Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 170

11th January 2014


We’ve had a string of busy nights lately, with full houses for Dick Gaughan (twice), Brooks Williams and Jackie Oates, meaning that many of you have enjoyed top quality live music in our intimate little venue.  Long may that continue!
1.        JEZ & KATE ON STAGE TOGETHER.  Next week’s club guest surely needs no lengthy introductions here.  Jez Lowe has been one of England’s most prolific and consistently impressive folk songwriters for over 30 years.  In that time he has sung at the Black Swan on at least 15 occasions, mostly solo, but for his next visit on 16th January, Jez will be joined on stage by his life partner, the singer and fiddle player Kate Bramley.  Kate has been a member of Jez’s band The Bad Pennies for several years, as well as a performer in her own right and a busy writer and director for the stage.  We’ve known her ever since she was a student in Hull, and she has guested for us in the past both solo and with other musicians.
It will be great to have Jez and Kate performing together, and with Stan Graham in charge as MC and floor spots from David Swann, Steve & Dee Marshall and Sarah Dean, it should be another magical night. Tickets are £10 full or £8 concessions, and there are just ten left (as I write) at WeGotTickets.
2.        SUPPORT OUR SINGERS NIGHTS, PART 2.  Perhaps my words last time struck home.  Expecting a very quiet evening on 2nd January, our New Year Singers Night actually attracted a dozen different acts and was a lively and enjoyable event.  The next Singers Night is scheduled for 23rd January, with Paula Ryan as MC, with future ones on 20th February and 13th March.  Do come along.
3.        WINTER FOLK DAY FINAL RUNNING ORDER.  Our showcase event for the annual York Residents’ Festival takes place at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 26th January, with six and a half hours of live musical entertainment from the cream of our local folk and acoustic singers, duos and bands.  Lined up for the afternoon show are The Foresters (2.00), Eddie Affleck (2.30), Rakish (3.00), Paula Ryan (3.30), Fake Thackray (4.00), Solar Union (4.30) and Chris Euesden (5.00), then in the evening we have Sarah Dean (7.30), The A-Rhythmics (8.00), Stan Graham (8.30), Ian Pybus & Anne Curran (9.00), Phil Cerny (9.30) and Union Jill (10.00).
Most of those names will already be familiar to you, but just to clarify a few of them: Rakish is the excellent new(ish) band comprising Kirsten Mercer, Dan Hands, Paul Davies and recent recruit Paul Young,Solar Union is a new duo of songwriter John Pritchard and fiddle player Maggie Allred, while the A-Rhythmics represent the combined forces of Two Black Sheep & A Stallion (Peter, Martin & Ron) with Damian Fynes and Frank Pallister.
The Winter Folk Day is entirely free to York Card holders, with others admitted (space permitting) for a charge equivalent to a Singers Night (£3 full, £2 concessions).  On past experience, these concerts get very busy at times, but most people dip in an out rather than staying for a whole three hour session.  Hence the best advice is just to come along as and when you want and if you cannot get in the room straightaway, you may be able to do so after only a short wait.
4.        BACK OVER FROM CANADA.  Around eight years ago I was approached by a Canadian singer called Dan McKinnon, looking to organise a British tour.  He was unknown to me, but his references were good and the online audio samples sounded promising, so I took a chance.  We were not disappointed!  He proved to be an engaging, warm-hearted Nova Scotian, with a glorious baritone voice, dextrous guitar work and a repertoire of intelligent, well-observed story songs which fitted the Canadian mould of being about real people and events past and present.  Think Stan Rogers (several of whose songs Dan sings) through James Keelaghan to David Francey.
We’ve had Dan back at the club twice since then, and he has also done a couple of private concerts in York organised by dedicated fans Ian & Sue Pybus.  He makes his fourth visit to our room on 30th January, and it should be another cracker.  Eddie Affleck is the MC and tickets are a bargain at just £8 full / £6.50 concessions, either online or on the door.
5.        A BAND, A DUO & A SOLOIST IN FEBRUARY.  Next month’s club programme begins with an exciting four piece band, continues with a promising new duo and ends with a solo performance by one of the folk scene’s younger innovators.  Pilgrims’ Way (6th February) have expanded to a four-piece since their excellent debut visit in 2011.  They’ve been a bit low-key recently while Lucy Wright completes her PhD studies, but expect to see and hear more of them in the year ahead.  They promise a “refreshingly different, reassuringly traditional” English folk repertoire, with Tom Kitching, Edwin Beasant and new member Jon Loomes offering an instrumental line-up that includes fiddle, melodeon, mandola, hurdy-gurdy and more, alongside Lucy’s vocals and jews harp.
The James Brothers (13th February) may be an unfamiliar name, but when I mention James Fagan and Jamie McClennan you should be enlightened (even if they are not brothers and only one is called James).  We can expect an evening of antipodean sounds from James (Australia) and Jamie (New Zealand), taking time out from their respective partnerships with Nancy Kerr and Emily Smith to revisit their musical roots in “down under” folk, blues and bluegrass.  Virtuoso playing (guitar, fiddle, bouzouki), strong singing, distinctive material and good humoured repartee are all in prospect.
