Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 175

Folk Weekend Special 2014

This newsletter is mainly about the forthcoming festival, but please note also item 22.  We have a small University of York crew filming our club night next Thursday, so do come along and enjoy the excellent music of David Gibb & Elly Lucas and help us show the world our club at its full-up best.
1.        WEEKEND OVERVIEW.  It is now less than a fortnight to York’s festival celebration of folk and acoustic music. This will be our twelfth annual event and if you’ve attended previous ones you’ll know pretty much what to expect, and what great fun it can be, but for newcomers here is a brief overview.  Throughout the weekend of 6th to 8th June, the Black Swan Inn will be filled with music and song, in three rooms indoors and under canvas in the car park, with concerts, tunes sessions, singarounds, themed events, kids’ stuff and much more.  There are over 50 named performers on the bill, and dozens more informal participants, plus (we very much hope) lots and lots of listeners.
The programme is summarised below, while you can find the full document online at or in print on the back of our new folk club leaflet and on special folk weekend fliers, both of which have recently been distributed to usual outlets in York and beyond.
Although organised by myself and other members of the Folk Club team, this is very much designed as a weekend which brings together all sections of York’s vibrant folk, roots and acoustic music scene. What is more, it is entirely free, so you can dip in as frequently and for as long as you want over the weekend.  Some people will look in for an hour or two one afternoon; others will be there for almost the entire weekend!
2.        FRIDAY NIGHT CEILIDH UNDER CANVAS.  To get things off to a swinging start we are running our first ever Folk Weekend ceilidh.  This year’s marquee will be just as big as last year’s but a single span model, giving us a good sized covered floor, and a ceilidh seemed the obvious thing to try.  FiddlersWreck have kindly offered their services, complete with PA and lights, so get on down on Friday night and step it out!  Dancing starts at 8pm and runs until the 10.30pm licence curfew.
FiddlersWreck comprise Michael Jary, who is our club webmaster and NCEM concert sound man, alongside Marie Wood and Nicky Kerslake, sisters who were regular club visitors back in their teenage years, together with guest player Paul Young, of Rakish and other bands.
3.        THINGS FOR CHILDREN.  We always try to programme something for children and this year Ali Morgan and her Tread The Boards company are kindly hosting a Family Singing Workshop at lunchtime on Sunday in the Wolfe Room.  This is designed for parents and younger children and should be great fun.  Meanwhile on Saturday at 2pm Adrian Spendlow and Helen Sant present a Storytelling Session to which both adults and kids are invited.
4.        AND A GUITAR WORKSHOP.  Also new this year, club resident Simon Alexander offers a short workshop for guitarists on Song Accompaniment.  That’s at 6.45pm on Saturday.  If you’ve seen any of Simon’s occasional floor spots you’ll appreciate that he certainly knows his way around the fretboard.
5.        ON THE MARQUEE STAGE.  All-day concerts take place on Saturday (1pm to 10.30pm) and Sunday (1pm to 10pm) in the car park marquee and showcase many of our finest local singers and groups.  On Saturday that means the folk rock of Duncan McFarlane and Gerry McNeice with their respective bands, Americana with King Courgette and Root 64, smooth contemporary song from Graham Hodge, world sounds with Caramba, original songs from Paul RyanDan Webster andDavid Ward Maclean, the rip-roaring music of The A-Rhythmics and the good time folk of The Foresters.  There are also dance display interludes from Acorn Morrisand Ebor Morris, and the customary main stage spot for the teenagers of York Young Fiddlers.
Sunday’s highlights include Blackbeard’s Tea Party, back with us after rival engagements last year, powerhouse duo Union Jill, the lovely Holly Taymar and exciting new group Rakish.  There is worldwide vocal music from Chechelele and differing styles of American roots music from Union CentralThe Jaybirds and Phil Cerny. Singing original songs will be Sarah Dean and also Tommy Coyle, returning briefly to his home town (where many will know him as Tom Euesden) from a burgeoning musical career in London.  There will be an eye- and ear-catching display by the phenomenal Kaminari Taiko Japanese Drummers, while the day is ably kicked off byThe Fine Companions and wrapped up by the Celtic and gypsy folk sounds of Leather’O.
6.        INDOOR CONCERTS.  The upstairs function room, the Wolfe Room, hosts four concert style events over the weekend.  On Friday night (8pm-11pm) that means a Songwriters In The Round event masterminded by Stan Graham, while on Saturday evening (7.30-11.45) the musical menu includes York’s premier ukulele group, The Grand Old Uke of York, women’s vocal trio The Lennanshees, humorous songwriter Phil Pipe and several others.
