returned from her USA trip, Paula Ryan is the compere for this one.
    Edwina Hayes (8th April) needs few introductions here. Over the last few years she has become a treasured feature on our regional music scene, as well as picking up admirers all over Britain and beyond. Last year she had a song covered by Nanci Griffith and was heard on the soundtrack of Hollywood movie My Sister’s Keeper. Chris Euesden MCs this one.
    After our monthly Singers Night (15th April) we come to Bruce Molsky (22nd April), one of America’s finest folk musicians. Moving effortlessly from fiddle to banjo to guitar, Bruce performs not only Old Time Appalachian music but everything from Delta blues to Irish and Balkan music. David Swann hosts this event.
    Tickets for all the above are available online at Admission will probably be available at the door as well, though in the case of Bruce Molsky (at least) this cannot be guaranteed – we may just have a Full House.

  4. MORE CLUB BOOKINGS FOR THE SUMMER & AUTUMN. As well as fixing up more NCEM concerts, I have been busy filling gaps in our Thursday club schedule and in fact there are now just two weeks left to finalize. I’ll get the full list onto the club website ASAP (at present it only runs until late July), but for now here is a brief summary:
    • August: Singers (5th), Eilidh Grant (12th), Bram Taylor (19th), Cloudstreet (26th)
    • September: Singers (2nd), Askew Sisters (9th), Hans Theessink (16th), Roger Davies (23rd), Singers (30th)
    • October: The Churchfitters (Sunday Special, 3rd), Sarah McQuaid (7th), TBC (14th), Issy & David Emeney with Kate Riaz (21st), Singers (28th)
    • November: Jez Lowe (4th), Young Performers – artists tbc (11th), Christine Collister (18th), Singers (25th)
    • December: Wizz Jones (2nd), Ewan McLennan (9th), An Appalachian Christmas (16th), Christmas Party (23rd)
    We even have two firm bookings in the diary for 2011: BBC Folk Awards Musician of the Year John Kirkpatrick (3rd March) and Folk Awards Horizon winner Sam Carter (17th March).

  5. FREE ONLINE BOOKING DAY. Our online ticket agency WeGotTickets celebrates its 10th Birthday on Monday 19th April and as a thank you to their users they are making that day a Free Booking day. If you buy any tickets through that day you will pay only the cover value of the tickets. The usual 10% booking fee will be waived. All being well I should have some more of those future club events online by then, so you can take maximum advantage of this special offer.

  6. FOLK WEEKEND UPDATE. Thanks to all those performers who have offered their services for the City of York Folk Weekend. I intend to spend part of the upcoming Easter break pulling everything together and planning a first draft of the programme. Watch this space!

  7. CLUB FEATURE ONLINE. Sarah Dean reports spotting a profile of the folk club in the online magazine Spinner Music. See I was contacted in advance of this article being published, but unfortunately it was at very short notice and I was away at the time. Had I been able to comment beforehand I would have pointed out a few errors, e.g. that some of the artists mentioned performed not at the Black Swan but at the Early Music Centre. Nonetheless, as they say, any publicity is good publicity!

  8. PERSONAL UPDATE. My heartfelt thanks for the continuing good wishes and other messages which come my way. I have made a good recovery from my operation 8 weeks ago and in fact I returned to work in the day job last week. However, I do still have a course of chemotherapy to come. This begins just after Easter and will go on for nearly six months. It is impossible to say beforehand what side effects I will get and how severe they will be, but I will certainly be below par for the spring and summer months. Hopefully I will have enough energy and enthusiasm to maintain some input to the folk club, e.g. this newsletter, but the hard work of running events will continue to fall on Chris, Eddie, Tracey and other supporters. Please give them every assistance.


