Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 135

October 2011


1.        CLIVE CARROLL GUITAR SPECIAL.  After our regular Singers Night this Thursday, 13th, we have a special extra event on Sunday night, 16th October, at the Black Swan Inn, namely virtuoso acoustic guitarist Clive Carroll.

Clive is an outstanding and captivating fingerstyle performer who has been described by Acoustic Guitar Magazine in America as “probably the best and most original young player and composer in Britain”, with “total mastery of just about every guitar technique imaginable”.  He has an exceptional understanding of the acoustic guitar repertoire, with influences ranging from Django Reinhardt to Chet Atkins, the delta Blues greats to John Renbourn.  Find out more at and read there about his main instrument, which is a Ralph Bown OM guitar built right here in York.  What is more, I understand that our master luthier is currently working on another instrument for Clive.

Being a Sunday, this show runs slightly earlier than our usual: doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.  As Clive mostly performs seated, we are planning to borrow some staging for the evening, giving audience members a better view of his hand work.  Tickets are £9 full or £7 concessions and will be on sale on the door or can be pre-booked at

This special event is our contribution to the York Guitar Weekend which has been put together by MOR Music.  For a summary of other events, see the Guitar Weekend page at or find them on Facebook.

2.        FOLLOWING THE PILGRIMS’ WAY.  We switch to an English folk sound on Thursday 20th October.  Pilgrims’ Way are a young trio who describe themselves as “refreshingly different yet reassuringly traditional”.  I’ve just heard their debut CD and very fine it is: gimmick-free but thoughtful and inspiring versions of English traditional songs plus a few tunes sets.  No wonder it has been picking up enthusiastic reviews and national radio airplay.

Fronting the band and doing most of the vocals is Lucy Wright, who some of you may remember from her confident duo spots with Paul Young at the club when they were both York University undergraduates a few years ago.  After keeping a low musical profile while studying for a PhD in Manchester, she now resurfaces as a most promising singer, described by Maggie Boyle no less as “an exceptional song carrier”.  Tom Kitching, who has been touring folk venues for several years in a duo with Gren Bartley, plays fiddle and mandolin, Edwin Beasant contributes melodeon and guitar and Lucy adds her jews harp playing and occasional fiddling to the instrumental mix.  Find out more at

“Pilgrims' Way are the real deal.  I am genuinely impressed by their understanding and feel for the music - a young band I expect to hear great things from in the future.” - Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2.

Tickets are £7 (£6 concessions) on the door or beforehand through

3.        A BELATED WELCOME BACK FOR WIZZ.  Last December’s bad weather scuppered a booking at the club by one of our favourite players, Wizz Jones.  The rescheduled visit takes place on 27th October, with tickets priced at £9 full or £7 concessions, as always on the door (subject to availability) or in advance at WeGotTickets.

This pioneer of the British acoustic guitar scene may be pushing 70 but happily he shows no sign of retiring yet!  A musicians’ musician, Wizz is also a fine singer and a delightfully modest performer with a wide repertoire of modern songs, blues and original numbers.  We’ve enjoyed his playing many times over the decades and always look forward to his return visits.  If you’ve not heard him before, do come along – you will not be disappointed!  There is an informative website at where you can listen to several sample tracks.

We also have two guest floor spot performers for this one.  Bryony Holden, the singer with last month’s very enjoyable guests Tinkerscuss, is back in the area visiting relatives and will do a couple of songs, as will West Yorkshire-based blues player Dave Speight, a long-standing fan of Wizz’s music.

4.        SPOTLIGHT ON YOUNG PERFORMERS.  We present another Young Performer Showcase event on Thursday 3rd November, again offering two winning acts from the previous spring’s New Roots event. 

