18th March 2012
OUR THURSDAY CLUB SHOWS
1. FULL HOUSE FOR O’HOOLEY & TIDOW. We had a packed and very enjoyable Full House event last Thursday with Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow. They have been having a successful tour all round, it seems, and that very day they were celebrating winning the Best Duo title in the Spiral Awards 2102, run by folk and roots website Spiral Earth, www.spiralearth.co.uk (an informative and useful site, by the way, well worth checking out). We were also chuffed to have no less a singer than Clive Gregson in the audience on Thursday, and up-and-coming young folky Jonny Kearney too.
In addition, I was very pleased to hear that pianist Belinda has been asked to accompany the legendary Nic Jones as he makes a few selected summer festival appearances, along with his son Joe playing guitar. It reminded me of the night almost exactly ten years ago at the Black Swan when Nic, then living in York, performed in public for the first time since his traumatic road accident, with Joe playing his father’s guitar parts brilliantly.
2. GUITAR ATRISTRY WITH DUCK BAKER. Guitars were in unusually short supply at the club last week, but that will change this coming Thursday, 22nd March, when we bring back to York the wonderfully eclectic guitar wizard Duck Baker. It is exactly 30 years since Richard R Baker IV, commonly known as Duck, first carried his guitar cases up our crooked staircase in March 1982. He has been back several times since, most recently in 2006, and never fails to impress, entertain and amuse in equal measure. Only last week Clive Gregson, no mean guitarist himself, was singing Duck’s praises.
Duck is one of the most highly regarded fingerstyle guitarists of his generation. His devotion to American music encompasses traditional forms like blues, gospel, and Appalachian music (and its Scottish and Irish antecedents), alongside jazz in all its forms, from ragtime and swing to modern improvisation.
Duck was born in 1949 and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He passed his teenage years playing in rock and blues bands before becoming interested in acoustic blues. By the time he moved to San Francisco in the early seventies, he was performing the wide range of material heard on his first record for specialist guitar label Kicking Mule.
In addition to developing his solo style, Baker joined a bluegrass band and immersed himself in the swing jazz scene, then in the late seventies he made his first record of Irish and Scottish folk music. He began touring worldwide as a soloist and eventually moved to Europe. His later associations included the great US traditional singer, Molly Andrews, with whom he performed at the Black Swan in 1991.
Duck is based in London these days and continues to have a wonderfully eclectic approach to music. As well as being a dazzling proficient player across a huge range of styles, he is a delightfully witty and engaging stage performer who fits snugly into a folk club setting.
3. VICKY SWAN & JONNY DYER – MULTI INSTRUMENTALISTS & SINGERS. The following week, 29th March, we present more mainstream folk fare with the wonderful Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer. They last visited the Black Swan way back in 2006, but having recently taken the superlatively brave step of kicking their day jobs into touch, they are now much more widely available for folk clubs, festivals and workshops, so we can expect to hear more of them in the future.
Once known mainly for their impressive instrumental skills on Scottish smallpipes, accordion, guitar, flute, double bass and Swedish nyckelharpa, Vicki and Jonny are now also being acclaimed as impressive singers and writers. They give traditional songs and tunes subtly contemporary arrangements and also create original self-penned tunes and songs that are entirely at home in the tradition. They have a sound that is both familiar and fresh - a great combination of vocal and instrumental talent.
Find out more at www.swan-dyer.co.uk. This one costs £8 full or £6.50 concessions, at WeGotTickets or on the door.
4. YOUTHFUL ENERGY WITH DAN WALSH & WILL POUND. After the guitar virtuosity of Duck Baker and Vicki & Jonny’s smallpipes, nyckelharpa, etc, we switch focus to harmonica and banjo on 5th April with Will Pound & Dan Walsh. These are two of the most exciting and unique young musicians on today's scene. Labelled respectively as 'one of the most original harmonica players in Britain' and 'the UK's top Clawhammer banjoist', they have joined forces to create a highly entertaining and astonishing live act. Since their 2009 debut they have gained critical acclaim for their performances across the UK, including prestigious venues like The Sage and top festivals like Sidmouth, Shrewsbury and Warwick.
