Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 140

January 2012


Welcome to my first Newsletter of 2012. It has been longer than intended since the last one, mainly because my surgery last month was not quite as straightforward as I had expected. I was very weak when I got home from hospital, and it is only now that I am getting back to something like my usual energy levels.
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1.        TWO BUSY MONTHS. December and January were very successful months at the Black Swan. Because I was in hospital, I missed Dick Gaughan’s two sold out shows but I gather that he gave typically powerful performances, despite a head cold. The Magical Christmas Tree evening with Maggie Boyle, Pete Morton and Chris Parkinson was also a full house, and very enjoyable I am told. Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston started the new year for us with a most impressive show, also a full house, and I am still on a musical high from last Thursday’s sold out appearance by Jackie Oates and Karen Tweed. Great stuff!
The Folk Club’s financial year ends on 31st January, and it looks as though these recent successes, added to the surplus made in the first four months of last year, will have more or less cancelled out the heavy losses made between June and November. Hopefully I can confirm that in the next Newsletter, before which I will have done our annual accounts.
2.        LOTS MORE GREAT MUSIC TO COME. A new club brochure was printed early in January and is now in circulation, covering all our activities from this coming Thursday, Chris While, through to mid May. The full details have also been uploaded to the club website, and tickets for all Thursday night guests are now available at If you want to pick up the paper brochure, it is available at the Black Swan Inn and at other city centre outlets such as the Central Library, City Screen and Red Cow Music, and at a variety of music venues and specialist music retailers around the wider region.
Incidentally, if you can suggest somewhere which would be prepared to take a few of our brochures and/or one of our posters (either monthly summaries, or for specific events), please let me know. We have lost a lot of outlets for hard copy publicity in recent years, and some new ones would be appreciated.
3.        CHRIS WHILE – SOLO AND SO GOOD. This coming Thursday (26th) we have another real treat lined-up for you, a rare solo show by one of England’s very best songwriters and female singers, Chris While. For the last 15 years Chris has been in a Folk Awards-winning and worldwide-touring duo with Julie Matthews. She also tours annually with her daughter Kellie, an equally talented singer, and with the St Agnes Fountain Christmas show. Chris was a member of The Albion Band for four years in the 1990s, and has also sung with Fairport Convention on several occasions, taking the Sandy Denny vocal role.
Local music journalist Oz Hardwick reviewed Chris’ last solo CD in the late lamented Talk magazine as follows: “Impossible to pigeon-hole, with more than a dash of jazz and less folk than some may expect, along with a good sprinkling of Americana, this is proper singer/songwriter stuff – no whiney substitute therapy, just thoughtful, articulate lyrics embroidered with perfectly considered arrangements. As with all good songwriters, even the openly personal carries an emotional universality, and there is an intimacy in performance which gently draws the listener to the heart of the songs. One for lovers of warm, intelligent songs for grown-ups. Chris While is certainly a class act.”
My researches in our club’s distant history (see item 8 below) tell me that Chris While last sang here more than 25 years ago, in July 1986, also solo, so calling this an “eagerly awaited return visit” would be an absurd understatement! As I write, there are only about 20 tickets left at WeGotTickets, so don’t bank on tickets still being available on the door. Chris Euesden, an old friend of hers and her music publisher and record label manager, will be acting as MC.
4.        JOIN US FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOON FOLK. For the fourth successive year, we have organised an afternoon concert as part of the York Residents Festival. It is next Sunday afternoon, 29th January, at the Black Swan Inn, and runs from 2pm until 6pm. Eight York-based artists are featured, each with a 30 minute spot. In order of appearance we have The Foresters, Paula Ryan, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Stan Graham, Union Jill, Chris Euesden, Sarah Dean & Eddie Affleck, and Phil Cerny. It is particularly good to see Two Black Sheep singing again, after Pete Outhart’s recent health worries. Union Jill is the new name for Two, alias Helen Turner and Sharon Winfield.
Chris and Eddie will be handling the PA and Stan and Phil will be sharing MC duties. The afternoon is FREE to York Card holders or £3 full, £2 concessions to others, and on past form a Full House is likely for much of the afternoon.
5.        SONGWRITER DOUBLE BILL. Our songwriter theme resumes on Thursday 2nd February, when we present a Double Bill of artists from Lancashire. Ian Bailey is the older musician, releasing his third album of fine folk/pop compositions in 2010, Tower Songs. Read a review at, and sample some of the tracks at Wilde is building his reputation as a strong young writer and performer, soon to record his second CD with a top Irish producer. I first saw him play at Moonbeams Wold Top Festival last summer and was duly impressed. You can find both video and audio samples at Both artists came early to the attention of our own Chris Euesden and he signed Ian Bailey to his Circuit Music publishing business. Both artists had songs on last year’s Dylan tribute disc Younger Than That Now. Naturally enough, Chris will be MC for this one. To give each singer a 50+ minutes set, there will be no other floor singers but the MC. Tickets are £7 (£6 concessions) and should be available on the door as well as in advance.
