Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 126

Early January 2011

 Best wishes to one and all for a peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year.  We’ll certainly do our best to make it an outstandingly musical year, so read on....




1.        JOHNNY DICKINSON THIS THURSDAY, 6TH.  We try to find a special artist to launch each new year and this one is no exception.  With his soulful vocals and expressive guitar playing (particularly his potent slide work) Johnny Dickinson gave us a really memorable debut performance way back in 2005.  It is has taken an unpardonably long time to bring him back, but here he is!


Johnny’s background is in blues, notably his stint with Paul Lamb & The Kingsnakes.  He has also played in styles ranging from rock to western swing, but over the last decade it is his deep and abiding love of traditional folk music which has come to the fore – notably the ballads and airs of his native Northumbria and the Scottish borders, but also Celtic folk music.  He has developed an original style of playing which fuses blues and folk influences and has seen him likened to such greats as Martin Simpson and Kelly Joe Phelps.  There have been several acclaimed solo albums, mixing original songs with reworkings of folk classics, and he was nominated in the Best Musician category in the BBC Folk Awards 2006


Eddie Affleck MCs this one and tickets are £9 (concessions £7) – on the door or beforehand through as usual.


For more information, visit (though like some other artist sites, this is not kept all that well up-to-date), while for samples of Johnny in performance there are several videos on You Tube, such as the Irish folk classic She Moved Through The Fair at or swamp rock favourite Bad Moon Rising at  I also found footage of Johnny sharing stage in Italy with two of our other guitar favourites, Hans Theessink and John Renbourn, at


2.        OPEN HOUSE FOR SINGERS & PLAYERS.  The following Thursday, 13th January, is the Singers & Musicians night for this month.  An ever-popular and enjoyable session, this one is hosted by Chris Euesden.


3.        YOU ARE INVITED TO BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY.  Over the last 18 months or so, the adventurous young outfit that is Blackbeard’s Tea Party has established itself as one of the region’s premier folk / roots bands.  They went down a storm at Folk Weekend 2010 and even had Radio 2 airplay after Mike Harding chanced upon them busking while he was visiting York and, impressed, bought their mini CD (mark that, not blagged a freebie!).


The band has a flexible line-up and on Thursday 20th January you are invited to enjoy the four-piece acoustic version.  Paul Young (melodeon, fiddle, vocals) has been a visitor to the Black Swan ever since his student days when he was in a duo with Lucy Wright.  Tim Yates (bass, melodeon, brass) is likewise no stranger, nor is fiddle player Laura Barber, formerly with York Uni band OK Brandy, while percussionist Dave Boston completes the roll call.


It should be a fun night.  David Kidman does the introductions this week, and tickets are just £6 full or £5 concessions, and already selling at .


4.        ALL’S SET FOR 4 SQUARE.  The following week, 27th January, we keep with adventurous young folk bands but move our focus across the Pennines to Manchester, where 4Square are based.  This quartet has accomplished an incredible amount in a relatively short space of time. Their numerous festival appearances have included Cropredy (where they almost broke the record for CD sales!), Shrewsbury, Warwick and Towersey.  “What a great band” somebody said to me in the pub just the other day, looking at our club leaflet.  It turned out he had seen them at Beverley Festival in 2009!


Nicola Lyons sings, dances and plays fiddle, Jim Molyneux plays accordion, Dan Day is on percussion and James Meadows (a Young Performer guest for us in 2007) adds banjo and mandola.  Find out more at and hear sample tracks at  Phil Cerny hosts this one and tickets are again £6 or £5.


5.        SUNDAY AFTERNOON FOLK.  The Folk Club has once again agreed to host an afternoon of local folk music during the York Residents Festival at the end of this month.  Sunday Afternoon Folk runs from 2pm to 6pm on Sunday 30th January in the club room at the Black Swan Inn.  Entry will be free to York Card holders, or a token £3 (£2 concessions) to any others.  The pub joins in by offering a free glass of wine with each main meal served that day, so why not come to the pub for Sunday lunch then enjoy the music upstairs?


I still have to finalise the line-up and running order (apologies to all artists for being dilatory about this – I’ll be in touch very soon) but it is likely to include Stan Graham and Phil Cerny, both of whom missed out last year, together with repeat performances by such as The Foresters, Fake Thackray (aka John Watterson) and some of our club residents.  Once all is settled information will go up on the club website and I’ll produce posters and flyers.


6.        CONCERTS UPDATE.  As mentioned in the last E-News, tickets are already on sale – and going fast – for Steve Knightley’s solo concert at the National Centre for Early Music on Friday 11th February, while booking will open in the next week or two for Spiers & Boden at NCEM on Monday 11th April.  Note in addition that the NCEM itself is promoting Heidi Talbot on Thursday 14th April.  This one clashes with a Singers Night at our club, which is unfortunate but hardly disastrous.


