Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 168

10th November 2013

1.        GUITAR ARTISTRY WITH CLIVE CARROLL.  The fearsomely talented but famously modest acoustic guitarist Clive Carroll returns to the club this coming Thursday (14th), after a very successful debut two years ago.  Once again he will take us on a joyful journey through his myriad influences “where Django meets Chet while Renbourn picks out a Delta blues”.  He has been described by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as “the best and most original young player and composer in Britain” and his main instrument is a Ralph Bown model made here in York!  Clive performs seated, so we are borrowing some staging for this one, so that even those of you at the back of the room can see what he is doing with his flying fingers.
At the time of writing, around half the tickets for this one have already been sold.  There will probably be a few left for door sale, but if you want to be sure, go to WeGotTickets and book beforehand.  The price is £9 (£7 concessions) and the MC will be Stan Graham.
2.        BE THERE FOR 4SQUARE.  Also returning the club after a brilliant visit in 2011 (a full house, as I recall) are the “ferocious folk foursome” from Manchester, 4Square, who are with us on 21st November.  Self-described as “alternative folk”, they play their music with zest, fire and virtuosity.  “Be stirred by the sight of simultaneous fiddle playing and clog dancing, underpinned by driving piano, banjo and percussion, then be softened by melancholic three part harmony singing” I wrote in the club brochure.  I saw them at the recent Folk Expo (see item 5 below) and they were playing better than ever, with a particularly notable increase in the amount and quality of their vocal work. 
Nicola Lyons plays the fiddle and does the clog dancing, with Jim Molyneux on accordion and piano, James Meadows on guitar and banjo and Dan Day on percussion.  They have just released a new album,Hearth & Home, and promise us an excellent night of stimulating music.  Entry is £8 (£6.50 concessions), on the door or online in advance, and Phil Cerny will be hosting.
3.        TWO NIGHTS WITH DICK GAUGHAN.  As has become his biennial custom, the mighty Scottish singer Dick Gaughan is with us for two consecutive nights early next month, Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th.  Early sales for the Wednesday show have been particularly good and as I write there are only 10 tickets left at WeGotTickets, whereas Thursday has about 30 left.  Either way, don’t delay!  Chris is MC on Wednesday and Eddie on Thursday.
4.        “AMERICANA AT ITS FINEST” FROM BROOKS.  We always try to have something really special for our final guest night of the year, and this one, 12th December, is no exception.  Brooks Williams is lauded as one of the top acoustic guitarists of all time, wowing audiences with his silky voice, hook-laden songs, and rollicking acoustic and resonator slide guitars, delivering deep and intense interpretations of classic blues songs and his own compositions.  He certainly wowed us at his club debut in 2011 and again last year in a joint concert with Boo Hewerdine as State Of The Union.  Tickets are a modestly priced £10 (£8 concessions) and are already about 40% sold.  Chris Euesden again acts as MC.
Add a Singers Night on 28th November and the annual Christmas Party on 19th December, and that’s it for 2013.  The years seem to go by quicker and quicker!
5.        FOLK EXPO PAYS DIVIDENDS.  A few weeks ago I was privileged to attend the inaugural English Folk Expo, a three day event devised to market English folk music and musicians to music promoters.  Held in Bury alongside the public events of the Homegrown Festival of English Folk, it was an inspiring weekend.  Delegates were drawn from all levels of the folk music business, from a club and small concert promoter like myself through bookers for large concert venues like Birmingham Symphony Hall and Sage Gateshead to the organisers of major festivals like Cambridge.  Numerous music agents were present, along with the EFDSS and the Musicians’ Union, and even a Member of Parliament, Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West), who is a keen musician and a folk fan.  There were also international visitors from Canada, USA, Australia, continental Europe and the Far East.
I made some useful new acquaintances and renewed several old friendships.  More importantly, I heard lots of great music and was able to assess the artists as live performers at the same time – always preferable to relying solely on recordings and reputations.  I have already made several bookings as a result, including David Gibb & Elly Lucas (May 2014) and Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, followed byThe Jaywalkers (both June 2014).  Doubtless there will be more to follow.
