Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 179

21st September 2014


1.        SUMMER RETROSPECT.  The summer months can be a problematic for us, with our potential audience having many other leisure activities to choose from. Hence I’m pleased to report that after some quiet weeks earlier in the season (June and early July), our later summer events have mostly been well supported, with full houses for Steve Tilston (on great form), Plumhall (with surprise special guests David Bromberg and Larry Campbell), Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (hugely talented and mature youngsters) and the delightful Edwina Hayes, and only a little short of a full house last Thursday for master blues guitarist and singer Hans Theessink.
Talking of that extra special night when Bromberg & Campbell dropped in, I see that our Facebook page reported around 6,500 hits that week, compared to the more usual 200 or so!  Meanwhile the video of Larry playing on “Senor” with Plumhall ( has so far attracted over 670 views.
In another media-related news item, I was recently interviewed about the folk club by local arts and music website York Calling.  You can read what I had to say at
2.        MEN WITH GUITARS SEASON – WIZZ, MARTIN AND SUNJAY.  Last Thursday’s night with Hans Theessink launched what I have light-heartedly dubbed our “men-with-guitars” mini season.  This comprises three acknowledged masters of folk and blues guitar, Hans, Wizz Jones and Martin Simpson, alongside awesomely talented “young pretender” Sunjay.
Coming up next Thursday, 25th September, Wizz Jones was truly a pioneer in the world of British acoustic folk and blues guitar music.  Now aged 75 and playing as well as ever, he formed his first band way back in 1957!  A contemporary of such other artists as Bert Jansch (who once described him as “the most underrated guitarist ever”) and Davey Graham, Wizz was a formative influence on many later generations of players.  Even Keith Richards acknowledges him in his autobiography and just last month Wizz was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 Today programme feature, which can still be heard online at
Wizz has entertained us on many occasions over the years.  He is not only a gifted guitarist but also a fine singer and a delightfully modest performer with a wide repertoire of modern songs, blues covers and originals.  At the time of writing there are about 20 tickets left for this one at, priced at £10 full / £9 concessions.  Chris Euesden will be acting as MC with Eddie Affleck at the PA desk.
3.        MARTIN SIMPSON AT THE NCEM.  A generation down from the likes of Wizz Jones, at age 61, Martin Simpson is universally acknowledged as one of the finest acoustic and slide guitarists in the business, and no mean banjo player either, as well as being a superb singer.  With no fewer than 29 Folk Award nominations now under his belt, he is very much at the peak of his powers.  Recent projects have included ensemble work in The Full English and a trio tour with Andy Cutting and Nancy Kerr, while his last solo album Vagrant Stanzas surpassed even the high standards set by predecessors Purpose & Grace and True Stories.
Martin interprets British and American traditional songs as masterpieces of storytelling, while his original songwriting has produced a string of real gems.  Whether he is playing old-time music, blues, a Dylan cover, a classic ballad or one of his own songs, his solo shows such as on Saturday 4th October are intense, eclectic, spellbinding and deeply moving events, not to be missed.
At time of writing, this concert is only half sold, which I do find a little surprising, and we do need around 30 more sales just to break even.  Martin is so busy and successful that he is one of the handful of UK folk artists who has to be VAT registered, which is a headache for promoters like us, as it means paying 20% in tax on top of his basic fee.  Hence tickets are a little bit pricier than usual at £18 full / £16 concessions, but surely worth it for such a world class performer.  Note also that Martin likes to play long sets and so there is no support artist.  Martin will be on stage at 7.30 prompt and will likely perform for about two hours with a half time interval.
Do come along to this one if you possibly can.  Booking is through the NCEM website or on 01904 658338, with some tickets probably left for sale at the door.
4.        SUNJAY – NEW KID ON THE FOLK BLUES GUITAR BLOCK.  After Martin Simpson we drop a couple of generations to present 20 year old budding guitar genius Sunjay Brayne at the Black Swan on Thursday 9th October.  I’ve seen this young man in action at the last two Warwick Folk Festivals and I must say I was hugely impressed both times, not only by his instrumental mastery and strong singing but also by his easy, confident yet informal stage presence, which is one area where young performers are sometimes a bit weak.
