Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 157

5th February 2013



1.        JULIE MATTHEWS SINGS THE BALLADS OF THE GAMES.  Our meeting at the Black Swan this Thursday (7th) is rather special on two counts.  Firstly, Julie Matthews does relatively few solo bookings, preferring to concentrate on her internationally acclaimed duo with Chris While, and secondly, this is a themed presentation The Ballads of the Games.


Along with Jez Lowe, Martin Simpson and other leading folk artists, Julie was commissioned last year to produce a new series of BBC Radio Ballads, inspired by the Olympic Games past and present.  Go to to find out more.  On Thursday night, Julie showcases some of the material she came up.  Her songs will be interspersed with some of the recorded interviews and reminiscences which inspired them, and she will describe how she wrote the songs and helped compile the finished radio ballads.


Julie’s show comprises two 60-minute sets, so floor spots will be limited to the first half hour of the evening, with Julie’s old friend and associate Chris Euesden acting as MC.  Tickets are just £10 full or £8 concessions and are available at  We’ve sold nearly half of them already so there may be only a small number left by Thursday evening for purchase at the door.  Advance booking is certainly advisable!


2.        SONGS ON VALENTINE’S DAY.  Our Singers Night for this month falls on St Valentine’s Day, Thursday 14th, so we are asking that participants bring along something romantic to sing – or at least to amuse us by explaining how their choices could be interpreted as love songs!  It is not mandatory, but we hope at least some of you will enter in the spirit of the day.  Phil Cerny has the task of keeping order.


3.        NO TICKETS LEFT FOR STEVE KNIGHTLEY – ENJOY A BEER INSTEAD.  Not surprisingly, the NCEM concert by Steve Knightley on Friday 15th is now completely Sold Out and the Box Office has opened a waiting list for any returns.  Don’t forget that Steve’s Show of Hands partner Phil Beer is also on solo tour at the moment and you can catch up with him at Sheriff Hutton Village Hall on Saturday 2nd March.  There are still tickets left for that one, available from the promoter Neil Hodges on 01347 878595,, and they are priced at £12. Any proceeds after fees and expenses will go to York Against Cancer, says Neil.  Phil’s concert starts at 8.00 with doors opening at 7.15.


4.        KIRSTY & JESSICA – TWO MORE EXCEPTIONAL YOUNG MUSICIANS.  Once or twice a year we hold a showcase night for talented younger musicians and singers, and so healthy is the burgeoning folk scene these days that we often feel spoilt for choice over who to invite along.  The standard is particular high on Thursday 21st February, when we have Jessica Lamb and Kirsty Bromley sharing the night.


Jessica Lamb is a singer, Northumbrian piper and guitarist from Bellingham in rural Northumberland.  Despite her youth (she is still at school) Jessica has already amassed a lot of experience and has been tutored by the likes of Kathryn Tickell.  Last year she reached the semi-finals of the BBC Young Folk Award.  Read more at, where she says that recently she has been “concentrating on writing her own piping tunes and playing gigs and festivals”.  She describes her style as “folk with a touch of country and western. Kate Rusby meets Taylor Swift perhaps!”


Kirsty Bromley is a few years older and is based in Sheffield, a city with lots of great resident folk singers, some of whom (e.g. Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Martin Simpson) have mentored Kirsty, who has a particularly fine and expressive voice.  Read more about her award-winning singing at, where you can also find out about her love of Morris dancing and her considerable instrumental talents on the trumpet.


On a Young Performers Night each artist does two half-hour sets and we have no floor performers, other than a couple of songs by the MC (once again it is Phil Cerny) to get the night started.  Entry is £7 full price or £6 concessions and every penny taken is split between our two young guests, so do come along and give them your support.


5.        WELCOME BACK EWAN McLENNAN.  One of our best debut guests in recent years was a young expatriate Scotsman from Leeds called Ewan McLennan.  That was in late 2010, and Ewan was clearly impressing many other people as well, since he carried off the BBC Folk Awards Horizon trophy for best new artist just a few months later.  He has a strong and mature singing voice, great guitar playing skills and a rich repertoire drawn from the folk tradition, especially that of Scotland, alongside some well-chosen modern songs and a leavening of powerful original material, often displaying his radical political leanings.  We are delighted to welcome Ewan back to York on Thursday 28th February, with fellow Scot Eddie Affleck acting as MC and tickets already selling well, priced at £9 full and £7 concessions.   Find out more and sample Ewan’s music for yourself at


6.        LOOKING AHEAD – MARCH AND BEYOND.  The club line-up is typically varied through next month, beginning with a return visit by the Massachusetts-based singer of “great songs written by other people” Debra Cowan (7th March), and continuing with the generation-spanning pairing of guitar virtuoso and superb fiddle player/singer that is Kevin Dempsey & Rosie Carson (14th March).  The monthly Singers Night falls on 21st March, then it is another visit by one of England’s folk stalwarts, Martyn Wyndham-Read (28th March).


