Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 176

June 2014


1.        GIVE A WELCOME TO JAYWALKERS, 26th JUNE.  I first saw this Thursday’s guest trio in action last autumn, having previously known them only by reputation, and I booked them at once.  They must be one of the most exciting and entertaining younger bands in the business at the moment.  Comprising Jay (fiddle), Mike (mandolin) and Lucy (double bass), Jaywalkers mix influences from folk, country, bluegrass and western swing to notable effect on a repertoire of Mike’s originals and the occasional cover version.  You can expect virtuoso musicianship, stirring three-part harmony, tasteful arrangements and a healthy dose of good humour.
"Astounding abilities and proficient talents” wrote one critic in Maverick Magazine, “the chemistry between them is electrifying.... they show the world, being young holds no boundaries".  They are past BBC Young Folk Award finalists and in 2012 were voted third best band in Europe in the European World of Bluegrass award.  Check them out and see audio and video samples at “”.  Stan Graham MCs this one and tickets are £8 full / £7 concessions, on the door or beforehand at WeGotTickets.
2.        A CANADIAN DEBUT, SARAH JANE SCOUTEN, 3rd JULY.  We have fewer North American visitors in the diary than usual this year, which is just one reason why I am looking forward to the debut visit of Montreal-based artist Sarah Jane Scouten.  Here is another songwriter faithful to the bluegrass and old time folk tradition but not afraid to tackle hard modern themes such as homelessness, alongside tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and doses of unabashed “Canadiana”.  So far, she is virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic and I confess that I had never heard of her when I got an email approach, one of dozens I receive every week.  However, I was sufficiently intrigued by hers to check out the website (“”) and on the strength of what I saw and heard there I decided to take a chance and give her a booking.  Come along and see what you think.  Eddie Affleck MCs and tickets are £9 full / £8 concessions, online or at the door.
3.        NO STRANGERS TO YORK, HISSYFIT, 17th JULY.  After our monthly Singers Night on 10th July, we move on to 17th July with two singers we know well, yet who have never been our official guests before.  Linda Kelly and Hazel Richings, aka Hissyfit, are close harmony singers from Beverley, greatly admired across Yorkshire and far beyond.  Linda writes much of their material, inspired by themes such as the fishing trade and the people of Hull and the East Riding, while they also weave voices around a selection of other songs old and new.  Do come along and enjoy their beautiful singing. This one is just £7 full / £6 concessions.
4.        AN OLD FAVOURITE, STEVE TILSTON, 24th JULY.  Also no stranger to our crooked staircase and unique club room is Steve Tilston, coming up on 24th July for what is possibly his 13th booking at the Black Swan.  Hopefully, most readers will be acquainted with the long and illustrious career of this great musician.  Over forty years down the road from his first album, Steve remains firmly at the top of his game.  As a celebrated song-smith and a superb acoustic guitar player, he has very few equals.  Indeed, to quote the magazine Dirty Linen, Steve “can stand shoulder to shoulder with any guitarist/songwriter in the world”.  He was last here three years ago and it is a real pleasure to welcome him back.  This one costs £10 full / £9 concessions and while there could well be tickets left for sale on the door, pre-booking at WeGotTickets might be prudent.
5.        MICHELLE AND NICK ARE PLUMHALL, 31st JULY.  We end July with another club debut in the shape of contemporary folk duo Plumhall, Michelle Plum (of Chumbawamba and Waking The Witch fame) and Nick Hall (of the Hall Brothers, who were club regulars once upon a distant time).  We can expect powerfully played acoustic guitars, two strong voices both as lead and in harmony, intelligent lyrics, memorable melodies and an easy stage manner – all the ingredients for a great summer’s night of music.  Take Steve Knightley’s advice on this one: "A fine duo...go and see them if you get the chance".  They have a brand new album just out, produced by David Crickmore of The Durbervilles, and their bookings list is an enviably full one.  This is another one priced at £9 full / £8 concessions.
6.        AUGUST GUESTS: JON, PATSY, GREG & CIARAN.  August should be another good and varied month, with multi-talented Lancastrian singer Jon Brindley (14th), another former member of Waking The Witch, Patsy Matheson (21st) and this year’s BBC Folk Awards Horizon winners for best new act, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (28th).
