Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 147

Jubilee Weekend 2012

 Taking advantage of a very wet holiday Sunday, here is a (very) full length newsletter, with plenty of snippets which you may find interesting.  Let’s hope the weather improves before:






1.        ANOTHER LATE PROGRAMME CHANGE.  Unfortunately, Graham Hodge has broken his wrist and is unable to perform.  In his place at 8.10pm on Sunday we have the local contemporary song band, Karno’s Circus (, who were top of the “reserve” list.  Let’s welcome them aboard.


Remember that the latest version of the weekend programme is posted on the club website at  Since the current club brochure was issued and as reported in the last E-News, there have also been a few changes on Saturday late afternoon / evening, and some compressed timings on Friday night.  Printed programme fliers will be available on site at the weekend.


2.        HELPING OUT.   We’ve already had quite a few offers of help with things like stewarding and collection tin rattling, but if you are able to spare a few moments of your time during the weekend, come and see Tracey or myself at the Information Desk in the concert marquee.


3.        LAST MINUTE PUBLICITY.  Please keep on spreading the word to friends, family and anyone else you think might enjoy the weekend.  Even though it is a free event, it is still very much a case of “the more, the merrier”.  We are hoping for some coverage in our local paper, The Press, this coming Friday.



·        Unfortunately, it seems that the Haymarket car park next door to the Black Swan will still be closed next weekend, so you’ll need to look a bit further afield if coming by car.  Please do not attempt to park at the pub itself.

·        Andy, our landlord, tells me he has hired TWO Portaloos this year, to augment the women’s facilities.  Also, he has arranged for a slightly lower stage, after comments in past years that performers’ faces were hidden behind tent fringing if you were standing outside the marquees.

·        Can I remind you, please, not to consume brought-in food and drink on site, other than bottled water and special dietary items.




We have a pre-festival Singers Night this week (7th) then once Folk Weekend is behind us there is a full guest programme for the rest of June:


5.        JOIN CARA LUFT ON HER DEBUT.  On Thursday 14th June we have the club debut of Cara Luft (  This livewire singer, songwriter and guitarist from Canada was a founder member of the very successful women’s band The Wailin’ Jennys before becoming an established solo artist.  She often tours the UK but has somehow passed us by until now.  Born into a musical family, Cara is steeped in folk and roots music yet willing to alter the fabric, stretch the boundaries and blend the genres.  On stage she displays a real zest for life – energetic, passionate and with a sense of fun.  Do check her out, you won’t be disappointed.  Tickets are £9 (£7 concessions) at and on the door.


“Luft is a consummate performer. Unlike so many singer-songwriters, [her] music has an urgency that can’t be denied… as good as anything I’ve heard for a long, long time.” Americana UK


6.        CELEBRATE THE GUTHRIE CENTENARY WITH WILL KAUFMAN.  The great Woody Guthrie was born 100 years ago, on 14th July 1912.  To mark the centenary, we have invited back the UK-based Guthrie scholar and performer Will Kaufman on 21st June.  Two years ago, Will entranced us with his show Hard Times & Hard Travellin’, about Depression era America, the Dust Bowl and the New Deal, as reflected in Woody’s songs.  This year’s show, All You Jim Crow Fascists, looks at Woody’s anti-racist songs and civil rights activism, using the same impressive mixture of singing, narrative and backdrop projected images.  This one is very modestly priced at £7 full / £6 concessions and has already sold a fair few tickets at  See for more background.


7.        AND BID A FOND FAREWELL TO HARVEY.  We welcome Harvey Andrews for what looks like being the last ever time on 28th June.  After spending 49 years writing and performing songs for a living, he says that 2012 will be his final year of active touring.  We’ve had many great nights with Harvey over the years, invariably sold out, and this one is heading the same way.  At present there are around 20 tickets left (£10 full, £8 concessions), so go online at WeGotTickets sooner rather than later.





8.        BLACKBEARD’S AT THE NCEM.   Sample them at Folk weekend and then enjoy a whole evening with our lively local heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party on Wednesday 4th July at the Early Music CentreMixing fiddles & squeezeboxes, guitar, double bass and a feast of international hand percussion, they bring you an unforgettable folk-rock extravaganza: funky folk tunes, saucy songs and infectious stage energy.  Grounded in English traditions but never afraid to explore more exotic musical avenues, they create a sound that is equal parts tasty, dramatic and danceable.


Accustomed to loud gigging around sweaty rock venues and festivals, they’ll be on their best behaviour for this night only, performing a more refined and acoustic yet still riotous concert of their very best material.  Recent recruit Stuart Giddens takes vocal and melodeon duties, alongside the lovely Laura Barber on fiddle, Martin Coumbe on guitar, daredevil percussionists Dave Boston and Yom Hardy and multi-talented bassist Tim Yates.