Our March concert at the NCEM is the intriguing collaboration between Martin Carthy and Yorkshire-born crime novelist Peter Robinson on Tuesday 19th March.  This York Literature Festival event is attracting a lot of interest and is already half sold, so don’t delay!  All tickets are £14, from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, online


Martin Carthy has been prominent in the media recently.  A few weeks ago he was the castaway on Desert Island Discs (still available at then last week he presented a special gong to Billy Bragg at the BBC Folk Awards (shouldn’t that have been the other way round?) and he was heard talking about family and sibling vocalising on a Radio 4 news programme, a discussion prompted by the death of the last of the Andrews Sisters.  Meanwhile Peter Robinson sits at the top of the Book Charts with his latest Inspector Banks novel, Watching The Dark.


Lastly for March, we have one of our occasional collaborations with local promoter Please Please You, presenting the mighty Sam Carter at the City Screen Basement Bar on Friday 8th March.  Find out more at





7.        NEW LEAFLET, SAFE WEBSITE.  Our new programme brochure was published in the middle of January, detailing all our events through to the end of May.  If you haven’t already picked one up, they are available at the Black Swan Inn, Tourist Information Centre and elsewhere, as well as at every club function.  The same information, or most of it, can be found on the club website which, let us reassure you, is entirely safe.  Earlier this year, if you did a Google search for us, it was reporting “this site may be compromised”.  This had us flummoxed, particularly since nowhere on our site do we take any payments or ask for any personal details.  Our webmaster took it up with the mighty Google and now it seems all is resolved and the spurious warning has been removed!


8.        FINANCIAL YEAR ENDS IN SURPLUS.  We reached the end of our accounting year on 31st January and while I have not yet had time to do a full analysis, I can report an overall surplus of just over £1,000, which is very gratifying.  We had a year of ups and downs, as I have recorded in these newsletters, but overall the “ups” were bigger and longer that the “downs”.  Our total assets now stand at a touch over £5,000, which is £450 more than the previous record high, recorded at the end of year 2008/09.


9.        OPEN MEETING TO HELP PLAN OUR FOLK WEEKEND.  With our Winter Folk Day successfully behind us, it is time to give serious thought to the annual Folk Weekend scheduled for 7th-9th June.  We have a well-established and successful structure to this event, now in its 11th year, but there is always scope for modifications and new initiatives.


I have organised a Folk Weekend Open Meeting for Tuesday 19th February, from 8pm in the Oak Room at the Black Swan Inn.  Do come along and share your ideas about how the weekend should be programmed, particularly if you can also offer practical help in preparing for and running York’s collective folk knees-up.





10.     CHECHELELE SEEK BASS VOICES.  York’s world music choir Chechelele is looking to recruit male voices to boost its bass range.  Rehearsals are held on Tuesday nights in Fulford, 8pm-10pm.  To find out more visit then contact Phil Crawshaw for a discussion,  The choir, which will soon be celebrating its 20th anniversary, is also looking to increase the number of public concerts it does each year, usually for charity.


11.     WEE FOLK NO MORE.  Ali Morgan writes that due to increasing weekend commitments elsewhere, “I have reluctantly decided to wind down the Wee Folk monthly sessions.  It has been enormous fun, and has raised a fair bit for charity.  Please thank people for their support from us.”


However, Ali and friends will be back at the Black Swan on Thursday 21st March at 5pm, with a children’s event The Yo Ho Ho Show as part of the York Literature Festival – for more details.  We are also hoping that she will be able to run a kids’ club during the Folk Weekend in June.  Thanks for all your efforts, Ali.


And a few snippets of news about performers associated with our club:


12.     PAULA’S SONGWRITING SUCCESS.  Paula Ryan (who did sterling work as MC of the Winter Folk Day afternoon session), writes “my original song in Gaelic, “Havin' The Craic”, which I have sung once or twice at the Black Swan, has reached the final of the Pan Celtic Irish National Song Contest.  This is to choose Ireland's entry in the Pan Celtic Festival which features original songs from all the Celtic language areas: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall etc.  I'm obviously delighted to have reached the final and will be going over to Carlow on 7th February to sing my song in the final.”  She adds “It may not be the most widely known song contest and I'm not really expecting to win or anything but it is always nice to have some recognition for something you've written and it should be a fun event and an interesting forum in which to perform and meet other songwriters”.  Good luck, Paula!


13.     FAKE JAKE ON THE ROAD.  By now Fake Thackray, aka John Watterson, is well into the first week of a 30 date tour supporting the legendary Fairport Convention.  He’ll even join the band on stage for one number -“it sounds just like real music” he quips.  You can read his tour diary at   And then from 10th March John will be headlining his own solo tour, which is admirably long and full.  Somehow he still finds time to run his Poppleton Live events as well.  Richard Digance’s show there on 16th March is now Sold Out, and John has announced a visit by the inimitable Les Barker on 6th July.