6.        2014 AT THE CLUB.  On top of those Folk Expo-inspired bookings I have arranged several other club guest acts recently, including a prestigious solo date for Jim Moray (27th February) and return visits byGilmore & Roberts (20th March) and Wendy Arrowsmith (27th March).  In fact, the club diary is now full until the end of June and can be viewed in full on the club website.
We have even made some bookings already for the second half of next year.  These include brilliant youngsters Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (28th August), a trio of blues inspired singer guitarists, Hans Theessink (18th September), Wizz Jones (25th September) and rising star Sunjay Brayne (9th October), and a brace of top class singer/songwriters, Mike Silver (23rd October) and James Keelaghan (6th November).
7.        2014 AT THE EARLY MUSIC CENTRE AND ELSEWHERE.  We have three concerts in the pipeline for the NCEM next Spring, namely O’Hooley & Tidow (March 12th), Vin Garbutt (April 1st) and Heidi Talbot with John McCusker and Ian Carr (April 14th), and my next task after completing this newsletter is to draft their copy for the next NCEM brochure.  Once that is done, we will get details online and we can open for ticket sales.
We are also collaborating with the Jorvik Viking Festival next year and trying out what will be a new venue for us, Barley Hall, the restored medieval house behind Stonegate.  This will be a suitably atmospheric setting for Serious Kitchen (aka Vicki Swan, Jonny Dyer and Nick Hennessey) to present a show based on Scandinavian myth and legend called The Whispering Road, an evocative mixture of music and storytelling.  This is on Sunday 16th February and box office will open in a few weeks, through the Viking Centre website.
8.        CLUB FINANCES UPDATE.  We are now three quarters of the way through our financial year and I am happy to say that since I gave you the half year report in August (E-News 164) we have had three good months.  Both our big concerts (Faustus, Breabach) were commercially as well as musically successful and club nights were back in overall surplus, with several full (Young ‘Uns, Nish As Rish, Lucy Ward) or nearly full (Iain Matthews) nights balancing out those on which we did not do so well.  Long may it continue!
Along with other club principals, I am still mulling over future admission pricing arrangements, as mentioned in the last two e-news bulletins.  We must make a final decision by the start of 2014, when it will be time to prepare the next club brochure and load more events onto WeGotTickets.
9.        JUDY DINNING RIP.  We were saddened to hear recently of the death of North East singer Judy Dinning, after a long illness.  To quote one obituary writer: “her clear true voice and great understanding of folk music meant that she enriched everything she touched.  She was a warm and kind woman too, with many friends.”  Judy first sang at the Black Swan in 1984, in her duo with Dave Smith, and she had later visits to York as one of Jez Lowe’s Bad Pennies and as a member of Lucky Bags.  More recently she moved to Scotland and performed internationally with partner Kenny Speirs as a duo and in the group Real Time, visiting our club room in both guises.  Our condolences go to Kenny and all her other family and friends.  You can find an eloquent obituary in The Scotsman and for a fine reminder of her great singing, try this YouTube clip.
10.     VERY BEST WISHES TO MAGGIE.  Battling illness and still very much with us is another of our favourite singers and a wonderful human being to boot, Maggie Boyle.  She was recently diagnosed with bowel cancer and had surgery last Tuesday.  She has made a prompt and fighting recovery, I have heard, and was due to be discharged from hospital yesterday (Saturday).  Chemotherapy will probably follow.  Having been down much the same route myself four years ago, I am full of sympathy and (I hope) a measure of understanding.  I have sent her best wishes on behalf of everyone at the Black Swan.
At this time of year, Maggie would normally be preparing to go on the road with her seasonal show The Magical Christmas Tree, alongside Pete Morton and Chris Parkinson.  You may have seen them all at the Black Swan in 2011.  Our old friend Emily Sanders (ex Isambarde, and a club regular when a student at York St John) is bravely stepping into her place so that the tour can still go ahead.  What is more, Pete, Chris & Emily have added an extra show as a Benefit Concert for Maggie, in Keighley on Thursday 5th December.