  1. LOCAL BAND GETS RADIO 2 AIRPLAY. Listening to Mike Harding’s Radio 2 programme the other week, I was both surprised and delighted to hear a track from the debut mini-CD by Blackbeard’s Tea Party. Apparently Mike saw the band busking in York city centre on a recent visit, was duly impressed and bought a copy of the CD from them. BBTP did a good acoustic support set at our recent Gráda concert, and by all accounts their headline electric gig at Fibbers was a great success. One correspondent reports that he was: “gobsmacked by how enthusiastic the crowd of young folk were -- very into it, dancing and swaying and singing along”. Hopefully, the band will be able to perform at this year’s Folk Weekend. Find out more about them at

  2. NEWS FROM TONY MORRIS. Tony was on his annual holiday in Madeira when last month’s storms, floods and mudslides struck. He managed to fly out the following Monday but had to leave behind friends whose homes and businesses had been destroyed. Tony is now back to musical activities and has an album launch event at St Matthew’s Church in Grosmont on Saturday 10th April. The new CD is called Guerrilla Pilgrims and is a collection of improvised pieces on Tony’s native American flutes, accompanied on violin by Nicholas Frye and recorded at various Eskdale churches. The launch concert begins at 7.30 and also includes an organ recital by Nicholas Frye and Tony singing some of his ironstone mining songs in his Tom Lennard alter-ego. Tickets £ 4 (£ 2 concessions) on the door.

  3. NEWS FROM ADRIAN SPENDLOW. I shared a train journey with Adrian Spendlow the other day. We don’t see anything of Adrian at the club these days but once upon a time he was a frequent floor performer and indeed a regular MC. He keeps himself very busy with a wide range of storytelling and poetry activities and he asked me to mention his new monthly Open Mic night. “Lovers of the oral tradition and poetic thought are invited to come along to the Dean Court Hotel to join in Adrian’s Open House. All listeners, lovers, storytellers and poets are welcome every second Tuesday of the month in The Court Cafe Bistro Bar at this delightful hotel just by York Minster, starting 13th April. Admission is free and the show starts at 7.30 with an opening slot from Adrian. A wide range of beers, wines, coffees etc. are available at reasonable prices, plus a full bistro menu if you so choose.” You can find out more about Adrian’s work at

  4. YORK STUDENT FOR THE NEWCASTLE FOLK DEGREE. Our congratulations go to local teenager Dan Foster, who has won a place on the prestigious Folk Music degree course at Newcastle University. Dan’s interest in folk music was nurtured by his journalist father Richard (currently working for York Local Link and formerly with The Press, for which he regularly reviewed our club and concert events) and Dan has been an enthusiastic member of York Young Fiddlers. Violin will be his primary instrument at Newcastle and he will also study melodeon. Well done!

  5. CEILIDH BAND AT AMPLEFORTH. It seems that even younger folk musicians can be found at Ampleforth College, where there is now a school ceilidh band with ages ranging from 9 to 13. See

  6. MUSICIANS WANTED (1). On 17th & 18th September the York Beer Festival 2010 takes place under canvas on the Knavesmire and the organisers are on the lookout for performers who would like to entertain the drinkers. They have already approached one or two local folk/roots acts, but if anyone else is interested, please get in touch with Keith Martin on He says “the music is likely to be in a separate tent so it is possible that an acoustic solo/duo would go down well on the afternoons. Whilst there will be a stage and electrics, musicians will need to provide their own PA systems. We have a small budget for paying musicians which I am trying to eke out across the weekend.”

  7. MUSICIANS WANTED (2). The following message has just been received from the organiser of a Beer & Folk Festival at Brandling Villa in South Gosforth, Newcastle: “We're looking for performers to play at our folk festival, May 14th-16th. We're looking for involvement from all local and nationwide folk clubs”. E-mail Dave Carr on or call 0191 284 0490.

  8. NEW ACOUSTIC MUSIC VENUES (1) - BRIDLINGTON. We hear of a new acoustic music venue in the Harbour Suite at the Spa in Bridlington. Unfortunately, they have had to opt for a Thursday schedule, meeting on the first Thursday in each month, but nevertheless we wish them well. The first Acoustic @ The Spa event is this week, 1st April, and is headlined by well known local songwriter David Swann, supported by Hissyfit and other local acts. Longer term, the plan is to have a national or international headline act with local supports. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start, and entry on the first night will be £ 5. Find out more from David Illingworth on 01262 400680,
    David used to run the Kirkburn Acoustic events near Driffield (now defunct) and he is also the man behind the monthly Gallery Acoustic open music evenings, held in a converted barn at the Wolds Village Gallery, Manor Farm, Bainton, YO25 9EF. These are very informal acoustic events (no PA), with all performers and listeners welcome, and just as at a Black Swan Singers Night, everyone gets a couple of songs, and then they go round again if there is time. Food is available from 6.30pm in the adjacent restaurant, doors open at 7pm and music gets under way at 7.30. Entry is £ 2 on the door and be advised that with a capacity of just 55 latecomers may not get in. The next events are on 24th April and 22nd May.

