Mid June 2010
Well, the City of York Folk Weekend may be successfully behind us, but there’s still plenty going on to tell you about, beginning as always with our own club meetings.
- ARCHIE FISHER – A SCOTTISH LEGEND RETURNS (AT LAST). We welcome one of the longest-serving stars of the Scottish folk music scene to the Black Swan this week, Archie Fisher. Here is a brief synopsis of his long and fruitful career.
Archie was born in Glasgow into a large singing family, which yielded three professional singers, Archie and his sisters Ray and Cilla. Constant song, combined with his father’s appreciation of many musical styles had a strong impact on Archie, while his mother, a native Gaelic speaker , was a big influence on the lyrical tone of his singing and songwriting.
Archie was inspired by the Skiffle era of the late 1950’s and performers such as Lonnie Donegan and Johnny Duncan were never off the turntable. Later, the recording of the Weavers at Carnegie Hall had a profound effect on his approach to music and his political outlook. During the British TV folk boom of the 1960’s and 70’s he appeared regularly with his sister Ray in magazine programs and the BBC Hootenanny series.
The first self-titled album was recorded in 1968 and Archie progressed through the 70s and early 1980’s as an international performer and record producer and arranger with the legendary duo of Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem. During this period he also produced albums for the dynamic Scots band Silly Wizard.
During the later 1980’s he moved his attention to freelance radio work and also returned to the recording studio for one of his most creative songwriting periods. He began a partnership with Canadian artist Garnet Rogers. They toured North America together, and Garnet produced two of his CDs including the highly acclaimed Sunsets I’ve Galloped Into.
Archie has presented BBC Radio Scotland’s award-winning Travelling Folk programme for over 25 years. In 2006 he was awarded an MBE for services to traditional music and in 2007 he was inducted into the Scots Traditional Music Hall of Fame. His current album Windward Away (2008) achieved widespread acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the twenty eight years that I’ve been enjoying the Folk Club, I’ve witnessed literally hundreds of performances, many of which are now lost to memory. However one that does stick in my mind to this day was Archie’s last (and only) appearance, which was all of twenty years ago in 1990! We’ve wanted to book him back ever since then, but with Travelling Folk being broadcast live on Thursdays and with radio rest breaks generally agreed at too short a notice for our booking deadlines, it has proved impossible until now.
There are still tickets available for Thursday night (£9, £7 concessions), so book online at www.wegottickets.com or turn up in good time for an 8pm “doors open” on Thursday. Stan Graham acts as MC (Eddie, our own tame Scotsman, having gone and double booked himself with Wimbledon!) and floor spots are promised from Sarah Dean, Phil Cerny, David Kidman and Don Walls. You can sample Archie’s work at www.myspace.com/archiefisher.
The next week (1st July) we have another lively Singers & Musicians Night, and then....
- FROM THE ASHES OF TANGLEFOOT – MY SWEET PATOOTIE. Canadian band Tanglefoot was one of the best loved acts on the UK folk scene and very many fans mourned their decision to split up a couple of years ago. However, two of the younger members of the band were determined to carry on making music together: fiddle player and singer Sandra Swannell and singer/guitarist Terry Young. With a shared love of big band jazz and swinging country blues as well as rural folk roots, My Sweet Patootie was born. They describe their new sound as “a quirky fusion of folk and hayseed jazz ...a departure from Tanglefoot, but delivered with the same amount of energy, charm, wit and humour.”
Terry and Sandra make their first duo tour of Britain this summer and we are delighted to welcome them to the Black Swan on Thursday 8th July. Chris Euesden hosts this one, floor spotters include Eddie and John Cherry, and tickets at £9 (£7 concessions) are now booking at WeGotTickets. Find out more about this dynamic duo and sample their fun music at www.mysweetpatootie.com.
- FOLK & BLUEGRASS PRODIGY TWINS. Twenty year old West Country twins Charlotte and Lucy Carrivick are fast becoming a phenomenon on the young folk scene. With their unique and highly skilled fusion of bluegrass and English folk styles, they reached the finals of the BBC Young Folk Awards last winter and they are booked for no fewer than 24 music festivals of all sorts this summer, including Glastonbury later in July.
