Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 182

16th November 2014


1.        GAVIN & NANCY – BOTH BUILDING ON THE FOLK TRADITION.  There are considerable musical parallels between our next two guest events, Gavin Davenport at the Black Swan next Thursday (20th) and Nancy Kerr at the NCEM on Wednesday 26th November.  Both artists come from families deeply immersed in folk music and both are now composing and performing new material which (as Songlines magazine said of Nancy) is “steeped in the tradition but casts it anew”.  There are also geographical and personal links.  Gavin was brought up Sheffield, though he now lives elsewhere, while Nancy has lately settled in that South Yorkshire hotbed of folk culture.  Gavin was a member of the last incarnation of The Albion Band, as were two members of Nancy’s current band, and Gavin was also a long-time member of Sheffield folk group Crucible (twice guests at the Black Swan), some of whose other members now sing with Nancy in one of her other groups, The Melrose Quartet.
2.        GAVIN DAVENPORT’S BONE ORCHARD.  Gavin Davenport is known for his bold, distinctive vocals and his multi-instrumental skills as well as for writing songs which link the best of the oral tradition with themes of modern relevance.  He has drawn plaudits from some of the biggest names on the folk scene, and his songs are now being sung by other well respected performers, while his recordings have drawn comparison with artists as diverse as Chris Wood, Jim Moray, Martyn Bennett and Tony Rose.
Gavin’s 2013 breakthrough album The Bone Orchard was a Folk Radio UK album of the month, featured in fRoots magazine’s Album of the Year shortlist and received superb reviews throughout the UK music press.  It is certainly a compelling collection of traditional and newly composed material that shows real respect and understanding for the deep roots of the English folk tradition.
Performing songs from that album and other material, Gavin will be joined in York by live-wire fiddle player Tom Kitching, whom we very much enjoyed at the club earlier this year with his own band Pilgrims’ Way.  There will be plenty of tickets available for sale on the door on Thursday night, 20th November (£9 full, £8 concessions) so do come along.  You can find out more about Gavin and his music at
3.        NANCY KERR’S SWEET VISITOR.  Over at the National Centre for Early Music on Wednesday 26th November, Nancy Kerr will likewise be showcasing songs from her debut solo release, Sweet Visitor, which is surely a strong contender for many critics’ album-of-the-year lists in 2014.  Already well-established as a leading interpreter of traditional material (with such as Eliza Carthy, The Full English and the above-mentioned Melrose Quartet), Nancy now emerges as a new song writer of rare style, using folk mythology as a backdrop for contemporary narratives about love and conflict, migration, hardship and jubilation, and the tensions between rural and urban life.  Her songs are “unusual and intriguing” says Peggy Seeger.  “Steeped in folksong, she nonetheless breaks out of the mould, coming sideways to her subject, embroidering it with detail and surprises until the focus of the song comes clear.”
Nancy’s virtuoso fiddle and viola playing and “quite breathtakingly beautiful” singing, to quote Mark Radcliffe, will be thoroughly enhanced by a band comprising husband James Fagan (with whom Nancy has twice won “Best Duo” BBC Folk Awards), Tom Wright (Albion Band, Park Bench Social Club), Tim Yates (Albion Band, Blackbeard’s Tea Party) and Rowan Rheingans (Lady Maisery).  Tickets for this concert are now more than two thirds sold, so don’t delay!  Booking is through the NCEM Box Office, 01904 658338, and website,, and tickets cost £15 full, £13 concessions.  The concert starts at 7.30pm prompt with a half hour support set by Chris Euesden.
4.        MARTIN CARTHY SOLD OUT, EXTRA NIGHT FOR THE CHURCHFITTERS.  After a Singers Night to end November (27th) we move into a very busy early December period at the Black Swan Inn.  Both performances by Martin Carthy are now Sold Out – that’s Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th.  I’m happy to start a waiting list for any returns, should you be desperate to come, so get in touch.
The show by The Churchfitters on Thursday 11th December is also very close to being Sold Out (just 6 tickets left as I write) and since the group are in the area with a free night on Monday 8th December, we are adding a second performance by them to our schedule on that date.  I’ll have tickets for that one on sale at by Tuesday at the latest, at the same price as the Thursday show (£11 full, £10 concessions).
