21st September 2013
It has been a longer than planned interval since the last newsletter, so there is lots to tell you about. Read on…
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1. THE FULL ENGLISH FOLK WITH FAUSTUS. One of the most celebrated small groups in modern folk music, Faustus have chosen to launch their autumn tour here in York at the National Centre for Early Music next Friday, 27th September, before setting out on a month-long trek around the arts centres and theatres of England and Wales. The Faustus trio of Saul Rose, Benji Kirkpatrick and Paul Sartin are all leading lights of their folk generation. They have a plethora of experience between them and come together in Faustus for a virtuosic display of musicianship and stage energy. Their music is deeply rooted in the English folk tradition, lovingly yet boldly reinterpreted for the 21st century.
Son of folk “star” John Kirkpatrick, and hugely talented across a wide range of fretted instruments (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, banjo) as well as vocally, Benji Kirkpatrick is also a key member of multi-award winning folk big band Bellowhead. He has worked extensively with Seth Lakeman and other collaborations have included Oysterband and Maddy Prior.
Playing melodeon and singing, Saul Rose was a long-time member of Waterson:Carthy and still works in an occasional duo with Eliza Carthy. He also plays with folk dance band Whapweasel and has guested with numerous other folk luminaries, such as Jackie Oates. In 2010 he was nominated for Musician of The Year in the BBC Folk Awards, then he spent much of 2011 taking the part of Songman in the hit West End play WarHorse.
Paul Sartin, oboe player, fiddler and singer, is also a leading player in the Bellowhead phenomenon, as well as being one half of the Folk Awards-nominated duo Belshazzar’s Feast. He is also involved in choral singing, acts as a consultant for the charity Live Music Now and is a composer of note with recent works for Streetwise Opera and for the Central School of Speech and Drama, amongst others.
Faustus first came together in 2006 as an evolution of earlier band Dr. Faustus and in fact they made one of their early folk club appearances at the Black Swan in the spring of 2007. They won a nomination as Best Group in the 2009 BBC Folk Awards, and subsequent touring saw them headlining at numerous festivals and concert halls, including their NCEM debut exactly four years ago. With the runaway progress of Bellowhead keeping Benji and Paul occupied, and Saul’s West End stage commitments, Faustus then decided to take a two year break. Happily, they were able to return to the live circuit for summer festivals in 2012, then earlier this year came a critically acclaimed second album Broken Down Gentlemen, followed by a successful spring tour and now this autumn reprise.
As an added attraction on Friday night, the opening spot will come from the highly promising new York-based group Rakish, whose trademark is “exciting and unexpected arrangements of traditional music.” They are fronted by the beautiful singing of Kirsten Mercer (as enjoyed solo at a recent club Singers Night) with Dan Hands on fiddle and Paul Davies (also of Pugwash Convention) on piano, whistle and hurdy-gurdy. Founder member Pip Collings has recently had to step aside for day-job reasons, but his place looks to have been very excitingly filled by Paul Young (formerly of Blackbeard’s Tea Party) on guitar and vocals.
Rakish will be on stage at 7.30pm prompt, after which there will be two full sets from Faustus. We are into three figures on advance sales (and not far off our break-even point) but there is still room for many more of you. Tickets are £14 full or £12 concessions, through www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338, and also available on the door.
2. AND A FEAST OF SCOTTISH FOLK WITH BREABACH. We move north of the border for our second NCEM concert this season on Wednesday 30th October with Breabach, one of the most celebrated and successful younger Scottish groups, voted Best Folk Band in the 2012 Scots Trad Music Awards. There have been a few line-up changes since their York debut in early 2010 and the front line now comprises the bagpipes and whistles of Calum MacCrimmon and James Duncan Mackenzie and the fiddle, step-dance and lead vocals of Megan Henderson, all underpinned by James Lindsay’s double bass and Ewan Robertson’s guitar. Breabach “command the stage with flare, charisma and a sound that is as expansive as it is distinct.” Their repertoire effortlessly fuses traditional and contemporary, songs and instrumentals, displaying passion for their musical heritage alongside eagerness to explore and challenge boundaries.
As a highly appropriate opening act we are lucky to have the fiery fiddle and dextrous guitar duo of Sarah Horn & James Cudworth. Booking is now open through the NCEM Box Office and the prices are again £14 full and £12 concessions.
