Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 154

28th October 2012

 We’ve had some very enjoyable and successful nights in recent weeks, both at the Black Swan and at the NCEM.  Long may it continue!  Our next few promotions are detailed below, and there is also lots of news from the wider local folk scene.


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1.        GREGSON, MEGSON & McGEE.  This coming Thursday’s club night with Clive Gregson is virtually Sold Out as I write, with just two tickets left at WeGotTickets.  What a boost for Clive on the first date of his autumn tour!  Helen and Sharon of Union Jill, whose new CD is being produced by Clive, will act as joint MCs.


Next week’s guests on 8th November are Megson, the husband and wife duo of Stu and Debbie Hanna.  Three times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and double winners of the 2011 Spiral Earth Awards, Megson draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create a unique brand of folk music, earning critical acclaim such as “the most original duo on the British folk scene” The Guardian, and “simply brilliant” The Sunday Express.  Their infectious sound is a mix of heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars and mandolas.  “For my money” says Seth Lakeman “Megson are amongst the most exciting trailblazers of British contemporary folk.”


In 2011 Stu and Debbie took a break from music as they welcomed their little girl Lola Wren into the world.  Unable to stay away too long they looked for a project that would combine their new role as parents with their musical passions.  Their fifth album, When I Was A Lad, is the end result, an album of old and new children's folk songs to rival such classics as Ralph McTell's Alphabet Zoo.  No doubt they will air a few of those songs along with the pick of their back catalogue when they visit the Black Swan.  Chris Euesden is MC for this one, and tickets are already selling well at, priced at £10 full, £8 concessions, so advance booking might be advisable.


Completing the current block of guest nights, we welcome back Kirsty McGee on 15th November.  She was originally due to visit us a year ago but serious illness intervened and we had to reschedule.  In the interim she not only recovered her health but found a renewed bout of songwriting creativity and has just issued a new CD, Contraband, “an intimate collection of honest and intelligent songs which sees Kirsty more musically and emotionally exposed than ever before”.  Kirsty’s “hobopop” style defies easy labels, falling somewhere between jazz, folk, chanson and Americana, but we really love it and we are delighted she is back on the road and paying us a visit.  Stan Graham acts as MC for this one and entry is a modest £7 full, £6 concessions, on the door or in advance through WeGotTickets.


2.        FURTHER AHEAD.  The Singers & Musicians Night for November takes place on 22nd, then we welcome back a vastly entertaining old friend of ours,Bram Taylor, on 29th November.  With his tuneful voice, wide repertoire of songs and fine Lancashire banter, Bram always charms his audiences.  The following week, 6th December, Irish singer songwriter Anthony John Clarke and Fairport’s Dave Pegg are our guests, on the final night of their UK club tour.  Half the tickets have already gone for this one, so don’t delay if you want to come along!  Busy young folk musicians Hannah James & Sam Sweeney are our guests on 13th December (another one which is already selling quite well), then there is only our Christmas Party left this year, on 20th December.


3.        LATEST BOOKINGS FOR 2013.  The club’s programme for 2013 is filling up steadily.  Recent bookings include BBC Folk Musician of the Year Tim Edey(25th April), highly rated singer of traditional songs Chris Sarjeant (23rd May), young folkies Maz O’Connor (13th June) and Lucy Ward (3rd October), War Horse star Bob Fox (20th June) and Hartlepool’s finest The Young ‘Uns (15th August).  If you have anyone you’d particularly like to see invited to play, please send me your suggestions.





4.        KATHRYN AND SEAN, WITH PATSY.  We return to the National Centre for Early Music on Tuesday 27th November for a concert by Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman.  Kathryn is a sublime vocalist who first came to notice in her early 90s duo with Kate Rusby, before teaming up with the Lakeman brothers and Cara Dillon in the group Equation.  More recently she and Sean, a gifted acoustic guitarist and arranger, have worked as an acclaimed but low-key and occasional duo, in between the demands of a young family and Sean’s membership of his brother’s hugely successful band.  They have visited the Black Swan on three occasions, most recently for a packed full house 18 months ago.


Kathryn and Sean are now returning more fully to the fray, bursting out of the shadows and making a big noise in their own right, with a long-anticipated and high profile new album for the prestigious Navigator label, appropriately titled Hidden People.  This showcases some powerful self-penned songs (such as The Ballad of Andy Jacobs, which made a big impact at their last Black Swan gig) and also hints at their wider repertoire of traditional songs and covers.  There is a month-long tour to coincide with the CD, for which Sean (guitar) and Kathryn (voice, keyboard) are being joined by Scottish fiddle player Patsy Reid.  The support act in York will be Union Jill and tickets are now available from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338 or online at  They cost £14 full price or £12 concessions.