Many of you evidently know and love the Churchfitters and their music, but for those of you who don’t I cannot do better than lift verbatim from their own publicity.  “The Churchfitters is a folk band like no other.  A double bass made out of a saucepan.  Heart-wrenching vocals accompanied by a musical saw.  Foot-stompingly fast fiddle mixed with infectious funk-rock rhythms.  And traditional tunes reinvigorated with mesmerising jazz sax.  The three virtuoso musicians from England (siblings Chris and Rosie Short) and France (Boris Lebret) strut their stuff on a stage that bristles with instruments - adding flute, banjo, dulcimer, tin whistle, guitar, ukulele, electric hub-cap bass-bouzouki and a sackful of percussion to their ensemble.  And let’s not forget the unique bing-bong machine made out of hack-saw blades!
“Throw in some exquisite harmonies, a slew of startlingly original songs and a few jokes that create instant rapport and you’ve got a high energy show that always leaves audiences cheering. How do you adequately describe such a musically diverse, uplifting band? You leave it to Mike Harding, a self-confessed huge fan, who calls their music 'totally brilliant and beautiful'.”
Rosie’s achingly beautiful voice is equally at home singing husky blues, plaintive femme folk or ethereal originals.  A talented songwriter, she’s also a one woman orchestra, deftly swapping between any number of things you can blow, strum, shake, rattle, or whack with a stick.  Her brother Chris is a feverishly fast fiddler who has the annoying habit of getting people out of their seats and dancing.  When required, he also plays slowly and most other speeds.  He sings great vocal harmonies too, plays a mean mandolin and is a raconteur frontman with a wicked sense of humour.  Part bass player, part mad inventor, Boris hates to play a regular instrument when he can cobble together a better one out of scrap metal.  Like when he discovered four strings weren’t enough for his driving bass rhythms, so he simply reached for the Black & Decker and bolted on another two.
5.        SEASONAL FUN AT THE NCEM & THE BLACK SWAN.  We mark the Christmas season with two special events.   At the National Centre for Early Music on Wednesday 17th December we take a light-hearted look at A Medieval Christmas with acclaimed historical music company Blast From The Past.  Following their very enjoyable Victorian Christmas show for us in 2012, Sophie Matthews, Chris Green (ex Isambarde) and Steph West (replacing Jude Rees) now delve much further back in time.  Their celebration of Yuletide Past features medieval festive songs played on authentic instruments such as cittern, bagpipes and shawm, as well as costumed stories and dramas.  It promises an evening sure to warm the hearts of young and old alike by recapturing the simple Christmas pleasures of music and song, tales, mirth and fellowship.
“A memorable and atmospheric start to the festive season…. wonderful!” said Lichfield Arts, and “the ideal festive show” was the Exeter Daily verdict.
Tickets are modestly priced for this family-friendly show, at £12 full or £10 concessions, and there is a special under-18s price of just £5.  Timings are also child-friendly.  It is the usual 7.30pm prompt start but there is no support act and so the performance will end by approx. 9.30pm.  Booking is through the NCEM Box Office or website and at present (with a month to go) the show is already half sold.
The next night at the Black Swan Inn, Thursday 18th December, we have the customary folk club Christmas Party.  This follows much the same format as a Singers Night, except that many participants choose to do a seasonal song or something outside their usual comfort zone (watch out for Eddie Affleck the bluesman!).  It is free entry and we have a bring-and-share buffet supper in the extended interval.  It is also the only night in the year when we hold a raffle.  This year it will be a charity fundraiser for Heart Research UK, who hold their annual Sing For Your Heart appeal during December. Contributions of raffle prizes will be greatly appreciated, even if you cannot attend on the night.
6.        LOOKING INTO 2015 – AT THE CLUB.  Remarkable though it may seem, the Thursday night club diary is already not far off being full up for the whole of 2015.  Returning favourites will include Roger Davies, Duncan McFarlane, Miranda Sykes, Andy Irvine, Colum Sands, David Francey, Debby McClatchy, Chris Sherburn and Dick Gaughan, while debut visitors include Gren Bartley, Jacquelyn Hynes, Ben Bedford, Harpeth Rising, Mairearad Green & Anna Massie and Maria Dunn.  The year kicks off with a vintage January – Kieran Halpin, Flossie Malavialle and Allan Taylor - with booking for all three of those already open at WeGotTickets.
7.        LOOKING INTO 2015 – AT THE NCEM.  The Spring Season at the Early Music Centre has three concerts promoted by us and three hosted by NCEM themselves, with female acts in a refreshing majority.  March brings you John McCusker, Mike McGoldrick & John Doyle followed by The Poozies (24th, tickets already on sale), April has Maddy Prior, then in May come Lady MaiseryEmily Smith and Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksen.  The autumn season is still under construction but will definitely include a solo visit by Phil Beer.