Between them, The Carrivick Sisters play guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Dobro and banjo and sing their mostly self-penned repertoire with those tight vocal harmonies that siblings achieve so well. They visit us at the Black Swan Inn on 15th July for our second eagerly awaited debut show of the month. Susie Fox MCs this one and tickets are now available at £7 (£6 concessions) on WeGotTickets. Find out more at www.thecarrivicksisters.com.
Coming after the Sisters we have the return of the fine London-based singer songwriter Simon Hopper (22nd July, with Andee Price on bass), then a third debut appearance, this time by BBC Horizon Award nominees Hannah James & Sam Sweeney (29th July).
FOLK WEEKEND RETROSPECT
- ANOTHER ENJOYABLE AND SUCCESSFUL EVENT? All the feedback I’ve had so far indicates that we managed another widely enjoyed event. Attendances were certainly excellent, particularly on Saturday when we had the better weather. Weariness caused by my current illness limited my own attendance to about half time. I certainly enjoyed what I saw for myself and was conscious that I missed a lot of other very good stuff. Thanks to all of you who took time out to chat and pass on your best wishes for my eventual recovery.
Inevitably there were a few niggles. Blockage of one of the two ladies’ toilets caused longer than usual queues and the landlord will look at hiring a Portaloo for next year’s event. We will also be asking him if the otherwise excellent catering options could be enhanced with a bit more “healthy eating”, if only some salads to go with the burgers and chips.
Feedback, both positive and constructively critical is welcomed, so do send us an email if you have anything you want to say. Meanwhile, I want to give my own vote of thanks to everyone who made the weekend a success. Without naming names, we all owe a debt to:
- All the singers and musicians – those who performed for free in the concerts and those who came along just for the sessions and singarounds
- Our ever resourceful landlord and landlady and their hard-working staff
- The PA crew who did such a wonderful job in the Marquee
- All the many helpers: Duty Managers, MCs, stewards, collection tin shakers and more
- PHOTOS WELCOME. I’ve already received a few fine pictures but I would love to see loads more weekend shots. I hope to discuss revamping our photo galleries (on the club site and on MySpace) with our web team fairly soon, and hopefully we’ll then have Folk Weekend 2010 uploaded to view.
- FUNDRAISING SUCCESS. This year, for the first time, we shook collection tins in the hope of gathering enough donations to meet the expenses incurred in setting up and promoting the Folk Weekend. I must say you responded magnificently and we raised a total of £570. Add in the income from our commission on artist CD sales and we have well over £600. Expenditure is not yet finalised but is in the region of £300-£350. What I propose to do is meet those expenses in full, together with the net loss the club took on the 2009 event (£230), and set aside whatever is left as “seed corn” funding for the 2011 Folk Weekend.
- LOST PROPERTY. I have one item of unclaimed lost property: what I reliably informed is called a moonstone bracelet. If it is yours drop me a line to arrange collection.
- NEXT YEAR’S DATES. We’ll stick with the same weekend next year, 4th & 5th June, so put those dates in your long-term diary right NOW. Meanwhile, we’ll probably hold the usual Open Meeting sometime after the summer holidays (date tba), to debrief on this year’s event and begin planning for the next one.
- YORKSHIRE DAY EVENT. Andy, the Black Swan’s landlord, is now the owner of two fair sized marquees and naturally he wants to make good use of them through the rest of the year. One thing he is actively planning is a weekend of events on July 31st and August 1st, the latter being Yorkshire Day. He’s thinking of a range of food and craft stalls (in smaller gazebo tents which he is also buying), plus live entertainment of all sorts including music. If any of you out there would be interested in performing, particularly if you think you could hold and entertain a mostly non-folk audience, give Andy a call on 01904 679131 or send him a message on firstname.lastname@example.org.