5.        A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS FOR ALL THE FAMILY.  Our final NCEM event this year is a little different.  A Victorian Christmas on Tuesday 18th December sees musical theatre company Blast From The Past present a festive exploration of the Victorian Yule, a warm-hearted evening of songs, stories and drama from the era of Dickens and Hardy.  This fully costumed show includes carols both familiar and obscure (song sheets will encourage the audience to join in), old parlour songs, a mummers’ play (a forerunner of pantomime) and a thrilling seasonal story, told in two parts with cliff-hanger!  The company comprises actor-musicians Chris Green and Jude Rees (both well known to us from their work in Isambarde) along with Sophie Matthews, between them playing accordion, melodeon, oboe, flute and waldzither.  This is very much a family show and we have priced it accordingly.  Tickets are £12 full price or £10 adult concessions, but just £5 for children under 18 and students.  The timing is also family-friendly, with no support act so the show should be over well before 10pm. This one looks like being very popular, having already sold around 80 tickets.


6.        2013 CONCERT PROGRAMME TAKES SHAPE.  As well as the already announced solo show by Steve Knightley (Friday 15th February, tickets on sale now) we will have a collaboration between crime novelist Peter Robinson and the mighty Martin Carthy (Tuesday 19th March, subject to final confirmation, for the York Literature Festival) and a visit by Scots / Irish / Canadian group The Outside Track (Friday 12th April), plus a CD launch event for Union Jill, with special guests (Saturday 11th May) and a “local heroes” summer double bill with The Foresters and Stan Graham (Wednesday 3rd July).  On top of which, the NCEM themselves have booked a couple of folk events, and we are now in discussion with agents about one or two exciting “big-name” shows for autumn 2013.


7.        CARTHY & SWARBRICK REVIEWED.  Locally-based critic Martin Longley attended last month’s very successful Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick concert at the NCEM and published his review online at  “This was destined to be a calendar high point for 2012” is his verdict.





8.        LIGHTING UP THE MUSIC.  The club has done well in recent weeks, in commercial terms as well as artistically, and we are investing some of our surplus funds in improved equipment.  Last week we took delivery of two new LED stage lights to use at club meetings.  We hope these should be just as effective in improving the ambience as our old lights have been, but without generating anything like the same amount of excessive heat.  We are also looking at one or two enhancements to the PA kit, and at a roll-up promotional banner.


9.        HAYMARKET REOPENED.  The public Haymarket Car Park alongside the Black Swan Inn finally reopened a few weeks ago after an archaeological dig.  So if you should find the pub’s own car park full (which does happen occasionally on a Thursday), there is now evening car parking available close by.  This is free to Resident Badge holders, £2 to others after 6pm.


10.     EATING AT THE BLACK SWAN.  The Black Swan’s pub meals have a very good reputation and it is increasingly necessary to book in advance.  If you are thinking of eating downstairs before attending a club function, I suggest you contact the pub on York 679131 to check availability and book a table.  Also, building work is scheduled to start soon to extend the pub’s currently cramped kitchen into the yard behind, and there may be some limited disruption to meals service at times.


11.     MUSIC GIVES WAY TO THEATRE.  There have been several small scale theatrical events in the Black Swan recently, and there is another such this Friday, 2nd November, when Hedgepig Theatre presents two plays in one night, The Signalman, by Charles Dickens, and The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe. Doors open at 7.30pm, the first play begins at 8.3pm and admission is free.  It makes a change from all that music!


12.     FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA.  Can I remind you that the Folk Club now has both a Facebook page at and a Twitter account at  Both seem to be generating quite a bit interest.  If you are into social media, please be our follower.  Some interesting things come to light.  For example, a few weeks ago we unearthed and posted a YouTube video of Bernard Wrigley recorded at his York club gig in 2008 – see





13.     FAREWELL MICHAEL MARRA.  I’ve just had some very sad news.  The unique Scottish writer and performer Michael Marra passed away last Tuesday, 23rd October.  He had completed a course of chemotherapy to combat lung cancer and was recovering from a chest infection when he died quite suddenly at home.  We had a couple of great shows by Michael at the folk club (May 2004 and November 2006) but somehow never got around to bringing him back a third time, partly because he became an annual fixture at another local venue, The Shed.  To quote his friend and agent John Barrow “we have just lost one of the really great Scottish songwriters who was also a good and thoroughly decent bloke”.  Our condolences go to his family and many friends


14.     DR PEACOCK ASKS YOU TO DANCE.  There’s a new ceilidh band on the local music scene.  Doctor Peacock has been put together by the erstwhile Blackbeard’s Tea Party front man Paul Young (melodeon, caller) together with Antonio Curiale (fiddle), Phil Bates (percussion) and Chris Barnes (guitar).  Chris is of course the man behind the long-running Wednesday night York acoustic session, currently meeting at The Golden Fleece.  Doctor Peacock are “available for weddings, pub gigs, festivals, private parties and just about anything else you'd like us to do really...” and have already produced a 7-track CD.  Find out more


15.     SAM CARTER ON TV.  If you caught either of Jools Holland’s BBC2 “Later” shows the week before last, you’d have seen welcome appearances by young singer, songwriter and BBC Folk Awards winner Sam Carter, who is picking up lots of praise for his long-awaited new CD, The No Testament.  Sam has played impressively for us twice at the Black Swan and we are now in discussion with another local promoter about bringing him back to York next March in another venue.  On TV Sam Carter was accompanied by Bellowhead fiddle player Sam Sweeney, who performs with Hannah James at the Black Swan on 13th December.


