Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 139

4th December 2011


This is a final newsletter before Christmas, which I am putting together hastily tonight (Sunday) before I go into hospital on Tuesday for more surgery. This time I am having a hernia operation which should be less traumatic than my last two journeys under the knife, but even so I am unlikely to be at the club again before the holidays. In the meantime, Chris and Eddie will be running the show, ably assisted by Tracey, Stan and Phil. Please give them your support.
1.        DICK GAUGHAN LAST FEW TICKETS. As I write, there are just half a dozen tickets left for Dick’s extra show at the Black Swan on this coming Wednesday. Thursday night has been sold out for some time. Go to without delay!
2.        LOOKING FORWARD TO EMILY SMITH. There are still plenty of tickets available for Emily Smith and her band at the Early Music Centre on Monday week, 12th December. I see that Emily did not after all win the Live Act of the Year award at last night’s Scottish Trad Music Awards, but don’t let that put you off: even to reach the final shortlist was quite a heady achievement. In York, her accompanists will be her regular partner Jamie McClennan, from New Zealand, on fiddle, brilliant young Scottish guitarist Matheu Watson (previously seen at NCEM with Malinky) and highly-regarded double bassist James Lindsay.
Holly Taymar will be doing the support spot, accompanied as always by Christopher Bilton on guitar and cajon. Over the last few years, local lass Holly has built up quite a reputation nationwide with her distinctive voice and delicate finger-picked guitar, a repertoire of unpretentious but evocative songs and her naturally warm stage presence. Stan Graham does the introductions, and the show kicks off at 7.30. Tickets are £14 full or £12 concessions, at, on 01904 658338 and on the door.
Incidentally, a word of thanks is due to Stan for stepping in at short notice to do the support set at our last NCEM concert a week ago, after a family crisis caused Paula Ryan to drop out.
3.        AROUND THE MAGICAL TREE. This year’s Christmas Special at the Black Swan takes place around The Magical Christmas Tree on 15th December, courtesy of Maggie Boyle, Pete Morton and Chris Parkinson, three musicians well known to our club audience in other guises. 
“Not just any old Christmas tree, but a very magical one, it makes these three unsuspecting folk performers do things they wouldn’t do for the rest of the year. This December show is a festive treat, where the audience pick song scrolls from the tree and make every night a unique occasion. This is a high-flying combination; a singer/songwriter extraordinaire, a superb traditional singer and one of the folk scene’s most sought after instrumentalists. Together they deliver a richly textured collection of vibrant new songs, beautiful old carols and stunning instrumentals, plus all three voices in three-part harmony - and they have a great time doing it.”
As I write, there are only about 20 tickets left for this at WeGotTickets, so don’t leave it too long to book! Eddie Affleck and Sarah Dean share the MC duties for this one.
4.        ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY. We hold our customary Christmas Party at the Black Swan on 22nd December. This is structured along the same lines as a normal Singers Night, though many performers chose to do seasonal or humorous numbers. There is also a Grand Raffle (the only time in the year we run one of those) and a bring-and-share buffet supper. Bring along a modest dish, savoury or sweet, and share it with everyone else in the extended and very sociable half time interval.
5.        JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS. After a week off between Christmas and New Year, we reopen with the excellent Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston on 5th January. Singer and bass player Miranda was in York only last week with her mates Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, but as well as being the third member of Show of Hands, she has always had a parallel solo career, latterly teaming up with virtuoso mandolin player Rex Preston in a very promising new duo. This event is now booking at WeGotTickets.
After a Singers Night on 12th January, we continue with an eagerly awaited small venue show by one of the folk scene’s best young singers, Jackie Oates, accompanied by accordion player extraordinaire Karen Tweed. This event is on 19th January and as I write there are only 9 tickets left on sale at WeGotTickets!
Making a rare and very welcome solo appearance for us on 26th January is a mighty singer (“the best in England” says Eddi Reader) and consummate songwriter, Chris While. A former member of The Albion Band, Chris has been in the Folk Awards-winning duo with Julie Matthews since 1997. She also tours with her gifted daughter Kellie and sometimes takes the role of the late Sandy Denny on stage with Fairport Convention. Her songs have been covered by many other top performers. We are delighted she is coming to York, and we have now put tickets on sale at WeGotTickets, priced £10 full / £8 concessions.
Finally, on the afternoon of Sunday 29th January we will be repeating our York Residents Festival folk event, free to York Card holders. The line-up is virtually complete for this one, and will include The Foresters, Two (who by then will be performing under a new name), Stan, Chris, Phil and Paula from our club residents, and the new “occasional” duo of Affleck & Dean. Watch this space for more information.
