Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 156

New Years Eve 2012


1.        HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE.  I’ll begin by wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and musical year in 2013.  In particular, I say that to the higher than usual number of new sign-ups added to this e-list in the last month.  We now have around 920 subscribers, something I never dreamed possible when I sent out the first modest mailshot to some 50 recipients way back in September 2002.  The growth in electronic communication has been an invaluable counterweight to the steady decline in outlets for hard copy marketing such as posters and fliers, with the latest to disappear being the highly valued community leaflet stand at City Screen (shame on you, PictureHouse Cinemas!).
2.        A SUCCESSFUL AND SOLVENT CLUB.  Our folk club is in good shape as we enter another year.  There was a distinct wobble in late spring and early summer, but since then we have been doing well.  The entertainment offered by our professional guests has been of a uniformly high standard, our lively singers’ nights are testimony to the volume of local enthusiasm and talent, listener attendances have increased overall and we have a strong team of key members, notably Eddie Affleck, Phil Cerny, Chris Euesden and Stan Graham, who all do sterling work helping to run the club.
Our accounting year starts on 1st February, so the current period still has a month to run, but all the indications are that we will end with a healthy cash surplus, perhaps even into four figures.  That financial security gives us the confidence to plan ahead ambitiously, and also enables us to invest in new equipment and initiatives when appropriate.  For example, we recently purchased a roll-up promotional banner to advertise the club at NCEM shows and other external events.
3.        COMING UP IN JANUARY - DOUBLE SINGERS NIGHTS.  There are five Thursdays in January so we have two Singers & Musicians Nights scheduled, first this coming Thursday 3rd, hosted by Paula Ryan, and again on Thursday 24th, hosted by John Cherry (who recently celebrated his 80th birthday and is still going strong!).  After that, the next singers’ night falls on 14th February and that being a well-known saint’s day, we are suggesting a love songs theme!
4.        JANUARY GUESTS - THE BEST OF YORKSHIRE.  Our guest performers during January are all based in Yorkshire and all excel in their different styles.  We begin with Grace Notes on 10th January.  Maggie Boyle, Lynda Hardcastle and Helen Hockenhull recently celebrated twenty years of singing together and they have entertained us at the Black Swan no fewer than six times in that career.  They perform a cappella and accompanied (flute, recorder, keyboard, mandolin) arrangements of traditional and contemporary songs, their highly praised three-part harmonies and thoughtful repertoire making them one of the folk scene‘s best-loved female groups.  “Great songs, meticulously selected, beautifully sung, exquisitely arranged, perfectly programmed” said one critic.  Eddie does the MC duties and tickets are £10 (£8), on the door or in advance at WeGotTickets.
Anna Shannon, our guest on 17th January, first came to our attention when she won the Radio York “Song for Yorkshire” contest in 2006.  Since then she has established herself as a favourite name on the northern folk and acoustic music scene. Based near Scarborough, she is a distinctive and prolific songwriter, a versatile musician on guitar, fiddle and several other instruments, and a modest yet compelling live performer.  Chris Euesden hosts this one, her second full booking at the Black Swan, and tickets are £7 (£6).
Like a modern day musical L. S. Lowry, Roger Davies, our guest on 31st January, writes songs that celebrate the places and people he has grown up with, in his case in West Yorkshire.  Few modern songwriters display a stronger local (but never parochial) sense of identity.  Thoughtful and entertaining at the same time, he has a real and considerable talent that is being increasingly widely recognised.  The MC for this evening (Roger’s third Black Swan full booking) is Phil Cerny and tickets are again £7 (£6).
5.        WINTER FOLK DAY, 27th JANUARY.  For the last four years we have contributed a Sunday afternoon folk event to the annual York Residents Festival in late January.  These shows have proved very popular and have often been completely full houses, so this year we decided to expand into a Winter Folk Day, with both afternoon (2pm-5.30pm) and evening (7.30pm-10.30pm) concerts on Sunday 27th January in the function room at the Black Swan Inn.  As always, entry will be completely FREE to York Card Holders, so listeners can come and go as they wish, space permitting.  For non-York residents there will be a modest door charge of £3, or £2 concessions.  Do drop in and see us at some time or another in the course of the day.  The Black Swan Inn will be offering its usual Sunday meals service (12.00-4.45pm), so you could combine dining and music during an afternoon visit.
