Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 128

Mid March 2011

It has been much longer than I intended since the last of these bulletins, mainly for personal reasons explained below, and there is lots to report, so here goes....


1.        TRIAL & TRIUMPH WITH BRIAN PETERS.  This coming Thursday’s club event (24th March) is another themed show, in the same vein as last month’s Anglo-Icelandic evening with Funi or the Appalachian Christmas special last December.  Songs of Trial and Triumph is a solo performance by Brian Peters of some of the greatest of the Child Ballads, widely regarded as the crown jewels of British folk song.  Collected together in the 19th Century by Frances James Child, who drew on the books and unpublished manuscripts of Thomas Percy, Walter Scott, Robert Burns and others, these story songs are centuries-old and packed with murder and magic, love and lust, trickery, tomfoolery and the Devil himself.

Brian Peters is one of the best interpreters of this repertoire: a singer who brings passion and storytelling skills to his vocal performance, and a multi-instrumentalist whose proficiency on guitar, concertina and melodeon allows him to create a variety of musical textures.  He is also a researcher who has dug out unique versions of the ballads, while his knowledge of the singers who carried the old songs down to us - from Anna Brown in 18th Century Aberdeenshire to a gypsy community camped under a flyover in 1970s London - allows him to set the ballads against an informative account of their background.

Songs of Trial and Triumph is a presentation that encompasses drama, emotion, accomplished musicianship, education, humour and, above all, entertainment.  It brings the old ballads vividly to life in a form that can entrance even those with no previous experience of this kind of song, and it has been performed to widespread acclaim in literary events as well as in folk clubs and festivals.  Find out more at

Phil Cerny acts as MC for this one and tickets cost £8 (£6.50 concessions) - in advance at or on the door from 8pm.

2.        A FULL HOUSE FOR JULIE FELIX.  All tickets have now been sold for the visit by Sixties folk legend Julie Felix on 31st March.  In fact we now have a waiting list for returns, so if anyone out there has booked tickets but is no longer able to come, please get in touch and we can arrange a resale.  Stan Graham will be Master of Ceremonies for this special event.

If you wanted to see Julie but missed out, note that she is back in our area on Friday 27th May for a concert at the Galtres Centre in Easingwold.  Tickets are £15 or £12 from the Box Office on 01347 822472.  See

3.        KATRIONA & JAMIE MAKE THEIR MARK.  Fresh from a triumphant 31 date winter tour as Fairport Convention’s support act, our guests on 7th April are Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts.  These two have been wowing audiences across the country over the last three years with their unassumingly confident displays of instrumental technique and their trademark harmonies.  Jamie’s astounding lap-tapping guitar and Kat’s fiery fiddle, allied to considerable songwriting and arranging talent, make for a truly distinctive sound and their nomination for the Horizon trophy in the last BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards was well-earned.

At the Black Swan we have appreciated this duo’s potential right from the start, with a Young Performer debut in 2007, followed by a full club booking in 2009, plus a couple of NCEM concert support spots.  It is a real pleasure to welcome them back as they move their career up another notch.  Eddie Affleck does the introductions for this one and tickets are selling well at £7 full / £6 concessions at  You can sample their music and find out more at

4.        SPRING SINGERS.  Our Singers & Musicians Night for April takes place on 14th, with David Swann in charge of proceedings.  I missed this month’s event but hear that it was well up to the usual entertaining standard.  These nights are just £3 on the door, £2 concessions, while performers are asked to put £1 each in the kitty.

5.        WELCOME BACK KATHRYN & SEAN.  Our guests for Easter, Thursday 21st April, are making a very welcome return after a gap of over 7 years, Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman.  Both are from musical families.   Sean is best known as guitarist in his brother Seth’s backing band, while his other brother Sam is Cara Dillon’s personal and musical partner.  Kathryn (elder sister of our 7th April guest Jamie Roberts) first came to prominence in her duo with Kate Rusby in the early 1990s and went on to front the band Equation.  With young twin daughters she has kept a low profile in recent times, but this year she and Sean are gigging again more frequently.

