10th February 2014
CLUB & CONCERT EVENTS
Since last month's newsletter we've had several more very successful and enjoyable meetings. It was a full house for Jez Lowe & Kate Bramley and there only a few seats left empty for great performances by Dan McKinnon and Pilgrims' Way. Our last Singers Night was phenomenally busy, with almost three hours of non-stop live music from 21 performers (a recent years record) and around 200 people looked in on our Winter Folk Day during York Residents Weekend. We ended our accounting year in healthy financial shape (see item 7) and we are looking forward to many more nights of top class music in the year ahead.
1. AUSSIE / KIWI DUO THE JAMES BROTHERS. Masquerading under the name The James Brothers, this week's club guests (13th February) are not in fact brothers, and only one is really called James, but both are excellent musicians and it should be a top class night. From Australia, James Fagan grew up in a famous folk music family band, The Fagans, before teaming up with English singer Nancy Kerr in an award winning duo. Meanwhile over in New Zealand Jamie McClennan was cutting his musical teeth, before coming to Britain and joining Emily Smith as both band member and husband.
With their partners both pursuing other musical projects (and taking time out for young families) James and Jamie have formed this occasional double act to revisit their Antipodean musical roots. Virtuoso playing (Jamie on fiddle, James on bouzouki and guitar), strong singing, distinctive traditional, contemporary and self-penned material and plenty of good humoured repartee are all in prospect. Look them up online then come down on Thursday. Tickets are £10 full or £9 concessions on the door, or beforehand from WeGotTickets.
2. SINGERS NIGHTS NOW GOING STRONG. Following two well supported events in January, one of them record-breakingly busy, our Singers Nights seem to be back on track. The next ones are on 20th February and 13th March, then we have two in April, on the 3rd and the 17th. Keep on supporting them.
3. JIM MORAY & SERIOUS KITCHEN BOTH SOLD OUT. As we anticipated, Jim Moray's eagerly-awaited small venue show at the Black Swan on 27th February is now Sold Out and I have started a waiting list in case of any returns. If you have tickets for this one but find you can no longer attend, please let me know. I should be able to re-sell your seat and give you a refund.
Also Sold Out is our Jorvik Viking Festival Special next Sunday (16th) at Barley Hall – The Whispering Road, performed by Serious Kitchen. And looking ahead to next month, the club visit by Gilmore & Roberts (20th March) has already shifted 25 tickets out of its quota of 50, so if you fancy coming to that one, don't leave it too long before you book!
4. CHECK OUT YOUNG PERFORMERS SAM AND MATT. Way back in 2001, and shamelessly following the example of some another local club, we began to organise occasional showcase nights for new young (teenage or early 20s) performers. Featured artists who have gone on to successful folk music careers include Jim Causley, Roger Davies, The Young 'Uns, Gilmore & Roberts and Lucy Ward. Maybe the same will be the case for our next two singers, Sam Kelly andMatt Quinn, who share the night on Thursday 6th March. Come along and judge for yourselves!
Sam Kelly is a twenty-one year old singer, songwriter and guitarist from deepest Norfolk who first heard folk songs as a young child, sung by his Irish grandfather. His subsequent musical journey ranges from reaching the final of Britain's Got Talent (!) to being selected for the first ever EFDSS Artist Development scheme. A debut EP last year created a buzz of interest, being described by the Bright Young Folk website as a "captivating introduction to a name we'll be sure not to forget." He comes to York with a small band comprising Jamie Francis on banjo and Evan Carson on bodhran.
A Newcastle University graduate in 2012, Matt Quinn is a slightly older musician now based in Sussex. He is steadily making a name for himself, with his virtuoso playing of the melodeon, mandolin and fiddle, as well as his singing. Besides doing solo work Matt has performed on festival stages and concert venues with artists such as Dogan Mehmet and Eliza Carthy. He released a debut solo album in 2012 and like Sam Kelly comes to us now on the recommendation of the annual New Roots event held in St Albans.
On a Young Performer Night each participant gets to do two short sets (25/30 minutes each half) and the only other performer is the MC (Chris Euesden in this case). Entry is £8 (£7 concessions) with ALL door takings going to the artists.
5. BELINDA & HEIDI INVITE YOU TO "THE HUM". Our first Early Music Centre concert of the year is fast approaching. On Wednesday 12th March we are delighted to present the phenomenal duo O'Hooley & Tidow. Singer/ pianist Belinda O'Hooley and singer Heidi Tidow have become a must-see act since their breakthrough album The Fragile in 2012 Indeed, there was a memorable full-house appearance at our club venue in March of that year. Of course Belinda was already well known to us for her solo work and for her long spell with The Unthanks, while more recently she has been accompanying Nic Jones on most of his "comeback" festival dates.
