Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 190

29th June 2015


1.        A SERVING OF ACAPELLA SONG WITH THE TEACUPS.  This week (2nd July) we present a vibrant young acapella vocal group, The Teacups.  First getting together as students while taking the Newcastle University Folk Music degree course, they specialise in inventive and purely unaccompanied arrangements of all kinds of folk songs.  They greatly impressed us at a New Roots Double Bill back in 2012, with both their singing and their stagecraft, and went on to wow audiences at many festivals and other venues during 2013 and 2014.  There was a well-received debut album in 2013 and now they are touring to promote much anticipated follow up Of Labour & Love.  You can find out more about them, including live performance video clips, at their new
The band normally comprises the singing talents of Alex Cumming, Kate Locksley, Rosie Calvert and Will Finn.  Very sadly, however, Alex is unable to be with them on this CD launch tour due to ongoing ill health and the other members have worked hard to revise their repertoire and arrangements for three voices.  “Although we're extremely sad to be without Alex”, they say “we don't want to let anyone down, so we have decided to continue with the tour.  We survived our first gigs as a trio at Chippenham Folk Festival recently, so we hope that you will still come and see us!”
If you enjoy unaccompanied vocals, do check this group out. Tickets are £9 full or £8 concessions, on the door or in advance from  Stan Graham will be acting as MC and watch out for our slightly earlier 8.15 start time – see item 6 below.
2.        TWO SINGERS NIGHTS IN JULY.  There being five Thursdays in July we have two Singers & Musicians Nights scheduled, on 9th July and again on 30th July.  We never know quite who or what to expect at these events, but there are almost always some enjoyable and interesting visitors alongside a varied selection of our talented residents and locals.  At the last one for example (immediately following Folk Weekend and so expected to be quiet) we actually had 16 different acts taking part, including a veteran singer from Sussex, Will Duke, and two separate young men from Leeds, a fine concertina & melodeon playing singer called Cohen and singer and nimble guitarist Dariush Kanani.
3.        A SECOND VISIT BY JAMES FINDLAY.  Returning to York nearly three years after his debut is a very assured and accomplished young English traditionalist, James Findlay, who appears on Thursday 16th July.  Winner of BBC Young Folk Award back in 2010, James comes from a family of folk singers and his enthusiasm lies firmly within the English tradition.  He has an extensive repertoire and is particularly passionate about songs from his home counties of Dorset, Somerset and Devon. He is skilled player of both guitar and fiddle and a most mature and expressive singer. 
High praise came from no less than Jon Boden: “Bloody hell, what a voice! This was my first thought as he launched into his songs.  He is warmly charismatic with that sparkle of personality that draws a crowd along with him.”  Likewise a reviewer in The Living Tradition wrote: “James’s voice has steel and sensitivity, with clear phrasing and a dramatic edge. He sounds older than his years, as if he’s had a decade or two of singing the old songs.  He understands them well enough not to maul then, and the music never overwhelms the words."
James has been involved in projects such as The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, with Lucy Ward, Bella Hardy and Brian Peters, and playing Little Musgrave in Jon Boden's folk-opera staging of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard.  He has also been working with the British Council's Folk Nations project in India.  James has two highly acclaimed albums under his belt,Sport and Play (one of MOJO's top ten folk albums of 2012) andAnother Day Another Story (nominated for Best Folk Album in the Spiral Earth Awards 2013), with a third release scheduled for this autumn.
Chris Euesden is host for this one and tickets are £8 full or £7 concessions, on the door or beforehand through WeGotTickets.
4.        DAVID BROAD GOES IT ALONE.  This week’s club night, with The Teacups reduced from quartet to trio, isn’t our only meeting in July hit by illness.  In fact, the month ahead seems to be jinxed!  In the last edition of E-News I reported that our originally advertised guest for 23rd July, Judy Dunlop, had to cancel for health reasons and how, in her place, we had booked Serious Sam Barrett & David Broad.  Sadly, Sam has since broken his wrist and is unable to perform.  So Thursday 23rd July will now be a solo show by David Broad.
