19th February 2012
CLUB NIGHTS & CONCERTS
1. KRIS DREVER & EAMONN COYNE IN CONCERT. There are just over two weeks to go before our next concert at the National Centre for Early Music. On Wednesday 7th March we present the phenomenal young singer and guitarist Kris Drever, joined by banjo player Eamonn Coyne.
Kris Drever is a hugely talented musician from Orkney (son of Ivan Drever of Wolfstone fame) who has toured and recorded with top artists such as Eddi Reader, Heidi Talbot, Tim O’Brien and Julie Fowlis. He first came to our attention around 10 years ago with Kate Rusby’s concert band, then he paid a memorable visit to the Black Swan in 2005 with the group Fine Friday.
Kris’s debut solo album Black Water won him the Horizon Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2007, after which he formed the exciting group Lau with Aidan O’Rourke and Martin Green, winning the Folk Awards Best Group trophy in both 2008 and 2009. The keenly anticipated second solo album, Mark the Hard Earth, followed in Spring 2010, receiving widespread acclaim and healthy sales. He continues to tour with Lau, and also with John McCusker and Roddy Woomble.
Not only a gifted guitarist and a distinctive, soulful vocalist, Kris is also a noteworthy composer of both songs and tunes, and a fine interpreter of traditional folk songs. Several of his originals, such as Steel and Stone, have been covered by other artists.
In 2007 Kris made an album with another fine musician, Eamonn Coyne, best known as the banjo player with Scottish folk fusion outfit Salsa Celtica. Born in Dublin but long based in Edinburgh, Eamonn has also worked with artists such as Sharon Shannon, The Wrigley Sisters and Béla Fleck. For this new tour, he and Kris perform material from that duo album, plus some of Kris’s extensive song repertoire.
Paula Ryan takes the support spot and the show begins at 7.30. Tickets cost £13 (£11 for concessions) from the Box Office on York 658338, www.ncem.co.uk or from us on Thursday nights. Early sales have been respectable, but we do need another 80 or so of you to go along and enjoy this one, if we are to break even. Do come if you can!
2. SONGWRITER MONTH AT THE CLUB – PATSY & BECKY. At the Black Swan the next few weeks seem to have a singer-songwriter theme, beginning this Thursday, 23rd, with Patsy Matheson & Becky Mills.
Formerly one half of the award winning female acoustic quartet Waking the Witch, Patsy and Becky continue to write and record great songs since the break-up of that band, and to delight audiences across Britain: Patsy in a duo with Clive Gregson and Becky working alongside Ken Nicol (Steeleye Span) and Ashley Hutchings in “Copper, Russet and Gold”.
To support the recent release of Patsy’s CD Stories of Angels & Guitars and Becky’s album Dandelion, these two top class songwriters, singers and guitar players have teamed up again for a joint tour. Theirs is a unique and very personal sound, drawing on roots in traditional and contemporary folk, acoustic blues, R & B, jazz and rock, with an emphasis on intricate vocal harmonies. Combine this with the pair’s engaging charm and sense of humour, and this promises to be a very special evening of top quality entertainment.
One early reviewer (Allan Wilkinson) writes: “Musical trinkets such as the Bolivian rain-stick, an assortment of shakers and rattlers, the odd Jews harp, a couple of nice guitars and a mandolin are all delightfully utilised in this duo’s set, but when it comes down to it, it's those voices that matter, that's what it's all about. Becky Mills & Patsy Matheson make it all seem as easy as breathing.”
Patsy’s new CD has likewise attracted fulsome praise. Mike Harding says “The lass has got a lovely voice – this song (Hundred Guitars) is one of those great songs that tells a story but does it in a very subtle way” while Andy Kershaw claims “If I still had a radio show, I'd be playing this CD”. The Guardian gives it 4 stars and says “There's an overcrowded market in the UK of female singer-songwriter-guitarists, but Patsy Matheson stands out for the quality of her singing and more importantly, her songwriting...her best songs are thoughtful, delicate and impressively original.”
