1st April 2013
1. JOIN US ON THE OUTSIDE TRACK. It is not long now until our next NCEM concert on Friday 12th April, bringing to York an outstanding young multi-national folk band, The Outside Track. This comprises musicians from Scotland (Ailie Robinson and Fiona Black), from Ireland (Cillian O’Dalaigh and Teresa Horgan, deputising for Norah Rendell who is on maternity leave) and from Canada (Mairi Rankin, of the celebrated musical family The Rankins). With a line-up which includes harp, accordion, fiddle, flute and guitar, they can brew up an instrumental storm, but they are also strong and subtle on the vocal side. With the added bonus of some vigorous step-dancing by Mairi, they are a thoroughly enjoyable live band who have honed their skills with extensive touring in Europe and North America. Against stiff opposition they were voted Group of the Year in the Live Ireland Awards for 2012, which is no mean achievement.
This will be our first large band presentation at the NCEM (aside from Blackbeard’s Tea Party) since autumn 2011. Economically, it gets more and more difficult for us to present such groups in concert and break even, let alone make any surplus. Even on an unusually modest fee for a five piece band, this concert is no exception and we need to double the existing number of ticket sales just to cover all our costs. So do consider coming along to this one if you have a free evening and enjoy thoughtfully arranged and beautifully executed, Celtic-tinged folk music.
Valued club resident Simon Alexander does the support spot, with excellent guitar work and a suite of fine songs, and Eddie Affleck will be MC. Tickets are £14 (£12 concessions) from the Box Office on 01904 658338, at www.ncem.co.uk and on the door from 7pm.
2. JOHN & JON IN OUR OWN BACKYARD. On Saturday 20th April we join forces with local promoter Please Please You to present Spiers & Boden at The Duchess on Stonebow, taking time out from Bellowhead for their Backyard Songs duo tour. John Spiers and Jon Boden have been our guests several times in the past, first at the Black Swan and then at the NCEM as their fame grew, and they surely need little introduction here. About this event they write “all areas of the country have their own traditional songs, dances and customs and as part of the spring 2013 tour we are inviting fans to suggest folk gems with local significance, whether it be a traditional song collected nearby that we can perform at the gig, a dance tune associated with the area, or a local group who might cameo in the show.” In our case, that means Ebor Morris dancing the Escrick Sword Dance, one of the dances from our distinctive local longsword tradition.
Tickets cost £15 through www.ticketweb.co.uk, on 08444 771000 or from the venue, and doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. After Ebor have danced, John and Jon will be doing two sets, finishing around 10pm. The venue will be half seated, half standing for this event, so those of us getting old and feeble should be able to enjoy the show sitting down!
3. UNION JILL’S RESPECTABLE REBELLION. .“Help us make our album launch a sell-out” say songwriters Helen Turner and Sharon Winfield, who make up the dynamic acoustic music duo Union Jill. “If you haven't already heard, we will be launching our new album Respectable Rebellion on Saturday 11th May at the National Centre for Early Music in York”. This will be a one-off show with a full band, including mighty guitarist Clive Gregson, bass player Andy Seward (who works regularly with Kate Rusby and Martin Simpson), and drummer Mark Boyce (best known for his work with The Durbervilles). “It will be a very special evening and our guest will be Holly Taymar, one of our favourite female singers. We do hope you can join us for this, our biggest gig of the year.”
Produced by Clive Gregson and engineered by celebrated studio veteran John Wood, this third album marks a significant development in Union Jill’s music. Meanwhile they recently teamed up with agent Jacey Bedford and are now being booked for festivals, clubs and concert halls across the country. In short, Sharon and Helen are establishing themselves as a significant and growing presence in the world of contemporary folk and acoustic music. Tickets cost just £10 (£8 concessions) from the Box Office on 01904 658338 and online at www.ncem.co.uk.