As I write, Kathryn is also involved in the Cecil Sharp Project, which brings together 8 British and American musicians (others include Steve Knightley, Jackie Oates and Jim Moray) to collaborate on new works inspired by the songs collected by Sharp in England and Appalachia.  See for more information.  Perhaps we’ll hear something from the Project at the Black Swan.  What we certainly will get is an evening of traditional songs and favourite modern covers, beautifully sung by one of the very best vocalists around and supported by one of the scene’s most sympathetic guitar accompanists.

Phil Cerny once again acts as MC and tickets costing £8 (£6.50 concessions) are selling steadily at


6.        FURTHER AHEAD.  Our club programme continues on 28th April with another Young Performer Showcase event, this time featuring Derby-based singer Lucy Ward and an Irish fiddle player from Manchester, Emma Sweeney, then our May guests include Kirsty McGee & Mat Martin (12th) and Brooks Williams (26th) – full details in the next Newsletter.

Note that the show by Boo Hewerdine on May 19th is already Sold Out – two months and more in advance!  We did consider arranging a second night for Boo but unfortunately the venue is not available on Wednesday while Boo is booked elsewhere on Friday.

7.        PROGRAMME CHANGE IN JUNE.  Sadly, the great Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey has had to scrap his proposed UK tour in June this year.  He hopes to return here in autumn 2012 instead and we’ll certainly book him then if we possibly can.  In David’s place on 16th June we have for you the wonderful Steve Tilston, releasing a new album in May (exactly 40 years after his first LP record!) and still playing, singing and writing at the top of his game.  Booking for this and subsequent Thursdays should be available by early May.

8.        CLUB DIARY FULL FOR 2011.   The Thursday night diary is now virtually complete for the rest of this year, and look like this:

June: Singers Night (2nd), Katy Moffatt (9th), Steve Tilston (16th), Singers Night (23rd), Joe Penland (30th)
July:  Steve Phillips (7th), Wendy Arrowsmith (14th), Singers Night (21st), Serious Sam Barrett & (tbc) David Broad (28th, Double Bill)
August: Rebekah Findlay (4th), Nathan Rogers (11th), Singers Night (18th), Tri (25th)
September:  Anonyma (1st), Ian Bailey & (tbc) Dan Wilde (8th, Double Bill), Singers Night (15th), Tinkerscuss (22nd), Flossie Malavialle & Keith Donnelly (29th)
October: Tom McConville & David Newey (6th), Singers Night (13th), Pilgrim’s Way (20th), Wizz Jones (27th)
November:  Young Performers Night (3rd, line-up TBA), Kristina Olsen (10th), Singers Night (17th), David Ferrard (24th)
December:  Kieran Goss (1st), Dick Gaughan (8th), The Magic Christmas Tree: Pete Morton, Maggie Boyle & Chris Parkinson (15th), Christmas Party (22nd)

Fully confirmed events will go up on the club website very soon and by early May we’ll open booking at WeGotTickets for June 16th through to August or beyond.

We even have several firm bookings in the diary already for 2012, including Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston (5th January), Jackie Oates with Karen Tweed (19th January), Zoox (16th February), Kieran Halpin (1st March) and Debra Cowan (15th March).


9.        LAST FEW TICKETS FOR SPIERS & BODEN.  There are now only half a dozen or so tickets left for the concert by John Spiers and Jon Boden at the National Centre for Early Music on Monday 11th April.  This event forms part of the lads’ 10th Anniversary Tour and is sure to be that extra bit special.  Eddie Affleck does the introductions and the support spot comes from a young duo from Wakefield, Sarah Horn & James Cudworth, who are beginning to attract attention with their mix of traditional and modern folk with voices, fiddle and guitar.  Sarah has previously appeared at our club in a Young Performers night when she was part of teenage band JiggaWatt.  Contact the Box Office immediately at or on 01904 658338 if you are interested.

Incidentally, John & Jon will be back in York only two weeks later with their award-winning folk big band extravaganza Bellowhead.  It‘s a seated show (if that is possible with such a lively outfit) at the Grand Opera House on Wednesday 27th April, with tickets priced at £23.  See for full details.