Many of our best York-based folk and acoustic musicians are taking part, plus a few special artists who live outside the city boundary but have strong local links.  The club PA system will be set up and the line-up looks like this:
Afternoon (MC Paula Ryan): 2.00 Tim Pheby, 2.30 Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, 3.00 Chris Euesden, 3.30 Paula, 4.00 Graham Hodge, 4.30 Sarah Dean, 5.00 Ian Pybus & Annie Curran
Evening (MC Phil Cerny): 7.30 David Swann, 8.00 Phil, 8.30 Union Jill, 9.00 John Storey, 9.30 Pip Jopling & Stuart Giddens, 10.00 Eddie Affleck.
Notable omissions are Stan Graham and The Foresters, both of whom are otherwise engaged that weekend.
6.        LOOKING AHEAD – FEBRUARY AND BEYOND.  I am in the process of writing the next club brochure, which will cover the period from late January until the end of May.  As soon as the text is completed I will update our club website programme pages and add more events to our online box office at  All being well the brochure itself will go to print early next week and be ready for circulation by mid-month.
February begins with a rare solo show by Julie Matthews (7th).  Entitled Ballads of the Games, it will focus on Julie’s work for the recent radio ballads on the Olympic Games, with recorded interviews and other narrative putting the songs in context. Later in the month there is another Young Performer Showcase (21st), this time with Kirsty Bromley (Sheffield) and Jessica Lamb (Northumberland), then we have a return visit by the great Scottish singer Ewan McLennan (28th), winner of the 2011 Folk Awards Horizon trophy.
Recently agreed future bookings include Young Folk award-winning trio Moore Moss Rutter for 2nd May and a rescheduled date for Dana & Susan Robinson on 27th June, following the cancellation of their 2012 tour due to Dana’s broken wrist. Other dates under discussion include Australian acapella women’s group Salvation Jane and Brighton-based band The Long Hill Ramblers, which includes Laura Hockenhull (daughter of Grace Notes’ Helen) and Ben Paley (son of recent our veteran special guest Tom).
7.        STEVE’S TALES FROM THE LAND, THE SEA & THE HEART.  Our first NCEM concert of 2013 brings Steve Knightley back to York on his annual solo tour.  The songwriting force behind the mighty Show of Hands, Steve is renowned for his strong narrative songs reflecting life in his native West Country, while he also pulls no punches in writing highly literate numbers about bigger national and global issues.  A charismatic performer with a great voice, he plays guitar, mandocello and a host of other instruments.  The date is Friday 15th February and with no opening act Steve will be on stage himself at 7.30pm.  Priced at £16 full and £14 concessions, tickets have been available for a while and indeed are already nearly half sold, so don’t miss out!  Go to or ring York 658338.
8.        CRIMES & BALLADS WITH MARTIN & PETER.  Our March concert is a joint promotion with the York Literature Festival, an intriguing collaboration between England’s greatest folk singer Martin Carthy and top crime novelist Peter Robinson.  The date is Tuesday 19th March and this one also has tickets on sale already, all priced at £14.  Incidentally, there’s lots more good stuff happening in this year’s Literature Festival, the biggest yet.  Find out more and download the full brochure at
9.        NEW NCEM BROCHURE IMMINENT.  The Early Music Centre’s own glossy brochure for the first half of 2013 also goes to print next week and as soon as it published booking will open for all remaining concerts, including our promotions withThe Outside Track (12th April), Union Jill’s CD Launch (11th May) and the Stan Graham / Foresters Double Bill (3rd July).  Look out also for some exciting folk, roots and world music gigs which NCEM are promoting themselves.  These include the Yiddish Twist Orchestra (26th February), June Tabor (21st March, unfortunately clashing with our own club meeting), Finnish accordionist Johanna Juhola (16th April), Scottish quintet Moishe’s Bagel (26th April) and Kevin Burke’s Celtic Fiddle Festival (3rd June).
10.     COLLABORATIONS WITH PLEASE PLEASE YOU.  As trailed in E-News 155, we are also collaborating on an occasional basis with local independent promoter Joe Coates of Please Please You.  There are two shows in the pipeline for the coming spring.  On Friday 8th March we have Sam Carter is at the City Screen Basement on Coney Street.  A past club guest of ours at the Black Swan, Sam is a top class English-style fingerpicking guitarist (“the finest of his generation” says Jon Boden) and a subtle songwriter, seen twice in quick succession on BBC TV recently, first in Later With Jools Holland then in a Sandy Denny tribute concert.  Tickets are £10.  Go to for full details.