Tickets cost £8 for this one (£6.50 for concessions) and will be available on the door when we open up at 8pm on Thursday, or you can book beforehand at www.wegottickets.com.
3. CONTINUING WITH KIERAN. While Patsy & Becky are making their Black Swan debut, for Kieran Halpin Thursday 1st March will be his 15th appearance in the Wolfe Room. Yes, he is one of our all-time favourites! During a career now in its fourth decade, Kieran has been a consistently impressive songwriter and a thoroughly captivating, compelling stage performer. There is a new CD this year, The Devil and His Dealing, so we can expect a selection of new songs, along with some classics from Kieran’s extensive back catalogue. Tickets are now booking at WeGotTickets, costing £9 (£7 concessions), and depending on pre-sales may also be available on the door.
4. GET FRAGILE WITH O’HOOLEY & TIDOW. After a Singers Night on 8th March (see item 5) we present another debut, Belinda O’Hooley & Heidi Tidow on 15th March. They are doing an extensive tour in support of their second album together, The Fragile. Like Patsy Matheson’s CD, this one has picked up a 4* review in the Guardian (“an intriguing, ambitious set”) and many other favourable notices. Nic Jones is a fan: “Belinda and Heidi write creatively, expressing new ideas both lyrically and musically in a beautiful way”. As those who recall Belinda from her work with Rachel Unthank will know, her performances are laced with a great sense of humour – this is far from being deadly serious stuff. This show has already attracted a fair bit of interest and tickets are getting on for half sold already. They cost £9 (£7 concessions) from www.wegottickets.com.
5. SINGERS NIGHTS NEWS. Our February Singers Night fell in the week of the snow and so turnout was sparse. Only some 15 people braved the weather but we ended up having a very pleasant evening, with more than half the people in the room taking a turn, including no fewer than three first time young female singers, who were very welcome.
While we book lots of women and young people as guest performers, and have a healthy proportion of women in the listening audience, we do seem to have a preponderance of older male musicians amongst the floor acts, even on Singers Nights. That is not to disparage our excellent male regulars – I’m an older man myself, even if not a performer – but we know that a bit more variety would be welcomed by many of you.
With that in mind, we have designated two special Singers Nights in the summer. On the 19th July there will be a Young Singers Night, hosted by Pip Jopling & Stuart Giddens, and on 16th August it will be Women Singers Night, MC’ed by Helen Turner and Sharon Winfield. These are in addition to normal Singers Nights those months (5th July, 2nd & 30th August), so older men don’t miss out!
Meanwhile our next general Singers Night falls on 8th March and could be a busy one. We are promised a visit by a group of students from York St John University (see Item 11 below), one or two of whom may be doing floor spots.
OTHER CLUB NEWS
6. JOIN US ON TWITTER, BOOK YOUR TICKETS IN FACEBOOK. There are two major developments on our social media front. Firstly, I am delighted to say that we now have a folk club Twitter account. You can follow us @blackswanfolkie. Please use this to help with promoting our events. Secondly, our Facebook page www.facebook.com/BlackSwanFolkClub has just added a direct link to the WeGotTickets box office service. Simply click on the Buy Tickets Now tab and make your purchase. Thanks to Chris Euesden for setting up and managing both of these – I must confess that I am still a raw beginner when it comes to social media.
Incidentally, our ticketing service WeGotTickets recently announced that they had welcomed their one millionth customer! As well as developing that Facebook link, they have just launched a dedicated service for festival tickets at www.wegottickets.com/festivals.
7. WEBSITE DEVELOPMENTS. Our club website has also had a bit of a makeover and now includes pictures of forthcoming guest artists, making it more attractive to browse through. Also, the archive of club events back to 1979 is now online: click on Club Programme, select Archive Programme, then select a date range. Thanks to Michael Jary for making both of these enhancements. There has been some discussion recently about developing a totally new website, but in view of our tight financial situation we have decided to stick with the present one for now, but improve it where we can.
