FOLK WEEKEND LATEST
1. FOLK WEEKEND IS COMING – JUNE 6th-8th. Programming is now almost complete for this year’s extravaganza, designed as always to celebrate the strength and diversity of our lively local folk, roots and acoustic music scene. The running order for the Marquee / Outdoor area was revealed in E-News 173 and has already been postedonline. The draft schedule for everything else will follow in a few days’ time, on the Folk Weekend part of the club website. The main features include:
· Friday night Songwriters’ Showcase hosted by Stan Graham
· Saturday early evening reprise of last year’s well-received Jake Thackray Hour
· Saturday evening Wolfe Room Concert with The Grand Old Uke of York, Phil Pipe, To The Blue, The Lennanshees, Ian Pybus & Anne Curran and Steve & Dee Marshall
· Saturday afternoon Storytelling Hour (suitable for both adults and children) and Sunday afternoon Poetry session, both hosted by Adrian Spendlow
· Sunday lunchtime Family Singing Workshop for parents and younger children, hosted by Tread The Boards
· Sunday afternoon Wolfe Room Concert with John Storey, Keystone, Simon Alexander, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Solar Union and David Kidman
· Sunday evening Wolfe Room Concert with Carol Henderson, Smith & Wallace, Stan Graham, David Swann, Paul Young & Abi Sutton and Boss Caine
2. PLENTY OF CHANCES TO PLAY AND SING YOURSELF. Participation is just as important at the Folk Weekend as staged performance and as usual there will be two spaces (or more) devoted to do-it-yourself music and song for most of Saturday and Sunday:
· All day Musicians’ Sessions in the Bowes Room
· Rolling Folk Club, either “open mic” style in the Wolfe Room or singaround style in the Oak Room
· Saturday afternoon Oak Room sing hosted by our friends from The New Acoustic Singaround
· Informal evening jams in the Oak Room hosted by the inimitable Chris Barnes
· The regular Friday night session at the Victoria Vaults and the Sunday night singaround at the Victoria Hotel become official “fringe” events for the weekend!
3. PLEASE HELP PUBLICISE THE WEEKEND. The more people who drop in on Folk Weekend, the happier we shall all be. Please spread the word far and wide, both to fellow folk fans and to all your other family, friends and acquaintances. As an entirely FREE and very informal event, it is a great “taster” for what the local folk scene has to offer to the uninitiated.
· A poster is available on the club website in both jpg and pdf formats. Kindly designed for us by Richard Nagy, it works equally well in colour or b&w, A4 poster or A5 handbill.
· If you can distribute posters or fliers somewhere but don’t want to print them out yourself, please let me know and I’ll mail you some hard copy. Likewise let me know if there are suitable outlets I can post to direct.
· Use social media to spread news of the event and generate interest. There is a Facebook page for the event.
THURSDAY CLUB NIGHTS
4. THIS WEEK – THE SHORT SISTERS: TOP FLIGHT HARMONY FROM AMERICA. Neither sisters nor particularly diminished in stature, our guests this week, 24th April, nevertheless go by the name of The Short Sisters. Fay Baird, Kate Seeger (yes, she is related to Pete and Peggy) and Kim Wallach have been singing together in the States for 35 years and come to us on the recommendation of Jez Lowe, who has booked a short UK tour for them. They specialise in vocal harmony, sometimes acapella, sometimes embellished with guitar, autoharp or banjo, and they have a pleasantly diverse repertoire. It sounds great! Entry is a very modest £8 full or £7 concessions, available on the door.
5. 1st MAY – THE ASKEW SISTERS: A VIGOROUS TAKE ON ENGLISH FOLK MUSIC. Genuine sisters this time, Emily & Hazel Askew are our May Day guests. Using fiddle and melodeon, they play and sing mostly English folk material with infectious enjoyment and real love for the music. From rhythmic foot-stomping tunes to powerful interpretations of songs and ballads, they are guaranteed to engage and enthuse all who hear them. They have entertained us right well on two previous visits, and we have also enjoyed Hazel’s work with the group Lady Maisery, while Emily is also noted as a performer in the world of Early music. They have a new album just out - in fact the official launch is the very day after they visit York – so we can expect some new material alongside old favourites. This one is £9 full or £8 concessions, on the door or beforehand at WeGotTickets.