As organisers Ken and Carol Wood say, self-employed professional folk musicians “don’t get sick pay or disability pay – when they are sick they have no income at all”.  They continue “Maggie is a delightful person to know, someone who would help anyone in trouble … now it is our turn to help her”.  I wouldn’t normally publicise an event which is a direct clash with ourselves, but I am happy to make an exception here.  If you want to catch Dick Gaughan as well, grab one of those remaining Wednesday tickets then go over to Keighley on Thursday.  The venue is the New Variety Club, Russell Street and tickets are £10 from Ken & Carol on 01535 606939,
11.     FOLK SCENE HISTORY (1).  I have just had an enquiry about when our folk club was founded, and by whom.  This question comes up fairly frequently and I had to give the usual answer, which is that I cannot say with any certainty!  “Sometime in the mid-70s” and “by students” is the best I can offer (although I gather there was an earlier club at the Black Swan at one point in the 1960s).  The oldest surviving club records I hold are from 1979/80 onwards, recently passed on by then organiser Mike Tavener.  If anyone out there can supply more precise information, I’d be glad to hear it.
This latest enquiry came from author JP Bean, who has just written a book about the British folk club scene.  Singing From The Floor will be published by leading independent publishers Faber & Faber in April next year.  On his website the author says it is: “an oral history/print documentary covering the development of the folk scene in Britain from the 1950s to the present day” and that is based on interviews with “more than 140 singers, musicians, club organisers, record producers, folk enthusiasts and others.  It includes contributions from Martin Carthy, Billy Connolly, Norma and Mike Waterson, Jon Boden, Sam Lee, John Tams, Stefan Grossman, Bob Davenport, Jasper Carrott, Eliza Carthy, Ralph McTell, Mike Harding, Barbara Dickson, Peggy Seeger and Tom Paxton and many, many more.”  I’ll await publication with interest!  Mr Bean’s previous books include a biography of Joe Cocker.
12.     FOLK SCENE HISTORY (2).  From Hull, Steve Gardham writes that: “we have been fortunate to secure the Hull History Centre to house the Hull Folk Archive which once fully compiled will include as much information, photos, tapes, ephemera as we can gather and will cover the Hull area including Beverley, Cottingham and Goole.  We already have the full archive of Folk Union One from 1963 and Green Ginger Morris from 1969 and a full set of Folk News, lots of photos and three collections of recordings, one already digitised.”  Spearheaded by the Watersons, Hull had a vibrant folk scene in the 1960s.  Our own John Cherry was there in those days and sang regularly at Folk Union One, and some of his reminiscences are being included in the Archive. To find out more about this project, contact Steve
13.     PHIL’S COMIC CATS.  Phil Pipe gets in touch to say that he won comic song competition at the recent Ingleton Folk Weekend, or to give its full title, the Mason’s Dog Oil Comic Song Competition Ingleton 2013!  He says “I won the competition with Cat Heaven, a song about where cats go when they die – I finished my set at this year’s York Folk Weekend with the same song.”  Well done, Phil.
14.     THE FORESTERS are at Sheriff Hutton Village Hall next Friday, 15th November, for a village hall fundraiser.  Tickets are £10 (including supper) from Margaret Fisher on 01347 878314.  The band have also announced their annual Christmas Party for Friday 13th December at Wigginton Recreational Hall.  Contact Steve & Dee for more details of either event.
15.     CEILIDH WITH BANDIERA ROSSA on Saturday 16th November at Melodie Park on Wigginton Road.  It is a fund-raiser for York Amnesty and tickets (£8 adult, £4 child) are available from various local shops (Fairer World, Cycle Heaven, Books for Amnesty) or on York 702722.
16.     CEILIDH WITH FIDDLERSWRECK also on Saturday 16th November at Clifton Moor Church.  This is a church fundraiser, open to all, starts at 7.30pm and costs £8 adults, £5 children, including a hot supper from - bring your own drinks.  FiddlersWreck are of course sisters Nicky Kerslake and Marie Wood and our usual NCEM PA man (and club website manager) Michael Jary.  See also item 18 below.
17.     BRASS MONKEY are in concert at York University on Wednesday 20th November.  This stand-out gig takes place in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at 7.30, with tickets £17 full / £15 concessions / £5 students on 01904 322439 or at  Here is the brochure blurb:
With Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick, two of greatest exponents of English folk music, this ground-breaking ensemble had a short but glittering career in the mid ’80s.  Now they are back with a new line-up, once again delighting audiences with their powerhouse folk / brass fusion.  Recently expanded to a six-piece, incorporating trumpet and trombone as well as squeezeboxes, mouth organ, percussion and guitar, the group’s distinctive sound is as fresh and original as ever.