MISCELLANY 1 – PEOPLE & PLACES
- GEORGE TOTTY RIP. Just after sending out the last E-News I was very saddened to hear of the sudden death of George Totty. For many years, George and his wife Marian were regular and much loved participants at the Black Swan and other folk gatherings in and around York, always there with a song and a ready quip. Ill health increasingly curtailed their activities during the middle of the last decade and eventually they had to leave their rural retreat at Tollerton and move back to George’s home town of Hartlepool. It was there that George died of a suspected heart attack on 15th May. He was a great character, a keen singer and an all-round good character and will be much missed by all who had the privilege to know him. Our deepest condolences go to Marian, their children and grandchildren.
- MORE CD LAUNCHES. In E-News 118 I reported on CD launches by David Ward Maclean (The Wreckers, which I have now heard and can report as an excellent piece of work), John Storey and Tony Morris. There were further such events earlier this month: TWO have released their eponymous second album (which I have also heard and which I also really like) and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion came out with what is (I think) their third album Crossing The Pond. Find out more about the TWO album at www.twomusic.co.uk, while you can reach TBS through www.myspace.com/twoblacksheepandastallion or find them in residence most Friday nights at the Tap & Spile on Monkgate.
- MUSICIANS WANTED. Singers and musicians are wanted for a Holiday Cafe event on Saturday 31st July at community arts venue Space 109 on Walmgate. There will be “live music, craft activities and lots of food and drink” between 11am and 10pm, with all proceeds being used to support the Brunswick Social Club for people with learning difficulties, which forms part of the excellent Brunswick Organic Nursery in Bishopthorpe. If you’d like to offer your services to play a few songs during the event, contact Maja on 07731 649729, or email@example.com.
- FAKE THACKRAY TAKES TO THE ROAD. John Watterson will be well known to many of you from his appearances at the folk club, at Residents Festival events and at Folk Weekend. John has been performing the songs of Jake Thackray for many years and has run several sell-out Jake Nights for charity in his home village of Poppleton. Under the stage name Fake Thackray, John is now beginning to look more seriously for opportunities to perform, whether at folk clubs or festivals, in pubs, or as an after-dinner entertainer. I’d certainly have no hesitation in recommending him to anyone looking to book an entertaining and polished performer, whether in a folk context or not. John has set up a website at www.fakethackray.com and can be contacted on 01904 785366 or through the website.
- CONGRATULATIONS REBEKAH. Listening to Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show last Wednesday, I was delighted to hear him play a track from the debut CD by Northallerton-based singer Rebekah Findlay. Northern Skies is indeed a very fine collection of mostly self-penned songs and has already picked up some glowing reviews in print and on-line media. By all accounts Rebekah’s set on Folk Weekend Sunday afternoon in the Wolfe Room was a great success. We’ll try to tempt her back to York before too long.
- WELL DONE IAN, SUE AND DAN. Ian Pybus tells me that the recent musical garden party organised by Ian and his wife Sue with Canadian singer Dan McKinnon was a great success. Over 100 people attended and the evening raised no less than £1215 for the Rachel Orphanage in Burma, with which their daughter Judy is closely associated. “Dan was awesome” says Ian, and “it was interesting to see the response from a non-folkie audience”. He adds “Eddie [Affleck] on the sound was fantastic.”
- OTHER VENUE DEVELOPMENTS IN YORK. Recent months have seen some behind-the-scenes changes at several of York’s major music venues. Last autumn The Grand Opera House was bought up by the Ambassador Theatre Group, though the general programming policy is much the same as before. There is relatively little folk in prospect, with the very notable exception of Kate Rusby (19th September). Over at Stonebow House, Tim Hornsby has retired from active involvement in The Duchess, while next door Fibbers has been sold to Tokyo Industries. The latter venue will be closed through August for refurbishment. When it reopens there will be an increased emphasis on club nights, though there will still be a very substantial concert programme as well (including Martin Simpson’s annual visit on 10th October). And now I read in Saturday’s Press that there are two bidders on the shortlist to take over and reopen The Barbican Centre as a concert cum conference venue, possibly as early as September 2011.