Praised for their beautiful, interweaving harmonies and sublime musicality and acknowledged as one of the strongest songwriting partnerships on the modern folk scene, O'Hooley & Tidow received a Best Duo nomination in the 2013 BBC Folk Awards and entranced festival and concert audiences all last year. I've seen them in action myself three times in recent months and they have never been less than brilliant. On this tour they are showcasing songs from brand new collection The Hum and promise a powerful, thought provoking and deeply moving performance, infused with enough honesty and empathy (and gentle humour) to disarm the hardest of hearts.
Sarah Dean will be opening act and MC for this one, and Belinda is looking forward to playing the NCEM's very fine concert grand piano. Tickets are £14 full / £12 concessions from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338 or online. And if you want to read more about Belinda & Heidi's music, there was a good interview in The Press a couple of weeks ago.
6. MORE CONCERT SPECIALS AT NCEM. Remember that we have two further concerts coming up at the NCEM this spring. Perennial folk favourite Vin Garbutt visits on Tuesday 1st April and top singer Heidi Talbot is our guest on Monday 14th April. Heidi's show is attracting particular interest and is already one third sold. Also worth noting is a concert by young folk mould-breaker Sam Lee, coming up on 18th May and promoted by the NCEM themselves, not by us. Find full details online or pick up the new NCEM brochure (which is, incidentally, another excellently designed production – well done Melanie and team).
OTHER CLUB & VENUE NEWS
7. ANNUAL REPORTING TIME. Our financial year runs from 1st February to 31st January (don't ask me why!), so last weekend I did our end-of-year accounts. These look very healthy indeed. There is an annual surplus of almost £1,400 and our final bank balance tops £6,000 for the first time ever.
When I reported at the half year stage (E-News 164), I was worried by a sizeable loss on our core programme of guest nights. Happily these are now breaking even again, after a very successful autumn and winter season. In fact they even show a small surplus of around £300, which with 37 such guest nights during the year is about £8 or one admission per event. Meanwhile, our NCEM concert programme of 7 events generated a healthy surplus of around £1600 and 14 Singers Nights bought in a further £650. Together with other bits and bobs (notably a generous donation by our landlord), those sums were enough to offset all our administrative and publicity costs and give us that overall £1,400 surplus. I will have a more detailed summary with me at club meetings in future weeks if you would like to see it.
Over the full year the average paying attendance on guest nights was 36 (whereas at the half year stage that figure was just 31), while singers nights averaged 14 non-performing listeners and concerts averaged 144 ticket holders, which is about 30 more than in 2012/13. Thank you all very much for your presence making that possible.
8. NEW CLUB PRICES. A reminder that new concessions prices and rules come into place this week, as detailed in E-News 169. Concessions remain for retired people over 60 and for those on Jobseeker's Allowance, but at the more modest scale of £1 off full price. We are also offering a half price special rate for full-time students and under-18s, although if these are to be pre-booked it will have to be done by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone, to pay on arrival, rather than through WeGotTickets.
9. HAYMARKET CAR PARK TO CLOSE BY MAY. Building work has now begun on the new Hiscox Insurance building next door to the Black Swan. At present operations are confined to the old Peasholme Centre site, but by May the Haymarket Car Park will close down for good and be swallowed up into the building works. This car park has provided us with valuable "overflow" space on those nights when the pub's own car park has been full, and of course on Folk Weekends, and it will be sorely missed. If you normally attend the club by car, get prepared by checking out alternative off-site parking options. The nearest council car parks open all evening are probably St John Street (Monk Bar), about 5 minutes from the Black Swan via Aldwark, or the Castle Car Park around Clifford's Tower, also 5 minutes away via Coppergate and Pavement. There is also the Q-Park operated Shambles multi-storey closer to our pub, although I see that it charges £8 for "evening leisure parking", compared to £2 for non-residents after 6pm at council run sites.
10. CHANGES AT THE BLACK SWAN. Our ever active landlord Andy Cross tells me that this spring he intends to remove the wooden-decked outdoor patio area (which is starting to show signs of wear) and replace it with a new brick-built beer garden, matching the one at the other side of the car park. The new arrangements should be in place in time for Folk Weekend. Inside the pub, he still hopes to redecorate the staircase and re-carpet both stairs and club room at some stage, though there is no firm timescale for this.
11. REMEMBERING PETE SEEGER. I cannot fail to mention the sad passing of Pete Seeger. I've been a folk fan since the early 70s and Pete was already revered as the "grand old man" of the American folk revival in those days. Somehow it seemed he would be with us for ever, but of course that was not to be. Many people have paid tribute more eloquently than I can. For example, check out last week's Mike Harding's podcast, No. 58, on iTunes, or read Martin Carthy's comments on the Guardian website, where he was in conversation with York-based journalist and musician Alfred Hickling.