The Walsh & Pound debut album in 2011 received many four and five star reviews in the music press and notched up considerable air play. More recently Will was nominated for Best Musician in the recent BBC Folk Awards and indeed we saw him in action at the awards ceremony playing in Martin Simpson’s band.
Prepare to be astonished by stunning vocals, frailing banjo wizardry and sounds you didn’t think were possible on harmonica. This duo is destined for great things, with their ability to encompass an amazing array of musical genres with ease, energy and excellence! A fellow folk club organiser contributes the following: “What a fantastic night of entertainment we were served up by Dan Walsh and Will Pound. Outstanding musicianship, amazing tunes and great songs combined with stage presence and engaging performance to make this one to remember.”
This one is again £8 full price or £6.50 concessions, at WeGotTickets and (depending on advance sales) also on the door from 8pm. The website is www.walshandpound.co.uk.
OUR NCEM FOLK CONCERTS
5. THANKS FOR SUPPORTING KRIS DREVER & EAMONN COYNE. Thank you for a tremendous response to our appeal for more support at the recent concert by Kris Drever & Eamonn Coyne. We had a record number of on-the-door sales and having set out only 90 chairs we had to hastily bring out some more as numbers swelled. We were still a few short of the 120 we needed to cover all fees and costs but the final financial damage was much less than it threatened to be and, most important of all, it was a great performance.
6. NEXT UP – A GRAND SCOTTISH NIGHT WITH JENNA REID. Our next concert at the Early Music Centre is on Wednesday 11th April, just after Easter, and brings back to York another of the brightest young talents on the Scottish traditional music scene, Jenna Reid. A protégé of the great Shetland fiddlers Tom Anderson and Willie Hunter, Jenna Reid has appeared all over the world with the bands Filska and Dòchas and with Scottish supergroup Deaf Shepherd. More recently, she has featured in TV’s Transatlantic Sessions and was invited to join Blazin’ Fiddles. She first visited the NCEM with Dòchas in 2006 (alongside Julie Fowlis) and returned for a headline show with her own band in 2008.
A fiddle player and composer of huge ability and great charm, and an occasional singer and accordionist besides, Jenna is joined this time around by her younger sister Bethany, another award-winning fiddler and pianist, with guitarist Kevin Mackenzie completing the trio.
Jenna writes “I'm really excited about my new solo album, Morning Moon, which is coming out soon”. This is her third solo CD, a rich collection of traditional and contemporary tunes which showcases the stunning slow airs and fiery up-tempo fiddling that she has become known for. She will have pre-release copies with her in York.
Here are some quotes:
a swiftly rising star in the high-flying, fast-paced, and very lively world of Scottish fiddle music” Dirty Linen
“an amazing Shetland fiddler, flinging her flings and spinning her slow airs with grace and beauty” Fiddle On Magazine
“the leading fiddler of her generation in Scotland” The Herald
Doing the opening spot on 11th April will be the new and occasional pairing of two club regulars, Sarah Dean & Eddie Affleck: both fine singers with tasty guitar and atmospheric harp accompaniment.
To date we have sold only half of the tickets we need to break even, so once again can I urge you to come along. If Scottish / Celtic music has any appeal for you, this one should not disappoint in the least. Tickets are £14 each (£12 concessions) from the NCEM Box Office 01904 658338, online at www.ncem.co.uk, or from us at Thursday club meetings.
7. HUT PEOPLE CD LAUNCH EVENT. Also coming out with a new CD are our late April concert guests The Hut People, who appear on Tuesday 24th April. Sam Pirt (The Pack, 422) and Gary Hammond (The Beautiful South) have gained a reputation as one of the most entertaining and unusual folk acts around, attracting rapturous feedback from audiences, promoters and critics alike. They perform a high-octane blend of self-penned tunes mixed with British, Nordic and European folk music, engagingly executed by Gary’s dazzling array of exotic percussion and Sam’s driving accordion and occasional foot drumming and step dancing. It’s an unlikely instrumental combination, but one that works brilliantly, thanks to their combination of musical virtuosity with exuberant good humour, spontaneity and a total commitment to getting listeners involved.