Opening the show are one of the best young duos on the folk scene, BBC Folk Awards-nominated Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, who combine astounding lap-tapping guitar, fiery fiddle and trademark harmonies with considerable songwriting talent to make a truly distinctive sound.  No strangers to York, they have supported twice before at the NCEM as well as headlining at the Folk Club.


Tickets are on sale at or on 01904 658338, priced at just £10 full or £8 concessions, and it is a prompt 7.30pm start.


9.        CARTHY & SWARBRICK NOW BOOKING.  Booking has also opened for our first autumn concert at the Early Music Centre.  This is Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick on Tuesday 25th September.  Tickets cost £16 full or £14 concessions and I must say that early sales interest for this greatest of English folk duos is encouraging.  Support comes from Stuart Giddens (of the aforementioned Blackbeard’s Tea Party) in his duo with guitarist Pip Jopling.


10.     NEW ACCOMPANIST FOR FRANCEY.  We have been told of a change of accompanist for the mighty Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey on his UK tour.  David will be joined at the Black Swan on 6th September by Mark Westberg, not Craig Werth as we say in our brochure.  There have already been a few ticket sales for this one, which encourages us to think David is beginning to pick up more of the recognition he so richly deserves.


11.     £750 DEFICIT IN FOUR MONTHS.  We are now four months into our financial year and totting up the figures I find that we have made a loss of around £750 in that time, which is desperately worrying.  May was a particularly disappointing month, with a very poor turnout (just 82 sales, well below break-even) at the NCEM for Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams and our lowest ever ticket sale (just 4 of you!) at the Black Swan for Bill Adair – which was a great shame as he proved to be a most accomplished singer and guitar picker, with a fine choice of material and a well-judged line in stage chat.  We also had an unexpectedly low turn-out last week for former Tanglefooter Al Parrish, though there were full houses earlier in May for Andy Irvine and for Chris Sherburn & Denny Bartley.


12.     KEEP UP WITH US ON FACEBOOK.  Between them Chris Euesden and Tracey Hutchinson are doing a good job of keeping our Facebook page up to date and attractive, with Phil Myers posting video shoots, most recently of Boo & Brooks at NCEM.  There was an interesting online exchange of comments recently about the idea of having women-only or young persons-only Singers Nights, as we are doing later this summer.  Have your say at


13.     THE FOLK CLUB CONTRIBUTES TO SOLAMATIK.  Our events until 21st June, including Folk Weekend, fall under the marketing umbrella of SolaMatik.  This is a month-long multi-genre multi-venue “festival” of cultural events and entertainments across Yorkshire and beyond.  It doesn’t cost us anything and adds another channel for publicity.  See





14.     MUSICIANS NEEDED FOR YORK HOSPITAL.  The Art & Design Project Coordinator at York Hospital, Kat Hetherington, writes “we are looking for musicians who are willing to donate an hour of their time to play to patients.  Whether you are a professional musician looking to do a good deed for the day, or a practicing musician who would like some extra experience, please get in touch.”  Kat will probably be at Folk Weekend on Saturday afternoon handing out fliers, so speak to her then if you are interested.  Alternatively she can be contacted on York 726943,


15.     FIDDLER SEEKS PLAYING PARTNERS.  West Yorkshire folk musician Chris Dyson writes “I’m on the look-out to get out and play more music”, and asks if any singer/guitarists or folk bands in our area might be interested in teaming up with an experienced fiddle player.  Chris, whose forte is Irish fiddle music, can be contacted on or by phone on 01977 614409.


16.     MAGGIE’S IN THE KITCHEN, MIXING UP THE MUSIC.  Maggie Boyle is part way through an ambitious project called Kitchen Songs.  Since April she has been visiting folk songwriters in their homes, recording interviews and songs, which are then being edited and posted on the website   “The setting for these interviews will be kitchens the length and breadth of the country” she says.  “In my view, these hubs of domesticity are the most natural and traditional places to encourage a relaxed sharing of music and ideas.  In the main, the songwriters began their work in the late 60s/early 70s and they have all in different ways affected my attitude to contemporary song - and to what a traditional singer such as myself should regard as suitable material to include in their repertoire.  It is intended that the project will continue and develop, to include songs and stories of later generations of songwriters - and those from further afield.” 