Chase are a five piece student band based in Newcastle with English, Scottish and Irish members and a suitably diverse repertoire of British and Irish traditional music and original pieces.  The instrumental line-up includes accordion, bouzouki, guitar, pipes and fiddles.  They have been together barely a year but show great promise.  There is no website as yet but you can see a 4-member version of band in action on YouTube at

Newly graduated from Newcastle is singer/guitarist Chris Ricketts.  He is about to release his first solo CD (the launch gig is two days before his visit to York) and a preview track played recently on Radio 2 by Mike Harding generated a lot of interest.  He is a very fine guitarist (reminding one critic of both Martin Simpson and Steve Tilston) but also a keen and highly capable singer with a particular enthusiasm for shanties and songs of the sea.  He was a Radio 2 Young Folk Awards finalist in 2009.  Find him at

“Youth is not wasted on the young when it comes to Chris Ricketts.  He has a heart the size of a concert hall, a generous spirit to match and a drive and determination that wills him to win.  Which he will.” – John Tams

This one is just £6 (or £5 concessions) and since the youngsters receive a straight 50% of the takings each, we really do need a good crowd in.  They certainly merit your attention, so come along if you possibly can.

5.        WORKING WITH OTHERS: GUITARS, CANDLES & MOONLIGHT.  I have always believed in folk music as a valid mainstream art form, not something esoteric or amateur which can be sidelined and ignored.  To that end, I seize any opportunity to link the folk club with bigger arts and cultural events.  In recent years that has included our fruitful collaboration with the National Centre for Early Music and our participation in events such as Residents First, the Jorvik Viking Festival and the Leeds Irish Gathering.

We contribute to three wider arts events this month.  As mentioned above, we are promoting Clive Carroll for the York Guitar Weekend.  We have also linked up with Illuminating York, which takes place from 26th to 29th October, and our Wizz Jones night is an official part of their Supporting Programme, where it promises “a candlelit performance in the atmospheric oak-panelled Folk Club”.  So yes, we’ll have the tea lights lit for that one and be using our new stage lighting to full effect.  See for the full programme.

We are also taking part in the LunaMatik Arts & Music Festival.  This happens across Yorkshire and East Lancashire between 25th October and 13th November.  The organisers write: “LunaMatik is a not-for-profit multi-genre, multi-venue, multicultural catch-all, fun-packed yet mystical seasonal festival showcasing a vast array of independent arts, music, and culture.  Featuring "everything under the moon" from spooky Halloween ghost hunts to gigs, raves, gallery exhibitions and craft workshops, LunaMatik unites all strands of creativity from across Northern England, and appeals to all ages, communities and subcultures”.  Black Swan shows by Wizz Jones, Young Performers and Kristina Olsen (10th November) all feature in the LunaMatik programme.

6.        SNAKES AND LADDERS, CONTINUED.  In the last E-News I commented on a worrying recent downturn in our fortunes.  That trend for lots of snakes and few ladders has continued, with the total loss on our last three events (Dark Horses, Churchfitters, Tom McConville) coming to £500.  We are rapidly wiping out the financial gains made earlier in the year and will soon be back to where we started from at the beginning of this accounting period.  Can you tell us why you are not coming out as often as you used to?  Are the artists not the right ones, or are you simply having to watch the pennies more closely?

7.        MUSIC STAND RECOVERED.  Happily our music stand has been recovered (E News 134), likewise our big guitar stand which had also gone missing.  Panic over!



8.        CONGRATULATIONS JOHN WATTERSON.  There was amazingly good news recently for Fake Thackray, aka John Watterson of Upper Poppleton.  He has been invited to be the opening act on Fairport Convention’s 6-week Winter Tour in early 2013.  This is a high-prestige slot which has boosted the careers of many other folk/acoustic acts over the years.  John says he is “delighted, dumbstruck and dead proud”.  He recently released his first CD of Jake Thackray covers and has just launched a new website at  John also runs occasional Poppleton Live events in his home village, the next of which is on Saturday 17th November and coincidentally features Dave Pegg (of Fairport) and P J Wright, touring as Peggy and P J.  Find out more via the website.

9.        RED COW NEEDS SQUEEZEBOXES.  Red Cow Music at 13 Goodramgate in York tell that they are experiencing huge demand for accordions, melodeons and concertinas, and so they are in the market for second-hand instruments.  If you have an unwanted squeezebox , why not call in on Steve and Miles at the shop and see if they can sell it for you.  The website for this steadily expanding business is

10.     BLACKBEARDS MAKE THE NEWS.  There is lots happening on the Blackbeard’s Tea Party front.  Firstly, they made the local news last month when a passerby attempted to steal their cash collection while busking outside All Saints’ Church.  Several band members gave chase, cornered the miscreant in Marks & Spencer and with the aid of store security held him until the police arrived.  Read more on the Press website

Secondly, BBTP band member Tim Yates has been invited to join the new line-up of The Albion Band, where he takes over the bass guitar slot from Albions founder, the legendary Ashley Hutchings.  Other members include Ashley’s son Blair Dunlop, Sheffield singer Gavin Davenport, drummer Tom Wright and one of our favourite fiddle players, Katriona Gilmore.  A debut tour is planned for 2012.

