Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 167

12th October 2013

This month’s newsletter comes only three weeks after the last one, but is much shorter and is mainly concerned with drumming up interest in the excellent run of club events coming up soon.
1.        A FEAST OF SCOTTISH FOLK WITH BREABACH.  Can I remind you that we have a great night of Scottish folk in prospect for our next concert at the National Centre for Early Music?  Breabach are one of the most celebrated and successful younger groups in Scotland, voted Best Folk Band in the 2012 Scots Trad Music Awards, and they will be in full sway at the NCEM on Wednesday 30th October.  This is their first English date on an extensive tour to promote the brand new CD Ùrlar, released on 21st October.  They will be criss-crossing England and Scotland for over a month, all the way from the Highlands to Cornwall, but ours in the only date in Yorkshire or North East England.  There are no reviews of the album yet but you can hear a lively taster on the band’s website.
Breabach have seen 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 flair, 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 at 7.30pm we are lucky to have the fiery fiddle and dextrous guitar duo of Sarah Horn & James Cudworth.  Currently reading physics at York University, Sarah plays in a number of different bands as well as in this great duo with James.  In fact, I sometimes wonder how she finds any time to study!
Booking is through the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338 and the prices are £14 full and £12 concessions.  Like most of our NCEM shows, this one has quite high overheads, such as PA hire and hotel bills, and we still need around 50 more ticket sales to meet all our costs and pay the band their minimum fee.  So if Scottish music appeals to you, do come along.
2.        A BRIEF HISTORY OF MUSIC, 17th OCTOBER.  A complete musical contrast is our club event this coming Thursday (17th) at the Black Swan Inn.  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.  We have sold a few in advance at WeGotTickets but need at least 25 more of you to break even!
3.        IAIN MATTHEWS SUNDAY SPECIAL, 20th OCTOBER.  Musically different again is our Sunday Special at the Black Swan Inn on 20th October, when we have an intimate solo performance by a legendary “cult” name in British acoustic songwriting, Iain Matthews.  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.  He’s been a personal favourite of mine ever since the very early 1970’s and indeed I probably own – and play - more albums by Iain than by any other of my heroes!  You are very likely not as familiar as I am with Iain’s work over the decades, since he has never achieved a particularly high UK profile, but take my word for it, this is songwriting and singing of the highest class – worth missing Downton Abbey for!
We have had to price this one at a flat £12.  After good initial sales, things have slowed down and we still need 10 more of you to break even.  Being Sunday, it will be doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start, with a support set by Chris Euesden rather than floor spots.
4.        MAZ O’CONNOR WITH MATTHEW JONES.  A leading name in the new folk generation, our guest on 24th October is Maz O’Connor.  She 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 BBC Folk Awards.  This is another £8/£6.50 night, hosted by Stan Graham.
5.        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.
6.        CONCESSIONARY PRICES – THE DEBATE CONTINUES.  My piece in the last newsletter about club entry/ticket prices produced an unusually large amount of feedback, both verbally and by e-mail.  Almost everyone who has commented so far has been in favour of scrapping the concessionary rate for “retired” people, if not all concessions.
For example, one of you wrote: “I would think the majority of "over 60's" attending the Black Swan if not well heeled are like myself at least shod and can afford the entry fee.  If not have one less drink!”  Along similar lines, another said “can I venture to suggest that most over 60s that attend the Black Swan are pretty solvent and that the concession is scrapped - when I'm 60 I'll happily pay the full fee.”
A few of you spoke up for maintaining concessions for children and students, who are after all the long-term future of this kind of music.  An alternative pricing model has also been mooted, where we offer a small discount on pre-booked tickets – for example £7 in advance or £8 on the door.  Would this encourage more of you to buy in advance at WeGotTickets, if only by compensating for the 10% booking fee surcharge which you have to pay there?
The debate is on-going and more feedback would be welcome.  Our current brochure advertises events and prices up to 6th February 2014, so any changes cannot be made until after that date.  Finally, and to put our prices in perspective, I will mention that I walked past the York City Football Club ground this morning and happened to notice the price over the Visiting Supporters turnstiles.  This was £17!
7.        A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY – OUR WINTER FOLK DAY.  The annual York Residents Festival will be taking place as usual at the end of January next year and the folk club will again be making its own contribution.  Our Winter Folk Day will be held on Sunday 26th January and as we did so successfully this year, we intend to have afternoon and evening mini-concerts in the Black Swan Inn function room. The room has been booked and I’ll soon be approaching York-based folk and acoustic singers and bands about taking part.
