8th March 2015
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COMING MONTH
· THE GREN BARTLEY BAND – 12th March at the Black Swan Inn – see item 1
· ROGER DAVIES – 19th March at the Black Swan Inn – see item 2
· THE POOZIES – in concert 24th March at NCEM – see item 6
· OPEN MEETING to discuss Folk Weekend – 31st March at the Black Swan – see item 10
· THE JACQUELYN HYNES TRIO – 2nd April at the Black Swan Inn – see item 4
THURSDAY CLUB EVENTS
1. GREAT SONGS, GREAT PLAYING WITH THE GREN BARTLEY BAND. Making his overdue Black Swan debut this Thursday (12th) is Gren Bartley, a prolific and gifted young songwriter who served a solid apprenticeship in English and American folk music (notably in a duo with fiddler Tom Kitching) before finding his voice as a writer of poetic new songs. Gren is accompanied in York by his formidable trio of female noise-makers. Providing intrigue and aplomb, Lydia Glanville uses her percussion with verve and intricacy, laying a perfect backdrop for the atmospheric violin, cello, and keyboards of Sarah Smout and Hannah Rhodes (standing in for maternity leave Julia Disney). The latter pair also create hauntingly unique backing vocals, from catchy choruses to ethereal whispers.
Gren has already released two critically acclaimed solo albums, with (for example) R2 magazine’s reviewer writing “as an acoustic finger-picking guitar and banjo player he has few equals in his age group (while) as an acoustic rooted-in-folk writer he's developing an alarmingly good canon of work”. This month Gren launches his third CD, Magnificent Creatures, which fully utilises the versatility and energy of the current band, thanks to high profile producer Gavin Monaghan, known for his work with people like Robert Plant, Nizlopi and Ocean Colour Scene.
Our own master songwriter Stan Graham was well impressed with Gren’s early compositions and so looks forward to acting as MC on Thursday. Tickets are £9 full or £8 concessions on the door, or beforehand at WeGotTickets.
And one personal afterthought. I’ve particularly enjoyed the well-integrated use of percussion on our last three guest nights (the cosmopolitan drummer in Project Jam Sandwich, Signy Jakobsdottir’s subtle work with Patsy Reid, Tom McFarland’s measured accompaniment to Fil Campbell) and so I’m looking forward to more of the same on Thursday. You don’t see a drummer at the folk club for months, then four come along in quick succession!
2. ROGER DAVIES LAUNCHES HIS LOCAL RADIO. On Thursday week, 19th March, we welcome back a very different style of songwriter, also celebrating the release of a brand new album. Described as “a bit like the Jimmy Webb of West Yorkshire" by Ian McMillan and as “a modern day musical L.S. Lowry” on Radio 3, Roger Davies returns to us for a fourth booking as his reputation continues to grow. His deceptively simple songs resonate with Yorkshire roots but speak to universal themes of home, love, art and everyday life. We’ve loved Roger’s songs ever since he first began to trek over to York to perform at our Singers Nights back in 2006 – songs such as Brighouse on a Saturday Night, The Ghost of Lilly Fogg and Peter Brook’s Paintings and many others. “If Yorkshire had its own anthem, it would clearly be one of Roger's songs” wrote another critic.
Roger’s new release is called Local Radio and he writes “I'm really pleased with the recordings and I hope you will be too … it took a long time to record since I was determined to do my very best in the studio”, while a pre-release review in Tykes’ News has already described it as “Roger's strongest collection of songs so far”.
Chris Euesden is the MC for this one and tickets are £8 or £7 for concessions, on the door or beforehand at WeGotTickets.
3. ALL WELCOME AT SINGERS NIGHT. We end the club programme for March with a Singers & Musicians Night on Thursday 26th, with John Storey acting as MC. These nights are almost always great fun and usually attract a good and ever-varying mix of our talented locals alongside some interesting and enjoyable visitors from afar – as Roger Davies was when he first appeared in 2006. For example in January this year there was a very fine singer from Norfolk, Gemma Khawaja, while in February, as well as Folkestra and other young players there was a Cambridge-based duo Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage. These nights are just £3 on the door only, or £2 concessions.
