9th March 2014
CLUB & CONCERT EVENTS
1. MAKE A DATE WITH O'HOOLEY & TIDOW. Next Wednesday, 12th March, we are delighted to present the phenomenal duo of Belinda O'Hooley & Heidi Tidow for our first concert this year at the National Centre for Early Music. Singer/ pianist Belinda and singer Heidi are such lovely people and sublime musicians and it is a real pleasure to bring them back to York, following a memorable full house show at our club venue in 2012.
Justifiably praised for their beautiful, interweaving harmonies and acknowledged as one of the strongest songwriting partnerships on the modern folk scene, O'Hooley & Tidow have been picking up a huge amount of favourable publicity recently on the back of their new album The Hum. It has had some glowing reviews. The Guardian gave it four stars and said "surely one of the albums of the year", while "defiant, robust, political, Northern, poetical folk music for the times we live in" was the verdict of The Independent On Sunday. There was a delightfully relaxed studio session on the Mark Radcliffe show a few weeks ago, not to mention a good piece in our local newspaper The Press and much more print and online activity. For example, you can see the official video of their tribute song to the real ale craft brewer revival on YouTube.
O'Hooley & Tidow are a great live act. I've seen them in action three times in recent months and they have never been less than brilliant, turning in powerful, thought provoking and deeply moving performances, 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, online or on the door from 7pm. Rather surprisingly (I must confess) there are still lots of tickets left and in fact we still need 30 more sales just to cover all our costs and meet the artists' very modest basic fee. So do yourselves and us a favour and come along on Wednesday night. It will be a good one!
2. FUTURE CONCERTS WITH VIN AND HEIDI. Our concert programme continues with the inimitable Vin Garbutt on Tuesday 1st April. Vin surely needs little introduction to a folk readership, particularly here, so close to his North East homeland. Powerful, warm, humane, inspired, funny, hugely moving and gut-wrenchingly honest: these are just a few of the terms used to describe a Vin Garbutt show. His own songs are inspired by the folk tradition but transformed into gritty social comment and thoughtful life observation, and he has a rare talent for finding equally strong songs by other writers. Vin is renowned for his hilarious spoken introductions, but the songs and their lyrics remain the crux of his performance. His career has spanned more than 40 years of constant worldwide touring, making him an elder statesman of the folk scene, and the "Teesside Troubadour" remains at the top of his game.
One of those "other writers" is York's Stan Graham, and as well as covering Stan's material, Vin invited Stan to accompany him on an Australian tour a few years ago. No wonder then than Stan will be the MC and support act for Vin at the NCEM. Tickets are again £14 full / £12 concessions from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, online or on the door from 7pm. Sales at this stage are reasonable but could be much better.
We then reach a notable milestone on Monday 14th April, when Heidi Talbot is the very special guest at our 100th concert at the NCEM. One hundred shows! Not bad, I think. What is more, Heidi will be joined (alongside guitarist Ian Carr) by her husband and musical collaborator John McCusker, who also performed at our very first NCEM show way back in 2000 as part of Kate Rusby's backing band. What a coincidence! Tickets for this one are well over half sold at £16 full, £14 concessions and David Ward Maclean is opening act.
3. SINGERS NIGHTS A-PLENTY. With several NCEM concerts in the offing, we also have more Singers Nights than usual at the Black Swan Inn, since we try to avoid having club guests and concert artists in the same week. There are Singers Nights lined up for next Thursday, 13th March (Chris Euesden as MC), 3rd April (MC Phil Cerny) and 17th April (MC Eddie Affleck). After an incredibly busy event in late January, the February Singers Night was quieter but still good fun, with, amongst others, not just one but two visiting male/female guitar/fiddle duos! No two Singers Nights are ever the same, which is part of their charm. Do check out one or the other of them in coming weeks.
4. GILMORE & ROBERTS ALMOST SOLD OUT. As I write, there are just half a dozen tickets left for Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts, making their triumphant return to our club on Thursday week, 20th March. First come, first served at WeGotTickets! And if you should have bought tickets for this one but then find you can no longer attend, please let me know. I may well be able to re-sell your seat and give you a refund.
