Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 134

September 2011


1.        ALL ROADS LEAD TO PATRICK STREET. First, a final reminder about the Irish music event of the year in York, the visit of “supergroup” Patrick Street to the National Centre for Early Music 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 short UK tour. It is their first British trip for several years and ours is the only date in the entire Yorkshire / North East region, so this really is a rather special event. The support act is young local fiddle duo Grace Smith & Beth Chamberlain and Eddie Affleck will be Master of Ceremonies.
"Veterans of Planxty, the Bothy Band, De Dannan and more, Patrick Street represent the distillation of a crucial new strain that emerged in traditional Irish music some twenty-five years ago" is the quote from Tim O'Brien, while The Washington Post said: "With the possible exception of the Chieftains, there's no better Celtic music group in the world right now than Patrick Street!"
As I have said before, this is our most ambitious concert booking in ages and needs to have a commensurate ticket price (£18 full, £16 concessions) but we are sure they will be worth every penny. There are still tickets available at present, but to avoid disappointment book earlier rather than later at or on 01904 658338. It is possible there may be a few left on the night (doors 7pm, start 7.30pm) but we can’t guarantee it.
2.        CHURCHFITTERS PLAY IN THE CHURCH. A mere ten days after Patrick Street, on Monday 3rd October, we are back at the NCEM with The Churchfitters, a unique band performing most appropriately in a converted church! As we know from their two previous barnstorming full house gigs at the Black Swan Inn, this French-based but cosmopolitan team of flamboyant musicians can really wow British audiences. They present a fast-paced and infectiously enjoyable show full of fresh, original material as well as rearranged songs and tunes from the British Isles, uniting the rhythms of rock, pop and jazz with the universal appeal of traditional music. A large dose of humour, a measure of eccentricity and an abiding sense of fun complete the band's recipe for truly entertaining performances.
Rosie Short and her brother Chris Short are the English element in the band. Both of them are multi-instrumentalists (everything from fiddle to saxophone, ukulele to musical saw) while Rosie's superb voice has been described as "somewhere between husky blues and plaintive femme folk and all stages in between". She is the band’s main songwriter while Chris composes most of their instrumental numbers.
Belfast-born Topher Loudon lays down the driving guitar and bouzouki rhythms which are an essential component of the band's foot-tapping sound, as well as sharing lead vocals and songwriting duties, while Breton musician Boris Lebret completes the line-up on double bass and a bizarre collection of home-made but effective percussion instruments.
“The most musically inventive quartet that I have seen in decades” says Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention. “They received a standing ovation from the (Cropredy) festival. Go and see them and you will understand why”. "A great band ... very cool Celtic rock outfit ... very different" was the view of Phil Beer of Show of Hands.
Club resident Phil Cerny does the half hour support spot for this one, Chris Euesden acts as MC and tickets are now on sale priced at £12 full, £10 concessions, from the NCEM as above (or from ourselves at Thursday night club functions).
3.        TINKERSCUSS BUT NO JAKE WALTON. Turning to the regular Thursday night programme, our next guests (after a Singers Night this week) are West Country outfit Tinkerscuss on Thursday 22nd September. After our last leaflet was published back in May I learned that they were to be joined by the legendary hurdy-gurdy player and singer (and sometime Jez Lowe partner) Jake Walton. Sadly, that is no longer the case. I heard only last Friday that Jake has badly injured his hand in a domestic accident and has been advised not to play his instrument for a couple of months. We send him best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Thus we revert to the original all-female trio line-up, namely Bryony Holden on vocal and harp, her sister Erin Holden on guitar, mandola and cittern and Kathryn Wheeler on accordion and violin. They describe their music as Anglo-Celtic Folk while one critic writes about “an eclectic mix of self-penned and traditional songs that explore nature, mystery and humanity, ancient past and foggy future - fey folk with fire.” They are little seen here in the north but seem to have plenty of admirers and this show has already attracted quite a bit of attention. Sample them and their music at Tickets are a bargain at £6 full or £5 concessions through WeGotTickets or on the door.
4.        DARK HORSES: FLOSSIE PLUS KEITH EQUALS GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. Flossie Malavialle is a real livewire performer with a big, expressive voice, as we know from her previous visit to our club. Meanwhile Keith Donnelly is in the great tradition of folk singer-comedians, a marvellous draw at folk festivals, colleges and arts centres round the country. At first, they may not seem like an obvious pairing, hence the duo name Dark Horses, but in fact they fit together hand in glove. It transpires that Keith is an inspired songwriter of more “serious” songs as well as the funny stuff, and in Flossie he finds the perfect voice for his material. “Flossie’s amazing voice, singing Keith’s amazing songs, really does have to be heard to be believed”. Find out more on Keith’s website or on Flossie’s,
Flossie and Keith were chosen as support act on Fairport Convention’s winter tour in 2010, while this year they have been on an extensive Australian trip, as well as doing UK festivals. Now comes a folk club tour and although we are a relatively small venue we were able to secure a date, on Thursday 29th September and have already sold quite a few tickets. These are £10 full or £8 concessions, through as usual.
5.        TOM MCCONVILLE – ON THE FIDDLE AND ON SONG. When we collected our Folk Club of the Year BBC award in 2009 we were delighted to witness Tom McConville being named Folk Musician of the Year. Few prizes were better deserved! As a fiddle player and singer and as an inspiration and teacher to many younger musicians, Tom has been a stalwart of the folk scene for more than 30 years. His past appearances at the Black Swan are numerous – in the early days either solo or with Jon Strong, Kieran Halpin or Dab Hand, with youthful protégé Sean Lakeman in1994, in the later nineties and early noughties with Pauline Cato, most recently with another young guitar protégé David Newey, who joins him again on Thursday 6th October. This one is £8 full or £6.50 concessions, now booking.