After a Singers Night this coming Thursday, 26th September, we can look forward to a busy month in October, with five Thursday shows and a Sunday special.
3. LUCY WARD, 3rd OCTOBER. We knew this young woman was well above good when she shared a Young Performers Double Bill at the club in 2011. Sure enough, her debut album that year attracted lots of praise and in 2012 she took the Horizon Award for best new performer at the BBC Folk Awards. She has gone from strength to strength ever since then, with a highly acclaimed second album released this summer (“impressive and original” said Robin Denselow in The Guardian, giving it 4 stars) and many a glowing review for her live performances. Her songwriting has attracted much favourable comment (“even more mature and thoughtful”, Mr Denselow) but she retains a deep love of traditional folk song, as witnessed by her work with Brian Peters, Bella Hardy and James Findlay on the recent Penguin Book of English Folk Songs project.
Described in Mojo as “Brit-folk’s most vibrant and forthright new young talent”, Lucy plays guitar and concertina but considers her voice her first instrument - “one of the best I’ve heard in years” says Mike Harding. Tickets are modestly priced at £8 full / £6.50 concessions and are already selling quite well at WeGotTickets. Phil Cerny acts as MC.
4. THE LONG HILL RAMBLERS, 10th OCTOBER. To quote from their press release “if you're looking for a gimmick, move along. All the Long Hill Ramblers have to offer is folk music: clear, beautiful vocals, rich harmonies, virtuoso musicianship, and a repertoire drawn from among the finest traditional songs on both sides of the Atlantic. Laura Hockenhull's voice must have been the best-kept secret in folk music over the last few years. Those in the know, including some of the most respected names in the business, have admired her work for the purity of her voice, and the strength of her interpretations. Now the secret is out.” Of course, Laura lived for a while in York a few years back and came to the club occasionally, so that is no secret to some of us. With parents like Helen (of Grace Notes) and Mike, she certainly had an early introduction to great folk singing.
The press release continues “Tab Hunter on guitar, Ben Paley on fiddle and Dan Stewart on banjo and mandolin have each made international reputations for themselves as instrumentalists in all sorts of traditional music, in more bands than we can begin to list. They should need no introduction, but if you've missed out on them so far, well, that's what the internet's for!” Ben is of course the son of veteran musician Tom Paley who guested with us last year. Eddie MCs this one and tickets are £9 and £7, from WeGotTickets and on the door.
5. A BRIEF HISTORY OF MUSIC, 17th OCTOBER. After their successful Victorian Christmas event at the NCEM last year, Blast From The Past (alias Chris Green & Sophie Matthews) return with a new show which spans “600 years of musical history in 90 minutes”. Beginning in the Middle Ages this whistle-stop tour of Western music features songs both familiar and long forgotten, raucous and reflective, courtly and commonplace, and comes complete with a bewildering array of instruments, plenty of period costume and lots of humour. It sounds like great fun! Chris will act as MC and tickets are £10 and £8.
6. IAIN MATTHEWS SUNDAY SPECIAL, 20th OCTOBER. We are thrilled to be able to offer an intimate “up-close” solo performance by this legendary name in British acoustic songwriting. With a 45 year career that takes in early Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort, Plainsong and countless other projects, both solo and collaborative, Iain has written an entire library of great songs, while he retains one of the purest and most evocative voices in the business. We have had to price this one at a flat £12 for everyone and getting on for half the tickets have been snapped up already. Being Sunday, it will be doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start, with a support set by Chris Euesden rather than floor spots.
7. MAZ O’CONNOR WITH MATTHEW JONES, 24th OCTOBER. Another leading member of the new folk generation, Maz is a gifted singer of traditional and self-penned songs, playing guitar and shruti box and accompanied by Matt on guitar. She was due to visit us in June but had to delay when she was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company as a singer in their Stratford summer season! Earlier she had been an Horizon finalist in the 2013 BBC Folk Awards. This is another £8/£6.50 night, hosted by Stan Graham.
8. NOVEMBER & BEYOND. After a Singers Night on 31st October, we continue with the shanties and sea songs of Tom Lewis (7th November), the guitar artistry of Clive Carroll (14th November) and the “alternative folk” sounds of 4Square (21st November). November ends with another Singers Night (28th), then it is two nights with Dick Gaughan (4th & 5th December) and a season finale from Brooks Williams (12th December) with our friendly and free Christmas Party (19th December) to round off the year.