Apparently Sunjay first picked up the guitar when he was just 4 years old and hasn’t put it down since!  His first love was the blues, at which he excels, but I was pleased to see at Warwick this year how much wider his musical net is being cast, with fine covers of classic folk and pop songs and a few well-crafted originals, even a musical nod to his Anglo-Indian family heritage.
Sunjay releases his third album, simply entitled Sunjay, next week and makes his York debut as part of a 40 date tour to promote it.  It promises to be another stand-out evening.  Tickets are priced at £8 full / £7 concessions, on sale through WeGotTickets or on the door.
5.        BELLA & CARA’S ANGLO CANADIAN ADVENTURE.  Our guest night on Thursday 16th October certainly will be extra special – one of only 8 dates on a short tour by England’s Bella Hardy (this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year and of course a graduate of York St John University) and Canada’s Cara Luft(Juno Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist, formerly of the Wailin’ Jennys).  This tour is being promoted by the EFDSS in partnership with Folk Music Canada and follows an initial creative residency by Bella and Cara in Alberta in 2013.  As well as performing solo songs they will showcase new material that they written together.
There has been a lot of interest in this event and as I write there are only around 20 tickets left at WeGotTickets, priced at £12 full or £11 concessions.  A full house seems very likely.
6.        ROSS & JARLATH’S SCOTS-IRISH FUSION.  If you like Irish or Scottish music, the autumn season highlight must surely be Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson’s concert at the NCEM on Monday 20th October, when they will be joined on guitar by Ali Hutton.  I saw this trio in action recently (also at Warwick Folk Festival) and the interplay between different combinations of Uilleann pipes, Scottish border pipes (not to be confused with Highland bagpipes, by the way), whistles and flutes was awesome indeed, all underpinned by Ali’s inventive guitar and interspersed with the occasional song from Jarlath.  Great stuff!
Ross plays those border pipes along with whistle and cittern.  A BBC Young Folk finalist in 2002, he is rated one of Scotland’s finest traditional musicians and composers.  From Tyrone in Ireland, Jarlath was the BBC Young Folk winner in 2003 and is an outstanding Uilleann piper who also plays whistle and flute and sings. They have performed with Treacherous Orchestra (Ross), Capercaillie (Jarlath) and Salsa Celtica (both) and made their duo debut in 2008 with a ground-breaking fusion of Scottish and Irish pipes which garnered major critical acclaim.  A recent second album earned them a Folk Awards 2014 Best Duo nomination.
“A benchmark for the new generation” said Scotland on Sunday of their CD, while “a thriller” was Mojo’s verdict and Irish Music Magazine said “packs more punch than a boxing-glove factory”.
Coming down from Newcastle to do the support spot are a student trio who cite Ross and Jarlath as a major influence.  Metro Champion have a line-up of pipes, guitar and bodhran and can be found online on Facebook ( and YouTube.
Tickets for this one are £14 full / £12 concessions, available through the NCEM website and box office.  All Celtic music lovers are urged to come along!
7.        MIKE SILVER – SUPERLATIVE SINGER SONGWRITER.  For our final club guest night of next month, 23rd October, we switch the emphasis to a highly-regarded singer-songwriter in the shape of Mike Silver, who has been a prominent name in English contemporary folk/acoustic music ever since the 1970s.  His eloquent songs speak of longing, love and loss, with haunting melodies and heart-stopping lyrics.  Mike is a consummate guitarist, is blessed with a full, crystal clear voice, and excels as a stage performer, making audience involvement into an art form.  This one is £9 full or £8 concessions, through WeGotTickets or (subject to availability) on the door.