7.        FOLK WEEKEND REMINDER.  Just a brief note here to remind you that City of York Folk Weekend 2011 is scheduled for 4th & 5th June.  Do bear that in mind when planning the year ahead!!  We’ll start to pull a programme together in a couple of month’s time, I guess.


8.        LATEST BOOKINGS NEWS.  In the last E-News I summarised our club bookings for the first half of this year.  Since then, there has been one change.  Lissa Schneckenburger is no longer able to appear on May 26th and in her place we have the mighty American musician (now resident in England) Brooks Williams!


Also, the line-up for the Young Performers Night on 28th April can now be confirmed: Lucy Ward, a singer from Derby, newly signed to prestigious label Navigator Records, and Manchester-based fiddle virtuoso Emma Sweeney with a guitar accompanist.


The bad weather may have scuppered Wizz Jones’ visit last month, but a replacement date has been agreed for 27th October.  Other recent bookings include Flossie Malavialle in duo with Keith Donnelly (29th September), the return of David Ferrard (24th November) and the biennial visit of Dick Gaughan (8th December).  We have even put a few things in the diary for 2012.  Jackie Oates appears with Karen Tweed in January 2012 and Al Parrish, the livewire bass player and singer from Tanglefoot, visits solo in May 2012.


I plan to write the next club leaflet very soon, with a view to publication before the end of this month and detailing club activities from February through to May.  As soon as copy is written I will update the club website and put more events on sale through WeGotTickets.





9.        TAP & SPILE BACK IN ACTION.  Happily the Tap & Spile pub on Monkgate has reopened and the Friday night informal folk session is back in action.  The Golden Fleece on Pavement, also owned by failed Local Heroes Pub Group, apparently stayed open throughout the crisis and Chris Barnes’ Wednesday night open mic club continues as before.


10.     WEE FOLK UPDATE.  In the last e-news I reported a new family-friendly and free Sunday afternoon folk gathering at the Black Swan, Wee Folk.  Organiser Ali Morgan reports that the first meeting went very well. “It was great and we'll certainly be doing it again.  It'll be the third Sunday in the month, next one being January 16th, 3-5pm.”  She adds that “We could do with a few more singers (there were only three of us performing) but I'm sure people will get the hang of it.”  Ali can be contacted on


11.     FOLK CLUBS USER SURVEY.  A reminder about the national online survey of folk club users which I mentioned last time.  The survey is open until 31st March at   Interim results from the first 270 or so respondents have been posted at


12.     A DANCE WITH MOLLY.  Does anyone fancy learning Molly Dancing?  This distinctive style of traditional dance originates in the fenlands of East Anglia but has local devotees in the Harrogate area, where Hornbeam Molly are celebrating a successful first year in operation.  “To build on our initial success” writes publicity officer Ray Black “we wish to recruit new dancers, both male and female.  This is an exciting opportunity for you to indulge in some creative activity that will keep both brain and body in good fettle.  Why pay for expensive computer brain training programmes or gym fees when this will take care of both?  We are holding an Open Evening at 8pm on Wednesday 26th January, in our home upstairs in the Knaresborough Dance Centre, 9 Castle Yard, Knaresborough. HG5 8AS.”  Find out more at or contact Ray on 01423 502875 or





13.     FAREWELL LOS YOBOS.  Just too late for the last newsletter, I heard that local Americana heroes Los Yobos had decided to call it a day and indeed they gave a farewell performance just before Christmas.  They haven’t totally ruled out playing together again but will not be actively promoting or seeking future gigs.  Perhaps we can tempt them to reform for Folk Weekend?  No doubt individual members will continue to be involved in live music.  Mike Tavener has already joined another local American roots music outfit Moonshine Creek, with whom he will be playing bass.  See


14.     CONGRATULATIONS STAN.  Out of the blue just before Christmas, Stan Graham heard that his song The Olive and The Vine had been nominated in a poll of radio folk show presenters for Best Song Of The Decade.  “The poll originates in America but obviously includes all registered radio presenters in Australia, which is where these two nominations come from” says Stan.


One of the nominators (Danny Watson of 2MAX-FM) says: “easily the best song of the decade in my humble opinion is "The Olive and The Vine" written by English songwriter Stan Graham.  It is a beautiful story told with poetic words and delightful melodic tune which I consider the exact criteria for a folk song”, while Denis McKay (2VOX-FM) says: “add me to that list; it is an exceptional song and gets my vote.”


Stan even had to dash away from the club Christmas Party in order to make a live transatlantic radio interview!  We await the poll results with interest.


15.     CONGRATULATIONS MALINKY.  Scotland's leading young folksong group and our own recent NCEM guests Malinky crowned a busy year's global touring by winning the title of Scottish Folk Band of the Year at the 2010 Scottish Trad Music Awards, held in Perth on 4th December.  Lead singers Fiona Hunter and Steve Byrne were there to collect the award.