9. CONCESSIONARY PRICES – CLUB AND NCEM. One question which I am asked increasingly frequently is what qualifies as a concession on our club admission charges. Children are of course covered (under age 18) and students in full time education, along with those registered as unemployed (in receipt of Job Seeker’s Allowance) and anyone unable to work due to disability.
More problematic is the “retired” category. When we first introduced concessions about 25 years ago we weren't thinking of older people - it was more of a ploy to encourage student attendance. We said at the time it would also apply to people above state pension age (in those days 60 for women and 65 for men) but over the intervening years that has loosened up to the much broader definition of "retired" or “over 60”. Our audience is definitely ageing and we now have some nights where the majority of our admissions are concessionary, as being retired or at least over 60, and even though many of those individuals are not yet in receipt of state pension.
This clearly has implications for our budgeting and as I reported in E-News 164 we made a loss on club guest night events in the first half of this year. Overall ticket prices will have to rise or we may have to reduce the concession differential. The time may even come when we go back to single tier pricing, which is in fact what most other guest-booking folk clubs have always done. It's a knotty problem. Your comments would be welcome.
For the time being we will continue to offer an “over 60 retired persons” concession, but we would ask that if you are under 60 but retired, or over 60 and still in paid employment, or over 60 and retired but feel able to afford it, that you voluntarily pay the full price rate. Does that seem fair?
For concerts at the National Centre for Early Music, we follow their standard policy, which is broadly similar: “people aged from 60 years onwards, unemployed, registered disabled and carers”, except that children and students are not covered. Sometimes, but not always and not usually for our shows, the NCEM does offer a special student rate.
10. MAGAZINES AT THE CLUB. The Autumn issues of Folk Roundabout (£1) and Tykes’ News (£2) are now available at club events, the latter with a cover feature on York’s very own Union Jill, perceptively interviewed by Nigel Schofield. As I reported last month, we are no longer stocking The Living Tradition. Ironically, the latest issue then goes and includes several items of local interest, including a two-page spread on the very same Union Jill, and a cover feature on our good friend Maggie Boyle. The inaugural Bedale Acoustic Music Festival also gets a full page review, with Blackbeard’s Tea Party singled out for praise! Purchase and subscription details can be found at www.livingtradition.co.uk.
11. CLASSIFIED LISTINGS HERE – A MAJORITY SAYS NO. In E-News 164 I canvassed opinion on having a paid-for classified advertising service within this newsletter. Majority feedback was against, on both practical and “ethical” grounds, so the idea will be dropped. One thoughtful response came from Ray Black: “it creates a really favourable atmosphere to have it available free. There is the feeling of an inclusive 'extended family' about your plugging other local events and having the same thing applied to private individual transactions extends that feeling of inclusivity.” Thanks, Ray.
12. HIGH CLASS GUITAR FOR SALE. So here, for free, is one such listing. Our regular Thursday night bar man at the Black Swan, Pete, has a very nicely crafted Taylor guitar for sale. It is a 314ce model, complete with hard case. Our own Chris Euesden gave it the once-over and was very impressed, even tempted to buy it himself! Contact Pete behind the bar at the Black Swan (01904 679131) for further details.
13. KATY MOFFATT REVIEWED. Locally-based critic Martin Longley attended our recent Katy Moffatt club concert and has posted his review online on the All About Jazz website (be warned this link seems to take a long time to load). He begins “the Black Swan was built in the 15th Century, and its folk club has been in existence for almost as long. This pub has ghosts on the uneven staircase that winds up to its cosy music room. Each Thursday night session features a main attraction, as well as a succession of local opening artists. The calendar also features several outbreaks of Americana, nestled in-between the purveyors of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh folklore.”
14. MINSTER STRAYS RECRUIING NOW. With the coming of autumn, local Morris sides resume regular practice sessions and are often open to new recruits. One such is the York / Ryedale side Minster Strays. Now celebrating their tenth anniversary, they are a mixed side, performing Cotswold and Border styles at festivals, fairs, stately homes and weddings as well as at pubs all around the county. They have even danced in Prague recently! They would welcome new dancers or musicians of all ages (16+) and either sex. Practice nights are held on Mondays, 8pm to 10pm, at Thornton-le-Clay, off the A64 north of York. “Enthusiasm and commitment are more important than experience” they say. For more information, contact Juliette Pegram on 07717 129865, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website.