The new Hut People CD, their second, is called Picnic and is released on the respected Fellside label. They have chosen the York concert to be the official CD launch, and you are invited to come down to the NCEM a little earlier than usual on 24th April (from 6.30pm) to meet the band and have a chat. The concert proper will begin at 7.30pm with an opening set by singer/songwriter Tim Pheby, followed by two full sets from the Hut People.
Tickets cost £12 full / £10 concessions, from the NCEM Box Office as above, or from us at Thursday club meetings.
8. STATE OF THE HEWERDINE WILLIAMS UNION. For our final concert this season we change musical styles once again and present the exciting new collaboration between two brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarists, Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams, both of whom filled our club room to capacity last year. The date is Wednesday 9th May.
The partnership is called State Of The Union, with the eponymous CD just out and already picking up great reviews in Q and The Word, with many more to come. Boo and Brooks are touring their joint material around selected venues this spring, including York, before some summer festival bookings and a big autumn tour. Here is some official publicity spiel:
Hewerdine is an English songwriter and lead singer of indie legends the Bible. Williams is a slide guitar wizard from Statesboro, Georgia, USA. Their plan was to record an album using vintage mics and equipment live in just 5 days. After a day and a half they realised they had finished. Recorded in the order you hear on the record, the aim was to capture the sound of two guitarists and singers from completely different backgrounds working together in harmony. The result was even better than they had hoped for.
Boo has had his songs recorded by such artists as Eddi Reader, kd Lang, Jerry Douglas, Kris Drever and Heidi Talbot while over the course of 17 albums Brooks has secured a peerless reputation as a songwriter as well as being recognised as one of the world’s best guitarists. Listen to their cover of The Petshop Boys’ Rent and you will hear perfectly what an exciting mix raw American acoustic slide guitar and English literate pop can achieve.
You can find out more and watch video clips at www.stateoftheunionmusic.com. David Swann is the highly appropriate MC and Support Act for this one, since he has done songwriting workshops with Boo and in 2010 did musical charity work in Africa with Brooks. Tickets are selling now at £15 full or £13 concessions.
OTHER CLUB NEWS
9. OVERFLOW CARPARKING AT THE BLACK SWAN. We are very lucky that the Black Swan Inn has a large private car park, unlike almost every other city centre pub. However, this does get full up sometimes, particularly when there is another function taking place at the same time as we have a busy club night. Convenient “overflow” facilities have normally been available next door at the Haymarket public car park. Unfortunately this space closed a few weeks ago, to facilitate an archaeological dig on the adjacent site of the demolished Peasholme Centre. According to the City Of York Council website, the closure should last for eight to ten weeks, meaning a reopening towards the end of April, all being well.
Until then, if you are coming to the Folk Club and find the pub car park full up, I’m afraid you will have to hunt for parking further afield. There are limited on-road spaces on some of the Hungate streets near the pub (Dundas Street, Palmer Lane, Carmelite Street), but long stretches are either double yellow-lined or (the one parallel to Peasholme Green accessing the new flats) are private roads on which you venture at your peril. Further afield, there is metered on-street parking on Walmgate, Piccadilly and Lord Mayor’s Walk.
The nearest car park open in the evening is probably Monk Bar, off St John Street. Slightly further to walk are Peel Street (off Walmgate) and Castle (by Clifford’s Tower). Like Haymarket and street parking bays these are free to York Resident badge-holders after 8pm or £2 to others. Find out more at www.york.gov.uk/transport/Parking
10. FOLK WEEKEND PLANNING UPDATE. I am busy at present working out the draft programme for the 10th York Folk Weekend, 8th – 10th June. It looks like being another packed and wonderfully varied event. Acts already agreed for the main Marquee stage include Blackbeard’s Tea Party, King Courgette, Jessica Lawson, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Holly Taymar, Kaminari Taiko Drummers, Union Central, The Basement Band, Graham Hodge, Moonshine Creek and Union Jill. Club residents Stan, Eddie, Phil, David Swann, Sarah and Paula all have concert spots lined up, and there will be dancing from Minster Strays, Ebor Morris and Acorn Morris. There will also be a few top quality guests from the wider region, including The Gerry McNeice Band.