On Saturday 20th April the above mentioned Jon Boden appears at The Duchess on Stonebow during the Spiers & Boden Back Yard Songs tour, of which I’ll have more details in a future newsletter.  Booking is now open at TicketWeb
11.     BUILDING WORKS AT THE BLACK SWAN.  The enlargement of the Black Swan kitchen is now underway and will also involve some alterations to the toilets with (we are promised) the introduction of heating and new ventilation!  In connection with the building work, the pub will be closed until 6pm this coming Thursday and until 5pm on Friday 4th.  If you are thinking of eating either night, best check with the pub on 01904 679131.
12.     FORESTERS ON FILM.  As promised last time, I now have more details of The Foresters’ DVD, recorded in concert at Helmsley Town Hall last autumn.  The disc costs £5 plus £1 p&p and can be had from Steve Marshall, 01904 490440.
13.     REMEMBERING JACKSON - CONTINUED.  My piece in the last E-News about Jackson C Frank brought an interesting youthful reminiscence from reader Norman Cross which I hope he won’t mind my sharing with you:
Back in 1965 I was visiting London for the first time with some friends.  We were all into folk music and decided to visit a club called Les Cousins.  We did not know who was on but just called on spec.  The guest was Jackson C Frank.  As we waited (at the bar) a small guy with a long black coat and black hair came into the club followed by taller guy with bushy hair.  They both seemed to know the landlord and the small one started to serve us and pulled our pints.  The MC (later) announced that friends from America would start the second half with a few songs - the two guys who had followed us in.  It was a great night.  We knew nothing about the artists but enjoyed their songs.  Six months later Simon & Garfunkel had a huge hit with Scarborough Fair and (I realised) it was Simon who had pulled our pints that night!
14.     GOODBYE MIKE HARDING – AND HELLO.  After 15 years, Mike Harding did his last Radio 2 folk programme on Boxing Day, following his well-publicised and enforced “retirement” by BBC bosses.  I’ve been increasingly impressed with Mike’s shows in recent years, as he actively seeks out and plays new and less well known artists alongside the “usual suspects”, and his final BBC show was no exception.  Choosing some of his all-time personal favourites, there was (for example) a track by relatively obscure local North Yorkshire singer Rebekah Findlay alongside the likes of Christy Moore!  The show is still available to listen to for another day or so at
He may be leaving the BBC, but Mike Harding continues to broadcast, having immediately announced a weekly online show at  This launched yesterday and Spiral Earth reports that: “at 5pm GMT a staggering 27,000 people hit the site in the first seconds of it going live and even with a massive server and unlimited bandwidth the site crashed.  Two hours later things were still buzzing and the site was just about coping with the massive number of hits it was getting.  Said Mike: "I expected that by the end of January we might be into the tens of thousands of downloads but I'd no idea so many folk fans would hit the site at the same time."  The site was worked on overnight and the first programme is now available online until next Sunday (6th) at 5 pm.  It will then be archived and available as a downloadable podcast.”  I’m listening to the first broadcast as I write and it certainly continues the eclectic mix of singers and styles, without any of those annoying trailers!
15.     GOODBYE SANDIE DUNLEAVY.  Also axed by BBC bosses last week was Radio York’s weekday evening show presented by Sandie Dunleavy, which for the last three year has included a Wednesday folk slot co-presented by Stan Graham. Stan writes “Sandie has been an absolute fan of our Folk Music slot and often played her favourite folk artists during her regular broadcasts.  She has really embraced the wide range of music we have played over the years.”  Her evening broadcasts had a regular listenership of 27,000 (that magic figure again!), which “compared favourably with the flagship breakfast and drive time shows” says Stan.  Stan’s Folk Music segment was particularly popular and there is some chance that it may continue on Radio York, moving to Sunday evenings.  We await further news.
16.     KATE RUSBY FEEDBACK.  One artist regularly played by both Mike Harding and Sandie Dunleavy was of course Kate Rusby, whose pre-Christmas tour brought her to the York Barbican.  Our own Phil Cerny was in the audience and posted afterwards: “one of the best concerts I've ever been to, and probably the best altogether for "feel good factor", not just from her but because of the choice of material, the terrific band she had with her, and the brass section too.  Excellent lighting as well.”  Of course, Kate made her first ever York appearance at the Black Swan way back in 1994 (in duo with Kathryn Roberts) and she was also the first folk singer to do a concert at the NCEM, in December 2000.