6.        SOLOISTS & DUOS, CONTEMPORARY AND TRADITIONAL. The club programme continues with a mix of first rate solo and duo guest acts, some offering entirely self-penned material, others a more traditional or mixed musical fare. Soloists include Gloria Jeffries (16th February), a frequent past guest in another guise, and the ever popular Kieran Halpin (1st March). Expect a guitar master class from Duck Baker (22nd March) and book early for a return visit by the mighty Andy Irvine (3rd May).
Our songwriter duos are Patsy Matheson & Becky Mills (23rd February) and Belinda O’Hooley & Heidi Tidow (15th March), while mainstream folk music is most ably served by Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer (29th March), Dan Walsh & Will Pound (5th April), Scottish youngsters Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller (19th April) and old favourites Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley (17th May).
Incidentally, I apologise to both Heidi and Vicki for getting their names wrong in the new club brochure.
7.        LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD. Each year we seem to find ourselves booking club guests further and further ahead, and I now find that with the exception of three or four dates the Thursday night club diary is full for 2013. I have posted all confirmed bookings on our club website. Summer highlights include a Woody Guthrie Centenary night with Will Kaufman (21st June), a Farewell Tour visit by Harvey Andrews (28th June) and overdue return visits by Debby McClatchy (12th July) and Allan Taylor (26th July). Autumn visitors include Dana & Susan Robinson (20th September), Nancy Kerr & James Fagan (4th October), Grace Notes (11th October) and Clive Gregson (1st November). If we follow the usual pattern, WeGotTickets booking will probably open for summer events in late April and for autumn events sometime in August. Let me know if you would like an earlier chance to book for your personal favourites.
8.        OUR BACK PAGES. One of the jobs I did during my convalescence was to transfer historic club records to the club computer. Electronic files started in 2001 but I held paper records back to 1979. All are now in one spreadsheet database, revealing some fascinating trivia.
·        Between the earliest record (27th September 1979) and last week’s meeting, there have been 1772 club events, comprising 1170 club guest nights, 458 singers nights, 118 concerts, 9 folk days and weekends and 17 miscellaneous others.
·        Of those 1772 events, 1650 were held at the Black Swan, 81 at the NCEM, 28 at the Winning Post, 10 at the old Arts Centre and 3 elsewhere.
·        MCs are recorded from August 1986. Since then, Eddie Affleck has hosted 312 events, Stan Graham 230, Phil Cerny 198 and Tony Morris 118. Chris Euesden has been MC 97 times, past residents Adrian Spendlow and John Whittle did 68 each, David Kidman stands on 52 and John Cherry on 48.
·        Fees paid to artists are recorded from the outset, with some early gaps, and amount to just over £250,000 in total. That’s a tidy sum!
·        Paying attendance figures are recorded from November 1983, with some early gaps, and total almost 60,000 of you.
My next project is to create an A/Z index of all past guest artists. Meanwhile, if anyone out there has information relating to the early days of the club, before September 1979, I’d love to have it. We can’t even say when the present club was first opened, except that it was sometime in the 1970s. There are no surviving records and it seems that all our early organisers left the York area long ago.
9.        CITY OF YORK FOLK WEEKEND NUMBER 10.  We are beginning to actively plan this year’s Folk Weekend, which will be our tenth one. As soon as it is confirmed that we again have the requisite PA for the Marquee stage, I will be circulating potential performers, several of whom have already been in touch. Please remember that this year’s dates are 8th, 9th & 10th June. That is a week later than last year, in order to avoid the Diamond Jubilee extended Bank Holiday at the start of June. Watch this space for more news.
10.     MARTIN SIMPSON ENTERTAINS THE VIKINGS. The new Early Music Centre brochure has now been published, with Jenna Reid on the front cover. The first folk concert of the year is on 14th February and features The Martin Simpson Trio. This forms part of the annual Jorvik Viking Festival and has been booked by the JVF in consultation with us at the folk club. After a couple of less than ideal shows at a local rock venue, Martin was very keen to return to the lovely setting of the NCEM, and this time brings with him his regular trio of Andy Cutting on melodeon and Andy Seward on bass. This show comes less than a week after the BBC Folk Awards, and I’d be surprised if Martin wasn't celebrating the acquisition of yet another trophy to add to his overburdened mantelpiece. He is without a doubt one of our finest English folk singers and guitarists, and this concert is a must.