The Sunday afternoon concert (2.30-6pm) is equally varied, ranging from the hearty acapella folk of Two Black Sheep & A Stallion to the original songwriting of Steve Kendra and Solar Union.  After a short break, Sunday evening’s show (6.45-10.30) takes in a final 6 acts, including folk songwriter David Swann, lovely singer Carol Henderson and (making a long overdue Folk Weekend debut), Boss Caine.
7.        JAKE THACKRAY SPECIAL.  The Wolfe Room is also the venue for a repeat of last year’s successful Jake Thackray Hour (Saturday, 6pm), courtesy of John Teesdale and his friends.  While Fake Thackray cannot be with us this year (see item 25 below), John and his mates will show you that there are other very talented purveyors of the late Mr Thackray’s work in our area.
Participation is just as important as concert performance so far as we are concerned and for most of Saturday and Sunday there will be two (or more) events taking place simultaneously, where you can sing or play yourselves.
8.        ALL DAY MUSICIANS’ SESSIONS.  The larger dining room, the Bowes Room, is given over to a musicians’ session all day Saturday and Sunday and this is usually the first event under way each day, from noon onwards.  It is always a warm and welcoming set up and often packed to the rafters.
9.        THE ROLLING FOLK CLUB.  This year the club session is being held “concert style” (like a Singers Night, with short performance spots from the front of the room) on Saturday afternoon (1.30-5.30) in the Wolfe Room, then “singaround style” in the smaller Oak Room on Sunday (2.30-7pm).  All performers are made welcome at these events
10.     OTHER OAK ROOM EVENTS.  There will also be a Saturday afternoon Singaround in the Oak Room (4pm-6.30), kept in order by Tony Haynes and others from the New Acoustic Singaround Club, while on Sunday lunchtime it is Poems & Pints, convened by Adrian Spendlow and with all readers welcome.  Last but not least, the inimitable Chris Barnes is back with us after a year off in 2013 and hosts his usual laid-back Free & Easy sessions from 8pm on both evenings.
11.     FRINGE EVENTS.  The whole purpose of our Folk Weekend is to unite the different strands of the local scene so we acknowledge the city’s regular weekend events by including them in our programme.  That means the Friday night songs and tunes gathering at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane, which is particularly lively at the moment, and the long-running Sunday night Old Time music session at the Golden Ball in Bishophill, as well as the more recently launched twice monthlySunday singaround at the Victoria Hotel, Heslington Road.
12.     THE MARQUEE & OUTDOOR STUFF.  As mentioned above, our landlord Andy is hiring a large single-span marquee this year, giving us a good size fully covered area in case of inclement weather.  He is also hiring lots of outdoor seats and one or two Portaloos to augment the facilities for women.  Marquee sound will again be provided by JSS PA Hire, who did such a good job for us last year, and they are also bringing a small lighting rig to brighten up those evening hours.
Before the Folk Weekend the pub’s beer garden will have been fully revamped, with a walled space replacing the former decked area and matching the enclosure on the other side of the drive.  You’ll now be able to sit in either beer garden and still see what is going on.
13.     FOOD & DRINK.  The landlord will again be offering a range of food, including fish & chips, barbecue items and vegetarian options.  Meanwhile the cellar will be stocked to the maximum with the full range of beers and other drinks.  Please do not bring your own food or drink on site with you, other than bottled water or special dietary needs.  The landlord invests a great deal of time and money in running our folk weekend (marquee hire, seating, staging, toilets, special licences, extra staffing, etc.) and at the same time he foregoes his normal meals trade over the weekend, so he needs to recoup his very considerable costs through festival bar and food sales.
14.     TIMINGS.  Under the terms of our temporary event licence, the outdoor music MUST end no later than 10.30 (10pm Sunday) so even if we are running late and your favourite artists lose out, please bear with us.  We will of course do our level best to keep on schedule.  We also have to keep overall volumes at what is considered a reasonable level.  However, the bars are open until midnight (10.30 on Sunday) and music can go on indoors until then.
15.     NO MUSIC IN THE MAIN BAR.  The landlord and his staff ask that no informal singing or jamming takes place in the main (back) bar, which will be very busy all weekend serving drinks.  Please comply with this request.
