25th November 2012
1. KATHRYN & SEAN – HIDDEN PEOPLE. There are still tickets available for the concert by Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman this coming Tuesday night (27th) at the National Centre for Early Music. Joined by young Scottish fiddle player Patsy Reid and showcasing material from their new release Hidden People, alongside a selection of traditional songs and modern covers, Kathryn and Sean will be on stage just after 8pm. Doors open at 7pm and Union Jill will get things off to a stirring start at 7.30pm.
Nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013 were announced a few days ago, with Kathryn & Sean winning a shortlist place as Best Duo, alongside next month’s club guests Hannah James & Sam Sweeney (see item 7 below) and past club guests O’Hooley & Tidow and Gilmore & Roberts. Kathryn & Sean’s song The Ballad of Andy Jacobs has also been shortlisted in the Best Original Song category.
Also last week, Sean and Kathryn were interviewed for Friday’s edition of The Press, following on from an enthusiastic review of their new CD in the same paper back in August. Go to www.yorkpress.co.uk and search under their names to find both articles.
During the interview, Sean reminisces about the Black Swan, where he has performed in the past with both Kathryn and with his fiddle mentor Tom McConville. “I love it,” he says, “it’s great with the old panelled walls. It’s brilliant. And when I am in York, perhaps with my brother (Seth), I always go there for something to eat.”
Also, I recently re-read The Guardian’s 4-star review of their new CD. Veteran folk critic Robin Denselow describes it as “a reminder that Roberts is a powerful, versatile singer who can switch from thoughtful ballads to stomping acoustic rock, as well as that they are both impressive multi-instrumentalists. They are also excellent songwriters, specialising in brooding horror stories and in tragedy. The Ballad of Andy Jacobs, backed by Roberts’s solo piano, is one of the most pained and successful songs to have been written about the miners’ strike. An impressive and entertaining set.”
Tickets are £14 (or £12 for concessions) at www.ncem.co.uk, on 01904 658338 and on the door on Tuesday from 7pm. And if for any reason you can’t come along on Tuesday night but still want to hear something of Kathryn & Sean, tune in to Sandie Dunleavy on BBC Radio York from 6pm. They will be recording a few things with Sandie that afternoon, for evening broadcast.
2. A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS BLAST. Our December NCEM concert is a family show called A Victorian Christmas, by musical theatre company Blast From The Past (who in other guises are one member of The Oxford Waits and two former members of Isambarde). This one is selling well and over 60% of seats have already been taken. The date is Tuesday 18th December and tickets include a special £5 option for children under 18 and students.
3. MARTIN’S NIGHT OF CRIME. Fresh from his recent sell-out success with Dave Swarbrick, we can now announce that Martin Carthy returns to the NCEM next March with a very different stage partner, the crime novelist Peter Robinson, of Inspector Banks fame. Entitled Crimes & Ballads and a co-promotion between the Folk Club and the York Literature Festival, this double act was first staged to some acclaim at Beverley Folk Festival last summer. Peter will give readings, including a specially written short story, interspersed with suitable traditional folk songs from Martin. The date is Tuesday 19th March and tickets have just gone on sale, all priced at £14.
4. PLEASE PLEASE YOU AND US. I can also announce that we are joining forces with local independent music promoter Please Please You (aka Joe Coates) to help promote some of their concerts in York, including the return of two times Black Swan club guest and BBC Folk Awards nominee Sam Carter (at City Screen Basement on Friday 8th March) and of our old favourites Spiers & Boden (at the Duchess on Saturday 20th April).
First up this coming Sunday, 2nd December, we are helping to publicise Matthews Southern Comfort at The Duchess. This is a particularly special one for me. I have admired and followed the work of sublime vocalist and songwriter Iain Matthews ever since the first incarnation of this group in 1969, and I probably own a higher percentage of Iain’s considerable recorded output than I do of any other long-running performer.
