Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 131

Late June 2011


1.        THE APPALACHIAN HERITAGE OF JOE PENLAND. I’m particularly looking forward to this Thursday’s (30th June) club guest, Joe Penland, a singer, songwriter and storyteller from Madison County, North Carolina. Joe has a great store of traditional songs, handed down through the generations from English and Scottish settler ancestors, and he has also written plenty of new songs, which he describes as “just more stories of love and life here in the mountains". By all accounts he is also a great raconteur and storyteller. A farmer by trade, he was only persuaded to record and perform professionally in later life and after major illness, but he has taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. He has visited Britain two or three times previously and was twice a big hit at Whitby Folk Week.
Joe will be an unknown name to most of you, but I urge you to come along and check him out. If you are at all interested in American folk and roots music you should enjoy this man. Joe has a very comprehensive website at where you can read much more about him, listen to album tracks (mostly of his own impressive compositions in the folk singer-songwriter idiom) and hear clips of his storytelling and stage banter. Joe is travelling around the UK in the company of noted British folk singer Sarah Morgan (last seen here with Craig Morgan Robson in 2009) and she will sing a couple of songs as well.
Phil Cerny is the MC for this one and tickets will be available on the door from 8pm at £7 full or £6 concessions.
2.        STEVE PHILLIPS - BLUESMAN. A different strand of American music comes to the fore on Thursday 7th July when we have an evening of acoustic blues, R’n’B and early rock’n’roll from master guitarist Steve Phillips. This man really is something of a legend. A youth in Leeds in the 1960s, Steve was initially a huge Elvis Presley fan and was then heavily influenced by the recordings of country blues players such as Lonnie Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy, developing formidable skills on the acoustic and National steel guitars. For a while he played in a duo with another young guitar obsessive, Mark Knopfler.
In the mid 70s another fruitful partnership developed with Brendan Croker, and it was this brilliant duo whose residency at the late lamented John Bull Inn became a regular fixture with many York music fans in the 1980s, myself included. There were also two or three Black Swan Folk Club bookings for Steve at that time. Then came the Notting Hillbillies, in which Steve and Brendan joined up with Mark Knopfler for a sold out national tour and top selling album, and a whole slew of other projects. See for a full biography and loads more.
Steve now lives in Robin Hood’s Bay and divides his time between painting (he is a highly regarded artist) and music, sometimes solo, often with his band The Rough Diamonds. Shows in York have been few and far between, so we are delighted that after a gap of well over 20 years Steve is coming back to the Black Swan Folk Club. Chris Euesden hosts and tickets are now booking at, priced at £9 full / £7 concessions.
3.        WENDY ARROWSMITH ON SONG. We switch focus back to contemporary British folk for our guest on Thursday 14th July, Wendy Arrowsmith. Since settling in North Yorkshire Wendy has made a big impact on the local scene and is now forging a national reputation as a powerful singer, a skilled song writer and interpreter, and an entertaining stage performer. To quote from her website,
“Wendy has sung many different styles of music but with folk music she has found songs that come from the heart and allow great emotional expression and social commentary. Originally from Glasgow, she performs a mixture of British folk songs including a generous helping of Scottish material plus songs of her own. She generally accompanies herself on guitar, but whistles, bodhran, mandolin and accordion have also been known to appear.
Wendy is just as adept at creating her own material as she is at interpreting a traditional song. Her songs have won awards at Saltburn Folk Festival 2007 (The Visitor), Scarborough Seafest 2008 (Sleep Well ‘till Morning) and Ryedale Folk Festival 2009 (Hearth Song). Her song-writing skills have been used in children’s workshops and she is passionate about encouraging youngsters to discover their singing voices in various school projects.”
Wendy has just released her third album Live, Love & Chocolate which is picking up great reviews and she has an enviably full diary. Our own Stan Graham says of it “a superbly produced, exquisitely sung album, without doubt one of the most listenable albums I have heard for many a long month.... places her right at the top where she belongs" and not surprisingly Stan will be one of the floor singers marshalled by MC Sarah Dean on 14th July. Tickets are £6 (£5 concessions) on the door or in advance at
4.        FURTHER AHEAD AT THE CLUB. Our Singers Night for the month takes place on 21st July. Recently these “open house” evenings have been a bit quieter than we were used to, certainly in terms of numbers of performers. For a long time we were having 15 or 20 or more “acts” each time – great fun but a real test of the MC’s mettle! I’ve been around long enough to know that these things go in cycles. Recent Singers Nights have had more like 6, 7 or 8 acts – just as much fun very often, but in a more laid back sort of way. Which is not to say that we wouldn’t appreciate more performers, and particularly women performers, who are usually under-represented, so do give it a try! And remember that listeners too are always very welcome.
The next block of guest nights kicks off with two of Leeds’s current finest, Sam Barrett & David Broad (in spirit at least, the current generation equivalent to Steve Phillips & Brendan Croker?) on 28th July, followed by highly talented Rebekah Findlay on 4th August and Canadian super songwriter singer Nathan Rogers on 11th August. Hopefully I’ll have another newsletter out in time to tell you more about all of them.