15. SEARCHING FOR NIC – NOW ON TV. Hot on the heels of the recent Nic Jones radio documentary (E-News 164) comes a one hour TV tribute. The Enigma of Nic Jones – Return of Britain’s Lost Folk Hero goes out next Friday (27th) on BBC4 at 10pm. Catch it later on the iPlayer if you are out at our Faustus concert that night!
16. TRANSATLANTIC SESSIONS 6, BUT ONLY IN SCOTLAND. Staying with TV, the latest (sixth) series of the wonderful Transatlantic Sessions began broadcast in Scotland last Sunday (15th). For the rest of the UK, transmission was due to start on 27th September but has now been put back “by a few months” with exact dates still to be announced. One of the newcomers amongst a stellar musical cast is our own recent guest Ewan McLennan
17. STEVE KNIGHLEY COMES TO SHERIFF HUTTON. Here is some very long distance diary planning news. Following a successful visit this year by Phil Beer, it is Steve Knightley’s turn to appear at Sheriff Hutton Village Hall in 2014, Friday 4th April to be precise. Neil Hodges is again the promoter and he has already taken firm reservations for more than half of the available £16 tickets. If you’d like to go, contact Neil sooner rather than later on 01347 878595 or by e-mail He is taking names now and aims to collect the money in November. Proceeds will again be going to York Against Cancer, after the Phil Beer show raised £370. “Just to complete this particular set” says Neil “Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston will be at Sheriff Hutton in early Autumn 2014.”
18. EDDIE GOES BY LAND AND BY SEA. Our long-serving club co-organiser, singer, MC and PA guru Eddie Affleck has just released a full length CD, his first since 1998!! The Land And The Sea is a collection of 11 songs, superbly recorded and with contributions from Eddie’s son Robert, Chris Euesden and Pip Jopling. We tend to think of Eddie as a singer of mostly traditional material, but for this record he has chosen a largely contemporary set, with songs written by friends Stan Graham, Sarah Dean, David Swann and John Storey, as well as Eddie’s own first foray into songwriting and numbers by Ewan MacColl, Matt Armour and Dan McKinnon. Catch up with Eddie most Thursdays at the Black Swan.
19. SARAH’S NEW WEBSITE. Talking of Sarah Dean, she has a new and very comprehensive website at www.sarahdeanmusic.com. This covers not only the music for which we know and love her but also her other areas of activity, such as playing for weddings and other functions. Her next scheduled floor spot at the club is on the Lucy Ward night, 3rd October.
20. PAULA AND STAN BOTH GO STATESIDE. Absent from the club for the next few weeks are both Paula Ryan and Stan Graham. Paula is doing a “mini-tour” of the eastern USA, with gigs in place like New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island. “Of course” she says “if any of you happen to have any friends, relatives, contacts in the US who may be interested in coming along to any of the performances, do pass it on”. Tour dates can be found on her website. Also in America at present is Stan Graham. In his case it is more of an extended holiday, although I gather he has been asked to do a few house concerts.
21. UNION JILL UPDATE. Helen and Sharon, Union Jill, continue to be very busy. I’ve already mentioned some of their media coverage (see item 10 above) and as I write they are performing at Otley Folk Festival. “We've done some great shows recently” they say “and had a fab time at festivals in Dorset and Southwell. As you will know we are now promoting the new album and we've been delighted with the amount of radio play it's had since the launch.” They have a concert coming up on Sunday 29th September at the Village Hall in Ingleby Greenhow, near Stokesley (TS9 6LX, 7.30 start, £8 on the door). This is the first in a new monthly concert series (being promoted by an old school friend of mine!) with Plumhall to follow on 27th October and The Jaywalkers on 17th November.
22. BLACKBEARDS UPDATE. Also enjoying a very busy year are Blackbeard’s Tea Party. They have an autumn tour coming up in late October/early November, and their next big (and loud!) York gig will be at The Duchess on 29th November. I also note that they have landed a place on the bill of a folk festival on the Costa del Sol next March, alongside Show of Hands, The Demon Barbers, Mike Harding, our own Fake Thackray and loads more British and Irish acts. Find out more at Costa del Folk.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK
23. ALSO AT THE BLACK SWAN. The Black Swan Inn function room which we use is also a frequent venue for one-off musical events. Often I hear of these at too short a notice to tell you about them, but this coming Sunday (22nd) I have seen flyers for a show by young singer-songwriter Rebecca Roberts, with Beth McCarthy and York favourite Jess Gardham (joined by Charlie Daykin) also on the bill. It’s an 8pm start, £3 on the door.