17.     ONE CLUB CLOSES.  Sadly, I hear that the monthly Singers & Musicians Club in Harrogate has had to suspend operations.  Edna Barker writes “the new landlord of the Travellers Rest has decided to remove the wall between the conservatory and the rest of the pub to create an open plan dining area, which means that our monthly folk nights will no longer be welcome.  We do not currently have any other venue in mind but will let you know if there are any future developments.”
18.     AND ANOTHER ONE CHANGES NIGHT.  The Processed Pea is one of the longest-running clubs in Yorkshire, a monthly gathering with a “big name guest” policy.  After meeting on Tuesdays for many years, they have now announced a change to the first Monday in the month.  They are also closed in January, so the next show will be on Monday 4th February.  The venue remains the Light Dragoon in Etton near Beverley.
19.     BUFFALO SKINNING AT THE BLACK SWAN.  There’s a growing buzz about five-piece band The Buffalo Skinners, who describe themselves on Facebook as a “Zyde-folk & Roll band, born in Scarborough, now living in York”.  The line-up includes fiddle and accordion as well as guitar, bass and drums.  They ran their own gigs regularly at the Black Swan last autumn and they will be back there from January onwards (beginning I think on Monday 14th).  They can also sometimes be seen busking in town.
20.     REMEMBERING THE LUDDITES.  Also happening at the Black Swan is a “do-it-yourself all-acoustic evening featuring songs, music and words with a radical edge” on Saturday 19th January.  It is one of a series of events which have been organised by York Alternative History to commemorate the trial and execution in York in January 1813 of seventeen working people commonly known as Luddites, for attacks on mills and mill-owners, and for their radical republican politics.  The organisers write:
“The Luddites are gone, but we are still here and, like them, we have a vision for a better world.  So let’s celebrate!  We will set out the room with chairs and tables, pub fashion, with a small stage area.  There will be no microphones or amplifiers.  We are loud enough without.  MC for the evening will be Martin Bashforth, reprising an ancient role from folk club organising days.  Doors will be open from 7.30 and we will start at 8 and finish about 11.  We have performers with radical songs of all sorts, folksongs from the Durham coalfields, feminist readings and music from a guitar and cello duo.  We would like many more acts to help things go with a swing: singers, musicians, poets, stand-up comics, clog-dancers, jugglers and other entertainers.  You don’t have to be a professional or a genius.  This is a chance to have fun, just when you thought the fun was all over.  So volunteer yourselves and press-gang your mates to get involved. Send a text with offers and contact details to Martin on 0781 704 5297.”
21.     OTHER STUFF AT THE BASEMENT.  As well as Sam Carter (item 10 above), two other shows stand out in the listings for City Screen Basement.  On Friday 8th February the line-up includes the above mentioned Buffalo Skinners, Three Sheets T’ Wind, Boss Caine and Sarah Horn & James Cudworth.  See E-News 154, item 20, for more about Sarah.  And then on Tuesday 5th March there is a York Literature Festival event “The Basement Japes: A Celebration of Bob Dylan” which includes Root 64, Rory Motion and Blonde on Bob.
Several nearby music and arts venues have now announced their New Year programmes.  Here are some brief highlights.
22.     GOOLE JUNCTION has acoustic blues with Paul Jones & Dave Kelly on Friday 18h January and Vin Garbutt on Saturday 2nd February.  See
23.     HARROGATE THEATRE has a very interesting sounding play about Woody Guthrie coming up.  Woody Sez runs from 11th to 13th February and is part music, part spoken word, with David Lutken in the title role.  That is followed by two nights of The Lock In, the Demon Barbers’ folk and hip-hop dance extravaganza, on 18th & 19th February.  See
24.     OTLEY COURTHOUSE programming includes Pete Knight’s Gigspanner on Friday 1st March, Old Dance School on Saturday 16th March, and Anna Massie & Mairearad Green on Saturday 13th April.  The website
25.     POCKLINGTON ARTS CENTRE has less folk programming than usual, but take note of Martin Simpson on Sunday 17th February and Heidi Talbot on Tuesday 5th March.  Find out more at
That’s more than enough for now. I should be back in a month or so.