4. IRISH MUSIC & SONG WITH THE JACQUELYN HYNES TRIO. Our first guest in April is another York debut. Jacquelyn Hynes is a London-based Irish musician, a talented multi-instrumentalist (notably on flute, but also Uilleann pipes, saxophone and more) who is touring with singer/guitarist J Eoin and harpist and fiddle player Steph West (as seen in York last December with A Medieval Christmas). Jacquelyn scored a critical hit last year with debut album Silver & Wood, and only last month she was an official showcase performer at the influential Folk Alliance International gathering in USA.
“All the tracks merit an individual mention … an inspired and pleasing collection of solid Celtic folk with many imaginative surprises” said R2 magazine of her CD, while Irish World wrote “the beauty (or one of them) of this album is that it is clearly steeped in tradition but manages to bring Hynes’ innate sense for innovation to the table at the same time, creating a collection that is ethereal and other-worldly but also attractively contemporary”. The Telegraph’s Martin Chilton chose it as one of his albums of the year
This promises to be an auspicious start to the Easter holiday weekend, so do consider coming along. Stan Graham again acts as MC and tickets are £9 and £8 on the door or in advance through WeGotTickets.
5. LATER IN APRIL. The great music continues with local favourites Duncan McFarlane & Anne Brivonese on 9th April, Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston on 16th April and Andy Irvine on 23rd April. Tickets for the latter two are already selling steadily at WeGotTickets and full houses are almost certain, so don’t leave it too long before buying yours.
6. A TRIUMPHANT RETURN FOR THE POOZIES. At the time of writing there are only about 50 tickets left for this month’s most eagerly anticipated folk event, the return to York of The Poozies on Tuesday 24th March. This all-female band has long delighted audiences with its unique brand of folk-based music. First formed 25 years ago, The Poozies were pioneers from the word go, creating unusual and exciting genre-crossing arrangements, and they have twice before entertained us at NCEM, most recently in 2006. Past bands members have included Kate Rusby, Karen Tweed and Patsy Seddon, while founder members Mary Macmaster and Sally Barker are still in the band, the latter a popular finalist on BBC1’s The Voice last year who turned down a major record deal to continue working with her fellow Poozies, who these days are Eilidh Shaw and Mairearad Green.
With rhythmic, punching acoustic guitar, growling electro-harp, faultless fiddle, dexterous accordion and spine-tingling four-part vocal harmony, their material spans original songs, traditional Scottish and Gaelic pieces and contemporary folk and pop. A new CD Into The Well is due out in late May but will be on exclusive pre-release sale during this month’s tour. I’ve had a sneak preview and it confirms that the band are well back on peak form.
With this year’s series of The Voice currently running on BBC1, and with Tom Jones due for a summer concert appearance at York Racecourse, there is considerable interest in seeing Sally Barker, his Voice finalist last year, perform in York. Also, it has just been announced that Sally is to feature in a summer revival of legendary folk rock band Fotheringay, with surviving original members Jerry Donahue, Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson joined by Sally, Kathryn Roberts and PJ Wright. “I can't wait to sing those wonderful Sandy Denny songs” she says. Like all her fellow Poozies, she is certainly a very talented lady!
Catch up with Sally Barker and the rest the Poozies at the NCEM on Tuesday 24th March. Doors open at 7pm and the show begins at 7.30pm with an opener by Eddie Affleck & Sarah Dean, before two 45 minute sets by The Poozies. Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions through www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338.
7. LADY MAISERY, EMILY SMITH & MORE. We have two more NCEM concerts scheduled this season, both in May. That great young English folk trio Lady Maisery (comprising Hannah James, Hazel Askew and Rowan Rheingans) appear on Tuesday 5th May, then we welcome back a particular favourite of ours, the 2014 Scots Singer of the Year, Emily Smith, on Friday 22nd May. She will be accompanied as ever by Jamie McClennan and also multi-instrumentalist Matheu Watson.
The Early Music Centre also promotes several folk concerts independently of ourselves this season and still to come are Maddy Prior, who is joined by Hannah James and Giles Lewin on Tuesday 21st April to perform songs from across the British Isles and beyond, and Tim Eriksen & Eliza Carthy on Sunday 31st May, showcasing material from their new collaborative CD Bottle. There is also a return to York for Serious Kitchen with their music and storytelling show The Whispering Road on Friday 12th June. Booking for all these events is through the NCEM Box office as above
8. LOOKING AHEAD – PHIL BEER SOLO SHOW. The autumn NCEM folk series begins with a solo concert by Phil Beer (of Show of Hands fame) on Friday 25th September. Due to exceptional early interest we have already put tickets on sale for this one, also through the NCEM Box Office. The precise link iswww.ncem.co.uk/?idno=189&
Also lined up for the autumn, but not yet open for booking, are Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick (Monday 19th October), Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock “revisiting the Gregson & Collister catalogue” (Friday 13th November) and Blazin’ Fiddles (Monday 23rd November, subject to final confirmation).