12. TALKING OF MARTIN CARTHY. Writing the above reminds me that Martin Carthy is himself to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's BBC Folk Awards, taking place on Wednesday 19th February at the Royal Albert Hall. Matt Clark recently interviewed Martin for a good feature in our own local paper The Press. Many of you will agree with Matt's assertion that Martin is "arguably at his most mesmerising as a solo artist" and so you will be delighted to hear that we have booked him for two solo performances at the club venue on 3rd & 4th December. Tickets will probably go on sale in late summer.
13. EDWINA KEEPS BUSY. Popping in to see us briefly on Winter Folk Day was that lovely local singer Edwina Hayes. I'm surprised she could spare the time! She is now away on a lengthy UK tour as opening act for Fairport Convention (follow that, lads!), then in May she is recoding a live album at Driffield Town Hall with the prestigious Abbey Road Live Here Now team. In June she has a Nancy Griffith Tribute Tour with American act The Kennedys (which means, sadly, that she will not be free to appear at this year's York Folk Weekend), then in July she becomes one of the first UK folk/acoustic acts to tour in China. Edwina will be our guest again at the Black Swan on 11th September, with tickets probably on sale sometime in May. Follow all her activities and find a link to her tour blog on her website.
14. BLACKBEARD'S ALSO KEEPING BUSY. Lots of good stuff is also happening with local folk-rock heroes Blackbeard's Tea Party. In March they go out to Spain for the Costa Del Folk festival, and I understand that they are also heading to the Far East this summer, in their case to the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak in June. This is not yet listed on the band's own website but they are already featured on the festival site. They have a lot of UK festivals lined up too, including Cropredy in August, as well as a spring concert tour. They have been nominated in the Best Group category of the Songlines Music Awards 2014, and in amongst all this activity band members Laura Barber and Dave Boston get married in May. Congratulations to them both! We are delighted that Blackbeard's will be able to appear at our Folk Weekend this year, probably late afternoon on the Sunday. Before then they have local gigs at The Duchess (29th March) and at The Shire Hall, Howden (16th May).
15. FIDDLE PLAYER WANTED. Bernie Booth writes that he and some friends "have put together an American country/ folk roots band and are in need of a fiddle player/singer. We would welcome another female as this would complement our female vocalist and would add to our ever increasing harmonies but of course a male would be made just as welcome." If you are interested, Bernie can be contacted on email@example.com. The group (or some of them) are also enquiring about coming to one of our forthcoming Singers Nights.
16. MR HADFIELD'S WRONG NOTES. While waiting for that book about the British folk club scene which I mentioned in E-News 168, item 11 (Singing From The Floor, due in March or April), there is another book already out which touches on the same subject matter. All The Wrong Notes is written by sports and music journalist Dave Hadfield and is a light-hearted account of his lifelong enthusiasm for folk, as reflected in the subtitle Adventures in Unpopular Music. It's a fairly short book (204pp) and a light, easy read – I finished it in two sittings – but there is be plenty there to amuse and inform those with an interest in folk.
The publisher's rather overblown blurb says "for almost 50 years, Dave Hadfield has followed the genres of music that grabbed his youthful heart and mind. Now he has written not just a musical memoir but a personal and social history of the last half-century. Like a Zelig with a finger in his ear, he has been where folk music has happened and describes it, affectionately but warts-and-all, in a way it has never been described before. Hadfield's sure ear for quirks and eccentricities produces unique takes on major figures like Bob Dylan, Ewan MacColl and Leonard Cohen. Humorous and provocative in equal measure, All The Wrong Notes is the key to a fascinating world of music."
The publisher is Leeds-based small press Scratching Shed Publishing, the ISBN is 9780957559363 and the price is £13.99. Bernard Wrigley contributes the Foreword.
17. KULA BECOMES FRAZER THEATRE MUSIC. Knaresborough-based promoter Mike Addison writes "two years after the sad death of my business partner John Haxby I have reviewed the company (Kula Productions) and am aligning the name with the venue where we are holding our events. Frazer Theatre Music is the new name for quality live acts at this fantastic 127 seater venue." Mike has just this weekend had Chris Wood in concert, and next up of folk interest are Slim Panatella & The Mellow Virginians on Sunday 9th March. For the time being the website remains under the Kula name, and Mike can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK
18. CHRIS SUPPORTS THE STRAWBS. On Wednesday night at Fibbers, Stonebow, Dave Cousins is in town with The Electric Strawbs and our own Chris Euesden does the support spot. Other up-coming folk-related acts at Fibbers include songwriter Dar Williams (11th March) and much talked-about band The Moulettes (2nd May). Meanwhile the Acoustic Strawbs version of the venerable folk-rock band is at Selby Town Hall on 26th April.