8.        LOOKING INTO 2015 – SPECIAL EVENTS.  We have again agreed to host a day of music for the York Residents Festival.  The date this year is Sunday 1st February and our Winter Folk Daywill comprise free afternoon and evening concerts featuring local singers and bands in the Black Swan Inn function room.  A fortnight later, Monday 16th February, we are promoting an evening of Manx music and song for the Jorvik Viking Festival.  This will star the Manx Gaelic singer (and former York University student) Ruth Keggin and her trio, and takes place at Barley Hall on Stonegate.  And lastly, make a date for the annual City of York Folk Weekend, taking place as usual on the first full weekend in June, 5th – 7th.
9.        REMEMBERING A DEAR FRIEND, MAGGIE BOYLE.  Last week we were all deeply saddened to hear that Maggie Boyle had lost her battle against cancer.  She passed away peacefully at home on 6th November, surrounded by family and friends.  Maggie was such a lively and forceful personality and it seems hard to grasp that we will never again watch her sing or see her smile.  I first met her when she came to the club 25 years ago in duo with Steve Tilston.  Subsequently she has entertained us right well with Grace Notes, with the Magical Christmas Tree show and in several other guises – at least 15 booked visits in all.  She was a great singer and flautist and an adventurous collaborator with other musicians, also a willing mentor to many younger performers.  She will truly be missed.  The Guardian published an obituary, found online at  There is a Memorial Service and celebration on Monday (17th) at Victoria Hall in Keighley, doors open 12 noon for a 12.30 start.
10.     NEWS OF DON WALLS.  Much loved York poet Don Walls (no relation!) underwent a major emergency operation a couple of weeks ago to remove a nasty aneurism from one leg.  He was very ill in intensive care for several days afterwards but I am delighted to report that he is now making a good recovery.  Don is in White Cross Court Rehabilitation Hospital off Huntington Road, while he regains mobility, and I’m sure he’d welcome visitors, who can call freely except at meal times.
11.     SINGING AT THE THOMPSONS ARMS.  In E-News 180 I mentioned that the Wednesday night singers and musicians club has moved from Flaxton to Sheriff Hutton.  I’ve now been asked to add that the first and third (and sometimes fifth) Tuesday singarounds continue as normal at The Thompsons Arms in Flaxton.  These are hosted by Bruce and Pat Gowthorpe and new singers and musicians always receive a very warm welcome.  It is only the weekly Wednesday club which has moved to Sheriff Hutton.  Bruce can be contacted on
12.     CHECK OUT THE FOLK STOCK AT REBOUND RECORDS.  Delivering posters in town recently, I stopped to browse at Rebound Records, York’s major remaining second-hand CD and record store.  I was very pleasantly surprised at the range and quality of the folk CDs on offer, including many recent releases, and all at good prices.  If you are on the look-out for interesting CDs (in many other genres as well as folk), pay them a call at 5 Gillygate.
13.     EDWINA JOINS A MASS CHARITY SING.  Edwina Hayes has been in touch to say that she is one of a galaxy of folk artists who have contributed to a new version of the Pete Seeger classic Where Have All The Flowers Gone.  This has been put together under the group name Armistice Pals as a charity project and was released as a single on November 9th.  Other participants (amongst many) include Peggy Seeger, Flossie, Lucy Ward, Kellie While and her mother Chris, Julie Matthews, folk rockers Merry Hell and next week’s club guest Gavin Davenport.  Hear it at
14.     POPPLETON ANNOUNCES ANOTHER HEADLINER.  John Watterson announces that the Saturday headline act for his Poppleton Live festival on 9th May will be Ralph McTell.  “These days Ralph tends to tour infrequently and only in larger concert halls” says John, “and we are indebted to our friends in Fairport Convention, who are now honorary Poppletonians (and headline the Friday night concert), for helping persuade Ralph what a great place Poppleton is to play”.  Ticketing arrangements are still to be finalised.