David Broad first appeared at our club almost ten years at aLeeds Acoustic Showcase young performers night and has been back twice since in the company of either Sam Barrett or Michael Rossiter.  He’s a singer/songwriter heavily influenced by American folk, blues and roots music and a gifted guitarist besides.  Maverick Magazine reviewed his solo CD in these glowing terms:  “An album of blues-tinged folk music that combines original songs with well-worn standards.  David hails from West Yorkshire but you wouldn’t think so when the title track Never Can Tell starts to play.  Infused with some wonderful and effervescent fingerpicked acoustic guitar playing that hits you right between the eyes, you are transported immediately across the Atlantic.”  The reviewer continues “he has a fine voice and his guitar playing is perfectly suited to his material.  Sounding like he has lived in a shack in Tennessee all his life and playing in a gin joint after a hard day in the cotton fields, David sure can rock an acoustic guitar.” He concludes: “David can be sure that one of his idols Woody Guthrie would have been very pleased with what he has produced.”
Judge for yourself on 23rd July.  Stan Graham again acts as MC and tickets are £7 and £6, on the door or beforehand through WeGotTickets.
5.        AUGUST & BEYOND.  Our guest programme for August features artists from, respectively, East Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.  Hull-based group Beggar’s Bridge kick off the month on the 6th with their self-penned songs of the East Riding, then prominent members of the Sheffield folk mafia Jess & Richard Arrowsmith follow on 13th and lastly comes nationally known Scarborough area songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Anna Shannon on 20th.  Early September brings in two old favourites of ours, Debby McClatchy on her final UK tour (3rd), and for our landmark 2,000th recorded club function on 10th September, who better than Dave Burland?
6.        (SLIGHTLY) EARLIER START, EARLIER FINISH. There has been some discussion lately amongst club principals about our event timings.  We are no longer constrained by an early evening alternative function taking place in our meeting room (which used to mean we couldn’t have access until 7pm), and at the same time we are conscious of the length of time it takes to pack up and clear away PA equipment after a guest show.  So we are now making a serious attempt to both start and finish guest events a little bit earlier.  The intention is to kick off around 8.15pm and to finish, including any encores, no later than 11pm.  This should also permit a slightly longer half time break, 15 minutes rather than 10, for socialising.  What do you, the audience, think of this proposal?
7.        BEN & COLUM REVIEWED.  Local critic Martin Longley was at the club in May for performances by two very different singer/songwriters, Ben Bedford and Colum Sands, and he has posted his reviews online at  I also received several favourable post-gig comments about both artists.  One writer said of Colum “what an amusing and inspirational man of great wisdom (he) is”.  Another correspondent praised the Sharp’s Appalachian Harvest show, also last month:  “Just a quick note to say that my friend and I really enjoyed Sharp's Harvest last night.  I would quite happily see it all again...some lovely songs and fascinating really put them all into context.”
8.        TWO SUNDAY EXTRAS LATER THIS YEAR.  Our Thursday night club programme for the rest of this year has been settled for some time and is posted in full on the club website, but can I just tip you off about a couple of Sunday Specials that have recently been added?  On 25th October we join forces with local promoter Please Please You to present cult American singer songwriter, author and poet Simone Felice at the Black Swan Inn.  And on 20th December we are delighted to have a farewell tour seasonal show by The Magical Christmas Tree, comprising Pete Morton, Chris Parkinson and Emily Sanders, the latter taking the place of the late and much-missed Maggie Boyle.  The Simone Felice show is already open for booking at SeeTickets (note, NOT WeGotTickets), the precise link, while The Magical Christmas Tree and all our autumn Thursday night guest shows will go up on WeGotTickets around late August / early September.
9.        NCEM AUTUMN FOLK CONCERTS.  First, a reminder that tickets are already on sale for the one-man show by Show of Hands’ Phil Beer on Friday 25th September (, 01904 658338).  Later autumn folk concerts at the Early Music Centre comprise folk legends Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick(Monday 19th October), Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock on the “Home & Away Plus” tour (Friday 13th November) and Scotland’s mighty Blazin’ Fiddles (Monday 23rd November). Put all those dates in your diary now and watch out for box office opening probably in early September.
10.     A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL PERFORMERS AND HELPERS.   A great time was had by all at our annual Folk Weekend earlier this month.  I simply haven’t had time to thank all the participating singers and bands individually, so can I do so collectively here?  Thank you all so much – it would have been impossible without you!  Gratitude is also due to the small but dedicated team of helpers which kept the weekend running.