9. STUDENT STANDBY TICKETS AT NCEM. In one other bit of NCEM news, we have agreed to add our folk concerts to Centre’s student standby scheme. Any tickets left unsold 15 minutes before the scheduled start of a concert will be made available to full-time students at the special rate of £5 each. This offer is widely promoted at York University and York St John and hopefully it will bring in a few more young people to our audience.
OTHER CLUB NEWS
10. FOLK WEEKEND OPEN PLANNING MEETING. Plans for this year’s City of York Folk Weekend (5th – 7th June) are taking shape, though more slowly than I would like, mainly due to other pressures on my time. With that in mind, I have organised an Open Meeting for Tuesday 31st March in the Oak Room at the Black Swan Inn, from 8pm. This will look at two main themes – the programming of the weekend itself, and organising a small team to work on preparations. Ideally, we could do with volunteers to take on roles such as publicity and promotion or organising weekend MCs and helpers. Hopefully our landlord Andy Cross will also be able to give us an update on his side of things, such as licencing negotiations with York Council.
If you have anything to contribute – ideas at least, and if possible some of your time before or during the event – do come along and join us. If you have other commitments on 31st March but would still like to be involved, please drop me a line
11. PHOTOS AND ONLINE REVIEWS. We have had journalists and reporters at several recent club events. Chris Mackins from website York Calling attended the afternoon part of our Winter Folk Day and has posted some pictures online at http://yorkcalling.co.uk/
reviews/winter-folk-day-the- black-swan, while critic Martin Longley reviews both Patsy Reid and the Barley Hall Ruth Keggin concert athttp://www.allaboutjazz.com/ live-from-old-york-patsy-reid- clare-hammond-and-ruth-keggin- by-martin-longley.php?
12. CLUB NOW FULLY BOOKED UNTIL CHRISTMAS. The Thursday night club diary is now fully booked for the rest of this year and you can find a full list of all the good things coming your way on the programme page of the club website. Summer highlights include favourite North American performers David Francey and Dana & Susan Robinson, a “Yorkshire Folk Month” in August with Beggar’s Bridge, Jess & Richard Arrowsmith and Anna Shannon, and a brace of great younger acts James Findlay and The Teacups, plus a rescheduled date for Judy Dunlop after illness scuppered her visit with Jon Scaife last November.
Autumn brings along several more firm favourites, such as Debby McClatchy, Dave Burland, Chris Sherburn (joined by Findlay Napier), The Carrivick Sisters and Dick Gaughan. Debut visitors will include The Dovetail Trio, Mairearad Green (yes, she of The Poozies) & Anna Massie and Harp & A Monkey, while from North America we will welcome Stephen Fearing, Harpeth Rising and Maria Dunn. Lastly, Jim Boyes (of Coope Boyes & Simpson fame) is joined by Belinda O’Hooley for a World War One show Sensations of a Wound.
Budding guests and agents please take note – there is now a moratorium in place on bookings for 2016 while I concentrate on preparations for our annual Folk Weekend.
SOME OTHER MARCH EVENTS IN YORK
13. YORK’S IRISH WEEKEND. First a reminder that the relatively newly formed York Irish Association have a St Patrick’s celebration next weekend, 14th & 15th March, in a marquee in St Sampson’s Square. “Bring the family along for a fun day out and help us to celebrate Irish culture” they say, “with live music, poetry, dancing, talks, face painting and children’s storytelling”. Find the full programme on their new website atwww.yorkirish.co.uk.