To match the Viking Festival theme, support comes from Enkelit, a small acapella vocal group based in the North of England who sing “contemporary vocal music primarily from Finland, strongly influenced by folk traditions and characterised by beauty and melancholy”. Find out more about them at
Tickets are £16 (£14 concessions) and can be bought from the Jorvik Viking Centre, 01904 615505,, or (added since our brochure went to press) from the NCEM Box Office, 01904 658338,
11.     FOUR DUOS AND ONE TRIO. Future folk concerts at the NCEM mirror our club diary with a preponderance of duos. Kris Drever (of Lau fame) joins forces with the Salsa Celtica banjo player Eamonn Coyne on 7th March, The Hut People on 24th April are the unlikely but entertaining combination of Sam Pirt’s accordion and Gary Hammond’s percussion, and State Of The Union on 9th May unites two of our best 2011 club guests in an exciting new duo, Brooks Williams and Boo Hewerdine. There is also a return appearance (booked by the NCEM themselves, not by the Folk Club) for Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham on 26th March. The one trio is fronted by NCEM cover star Jenna Reid, on 11th April, when she will be joined by her sister Bethany and Kevin Mackenzie. All these events are now booking at or on 01904 658338.
Looking ahead, we have a firm booking for Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick on 25th September and hope to arrange three or four more autumn concerts.
Here is a quick run-down of some other local events which might be of interest
12.     Local blues troubadour Mark Wynn, who jammed with Wizz Jones at the club recently, headlines a free-entry night at the Fulford Arms next Friday, 27th. The same venue has a paid show with Dave Swarbrick on 3rd February. Check with the pub to see if there are any tickets left. See
13.     There is a York Festival of Storytelling at the Friends Meeting House on 3rd and 4th February, including a Friday afternoon musical stories session for young children with Wee Folk. Pick up a leaflet in town or visit
14.     The Basement Band are in action on Saturday 4th February at The Volunteer Arms on Watson Street, YO24 4BH, from 8pm.
15.     Seth Lakeman appears at Fibbers on Friday 24th February in a programme otherwise almost devoid of folk/roots music. See
16.     Under the name Encore!, Maggi Stratford & Daniel Bowater present “a soirée of fabulous French music from Piaf to Brel and beyond” at the Black Swan on Sunday 26th February, from 8.30. “This repertoire lends itself perfectly to the intimacy of the Black Swan”, they say. Entry will be £6. Details from
17.     York Literature Festival has announced its programme for 29th March to 1st April. Of most interest to folk enthusiasts will be a chance to see Tony Benn & Roy Bailey present their show The Writing on The Wall, a history of dissent in words and music. It is a teatime show (5pm) on Saturday 31st March at York St John University, costing £18.50. For full details, go to
And an equally quick summary of a few events in the wider region
18.     Sadly, Burneston Folk Club in North Yorkshire is to close after twelve years. In its day it had a formidable reputation as a lively singers and musicians club, but thanks to a variety of factors support has tailed away recently. The last session will be this Wednesday, 25th January. “Thanks for the many fantastic memories” say Glyn & Joolz Cavell.
19.     The Tannahill Weavers are in concert at Helmsley Arts Centre next Sunday, 29th January, at 7.30pm. See for details. This is Helmsley’s only folk concert this season, so give it your support if you can.
20.     Saltaire Live welcome back Dervish to the Victoria Hall on Sunday 12th February. They also present world music group The Magic Tombolinos at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on Wednesday 1st February and co-promote Catriona McKay & Chris Stout at Otley Courthouse on Sunday 26th February. See
21.     Folk concerts resume at Reeth Memorial Hall on Friday 17th February with Anna Massie & Mairearad Green, followed by Other Roads on 16th March. See
22.     Dave Swarbrick’s solo tour also takes in the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough on Saturday 18th February. Jim Moray is there solo on Saturday 24th March. Both events are promoted by Kula, see
23.     Gallery Acoustic at Wolds Village, Bainton, is a monthly open music night which goes from strength to strength. The next gathering is on Saturday 18th February.   Entrance is £2 and all singers, musicians and audience are welcome. There is an all day restaurant available. See
24.     The Yorkshire Cajun Club are organising their first ever Cajun & Zydeco Festival. It will be held over the weekend of 9th-11th March in the Milton Rooms at Malton. Find out more at
25.     Initial details have also been announced of the Malton & Norton Folk Festival 2012, which will be on 20th and 21st April. The headline concert act is Roy Bailey and also appearing are York area favourites Two Black Sheep & A Stallion and King Courgette. There will be sessions, singarounds, Morris dancing and more. See
That’s plenty to be going on with. I’ll probably be back around the middle of February.