Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 187

Easter Weekend 2015


1.        PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LESSER KNOWN GUEST ACTS.  Since February there has been a noticeable fall off in our guest night attendances, with audience numbers only in the teens or low twenties.  Have you any suggestions as to what is keeping you away?  We’ve had some top class music (e.g. Jacquelyn Hynes last Thursday, or the Gren Bartley Band and Roger Davies in March) and it is a great shame for such talented players to perform to a room less than half full.  Some of these artists will make much more of a name for themselves in coming months and years (as have done Josienne Clark & Ben Walker for example – see item 20 below) and you might even regret having missed them “on the way up”!  No true club can live by “big name” guests alone, so do please consider supporting the newer and less familiar names.  Chances are you’ll enjoy them.
2.        GOOD MUSIC, FUN MUSIC WITH DUNCAN AND ANNE.  You’ll certainly have a good time if you come along for Duncan McFarlane & Anne Brivonese this week, 9th April.  Duncan has a well justified reputation for exuberant live performance, as enjoyed with his full band at several of our Folk Weekends, as well as on four previous club guest spots over the last decade or so.  He writes great songs in the folk idiom and mixes them with choice traditional and modern covers.  A stylish guitarist and singer with an infectiously enthusiastic stage manner, he is joined by his regular foil Anne Brivonese on fiddle and backing vocals.  Duncan and his band will be at Folk Weekend again this year, on the Saturday afternoon, but why wait until then? Check him out this coming Thursday – at the bargain price of £7 full or £6 concessions, on the door.
3.        TICKETS SELLING FAST FOR MIRANDA & REX, ALL SOLD FOR ANDY.  Notwithstanding item 1 above, we are looking forward to two well-attended “big name” guest acts later this month.  On 16th April we welcome backMiranda Sykes & Rex Preston, following a brilliant debut visit in 2013.  There are only about 15 tickets left for this one at present, while Andy Irvine’s show the following week, 23rd April, is all but Sold Out – two tickets left as I write, but they could well have gone by the time you read this.
Just a few words about Miranda and Rex, for those who don’t recall them.  Best known for her work with Show of Hands (the third member of folk’s top duo!), Miranda is a striking flame-headed double bassist and exquisite vocalist, while Rex is a flamboyant virtuoso mandolin player.  Together they create, in the words of fRoots, “a musical partnership made in heaven - scintillating, sensitive and brilliant”.  Tickets are £11 (concessions £10) from – sooner rather than later.
4.        AMERICAN TROUBADOUR BEN BEDFORD.  We end the month of April with a Singers & Musicians Night on Thursday 30th, then welcome a debut North American visitor to the club on Thursday 7th May.  Ben Bedford is an Illinois-born songwriter who has been described as firmly in the Woody Guthrie-onwards folk tradition.  “He delivers intriguing sketches of ordinary Americans past and present, their struggles and their victories.  Poignant but never sentimental, his songs capture the vitality of their characters and draw the listener deep into the narrative.”  Americana music magazine Maverick has called him “a truly inspired and talented storyteller”.  Find out more or look up some of his YouTube videos.  Tickets £9 and £8 from WeGotTickets and on the door. Let’s give him a good big audience for a memorable first visit to York, then we can all go home to watch the election results come in!
5.        LATER IN MAY.  Top class music continues with the return (after 15 years!) of Ulster singer, songwriter and all-round good guy Colum Sands on 14th May, another Singers & Musicians Night on 20th May and a very special showSharp’s Appalachian Harvest presented by Brian Peters & Jeff Davis on 27th May.
6.        ENGLISH MUSIC WITH LADY MAISERY.  That great young English folk trio Lady Maisery are our next concert guests, appearing at the Early Music Centre on Tuesday 5th May.  Forged from the voices of Hannah James (Kerfuffle, Sam Sweeney, Maddy Prior), Hazel Askew (Askew Sisters) and Rowan Rheingans (Nancy Kerr Band), Lady Maisery offer fresh interpretations of vintage songs and ballads to stunning effect.  They enchant with rich harmonies, sumptuous melodies and warm personalities, whether singing unaccompanied or playing combinations of accordion, harp, banjo, concertina and fiddle.  The almost lost tradition of diddling or tune-singing is a speciality, together with Hannah’s clog dancing.
Nominated for Best Emerging Artists in the 2012 BBC Folk Awards and earning dream reviews for their recordings (4 or 5 stars from The Financial TimesSonglinesR2The Independent and Maverick), Lady Maisery are on track for great things, as was intimated when they did a great full house show at our club venue two years ago.  Support comes from new-to-York singer Judith Haswell and her partner Trish McLean and tickets are on sale now at £13 full or £11 concessions, on 01904 658338 or at
7.        EMILY SMITH MAKES A RETURN VISIT.  We move back to Scotland for our final NCEM concert this season, on Friday 22nd May.  More than a decade into her career and making her fourth visit to NCEM, Emily Smith is rightly celebrated as one of Scotland’s most distinctive and sublime folk voices.  She was recently voted Singer of the Year in the 2014 Scots Trad Music Awards while her current CD Echoes has been universally praised.  TV appearances onTransatlantic Sessions and Songs of Praise have won her additional admirers.