24. AND SOME BIG VENUE EVENTS. Other folk-related concerts are rather sparse in York this autumn. The stand out events are surely Brass Monkey at York University on 20th November and a trio of “big names” at the Barbican – Kate Rusby on 8th November, Capercaillie on 15th November and The Waterboys on Wednesday 11th December. The Duchess meanwhile have ahab on Wednesday 9th October, and the NCEM promote an event on Saturday 14th December called Crows’ Bones with Martin Green (Lau), Becky Unthank and others. Visit their respective websites for more info.
25. RED COW MELODEONS. Our ever active acoustic instrument specialists Red Cow Music, are organising a melodeons evening. “Come along and enjoy this free evening all about the melodeon” they say. “Learn to play a simple song, which melodeon to buy, or just general tips on this lovely instrument.” Unfortunately it is the same night as our Breabach concert, Wednesday 30th October, but I guess if you are a melodeon fan this one will take precedence. It is at the Royal Oak pub, just across Goodramgate from the shop, from 7pm. Places are limited, so call 01904 674440 or email email@example.com to find out more and to book a place.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
26. SEPTEMBER 28th IN HELMSLEY. The ever busy Fake Thackray appears at the Arts Centre at 7.30pm. Wendy Arrowsmith follows on 11th October, at a wine, words and music event alongside local bluesman Dave Smith and poet Andy Croft.
27. OCTOBER 2nd IN COTTINGHAM. Our fellow folk club Cottingham Live presents Irish singer Colum Sands at The Back Room, 173 Hallgate. Future guests include The Hut People on 16th October, Anna Shannon on 6th November and David Swann on 27th November, with other Wednesdays being Singers & Musicians Nights.
28. OCTOBER 4th-6th IN INGLETON brings the annual Ingleton Folk Weekend. As well as headline paid-for events (The Mighty Doonans and a Ceilidh) there are lots of free shows with local singers and bands.
29. OCTOBER 4th IN SELBY. The Town Hall arts venue presents Rhiannon Giddens & Leyla McCalla (from the Carolina Chocolate Drops) in concert. The season continues with Mary Coughlan (11th October) and Stefan Grossman (12th October)
30. OCTOBER 4th IN GOOLE. The Junction arts venue has its major folk event of the season, in the shape of adventurous young band The Old Dance School.
31. OCTOBER 5th IN GOODMANHAM, near MARKET WEIGHTON. There is free Folk Festival from 3pm onwards at The Goodmanham Arms, with David Swann, Pauline Bate, Martin Heaton, Trevor Appleton and many more. There is a dedicated Facebook page.
32. OCTOBER 5th IN OTLEY. “There will be limited seating and plenty of space to dance” when Monster Ceilidh Band appear at The Courthouse. Radio 2 Folk Show host Mark Radcliffe is also there with his band The Foes on 12th October
33. OCTOBER 11th IN CARLTON MINIOTT near THIRSK. Our old friend Anthony John Clarke appears in “Music In The Bar” at the Dog & Gun pub.
34. OCTOBER 17th IN IKLEY. (Yes, a Thursday night, I know) Ilkley Literature Festival includes a fringe event at the Playhouse at 9pm. In Maritime Mixture, David Kidman and Jim Saville “tell the story of life at sea in song and verse”.
35. OCTOBER 18th IN THIRSK. The Loosely, Folk series continues at the Old Courthouse with a York double bill of Boss Caine and Holly Taymar. November’s guests (Saturday 30th) are the wonderful O’Hooley & Tidow.
36. OCTOBER 19th IN FARNDALE. Australian songstress Emily Barker makes here third appearance at cult venue The Band Room
37. OCTOBER 29th IN HUNMANBY, near FILEY. The renowned a acapella trio Coope Boyes & Simpson appear at the village Community Centre at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 on 01723 891507 or 01723 891514.
38. NOVEMBER 23rd IN MALTON. Local band The Fine Companions do a “home town” show in the main hall at The Milton Rooms. 7.30 start, tickets £8 from The Milton Rooms.
Wow, that’s a monster listing! I’ll be back in mid-October, I hope.