8.        COMING IN NOVEMBER & BEYOND.  The new club leaflet was issued a couple of weeks ago.  It covers our programme right through to February 2015 and can be picked up at club functions or from the Black Swan Inn, York Tourist Information Centre and other outlets.  November brings two more concerts at the NCEM - powerful contemporary songwriters Chris While & Julie Matthews (2nd November) and Nancy Kerr showcasing original material with a full band (26th November) – while at the Black Swan Inn on Thursday nights we have the return of Canadian favourite James Keelaghan (6th November, joined by Hugh McMillan) and debuts byJudy Dunlop (13th, joined by Jon Scaife) and by Gavin Davenport (20th, joined by Tom Kitching).  Booking is now open for these and all the other events included in the new club brochure.
9.        WELL DONE PAULA.  It seems like “another year, another prize” for local songwriter and Black Swan resident Paula Ryan.  She is particularly proud that her song "Raise Our Voice" won the Peace Song 2014 prize at the recent Shrewsbury Folk Festival.  This is a large and high profile festival and Paula won against some stiff competition, so well done you!  “Raise Our Voice” can be heard on SoundCloud at and can be bought as a download through iTunes or Amazon.
10.     STAN’S WHITBY SUCCESS.  Apparently Stan Graham’s one day stint at Whitby during the recent Folk Week was very well received and resulted in immediate and unsolicited offers of bookings at folk clubs in Essex and Cheshire next year.  Not bad!
This is the moment to remind you that Stan has organised a Saturday night concert for his close friend Martyn Wyndham Read at the Black Swan Inn on 1st November.  I’ll have more details soon, but I do know that tickets will be just £6.  This is not an official club function, but only because we already have Chris While & Julie Matthews in the diary at the NCEM that weekend.  Martyn is coming to York primarily to join Stan in appearing (unpaid, of course) at the Remembrance Day service at York Barbican and this Saturday evening concert is a way of recouping his travelling expenses.
11.     THE BRONZE - NEW NAME, NEW ALBUM FOR HOLLY & CHRIS.  One of the best loved local acoustic singer-songwriters is Holly Taymar, who in recent times has performed as a duo with partner Chris Bilton.  They have graced our Folk Weekend stage on several occasions, done an NCEM concert support and play all around this region and far beyond.
Holly now writes “Chris and I have collaborated to make our first full length album together, and as such we have released it under a new band name The Bronze”.  The eponymous album was released last Monday and is available at gigs and through the band’s new-look website at  On first listen it is a subtle and thought-provoking collection which Holly describes as “one to listen to with a nice glass of red, or a cup of tea, preferably sitting down, perhaps contemplating life”.
12.     JOHN CHERRY UPDATE.  It was good to see John Cherry back at the club last Thursday (together with partner Shirley) and singing again so soon after his recent operation.  This proved successful, we are delighted to hear, and John is making a steady recovery.
13.     FAKE’S LATEST.  There is more good news from John Watterson, who reports a testimonial received from no less than Richard Stilgoe for his song about Jake Thackray, “The Wordsmith”.  Sir Richard says “Jake would have loved the skill of this song, and the accuracy of the impression, and the affection it contains.  But he would have been utterly baffled that anyone would have written a tribute to him.  One of Jake’s many unique qualities was that the word flattery was completely absent from his otherwise huge vocabulary.  Long may John continue to keep Jake’s memory alive so affectionately and skilfully.”  You can hear Fake Thackray singing “The Wordsmith” on SoundCloud
14.     FAREWELL RON ANGEL.  There was the sad news last week that Teesside folk luminary Ron Angel had passed away.  He was 83 and had been ill for some time.  Ron was a pioneer of the folk revival in the Cleveland area, sang with the Teesside Fettlers for many years, and ran the celebrated folk club at the Sun Inn at Stockton.  He also wrote some fine songs, such as The Chemical Workers Song recently revived by The Young ‘Uns.  Speaking personally, I grew up on the fringe of Teesside in the late 60s/early 70s and part of my love of folk music was surely sparked by the work of Ron Angel and his fellow Fettlers.  The funeral will be on Monday 29th September at 10.10am at Teesside Crematorium, Acklam Road, Middlesbrough.