Here’s what I wrote for the club website: “Last year Iain Matthews (Fairport Convention, Plainsong) reformed his classic early band Matthews Southern Comfort for a short but successful European tour. The group now returns for a further set of UK dates and the Folk Club is happy to be collaborating with local promoter Please Please You in bringing them to York. It’s a great show featuring all MSC’s most popular songs including ‘Something In The Way She Moves’, ‘The Road to Ronderlin’ and, of course, their 1970 No1 hit ‘Woodstock’, alongside some great new material that has emerged during the band’s renaissance. MSC has been reborn simply because Iain feels he didn’t quite get it right first time around. In assembling a new group of spirited and like-minded players, Matthews has surpassed all expectations. The musicianship and commitment are second to none and the sumptuous, soaring vocal harmonies instantly bring to mind the first version of the band. The new MSC is a quartet, featuring guitarist and songwriter Bart Jan Baartmans, keyboardist Bart de Win and the relatively unknown but hugely talented songstress Elly Kellner. This spectacular band bridges both the past and the present in great style.”
Doors open at 7.30pm, support comes from young Scarborough duo Seafret and tickets are £13 in advance (plus booking fee) or £15 on the door. I understand that it will be a seated performance. Find out more at www.theduchessyork.co.uk.
THURSDAY CLUB NIGHTS
5. BRAM IS BACK. This Thursday (29th) we welcome back one of our most consistently entertaining club guests, Bram Taylor. In fact, this will be the Lancastrian’s tenth visit to the Black Swan. He is an excellent singer and a first-rate club entertainer with a great line in patter, while his repertoire is a satisfying mix of traditional folk songs and wide-ranging modern covers. Eddie Affleck does the introductions and there will be plenty of tickets on the door from 8pm, priced at £7 full or £6 concessions.
6. BOOK SOON FOR AJC & PEGGY. It is a different story with our guests on 6th December, expatriate Irish singer songwriter Anthony John Clarke and Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg. As I write there are just a dozen tickets left online for this one (£12 full, £10 concessions), so go to www.wegottickets.com sooner rather than later to get yours. Stan Graham hosts this event.
7. HANNAH & SAM ALSO SELLING WELL. Our last Thursday night club guests of the year will be Hannah James & Sam Sweeney on 13th December. Somehow these two fine young English folk specialists still manage to fit in a few duo dates around their many other commitments and indeed they have been shortlisted in the Best Duo category of those BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2013, while Sam also gets a nomination in the Musician Of The Year ballot. He also performs with Bellowhead and with Fay Hield’s band, while Hannah works with Lady Maisery and with Maddy Prior. Both first came to notice with the teenage band Kerfuffle and immediately after their York show they go off on a short Kerfuffle reunion tour. What busy people!
Tickets are already around 40% sold for this one, so again you are advised to book sooner rather than later at WeGotTickets. This is a £10 / £8 event with Phil Cerny acting as MC.
After Hannah & Sam we have the Christmas Party (20th), before taking a week off (27th), then welcoming 2013 with a Singers Night (3rd January), followed by Grace Notes (10th).
8. BUILDING WORKS AT THE BLACK SWAN. The extension works to the Black Swan kitchen mentioned in the last newsletter are now scheduled to begin in a few days’ time. We don’t anticipate any disruption to club activities but if you are thinking of eating, best check with the pub on 01904 679131.
9. FORESTERS ON FILM. Steve Marshall of The Foresters writes “We are just about to bring out a DVD of the recent concert we did at Helmsley for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The filming was done professionally and the sound is surprisingly good for a live gig, taken from a feed off the mixer desk plus an audience ambient mic”. More details soon. Steve also tells me that there are only 30 tickets left for the band’s annual Christmas bash in Wigginton on Saturday 15th December.
10. REMEMBERING JACKSON. Listening to Radio 4 yesterday afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a half-hour documentary about one of the enigmatic figures in the 1960s London folk scene, troubled American troubadour Jackson C. Frank. It was fascinating stuff. Hear it on the i-Player at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nxh4s anytime in the next 6 days.
11. NEW LOCAL HILLBILLY BAND. Word reaches me of a new “hillbilly” band in York playing “old time, blues, rags and swing”. The Jaybirds comprise veteran local pickers Burt Sawdon and Pete Hull (guitars, dobro, banjo), Frank Pallister (fiddle, mandolin) and Marcia Mackey (double bass) with all four of them singing. I have already suggested they do a spot at the Folk Weekend next June.