10.     SUMMER TEAPARTY FOR BLACKBEARD’S.  In January local heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party filled the Black Swan Inn club room twice over in their acoustic four-piece line-up, then last month their larger electric version drew 250 people to local rock venue The Duchess.  Keen to maintain the momentum, the band has approached us about doing a full scale seated concert at the Early Music Centre, and we have agreed to sponsor a show by them there on Tuesday 19th July.  This will be the full six piece band, complete with electric guitar, brass and extra percussion, as well as the fiddles, guitars, melodeons and double bass we saw so vividly in action at the Black Swan.

We are asking the NCEM to set up box office as soon as possible and hopefully tickets will be on sale within the next week.  We’ve settled on a £10 ticket price (£8 concessions) and a 7.30pm start, and the band will be bringing one or two special guests along to do support.

11.     AUTUMN CONCERTS AGREED.  We have now arranged three shows for the autumn season at the NCEM.  We are particularly excited about the first of these, since it is one of the most famous and respected bands in Irish music, Patrick Street, comprising Kevin Burke, Andy Irvine, Arty McGlynn and John Carty.  Put the date in your diary now: Friday 23rd September.

Other dates to note are Monday 3rd October for The Churchfitters, moving up to NCEM after two tremendous full house shows at the club venue, and Monday 28th November for The Urban Folk Quartet, a cosmopolitan outfit fronted by Joe Broughton.  We are still looking to set up one or possibly two more autumn concerts, if the right artists come along at the right time and at a price we can afford.


12.     FOLK WEEKEND GOES TO THREE DAYS.  The most exciting outcome of last month’s Folk Weekend Planning Meeting was agreement to run a Friday evening concert in the marquees, in addition to the full Saturday and Sunday programme.  The Friday event, running roughly 7.30 until 11.30, is being programmed by Phil Simpson, who makes a welcome addition to the Folk Weekend team.  Phil is a musician himself, with rising trio Broken Ground, while by day he works for the Adastra music agency and by night at City Screen.

13.     DRAFT PROGRAMME WITHIN THE MONTH.  I am working on the draft programme for Saturday and Sunday at present and hope to have something ready by early April.  The basic structure will follow the tried and tested formula of recent years, with a few tweaks here and there.  One innovation will be a Dylan Songs Session, marking the great man’s 70th birthday (see also item 16 below).  Paula and Sarah from Soundsphere propose to run their vocal workshop again, Yorkshire Garland will again present a session of Yorkshire folk songs, and the York Songwriters take over the Wolfe Room for a Sunday evening concert.  There will be plenty of open session, singaround and “club” events indoors as well, and lots of great local acts on the main stage outside.  Watch this space...


14.     ANNUAL RESULTS.  I set aside a few hours early last month to look over the club’s books at the end of our financial year, which runs from 1st February to 31st January.  It is something of a mixed picture.  Cash-wise, we lost £653 over the year, but that was on a turnover of £24,567, so only 2.7%.  We ended the year with approximately £3,844 in total funds held.  Numbers wise, a total of 1,731 people attended 52 ticketed club events (average 33.3 – this excludes people like floor acts and organisers) and 935 tickets were sold for 8 NCEM concerts (average 116.9).

Looking at things in a bit more detail, it was the NCEM concerts which were the big loser (£761); club guest nights had a £520 surplus and singers’ nights generated £733.  Administrative and publicity costs amounted to £847, plus £190 for the website, and we spent £423 on additional PA equipment and accessories.  If anyone would like to see the detailed figures, please ask.

Taking the historical picture, that average 33.3 ticket sale per club event was our best result since 1998/99, which is very encouraging, but the concerts average of 116.9 was by far our worst performance since 2001/02.

The new trading year has begun well.  All events bar one have been in surplus, sometimes substantially so, and we are working hard to contain costs, so fingers crossed for a positive outcome.  Of course, the club does not exist to make a profit for anyone, but so long as we can continue to attract good numbers and operate at or above breakeven, the long-term future of our brand of live folk music in York is secure.