Joined by multi-instrumentalists Jamie McClennan and Matheu Watson, and switching between accordion and keyboard herself, Emily will be showcasing material from the new album, in which she returns to her first love of traditional song, alongside some choice covers and samples of her own highly accomplished songwriting.  Both Emily and Jamie did backing work on the new CD by our own Stan Graham, so naturally he steps in as support act and MC for this one. Tickets are now booking at £16 full or £14 concessions.
8.        ALSO COMING THIS SEASON – MADDY PRIOR ET AL.   Remember that the NCEM has booked several folk concerts on their own account this season.  Maddy Prior is there on Tuesday 21st April, when she is joined by Hannah James (of the above mentioned Lady Maisery!) and Giles Lewin (of The Carnival Band).  Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksenperform together on Sunday 31st May and Serious Kitchen (aka Nick Hennessy, Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer) present their music and storytelling show The Whispering Road on Friday 12th June.  Also open for booking already is Phil Beer’s solo show at the NCEM on Friday 25th September.
9.        FOLK WEEKEND TAKES SHAPE - SLOWLY.  Plans for this year’s City of York Folk Weekend (5th to 7th June) continue to develop, though still a bit more slowly than I would like.  The good news is that York Council has granted its licence for the outdoor events, and with the curfew times unchanged from last year.  Our landlord has hired the marquee – a bigger affair than last year’s, he assures us – and JSS have been contracted once again to provide PA services for the main stage.
On the programming front, and despite the inevitable absence of some popular performers (holidays, paid bookings elsewhere, etc.) we still seem to have more acts than we can fit in, at least on the Marquee stage.  I will be biting the bullet over the next few days and producing a draft outdoors running order, after which I will sketch out the indoor part of the weekend.  To everyone who has asked for a performance spot over the weekend, all I can say is please bear with me.  I’ll try to have a draft programme with you very soon, and please be sympathetic if I cannot give you your first choice slot.
Lastly, we still need offers of help with things like stewarding, staffing the information desk and shaking collection tins. Several key helpers from previous years are not available this year (holidays, illness, family commitments, etc.) and we badly need a few new volunteers!
10.     REMEMBERING JOHN RENBOURN.  We were deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of John Renbourn last week.  One of the most influential acoustic guitarists of the folk revival, he surely leaves a huge legacy behind.  We had the pleasure of promoting John several times in York, at venues as diverse as the old Arts Centre, The Winning Post and the NCEM and we always found him a modest and friendly artist, easy to work with.  There have been numerous published obituaries.  Phil Cerny particularly recommends the words of the New York Times –
11.     TIME & TIDE WAIT FOR DAVID SWANN.  A much appreciated resident at the Black Swan is Ryedale-based songwriter David Swann.  He is proud to announce the release of a new CD, his seventh album in a prolific musical career.  Time & Tide contains ten original songs inspired by life on the Yorkshire Moors and Wolds and (in particular) on the Yorkshire Coast, and was recorded at Pulse Studio, a newly established business in Pickering. There is an official CD Launch at The Sun Inn in Pickering on Saturday 18th April starting at 8pm. Entry is free.
12.     SINGERS NIGHT SPOT ON YOUTUBE.  In the last edition of E-News I mentioned some of the talented visitors we have had dropping in at Singers Nights this year.  One of those I named was Gemma Khawaja.  Audience member Pete Quinn was particularly impressed by her and he now tells me that Gemma filmed her Black Swan floor spots that night and has posted the results on YouTube.  “You will remember how much I loved her contributions” says Pete, who has ordered her CD, and he adds “I am in touch with her and she hopes to visit (the Black Swan) again.”  You can find those videos at and
13.     THE LINK IS CLOSING.  North east Yorkshire’s monthly music magazine The Link has decided to cease publication.  Karen Aitchison bravely kept the magazine going after the sudden death of her editor partner Pete Bell, but now she feels it is time to call it a day.  The current April issue will therefore be the last.  It was a useful little publication, not least because it didn’t ignore our kind of music or move it into some kind of journalistic ghetto section, and I will miss it.  Thanks Karen.
14.     COMEDY AT THE BLACK SWAN.  If you relish the Black Swan as a venue and also enjoy “alternative comedy” you may care to note that there is now a comedy club there on the second Tuesday of each month, so next on 14th April.  The Burning Duck Comedy Club aims “to showcase the best in new up-and-coming acts alongside established national and international performers”.  Very much like ourselves, in fact!  Find out more or pick up a leaflet next time you are in the pub.