The rare small venue solo performance by Jim Moray (27th February) has attracted a lot of interest and there are fewer than 20 tickets left, so book online soon if you want to come.
6.        CONCERT SPECIALS AT NCEM AND ELSEWHERE.  Our three spring folk concerts at the National Centre for Early Music are now open for booking on the NCEM website or on 01904 658338.  Just to remind you, these are O’Hooley & Tidow, touring with material from new album The Hum (Wednesday 12th March), perennial favourite Vin Garbutt (Tuesday 1st April) and top singer Heidi Talbot (Monday 14th April) for what I recently realised will be our one hundredth event at the NCEM.  By one of those strange coincidences, John McCusker was present at our very first concert, accompanying Kate Rusby, and he will back here for the hundredth event as Heidi’s husband and musical collaborator!  Concert support acts will be Sarah Dean, Stan Graham and David Ward Maclean respectively.
Remember also that we are co-promoting an event at Barley Hall during the Jorvik Viking Festival.  Serious Kitchen, aka Nick Hennessey, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer, present their Nordic story and song showThe Whispering Road on Sunday 16th February.  This is now booking through the Festival website and since the very atmospheric medieval venue only has a capacity of around 45, a Full House is very likely.
7.        NEW BROCHURE AT PRINTING, MORE SHOWS ONLINE.  Our Winter/Spring brochure went off to the printers a few days ago.  It covers all our events from late January until the end of May and should be available at club meetings and other local outlets in a week or so.  Full details have also been uploaded to the club website and all remaining club guest nights (i.e. April and May events) have been placed on WeGotTickets as well.
8.        NEW CLUB PRICES.  A reminder that new prices and concessions rules come into place from 13th February, as detailed in E-News 169.  Following feedback, there has been a rethink on concessions for under-18s and students.  Last time I wrote that “unfortunately, it is not possible to have more than one concessionary price on WeGotTickets.  Full-time students and under-18s will be admitted at half the full price rate, space permitting, but on-the-door only.  If they want to pre-book it will have to be at the normal concessionary rate.”  Some of you asked me to think again about that, and what I now propose is that students and children will be able to pre-book at their special rate, but they will have to do so as a reservation by email ( or phone, to pay on arrival.  I think that is the best we can offer.  We will publicise as widely as possible.
9.        GET INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS AT CITY SCREEN.  The much anticipated new Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis (Cert 15) comes to City Screen York from Friday 24th January.  Loosely inspired by the memoirs of real life folkie Dave Van Ronk, the film follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.  That is to say, just around the same time Bob Dylan was arriving in New York but a year or two before the big surge in popularity of the Greenwich Village folk scene, or “before the hit records and big money arrived” as the film’s website puts it.
“Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads” it says, “guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles—some of them of his own making.  Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn’s misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club - on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul - and back again.”
“Brimming with music performed by Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (as Llewyn’s married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis - in the tradition of (earlier Coen Brothers’ hit) O Brother, Where Art Thou? - is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place.  An epic on an intimate scale, it represents the Coen Brothers’ fourth collaboration with multiple-Grammy and Academy Award-winning music producer T Bone Burnett.”
Find out more about the film on the official website (see in particular the interesting essay under Historical Context), and check the City Screen site for timings, prices and booking.
10.     YORK GIG TAKES A SHORT BREAK.  Vince Danks writes that “there will be a short break for the York Gig (music listings) magazine in the new year.”  However, the good news is that “if all goes according to plan there will be some (new) people coming on board that will result in the magazine being bigger and better and also having a larger print run and a wider distribution.  Meanwhile, the website  will continue as normal”.
11.     “POPPLETON LIVE” FESTIVAL UPDATE.  John Watterson has now finalised the line-up for his debut one day music festival on Sunday 11th May 2014 at the Poppleton Centre.  The afternoon concert features Jez Lowe, Gilmore & Roberts, Greg Russell, Roger Davies and Union Jill, while Northern Irish singer Janet Dowd will open the evening concert.  “Little known as yet on this side of the Irish Sea” John says, “Janet's new CD has just hit No 1 in Ireland and we count ourselves very fortunate that she will help us launch the Poppleton Live Festival”.  The identity of the evening’s headline act still cannot be officially released for contractual reasons, but if you haven’t worked out by now who they are “call me if you want to know” says John.  All-day tickets are £30 and over half the 250 available have been sold already. Contact John by email or on 07703 792861 with questions and bookings.
Also worth noting, John’s next regular Poppleton Live concert event is with another Irish singer, Anthony John Clarke, on Saturday 22nd February.
12.     AMNESTY’S CEILIDH SUCCESS.  In November I trailed an Amnesty fundraiser ceilidh in York.  Organiser Tim Phillips now writes “I am pleased to be able to report that the ceilidh was a great success. Almost 100 people attended and sales of tickets and raffle tickets raised £580.  Inspired by your example we are now using WeGotTickets to sell on-line for future events.”  It is always good to have positive feedback, so thanks Tim.