5. WENDY ARROWSMITH ENTERTAINS. Our final event this month is an evening with a very fine singer who has performed for us several times in the past, as a club guest, as a concert support act and as a humble floor singer. Originally from Glasgow but now based near Northallerton, Wendy Arrowsmith (27th March) has toured the length and breadth of Britain to sing at folk clubs and festivals since she decided to make music her career in 2008. Her easy-going style and gentle humour, combined with her rich voice, have made her a popular guest wherever she goes and she has an enviably full diary on her website.
In the past Wendy has sung other styles of music but with folk she has found a genre that comes from the heart and allows both emotional expression and social comment. She has a good mixture of traditional songs, including a generous helping of Scottish material, and her own finely crafted compositions, some of which have won songwriting awards. She generally accompanies herself on guitar, although whistles, bodhran, mandolin and accordion have also been known to appear.
Eddie Affleck is MC for this one, Chris Euesden will be looking after the sound and as I am away on holiday, Sarah Dean has volunteered for door duty. If you have any last minute queries on this one, I suggest you contact Chris by email.
6. YOUNG AND NOT SO YOUNG, BRITISH AND AMERICAN. We may have only two Black Swan guest nights in April, but both should be exceptionally good fun. They are certainly different – one British, masculine and primarily instrumental but with some songs thrown in, the other American, feminine and primarily vocal but with occasional instrumental colouring. Spanning the generations, Alistair Anderson & Dan Walsh (April 10th) are masters of their respective instruments (concertina or Northumbrian pipes Alistair, banjo Dan) and promise some thrilling musical pyrotechnics, while Fay, Kate and Kim, The Short Sisters (April 24th) will provide a delightful night of vocal harmony. Booking is available for both nights online.
FOLK WEEKEND NEWS
7. FESTIVAL PROGRAMME TAKES SHAPE. It has taken me longer than anticipated, but I will soon have the basic programme ready for the City of York Folk Weekend 2014 which (I'm sure you need little reminding) is on 6th, 7th and 8th June. Indeed, I will be sending a draft running order to main stage participants within the next day or two, for comment. There are two things I can reveal now. Firstly, we will be holding a Ceilidh Under Canvas on the Friday night, with well-known local folk dance band FiddlersWreck, augmented by Paul Young. This will be a first for us, made possible by the fact that we are promised a large single-span marquee this year. Incidentally, for more local dance news, see item 11 below. Secondly, local firm JSS will again be providing the marquee PA and lights on Saturday and Sunday, after doing such a splendid job for us last year. Thanks Jem!
8. WELL DONE PAULA. For the second year running, Paula Ryan has reached the final of the Irish National Song Contest, which is to select a song to represent Ireland at the "Celtic languages' Eurovision", the Pan Celtic International Song Contest held between Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man. "Some of you may remember that last year I was a finalist in this contest with my party song Havin' The Craic," writes Paula. "I am delighted to be selected again this year from an even larger number of submissions with a new song of a completely different ilk, a gentle lullaby entitled Suantraí Donnacha". The Irish final was last night (8th) in Carlow and we wished Paula good luck. The song can be heard on SoundCloud in both the Irish Gaelic version and an English translation.
9. NEW ACOUSTIC SINGAROUND MOVES HOUSE. York's recently established New Acoustic Singaround (see ENews 169) has changed venue and can now be found at the Victoria Hotel on the corner of Heslington Road and Cemetery Road. They continue to meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 8pm, alternating with the well-established rural singers clubs at Hemingbrough (first Sunday) and Thorganby (third Sunday). That means their next gathering is tonight (9th), when there will be a half hour feature spot for Bruce & Pat Elder. "We still welcome any genre for a friendly singaround in the bar" says organiser Tony Haynes, who adds "all are welcome, singers or not." Find out more on theirFacebook page. Incidentally, I have invited Tony and Co to host one of the singarounds at our Folk Weekend and await their response.
