Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 123

Mid October 2010

 Once again, this is a “club only” newsletter, prepared in limited time and covering only direct folk club activities.  We again offer apologies to those other people who wanted us to give their news/events a mention.  Hopefully once I am restored to better health we can resume “normal” newsletter service.





1.        A NIGHT WITH THE SCOTS - MALINKY plus CHLOE MATHARU.  Our second concert this season at the National Centre for Early Music celebrates the music and more especially the songs of Scotland.  Just over a week from now, on Wednesday 27th October, we present what is quite possibly that country’s finest folk song group Malinky, together with a young singer beginning to make a name for herself north of the border, Chloe Matharu.


Few Scottish folk bands have made such an impact in recent years as Malinky.  Born out of the Edinburgh session scene of the late '90s, the band soon emerged as the leading young group focusing on songs rather than instrumental music.  Over the last decade, they have become one of the most distinctive and accomplished acts on the Scottish scene, with four acclaimed albums under their belt and an ever-expanding global tour roster.


Malinky's hallmark song-based repertoire is performed by two superb lead vocalists, and arrayed with tastefully inventive instrumentation, uniting seasoned maturity with sparkling freshness.  The band combines deep knowledge of the folk tradition with a subtly creative approach, breathing renewed life into centuries-old ballads, as well as featuring modern and original songwriting and occasional fiddle-led tunes.


With their "beautifully gentle delivery" (Irish Music Magazine) and commitment to understated, acoustic instrumentation, Malinky need no gimmicks, preferring to believe in the simple strength and power of traditional songs to communicate their story.


Over the last couple of years the band has entertained crowds in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, Ireland and the UK, as well as doing three tours of the USA, in the process being described as "maybe the finest young Scottish band since Silly Wizard" (Boston Globe) and “a class act” (fRoots), performing "Scots music at its most evocative" (Mojo).  Malinky are due to play at the prestigious Musicport World Music festival this coming weekend, where they can proudly fly the flag for Scottish music alongside artists from around the world.


Malinky have seen several personnel changes over the years.  For example, Karine Polwart was an early member and sang with them on their first visit to York back in 2004.  This year the band has slimmed down to a four piece line-up, including Steve Byrne on lead vocals, guitar and bouzouki, Fiona Hunter on lead vocals and cello and Mike Vass on fiddle and backing vocals.  The fourth member is normally guitarist Dave Wood, but sadly he broke a finger recently and is unable to play on this tour.  His place has been taken by another highly talented young musician, Matheu Watson.  (Coincidentally Matheu has just issued his own debut CD and only last week we heard Mike Harding gave this airplay on his Radio 2 show, praising his exceptional guitar playing abilities.)


Doing the opening support set next Wednesday will be another talented Scots musician, 19 year-old Chloe Matharu from Edinburgh.  She has cultural roots in Scotland, Wales and India and grew up surrounded by a wealth of traditional music.  She was fascinated by the folk stories she was told as a child and her interest in performing folk music started with singing unaccompanied ballads, hooked by the combination of story and music.  Chloe has also sung in choirs and played in bands, even winning a place to perform at the Cambridge Folk Festival with her school youth band.  She is now an undergraduate at St Andrews but is keen to develop her singing career at the same time.  Indeed, her debut album Next Market Day is released this week, just in time for her visit to York.


For more about the various musicians, visit, and


Doors open on Wednesday 27th at 7pm and Chloe will be on stage at 7.30pm, followed by the first of two sets from Malinky just after 8pm.  Tickets cost £13, or £11 for concessions, and will be available on the door, or they can be booked in advance on 01904 658338 or at


Now for the heavy bit!  Once again advance ticket sales are very disappointing.  We need another 50 or so of you to come along if we are to break even.  As I have said before, we made a considerable cash loss on our spring NCEM concert series and then fell behind by a further £100 on an otherwise excellent concert by Máire & Chris last week.  We cannot continue for long in this vein.  We have only arranged two NCEM concerts so far for 2011, and unless attendances improve soon those are likely to be our last.


2.        KAN – CELTIC SUPERGROUP.  The same warning goes for our most financially ambitious and musically adventurous concert this season, KAN on Tuesday 9th November.  We need another 70 ticket sales over the next three weeks just to break even!


This band certainly merits your attention, having been put together by two of the most inventive and accomplished musicians of their generation: Irish flute virtuoso Brian Finnegan (formerly of Flook) and 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 and thrilling 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


KAN tickets are £15 each (£13 concessions), from or on 01904 658338.





3.        CLUB PROGRAMME 2011.  Events through to late March 2011 are now on the club website and guest nights through to mid February are now open for booking on the We Got Tickets site.  Sadly, there has been one change of programme since our current printed brochure was issued: Tom McConville has had to cancel his visit on 17th February.  He and David Newey will now be with us on 6th October 2011 instead.


Stepping boldly into the vacant slot on 17th February will be Duncan McFarlane, one of the star performers at this year’s Folk Weekend.  Duncan and fiddle player Anne Brivonese were last our club guests in 2006, so a return engagement was well overdue!


Other 2011 guests of note include Julie Felix (31st March), Boo Hewerdine (19th May) and the return of Katy Moffatt (9th June).  We also have a Roberts family month in April: Jamie and partner Katriona Gilmore are with us on 7th April (fresh from supporting Fairport Convention on their winter tour), then big sister Kathryn Roberts makes a rare club appearance with husband Sean Lakeman on 21st April.  Don’t we spoil you!


4.        EMENEY & RIAZ THIS WEEK.  There is just time to remind you that club guests this Thursday (21st) are Somerset-based trio Issy & David Emeney with Kate Riaz.  Issy is an outstanding singer and melodeon player and a fine writer of songs in the traditional idiom, while David’s guitar adds an eclectic range of influences and Kate contributes skilful and creative cello.   “I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who loves quality folk music" says Vin Garbutt.  Entry for this one will be £7 (£6 concessions).


Issy is originally from Suffolk but moved west with her musician husband in 2003.  Her own 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.  Sample them at


As an added bonus, folk duo Emma & The Professor are in our area on Thursday (en route to the Musicport festival as well) and they will be doing a two song floor spot.  See


5.        LOOKING AHEAD.  We have our monthly Singers & Musicians Night next Thursday (28th October), then comes the wonderful Jez Lowe (4th November), followed by our annual New Roots Young Performers Showcase (11th November), this time featuring 15 year old singer/guitarist Ethan Thomas and Newcastle student trio Horizontal Sunday.  And after that it is the sublime Christine Collister (18th November) and another Singers Night (25th November).  Good things just keep on coming – so please come along yourselves and enjoy them!!



I’ll try to be back in another two or three weeks with another edition.