15.     FIRE AT THE BLACK SWAN.  Some of you may have heard rumours of a fire at the Black Swan Inn.  There was indeed a chimney fire last Sunday morning (13th), apparently caused by a build-up of soot plus a bird’s nest, but there was no damage and the pub was open as usual by 1pm.  Club operations are totally unaffected.  For the full story, see

16.     DYLAN TRIBUTE ALBUM.  Most of you will know my fellow club organiser Chris Euesden as a musician with a particular passion for the songs of Bob Dylan.  Chris also runs a music publishing company (Circuit Music) and a record label (Fat Cat Records) and wearing the latter hat Chris has been busy this winter putting together a double CD of Dylan covers to mark the great man’s forthcoming 70th birthday.  I have now heard a preview copy of Younger That That Now and very good it is.

The artists featured come from across the folk/roots spectrum and range from “big names” like Martin Simpson and Julie Matthews through to good local artists – amongst them Chris himself, Phil Cerny and Sarah Dean.  Many of the professional acts have featured at the Black Swan over the years, such as Dave Burland, Clive Gregson, Steve Tilston, Christine Collister, Edwina Hayes, Hans Theessink, Ewan McLennan, Jez Lowe and Steve Phillips.  The choice of material is eclectic, spanning Dylan’s entire songwriting career, not just focussed on his “greatest hits” of the 60s and early 70s, and the styles and arrangements are incredibly varied and imaginative.

The CD goes on sale in May and I understand that it is a charity project, with all profits going to Oxfam.  I’ll have more details in due course.

17.     DAVID SWANN ON YOUTUBE.  Resident club singer David Swann also believes in keeping busy, performing at numerous folk and acoustic events across north and east Yorkshire.  He has had several performances at a recent Loftus show posted on YouTube – see ,  and

18.     MARY’S ALCUIN EXHIBITION.  Mary Garrison is a regular supporter of the club and also helps to run the Yorkshire Garland folk song project.  By day she is an Anglo-Saxon specialist at York University and an expert on York’s famous Saxon scholar Alcuin. Mary has been kept busy over the winter putting together an exhibition about The Great Lost Library of Alcuin's York, which runs until 15th April at the York Minster library, 2-4 pm daily.

19.     BAR LANE OPEN MIC.  There are several Open Mic events around York.  One about which I have heard good things takes place on Wednesdays in the basement at Bar Lane Studios at the top of Micklegate.  Open Mic Goodness runs from 7pm and welcomes all types of performance - spoken word, poetry, drama, music, comedy, etc.  Entry is £2 to listen or £1 to perform.  I came across this blog the other day which sings its praises.

20.     PERSONAL UPDATE.  I had a successful operation on Monday 7th March to reverse the temporary ileostomy I was given a year ago.  Recuperation took a bit longer than expected, but I was finally discharged on Wednesday (16th).  I am taking a month off work but hope to be back at the club by next week.  My latest scans and tests are all negative regarding any recurrence of cancer.


21.     ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES IN LEEDS.  I have news just in of a rather interesting event next Wednesday, 23rd March, in the Clothworkers Concert Hall at Leeds University School of Music.  “Roll Up Your Sleeves” is a lively look at 19th century domestic and industrial working life, told in story songs and images from both sides of the Atlantic by noted British folk singers Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman, joined by Judy Cook from USA.  Tickets are £14 (£10 concessions, £5 students) on the door at 7.30pm. For more information, see

22.     CRAIG, WILLOUGHY AND SHEEHAN IN REETH.  The next concert guests at Reeth Memorial Hall are Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby on Friday 25th March.  Support comes from a much under-rated local singer and songwriter (and first class boot maker) Mick Sheehan.  See

23.     MOONBEAMS OVER DRIFFIELD.  The next events promoted by Moonbeams Acoustic, both at the Bell Hotel in Driffield, are the Anglo-Turkish folk fusion of Dogan Mehmet & The Deerhunters on Friday 1st April, with support from Boss Caine, and rising folk star Ewan McLennan on Good Friday, 22nd April, with support from Holly Taymar.  See