Thirdly, congratulations to Blackbeards members Laura Barber and Dave Boston who have just announced their engagement.  Also, and along with Pip Jopling (who was in OK Brandy with Laura when both were York Uni students) they are working on a new musical trio.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party continues alongside these side projects.  A new CD is in the works, and their next local gig is in full electric mode at The Duchess on Saturday 22nd October.

11.     FROM SUNDAY SLIP TO MONDAY STARRE.  Blackbeard’s lead singer Paul Young has been running an informal acapella singing session in York for some time.  He tells me that as of last month it has moved from Sunday nights at The Slip Inn to Monday nights at Ye Olde Starre on Stonegate.  All welcome, but no instruments please, just the human voice!

12.     HELP FOR THE BEREAVED FROM TONY.  The ever active Tony Morris asks me to tell you the following:  “I have just created a new website designed for the bereaved and grieving, where they can go to sit and contemplate and meditate, if they wish, without pages of helpful (?) advice. It contains a gentle slide show of scenery and flowers, poems to read, poems with music to listen to and guided meditations.  Please pass this information on to anyone you think might find it helpful.”  The site is at

Tony has also been prominent lately in the campaign to get repair works done on the sadly decaying piers in his adopted home town of Whitby, and he was spotted recently on regional TV news passing comment.

13.     WEE FOLK EXPANDING.  The folk club for parents with young children, Wee Folk, continues to meet once a month on third Sunday afternoons at the Black Swan Inn.  The next “relaxed afternoon of folk singing, beer, chips and happy kids” is on 16th October, 3pm-5pm, so just before our Clive Carroll evening concert.  In addition, there is now a Wee Folk musical group for Under-5s every Monday morning in term time, 10.30am at the Friends Meeting House on Friargate, promising “fun folk songs, games, stories, puppets and more”.  Find out more from Alison on 07826 925948,

14.     DANCE FOR WATER AID.  There are charity folk dances across the country this coming weekend as part of the Big National Ceilidh to raise funds for Water Aid.  York’s event is on Saturday 15th October, 8pm to 11pm, at the English Martyrs’ Hall on Dalton Terrace.  Organised by the York Ceilidh Club (, this has the band Well, Well, Well and caller Ros Batchelor.  Tickets are £7 (children £5) and advance booking is recommended – from Alan & Ruth on York 424889.

15.     ALL STAR FUNDRAISER FOR THE LIT FEST.  Here is advance warning of an all star extended fundraiser coming up on Saturday 26th November at the Black Swan.  It is to raise cash for the York Literature Festival 2012.  As you may recall, this year’s festival had to be scrapped because of funding problems (although our own contribution, the Brian Peters Child Ballads show, did go ahead very successfully).  There will be live music, poetry and storytelling from 4pm until late, with entry just £6 and free chips to keep you physically as well as culturally nourished!  Those taking part include Holly Taymar, Two, Sixpenny Wayke, Rob Nightingale, Allan & Liam Wilkinson, Root 64, David Swann and Kathy Crocker.  To find out more, or offer your services, contact Miles Cain,

16.     THE FORESTERS’ CHRISTMAS PARTY.  Here is another advance notice.  The Foresters (who celebrated their 40th anniversary as a band this year), are hold their Christmas Party Concert at Haxby Memorial Hall on Saturday 10th December at 7.30pm.  Dee and Steve Marshall, Mike Brown, Fred Ring, Brian Oxberry and newest member Jo Wheldon invite you to join them.  “This is a party night” they say, “so bring your own drinks and supper and join in the fun.”  Tickets are £7.50  from Steve or Dee on 01904 490440.



As venues across the city get into full autumn swing, there is lots of great music in prospect.  This is very much a good thing, in my opinion, although I do wish that some promoters would be a bit more careful to avoid clashes.  The local folk music audience is not so great that it can easily sustain two or three big events on the same day.