7.        PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SUMMER GUESTS.  At the Black Swan we have always taken pride in offering a full programme of top quality artists right through the summer season, whereas many other folk clubs close down completely at this time of year, or scale back to just Singers Nights for a month or two.  However, this policy is proving increasingly risky each year, financially speaking at least. We are already seeing quite a drop off in your attendance (guest night audiences down 40% on average since early April, compared to the previous very busy 6 months) and if that trend continues through July and August it will be very sad for those artists mentioned above.
You could certainly miss out on some great music.  Take our guests last Thursday, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker.  They found themselves in front of an audience numbering only in the high teens (there was some big football match on TV, I understand!), yet they played a brilliant couple of sets, earned a double encore and sold no fewer than 9 CDs!
8.        FOLK WEEKEND SUCCESS.  Despite some decidedly dodgy weather on Saturday and a few hassles over the marquee and other infrastructure, we managed to have a very successful and enjoyable Folk Weekend a fortnight ago.  All the feedback I have seen, in social media and by direct email, has been very positive and appreciative, and I would estimate the Sunday afternoon crowds as the biggest we have ever had at this event.
One correspondent wrote “Brilliant weekend!  Best I remember for quality not merely of marquee performers but also of singers at rolling folk clubs, singarounds, evening concerts, etc.”, while another couple said “we were genuinely thrilled with it all and it is still our favourite weekend of the year”.
Thanks are due first and foremost to the many singers and bands (well over 50 of them) who gave us their time and talents entirely unpaid, not to mention the many others who took part in sessions, open mics and singarounds.  Thanks also to the JSS sound crew in the marquee, to the volunteers who helped me run the event – we had a really good team this year – and to the pub staff who coped good-humouredly with at times unprecedented levels of demand at the bar.
Finally, thanks to yourselves for attending and for donating generously to our collection tins.  I’m still awaiting one final bill but it is already clear that we made a substantial surplus this year (compared with a mere break even in 2013).  The extra money raised will be set aside to help support next year’s event, which will be held the same weekend, i.e. 5th, 6th and 7th June.  If you have any suggestions you’d like to make for next year – things we could do differently, extra things we could do, etc., do please send them in.  All being well, there will also be a de-brief/planning meeting later this summer as well.
9.        AN IRISH ASSOCIATION FOR YORK?  One person I met at the Folk Weekend was a pleasant young man called Brendan Tannam, born in Dublin but now living and working in York.  He and his Irish girlfriend are attempting to set up an Irish Association here.  "Would you like to be involved in York's brand new and first ever Irish association?” they ask.  “The group will be a celebration of Irish culture and tradition and is looking to bring together Irish born people living in York, anyone living in York with Irish descendants and all York citizens with an interest in all things Irish.  We would like to organise York's first Patrick's Weekend festival and parade in the city next March (14th-17th).  We would love to get as many people as possible involved so please do get in touch with “” or on 07456 327101 if this is something you would be interested in!" 
10.     PETER BELL AND THE LiNK.  We were saddened a few weeks ago to hear of the death of Peter Bell, long-time activist on the live music scene in north east Yorkshire and Teesside, and editor of monthly regional music magazine The LiNK.  Peter passed away after a short but brutal two week illness.  Karen Aitchison has taken over as editor of The LiNK.  “It was important to both of us that (it) continue as normal”, she writes.
11.     ANNA SHANNON’S WILD GEESE.  Roy Piper writes to say that his partner, the excellent North Yorkshire Moors singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Anna Shannon has been signed to the national Wild Goose folk record label and has recorded a new album with them.  "A Celebration of Old England" will be released later this year.  Anna's solo work is earning steadily wider acclaim and her songs are increasingly being sung by other artists on the folk scene.  Well done, Anna.
12.     CROWD FUNDING FOR SHIRLEY COLLINS.  Few English folk singers have done as much or had as much influence on future generations as 78-years old Shirley Collins, who first emerged as part of the folk revival some 60 years ago and still serves today as president of EFDSS.  A new film project aims to give her work proper recognition. “The Ballad of Shirley Collins” will be a biographical documentary honouring her work as a pioneering singer and collector, a ground-breaking female performer, and an expert historian and author of her beloved Sussex.  The film makers who gave us “Way of the Morris” in 2010 are behind this scheme and they are hoping to use crowd-funding to raise the requisite finance.  A month-long campaign is due to start today (22nd June) on Kickstarter (“the world's largest funding platform for creative projects”), with a range of music and film-related rewards for everyone who backs them.  As I write the link is not yet live, but there is a Facebook page where you can find out more (“”) and I’ll have some printed information shortly on Thursday nights.