16.     STAN’S WINNING WAYS.  Stan Graham was recently chosen as one of six winners of a Grace Darling song competition, organised by Northumberland’s Woodhorn Museum to tie in with a new play, Amazing Grace, about the famous lighthouse keeper’s daughter.  The judges (which included Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne fame) had over 60 entries to assess, many of a high standard, so a big “well done” to Stan.  The winning entries are being used as live intro and interval music in Ed Waugh & Trevor Wood’s new play, which is touring the North East this Autumn.  Stan sang his song live at the Gateshead performance last Saturday.  No doubt it will get another airing when he guests at the White Hart Folk Club at Mickleby near Whitby on 17th November.


17.     FOLK OFF! AT YORK UNIVERSITY.  The students are back at the University of York, University Radio is back on air and Kirsty Rogers is presenting a fifth season of her Folk Off! folk and acoustic music shows, going out at 10pm on Tuesdays every week until 11th December.  She promises “summer festival highlights such as Cropredy interviews from Dave Pegg, Big Country and Ioscaid, and up-coming interviews from The Albion Band, Kathryn Tickell and others”. The programme can be heard off campus via


18.     MIKE HARDING TO LEAVE RADIO 2.  Many of you will have seen national media coverage of the BBC’s decision to “retire” Mike Harding from Radio 2’s folk music show at the end of this year, which doesn’t seem to have been handled very well.  Mike has hosted the show for 15 years and has hugely increased the radio listenership for folk music.  His place will be taken by Mark Radcliffe.  What a pity that they cannot both be on air!  Can the BBC really find only one hour a week on national radio for coverage of the vibrant and diverse modern UK folk scene?  Particularly at a time when local and regional radio coverage is under threat?  Ours may be only a minority musical genre, but it is still a fairly large one, and a growing one at that.


Meanwhile, Mike Harding seems to be getting out and about. I hear he joined Gerry McNeice on stage at a recent meeting of our fellow folk club over in Otley. Perhaps he’ll make it to York one day!





19.     BLACKBEARDS AND ALBIONS.  Local heroes Blackbeard's Tea Party are playing a special Halloween gig this coming Wednesday, 31st, at Stereo on Gillygate, with dressing up and Halloween silliness.  Tickets are still available through  Also, resurgent folk rockers The Albion Band are touring in November and play the Duchess on Stonebow on Sunday 11th.  See  The common denominator is of course bass player Tim Yates, who is a member of both bands.


20.     SARAH, JAMES & FAIRPORT.  Sarah Horn is now a second year student at York University but is known to us as a very fine fiddle player.  As a schoolgirl with the band JiggaWatt she played at one of Young Performer nights four years ago, then with her current musical partner James Cudworth she opened for Spiers & Boden at the NCEM in 2011.  Although she is in York and James is at Liverpool University, they still perform together and earlier this year received the Seth Lakeman Rising Stars Award at the Barnsley Acoustic Roots Festival. As well as her duo work, Sarah keeps busy playing with a variety of other singers and bands.


Next Saturday, 3rd November, Sarah & James open for Fairport Convention at The Duchess.  Tickets are still available and can be booked through Sarah and James at a special price of £15 (normally £18).  Contact them through to take up the offer or  


21.     WORLD MUSIC IN THE VAULTS.  Leeds-based world music act Fusion appear at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane on Saturday 1st December.  They play over 15 instruments and their 90 minute show “draws on sounds and songs from around the Mediterranean, Africa and the East, including ancient Japanese court music”.  Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start with entry £5 full, £4 concessions.


22.     OPEN CEILIDH AT YORK ST JOHN.  I’ve had news of another ceilidh in York which is open to all.  It is on Friday 7th December at Temple Hall on the York St John campus, Lord Mayor’s Walk, running from 8pm until 11pm.  Music comes from the Bad Bargain Band, the ceilidh group which grew out of Ebor Morris’s musicians.  Organiser Beatrice Wright hopes that this will be “the first of many ceilidh dances in York city centre”.  Tickets are £10 (or £7.50 to NUS card holders), booked at





23.     FORESTERS FUNDRAISING.  Long-established local group The Foresters do lots of good work for charity and have a fundraiser for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance coming up this Friday, 2nd November, at Helmsley Town Hall.  Tickets, which include supper and a hot drink, are available at £10 from Jill Leckenby on 01439 770277 or Ann Wheldon on 01439 770089.  The Foresters are also doing a show at The Victoria Inn in Wetwang on Friday 23rd November (free entry) and have their annual Christmas party at Wigginton Recreation Hall on 15th December.