OTHER YORK EVENTS
12. KOSHKA AT THE NCEM. Aside from our own folk concerts, one event coming up at the NCEM which is worth noting is the return of Russian gypsy music trio Koshka on Tuesday 11th December. Oleg Ponomarev and Lev Atlas (violins) and Nigel Clark (guitar) combine “conservatoire rigour with wild gypsy flair, plus more than a touch of wit and innovation” in a show entitled “Russian Winter, Gypsy Fire”. Find out more at www.ncem.co.uk. Koshka are also at the Victoria Hall, Saltaire, on Sunday 16th December and at Grassington Town Hall on Thursday 20th December.
13. KATE AT THE BARBICAN. The early singing partner of the above mentioned Kathryn Roberts was of course Kate Rusby. She too has a young family these days but still tours regularly and brings her Kate Rusby At Christmas show to the York Barbican on Friday 14th December (and to Huddersfield on 1st, Middlesbrough on 7th and Harrogate on 8th). See www.katerusby.com for full details
14. BOB AT THE BLACK SWAN. While the folk club takes a week off between Christmas and New Year, you can still enjoy some Thursday night live music in the Wolfe Room on 27th December, and even see a few familiar faces. Yes, it is Blonde on Bob with their annual Christmas Bash. Doors open at 8pm and there will be “all the usual Dylan related seasonal fun” promises Chris Euesden. Advance tickets are £8 from WeGotTickets or it is £10 on the door. Enquiries can be directed to 01904 610899.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
15. PICKERING ACOUSTIC MUSIC. The Sun Inn at Pickering is home to several live music events, courtesy of a very sympathetic landlord. One such is the Pickering Acoustic Music club, which meets on alternate Wednesdays from 8pm, with a mix of singers’ nights and guest bookings. They have Scarborough’s Anna Shannon on 28th November and York’s Holly Taymar on 12th December.
16. LOOSELY FOLK IN THIRSK. A reminder of the new occasional venue at The Courthouse in Thirsk, Loosely, Folk. They have Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell, making one of their last appearances together, on Saturday 1st December, and have announced new year dates for Kirsty McGee (impressive recently at the Black Swan) on 15th February, Rebecca Pronsky on 22nd March and Gilmore & Roberts on 26th April. Find out more at www.ruralarts.org.
17. FAKE, JILL & FRAZER – HALF PRICE OFFER FOR YOU. Also on Saturday 1st December, York artists take over the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough. Fake Thackray headlines, with support from special guests Union Jill. Tickets would normally be £13 but there is a very generous half-price offer (£6.50) to people on the Black Swan e-list. Book your tickets at half price by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org quoting the Black Swan and saying how many tickets you would like. Do not book online at either the Frazer Theatre or Kula Productions websites.
18. BELLA IN GOOLE & WHITBY. The lovely Bella Hardy is touring her seasonal show Bright Morning Star during December, with Anna Massie and Chris Sherburn accompanying. Venues include the fascinating Yorkshire Waterways Museum in Goole (01405 768730) on Wednesday 5th and the new Famous Flower Folk Club in Whitby (01947 606981) on Tuesday 11th. One of the people behind the latter club is Eliza Carthy, and it is surely no coincidence that Bella has formed a new band with Eliza, the above mentioned Lucy Farrell, and Kate Young, on the road in January.
19. STATE OF THE SELBY UNION. The concert series at Selby Town Hall winds up for this year with our own guests of 6 months ago, Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams, aka State Of The Union, on Saturday 15th December. See www.selbytownhall.co.uk for full details
20. DOUBLE DOSE IN OTLEY. Over at the Otley Courthouse arts venue, they end their season with the Belshazzar’s Feast Christmas Show on Friday 21st December, followed on Saturday 22nd by local heroes The Hall Brothers with their 21st Anniversary Concert. See www.otleycourthouse.org.uk.
That’s enough for now. I should be back sometime over the Christmas holiday.