Incidentally, Tim Hornsby is now offering his skills as a freelance “venue and management developer and trainer”. If you could use the services of someone with 20 years experience in the live music business, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org, 07866 607335.
MISCELLANY 2 – INSTRUMENTS: BUYING & PLAYING
- FIDDLES & ACCORDIONS FROM ACORN INSTUMENTS. The ever enterprising Peter Ward (father of musicians Marie and Nicky, father in law of our webmaster Michael Jary) has started a new business from his premises in Easingwold. Acorn Instruments will be acting as main agents in England for Manfrini Accordions and is also selling the Bridge range of electric and acoustic violins. The name Acorn is suitably chosen. Peter writes that “I've been in business for 30 years as a craftsman wood turner and cabinet maker and I'm currently developing my own range of hand crafted melodeons”. It was Peter who made our elegant oak Black Swan name board which typically stands at the foot of the Black Swan staircase. Find out more at www.acorninstruments.co.uk or ring Peter on 01347 824831.
- STAN HAS GUITARS FOR SALE. Stan Graham is selling two of his rather large collection of acoustic guitars. On offer are a Taylor 514ce “in immaculate condition with EQ, pickup and hard case”, asking price £1095, and a brand new Freshman FA200D with gig bag for just £250. Find out more from Stan at email@example.com, or on 01904 758228.
- DRUMMING – JAPANESE AND AFRICAN. During the recent Folk Weekend you may have enjoyed the Japanese taiko drumming of Kaminari UK, or witnessed the percussion-led music of Mo Burrows’ group HangOn. Fancy having a go yourself? Kaminari hold regular classes at Fitness First on Clifton Moor, with beginner and experienced drummers equally welcome. Ring 07979 813804 or 07871 052070 for further information. Meanwhile Mo runs an African drumming group Djembebash on Mondays at Fangfoss Pottery, near Pocklington. No experience necessary and drums are available to borrow. Contact her on 01759 380431, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- VIOLIN CLASSES FOR ADULTS. A reminder that Laura Barber (fiddle player with Blackbeard’s Tea Party, of whom more below) runs a violin group for adult beginner & intermediate players on Thursdays, 6pm-7pm at the Black Swan (immediately before we take over the room to set up for club meetings). Laura, a York University music graduate, says that “we cover a wide variety of styles, mainly folk but also classical, blues, etc”. For more information, contact her on 07960 019658, email@example.com.
OTHER GIGS & EVENTS IN YORK
- POETRY & MUSIC AT YORK THEATRE ROYAL. The Ian McMillan Orchestra are at York Theatre Royal this coming Tuesday (22nd June), with Ian’s distinctive words narrated against a folky instrumentation which includes accordion, guitar, nyckelharpa, hurdy-gurdy, fiddle and double bass. Tickets are still available priced between £10 and £15, and it is a 7.30pm start. See www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
- SHIRLEY COLLINS SINGS AGAIN, AT NCEM. Celebrated and influential folk revival singer Shirley Collins announced her retirement from public singing several years ago, although she has remained active in the folk world and is current President of EFDSS. Happily for us, Shirley has changed her mind and is singing again, in a joint presentation with Early Music virtuoso Catherine Bott called “False True Loves”, which can be enjoyed this Friday (25th) at 7.30 at the National Centre for Early Music. The programme “celebrates a woman’s life and loves in song”, with keyboard accompaniment from David McGuiness. Find out more and make your bookings (£15, or £13 concessions) at www.ncem.co.uk.
- BLACKBEARD’S DUCHESS PARTY. Also on Friday (25th) but with a totally different vibe, Blackbeard’s Tea Party headline the night at The Duchess in Stonebow House. The evening has several other acts in support slots and costs a mere £4 in advance (+booking fee) or £6 on the door from 7.30. See www.theduchessyork.co.uk.
- TUESDAYS AT THE DEAN COURT. The elegant surroundings of the Cafe Bistro & Bar at the Dean Court Hotel, hard by York Minster, now host a couple of interesting events on Tuesday evenings. On the last of each month from 8pm, and for free, the Last Tuesday Gigs are normally hosted by David Ward Maclean with invited guests, but this month (29th) while David recovers from a recent operation on his vocal cords, the evening is shared between Sarah Dean and Steve Kendra.
