Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 122

Early October 2010

 This is by way of a “club only” newsletter, prepared in a hurry and covering only direct folk club activities.  We offer apologies to those other people who wanted us to give their news/event a mention, but I am very short on time this week.


Our new club leaflet is now available – covering concert and club events right through to February 17th 2011.  Events to Christmas are already on the club website and the others will be added shortly.  New Year club guest nights will also be added to the We Got tickets site fairly soon.





1.        BLAZING GUITAR AND DANCING HARP.  Our first concert this season at the National Centre for Early Music takes place next Monday, 11th October, and marks the first York appearance in five years for the phenomenal Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman.


Chris Newman is quite simply one of England’s premier acoustic guitarists, equally at home playing in folk style or swing jazz or bluegrass.  He began to play at the age of four and did his first paid gig in a folk club at age fourteen!  As well as his 23 year partnership with Máire, Chris was a member of Boys of the Lough in the 1990s and has been principal guitar tutor on the Newcastle University Folk Music Degree course since its inception. “One of the UK’s most staggering and influential acoustic guitarists” said fRoots.  Chris has a brand new solo CD (his first since 1998), Still Getting Away With It, not officially released until November but available at the York show.


Coming from a musical family in West Cork, Máire Ní Chathasaigh began to play the harp at age eleven.  She developed a whole new approach to playing traditional music on her chosen instrument and in 1985 released a seminal album, The New-Strung Harp, which established her reputation as the premier harpist of her generation.  She is also a notable singer with a firm, pure tone.  She has won numerous awards, including in 2001 the title of Irish Traditional Musician of the Year “for the excellence and pioneering force of her music and for the positive influence she has had on the younger generation of harpers”.


Máire & Chris made their duo debut at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1987 and have gone on to perform around the world (21 countries so far) as well as all corners of Britain and Ireland.  Numerous albums have appeared, most recently FireWire, which displayed “an eclecticism and spirit of adventure that is quite thrilling” according to The Times critic.


In concert, Máire and Chris showcase not only the richness and emotional range of the Irish tradition, from dynamic dance music to moving airs and evocative songs, but also their own striking compositions, the cocktail being further spiced with exhilarating shots of hot jazz and bluegrass and prefaced by Chris’s “subversively witty introductions”.  There are some concert videos available at which give you a flavour of their music


During the 1990s we booked them no fewer than five times for the Black Swan Inn venue and I can still remember some of those gigs, which drew packed and appreciative full houses and generated a very special atmosphere.  Two shows followed at the Early Music Centre, most recently in 2005, and this year we thought it about time we invited them back.


Sadly, however, ticket sales with one week to go are very disappointing.  .  We need another 60 or so of you to come along if we are to break even.  As reported in the last E-News, we made a considerable cash loss on our spring NCEM concert series.  If that is repeated this autumn, we will have to consider abandoning that side of our activities and concentrating solely on Thursday club nights.


Tickets for Máire & Chris will be available on the door next Monday or can be booked in advance on 01904 658338 or at  They cost £12, or £10 for concessions.  Doors open at 7pm and music gets under way at 7.30pm when, as an added bonus, we have a support set by the Northallerton based singer songwriter Rebekah Findlay.  The recently released debut CD Northern Skies has won Rebekah a lot of favourable attention and she has even had a couple of airplays on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show.  Definitely a young woman worth seeing and hearing.


2.        SCOTTISH MUSIC & SONG WITH MALINKY.  We move from Ireland to Scotland for our second NCEM concert on Wednesday 27th October, when we present the new four-piece line-up of Malinky.  This highly-praised Scottish band specialise in a song-based repertoire, rather than the mainly instrumental approach favoured by their contemporaries.  Not that Steve Byrne, Fiona Hunter, Mike Vass and Dave Wood aren’t great musicians, using cello, bouzouki, fiddle and guitar to accompany their mix of superbly sung traditional and modern folk songs.


Once again, early ticket sales are disappointingly modest and we will need another 60+ sales over the next three weeks to be confident of breaking even.  This one is £13 (£11 concessions) and has as opening act a young Edinburgh-based singer Chloe Matharu.  You can sample Malinky’s music at and Chloe’s at


3.        KAN – CELTIC SUPERGROUP.  Our most financially ambitious and musically adventurous concert is on Tuesday 9th November, when we present KAN, the new band put together by the Irish flute virtuoso Brian Finnegan (of Flook fame) and the Scottish fiddle maestro Aidan O’Rourke (of Lau and formerly of Blazin’ Fiddles), together with guitarist Ian Stephenson (The Pack, 422, Kathryn Tickell Band) and percussionist Jim Goodwin.