Incidentally, it is also the annual Irish History Month in Leeds during March, “a pioneering venture to promote knowledge of Irish History and experiences in Britain and beyond, to disseminate information on the many positive contributions that Irish people have made to British society and to introduce new audiences to the vibrancy of Irish arts, heritage, culture and history.” For a full diary of events see www.irisharts.org.uk/pdf/
14. UNION CENTRAL ARE BACK IN ACTION. “Following a very quiet year” says Graham Metcalf of modern bluegrass band Union Central “we are hoping to put in regular local appearances from now on. The Black Swan is our spiritual home and we look forward to welcoming friends old and new at this lovely venue on Saturday 21st March. If you haven't seen us before, expect a mix of gorgeous ballads sung by our lovely lead singer Kat, some amazing fiddle playing from newest member Hannah, and some good ol' banjo pickin', hot mandolin playing and sweet dobro slide guitar”. Doors open at 7.30pm and entry is £5. We also look forward to having Union Central perform again at Folk Weekend, probably on the Sunday afternoon.
15. MUSICAL EVENTS AT YORK LITERATURE FESTIVAL. A reminder that there are two events with a musical element within the packed programme of the York Literature Festival, which runs from 19th to 26th March. On Sunday 22nd March there is an afternoon event at the Grand Opera House in which poet John Hegley shares the bill with Blackbeard’s Tea Party, and on Thursday 26th (clashing with our Singers Night, but so what?) Union Jill and Kate Fox present “Letting Off Steam” at the NCEM. Find out more atwww.yorkliteraturefestival.co.
FURTHER AFIELD & FURTHER AHEAD
16. NEW LOOSELY, FOLK EVENTS IN THIRSK. Promoter Steve Collington has announced a new series of “Loosely, Folk” Friday night shows at the Golden Fleece in Thirsk Market Place. First up next Friday (13th March) is singer-songwriter Heidi Browne, with Gill Sandell & Chris T-T to follow on 10th April, Zak Ford on 15th May, Jeni & Billy on 12th June and Kirsty Bromley (a one-time New Roots feature at our own club) on 17th July. Doors open at 7.30 for an 8.00 start and tickets are always £10 in advance through WeGotTickets or on 07436 071332, or £12 on the door.
17. JAYWALKERS & BULLFROGS IN MALTON. There are two very good acts coming up at the Milton Rooms in Malton which should be of interest to many of you. On Friday 27th March it is that exciting young folk and bluegrass band Jaywalkers (as enjoyed at the Black Swan last summer), then on Friday 24th April there is a welcome sighting of the Bolton Bullfrog himself, Bernard Wrigley. Jaywalkers is a 7.30 start, £8 in advance or £9 on the door, while Bernard’s evening of “songs, stories and silliness” starts half an hour later at 8.00 and is £9 in advance or £10 on the door. Find further information at www.themiltonrooms.com and book in person at the venue in the Market Place or on 01653 696240.
Incidentally, there are also two relevant music festivals coming up in Malton. The Yorkshire Cajun & Zydeco Festival takes place next weekend (13th-15th) at the Milton Rooms, while the Malton & Norton Folk Festival is scheduled for 17th-19th April at various venues around the twin towns. Hopefully I’ll have more news of the latter event in my next newsletter.
18. GOOD STUFF IN SALTAIRE. Simon Heginbotham continues to do great work promoting predominantly Celtic folk at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. Upcoming guests are Eddi Readeron 21st March, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham on 11th April and Canada’s Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys on 8th May. See www.saltairelive.co.uk for full details.
19. SHEFFIELD SESSIONS FESTIVAL. Taking place over Easter weekend, 3rd – 5th April, this event sounds slightly akin to our own City of York Folk Weekend, but on a considerably larger scale and spread across several real ale pubs in the city’s legendary “Vale of Ale”. There will be lots of free sessions, singarounds and workshops, plus special concert events (at a very modest ticket price) each day. Their motto is “music doesn’t get more accessible than this”, which sounds good to me. A full programme is atwww.sheffieldseshfest.org.uk.
20. WATH FESTIVAL 2015. Eddi Reader is also one of this year’s headline acts at the annual folk festival in Wath Upon Dearne, South Yorkshire, which takes place over the Bank Holiday Weekend of 1st - 4th May. This series of six concerts will also feature artists such as Chris While & Julie Matthews, Steve Tilston, Bob Fox, Blackbeard's Tea Party, Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, our own recent guests The Patsy Reid Band and many more. In addition there will be a full Saturday programme of music, dance and comedy in the town centre along with pub singarounds all weekend. Tickets for individual concerts start from as little as £5 and weekend 'early bird' tickets are £70 until 28th March. Visit www.wathfestival.org.uk for full details.
That’s all for now. All being well I’ll prepare another monster mailing around Easter time.