18.     CEILIDH AGAIN WITH FIDDLERSWRECK when they are the guest band at the monthly public ceilidh at York Railway Institute, Queen Street, on Sunday 24th November, standing in for resident group Dr Peacock. Tickets are £5 on the door and doors open at 7.30
19.     BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY conclude their autumn tour with what will undoubtedly be a tumultuous gig at The Duchess on Friday 29th November.  Go to the Duchess website for more details.  The band was on cracking form when I saw them do a late night concert show at the abovementioned English Folk Expo.
20.     BELLA HARDY comes to the City Screen Basement venue on Tuesday 10th December, as part of her Bright Morning Star Christmas tour, for which she is joined by Chris Sherburn and Anna Massie.  It will be great to see Bella back in the city where she was once a student.  Find out more at The Basement website.
21.     CROWS’ BONES is a very special show at the Early Music Centre on Saturday 14th December.  Tickets £15 full / £13 concessions on 01904 658338 or at
“In the tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas, Crows’ Bones is a mesmerising collection of ghost songs old and new, pinpointing the essence of what is most beautiful and unsettling in the folk genre. Commissioned by Opera North Projects and composed by Martin Green, of Lau, it is performed by Martin on accordion and a specially assembled group of folk luminaries, namely Becky Unthank (The Unthanks), nykelharpist Niklas Roswall and singer Inge Thomson (of Karine Polwart’s band).”
22.     EDWINA HAYES is the special guest at a Winter Solstice concert being organised by David Ward Maclean, alongside Steve Kendra and other musical friends.  The date is (of course) Saturday 21st December and the venue is Friargate Theatre in York.  Find out more and book tickets (£8) at the venue’s website.  At the end of January next year, Edwina sets off on a six week winter tour as support act for Fairport Convention.  The nearest dates to us are Gateshead (19th February), Leeds (21st February) and Huddersfield (7th March).
23.     UNION CENTRAL are also in action on Saturday 21st December, playing at the Black Swan Inn.  “This will be our first full concert since Hannah Crawford joined us on fiddle” they say, though of course we got a preview of the latest line-up at June’s Folk Weekend.  Admission is £3 on the door, with reservations to 01904 783029.
Just space for a few brief listings
24.     NOVEMBER 16th IN EAST YORKSHIRE.  Our guest of last summer, South Yorkshire songwriter Ray Hearne appears at the Half Moon in Elloughton.  Further details from Will on 01482 665656 or 07814 608131.
25.     NOVEMBER 16th IN BARNARD CASTLE.  Teesdale has a new Community Arts Venue, The Witham, on Horse Market in Barnard Castle.  They have Bob Fox on 16th November (in a gap on his WarHorse tour schedule) and they are justifiably trumpeting an appearance by Chris Wood on 13th December, followed by The Young ‘Uns on 22nd December.  Find out more on their website or ring 01833 631107.
26.     NOVEMBER 22nd IN OTLEY.  As part of the Leeds Gathering Irish Arts Festival, Cathy Jordan (of Dervish), Rick Epping and Seanan Brennan appear at Otley Courthouse.
27.     NOVEMBER 23rd IN DRIFFIELD.  Leila Slater celebrates the sixth anniversary of her Moonbeams promotions with a concert by Skerryvore at The Bell Hotel.
28.     NOVEMBER 23rd IN MALTON.  The Milton Rooms host a concert by The Fine Companions.  Doors open 7pm and tickets are £8 from Tourist Information at Malton Library or from Glenn on 01653 690212.
29.     NOVEMBER 30th IN THIRSK.  Loosely, Folk present O’Hooley & Tidow at the Courthouse, doors open at 7.30.  Information and bookings through the website.
30.     DECEMBER 6th IN WHITBY.  Festive Feasts & Frolics is a fundraising event for the Goathland Community Project, taking place at Whitby Pavilion with a stellar cast including The Wilson Family, The Ryburn Concert Party, Jill Pidd, Goathland Plough Stots, Sallyport Rapper, Doc Rowe and others.  Tickets are £12 and £10 through the Pavilion Box Office on 01947 458899 and via
I’ll be back in early to mid-December, all being well.  Please keep supporting live music.