8. FINANCIAL UPDATE. As I predicted in the last Newsletter, we ended our business year on 31st January with a very modest surplus of £110, or around 0.4% of our annual turnover of £26,255. Put another way, had just 11 fewer of you bought top rate guest night tickets over the year, there would have been no surplus at all! We had cash assets of £3954 at year end, which gives us a reasonably cushion against seasonal fluctuations, but not enough to make major investments such as a new website. To put those assets in context, we are currently signed up to contracts for future club and concert guests worth over £12,000!
9. OUR BACK PAGES - CONTINUED. My article in the last E-Newsletter created a flurry of interest, and (for example) I am about to take possession of a file full of club papers from the years 1980-1982, immediately before my own arrival in York in August 1982. Thanks, Mike! We have still not pinned down a precise founding date in the 1970s, but I do have a few leads to follow up.
One interesting response came from Nick Waller, who looks after the website for our fellow Thursday night club, the Topic, in Bradford, established in 1956 and proudly claiming to be “the world’s longest running and surviving folk club”, www.topic-folk-club.org.uk. Nick has created an online archive dating back to 1960 (which makes us look like raw beginners!), with a chronological listing, an A-Z index and an outline narrative history.
10. FOLK WEEKEND UPDATE. Work has begun on programming this year’s City of York Folk Weekend, the 10th such event, taking place over the 8th, 9th and 10th June at the Black Swan. I have e-mailed lots of artists who might be interested in taking part. If you haven’t heard from me, but want to offer your services, please get in touch soon. Ditto for non-performers offering to help in other ways, such as stewarding and rattling collection tins.
11. YORK ST JOHN FOLK PROJECT. There’s an interesting folk-related project going on at York St John University. Approximately 25 second year students of Theatre and Music are doing a six week module looking at “folk” – folk music, folk dance and folklore. Tutors Helen Turner (singer and songwriter) and Jules Dorey Richmond (a Morris dancer) are taking the students into an exploration of what constitutes “folk”. I was invited along to talk to the students at their first meeting last week – an interesting experience on my side, at least! The students are also encouraged to attend a number of external events and some of them should be coming along to our March Singers Night, as mentioned above.
12. FOLK AWARDS 2012. Earlier this month a few of us made the trip over to Salford Quays for the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. It was great fun, even though a different format in a different venue compared with 2009, when we collected our Folk Club of the Year trophy. I was particularly pleased to see Lucy Ward (our club guest last April) take the Horizon Award for best new act, though I’d have been equally happy for Pilgrims’ Way (club guests last October) to have won it. Another Black Swan favourite who had a well-deserved success was Steve Tilston, in the Best Original Song category (for The Reckoning, and shared with Bella Hardy for The Herring Girl). And as a librarian myself, I was thrilled to see a special award for Malcolm Taylor, head of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House. The night’s big winner was of course June Tabor (an ex-librarian herself, as BBC News reminded us), who carried off four trophies. Folk Awards highlights are still available to view on the BBC website.
13. FOLK BANDS & SINGERS WANTED. The village of Stillingfleet, south of York, is hosting a Beer Festival on Saturday 5th May, starting at midday, and is on the hunt for bands or singers to provide some entertainment. I’m told that this is a friendly and relaxed event taking place under canvas with a good listening audience. King Courgette have already volunteered their services. If anyone else is interested, contact Steve Morrison on 07812 064 322 or Ali Wright on firstname.lastname@example.org. As it is a fundraising event for the local village hall, there can be no payment involved, but you should have a very pleasant time!
OTHER LOCAL EVENTS
Here is news of a few other local events which might be of interest. To save space I am not repeating things yet to happen which were mentioned in the last Newsletter.
14. World music vocal quartet Soundsphere is in action next Friday, 24th, at the Fulford Arms on Fulford Road. A personal favourite of mine, Leeds-based folk & roots singer and 12-string guitarist Serious Sam Barrett follows on Saturday 25th. Both nights run from 9pm and are free. See www.fulfordarms.co.uk.