10. FOLK CLUBS BOOK NOW PUBLISHED. A few issues ago I trailed a forthcoming book which sets out to write a history of British folk clubs. Well Singing From The Floor by Sheffield based author J P Bean was published last Thursday and I await my ordered copy with great interest. Commissioned for publishers Faber & Faber by Jarvis Cocker, on the recommendation of Richard Hawley, the book relates how (to quote Hawley) "a few devoted music fans and musicians helped launch one of the biggest revolutions – musical, political and social – this country has ever seen".
The Press Release continues "in smoky rooms above pubs, bare rooms with battered stools and beer-stained tables, where the stage was little more than a scrap of carpet, an acoustic revolution took place in Britain in the 1950s and 60s. This was the folk revival, where a generation of musicians would rediscover the native songs of their own tradition, as well as the folk and blues coming from across the Atlantic. Singing From The Floor tells the story of this remarkable movement, faithfully captured in the voices of those who formed it." What is more, J P continues the story right through the 70s heyday and the fallow years of the 80s and 90s, right up to the 21st century resurgence of interest in folk music.
"It is a joyous, boisterous and hugely entertaining book" they say, available as both a £17.99 paperback (ISBN 9780571305452) and as a £14.99 e-book.
11. FOLK DANCE WITH FACEBOOK. Paul Young writes "the Railway Institute ceilidhs are now running consistently on the last Sunday of each month and the March event will be on Sunday 30th with FiddlersWreck". These are public dances held at York Railway Institute on Queen Street near the train station. "All are welcome, regardless of age, experience and number of left feet; these ceilidhs are for first-timers and hardened ceilidh-goers alike!" The resident bands are Doctor Peacock and FiddlersWreck, doors open at 7.30pm, tickets are £5 on the door, and there is parking and a bar at the venue. Future dates are 27th April, 25th May and 29th June. Paul also says "I've recently created a Facebook group for public ceilidhs in York" so if you are interested in social dancing, join up online. Alternatively you can contact Paul by email and ask to be added to their mailing list.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK
12. FOLK & BEER AT THE VICTORIA VAULTS, 14th/15th MARCH. Next weekend sees a wealth of folk music and real ale at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane in York. On Friday night (14th) there is the well-established weekly music and song session from 8.30pm, then there is live music all day Saturday (15th) as well. After a lunchtime session come performance spots for Abi Sutton and Paul Young (2pm), Rakish (2.45pm), Gerry Hallom (3.45pm) and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion (4.45pm). Following a tea-time break live music resumes with The Victoria Volks (7.30pm), Phil Cerny (8.30pm) and the A-Rhythmics (9.15pm) before a closing session from 10pm. Everything is free – other than the beers, of course, which will be coming from Cross Bay Brewery in Morecambe. See you there!
13. AND FOLK AHOY! AT THE BLACK SWAN, 29th MARCH. York's Little Festival of Live Music is running a 9-hour event, Folk Ahoy! at the Black Swan Inn from 2pm on Saturday 29th March. Organiser Ellen Cole writes "this event will showcase the best that the region has to offer in folk music". The line-up includes renowned singer/guitarist David Ward Maclean (2pm), folk blues combo King Courgette (3pm), Gilded Thieves (4pm), singing harpist Sarah Dean (5pm), Dan Webster (6pm), Karlos Senor (7pm), Alice Ostapjuk with her band (8pm), songwriter Holly Taymar with Chris Bilton (9pm) and a country-folk quartet Dream of Apollo (10pm).
Entry will cost £4 on the door from 1.30pm, with proceeds going to St Leonard's Hospice To purchase a ticket prior to the event or for further information, contact Ellen by email or visit the event's Facebook page. I should stress that this event has no connection with ourselves at the Black Swan Folk Club, but nevertheless we wish it well.
14. LAST FEW TICKETS FOR POPPLETON FESTIVAL. John Watterson reports that there are only a handful of tickets left for his Poppleton Live Festival on Sunday 11th May. The headline act can now be officially revealed as Fairport Convention, with a very strong supporting cast that includes Jez Lowe, Union Jill, Roger Davies, Gilmore & Roberts, Greg Russell and Anthony John Clarke. Tickets are £30 if bought by next Monday (10th) or £33 thereafter. The Box Office is email@example.com.