6. 8th MAY – JEFF WARNER: CHAMPION OF AUTHENTIC AMERICAN FOLK SONG. We switch from England to North America the following week, 8th May, for a return visit by noted singer and song accompanist Jeff Warner. This is the show which was originally scheduled for June 2013 but failed to happen due to agency misunderstandings. The son of famous song collectors Anne and Frank Warner, Jeff is an acclaimed performer of authentic North American folk songs, deftly accompanying the songs on concertina, banjo or guitar, or sometimes with “pocket” instruments such as bones or spoons. His material evokes the lives and music of ordinary people - whalers and fishermen, lumberjacks and farmers, presenting “the latest news from the distant past” as his website puts it, while for a fellow English club organiser he “he inhabits a song in a way which few singers can do”. This one is £8 full or £7 concessions, on the door or through WeGotTickets.
7. 15th MAY – OPEN HOUSE SINGERS NIGHT. Another lively night is in prospect, with who knows what combination of regulars and interesting visitors.
8. 22nd MAY – MASTER MUSICIAN TOM McCONVILLE. A former BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the year, Tom McConville has been a regular and popular guest at the Black Swan throughout his career, which began (as we did) in the later 1970s. Sometimes solo, sometimes with a band (Dab Hand, Great Northern Roadshow) and often in a duo (with successively Kieran Halpin, Sean Lakeman, Pauline Cato and David Newey) Tom has never failed to entertain. Quite simply, he is one of the leading fiddle players of the age and also a fantastic singer with a rich, warm tone and an easy Geordie lilt.
When our printed brochure was written, this was anticipated to be a solo performance, but Tom has now recruited an excellent young guitarist and mandolin player to accompany him, Andy Watt. Together they promise a rollercoaster of musical delights, from rhythmic dance tunes through beautiful slow airs to a great selection of traditional and modern songs, all presented with Tom’s trademark sense of style and good humour. Tickets at £10 or £9 are now available at WeGotTickets or on the door.
9. 29th MAY – THE YOUTHFUL SOUNDS OF DAVID GIBB & ELLY LUCAS. David plays the guitar and melodeon in this lively duo, with Elly on fiddle and both of them singing. Performing a mixture of original and traditional music, they offer distinctive vocal leads, haunting harmonies and a rich instrumental sound. Their reputation has been building steadily since their 2011 BBC Young Folk Awards nomination and this is an overdue and much anticipated Black Swan debut. “Imaginative, joyful and highly infectious” was the verdict of R2 Magazine. This is a £9 night, concessions £8, at WeGotTickets or on the door.
10. MANY MORE GREAT NIGHTS IN PROSPECT. The final gaps have now been filled in our Thursday night diary for the rest of 2014, and I think we can promise you many more nights of exceptionally fine music. The full listed has been posted on the Programme page of the club website, but here are all the guest artist names:
· In June, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker (19th) and The Jaywalkers (26th)
· In July, Sarah Jane Scouten from Canada (3rd) and the sublime Steve Tilston (24th) plus Yorkshire-based duos Hissyfit (17th) and Plumhall (31st)
· In August, this year’s BBC Horizon Award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (28th) plus soloists Jon Brindley (14th) and Patsy Matheson (21st)
· In September one of our all-time favourites Edwina Hayes (11th) plus two blues-influenced guitar legends, Hans Theessink (18th) and Wizz Jones (25th)
· In October BBC Folk Singer of the Year Bella Hardy, in a joint tour with Canada’s Cara Luft (16th), plus veteran songwriter Mike Silver (23rd) and a youthful take on the blues from Sunjay Brayne (9th)
· In November, James Keelaghan from Canada (6th), English vocalist Judy Dunlop (13th) and rising star Gavin Davenport (20th)
· In December, TWO nights with the mighty Martin Carthy (3rd & 4th) and a club return for Anglo-French favourites The Churchfitters (11th)
Box Office for summer events will probably open in two or three weeks’ time, and for autumn events most likely in August. I’ll have more news in future newsletters.
11. NCEM AUTUMN CONCERT SERIES ANNOUNCED. We have concluded our present series of larger concerts at the National Centre for Early Music but we will be back there with a run of five specials in the autumn, beginning with a solo show by Martin Simpson on 4th October. Virtuoso young Celtic musicians Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson follow on 20th October, then it is Chris While & Julie Matthews on 2nd November, Nancy Kerr touring as a headline artist, with backing band, on 26th November, and A Medieval Christmas with Blast From The Past on 17th December, companion piece to their very successful Victorian Christmas show in 2012. We even have one firm concert booking in place for 2015, with The Poozies on March 24th, which will feature Sally Barker who recently reached the finals of The Voice on TV! Autumn concert Box Office will open in mid/late summer.