15.     NEW COMMUNITY RADIO FOLK SHOW.  Tony Haynes writes that as from 13th September he has been presenting a 2 hour FAB Folk and Blues show on new community station Vale Radio, going out from 8pm on Saturday evenings, initially online at and soon by DAB too.  “What I have in mind” he writes, is “a show featuring tracks from guest artists due to appear at the Black Swan and (other) local (clubs and) folk festivals, live performances from artists (from local) singaround clubs and Open Mic nights, reviews of new CDs, and maybe classic and the more obscure but good folk tracks uploaded to MP3 from my collection of some 900 folk LPs from the 60s-90s, including some pretty exotic world music artists.”
If any local performers would like Tony to feature their music, they can either email MP3 files to (putting FAB or Folk And Blues in the heading, so they reach Tony) or send CDs directly to Tony Haynes c/o Vale Folk & Blues, 39 Red Lodge, New Earswick, York, YO32 4ZA.  “If anyone is interested in doing a live spot on the programme” Tony adds, “please contact me, (preferably) by email”.
He concludes “this is a project that neither Minster FM nor BBC Radio York would even respond to, and University Radio York would only consider for current students. So let’s take this opportunity to build a genuinely useful, informative, and entertaining programme that brings folk song and music to all local York folk.”
16.     CHARITY WEEKEND FOLK FESTIVAL – PERFORMERS WANTED.  The above mentioned Tony Haynes is a busy man!  He also runs the second and fourth Sunday singaround club at the Victoria Hotel on the corner of Heslington Road and Cemetery Road, and he tells me that he and the landlord there have decided to run a weekend folk festival in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.  The Vic Folk Festival is scheduled for 20-22nd February next year, from 8pm until midnight Friday and noon ‘til midnight on Saturday and Sunday.
“Acts will play through PA in the bar” Tony writes, “(and) we are now looking for anyone who would like to book a 30 minute (or less) spot.  He says “first come, first served” and adds that “Saturday evening from 9pm to 10pm is already booked for a surprise artist.”
Incidentally, Tony had previously mooted the idea of a record-breaking non-stop singaround that weekend but the idea fell at the hurdle of the Guinness Book of Records, who simply couldn’t grasp the concept of a singaround!
If the Air Ambulance is a charity that you think worthy of support, then do get in touch with Tony on and offer your services.
17.     FAREWELL THE FERRY BOAT.  With the imminent retirement of landlord Phil Williamson and his wife, the Ferry Boat Inn near Thorganby is closing down, which means a sad end to the third Sunday of the month folk night which has been a regular feature there for many years.  The final session will be tonight, 21st September.
18.     KEEP INFORMED WITH LOCAL FOLK MAGAZINES.  Can I remind you that quarterly folk magazines Tykes’ News (£2, covering West Yorkshire and beyond) and Folk Roundabout (£1, covering North East England) are available to purchase on club nights?  Both of these have news, reviews and extensive diaries, while Tykes also includes interesting feature articles, with recent Black Swan guests Plumhall taking cover feature on the autumn issue.  We sometimes have South Yorkshire folk magazine Stirrings (£2) available as well.
19.     LIVE ACOUSTIC MUSIC WEEKEND AT THE BLACK SWAN.  For her latest Little Festival of Live Music charity event, organiser Ellen Cole returns to the Black Swan Inn function room, with live music on both Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September from 5pm until 10pm from artists such as David Ward Maclean, King Courgette, Boss Caine and Gilded Thieves.  Admission is £4 per session with all proceeds going to IDAS, the Independent Domestic Abuse Service.  There is a Facebook page at
20.     FORESTERS AUTUMN EVENTS.  The Foresters have announced two public events for later this year: Friday 17th October at Stockton on Forest Village Hall (tickets from John Hall on 01904 400182) and the annual Christmas Party on 5th December at Wigginton Recreational Hall (tickets from Steve & Dee on 01904 490440).