13.     FOOD, DRINK & LIVE MUSIC.  As part of this week’s York Food & Drink Festival there is free live music between 5pm and 9pm every day (except Tuesday) in the Music Marquee on Parliament Street, with folk, roots and acoustic music very well represented.  King Courgette (6pm) and John Storey (7pm) are amongst the acts today (Sunday), while instrumental trio Over The Yardarm are there on Wednesday (6pm), To The Blue on Thursday (5pm) Boss Caine on Friday (5pm) and country band The Rusty Pegs on the final day next Saturday (7pm).  The music is free but donations are encouraged to York Against Cancer and of course there will be food and drink on offer.  There was a good preview in York’s digital newspaper YorkMix, this weekend, see “”.
14.     MARTIN & ELIZA GO TO CHURCH.  There are still tickets available for a concert next Friday, 27th June, by Martin Carthy & Eliza Carthy in the delightful setting of St Andrew’s Church in Grinton in Swaledale.  They also appear at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on Sunday 29th June.  Booking for both concerts is through WeGotTickets.  Eliza was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list a few days ago.
15.     AUTOHARPS IN THE DALES.  The Gargrave Autoharp Festival takes place next weekend in the village hall of this community near Skipton.  The main events are on Saturday (28th) with workshops and the like during the day and a grand concert in the evening.  There will also be pub music and street music throughout the weekend.  For further information send an email to “”.
16.     FORESTERS REPAIR THE ROOF.  Rather than raising the roof, The Foresters will be seeking to raise funds to repair it when they do a charity concert at Haxby Memorial Hall on Saturday 5th July at 7.30pm (not Friday as I said erroneously in E-News 175).  There are still a few tickets left for this typical Foresters’ “folk and fun” evening, at £7.50 on York 761825.
17.     MOONBEAMS IN THE WOLDS.  There are also still tickets available for the annual Moonbeams Festival held at the Wold Top Brewery in the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds.  Artists appearing over 11th and 12th July include Peatbog Faeries, Breabach (our NCEM guests a few months ago), Martin Joseph, York Folk Weekend favourites The Duncan McFarlane Band and local heroine Edwina Hayes.  “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” says organiser Leila Slater.  Adult weekend tickets are £60.  To find out more and book, go to “” and follow the links.
18.     PATRICK STREET TO OTLEY.  Top Irish band Patrick Street play a rare small venue show (between festival appearances) at the Courthouse Arts Centre in Otley on Sunday 20th July.  For more detail and tickets visit “” or call 01943 467466.
19.     TICKELL ON SIDE IN MALTON.  Northumbrian virtuoso Kathryn Tickell has a concert for the Ryedale Festival on Monday 21st July.  It is at the Milton Rooms in Malton at 8pm and features her new all-female band The Side, comprising Amy Thatcher (accordion), Ruth Wall (harp) and Louisa Tuck (cello).  Tickets are £18 on 01751 475777.
20.     BEER & BOOGIE IN NABURN.  As mentioned in the last newsletter, The Blacksmiths Arms at Naburn is holding a Beer & Boogie Festival with “folk, blues and beyond” over the weekend of 25th-27th July.  Jez Lowe, Blonde on Bob and Chris Helme are amongst those appearing, along with other roots and blues acts.  Tickets are £10 per day Saturday and Sunday, £5 for Friday evening.  Find out more on the Beer ‘n’ Boogie page at “” or ring the pub on York 623464.
21.     MAGNOLIAS IN FARNDALE.  Also as mentioned last time, Cajun women’s group The Magnolia Sisters (Ann Savoy, Jane Vidrine, Anya Burgess) appear at that very special venue 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.  The same venue has just announced autumn dates with Vashti Bunyan (11th October) and with Anais Mitchell (7th November).
That’s all for now.  Expect another burst of news towards the end of July