12. MEANWHILE … SAM LEE AND CHRIS WOOD. While we take a temporary break from concert promotion, the NCEM have two folk events of their own which should be of interest. On Sunday 18th May they present Sam Lee & Friends in concert and then on Saturday 20th September their guest is Chris Wood. These are two iconoclastic and highly individual performers with distinctive approaches to the folk tradition, and both are well worth an evening of your time. Booking is now open online or on 01904 658338, with Sam Lee £13 or £11, Chris Wood £17 or £15.
13. REMEMBERING DAVE SHAW. We were deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the sudden death of Selby area musician Dave Shaw a couple of weeks ago. A quietly gifted guitarist and an all-round good bloke, Dave was a resident performer at the First Sunday Folk Club in his native village of Hemingbrough and a valued visitor to other clubs and sessions all around the region, our own included. He performed at the last two York Folk Weekends, with the groups Three Play (2012) and FOSS (2013), and was last seen at the Black Swan as recently as our 23rd January Singers Night. Until his retirement Dave ran a print business and we have him very much to thank for printing and publishing Don Walls’ first five books of poetry. Our condolences go to his friends and family and in particular to Mick O’Hara, Jack Firminger and all his many mates at Hemingbrough. He will be sorely missed by very many people.
14. REVIEWS A-PLENTY. Recent weeks have seen a spate of press reviews for concert and club guests of ours – all of them favourable, I am pleased to say. Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow attracted fulsome praise from Robert McKelvey in The Press, on a tour which also earned them a 5-star live review in The Guardian and consolidated their status as one of the most innovative and stimulating duos on the current folk scene. It is such a pity that only 75 of you turned out to see them in York – you others missed a real treat!
No such problem last week for Heidi Talbot, who had a full house and certainly impressed YorkMix journalist David Markham. It is also good to see both these writers paying favourable attention to the support acts (Sarah Dean and David Ward Maclean respectively) – who are often overlooked in concert reviews.
Meanwhile freelance critic Martin Longley has contributed a piece about Young Performer Double Bill participant Matt Quinn and a fulsome appreciation of Dan Walsh & Alistair Anderson to his regular column on the AllAboutJazz website. Martin is also now writing for Songlines magazine, so perhaps one of our events might earn a mention there one day!
15. HAYMARKET CAR PARK CLOSES THIS WEEK. The long-anticipated closure of the Haymarket car park, alongside the Black Swan Inn, will now take place this coming Friday, 25th, and work will begin immediately on construction of the Hiscox Insurance building which is to take its place. See my piece in E-News 171 for more about this, and for details of alternative parking options which are available if you should ever come to the club and find that the pub’s own car park is full up.
16. LEARN MORE ABOUT SONGWRITING WITH CLIVE GREGSON. Ian Simpson writes that he has arranged for Clive Gregson to do a songwriting workshop and house concert near York on Sunday 25th May. The daytime songwriting workshop will be limited to 12 places and will cost £10, while the house concert can accommodate 50, again at £10 each. For more details or bookings, contact Ian by email on email@example.com or by phone (after 26th April, please) on 0780 309 2082 or 01759 318328.
17. AND IMPROVE YOUR SINGING WITH UNION JILL. Union Jill write that they are thinking of running one or more singing workshops in York, possibly also including an element of songwriting. They say “Helen has been trained by [celebrated folk singer and singing coach] Frankie Armstrong and is very experienced at running workshops, which she does as part of her lecturing programme [at York St John University]”. In this way they hope to raise some of the funding needed for their next album. There are no firm dates yet, and they may opt for an open “taster” session first. If you’d like to be kept informed, contact them by email.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK
18. TUESDAY 22nd APRIL AT THE VICTORIA VAULTS sees a triple bill FREE show at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane, with Paula Ryan and Sarah Dean the special guests of acoustic duo To The Blue (aka Jane Stockdale & Chris Bartram), who have a residency at this music friendly pub. It is an 8.30pm start.
19. SUNDAY 27th APRIL AT THE RAILWAY INSTITUTE on Queen Street brings the regular monthly public ceilidh, doors open 7.30pm, entry £5, with dancing to the Paul Young Trio.
20. FRIDAY 2nd MAY AT FRIARGATE THEATRE on Low Friargate promises a fun evening with King Courgette, playing their special blend of bluegrass, blues and Appalachian folk music with banjos, ukulele, fiddle, guitars and washboard percussion. Things start at 7.30 and tickets are £10 or £8 on 01904 613000 or online or on the door.
