Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 119

Late May 2010

This is a briefer than usual Newsletter and is only concerned with Folk Weekend and Folk Club news. My apologies to those of you who wanted me to flag up other notices and events, but the constraints of time and the rather weak state of my health mean that I am unable at present to compose the full scale newsletter.


  1. MEETING FOR HELPERS THIS TUESDAY (25TH). We still need volunteers to help us run the practicalities of the folk weekend. The kind of jobs involved are as I listed last time: monitoring the car park entrance, clearing up litter, setting out seating (indoors and outside), passing round collection tins, selling CDs and other merchandise, helping MCs keep venues to time, taking names on the door at the Rolling Folk Club and so on.
    Most tasks arise during the hours of the event itself, but we will need some people there from around 10am each day to help set up, and some people willing to hang on at the end of the evening to aid with clear up and take down.
    I shall be recovering from a further dose of chemotherapy over Folk Weekend and will not be able to take the leading role that I have in the past, so what I propose is that we have a set of dedicated “venue managers” to coordinate volunteers in each main venue at different times of day. To help us plan things out I have organised a Helpers Meeting for this coming Tuesday night (25th), from 8pm in the Oak Room at the Black Swan Inn. Please come along if you can. If you cannot make the meeting but are willing to help out in some way over Folk Weekend, please let us know by reply email, together with an indication of what days and times of day you might be available and any particular skills you can offer.
    One particular task needs sorting, overnight security. Last year a punter kindly camped out overnight in the main marquee, meaning that not all the PA kit had to be dismantled at midnight on Saturday and re-assembled on Sunday morning. That punter is not available this year. Would anyone out there (solo or a couple) be up for a night under canvas? You could bring your vehicle into the club car park overnight and have use of the pub facilities next day to freshen up, not to mention a hearty pub breakfast. Any takers?
    Remember – Tuesday 24th, 8pm, Oak Room, Black Swan Inn.

  2. PROGRAMME CHANGES. There have been a few small changes to the draft programme, affecting some of the events in the Wolfe Room and the Oak Room, and I attach the latest version of the programme to this newsletter. In summary: David Kidman moves his performance spot from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon, Chris Barnes once again hosts the Saturday evening “Free & Easy” in the Oak Room, and the Oak Room is available for an overflow session, singaround or folk club, as required, during Saturday late afternoon.
    One innovation I am pondering this year is a set of “Programme Notes” telling you a bit more about the many artists appearing. If I manage to do such a thing I’ll email it out a few days before the event and/or have plenty of hardcopies available over the weekend. Would you welcome such a thing?

  3. SOUNDSPHERE’S SINGING WORKSHOP – A CORRECTION. The contact telephone number I gave last time (and printed on the new club brochure) is Wrong – it should have been 01904 623599. Apologies all round. Email contact remains

  4. SPREAD THE WORD, TELL YOUR FRIENDS. As I said last time, please do all you can to promote the Folk Weekend – the more people who pass through in the course of the weekend, the happier we will all be! Full colour A4 poster and B&W A5 flyers have been distributed around town and the wider region, with more to follow. They are also available to download or print for yourself via the Folk Weekend page of the website, Alternatively, if you can distribute some hard copy printed by us, please get in touch and we will post you something.
    We have placed adverts in the current City Screen Brochure, in local music magazine The Link and in regional folk mags Tykes’ News, Folk Roundabout and Stirrings. In total this has cost us over £300 pounds and as club finances have taken a bit of a hit lately (see item 7 below), we will be hoping to collect donations over the folk weekend – even a few coins from everybody attending should help us recoup this outlay.
    Does anyone have some proper collection tins we can borrow for the weekend?


  1. WILL KAUFMAN ON WOODY GUTHRIE. We present something a little different this week, 27th May, when American-born academic Will Kaufman tells the story of Woody Guthrie’s hobo years in “Hard Times and Hard Travellin”. Will is Professor of American Literature at the University of Central Lancashire, but this is no dry, academic lecture. Firstly, Will is a fine singer in his own right, and plays a mean Martin guitar, plus banjo and fiddle. Secondly, he weaves together narrative, songs and backdrop illustrations with real skill, engaging his listeners in the human story of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl years and the music that Woody was inspired to create. Will has now performed this show at quite a few folk club venues and the response has always been very positive. “Within no time everyone in the room was completely immersed”, writes a fellow club organiser.
    Here are some celebrity endorsements:
    • “No one can understand the American people without listening to Woody Guthrie. Will Kaufman's doing important work here.” — Tom Paxton
    • “Anyone spreading the word about the music, writing, art and humanity of Woody Guthrie sure is a true friend of mine! Keep up the great work, Professor Will!” — Ralph McTell
    • “I thank Will Kaufman for introducing a new generation of Europeans to ‘the Other America. It's a wonderful job he's doing.” — Pete Seeger
    This one is modestly priced at £6 (£5 concessions) and has already sold quite a few tickets through the online agency at Do come along if you possibly can.

  2. DAN McKINNON ENTERTAINS. We get ourselves fired up for Folk Weekend with a third visit by the splendid Nova Scotian singer Dan McKinnon on Thursday 3rd June. Dan scored an instant hit on his first visit, summing up all that is best about Canadian folk music: a great repertoire of songs (traditional, self-penned and covers, notably of Stan Rogers), an exceptionally rich and expressive voice and a genial, warm-hearted and approachable stage manner. We are delighted to have him back. Tickets are now booking at £7 (£6 Concessions) through WeGotTickets.

  3. FINANCIAL UPDATE. We are getting on for four months into our financial year (which runs from 1st February), and the book-keeping is looking a little troubling. We are down over £1300 in that short time. Biggest “culprit” has been our spring series of 4 NCEM concerts: for some reason these didn’t attract as many of you as we had hoped or expected. Average attendance was 121 and overall we lost around £800. An extra 15/20 sales per event would have made all the difference.
    Another drain on our funds has been Folk Weekend advertising of over £300, as mentioned in item 4 above. Hopefully we can recoup this with small donations over the weekend. Then there has been £300 on extra PA kit, £190 on website costs (the first bills we have had for this in several years) and so on – it all mounts up! Even though Club Guest Nights have mostly broken even (or better) and Singers Nights make a healthy contribution, we are still running at a severe loss right now.

I hope to see lots of you at Folk Weekend, if not before.