21.     FROM BOTH SIDES AT THE BLACK SWAN.  From Both Sides is “an exploration of the theme of conflict in song and verse”, presented by David Kidman and Jim Saville, which has already been seen at several West Yorkshire venues.  On Tuesday 21st October it comes to York, to the Black Swan Inn.  Doors will open 7:30 for an 8:00 start and there will be a small admission charge, with proceeds to local charity.  Further details are available at or
22.     BALKAN MUSIC AT YORK UNIVERSITY.  The only folk related event this term in the York University concert series is an exciting sounding night of Balkan music with six-piece group Paprika on Friday 31st October.  Find out more at
23.     27th SEPTEMBER – URBAN FOLK QUARTET AT BRANTINGHAM.  The new UFQ line-up includes Dan Walsh on banjo (as seen earlier this year at the Black Swan) and can be enjoyed at a Hunsley Acoustic Music event at The Triton Inn, Brantingham, East Yorkshire.  Tickets are £12 and the website is
24.     3rd-5th OCTOBER – INGLETON FOLK WEEKEND.  A small scale friendly festival in this western Dales community with plenty of sessions and small concerts. For details see
25.     3rd OCTOBER – OTLEY COURTHOUSE ARTS CENTRE.  The first folk/roots event of the new season sees The Roving Crows on stage.  Future concert guests include Faustus (13th October), My Darling Clementine (25th October), CrossHarbour (16th November) and Belshazzar’s Feast (12th December).  Find out more at
26.     3rd OCTOBER – MUSIC IN MIDDLESBROUGH.  The Studio at the Little Theatre Club on The Avenue in Linthorpe is the setting for a new series of folk concerts.  Pete Davies is there on 3rd October, Joe Solo and Rebekah Findlay follow on 24th October, and Pete Morton is guest on 8th November.  We don’t hear of much live folk music in Middlesbrough, so this is welcome news.  For further details contact
27.     4th OCTOBER – GOODMANHAM ARMS FOLK FESTIVAL.  There’s a friendly and free one-day festival at this village pub near Market Weighton, starting at 3pm and featuring local folk and acoustic artists on two stages.  There will also be an evening hog roast.  Find a full running order and more at
28.     5th OCTOBER – BOB FOX ON THE WOLDS.  Favourite folk singer Bob Fox has a Sunday night off from the touring production of Warhorse to appear at Burton Fleming Village Hall (YO25 3NZ).  Tickets are £10 on 01262 470460 or at
29.     11th OCTOBER – VASHTI BUNYAN IN FARNDALE.  Legendary late 60s singer Vashti Bunyan resurfaced to great acclaim a few years ago and now appears at the rather special Band Room venue in Farndale.  American star Anais Mitchell follows on 7th November.  The website is
30.     11th OCTOBER – TAMS & COOPE IN REETH.  The regular series of folk concerts at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale continues with John Tams & Barry Coope on Saturday 11th October, followed by Vin Garbutt (31st October) and Kitsyke Will (14th November).  See
31.     13th OCTOBER – THIRSK’S LOOSELY, FOLK.  Kate Young and her group Kate In The Kettle are the next guests of Thirsk’s occasional Loosely, Folk venue, now held at the Golden Fleece on the Market Place.  Booking is through WeGotTickets or on 07436 071332, and there is a Facebook page
32.     17th-19th OCTOBER –WORLD MUSIC IN WHITBY.  The international music festival Musicport returns to Whitby Pavilion for a packed weekend with 50 acts on 5 different stages.  Alongside bands from around the world, the folk contingent includes O’Hooley & Tidow, The Lucy Ward Band, Mozaik, New Rope String Band and John Smith.  The enquiries number is 01947 603475 and the website is
33.     17th OCTOBER – MOZAIK IN SALTAIRE.  The concert season at Saltaire’s Victoria Hall continues with Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny’s Mozaik on Friday 17th October, with Hotclub of Cowtown to follow on 14th November and Capercaillie on 28th November.  The website is
34.     19th OCTOBER – FAUSTUS IN HUNMANBY.  The autumn tour by English folk trio Faustus includes not only Otley (see item 25 above) and Goole (3rd October at The Junction) but also a Sunday night concert at the Community Centre in Hunmanby, near Filey.  Tickets (£12.50) can be reserved on 01723 891507 or 891514 or by email from  Doors open 7pm for a 7.30pm start.
34 items – that really has to be all for now!  Expect another burst of news around mid-October.