19. TAKE YOUR PARTNERS FOR A VALENTINE'S DANCE. As a fundraiser for the children's play area at St Nicholas Fields there's an open ceilidh at the Tramways Club, Mill Street, off Piccadilly in York, on Valentine's Day, next Friday, from 7.30. The band is FiddlersWreck with our club website boss and concert PA man Michael Jary on concertina and calling duties. Tickets are just £6 and £4, children £2, from St Nicholas Fields website.
FiddlersWreck also have public dances coming up in Beverley on Saturday 15th March and at Stillington, near Easingwold, on Saturday 22nd March at 7.30. The latter is a Stillington Under Fives fundraiser at the village hall. Tickets are £10, including hog roast supper, from 01347 823988 or from Stilllington Village Shop. "It was a great night last year" says Michael. The band can be contacted on 07866 514759 or by email.
20. OR LISTEN TO ORIGINAL LOVE SONGS. Also next Friday, 14th, at the Black Swan Inn, York Songwriters present an evening of love songs Good Love, Bad Love from 8pm. Participants include Tony Jawando, David Breslin, John Medd, Richard Searle and others.
21. ANTHONY JOHN LIVE IN POPPLETON. Next up at Poppleton Live, held at All Saints Hall, is Irish singer-songwriter Anthony John Clarke, with support from World Champion spoons (!) player and raconteur Bert Draycott. Check last minute ticket availability with John Watterson by email or on 01904 785366. Tickets cost £12.50 and things kick off at 7.30pm.
22. FOLK DAY AT THE VICTORIA VAULTS. Looking a bit further ahead, there is to be an all-day folk event at the Victoria Vaults, Nunnery Lane, on Saturday 15th March. This pub has recently changed ownership and the landlord has been given greater freedom in how he runs his premises. The Vaults has been home to a flourishing Friday night informal folk session for the last three years or so, and already has many other live music events across a range of styles. Hopefully I'll have more details of this Folk Day in the next Newsletter.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
23. 16th FEBRUARY IN SCARBOROUGH. The Demon Barbers Roadshow brings the acclaimed music and dance show The Lock In to the Spa Grand Hall. This afternoon event (2.30pm) is part of the Coastival music and arts festival. At 7pm that same day East Yorkshire band Hase Waits appear in a free show in the Spa Suncourt Suite.
24. 16th FEBRUARY IN OTLEY. Expatriate Irish band The London Lasses return to the Courthouse with guest musician Chris O'Malley. Booking is through WeGotTickets.
25. 22nd FEBRUARY NEAR MASHAM. Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies present their themed show These Coal Town Days at the village hall in Fearby & Healy, HG4 4NE. Booking can be done through the Bad Apple Theatre website and tickets cost £9.50.
26. 22nd FEBRUARY IN HOWDEN. Eclectic modern acoustic band Holy Moly & The Crackers appear at The Shire Hall with their "lively, moonshine mix of Romani, Americana and contemporary British folk'n'roll" it says here. Find out more at the Howden Live website.
27. 25th FEBRUARY IN BIRSTALL. Just Voices is a new monthly singers' gathering for unaccompanied voices. "Come and enjoy a good sing" say the organisers, "we value both traditional and contemporary song, rousing choruses and solo songs, and we don't discourage the occasional monologue or poem, but the focus is squarely on the unaccompanied voice." Meetings will be on the last Tuesday of each month at 8pm, at the Black Bull on Kirkgate, WF17 9PB, starting on 22nd February. There is a contact email.
28. 7th MARCH IN DARLINGTON. There is a Charity Ceilidh in aid of Diabetes UK. It is at the Darlington and Simpson Rolling Mills Social Club, DL3 0HX, and you can get more information and book tickets on 01325 488606 (office hours) or by email.
29. 7th & 8th MARCH IN DRIFFIELD brings the Moonbeams March Folk Weekend to the Bell Hotel and Town Hall. The impressive line-up includes Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston, The Young 'Uns, Ewan McLennan, Wendy Arrowsmith, Kirsty Bromley, Edwina Hayes, Hissyfit and many more. Weekend adult tickets are £30, available from www.moonbeamsevents.co.uk, where you can also find details of the main Moonbeams Summer Festival in July.
30. 14th to 16th MARCH IN MALTON sees the annual Yorkshire Cajun & Zydeco Festival at various venues in the town, with concerts, workshops and jamming session. Find out more at their festival website.
30 items – that really must be your lot! I'll be back early in March, all being well.