13.     NEW CD FROM TONI BUNNELL.  One of the performers at out last Singers Night (item 2 above) was Toni Bunnell, who had copies of her brand new CD with her, Where I Come From.  Toni was a semi-professional touring singer for many years in the 1970s and 1980s, and is now finding more time for her music again, since retiring from the day job.  She has also published half a dozen books in recent times.  Find out about both books and CD and sample some tracks on her website.
14.     VOLUNTEER FOR KING COURGETTE.  Old Time string band King Courgette make their first outing of 2014 at the Volunteer Arms on Watson Street in York tonight (11th).  As usual at this venue, it is a free show.
15.     CEILIDH DANCE IN A GOOD CAUSE.  There’s a public ceilidh coming up at Clements Hall on Nunthorpe Road on Saturday 1st February, as a fundraiser for York Against Cancer.  Music comes from The Bad Bargain Band, the event begins at 7.30pm and tickets cost £10, to include light refreshments, available from Kath on 07887 812254 or Phil, 01904 744602.
16.     PIPE & TABOR WORKSHOP.  Gez Pegram of Minster Strays Morris writes “we are planning to hold the first northern Pipe and Tabor Workshop in York on Saturday 15th February, and would welcome both beginners and experienced musicians.  It will be led by Stephen Rowley and takes place in the Friargate Meeting Rooms, from 10am to 5pm.”  There will be three main sessions – one for beginners (10.15), one on playing Pipe & Tabor for Cotswold and Border Morris (12.00) and one on Pipe & Tabor in Early Music, specifically playing for the York Mystery Plays (2.15) – with a final wrap-up session at 4.15.  Individual sessions cost £7 or there is an all-day option for £15.  Additionally, beginners can purchase a pipe at a discounted price of £7.  For more information and bookings, contact Gez or on 01904 415443.
17.     NEW SEASON LINE-UPS AT POCKLINGTON, SELBY, SALTAIRE AND OTLEY.  Several local arts centres and music venues have now announced their new season schedules.  At Pocklington Arts Centre straight folk/folk-rock is limited to Spiers & Boden on their farewell duo tour (23rd March) and Fairport Convention (8th May) but also of interest could be any or all of Sid Griffin (7th February), Beth Nielsen Chapman (12th February) Anais Mitchell (22nd February) and Barbara Dickson & Rab Noakes (4th April).  Box office is on 01759 301547.
Selby Town Hall brings us Carthy, Hardy, Farrell & Young (8th February), Steve Forbert (11th April), Maddy Prior (16th April), The Acoustic Strawbs (26th April) and Canadian outfit The Bills (31st May).
Over at Victoria Hall, Saltaire, Saltaire Live has concerts by The Mairtin O’Connor Band (17th January), McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle (7th March), Cara Dillon (25th April) and Kathryn Tickell & The Side (20th May).
Lastly for now, Otley Courthouse has guitarist Chris Quinn (1st February), Canada’s Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys (7th February), The London Lasses (16th February), alt-folk band Maia (21st February), Kris Drever & Eamon Coyne (27th February) and Yorkshire Irish outfit Roisin Ban (16th March).
18.     WETWANG ACOUSTIC takes place as usual on the second Tuesday, 14th January, at The Victoria Inn, Wetwang near Driffield, from 8pm.
19.     PETE MORTON IN PICKERING.  With a new album imminent, Pete is out on the road and visits The Sun Inn, Westgate, Pickering on Friday 17th January at 8pm.  That is all the info I have – if you want to know more contact the pub on 01751 473661 or by email.
20.     MARITIME MISCELLANY IN CLECKHEATON.  David Kidman and Jim Saville present their “story of life at sea, told in song and verse” at The Commercial on Bradford Road on Wednesday 22nd January at 7.30pm.  It is a fund-raiser for local charities.
21.     FAIRPORT CONVENTION’S WINTER TOUR.  The aforementioned veteran folk rockers embark on their mammoth annual winter tour later this month, with our own Edwina Hayes as their special guest.  Nearest shows to York are at Sage Gateshead (19th February), City Varieties Leeds (21st February) and Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield (7th March).
22.     YOUNG ‘UNS CD LAUNCH.  Club guests of last summer and rising stars on the national folk scene, The Young ‘Uns celebrate ten years together with a new CD Never Forget and they are inviting fans from far and wide to a special CD launch night.  They write “this grand event will take place on Saturday 22nd February at Old Elvet Methodist Church in Durham.  Doors open at 7pm and the show will begin at 7:30pm with support from guests Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar and a very special MC (tba).”  The Young ‘Uns will then perform songs from the new album and also share stories and memories from their ten years together.  Tickets cost £10 plus £1 booking fee through the band’s online shop.
That’s your lot.  I’ll be back early in February, all being well.