The Friday night Marquee session has been programmed by Phil Simpson and focuses on younger local acts According To Eve, Andy Stones and The Vintones, plus visitor guests Dan Wilde and Roger Davies and a headline band still to be announced.
The indoor programme is also taking shape, with music sessions, singarounds, rolling folk club and mini-concerts. Special events include a Tom Paxton tribute with Stan Graham and Kevin Loughran on Friday evening and the usual Sunday evening in the company of York Songwriters Circle.
I should be ready to release a full programme by mid April, so watch this space!
11. KEEP FOLLOWING US ON FACEBOOK. Chris Euesden continues to do great work with our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/BlackSwanFolkClub, with Tracey Hutchinson lined-up to look after it when Chris is away on his holidays. Club photographer Phil Myers has recently posted a couple of good quality videos. One is Kieran Halpin at the Black Swan on 1st March, performing the song “Walk Like A Champion” which he wrote specially for the late John Wright, and the other is a song by Paula Ryan from her NCEM concert support set on 7th March (look under “Photos”). Nice ones, Phil.
12. MUSICIANS WANTED. I received an e-mail a few days ago, from a band unknown to me: “(do) you know of any musicians who play at the Black Swan Folk Club who might be interested in playing a gig with the folk band I play in, Boxcar Aldous Huxley, who are on tour at the end of March.” I see from their website www.boxcaraldoushuxley.co.uk that they have booked the function room at the Black Swan for a show on Tuesday week, 27th March. If anyone out there wants to follow up on this, you can contact this group on email@example.com.
13. FOLK OFF ON UNIVERSITY RADIO. I recently discovered that there is a weekly folk music programme on campus radio, University Radio York. Folk Off! is broadcast at 10pm on Wednesdays in term time, for an hour, and can be heard live on the internet at www.ury.org.uk. The enthusiastic presenter is a student called Kirsty Rogers, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. She had Stan Graham as her studio guest last week. URY is now off air for the Easter vacation but Kirsty will be back on 25th April, when she will feature an interview with Kris Drever recorded at our recent concert.
“My show has a wide listenership across the University”, says Kirsty, “and a strong fan base on both Twitter and on my new blog, where I am now reviewing folk music CD's”. There is no general listen again facility on University Radio, but a selection of Kirsty’s past material can be heard at http://soundcloud.com/ury-music, including interviews with Show of Hands, Richard Shindell and Seth Lakeman.
14. JOHN STOREY’S G-STRING. Regular club singer and occasional MC John Storey writes: “Just to let you know, I have agreed to help run the G String Acoustic Club for a while, along with its current organiser, Stephen Matthews. It's a singaround type event in a large comfy room and takes place on the 3rd Sunday of each month (so tonight, 18th March, and then 15th April) at the Angel Inn, Long Street, Topcliffe near Thirsk, YO7 3RW. It is free and welcomes all types of singers and performers. Start time is 8pm.”
15. PERIPATETIC FRIDAY NIGHT FOLK. York’s long-running informal Friday folk session is on the move again, and repeatedly so. Only last summer they moved from the Tap & Spile on Monkgate to the Shoulder of Mutton at Heworth Green. They have now moved on again and after a very brief stint at the Bay Horse on Marygate they can now found at The Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane. Let’s hope this proves a settled long-term home for what is usually a very enjoyable mixture of informal singing and instrumental tunes playing.
OTHER LOCAL EVENTS
I’m only reporting two things this time:
16. Young folk iconoclast Jim Moray is at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough next Saturday, 24th, promoted by Kula and with tickets still available. See www.kula-productions.com.
17. On Sunday 25th March The Foresters are in concert at the Ship Inn in Strensall. Like most of their shows this is a charity event. Entry is free but there will be a collection towards www.aroundtheworldforwater.co.uk. It’s a 7.30pm start.
And that’s your ample lot. I’ll be back sometime in early to mid April, I hope.