16.     FAREWELL ISAMBARDE.  Sadly, Isambarde have announced that they will be splitting up at the end of the 2011 festival season, with their final gig in mid September.  They send a huge thank you to everyone who has supported them over the years by booking them, or coming to see them at gigs or buying CDs.  At the Black Swan we’ve always had a particular fondness for this lively young trio which includes former York St John student and club resident Emily Sanders.  They were last with us in January 2010, a night I remember very well as it was immediately before I went into hospital to begin my cancer treatment.  We hope that Em, Chris and Jude continue their involvement in folk music in the years to come.


17.     EDWINA, COFFEE & FRIENDS.  Another of our favourite singers Edwina Hayes believes in keeping herself busy.  Last month she sang at the Royal Albert Hall no less, when she was asked to perform her stunning version of Feels Like Home at a sold out Charity Concert.  In her latest mailing she also reveals that she has recorded a duet with media folk favourites Fisherman’s Friends for their next album.  Edwina’s own new release is called Good Things Happen Over Coffee: it is not in the shops until February but can be bought now through Edwina’s website  “It has 11 songs, some fantastic guest players, and I couldn’t be happier with it” she says.  Edwina can be enjoyed in person in York next Saturday, 8th January, at 8.30 at The Waggon & Horses on Lawrence Street. This is the Fillmore East Acoustic Club, which I must confess was previously unknown to me.  See


18.     TWO ON TUBE.  Also keeping their hand in, although officially on maternity leave, are York duo Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner, alias Two.  They have recently posted a rather fine, professionally shot video on YouTube, performing their song Sisterhood.  Check it out at





19.     BIG NAMES AT THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE.  After a season with little folk content, Kate Rusby aside, York’s Grand Opera House has some splendid fare coming up.  Richard Thompson is there on Sunday 16th January, followed by his old buddies Fairport Convention on Tuesday 1st February, then The Fureys & Davey Arthur on Wednesday 9th March.


Richard is touring with a powerful electric band featuring Pete Zorn (guitars, flute, sax, mandolin), Michael Jerome (drums), Taras Prodaniuk (bass) and Joel Zifkin (violin, mandolin).  It's the same group that plays on the new album Dream Attic which was recorded in real time during an inspired three months touring on the West Coast of America.  Expect shows that are “riveting, enlightening, witty, moving, provocative and entertaining - strongly recommended”, says Time Out.


Tickets are £25.50 via


20.     WETWANG ACOUSTIC.  This monthly folk gathering is still going strong.  It is held on the second Tuesday of the month at The Victoria Inn at Wetwang on the Yorkshire Wolds, meaning that the next event is on 11th January at 8pm.  Find out more from Trevor Appleton on 01377 229482.  Incidentally, Trevor also runs a small website which pulls together news of folk and acoustic music events around Ryedale and East Yorkshire – find it at


21.     ACOUSTIC ICONS IN RURAL NORTH YORKS.  The Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club is scaling back operations slightly.  Instead of a monthly club meeting this year they will present a series of concerts under the banner Acoustic Icons.  Four events are planned, with the first being Phil Beer (of Show of Hands fame) on Friday 14th January.  The venue is Kirkby Fleetham Village Hall (just off the A1 near Northallerton) and the support act is Weardale duo Brother Crow.  Tickets are a modest £10 and start time is 7.30.  Find out more and make your bookings at  or phone Paul on 01609 748259.


The second event will be Martin Carthy on 8th April, with support from Rebekah Findlay.  There will also be the weekend-long Big Birthday Bash in November.


22.     MALTON & NORTON FOLK FESTIVAL.  Here’s advance news of a Folk Weekend taking place over the 18th & 19th March.  “There are concerts on Friday at The Blue Ball Inn and on Saturday at Suddaby's Crown Hotel” writes organiser Rowena Garner.  “Performers include Trio Threlfall, The Hall Brothers, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Wendy Arrowsmith, Holly Taymar and Two.  We also have Longsword and Morris teams invited to dance in the market square on the Saturday as well as workshops, singaround and musicians sessions at venues in Malton & Norton.”


For full programme details, ticket prices etc, see or call 01653 696226 (answering machine) or email  The organisers are also keen to hear from any other dance sides interested in taking part on the Saturday.


23.     FOLK CONCERTS IN REETH.  The next two events at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale are one-man folk industry Pete Coe (21st January) and fresh from the BBC Folk Awards Megson (11th February).  For further details or reservations ring John Little on 01748 884759.  There is a website at but it seems to need updating.


I’m due another operation fairly soon.  Depending on when that happens and my state of health afterwards, I’ll try to issue another Newsletter before the end of this month.