THURSDAY CLUB GUESTS
4. ANGLO-AMERICANA WITH CATHRYN & BRIAN. This week (4th April) we welcome back to the club the very special pairing of US singer-songwriter Cathryn Craig and former Strawbs guitarist Brian Willoughby. They’ve been our guests three times before over the last decade and so we know they make some outstanding music together. Melding folk-rock influences with American country and roots, their “anglicised Americana” blurs musical boundaries with intricately crafted melodic songs about real life experiences, helped along by engaging stage presence and presentation. Their old friend Chris Euesden acts as MC and tickets are £9 (£7 concessions), now booking at www.wegottickets and also on the door.
5. MOSTLY TRADITIONAL WITH ROGER & PETE. After a Singers Night on 11th April, we look forward to a very different sort of duo on 18th April, Pete Morton & Roger Wilson. These two musicians both emerged as folk youngsters in the 1980s, a decade when the British folk scene felt as though it was steadily ageing and well before the real upsurge of interest in our kind of music amongst a later generation of young people. Pete was first our guest in 1986 and Roger in 1987. Mostly as soloists, they have been back many times since, although Pete’s last visit was actually with Maggie Boyle and Chris Parkinson as The Magical Christmas Tree in 2011.
Pete Morton is best known as an utterly distinctive and special songwriter, but he has always had a deep love of traditional music as well and has regularly performed and recorded old ballads. Roger has likewise mixed original material with folk songs and tunes throughout his career, including his time with Martin Carthy and Chris Wood in the trio Wood Wilson Carthy. Latterly he has been heavily involved in theatre, spending two years in Warhorse at the National Theatre and then joining a touring production of Lark Rise To Candleford, so he has not been seen as much as usual on the folk circuit.
Friends and occasional collaborators since their early days, Pete and Roger have now devised a special show, The Dustpan & Brush, devoted to traditional songs and music. “From the big ballads to the finest tunes, from gentle love songs to the bawdy”, they say, “(we) share our love of the tradition, playing, singing and dancing favourites from both the British Isles and North America with two voices, a fiddle, harmonica, guitars, a broomstick and a dustpan and brush!” Get swept away with them at the Black Swan! Stan Graham acts as MC and tickets are £10 (£8 concessions)
6. SOME AWARD WINNING MUSICIANS. In 2012 Tim Edey was voted Musician of the Year at the BBC Folk Awards, while a year earlier the trio of Moore Moss & Rutter carried off the BBC Young Folk trophy. These outstanding performers are now our club guests on successive spring weeks!
Tim Edey (25th April) is that rare thing, a virtuoso player of two completely different instruments, the melodeon and the guitar, on top of which he is a more than creditable singer. He is highly regarded by his peers and has toured with a veritable Who’s Who of top acts, such as Michael McGoldrick, Sharon Shannon and most recently The Chieftains. Presenting a solo “Evening with Tim Edey” show, he offers a varied selection of original and traditional pieces, with a confident and highly entertaining stage persona. This is a most welcome Black Swan debut, hosted by Eddie Affleck and now booking at £10/£8.
Tom Moore (fiddle), Archie Churchill-Moss (melodeon) and Jack Rutter (guitar, vocals) follow on 2nd May, playing mainly traditional English tunes plus contemporary and self-composed pieces, influenced from numerous styles and traditions. They first came together as a teenage trio in 2008, thanks partly to Sam Pirt, and recorded an initial mini-CD in 2009. Numerous performance opportunities followed, then they won that BBC Award. Later in 2011 they released a debut album, recorded with acclaimed producer Andy Bell (no stranger to the Black Swan). They enjoyed summers full of festivals in 2011 and 2012, with more to come this year. Club bookings, however, are fairly rare, and so we are delighted that they are fitting in a night with us. Stan Graham again takes the MC role and tickets are now on sale at £9 and £7.
7. FURTHER AHEAD. May is looking like a particularly auspicious month for top class music. After a Singers Night on 9th May, our programme continues with the vocal harmonies and instrumental accompaniments of Hannah James, Hazel Askew and Rowan Rheingans, aka Lady Maisery on 16th May, already selling quite well at WeGotTickets. May 23rd brings to York an exceptional singer-guitarist specialising in the English tradition, Chris Sarjeant, and then we have one of America’s foremost folk musicians Bruce Molsky on 30th May, equally brilliant on fiddle, banjo and guitar and a great singer besides.