16.     NO PARKING ON SITE.  For both basic space reasons and to safeguard health and safety, there will be no parking available on site over the weekend.  If bands and other performers need access to drop off or pick up bulky instruments or other equipment, please let me know ASAP and I will look at options for temporary access. Sadly the adjacent Haymarket car park has now closed ready for site redevelopment, although, infuriatingly, this has not yet begun.  There are privately operated car parks nearby at The Shambles (Q Park) on Garden Place, Hungate, and at Stonebow house (NCP), while the nearest York Council sites are Foss Bank (to 8pm), Piccadilly (to 6pm) and the 24 hour facilities at St John Street (Monk Bar) and Clifford’s Tower (Castle).  For full information about council run parking facilities, see theirwebsite.  Your other options include using the cheap daytime Park & Ride services, or coming entirely by public transport, since the Black Swan sits on several busy bus routes.
17.     COLLECTION TINS.  While no performer is taking a fee for appearing, and the landlord pays for much of the extra infrastructure, the Folk Weekend still costs us (the Folk Club) quite a bit of money to put on.  In particular we have to pay JSS for their services.  So our volunteers will be rattling collection tins under your noses from time to time!  If you are enjoying the weekend, please drop in whatever you can afford.  It will be a great help.
We would very much like lots and lots of people to come along and enjoy what is on offer over the weekend.  Please do what you can to help us with publicity.
18.     SPREAD THE WORD.  Please share news of the folk weekend with families, friends, work colleagues or whoever else you think might be interested.  Word of mouth recommendation is always the best form of publicity!
19.     SOCIAL MEDIA.  If you are a Facebook or Twitter user, please spread the word there as well.  We have a Folk Weekend Facebook page and there is also the Folk Club’s Twitter feed.
20.     POSTERS AND LEAFLETS.  Our Folk Weekend artwork (kindly donated by Richard Nagy) is available in either PDF or Jpg format on our Folk Weekend web page  and it can be posted on social media sites or downloaded and printed off as a poster or flier.
21.     RADIO LEEDS FEATURE.  Tonight (Sunday) you can hear the group Rakish and myself guesting on the Durbervilles Folk & Roots Show, previewing the Folk Weekend.  Rakish will be playing three no-doubt excellent songs and I’ll waffle on for a few minutes!  The show goes out at 8pm on Radio Leeds and is then available for 7 days on the “listen again” facility at
22.     THIS THURSDAY ELLY & DAVID ENTERTAIN – ON CAMERA.  Our club guests this Thursday (May 29th) are a young duo from Derbyshire, David Gibb & Elly Lucas, who mix original and traditional folk music with strong vocal leads, haunting harmonies and a full instrumental sound featuring fiddle (Elly) and guitar or melodeon (David).  Their career was kick-started with a BBC Young Folk Award nomination in 2011, since when they have done a brace of critically acclaimed albums (“imaginative, joyful and highly infectious” R2 Magazine) and consolidated their reputation as a live act.  “Confident and witty performers displaying a gift for catchy folk-pop melodies” (The Guardian) with "a commendable and playful approach to song interpretation" (fRoots).  I saw them myself for the first time last autumn and was much impressed, wondering how-come I hadn’t booked them for the club much sooner.
The first half of David & Elly’s show will be filmed by a small crew from the Centre for English Language Teaching at the University of York.  This means a single experienced cameraman with a small hand-held camera, so it should not be at all intrusive, while a couple of overseas students will interview the artists and possibly one or two audience members or floor singers.
The resulting video will form part of a series of short (c10 minute) educational films used to introduce exchange students to British life and culture.  Subjects covered already include agriculture, housing and hunting.  “We employ a couple of international students to lead and present the films and give their perspectives on the topics chosen” says tutor Chris Copland.  The club will receive a copy of the video and all being well we will post it on YouTube.
Stan Graham MCs this one and tickets are £9 full / £8 concessions, online or at the door.
23.     NEW BROCHURE PUBLISHED, BOX OFFICE OPEN.  Our new club brochure is now available and covers the entire summer period and beyond.  All the Thursday guest events it lists are now open for booking at WeGotTickets, while tickets for our first NCEM concert of the autumn, Martin Simpson in solo mode on Saturday 4th October, are also on sale already, through the Early Music Centre Box Office on 01904 658338 or website.
