Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 145

29th April 2012

Black Swan Folk Club E-Newsletter 145

29th April 2012


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This is a “club only” newsletter, mostly intended to encourage a bit more support for our next two events, both of which have sold far fewer advance tickets than we would expect at this stage.  There is also news of the finalised running order for our Folk Weekend and of the club’s summer season.


1.        ANDY IRVINE – A LEGENDARY NAME IN IRISH MUSIC.  Our special club guest this Thursday, 3rd May, is very much a legend in his own lifetime, the incomparable Andy Irvine.  From Sweeney’s Men way back in 1966 through Planxty to Patrick Street, Mozaik and numerous other projects, Andy has given the folk world a lifetime of great music.  He reaches 70 in a few weeks’ time, so we are indeed fortunate that he still loves to tour and is happy to perform in intimate small venues like ours.  If there were more justice in the music world he’d be filling vast concert halls!

Andy’s music is based in the Irish tradition and he performs a mix of ballads and humorous songs.  He has also been strongly influenced by the folk styles of the Balkans, where he spent a formative period in his twenties.  Another major influence is the work of Woody Guthrie and many of Andy’s self-penned songs follow that legacy of social comment and protest.  He plays a distinctive guitar-bodied version of the bouzouki, an instrument he did much to popularise in Irish folk music.

Andy Irvine has been a regular and favourite club guest over the years.  This will be his tenth visit to the Black Swan, where he last entertained us in 2009.  Almost all previous shows were packed full houses, but this time around and with four days to go we find we still have around 20 tickets left to sell.  So get online soon at and book yours!  They are £12 each full price or £10 concessions.  Admittedly this is the most we have yet charged for a club room function, but if anyone is worth it, Andy is!


2.        CELEBRATE THE STATE OF THE UNION WITH BOO & BROOKS.  On Wednesday week, 9th May, we are delighted to present cult British songwriter Boo Hewerdine and bluesy American stalwart Brooks Williams on stage together at the NCEM as State of The Union.  Exactly a year ago in May 2011, and as it happens on successive weeks, they both did mightily impressive and sold-out solo shows at the Black Swan Inn, so when we heard  that they had joined forces as a duo we jumped at the chance to bring them back to town.  Here is some information from their official press release (slightly reworded):


The seeds for State of The Union were sown when Brooks was called in at the eleventh hour to replace the billed Special Guests at his Fenland neighbour’s annual Christmas shindig.  Boo lives in Ely while Brooks, originally from Statesboro, Georgia, has recently settled in Cambridge.


“Boo rang me up that morning and asked: ‘could you, would you?’  To which I responded, ‘Yes’ “, explains Brooks.  “The audience loved it, we loved it, and soon we were playing together as often as our schedules allowed, and working on a collaborative album.”  With both artists bringing songs to the table, and collaborating on new material, the chemistry between them was undeniable and a torrent of musical creativity was unleashed.


A week was booked in the studio but the songs flowed so freely that the pair cut the album in a mere one and a half days, recording tracks in one take and in the order they appear on the album.  Produced by Mark Freegard, the album is intimate and captivating, like a concert delivered in your living room.


Tapping in to a multitude of influences, from Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash to Blind Lemon Jefferson, the wide open Fenlands and the frenetic buzz of London, State of The Union is a masterclass in songwriting and playing, producing an end result that is sure to delight fans of hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals.  Whether it is authentic Americana, delicate ballads, reimagining modern pop or a new take on classic standards, Brooks and Boo have come up with one of the year’s must-have albums and must-see live shows.  Two guys, two guitars and a clutch of songs – the old formula has seldom delivered better.


State of The Union was released on Reveal Records in early April and has already picked up a slew of rave reviews in publications such as Q, The Word and Acoustic Magazine: “a beautiful album, full of classy playing and great songs”.  Last weekend Bob Harris was singing its praises on his Radio 2 show.


State of The Union are in concert is at the National Centre for Early Music on Walmgate in York on 9th May.  The show begins at 7.30 with a 30 minute set by local singer-songwriter David Swann, who will be followed by two full sets from Boo and Brooks.  Tickets cost £15 full price or £13 concessions and are available through and from the Box Office on 01904 658338, and on the door.

With two such classy and apparently popular performers working so creatively together, this seemed like a natural choice for one of our occasional concert specials, even if it was a bit different from our usual NCEM fare of mainstream and traditional UK and Irish folk music.  Alas, the response to date has been disappointingly and bafflingly muted.  Indeed on present sales figures we are facing a four figure loss to the club.  This will take a very large bite out of our reserves and place a big question mark over the arrangement of any future concerts.

So if this sounds anything like your type of music, do please consider coming along.


3.        FOLK WEEKEND PROGRAMME PUBLISHED.  After much work and many e-mail exchanges I was able last weekend to finalise the full programme of events for the forthcoming City of York Folk Weekend on 8th, 9th and 10th June.  You can find it here on the club website under Folk Weekend.

There are around 58 named “acts” listed, 15 of them new this year, with the great majority drawn from the very healthy folk, roots and acoustic music scene here in York itself.  As always there are plenty of opportunities to join in, with sessions, singarounds and the rolling folk club.  Especially themed events include a Friday night Tom Paxton tribute, Yorkshire Garland, a Storytelling session and a Wee Folk kid’s club on Saturday, and a Poetry session and a Songwriters’ Showcase on Sunday.  Also on Sunday, members of Soundsphere will again be running their popular Singing Workshop.

All we need now is some decent early summer sunshine!


4.        SUMMER SEASON BROCHURE AND BOOKING.  The next club brochure is with our printers at present and will soon be in circulation.  It covers everything happening between 24th May and 27th September.  Relevant information has also been loaded on the WeGotTickets website and booking is now open for all our Thursday guest artists in that period, including such eagerly awaited names as Harvey Andrews (28th June), Allan Taylor (26th July) and David Francey (6th September).  Over at the NCEM website, tickets are now online for Blackbeard’s Tea Party (4th July) and should soon be likewise for Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick (25th September).


That’s all for now, folk folks.  I’ll try to be back in a couple of weeks with more club news and also details of some interesting non-club events.