  9. NEW ACOUSTIC MUSIC VENUES (2) – WETWANG. Steve Marshall tells me that the inaugural Wetwang Acoustic event at the Victoria Inn was a big success. “We got off to a great start with a room full of talented players some of whom had travelled for miles. Differing styles were played, ranging from the traditional tunes of this country and America to a wide range of traditional and modern songs, with a fun rendition of the Kinks’ Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon. The room was so full that not all had a chance to play/sing and maybe a little more structure will be introduced to get all to contribute”. Apparently the pub was drunk dry of its Daleside Bitter! It was agreed to make it a monthly gathering, on the second Tuesday of the month, so the next one will be 13th April. If you want more information, contact Steve on 01904 490440,

  10. NEW ACOUSTIC MUSIC VENUES (3) – THIRSK. Word has also reached me of The G-String Acoustic Club, a new venture meeting on the third Sunday of the month at The Angel Inn in Topcliffe near Thirsk. This one kicks off at 8pm and includes a free supper, and the next dates are 18th April and 16th May. The man to contact is Stephen Matthews on

  11. COMMUNITY RADIO FOLK IN DONCASTER. The world of local and online community radio is burgeoning at the moment and many such stations are including folk music in their output. One that I have learned about lately is SINE FM in Doncaster, which can be heard within Doncaster on 102.6 FM and online at Tony Hitchcock does a “new wave” folk show called (for reasons I don’t know) For Ocean Loving Kites, going out on Mondays from 7pm to 8pm and available online for two weeks thereafter. As I write I’ve been listening to the 15th March edition and have heard good tracks by artists as diverse as Bill Caddick and Seth Lakeman, Christy Moore and Flossie Malavialle. Check it out.


  1. AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOPS. Two workshop events in aid of Amnesty take place on Saturday 17th April at Fishergate Primary School in York, under the title Sing & Dance Africa. From 10.30 until 12.30 Paula Ryan teaches African song, then in the afternoon Godfrey Pambalipe leads on African dance. Workshops are £ 12.50 each or £ 20 for both, with much reduced rates for children. There will also be live music over the lunch break and African jewellery will be on sale. Bookings and further details from Barbara Lodge on, 01904 416728.

  2. SHETLAND FOUR PIECE FILSKA (which includes Jenna Reid and her sister Bethany) offer East Monday (April 5th) musical entertainment at the Otley Courthouse Arts Centre. See

  3. MAMBO JAMBO (who played for us last autumn) bring their hot global sounds to Cherry Burton Village Hall near Beverley on Saturday 17th April. Contact Jayne Scott for ticket reservations (01964 551257) or email Martin Peirson,

  4. MOONBEAMS ACOUSTIC is another regular event in the lively Wolds / East Riding musical calendar, held at the Bell Hotel in Driffield. They have a gig by Kris Drever & Anna Massie on 23rd April with Boo Hewerdine to follow on 28th May. They also run the Wold Top Folk Festival on 9th & 10th July. See

  5. HENSHAWS ARTS & CRAFTS CENTRE in Knaresborough has a regular programme of folk events, including a Day of Dance on Saturday 24th April, 11am to 5pm. Over 100 Morris men and women will be in action and there will also be music from Halifax band Folk on Fire and Henshaws’ own student band The Hotspots. Admission is FREE and the licensed cafe will be open all day for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and hot and cold drinks. “A great day out for all the family” they promise. See

  6. REETH MEMORIAL HALL has secured a bit of a coup at the end of the month (Friday 30th April), when they present Maddy Prior & Nick Hennessey on their “North of Barnsley” tour. Maddy surely needs no introduction, while Nick is a harpist, singer and storyteller who we have seen at the Black Swan in the past. Looking ahead to May 14th, Reeth have our recent club guests Isambarde, with support from our very own Stan Graham. See for times and ticketing details.

Another monster news package! I’ll be back again sometime in mid/late April. Meanwhile, keep on making and supporting live music.