6.        NEW LEAFLET & WEBSITE UPDATES. The club’s autumn and winter brochure has now been printed and is in distribution, both in York and further afield. Pick one up on your next visit to the Black Swan or NCEM. It details all club events through to mid January 2012. The last E- Newsletter listed all our shows for the rest of this year but the January guests have not been mentioned before. Very popular they are likely to be too.   Miranda Sykes (of Show of Hands fame) appears with her partner Rex Preston on 5th January and then on 19th January we have Jackie Oates accompanied by Karen Tweed.
All the information in the leaflet has been uploaded to the folk club website and booking is now open on the WeGotTickets site for Black Swan Inn guests, including such “early booking advisable” shows as the Clive Carroll Sunday Special, Dick Gaughan and Jackie Oates.
7.        SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS. Or should that be snakes and ladders? In the last newsletter I reported on a healthy financial situation during the first half of our financial year. In fact that rosy bottom line figure masked a worrying recent downturn in club attendances which has continued in the last few weeks. During the 4-month period February to May we did exceptionally well, with an average guest night audience of 42. That is 42 full paying customers, excluding floor performers, club helpers, artists’ guests and so on. Six nights were Full Houses. Between the beginning of June and last week average paying attendance has plummeted to 24 and we have not had a single completely full house.
Such fluctuations in our fortunes are something I have witnessed over and again in the many years I have been involved in running the club, yet each time we have a downturn I still get nervous. Hopefully, the quality of the music on offer this autumn will tempt you out in sufficient numbers to push us back up that ladder of success.
8.        TR? ENTER YOUNG FOLK WITH OUR HELP. Recent teenage club guests Trí have entered this year’s BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards (in which band member Niamh Boadle was a solo finalist a couple of years ago). To do so they wanted an up-to-date live recording of the band to set alongside their studio CD produced 18 months ago. Thus one of their parents recorded their recent Black Swan performance and they have successfully mixed several of the tracks and sent them off. “Thanks for letting us do that”, they say, although “we do have that annoying motorbike in the background”. They were lucky - it could have been that police bell or ambulance siren!
9.        TIM ON THE PROM. Local songwriter and regular club floor performer Tim Pheby tells me he has had some summer gigs at The Spa at Bridlington, playing guitar in the newly refurbished Spa Gardens , along the Promenade and in the Café, with the final dates being next weekend, 15th and 16th September, from 2pm to 5pm.
10.     MISSING – ONE MUSIC STAND. The club music stand has gone AWOL! A new one bought only this spring, it was last seen about a month ago. If anyone knows where it went, could they please say? And if anyone has an unused and unwanted stand they could donate it its place, we’d be most grateful!
11.     CLEMENTS HALL FOLK CONCERT. There’s a folk event on Saturday 24th September at a relatively new local venue, the refurbished Clements Hall community centre on Nunthorpe Road (YO23 1BW). Artists appearing are Lynn Geddes from Ripon, local duo Pillowfish and a band not previously known to me, Reason Breeds Monsters. Tickets £5 (£4 concessions) on the door from 7.30pm. Enquiries to York 466086 or
12.     DAVID & PHIL FOR CHARITY. There’s a fundraising event for York Against Cancer on Friday 30th September at Copmanthorpe Recreation Centre. -Singer-songwriters Phil Pipe and David Swann offer an evening of musical entertainment. The concert starts at 8.00pm and tickets are £8, including some refreshments. Further details can be obtained via Phil’s website,
13.     MILES IN THE BASEMENT. Local singer and writer Miles Cain launches his first book of poetry, The Border, at the City Screen Basement Bar on Saturday 1st October. Miles will be reading some of his poems and singing some of his songs, and there will also be a set from Sharon Winfield & Helen Turner, otherwise known as TWO. Tickets are £7, to include a copy of the book, from the City Screen Box Office on 0871 902 5726.
14.     THE GALTRES CENTRE IN EASINGWOLD asks me to say that they have cross-genre guitar ace John Etheridge on Saturday 24th September. This volunteer-run community venue puts on occasional musical events, e.g. Julie Felix earlier this year, shortly after she sang for us at the Black Swan. Follow the links at
15.     SELBY TOWN HALL ARTS CENTRE has quite a few folk, roots and acoustic artists this new season including a solo show by guitar ace Chris Newman (Friday 30th September), Heidi Talbot with John McCusker and Boo Hewerdine (Saturday 8th October), The Hot Club of Cowtown ( Saturday 19th November), Lau (Sunday 11th December) and Vin Garbutt (Saturday 17th December). See
16.     OTLEY COURTHOUSE ARTS CENTRE also has a fair measure of folk programming, including a further show by Chris Newman (Saturday 1st October), Zimbabwe’s Black Umfolosi 5 (Saturday 15th October) and accordion / harmonica duo Tim Edey & Brendan Power (Sunday 20th November). On Saturday 17th December there is a special 20th Anniversary Concert for local heroes The Hall Brothers. In their early days, when Duncan was a student at York University, they were often to be seen at the Black Swan, as I recall. The website is
17.     REETH MEMORIAL HALL in beautiful Swaledale continues its regular series of folk events with Alan Reid & Rob Van Sante on Saturday 24th September and a double-header of BarronBrady and Ken Nicol on Friday 14th October. See
18.     OTHER FOLK CLUBS. In a future issue of this newsletter I’ll try to say something about some of the other folk clubs in our region. Meanwhile, here is news from two of them. Moonbeams Acoustic present Lau at the Bell Hotel in Driffield on Friday 30th September, with support from David Ward Maclean, (, and The Processed Pea at The Light Dragoon in Etton have the delightful young duo Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts on Tuesday 4th October.