FOLK WEEKEND NEWS, 7th-9th JUNE
8. PROGRAMME TAKING SHAPE - SLOWLY! These things always seem to take far longer than expected, for which I can only apologise, but at last the Folk Weekend running order is coming together. A draft programme for the main Marquee venue over Saturday and Sunday is currently with the artists involved for their approval. In the next few days I hope to begin working out the indoor concerts, club sessions and singarounds.
9. ABSENCES AND ARRIVALS. Inevitably there are some excellent local singers and bands that cannot be with us this year. For example Fake Thackray and Union Jill are both booked at festivals elsewhere, while Blackbeard’s Tea Party and Monkey’s Fist both have members absent on holiday. On the other hand Duncan McFarlane and his electric band are back with us after an illness-induced absence in 2012. We also welcome back Soundsphere, Graham Hodge and The Foresters after years off, while 2013 debut guests include world music choir Chechelele and new local bands The Jaybirds and Rakish Collier (for more about whom, see item 12 below).
10. EDWINA’S FRIDAY NIGHT PARTY. One part of the Folk Weekend that is now settled is the Friday evening line-up on 7th June. The delightful Edwina Hayes has found time in her busy schedule (including a recent appearance on Sky TV!) to organise a songwriter feast for that evening on the Marquee stage. As well as Edwina herself, there will be a rich selection of singers taking part from York and East Yorkshire, including Carol Henderson, David Ward Maclean, Stevie Mould, Ben Parcell, Gracie Falls, Sam McKie and Steve Kendra.
Meanwhile in the Wolfe Room on Friday night four of our key resident singers will be sharing the stage for a Transatlantic Song Swap, namely Eddie Affleck, Phil Cerny, Chris Euesden and Stan Graham. And of course the regular Friday night tunes & songs session over at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane will be an official Folk Weekend “fringe” event!
11. BLACKBEARD’S LAUNCH CD AT THE DUCHESS. The North’s number 1 folk-rock band Blackbeard’s Tea Party launch their brand new album this coming Saturday at The Duchess, after which they embark on a two week national headline tour, including venues such as The Junction in Cambridge and Green Note in London. Support at The Duchess comes from Andy Doonan and Vinnie & The Stars and tickets are just £5 in advance, or £6 on the door from 7.30pm. The album is Whip Jamboree and goes on general release next Monday, on the band’s own label with distribution through Proper Music. Mike Harding has already given it a preview play on his excellent podcast show (the track Valiant Turpin on podcast 13, 24th March).
There’s another chance to catch the inimitable Blackbeard’s at The Golden Lion in Helperby on Friday 10th May. Following a packed full house free show there last winter, the band have been tempted back. Again, it is free entry, though a collection will be taken. Sounds like a fun evening!
12. A NEW FOLK BAND IN YORK. In E-News 158 I mentioned a promising new quartet who had just performed at our February Singers Night. Well Rakish Collier, as they are called, seem to be developing rapidly. Fiddle player and guitarist Pip Jopling tells me that just last Saturday they recorded some demo tracks, which have been posted online at https://soundcloud.com/kirsten-mercer/sets/rakish-collier-demos. For demos these are pretty damn impressive, with great vocals from Kirsten Mercer and some interesting and unusual arrangements on four fairly well known traditional songs (Spanish Lady, Maid of Coolmore, Blackleg Miner, The Blacksmith). Do give them a listen. All being well, Rakish Collier will be appearing on the marquee stage at Folk Weekend.