After pre- and post-festival Singers Nights (June 5th and 12th) we have another outstanding Folk Awards-nominated duo, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker (June 19th) and then a great young folk and bluegrass band Jaywalkers (June 26th).  Major artists revisiting us during this new season include Steve Tilston (July 24th), Edwina Hayes (September 11th), Hans Theessink (September 18th) and Wizz Jones (September 25th).  There is an overdue booking for the Beverley-based close harmony duo Hissyfit (July 17th) while other debuts include Plumhall (July 31st) and this year’s BBC Horizon Award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (August 28th).  We welcome back versatile Lancashire singer Jon Brindley (August 14th) and we are pleased to have a first solo performance by Patsy Matheson (August 21st).  There is just one North American visitor this summer, but Montreal-based songwriter Sarah Jane Scouten (July 3rd) promises to be extra special.
24.     POPPLETON FESTIVAL SUCCESS.  Despite dodgy weather, the recent one day folk festival at Poppleton headlined by Fairport Convention was a great success, reports John Watterson.  “300 people attended and all the feedback so far has been very positive. We were really pleased with how it went.”  John is now looking at a two or three day event next year, around 8th-10th May, and meanwhile he continues to run occasional Poppleton Live concerts in the village, with Bernard Wrigley next up on 20th September 
25.     FAKE THACKRAY ON RADIO 4.  John Watterson certainly keeps busy!  Wearing his Fake Thackray hat, he recently guested on an episode of the Radio 4 seriesGreat Lives, where he discussed the life and work of Jake Thackray with comedian Isy Suttie and presenter Matthew Parris.  The show is available indefinitely as apodcast.  Sadly, John/Fake is so busy he cannot appear at our Folk Weekend this year.
26.     SPECIAL OFFER FOR NEWSLETTER RECIPIENTS.  Cajun outfit The Magnolia Sisters (Ann Savoy, Jane Vidrine, Anya Burgess) appear at The Band Room in Farndale on Monday July 28th. Their “sublime Acadian harmonies” have been likened to Kate & Anna McGarrigle at their peak and promoter Nigel Burnham reckons they should appeal to folk fans.  Tickets are normally £17.50, but if you contact Nigel on 01751 432900 or quoting “Black Swan Newsletter” you can have a special offer price of £15 each.
27.     KITSYKE WILL TO REFORM.  One of the most admired and innovative folk groups in Yorkshire in the late 70s and early 80s was the trio Kitsyke Will.  This autumn Tony Bayliss, Bob Thomas and Peadar Long are getting back together for a few select dates.  I would have booked them for the Black Swan but the diary did not permit.  However, they will be at The Frazer Theatre Knaresborough on Friday 7th November, at an event celebrating 40 years of Knaresborough Mummers.  Further info from John Burrell on 01423 566112 or by email.  Kityske Will also have dates in Reeth and in Pateley Bridge on this short reunion tour.
There is just space for a few brief listings.  I’ll have a fuller diary in the next newsletter.
28.     FRIDAY MAY 30th AT YORK CITY SCREEN BASEMENT sees HENRY PRIESTMAN in concert.  Doors open 8pm, entry £10.
30.     MONDAY JUNE 9th AT OTLEY COURTHOUSE brings the Canadian roots outfit THE PAPERBOYS.  The same place has a rare small-venue gig by PATRICK STREET coming up on Sunday 20th July.  See the centre’s website or ring 01943 467466.
31.     SUNDAY JUNE 15th AT SALTAIRE sees a concert by high energy Quebecois group Le Vent Du Nord in the Victoria Hall.  It is a Saltaire Live promotion.
32.     TUESDAY JUNE 17th AT THE BLACK SWAN INN sees the return to town of American folk & country couple JENI & BILLY, for a concert organised by and also featuring their friends King Courgette.  Tickets are just £5, from the Little Apple Bookshop on High Petergate, or call York 679131.  Jeni & Billy have quite a few other Yorkshire dates on this tour, including Thirsk and Beverley – find a full list on their website.
33.     JUNE 20th-22nd IN BEVERLEY is of course Folk Festival weekend, held again this year at the Racecourse venue.  There is a huge cast, headlined by Billy Bragg, Home Service and Chas & Dave, and there are some tickets left.  Find out more on the Festival website.
34.     FRIDAY JULY 5th AT HAXBY MEMORIAL HALL brings an evening of Folk and Fun with The Foresters, a fundraiser for repairs to the hall roof.  Tickets are £7.50 on York 761825.
35.     JULY 25th-27th AT THE BLACKSMITH’S ARMS IN NABURN has a Beer & Boogie Festival with “folk, blues and beyond”.  Jez Lowe, Blonde on Bob and Chris Helme are amongst those appearing.  I’ll have more info in a future newsletter, but meanwhile you can have a look at the pub’s website.
That must be your lot for now.  Say hello if you see me at Folk Weekend.