5.        BLACKBEARD’S CONCERT PARTY. Local folk rock heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party drew the biggest crowd of the recent Folk Weekend and justifiably so. They just get tighter and tighter and with original guitarist Martin Coumbe back in the line-up they make an infectiously enjoyable noise. The second album is pretty much recorded I gather and we look forward to an autumn release. Meanwhile you can enjoy a whole evening of live Tea Party music at the National Centre for Early Music on Tuesday 19th July. Another star of the Folk Weekend, Jessica Lawson, is the opening act and tickets are selling now at or on 01904 658338 or from ourselves at club meetings, priced at £10 full or £8 concessions.
6.        OTHER CONCERTS NOW BOOKING. The Irish music event of the year in York looks set to be the visit of occasional “supergroup” Patrick Street to the NCEM on Friday 23rd September. Celebrating 25 years since they first got together, founder members Andy Irvine, Kevin Burke and Arty McGlynn are joined by John Carty for a very short UK tour. This is perhaps our most ambitious concert booking to date and needs to have a commensurate ticket price (£18 full, £16 concessions) but we are sure they will be worth every penny. For our peace of mind and to secure your seats please book early for this one.
Also booking now is the Monday 3rd October performance by The Churchfitters, the hugely entertaining multi-national folk-rock band who have twice packed out our club venue. This one is £12 full or £10 concessions.
We have tickets available on Thursday nights for both these concert specials, or go to, 01904 658338.
7.        A SUCCESSFUL EVENT?  The universal opinion seems to be that our recent Folk Weekend was another great success. Thankfully the weather stayed dry throughout, although temperatures were distinctly cool on Saturday and again on Sunday evening, and attendances were good for most events most of the time. Indeed I’ve never seen so many people gathered in the outdoor performance area as we had in the sunshine of Sunday afternoon!
Our sincere thanks go to all the many singers, musicians and dancers who took part over the two and a half days, and to the crew of MCs, sound engineers, stewards and other voluntary helpers who made the whole event possible, not forgetting the landlord and his bar staff and other workers.
Our collection tins yielded just over £500, which was enough to cover all our spending on the weekend (advertising, PA costs and such like). On top of that we had around £70 in CD sales and commission and a generous donation by the pub management, so the weekend turned in an overall surplus.
Comments, suggestions and constructive criticism are always welcome, so do get in touch if you have something to say.
8.        LOOKING AHEAD TO 2012. Next year will be our Tenth Anniversary Folk Weekend, so let us try to make it extra special. Because of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations we can’t really hold it over the first weekend in June and instead we have opted for 8th-10th June 2012. Mark it in your diaries NOW! We’ll hold an open planning meeting sometime in the autumn or early winter period to sketch things out. Watch this space for details.
The atmospheric function room at the Black Swan Inn is used by many other promoters as well as us. Here is news of two upcoming shows. I’m hoping to get to both of them myself.
9.        JENNI, BILLY & KING COURGETTE. Continuing the Appalachian theme set by Joe Penland (item 1 above), watch out for a special event at the Black Swan Inn on Tuesday 12th July. Nashville-based “original Appalachian folk” duo Jeni & Billy (aka Jeni Hankins and Billy Kemp) are calling in at York on their latest UK tour. The evening has been organised by the good folks of King Courgette, our local old-time string band, and they will be opening the show. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are £5, from Little Apple Bookshop on High Petergate or on the door.  Find out more about these excellent musicians at Their UK tour also takes in Barnsley Folk Club on Monday 11th and Cottingham Live on Wednesday 13th.
10.     YORKSHIRE DAY WITH ROGER & FAKE. There’s another special event in the pipeline at the Black Swan, this time for Yorkshire Day on Monday 1st August. One of Yorkshire’s finest modern day songwriters Roger Davies is appearing, alongside John Watterson’s celebration of the work of an earlier Yorkshire master wordsmith in Fake Thackray. Doors open at 8pm and entry will be £6, on the door only.
11.     CROCKERS IN THE CEMETERY. Bluegrass and early country music act The Crocker Brothers ( make a rare appearance in their home town of York on Saturday 16th July, along with Katherine Crocker, who will be singing favourites from her repertoire of haunting ballads and country/folk songs.  It all happens from 8pm at York Cemetery Chapel, with its great acoustics, and is a fundraiser for the chapel restoration fund. Tickets are £8 from the Cemetery Office on 01904 610578,
12.     FORESTERS CHARITY GARDEN CONCERT. A reminder about the charity garden concert hosted by Ian and Sue Pybus on Saturday 9th July as a fundraiser for the Rachel Orphanage in Burma, with special guests The Foresters. To check ticket availability (£7.50) ring York 400117 or contact See E-News 130 for more details.
13.     MOONBEAMS OVER THE WOLDS. Lastly, I gather that there are still some tickets available for the Moonbeams Wold Top Folk Festival on Friday and Saturday week, 8th & 9th July. This takes place at the Wold Top Brewery near Hunmanby with headline act this year being Oysterband. Also appearing are Richard Digance and a whole phalanx of great acts based in and around Yorkshire: the Hut People, Duncan McFarlane Band, Edwina Hayes, Holly Taymar, 4 Square et al. See for a full line-up and to book. A weekend ticket is £50. I’m going and I hope to see some of you there.