21. SATURDAY 10th MAY AT THE BLACK SWAN INN brings “Somewhere Else”, an evening of poetry and music with Don Walls and Sarah Dean. It is an 8pm start and entry is by donation of at least £3, in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice.
22. SUNDAY 18th MAY AT THE NCEM - remember than Stan Lee & Friends concert, see item 12 above.
23. WEDNESDAY 21st MAY AT CITY SCREEN BASEMENT welcomes last year’s BBC Horizon Award winner Blair Dunlop to town during a solo tour. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are £10 in advance from the City Screen Box Office and online.
EVENTS FURTHER AFIELD
24. FROM 22nd APRIL TOURING AROUND YORKSHIRE & BEYOND is the latest production from Badapple Theatre, The Thankful Village, a World War 1-set comedy-drama written by Kate Bramley with songs and music by Jez Lowe. The opening night venue is All Saints Church Hall in Poppleton, and the 40 plus subsequent performances visit communities across the county and far beyond, including Kirk Hammerton (30th April), Sheriff Hutton (3rd May), Helmsley (9th May), Thorganby (28th May) and Pocklington (11th June). Find the full tour list and lots more information online.
25. FRIDAY 25th APRIL IN DONCASTER sees the aforementioned Jez Lowe in concert at the Doncaster Roots Music Club. This is a relatively new venue, successor to the long-running Rock club at Maltby (and before that at Wentworth). The venue is the Ukrainian Centre on Beckett Road and the club meets every Friday with a wide-ranging booking policy, as befits the name. Future guests include Vin Garbutt (9th May) and Chris While & Julie Matthews (30th May). Find out more at their website or contact organiser Jonti Willis on 07939 148603.
26. FRIDAY 25th APRIL AT THE VICTORIA HALL, SALTAIRE sees Cara Dillon in concert for Saltaire Live. The same venue has Kathryn Tickell and her new bandThe Side on Tuesday 20th May.
27. SATURDAY 26th APRIL AT THE SAME VENUE IN SALTAIRE sees the 40th bi-annual Day of Dance, with 40 workshops in dance, song, and a host of other activities, plus three ceilidhs and other events in the evening. A special item will be a talk on the life and songs of Peter Seeger by Joe Stead. Visit their website for full programme details.
28. SUNDAY 27th APRIL AT HELMSLEY ARTS CENTRE there is a visit by singer/songwriter Emily Maguire. Tickets are £10 on 01439 771700
29. FRIDAY 2nd MAY AT REETH MEMORIAL HALL, SWALEDALE has a performance by Hannah James & Sam Sweeney on their Farewell For Now Tour. See the Hallwebsite for details, and take note of the “roadworks” piece about the temporary closure of a main access route into the village.
30. SATURDAY 10th MAY AT HARROGATE THEATRE brings another duo on Farewell Tour, namely Spiers & Boden. Not surprisingly, this one is almost sold out! Book fast online.
31. FRIDAY 16th MAY AT HELMSLEY ARTS CENTRE has another show that is sure to sell out, Martin Carthy & Eliza Carthy. Visit the website for info and bookings.
32. FRIDAY 16th MAY AT HOWDEN SHIRE HALL sees Blackbeard’s Tea Party in concert, with support from Joe Solo and Beggar’s Bridge. It should be a good one and is promoted by Howden Live.
33. SATURDAY 17th MAY AT THE BAND ROOM IN FARNDALE has a show by “Alternative Sci-fi Folk Pop Evangelists” Maia. See the Band Room website for details.
MORE YORKSHIRE FESTIVALS
34. FILEY FOLK FESTIVAL takes places over the 2nd, 3rd & 4th of May at various venues in the resort and has a good website.
35. WATH FESTIVAL is held the same weekend in Wath upon Dearne, South Yorkshire, and has a nicely varied line-up – see their website.
36. MALTON BLUES FESTIVAL takes place on the 9th, 10th and 11th May at Suddaby’s Crown Hotel on Wheelgate, with the main concerts on Saturday, including Steve Phillips, Roger Sutcliffe and others. Contact Jim for more details on 01944 738422
37. DONCASTER FOLK FESTIVAL takes place over the 23rd, 24th and 25th May and also has a good website.
38. THE FESTIVAL ON THE MOOR also takes place over the Late Spring Bank Holiday weekend, at Botton Village near Danby. See their website for full details.
What a lot there is going on! I’ll try to be back around mid/late May with final preview news of the City of York Folk Weekend and loads of other stuff.