15. TOM & JANIS AT THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE. If you've been inspired by the recent Coen Brothers film, you may care to know that Greenwich Village veterans Tom Paxton and Janis Ian are sharing the stage for a UK tour and come to the Grand Opera House York on Friday 28th March. Tickets are a fairly hefty £30 (in person) or a bit more if booked online.
16. SHAKESPEARE WITH A FOLKY TWIST. The York Shakespeare Project announces a new production of Twelfth Night, taking place from 3rd to 12th April at the York Theatre Royal Studio. "Shakespeare's comic masterpiece about the many forms that love may take is given a fast, fun and folky production by (this) home-grown company" they say. "There will be new songs written specially for the play and the cast is made up of actor/musicians, with ukulele players, singers and all sorts bringing the fabulous play to life." Evening productions start at 7.30pm and there are also Saturday matinees, and tickets are £12 (£10 concessions) from the Theatre Royal Box Office. It is just possible that some of the cast will drop in on our 20th March Singers Night and do a couple of the songs from the play.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
17. 11th & 15th MARCH ON THE WOLDS. Trevor Appleton writes that the monthly Wetwang Acoustic event at the Victoria Inn will "try a new start time of 7.30pm, to give more time to get everyone on as it has become so busy". That is next Tuesday, 11th March. The monthly Gallery Acoustic at Bainton follows on Saturday 15th March, also at 7.30pm.
18. 16th MARCH IN OTLEY. In a pre-St Patrick's Night special, Chris Dyson's new traditional Irish folk band Róisín Bán appears at the Courthouse. Book online or on 01943 467466.
19. 22nd MARCH AT BRANTINGHAM. Hunsley Acoustic Music has a new home at the Triton Inn, Ellerker Road at Brantingham, only a short distance from their old home in Elloughton East Yorkshire. Their next event is country blues act Rag Mama Rag on Saturday 22nd March at 8pm. Find out more online.
20. 29th MARCH ON THE WOLDS. Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies have another outing for their themed show These Coal Town Days, this time at the village hall in Lund on the East Yorkshire Wolds. Booking can be done through the Bad Apple Theatre website and tickets cost £9.50, with concessions.
21. 4th APRIL IN KILBURN. John Watterson takes his latest Fake Thackray show to Kilburn Village Institute on Friday 4th April at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 from Julie Harron on 01347 868359. Family tickets are also available.
22. 13th APRIL IN HALIFAX. Pete Coe & Alice Jones launch their double CD The Search For Five Finger Frank at the Square Chapel. This record celebrates the legacy of Leeds folk song collector Frank Kidson (1855-1926), a rather overlooked pioneer of the folk revival compared to Cecil Sharp et al, and features new arrangements of ballads, broadsides and dance tunes from the Kidson archive. The show starts at 7.30pm and costs £13 on 01422 349422.
SOME SPRING & SUMMER FESTIVALS
23. WATH FESTIVAL takes place (for the 43rd time!) over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, 2nd-4th May at Wath-upon-Dearne in South Yorkshire. There is a series of five concerts featuring leading artists from the world of folk and roots music from the UK and abroad, including the Demon Barbers, Kris Drever, Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Sam Carter and Pete Morton. There is also a full programme of community events. Visit the festival website for further details.
24. GARGRAVE AUTOHARP FESTIVAL is a specialist gathering taking place over the weekend of 27th-29th June and bills itself as "the North of England's flagship autoharp event", linked this year to the cultural activities around the Tour de France. There will be classes, demonstrations and concerts with Mike Fenton, "England's autoharp guru" and other leading members of the autoharp community. There is a festival website or contact Patrick O'Sullivan on 01274 492426
25. MOONBEAMS WOLD TOP FOLK FESTIVAL takes place as ever at the Wold Top Brewery near Hunmanby, this year on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th July. "Now in its sixth year, this very special festival provides the perfect weekend away to enjoy world class folk music and award winning ales in the most beautiful surroundings". Find out more at their website.
That's all for now! Refreshed (I hope) by a short holiday, I'll be back early in April.