24.     FOLK SHOWS IN SWALEDALE.  John Little continues to organise interesting concerts at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale.  This Friday, 2nd November, he has the intriguing combination of veteran concertina and Northumbrian pipes player Alistair Anderson with dynamic young banjo wizard Dan Walsh (as enjoyed at the Black Swan last spring).  Two weeks later, Friday 16th November, it is the return of Appalachian Roots, aka Riley Baugus & Ira Bernstein, with their mix of dancing, fiddle tunes, banjo music and southern Appalachian songs and ballads.  Find out more at  John has struggled a bit lately and even had to cancel one recent show because of poor sales.  Do support him if you can.


25.     TONY OUT AND ABOUT.  Long-distance Black Swan resident Tony Morris, from Whitby, asks me to mention a couple of up-coming shows, both in Saltburn by the Sea.  On Friday 9th November he plays his various flutes as part of a concert at the Spa to raise funds for the town’s Woodland Centre, then on Friday 7th December he performs at The ArtsBank.


26.     CEILIDH IN HARROGATE.  There’s a public ceilidh over in Harrogate (St John’s Church Hall, Bilton Lane) on Saturday 17th November, 8pm to 11pm. Dancing is to The Village Hop Band and the entertainment will also include an exhibition of clog dancing from Hadrian Clog, since the evening is a fundraiser for Clogfest, the national gathering of the step clog community held annually in July in Skipton.  Tickets are £7 (£5 concessions) on the door or by telephoning 01423 340441 in advance.  Food will be on sale but there is no bar, so remember to bring your own drinks.


27.     GIGSPANNING IN CHERRY BURTON.  Steeleye Span’s legendary fiddle player Peter Knight visits Cherry Burton Village Hall near Beverley on Saturday 17th November with his “other” band Gigspanner.  Their music is folk based but “flirts audaciously with Eastern European, French, Cajun, African and even Aboriginal influences” it says here.  Tickets are £10 from


28.     COMPANIONSHIP IN MALTON.  Local band and Folk Weekend regulars The Fine Companions are returning to the Studio at the Milton Rooms in Malton on Saturday 24th November with their take on old and new folk traditions, following a sell-out show last year.  Tickets are £8, available from 01653 600048.


29.     OPEN MIC IN HELPERBY.  Word has reached me of another village with an occasional “open mic” night.  The village is Helperby, the pub is the The Oak Tree and the next get-together is on Friday 30th November from around 8.30pm.  This is an “anything goes” session so expect pop and rock covers as well as folk.  Amongst the local supporters are Black Swan regular Pete Quinn and blues duo Stony Plain.


30.     IRISH CELEBRATION IN LEEDS.  The annual Leeds Gathering runs from the 1st to the 24th of November.  This celebration of Irish arts and culture has dozens of events including music sessions, literary gatherings, film screenings and educational activities at venues across Leeds.  The programme is designed to appeal to both those of an Irish background and people from the wider community with an interest in music and the arts.  Music shows include Karen Tweed & Friends (Headingley, 9th November), Karen Ryan & Pete Quinn (not the Helperby one!)(Holbeck, 17th November, and John Doyle & Kris Drever (Otley, 23rd November).  For further information visit


31.     LOOSELY FOLK IN THIRSK.  There is a new occasional venue for live music at The Courthouse in Thirsk.  Appearing roughly monthly under the banner Loosely Folk will be “artists from the world of folk and beyond”.  The series began with American duo Misner & Smith in September and continued last week with Laura-Beth Salter & Rachel Newton.  The next show is on Saturday 1st December with the lovely Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell.  Find out more


32.     PHIL BEER FOR SHERIFF HUTTON.  Early each year the members of Show of Hands embark on their own projects.  Steve Knightley will be doing his annual solo tour which takes in York (see item 6 above) and in 2013 Phil Beer is also doing solo shows at selected small venues, rather than his usual Phil Beer Band tour.  One of those shows will be Sheriff Hutton Village Hall on Saturday 2nd March.  This is a first stab at concert promotion by Neil Hodges of the Flaxton Folk Club.  Tickets are on sale now and Neil tells me he has already sold a reasonable number.  They are £12 each and are only available from Neil on 01347 878595,  It was Phil Beer who presented the Black Swan with our BBC Radio 2 Folk Club Of The Year Award in 2009, so he is rather special for us and I am delighted he is coming to our area.



That’s more than enough to be going on with, I think!