13. PIP’S BUSY MUSICAL LIFE. As well as playing with Rakish Collier, Pip Jopling has a duo with Stuart Giddens, the Blackbeard’s Tea Party vocalist and melodeon player. They did a fine support spot for Sam Carter recently at The Basement, and on their website you can find a couple of videos shot when they opened for Carthy & Swarbrick at NCEM six months ago. See www.stuartandpip.co.uk/videos.htm. The Stuart & Pip duo should also be performing at Folk Weekend.
14. FAKE JAKE IN ALL HIS GLORY. Also on YouTube you can enjoy “a couple of magic moments” from Fake Thackray on his recent tour with Fairport Convention. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywvyan0swoI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvb8a0YWj5M. Fake (aka John Watterson) has a very full diary and cannot be with us for Folk Weekend. Most of his upcoming shows are down south but he is back in Yorkshire for a show at Carperby Village Institute in Wensleydale on Saturday 27th April
15. AND A NEW IRISH MUSIC BAND. Another new band in the West Yorkshire area is a traditional Irish 5 piece called Roisin Ban, www.roisinban.co.uk, with a line-up of fiddle, flute, melodeon, guitar, bodhran and vocals. This is the latest project for veteran local Irish music enthusiast Chris Dyson, who says “we are available for any type of suitable gig”. They are playing at quite a few northern festivals this summer (but cannot make it to our weekend) and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
16. NEW SESSION AT FLAXTON. I’ve had word of a new acoustic singaround and jam session at The Thompsons Arms at Flaxton. This is being held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month from 8.30pm and appears to be in addition to the regular weekly Wednesday folk club at the same pub. It is of course a free session, with “country, Irish, blues and folk” all welcome.
17. LEARNING TO BE A DANCE CALLER. I’ve had the following enquiry: “are there any opportunities in the York area to learn how to be a Ceilidh caller - any workshops taking place or bands willing to pass on their skill?” I’ve already referred this to several of our local folk dance bands, but if anyone else out there has suggestions, please contact Eleanor Roberts on email@example.com.
OTHER YORK EVENTS
18. DUNC IN FULFORD. First, a reminder that Duncan McFarlane and his electric folk-rock band are in action this coming Saturday, 6th April, at the Fulford Arms. It is a free gig, with support from Nick Hall.
19. DUCHESS DATES. Aside from Blackbeard’s Tea Party and Spiers & Boden, upcoming shows at The Duchess (www.theduchessyork.co.uk) which might be of interest include Peatbog Fairies (8th April), Martyn Joseph (17th April) and Paul Brady (27th April).
20. FINNISH SOUNDS AT NCEM. Charismatic Finnish accordion player Johanna Juhola appears at the NCEM with her band Reaktori on Tuesday 16th April, in one of the Centre’s World Music events. Find out more at www.ncem.co.uk.
And a few longer distance notices:
21. JOHN’S CD LAUNCH. Harrogate singer/songwriter John Storey is a regular at our folk club and another local performer with a CD imminent. The launch event will be at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday afternoon, 19th May. More details next time.
22. LUCINDA IN OPERA. The American country/roots legend Lucinda Williams is at the Grand Opera House on Tuesday 18th June.
23. LES COMES TO POPPLETON. Surreal comic folk poet Les Barker makes a rare local appearance at the next Poppleton Live event, on Saturday 6th July
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
24. APRIL 13th IN OTLEY. Scottish duo Anna Massie & Mairearad Green (Blazin’ Fiddles, Poozies, etc.) appear at Otley Courthouse. Box Office is 01943 467466.
25. APRIL 27th IN HOWDEN. Howden Live present songwriter Paul Liddell plus 16-year old Stevie Mould at the Shire Hall. See www.howden-live.com.
26. MAY 4th IN GOOLE. State of the Union, aka Boo Hewerdine & Brooks Williams, our own concert guests this time last year, visit Junction in Goole, www.junctiongoole.co.uk.
27. MAY 5th IN HELMSLEY. Eclectic guitarist and singer Sarah McQuaid visits the Helmsley Arts Centre. See www.helmsleyarts.co.uk.
I’ll be back before the end of the month (I hope) with more news and a full Folk Weekend programme. Honest!