KAN made their debut at Celtic Connections last January and appear in York during their first full scale tour.  Expect innovative arrangements of both traditional and modern tunes, whether furious jigs and reels or lyrical melodies.  They have yet to issue a CD, but you can sample one track at


This event has been adopted as part of the Leeds area’s annual celebration of Irish culture, The Gathering.  See for a full programme.


KAN tickets are priced at £15 or £13 concessions.


4.        ROUDING OFF WITH VIN.  We conclude our concert series with Vin Garbutt on Wednesday 1st December.  Note that there has been a change of support act for this one.  Stan finds that he will be on the other side of the world (Hawaii to be precise) at the time of the concert so has had to pull out.  In his place Chris Euesden acts as opening act and MC.  Tickets are now on sale at £13 or £11 concessions.  Like all the above, booking is through or on 01904 658338.





Our Thursday night guests this month play three contrasting styles of music and are all making their Black Swan debuts.   Tickets should be available on the door for all of them, but if you want the security of a pre-booked ticket, go to


5.        SARAH McQUAID – 7th OCTOBER.  Renowned for her warm and engaging stage presence, Sarah McQuaid is a versatile and beguiling performer with a very varied repertoire.  In addition to her elegantly crafted originals, she interprets traditional Irish and Appalachian folk songs, Elizabethan ballads, 1930s jazz numbers, surprise covers and lively guitar instrumentals with panache and poignancy.  Her deliciously earthy voice delivers a powerful emotional punch that’s matched by her distinctive, eloquent guitar style. Add this to a real rapport with her audience, and you have all the ingredients of a great night out.


Born in Spain, raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, Sarah spent 13 years in Ireland from 1994, where she became a weekly folk music columnist for the Evening Herald and a contributor to Hot Press magazine.  She began touring as a solo artist in 2007 and moved across the Irish Sea to Cornwall around the same time.  Earlier this year she made a successful first tour of the United States and she is now busy assembling material for her third solo album.


Sarah is highly regarded as a guitarist and if you are a player yourself you may have come across her work “The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book”, described by The Irish Times as “a godsend to aspiring traditional guitarists.


Sample Sarah’s music at then come on down on Thursday evening, when entry will be £7 (£6 concessions) and Stan Graham acts as MC.


6.        STEPHEN FEARING – 14th OCTOBER.  Next week we belatedly welcome one of Canada’s foremost singer-songwriters, a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) winner who has been a troubadour since the 1980s.  A stunning guitar player with a smooth, intimate and powerful voice, Stephen is one of Canada's most respected performers and has penned some of the most literate, stirring and emotionally charged "folk" songs around.  He counts fellow Canadian James Keelaghan and our own Martyn Joseph amongst his many fans.


Stephen has released eight solo albums and is now celebrating his career with a “best of” collection: The Man Who Married Music, packed full of gems.  He has toured Britain several times but somehow has passed us by until now.  Sample some of his recent songs at   Tickets for this one are £8 (£6.50 concessions).


7.        ISSY & DAVID EMENEY WITH KATE RIAZ – 21st OCTOBER.   While much of their material is original, this trio’s style is distinctly traditional.  Often inspired by historical events, Issy’s songs usually tell a great story.  She is an outstanding singer and melodeon player, David’s guitar adds an eclectic range of influences and Kate contributes skilful and creative cello.


Issy is originally from Suffolk but moved with her musician husband to Somerset in 2003.  Her musical career may have been forever limited to being a roadie for David, had it not been for a chance hearing of Norfolk melodeon squeezer, Tony Hall, and his sublime accompaniments on Nic Jones’ iconic album Penguin Eggs.  David gave Issy her first melodeon for Christmas 1997 and within a year she was playing in her first ceilidh band.  The couple began performing together as a duo shortly after that.  In 2006 they were joined by cellist Kate Riaz and together the trio have recorded two albums on the Wild Goose label, Legends & Lovers and The Waiting. "


Here are some endorsements:


“Issy is a first rate tunesmith.  So accomplished is she and so complete is her empathy with the tradition that she can turn out a song today that would convince even the most tedious purist that it had been handed down over the centuries."  Andy Kershaw


"Issy & David are great.  I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who loves quality folk music."  Vin Garbutt


"A very talented trio with fine traditional & original songs & tunes, well sung with good harmonies & excellent accompaniments.  I thoroughly recommend them."  Pete Coe


Sample them at then put the date in your diary.  Entry for this one will be £7 (£6 concessions).



And that’s all for now!  Hopefully I’ll be back before the end of the month with another and more comprehensive edition.