24.     GOOD STUFF IN SELBYDogan Mehmet and band stay in this area to appear at Selby Town Hall on Saturday 2nd April.  The same venue has Rachel Harrington a week later, 9th April, and the Tannahill Weavers on Friday 15th April.  See

25.     LIVE IN OLD MALTON.  Ryedale Live, purveyors of “upbeat & laidback acoustic music shows”, have announced their first event of 2011, on Saturday 2nd April at the War Memorial Hall in Old Malton.  Joint headliners are Stephanie Lambring, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter favoured by Radio 2's Bob Harris, and York-based Holly Taymar, with support from our very own David Swann and local youngsters Abi Alton and Izzy Zarb.  Tickets (£7.50) and further details on 01653 690503.  There is a website,, but it seems seriously out of date.

26.     THE CHAIR IN SALTAIRE.  8-piece Orkney folk band The Chair appear at Saltaire’s Victoria Hall on Sunday 3rd April, in one of their very first non-festival shows in England.  Organiser Simon Heginbotham is suitably excited.  See

27.     MARTIN AT KIRKBY FLEETHAM.  Like the aforementioned Mr Dylan, Martin Carthy is about to celebrate his 70th birthday and shows few signs of easing up.  How appropriate that his next local appearance should be in the Acoustic Icons series at Kirkby Fleetham Village Hall near Northallerton.  Friday 8th April is the date, with Rebekah Findlay as support.  Find out more at

28.     CLOGFEST CELIDH IN HARROGATE.  There’s a public Ceilidh at Pannal Memorial Hall, just outside Harrogate (HG3 1JN), on Saturday 9th April, from 8 pm.  It is a fundraiser for Clogfest, the annual clog dance gathering held in Skipton in July,  Music comes from the Village Hop Band: Mary Barber (fiddle), Nick Barber (horn, melodeon and recorders), Paul Hudson (keyboard), Heather Hazell (melodeon) and Chas Marshall (anglo concertina) and the callers will be Tessa Goldsmith and Barbara Bentley. Tickets are £6 (£5 concessions) on the door or by telephoning 01423 520097.  There is no bar, so take your own refreshments.

29.     KNARESBOROUGH LIVE MUSIC.  Knaresborough area promoters Kula have two good shows coming up next month at the Frazer Theatre in that town.  Songwriter Sean Taylor is there on Saturday 9th April and top Scottish folk singer Karine Polwart appears with her trio on Good Friday, 22nd April.  Find out more at

30.     POCKLINGTON FOLK /ACOUSTIC WEEK.  The Arts Centre in Pocklington has something of a folk and acoustic series during the second week of April, with shows by Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham (12th), Beth Orton (13th) and Eddi Reader (17th, Sold Out).  See

Springtime, the daffodils are blooming, and folk music enthusiasts begin to think about festivals.  Here are brief details of three within striking distance of York.

31.     BARNSLEY ACOUSTIC ROOTS takes place over the weekend of 1st-3rd April, mostly at Kingstone School, with headliners including Cara Dillon, Show of Hands (at the Civic Hall), Karine Polwart, local hero Dave Burland and Vin Garbutt, plus a strong supporting cast.  See

32.     RYEDALE FOLK WEEKEND is held in Hutton le Hole over the Bank Holiday weekend 27th – 30th May.  Topping the bill are Dave Swarbrick, Scots/Norwegian band Fribo and a Sicilian outfit Nakaira, with a strong supporting cast which includes a rare performance by Paul Metsers.  See

33.     MOONBEAMS WOLD TOP FOLK FESTIVAL goes from strength to strength.  Now in its third year at the Wold Top Brewery at Hunmanby and held on 8th & 9th July, the headline act is Oysterband, supported by Richard Digance, The Duncan McFarlane Band, recent Black Swan celebrities 4Square and a host of good northern acts: Edwina Hayes, Holly Taymar, Broken Ground, Jon Brindley et al.  See