11.     WHAT WE GOT RIGHT, WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER.  At an event like this there are always a few things that don’t go as well as we hoped.  Weather aside (windy and quite cold on Saturday, much better on Sunday), the biggest disappointment this year was the lack of support for musicians’ tunes sessions – only half a dozen so players at most on Saturday, none on Sunday.  On the other hand, the song-based club and singaround sessions were generally lively and the three workshops on Sunday were all well-supported.
The Friday evening Irish Night was very successful and our thanks go to the York Irish Association for hosting it.  See item 18 for more news of their activities.  There was some last minute anxiety that this Irish night would conflict with the regular Friday session at the Victoria Vaults (itself listed in our programme as an official “fringe event”) but those fears proved unfounded and the Vaults was also busy that evening.  Sadly, however, the night there ended on a sour note when a holiday-cover relief pub manager called time an hour early and cut the session short. This has resulted in a change of venue – see item 15 below.
So far as Folk Weekend concerts went, the standard was pretty uniformly high, with some inspired performances.  We benefitted from an exceptionally skilful and sympathetic PA technician in the Marquee, while Eddie, Chris and Stan did sterling work on sound in the Wolfe Room.  I couldn’t possibly see all the acts personally, but where I did I was pleased to find that “first time” performers such as Roisin Ban, The Durbervilles, Pelico, Bendigedig and Melthem fully entered into the spirit of the weekend and turned in great sets.
12.     NEXT YEAR’S FESTIVAL?  We are not yet certain of holding a similar event next year, but if we do it is earmarked for the same first weekend in June, which will be 3rd-5th.  If you have comments or suggestions for how we could improve the festival, please send them in.
13.     HUNT OUT THE ST LEONARD’S SESSIONS.  Last Saturday night I attended the Ste Kenwright Benefit Concert.  It was an inspiring and emotional event remembering a much-loved and much-missed local singer and activist.  The concert saw the launch of the CD recorded by Ste in his final months in St Leonard’s Hospice, with his regular musical partners John Vaughan and Paul Robson.  As I write I am listening to The St Leonard’s Sessions and finding it a very fine selection of songs in a typically eclectic Ste Kenwright mix, from traditional songs like April Morning through self-penned numbers to covers by Elbow, Seth Lakeman and Thea Gilmore.  With all proceeds going to charity, I would urge you to pick up a copy.  It should be available soon for digital download or in hard copy
14.     CELEBRATING PETE SEEGER.  Tomorrow, Tuesday 30th, there is an event billed as a Pete Seeger Songfest at St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel (only a short walk across the street from the Black Swan Inn, at YO1 8NQ).  Performing is singer/songwriter Jim Scott, who apparently collaborated on many projects with the folk legend and “leads a celebration of Pete’s and his own songs of earth, justice and peace”.  It’s a 7.30pm start and tickets are £6 or £4.  For more information email
15.     HEAD FOR THE WOOLPACK ON FRIDAY NIGHTS. As indicated in Item 11 above, York’s very lively Friday night folk music and song session has quit the Victoria Vaults.  Instead, singers and players now congregate at The Woolpack on Fawcett Street, near The Barbican.  That is still every Friday night from around 8pm.
16.     THE BASEMENT’S EVENING OF FOLK.  One of the newer acts that made a big impression at Folk Weekend was Antonio Curiale’s outfit Melthem.  Together with Ramblin’ Times (the duo of Antonio and Chris Barnes) and the Joshua Burnell Band (unknown to me, but described as playing “original storytelling ballads set to the folk-rock sound of the 1970s”), Melthem appear at City Screen Basement on Thursday 9th July.  I don’t usually mention “rival” Thursday night events but am happy to make this one an exception.
17.     LAST FEW TICKETS FOR HARVEY.  These days the celebrated songwriter and raconteur Harvey Andrews is officially retired but occasionally he can be enticed out to do a concert.  John Watterson is suitably persuasive and so Harvey appears at All Saints Hall in Upper Poppleton on Saturday 18th July, with Roger Davies as the support.  Not surprisingly, there are only a handful of £12.50 tickets left, so grab one immediately by ringing John on 01904 785366.  After that show, the next Poppleton Live event will be Gilmore & Roberts on Saturday 10th October.