Already available are interviews with Steve Tilston, Pete Coe, Pete Morton, Jez Lowe and others, with more to follow, such as Ralph McTell.  It is particularly pleasing to see artists such as Ray Hearne (South Yorkshire) and Linda Kelly (of Hissyfit, Humberside) included.  Maggie herself was recently given airplay on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show and will next be at the Black Swan with Grace Notes in January 2013.


17.     LIGHT RELIEF ONLINE.  Here are a couple of online video postings which might bring a smile to the face.  Local old time string band King Courgette (who round off Saturday night at Folk Weekend) have recently posted a brilliant animation on their Facebook page  It even includes the Black Swan Inn. 


Meanwhile, if you’ve heard those horror stories of musical instruments sorely mistreated by airline baggage handlers, take a look at video has apparently “gone viral” with over 6 million hits and the airline concerned trying to buy off the aggrieved guitarist Dave Carroll.  It reminds me of the Tom Paxton song “Thank You Republic Airlines” which Stan Graham or Kevin Loughran may perhaps sing on Friday night at Folk Weekend.





18.     BEST WISHES TO JOHNNY DICKINSON.  I was saddened to hear that the great Northumbrian guitarist Johnny Dickinson continues to be critically ill.  Johnny last entertained us at the Black Swan 18 months ago and magnificently so.  Later last year he was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer and was treated by chemotherapy.  A viral infection followed and now he has developed a rare disorder of the nervous system, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which has left him paralysed and in intensive care, potentially for many months.


“This came as a total shock to me” writes his agent Dave Smith “and I tried to think up ideas of how to help him and his family through this very trying time.  Johnny has four children to support and after so long not working, things have become difficult for them.”


Dave has come up with a compilation download album, with tracks donated by fellow guitarists such as John Renbourn, Tony McManus, Clive Carroll, Wizz Jones, Tommy Emmanuel and Jan Akkerman.  The album can be bought through at a price of just £5 and Dave will be presenting Johnny with a get well message including the names of everyone who buys it.  Do support this project if you have ever enjoyed Johnny’s music.


19.     TWO BLACK SHEEP IN AMERICA.  Local voice merchants Pete Outhart, Martin Bartlett and Ron Akehurst, aka Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, are currently in North America, where they have been doing house concerts and festival appearances in Canada and USA.  They get back this coming Friday, just in time for their various contributions to the Folk Weekend.  Well done lads!


20.     NEWS FROM TONY MORRIS.  Tony Morris believes in keeping busy, as I last reported in E-News 144.  He says “I have now released four EP CDs The Songs of Tony Morris, Numbers 1 to 4.  They can be purchased for £6.50 each from my Folk for Folk website,  Song lists are on the website.  They include 'John Hodgson's White Horse Song', 'Resolution's Farewell', 'The Pedlar' and 'Mr Know-Bugger-All'.  There are 20 songs in the whole collection, 5 on each CD.”


21.     ZOOX NO MORE.  I was sad to receive news recently that the fine trio Zoox were splitting up.  They write “after a musically thrilling, inspiring, hectic and exhausting year last year, creating and promoting the exciting and very successful new album Ups and Downs, we have decided to go our separate ways.”  Becky, Linda and Jo gave us a great night’s entertainment in 2009 and were originally scheduled to return earlier this year.  We wish them good luck with future musical ventures.


22.     DEMON BARBERS WIN MAJOR FUNDING.  If you caught their show Time Gentleman Please on its recent tours, you may be interested in some good news from The Demon BarbersThey are one of only ten successful applicants in the first round of Arts Council England's new Strategic Touring Programme, which is designed to increase access to the arts, especially in places with low levels of arts engagement and those that rely on touring for much of their arts provision.  The grant, which is just under £120k, will be used to continue The Barbers' mission to raise the profile of traditional English dance through performance and education.  “It's fantastic that our work has been awarded this significant investment” says Damien Barber, “which will enable us to develop the show further and tour it to new audiences.”.  Congratulations, Damien & co.




Here is news of various upcoming events in the city, beginning with a really BIG one.


23.     BE UNTHANK-FUL AT THE MINSTER.  Great news – the rather wonderful Unthanks are coming to York Minster.  They are doing a special concert in the nave on Friday 17th August, together with the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band.


With a focus on songs of the coal industry, The Unthanks will sing material from their past and current repertoire with arrangements re-imagined for the massed ranks of the Brighouse & Rastrick, as well as material specially written for this project.  Described by The Times as “an inspired marriage of parallel northern folk music traditions”, this collaboration made its premiere in 2011 at Durham Cathedral, followed by a very successful tour and a show-stealing performance at the BBC Folk Awards.  Now it comes to York, where Rachel & Becky Unthank made a very early folk club appearance at the Black Swan way back in 2004, following that as their celebrity grew with two NCEM shows and the Grand Opera House.