15. Also this Friday, 24th February, The Foresters are in concert at the English Martyrs’ Church Hall on Dalton Terrace. This local institution of a group has been playing its own brand of easy listening, audience participation folk since 1971. They made a fine contribution to our recent Residents’ Festival afternoon and members Steve & Dee Marshall are increasingly frequent and very welcome club floor singers. Friday’s event starts at 7.30 and tickets cost just £5 from Michael Irwin on York 707391. Take your own drinks and supper.
16. For York International Women’s Week, Songs From The Sisterhood at City Screen Basement Bar on Friday 9th March is a celebration of local women singer-songwriters, hosted by Union Jill (the new name for Two, alias Helen Turner & Sharon Winfield) and featuring Holly Taymar, Gina Dootson and Jess Gardham. “All welcome” they say “whilst this is a celebration of female singer songwriters, we would love the fellas to come and join us!” See www.thebasementyork.co.uk.
17. Harpist and singer Sarah Dean, the “incredible string blonde” has been teaming up with Uilleann pipes and whistle players Brian Stafford recently and on Saturday 17th March they do a joint show at Space 109 on Walmgate. It is a fundraiser for Space 109, kicking off around 8pm, entry by donation. Sarah also continues to run free monthly acoustic nights at the Stone Trough Inn, Kirkham Abbey. The next of these is on Sunday 11th March with local Americana singers G T Turbo & Jonny Gill.
FURTHER AFIELD & FURTHER AHEAD
Lastly, here is a summary of some events coming up later in York and beyond. Again, I will not repeat things trailed last time.
18. Poppleton Live have announced three more shows this year: local favourite Anthony John Clarke returns on 30th June, Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts appear on 15th September and Vin Garbutt guests on 3rd November. Tickets are now booking for all three from John Watterson on York 785366, JMWATTERSON@aol.com. Harvey Andrews’s show on 10th March is already sold out.
19. Kat Gilmore is also a member of the rejuvenated folk rockers The Albion Band along with York-based bassist Tim Yates (of Blackbeard’s Tea Party), Sheffield singer Gavin Davenport, recent Young Folk finalist Blair Dunlop and two others. The new-look Albions are about to embark on their first tour. Dates in our region include Bradford St George’s Hall on 2nd March and Wakefield Theatre Royal on 19th March. “We had our first gig at Cheltenham on Saturday which went really well and the album is getting really good reviews” says Tim, “can't wait to get out there and play!” See www.thealbionband.com.
20. East Riding music enthusiast Trevor Appleton reminds us that for this month only the Wetwang Acoustic session is on the third Tuesday of the month, i.e. this Tuesday, 21st, at the Victoria Inn in Wetwang near Driffield from 8pm.
21. Trevor is also the man behind a rare local appearance by Dougie Maclean. This will be on Sunday 3rd June at Bridlington Spa. Tickets are on sale now from the Spa Box Office, online at www.thespabridlington.com, priced at £20. Another of Trevor’s enterprises is the very informative website at www.eastridingacoustic.net – check it out.
22. Coope Boyes & Simpson have sung in Coxwold parish church on a couple of occasions already. They return there on Friday 4th May with a new show, Hope Shortens all Journies. The result of a collaboration between CBS, Georgina Boyes and the Laurence Sterne Trust, this tells the story of Laurence Sterne and Eliza Draper in traditional and contemporary song and text. Find out more and book tickets (£10) at www.laurencesternetrust.org.uk.
23. Above-mentioned Folk Awards winner Lucy Ward (item 12) is back in our area on Saturday 21st April to sing at the Hunsley Acoustic Music club, held at the Half Moon in Elloughton near Beverley – a booking which came about because Hunsley organiser Will Richardson came to see Lucy at the Black Swan last year and was duly impressed. Find out more at www.msmm.org.uk. Hunsley also present Canadian trio The Good Lovelies on 12th May, that one at Elloughton Village Hall.
24. Selby Town Hall arts centre has a lot of good folk, roots and acoustic music coming up in the second half of its current season, with acts such as The Poozies (13th April), Brass Monkey (21st April), Kieran Goss (27th April) and Emily Smith (25th May). Find out more at www.selbytownhall.co.uk.
That’s more than enough for one sitting. I’ll be back around the middle of March.