6.        WE GOT TICKETS CHARITY APPEAL. The good folks at out online ticket agency are always keen to help good causes and they are currently lending their support to anti-poverty charity ActionAid (see
If you are purchasing tickets through them this month you will be asked to consider making a voluntary donation to an ActionAid project. On Christmas Day itself they will be donating 100% of booking fees to the charity. They say “if you're looking for an excuse to get away from your family, or are thinking of buying tickets around that time, do it on Christmas Day itself and you'll know that whatever booking fee you pay is going towards a great cause.”
My convalescence permitting, I’ll try to get a further clutch of club events live on WeGotTickets before Christmas Day, so you can buy your tickets that day and support us and ActionAid at the same time!
7.        2012 FOLK CONCERTS AT NCEM. As of Saturday 1st December, tickets went on sale at for all four of our Spring season concerts at the Early Music Centre. It’s a long way off, I know, but you may want to make note of the following: Kris Drever with Eamonn Coyne (Wednesday 7th March), The Jenna Reid Trio (Wednesday 11th April), The Hut People (Tuesday 24th April) and Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams (Wednesday 9th May). Also available now are tickets for The Martin Simpson Trio (Tuesday 14th February), though these are only being sold through the Jorvik Viking Festival Box Office at
8.        MORE GOOD NEWS FOR FAKE THACKRAY.  A while ago (E News 135) I reported that John Watterson, aka Fake Thackray, had been invited to be support act on the 2013 Fairport Convention Winter Tour. John has now been asked to appear at the band’s Cropredy Festival as well! The invitation came via Dave Pegg who along with P J Wright recently performed at one of John’s Poppleton Live events.
9.        OUR BEST WISHES TO DUNCAN McFARLANE. Sad news reaches me that Duncan McFarlane is not well and has had to cancel bookings for the rest of the year. Duncan was in the middle of a long stint as Vin Garbutt’s driver and support act on a UK tour when he was called into hospital for an operation he had been waiting for. Surgery didn’t go as well as planned and he’s been back into hospital twice more, I understand. Speaking as a patient myself, I wish him well for a full and speedy recovery.
10.     JOHN STOREY ONLINE. The Harrogate-based singer John Storey, a regular supporter of both the Black Swan Folk Club and the York Songwriters Circle, asks me to announce that he has new website up and running at You can hear all of the tracks from John’s two albums there, and preview a track from the third CD due in 2012.
11.     FORESTERS v UNION CENTRAL. This coming Saturday, 10th December, there is a choice between The Foresters’ annual Christmas Party at Haxby Memorial Hall, and Union Central back in action at The Black Swan Inn. The Foresters’ bash begins at 7.30pm and the message is bring your own drinks and supper and join in the fun. Tickets are £7.50 from Steve or Dee on York 490440. Meanwhile Union Central say they are getting back into the swing of things now that vocalist Kat has recovered from her short illness. “We are newly inspired after seeing Alison Krauss and Union Station on their recent tour, and we have several new songs in our repertoire, so we look forward to seeing many of you on the night.” Tickets can be reserved with Phil Quin on York 783029.
12.     LOS YOBOS BOW OUT. Americana and Western Swing favourites Los Yobos have announced their very final performance. It will be at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road on Friday 16th December, with tickets on the door. It’s the end of an era, folks.
13.     BLONDE ON CHRISTMAS.  There may be no folk club meeting between Christmas and New Year, but there will still be live music at the Black Swan Inn, courtesy of Blonde On Bob, who do their annual Xmas Bash at the pub on Wednesday 28th December. Doors open at 8pm and there will be “all the usual Dylan related seasonal fun” promises Chris Euesden. Advance tickets are £8 from WeGotTickets or it is £10 on the door. Enquiries can be directed to 01904 610899.
14.     SAVE BBC LOCAL RADIO. Our radio main man, Stan Graham, asks me to pass on a message about trying to save BBC local radio here in North Yorkshire and across the country. The BBC management’s proposed cuts make a disproportionate hit on local broadcasting. Amongst other things, they would bring to an end all specialist music broadcasting at evenings and weekends. Find out more, and how to make your response known, through the website from which I take the following statement. Note that the deadline for submissions is 21st December.
“BBC local radio is facing drastic cuts under the Delivering Quality First initiative. The cuts will mean the end of early afternoon local programmes. Specialist music shows in the evening will be swept aside for an ‘all England’ show. Stations will lose reporters and backup staff. When all hands to the mikes are needed in a crisis or emergency, there will be fewer hands and less local reporting. BBC local radio champions our communities, our sport and our music. It cares for us and helps us care for ourselves. When things go wrong in a crisis, it helps us cope, cry and recover. Local radio is also great fun! We have until 21 December to save our friend, BBC local radio. Please respond to the BBC Trust consultation and help save BBC local radio.”
That’s your lot. I’ll probably be back around the end of the month or very early in January.