15.     MARY’S ONE WOMAN SHOW.  Singers Night regular storyteller and poet F Mary Callan took her one-woman bible-inspired show King David’s Wives to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year.  Now local audiences get a chance to see this mixture of verse, narrative and songs at the English Martyrs’ Hall on Dalton Terrace.  There are evening performances at 7.30 on 23rd and 24th April and a matinee at 2.30 on Saturday 25th.  All shows are free entry but donations are welcome.  Further information on 07596 714382.
16.     ROISIN BAN AT THE GILLYGATE.  Also on Thursday 23rd, if you missed out on tickets for Andy Irvine but still fancy a night of Irish music, then head to the Gillygate pub on the street of the same name.  Yorkshire Irish group Roisin Ban (it means White Rose in Irish Gaelic) are appearing there for the York Irish Society.  They are also performing at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough on Friday 17th April, and they are lined up to perform at our own York Folk Weekend on Saturday 6th June.
17.     BLAIR PLUS AT FIBBERS.  Young folkie Blair Dunlop does a double-header with singer songwriter Emma Stevens at Fibbers on Saturday 25th April.  Support comes from local favourites The Bronze, aka Holly Taymar & Chris Bilton.  Find out more at
18.     ALT COUNTRY SINGER TURNS TO FOLK AT THE BASEMENT.  Intrepid local promoter Joe Coates has an interesting show booked into City Screen Basement on Wednesday 29th April.  Singer with Canadian “alt country” band The Deep Dark Woods, Ryan Boldt has just released a solo CD of reworkings of traditional folk ballads.  It has already picked up a glowing review in the April issue of fRoots and a feature article is promised next month.  Judge for yourself when he comes to York.  Doors open at 8pm and tickets are £8 in advance or £10 on the door.  Also on the bill are Canadian folk duo Kacy & Clayton.
19.     MORE GOOD SOUNDS AT CITY SCREEN.  Also coming to City Screen Basement are another Canadian artist, folk/roots singer/songwriter Lynne Hanson (Monday 4th May, supported by Union Jill and Miles Salter & Ron James, £9) and the highly-touted British singer Lisa Knapp (Friday 8th May, £12.50).  See for details.
20.     JOSIENNE & BEN IN GOOLE.  Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker were greatly enjoyed by a lamentably small audience at the Black Swan one night last summer.  Since then they have gone on to greater and thoroughly deserved recognition, picking up two nominations in this year’s BBC Folk Awards, for Best Duo and Best Album.  Find out what you missed when they appear at Junction in Goole next Friday, 10th April.  The venue website
21.     GRACIE’S CD LAUNCH IN BRANTINGHAM.  Young East Yorkshire songwriter Gracie Falls celebrates the official release of her first CD at The Triton Inn in Brantingham next Saturday, 11th April, when she will be joined on stage by the backing musicians who contributed to the album.  Tickets for this Hunsley Acoustic Music Club event are £7 each from
22.     DEMON BARBERS ON THE ROAD.  Launching a new album Disco At The TavernThe Demon Barbers go on the road this month with another music and dance spectacular.  Local(ish) dates include Leeds Carriageworks onFriday 17th April, Harrogate Theatre on Wednesday 13th May and Doncaster Cast on Saturday 30th May.  Find out more at
23.     BELLOWHEAD FOR BRID.  Also on the road this month are folk supergroup Bellowhead.  Their nearest date to York this time around is Friday 17th April at Bridlington Spa.  The venue is at
24.     FESTIVITIES IN MALTON.  I’ve now had more details of the Malton & Norton Folk Festival which takes place over the weekend of 17th to 19th April.  The main Saturday night concert will be at the Milton Rooms with Blackbeard's Tea Party, Chris Helme and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion.  Across the weekend there will also be Musician Sessions, Singarounds, Morris Dancing and a Craft Fair.  Check out for more event details and tickets information.
25.     CROWS AND BEGGARS IN HOWDEN.  Celtic folk-rockers Roving Crows appear at the Shire Hall in Howden on Saturday 18th April, with support from Hull-based band Beggar’s Bridge.  Find out more at Incidentally, Beggar’s Bridge will be our club guests at the Black Swan one night in August.
26.     SINGING AROUND POCKLINGTON.  The Pocklington LittleFest is a community arts event taking place over the last weekend in April at lots of venues around the town.  These will include The Cross Keys pub where Steve Marshall hosts a Singaround from 2pm on the Saturday afternoon, 25th April.  All singers, players and listeners are cordially invited to come along and participate.
That’s all for now.  I should have another mailing ready for you at the start of May which (fingers crossed) should include a full draft programme for the Folk Weekend in June.