15.     JACEY PUBLISHES FIRST NOVEL.  Many of you will know of Jacey Bedford as one third of acapella vocal group Artisan and some of you will also know her as a folk music agent and West Yorkshire event organiser.  What you may not know is that she is also a sci-fi writer.  Jacey has been publishing short stories since 1996 but has now produced her first full length novel.  Newly published by US imprint DAW, it is called Empire of Dust and is a “space opera” – find it through the usual online retailers.  It is part of a three-book deal says Jacey, so perhaps more writing and less singing for a while. Her writing website is
16.     28th NOVEMBER – CHARITY CONCERT AT NCEM.  Acoustic acts Chris Helme, Daniel Lucas (aka Boss Caine), The Bronze (aka Holly Taymar & Chris Bilton) and David Ward Maclean are all appearing at the National Centre for Early Music on Friday 28th November, in a fundraiser for the York branch of mental health charity Mind.  Entry will be £8 or £6 concessions (doors open 7pm) and pre-booking is available at
17.     30th NOVEMBER – CEILIDH AT THE RAILWAY INSTITUTE.  Michael Jary reports “the biggest turn out so far” at October’s ceilidh at the Railway Institute, Queen Street.  These public dances continue on the final Sunday of each month, even including December, which means the next ones are on November 30th (with band Steam Radio) and December 28th (band TBA).
18.     5th DECEMBER – THE FORESTERS IN WIGGINTON.  There are only a handful of tickets left for The Foresters’ Christmas concert at Wigginton Recreational Hall on Friday 5th December, reports Steve Marshall.  Book with Steve & Dee on 01904 490440 (or catch up with Steve at the Black Swan this Thursday, when he is one of the floor singers).
19.     6th DECEMBER – BLACKBEARDS AT THE DUCHESS.  After busy globe-trotting year, local heroes Blackbeard’s Tea Party ask me to remind you that they hold their Christmas concert bash at The Duchess on Saturday 6th December. Tickets will be £5 in advance or £6 on the door.  Also worth mentioning, they will be taking part in York Literature Festival next spring, sharing an afternoon event at the Grand Opera House with poet and comedian John Hegley.  That’s on Sunday 22nd March from 2.30 to 5.30pm.  Tickets are already on sale at
20.     13th DECEMBER – A TRIBUTE TO ANGELA MICHEL.  Soundsphere host their tribute to late band member Angela Michel at the Bay Horse Inn on Marygate from 8pm on Saturday 13th December.  Featuring also York’s world music choir Chechelele, the evening is a fundraiser for Medecins Sans Frontières and sees the launch of Heart Felt, a CD of original songs recorded by Angela before she passed away.
21.     28th NOVEMBER – TWO WILSONS IN MIDDLESBROUGH.  There is the unusual prospect of seeing two members of the mighty Wilson Family holding instruments on stage instead of pints (although the latter will doubtless not be far away), when Steve Wilson & Chris Wilson do a rare duo gig for Building Bridges @ The Studio.  That is Middlesbrough Little Theatre Club on the Avenue in Linthorpe, TS5 6SA.  Doors open at 7pm, music runs from 7.30pm, details from Leigh on
22.     VARIOUS DATES IN DECEMBER – “CAULD FEET AGAIN PET”.  Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies tour their Geordie-themed Christmas show with special guest Benny Graham through much of December.  Local(ish) dates include 4th December at Kirkby Malzeard near Ripon, 10th December at Lockington near Driffield and 21st December at Green Hammerton.  Full details at
23.     7th DECEMBER – O’HOOLEY & TIDOW IN BEDALE.  Belinda and Heidi are on the autumn leg of their “The Hum” tour and visit a relatively new venue, certainly for our kind of music.  It is a cocktail bar called Tallulah’s in Bedale which claims it “is fast becoming THE music venue in North Yorkshire”.  Tickets for O’Hooley & Tidow are £12.50 on 01677 427888.
24.     20th DECEMBER – DRAMA IN BRAFFERTON.  Club regular Peter Quinn begs to inform us of a charity family event taking place at St Peter’s Church (YO61 2NZ) at 4pm, in aid of the church fabric fund.  “Mr Charles Dickens' celebrated A Christmas Carol and Mr George R Sims' classic In the Workhouse - Christmas Day will both be declaimed in dramatic style with folk musical accompaniment, exhilarating theatrical effects and magic lantern adornment.  The event is largely based on Mike Barfield's one man show but with folk music provided by Judith Laity (fiddle), Emily Berridge (flute) and Peter Quinn (making a general racket).”  Tickets are £8 (children free), available from 01423 360364, or on the door.
25.     28th DECEMBER – SESSION AT WETWANG.  Trevor Appleton writes “as last year I am arranging an antidote to Christmas on Sunday 28th December at the Victoria Inn, Wetwang.”  Playing will start once lunchtime diners have cleared around 2.30 pm and depending on the number of evening diners could go on through the evening.  More details from
That’s all for now!  There will probably not be another one of these bulletins before Christmas, so all best wishes to you and yours for the coming festive season.