Tickets cost £21 or £25 through the York Minster Box Office, but there is a special deal offered for folk club supporters.  There will leaflets available at Folk Weekend containing a promotional code which you can use to claim a discount when you purchase, so watch out for one of those.


24.     BOB DYLAN 1 – BLONDE ON BOB.  It’s that time of year again.  Yes, Blonde on Bob are holding another million dollar Bob Dylan birthday bash, this year three weeks belatedly, on Friday 15th June at City Screen Basement Bar on Coney Street, where they will be playing Highway 61 Revisited and other Dylan classics.  Tickets are £8 in advance from City Screen, or £10 on the door, with doors opening at 8pm.


25.     BOB DYLAN 2 – THE EXHIBITION.  The very next day, 16th June, there is an exhibition opening in York called Nothing is Revealed: Frank Paul illustrates the songs of Bob Dylan.  It is at Bohemia Galleries at 7 Gillygate and runs until 14th July.  See the gallery's website for more information, at


26.     VOICES FROM CUBA IN YORK.  There is a rather special choral concert in York on Wednesday 20th June, with Cuban vocal group Musica Aurea, supported by our local world music choir Chechelele.  Musica Aurea are “not to be missed” I am told, “as they have never before been outside Cuba but are rapidly gaining a reputation as world class performers.”  They sing classical pieces, from Monteverdi to the Flight of the Bumblebee, in multi-part harmony, as well as Cuban folk music from amorous boleros to modern songs with vibrant rhythms.  Find out more at  The concert is at St.Clement’s Church on Scarcroft Road at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 (£6 concessions), available on the door or through Chechelele members or by ringing 07941 392667.


27.     CLOSING THE COALHOUSE DOOR.  Echoing the coal mining theme referred to in the Unthanks piece above, there is a welcome revival of the musical play Close The Coalhouse Door at York Theatre Royal from 26th to 30th June.  Written by Alan Plater, based on stories by Sid Chaplin, and with great songs by Alex Glasgow, the show is “an exhilarating ride through all the major strikes, victories and disappointments in British mining history”.  The title song in particular is still widely sung at folk gatherings and has lost none of its simple strength.  Further details and ticket options at


28.     ANTHONY JOHN AND UNION JILL.  The next event at Poppleton Live is Anthony John Clarke on Saturday 30th June, with Union Jill doing the support.  Organiser John Watterson tells me that they are down to their last 10 tickets, so if you’d like to go contact John double quick on 07703 792861.


Talking of John Watterson, he is an increasingly busy man in his Fake Thackray guise, with a bookings list on his website which would be the envy of many another touring singer.  John also tells me that he has a new publicity poster, designed by none other than Richard Digance!  And talking of Union Jill, there new website is finally ready at


29.     UPCOMING AT THE DUCHESS.  Forthcoming folk, roots and acoustic gigs at The Duchess include American country/folk muso Darrell Scott on 15th July, Glaswegian folk-rockers Trembling Bells on 21st August and the marvellous Jackie Oates with her band on 1st September.  Find out more at




Here is a small selection.  My apologies to other event organisers and promoters, but I cannot include everything I hear of.


30.     MEGSON FOR LEEDS.  The fine duo of Stu and Debbie Hanna, aka Megson, appear at Leeds University this coming Wednesday, 6th June, at 7.30pm.  It is in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, with £10 tickets available on the door and a licensed bar now available.  Find out more at  It’s great to see this musical couple back on the road after taking time off for a young family.  They’ll be with us at the Black Swan on November 8th.


31.     DRAMA AND MUSIC IN REETH.  Upcoming at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale is the latest stage production by Kate Bramley for Badapple Theatre Company, with songs from Jez Lowe.  Eddie & The Gold Tops, a comedy set in the innocent pop music days of 1963, can be enjoyed on Friday 15th June.  A week later, 22nd June, Tom McConville appears with his full band.  Find out more at


32.     ACOUSTIC HEAT CHARITY FUNDRAISER.  The G String Acoustic Club at Topcliffe, which John Storey now helps to run, has a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society on Saturday 30th June at the Angel Inn, Topcliffe near Thirsk.  Called Acoustic Heat, it promises “8 of the hottest acts in acoustic music”, including John himself, David Swann and a range of other soloists and duos.  It runs from 7pm with entry just £5 in a very good cause.



This must be the longest newsletter ever.  It’s wonderful what a wet day can provoke!  I should be back around the end of the month with a somewhat slimmer bulletin.