On the second Tuesday of the month (so next on 13th July) it is Adrian’s Open House, a mellow evening of poetry and storytelling hosted by (you guessed it), the irrepressible Adrian Spendlow. It runs 7.30pm to 10pm (ish) and is likewise free. Find out more at www.deancourt-york.co.uk. And talking of storytelling, Ales and Tales at the Golden Fleece in York with Gothic Molly is now every third Tuesday of each month and is also free.
- LOS YOBOS AT THE BLACK SWAN. York’s number one Americana/ Western Swing outfit Los Yobos (on great form at Folk Weekend, by all accounts) have another night lined up at the Black Swan Inn on Friday 2nd July. It’s £5 on the door at 8.30pm. www.losyobos.com.
- SOUNDSPHERE’S SINGING WORKSHOP. Sing with Soundsphere on Sunday 4th July, when the acapella foursome holds a vocal workshop for all ages and abilities at the York Cemetery Chapel, with its excellent acoustics. The workshop runs from 10.30am until 4.30pm, and is followed at 6pm by an early evening concert. Like their Folk Weekend workshop this is a fundraiser to support the summer trip to Tanzania by Soundsphere, David Swann and other volunteers, to work with music with children in remote and deprived areas. Workshop tickets are £25 (concessions £20), or the concert alone is £6 (£5), with a combined ticket £28 (£25). Find out more on 01904 623599, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- RYEDALE LIVE MOVES TO HELMSLEY. The peripatetic Ryedale Live acoustic music shows touch down at Helmsley Arts Centre on Saturday (26th), when four acts share the night. One of them is Miles Cain, who fought off the effects of a viral infection to climax the Saturday night Marquee Stage line-up at Folk Weekend. Also appearing at Helmsley are Alice Shaw, Tinderbox and Alastair James. It’s a 7.30 start and tickets are £10 from the Box Office on 01439 771700, www.helmsleyarts.co.uk. P.S. while online, check out the exciting Helmsley Folk Festival weekend lined up for 23rd to 26th September.
- CLECKHEATON’S 23RD. The weekend after next (2nd-4th July) brings the 23rd annual Cleckheaton Folk Festival, in which this pleasant West Riding town comes alive to music, song and dance. Headliners this year include Dougie MacLean, Eliza Carthy and the recently reformed Artisan. See www.cleckheatonfolkfestival.org.
- MOONBEAMS’ WOLD TOP FESTIVAL – IN A BREWERY! The following weekend, or at least Friday 9th and Saturday 10th July, Moonbeams Acoustic present their annual festival at the Wold Top Brewery in Hunmanby, near Filey. We are told that there are only a few Adult tickets left (none for children): contact Leila on 07810 831317 to bag yours.
- BIRDESDGE AND NATURE’S WORLD. That same Friday and Saturday, the reformed Artisan headline their own Birdsedge Village Festival in West Yorkshire, along with The Mighty Zulu Nation and lots of other entertainment. See www.birdsedgevillagefestival.org. And in Middlesbrough on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th July it is the 18th Annual Free Folk Festival at Nature’s World on Ladgate Lane. As with our own Folk Weekend, lots of artists give their services free for this one and there is a mix of concerts, singarounds, sessions and workshops. Contact Trevor Lister on 01642 821776, email@example.com for more info.
- FOLK MUSIC IN GARFORTH. Garforth Arts Festival runs from 28th June, culminating on Saturday 10th July with an all day event at Garforth Community College, headlined by Seth Lakeman. There are some other folk events earlier in the festival as well, though they tend to fall on Thursdays, unfortunately. See for yourself at www.garforthartsfestival.co.uk.
There are many more events I could have mentioned but, hell, it’s approaching midnight and this is already the longest ever E-Newsletter! So with that I’ll sign off. Hopefully another edition will hit the e-streets around mid July. Have a great summer, musically and otherwise.