17.     MUSIC IN THE BASEMENT.  Future City Screen Basement acts which may be of interest include a recent guest of our own, Serious Sam Barrett (Tuesday 11th October, with assorted other musicians), guitar virtuosi Eric Mongrain (Wednesday 19th October) and Jon Gomm (Friday 21st October), Scottish singer Jackie Leven (Monday 24th October), American old-time legend (and another former folk club guest) Bruce Molsky (Tuesday 15th November) and former Devil’s Interval singer Emily Portman, with TWO doing support (Wednesday 23rd November).  The website is

18.     LOTS ON AT THE OPERA HOUSE.  There are several more events lined up for the Grand Opera House this autumn which may be of interest, notably Ralph McTell (Monday 24th October), Tom Paxton (Monday 7th November) and Mike Harding (Saturday 26th November).  There is also The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (this coming Tuesday & Wednesday, 11th & 12th) and alt-country star Steve Earle with his full band The Dukes (Saturday 29th October).  Find out more at  The Box Office is on 0844 871 3024.

19.     DOING THE DUCHESS.  Rock venue The Duchess on Stonebow in York also programmes a number of folk acts, though very annoyingly these sometimes clash with our own activities.  Our pleas to avoid this have so far fallen on deaf ears and in a few cases we have taken matters up direct with the artists involved or their agents.  Anyway, events this autumn which are not a direct clash with Black Swan productions include the aforementioned Blackbeard’s Tea Party (Saturday 22nd October), The Strawbs in full electric band mode (Wednesday 2nd November) and Karine Polwart, with TWO doing another support set (Wednesday 16th November).  A show by the Demon Barbers on 4th November has been cancelled for some reason, while a date for Nancy Kerr & James Fagan early next year has now mysteriously disappeared from the advance listings at

20.     THE BARBICAN IN 2012.  Since reopening last summer, York’s Barbican Centre has not programmed much in our field of music, with the notable exception of Kate Rusby, who clashed with our Patrick Street show at NCEM last month.  We had a Full House, the Barbican did not!  They have however announced two very attractive events for next year: Nanci Griffith on 23rd March and The Chieftains on 12th June.



There is lots more I could mention and this newsletter is getting very long, so with apologies to anyone omitted, here is news from just a selection of regional venues.

21.     MUSIC AT GREEN HAMMERTON.  The Village Hall at Green Hammerton on the A59 becomes the latest rural outpost to offer occasional folk music concerts, courtesy of village resident Kate Bramley.  The first event is on Sunday 6th November at 7.30pm with the mighty Canadian singer/songwriter James Keelaghan.  Tickets are £8.50 (children £5) from Kate on 01423 339168.

22.     POCKLINGTON ARTS CENTRE has fewer folk-related acts than usual this season, and some of those clashing with our own events, so I’ll mention only the great Irish singer Mary Coughlan on Tuesday 8th November (and in fairness I should say that Mary is also at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough on Saturday 29th October,

What are worth noting at Pocklington are two weekend events: the annual Acoustic Blues Weekend (18th – 20th November) and the Pocktoberfest Music & Beer Festival (29th & 30th October).  The latter takes place at The Old Railway Station, rather than the main Arts Centre, and has a very strong musical line-up on Sunday 30th, including Billy Bragg, Thea Gilmore, Hayseed Dixie, Ahab, 3 Daft Monkeys and latest addition Seth Lakeman.  All this for £39.50, from the Box Office on 01759 301457.  .  See and

23.     GOOLE’S NEW(ISH) ARTS VENUE THE JUNCTION has the likewise new(ish) combination of Steve Tilston & The Durbervilles on Saturday 15th October.  See

24.     LEEDS CITY VARIETIES reopened last month after a very lengthy period of refurbishment.  There is some high quality folk-related programming, including Ralph McTell (Tuesday 18th October), Roger McGuinn (Tuesday 1st November), Eddie Reader (Monday 7th November), Janis Ian (Monday 14th November), Mike Harding (Wednesday 16th November), a final tour gig by Adrian Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds (Friday 18th November) and the divine pairing of June Tabor & Oysterband (Monday 21st November).  See

Phew, what a big one!  Expect somewhat less of the same in another month or so.