8.        VOTE FOR RED COW.  Our local music shop specialising in folk and acoustic instruments, Red Cow Music, of Goodramgate, has good cause to celebrate.  Not only have they reached their third anniversary in business, but they have been nominated in two categories in the prestigious Music Industry Association Awards.  They have been longlisted in both the “best independent retailer” and “best specialist retailer” categories – which is quite an achievement for such a relatively young company.  Voting is open to all, so if you’ve had dealings with Red Cow and have been impressed with their enthusiasm, knowledge and service, go online and vote for them on the MIA Awards website.  The ballot is open until 25th October.
9.        TRANSATLANTIC SESSIONS UPDATE.  I was misinformed in my last newsletter, it seems, and the latest (6th) series of Aly Bain & Jerry Douglas’s all-star show indeed began transmission in England on 27th September, on BBC4.  The instrumental playing is up to the usual fantastically high standard, but if I may be a touch critical I’d say that I have found some of the vocals poorly recorded and mixed.  Is that just me?
10.     JOHN WRIGHT RIP.  Tony Morris draws our attention to some sad news from France, that the folk musician (fiddle, jew’s harp, mouth organ) and instrument maker John Wright has recently passed away. John (not to be confused with the late, great singer John Wright, also sadly missed) settled in France in the 1960s but continued to perform in the UK occasionally, with his singing partner Catherine Perrier. They played for us at the Black Swan in 1998, in a virtually full house night (as I recall) with Tony acting as MC.  John inspired many people to take up the humble jew’s harp, amongst them his niece Lucy, as we witnessed when she was later a student in York and more recently with her band Pilgrim’s Way.
11.     FORESTERS ON THE FOREST.  “We are back on our original home ground where it all started over 40 years ago” say The Foresters of their charity show this coming Friday, 18th October, at Stockton On Forest Village Hall.  It is in aid of local church funds and a pie & pea supper is included in the £10 ticket price.  Future concerts include Sheriff Hutton Village Hall on 15th November and the annual Christmas Party at Wigginton Recreational Hall on 13th December.  Find out more from Steve & Dee on York 490440
12.     CEILIDHS AT THE RAILWAY INSTITUTE.  Following a successful trial event in the summer, local folk dance band Doctor Peacock (Paul Young, Chris Barnes, Antonio Curiale and Phil Bates) are holding monthly public ceilidhs on the final Sunday of each month, so next on 27th October.  The venue is York Railway Institute on Queen Street, doors open at 7.30 pm and entry is £5.  The dance is open to everybody, they say, “suitable for first-timers and hardened ceilidh-goers alike.  Age, experience and number of left feet are immaterial!”
13.     AND A CEILIDH AT MELODIE PARK.  I’ve also had news of a public charity ceilidh on Saturday 16th November at Melodie Park on Wigginton Road.  It is a fund-raiser for the work of the York branch of Amnesty International and the musicians are Bandiera Rossa from Leeds.  The event runs from 7pm until 11pm and tickets (£8 adult, £4 child, including interval snacks) are now available from various local shops (Fairer World, Cycle Heaven, Books for Amnesty) or on York 702722.  There will be a bar and a raffle.
14.     OCTOBER 26th IN CHERRY BURTON.  For their nearest show to York on their current tour, Chris While & Julie Matthews are the guests of Cherry Burton Arts, near Beverley, at the Village Hall.  Booking is through WeGotTickets.
15.     NOVEMBER 1st IN MASHAM.  Masham Arts Festival presents “an evening of the best in contemporary folk music” with 2013 BBC Folk Singer of the Year nominee Jim Moray and Young Folk Award winnersGreg Russell & Ciaran Algar.  The venue is Masham Town Hall and tickets are just £10.  Incidentally, both those acts have recently accepted bookings to appear at the Black Swan next year: Jim Moray on 27th February and Greg & Ciaran on 28th August.
16.     NOVEMBER 8th IN REETH.  Touring with his new show, A Victorian Farmer’s Year In Song, John Kirkpatrick appears at Reeth Memorial Hall.  John is also studio guest on Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 2 Folk Show this coming Wednesday, by the way.
17.     NOVEMBER 8th IN HULL.  Appearing at The New Adelphi are York’s own Blackbeard’s Tea Party, on their longest and highest profile tour to date.  Other northern shows include Preston on 10th and Sheffield on 23rd, with the tour culminating on York home turf at The Duchess on 29th November.  Find out more on their website.
I’ll be back in early to mid-November, all being well, but I hope to see quite a few of you at concerts before then.