18.     IRISH NIGHT AT THE GILLYGATE.  Fresh from their success at our Folk Weekend (item 11 above) York Irish Association present a Barbecue and Traditional Music Session in the beer garden at the back of The Gillygate pub on the street of the same name on Wednesday 22nd July from 7pm. “Bring your instruments along if you play” they urge us.  Meanwhile plans continue to take shape for their big night at York Barbican on Saturday 19th September, as trailed in E-News 189. for more information.
19.     FIRE & RAIN IN THE WOLDS.  Next Saturday, 4th July (most appropriately) Scarborough-based five-piece band Fire & Rain present the “timeless songs” of US legends James Taylor and Carole King at the Village Hall in Cherry Burton near Beverley, with Gracie Falls as support.  Tickets are £10 through WeGotTickets or for information phone 01482 665656.
20.     PLATFORM FESTIVAL IN POCKLINGTON.  A reminder that there is a music and comedy festival lined up for the Old Station in Pocklington on July 16th, 17th and 18th, with most folk interest focussed on the all day Saturday music event which is headlined by Bellowhead, who have recently announced that they are to disband next spring, making this one of the last local opportunities to catch them in action.  The line-up also include acts like Buffalo Skinners, Grand Old Uke of York, Stornoway, Beth McCarthy and Dan Webster, as well as more rock, country & pop oriented bands.  All day tickets are £41 (under 18s £30) – go to for more information.
21.     KIRSTY BROMLEY IN THIRSK.  Friday 17th July sees a visit from young singer Kirsty Bromley and her trio to Loosely Folk in Thirsk.  Doors open at The Golden Fleece at 7.30pm for an 8.00pm start and our own Paula Ryan is the support act. Tickets are £8 in advance through WeGotTickets or at the White Rose Book Café in Thirsk, or £9 on the door.  Enquiries to 07436 071332
22.     HOLY MOLY IN HUNMANBY.  Also on Friday 17th July, much talked about six-piece roots band Holy Moly & The Crackers (“lively, funky and fun”) appear at Hunmanby Community Centre near Filey.  It’s a 7.30pm start and tickets are £12.  They can be reserved on 01723 891514 or 01723 891507 or by e-mailing
23.     OTIS GIBBS IN REETH.  On what proves to be a busy night on Friday 17th July, Farndale’s Band Room venue celebrates its 20th anniversary with a concert over in Reeth in Swaledale.  “We’re going to Reeth for this one” they explain “because this gorgeous Dales village 50 miles west of Farndale is in our DNA … it was there in 1995 that we had the idea for The Band Room”.  Headlining is American alt-country/folk singer-songwriter Otis Gibbs, who “sings of social justice (or lack of it) in a powerfully intimate blue-collar style reminiscent of Guthrie and Seeger”.  Also on the bill are BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominee Roseanne Reid from Edinburgh (“an Americana / folk star of the future”) and “undiscovered English folk gem” Vanessa Williamson.  For information and tickets
24.     QUEBECOIS MUSIC IN OTLEY.  French Canadian trioDe Temps Antan, who come from the same tradition as Le Vent du Nord and La Bottine Souriante, appear at Otley Courthouse on Wednesday 5th August.  It’s an 8pm start and tickets from £11 are available at, or on 01943-466467.
Lastly, news of two festival events not that dissimilar in approach to our own York Folk Weekend:
25.     A FOLK WEEKEND IN THE LAKE DISTRICT.  Over the weekend of 7th-9th August there is lots of music and song in prospect at Staveley, near Kendal in the Lake District.  Events are centred on the Hawkshead Brewery’s famous Beer Hall, but with concerts and sessions in several other village venues.  Most events are free, but there is a ticketed Friday night concert headlined by the Tom McConville Band and with York musician Dan Webster also on the bill.  Find out more at
26.     AND A FESTIVAL IN HULL.  The following weekend,14th-16th August, brings us the 2015 Hull Folk Festival, “a largely free celebration of folk music, dance and arts, with strong links to the city’s maritime heritage, being staged in and around the historic Old Town, Fruit Market and Marina areas”.
There will be two main ticketed concerts, The Tannahill Weavers and Rory McLeod on the Friday evening and Martin Carthy with support from Jim Eldon on Saturday.  Free concerts will occupy four further stages and there will be a busking stage, spoken word performances, workshops and songs and tunes sessions in pubs and cafes; plus dance displays and more.  The website
That’s all for now.  Expect another mailing around about the end of July or very early August.  Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and lace it with plenty of good music.