14.     TONY FLUTING IN MADEIRA.  Missing from club functions recently has been Tony Morris, enjoying his annual winter sojourn in Madeira.  He writes “thought you might like to know I am playing a flute music concert on Valentine's Day at Criamar Gallery in Funchal.  So, if anyone is in Madeira escaping the snow on that day, come along.”  That must be the most distant event we’ve ever plugged in these columns!


15.     THE A-RHYTHMICS MAKE THEIR DEBUT.  One of many enjoyable moments during our Winter Folk Day was seeing Two Black Sheep & A Stallion join forces on stage withDamian Fynes & Frank Pallister under the tongue-in-cheek collective name of the A-Rhythmics.  It was a spirited set, mixing some of Damien’s fine originals with a few gems from the TBS cannon.  Hopefully we’ll soon hear more, at the Folk Weekend if not before.





16.     THREE SHEETS AND MORE IN THE BASEMENT.  First a repeat mention for the show this coming Friday (8th) at The Basement on Coney Street, when West Yorkshire “folk/punk” band Three Sheets T' Wind are joined by local acoustic roots acts Sarah Horn & James Cudworth, The Buffalo Skinners and Boss Caine.  Tickets are £6 on the door or £5 in advance from City Screen Box Office and it is an 8pm start.  Sounds good to me!


17.     KIERAN VOLUNTEERS.  If you are not coming to see Steve Knightley on Friday 15th, why not sample another top songwriter in a York venue?  Club favourite Kieran Halpinappears that night from 9pm at The Volunteer Arms on Watson Street, accompanied by percussionist Yogi Jockusch.  Kieran is celebrating 40 years as a touring musician and writes "I have to pay tribute to all the wonderful audiences who have attended over the years, to all the bookers and promoters who have given me work and to all the hospitality I have received from people who have bed fed and watered me.  You are the real stars of the show”.


18.     FOLK MUSIC AT BARLEY HALL – A SPECIAL OFFER.  The candlelit setting of medieval Barley Hall off Stonegate plays host to folk musician Ray Cooper on Sunday 17th February at 7.30pm, as part of the Jorvik Viking Festival.  A talented singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Ray is probably best known as bass player and cellist Chopper from Oysterband, with whom he toured worldwide, recorded numerous CDs and won many awards.  His solo music is influenced by his Scottish family heritage and by Sweden, where has lived since 2000 – hence the Viking Festival tie-up.  The organisers say “with real ale flowing at the bar and a promise from Ray to play a few slangposkor (old Swedish dance tunes), this intimate concert will truly be a Festival highlight.”


Tickets are priced at £14 full or £12 concessions but the organisers are kindly offering a £2 discount on either price for Black Swan newsletter readers.  Ring 01904 615505 to book tickets and just mention the Black Swan to receive your discount.


19.     DOINGS DOWN THE DUCHESS.  Upcoming shows at The Duchess on Stonebow include Michael Chapman on Tuesday 19th February, Irish musician Declan Sinnott on Sunday 17th March, local heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party on Saturday 6th April, Scotland’s Peatbog Faeries on Monday 8th April, songwriter Martyn Joseph on Wednesday 17th April, our own Please Please You co-promotion of Spiers & Boden on Saturday 20th April and Irish legend Paul Brady on Saturday 27th April.  See


20.     THOSE BASEMENT JAPES.  A reminder that on Tuesday 5th March York Literature Festival presents “The Basement Japes - A Celebration of Bob Dylan”.  Paying tribute to the mercurial genius of Mr Dylan will be Root 64 (Nick Thompson, Oz Hardwick, Miles Cain), comedian Rory Motion and Chris Euesden with his band Blonde on Bob.  This is at The Basement on Coney Street (where else?) and tickets are just £8 through the City Screen box office (0871 902 5726) and website.




I haven’t time to mention much here, but one event stands out:


21.     DRIFFIELD’S WINTER GATHERING OF FOLK.  Not content with running one of the best smaller music festivals of the summer season (Moonbeams Wold Top in July), the energetic Leila Cooper has put together a winter festival as well.  It all happens in Driffield on Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd March, cosily within a single venue The Bell Hotel. Headliners are Kris Drever on Friday and The Young ‘Uns, Henry Priestman and Roger Davies on Saturday, with local lass made (extremely) good Edwina Hayes there on both days and a strong supporting cast including Hissyfit, Sarah Horn & James Cudworth, Seafret, Anna Shannon and Holly Taymar & Chris Bilton.  Weekend tickets cost just £30, with Youth (£15) and Child (£10) options and booking is online via, where you can also find details of the summer event.  Well done Leila!


With apologies to other events organisers outside of York, that must be all for now.  Hopefully with the next edition (in around 4 weeks), I’ll have time and space to mention other interesting events coming up around the wider region, including some spring festivals.  Keep supporting live music!