Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 192

30th August 2015


1.        A WELCOME UPTURN DURING AUGUST.  After my rather plaintive piece in the last newsletter (Why These Dwindling Audiences?), I’m happy to report a significant upturn during August.  We had good attendances for all three of our “Yorkshire Folk” guests, and enjoyable nights were had each week (and with most of the “core” team absent due to holidays and such, particular thanks are due to Sarah Dean for being MC on 6th August, and to Steve Marshall for running the PA so well on 13th August).  The Singers Night last Thursday was also well supported, listeners and performers both, with the latter including a welcome higher proportion of women artists than has been usual in recent times.  Long may that continue!
My appeal for your feedback last time drew only a handful of responses, but those received were thoughtful and illuminating.  For example, one correspondent pointed out that as our regular audience ages, more and more of you are active grandparents and often have child care commitments which curtail your ability to come out on an evening, especially mid-week.  Another interesting response came from a fellow Thursday night folk club organiser, of the Topic FC in Bradford.  For them, this last July was “one of the best on record”, so local and perhaps random circumstances can clearly make a big difference from one city to another.
Anyway, with a successful and entertaining month just ending, here are details of our large and varied programme for the whole autumn season.  All our events until Christmas are now listed in full on our website, and all are open for booking at WeGotTickets (for Thursday club nights), at the NCEM Box Office (for NCEM concerts) or at SeeTickets (for co-promotions with Please Please You).  The new club brochure also covers the period until Christmas and is now with our printer - it should be available from 10th September if not before.
2.        DEBBY’S FAREWELL VISIT THIS THURSDAY.  A favourite visitor of ours ever since the 1980s has been American singer and banjo player Debby McClatchy.  She’s a great entertainer with a rich store of songs both self-penned and US old time and traditional, as well as banjo tunes and engaging stories, and she has never failed to charm us.  With retirement beckoning, Debby has announced that this will her last ever solo tour of the UK, so join us onThursday 3rd September to say adieu.  Stan Graham carries out MC duties for this one and tickets will be available on the door at £9 full / £8 concessions, or can be pre-booked through WeGotTickets.
3.        CELEBRATE OUR 2,000th EVENT WITH DAVE BURLAND.  Another long-term friend of this club (and of so many others across England) is Dave Burland.  He is our special guest on Thursday 10th September for what will be our 2,000th recorded club function.
Let me explain.  I say “recorded” because although the club was founded sometime in the mid ‘70s, no records survive before 27th September 1979 - when our guests were a local (I think) group The Winfield Brothers.  Luckily, the list since that date is unbroken and while I was recuperating from illness a few years ago I transferred the old paper files into a numbered sequence in an Excel spreadsheet.  That tells me that 10th September 2015 will be event 2,000!  By then there will have been 1,302 guest nights, 508 singers nights, 147 larger concerts (108 of those at our current NCEM venue), 13 summer festivals and 30 sundry other promotions.
How fitting that our guest on the 10th should be Mr Burland.  He first figures in our lists in 1981 and has been back with us many times since, never failing to entertain.  His old mate (and sometime record label boss) Chris Euesden will be the MC and tickets are £10 full / £9 concessions.  There have already been some pre-sales for this one, and a full house is conceivable, so either book in advance or come along promptly on the night, remembering our new start time of 8.15pm.
4.        NEW VOICES IN THE DOVETAIL TRIO.  We switch generations on 17th September to welcome a relatively new act.  The Dovetail Trio comprises Jamie Roberts (taking time off from his duo work with Kat Gilmore – but see item 29 below), Newcastle University folk degree alumnus Matt Quinn (as seen at our New Roots Young Performer night in 2014) and Wiltshire singer and former BBC Performing Arts award-holder Rosie Hood.
Touring to launch their debut CD, Wing of Evening, they will perform a selection of mostly traditional English folk songs given a bold and fresh approach, with three strong voices underpinned by Jamie’s skilled guitar work and Matt’s deft melodeon playing.  “The combination of richly rounded vocals, skin-tight harmonies and sparse yet polished instrumentation makes a real treat” says one early review of the CD.  Chris Euesden again acts as MC and this one is priced at £8 and £7, with tickets certainly available on the door.
5.        OCTOBER ONWARDS.  After the monthly Singers Night on 24th September, we roll on into a five Thursday month in October with what I hope you will agree is a particularly strong line-up.  Our favourite Anglo-concertina player (and wickedly funny stage humourist) Chris Sherburn returns with his new musical sparring partner Findlay Napier on 1st October, followed by American female “genre-bender” string trio Harpeth Rising on the 8th, mixing folk, bluegrass, rock and classical influences with banjo, violin, cello and three part harmonies.  Top Canadian singer-songwriter and ace guitarist Stephen Fearing pays us a return visit on the 15th, then after the October Singers Night on 22nd we bring back young folk and bluegrass virtuosi twins The Carrivick Sisters on the 29th.
The high class line-up continues through November with Scottish master-musicians Mairearad Green & Anna Massieon the 5th (for some bonfire night musical fireworks!), a Singers Night on the 12th, and another highly rated Canadian songwriter Maria Dunn making her debut on the 19th.  The month concludes on the 26th with a special themed show byJim Boyes (of Coope Boyes & Simpson) accompanied by Belinda O’Hooley.  Sensations of a Wound combines songs, narrative and pictures to tell the poignant story of a young Yorkshire soldier, Jim’s grandfather, caught up in the enormity of the First World War.
In alternate years December would not be complete without Scotland’s foremost solo folk singer Dick Gaughan, and sure enough he visits us again this year, for two consecutive nights, 2nd and 3rd.  Lancashire’s electro-folk innovatorsHarp And A Monkey follow on the 10th, we have our customary Christmas Party on 17th, and a seasonal Sunday Special at the Black Swan on the 20th with The Magical Christmas Tree, offering music and merriment with Pete Morton, Chris Parkinson and our old friend Emily Sanders.
6.        AN EVENING WITH PHIL BEER, FRIDAY 25th SEPTEMBER.  Phil Beer is without doubt one of the greatest ambassadors for British acoustic roots music.  A dazzling instrumentalist, he is of course best known as one half of multi-award winning duo Show Of Hands.  A top flight fiddler in particular, he also performs in the all-star line-up Feast of Fiddles. He plays slide, Spanish and tenor guitar, mandocello, viola, mandolin and South American cuatro as well, not to mention contributing rich vocals and a store of engaging anecdotes.  In a career spanning over forty years, Phil has worked with artists as diverse as Mike Oldfield, Steve Harley, The Rolling Stones and the Albion Band, and continues to develop solo shows and other projects alongside his ongoing work with Steve Knightley.
Phil Beer holds a particular place in our affections as it was he who presented us with our Folk Club of the Year trophy at the 2009 BBC Folk Awards ceremony in London.  Therefore we did not hesitate when asked to present one of his solo concerts at the National Centre for Early Music – it should be a great evening.  Tickets are £15 full or £13 concessions, from the NCEM website or on 01904 658338.  Note that this one is an 8pm prompt start with no support act.  Doors will open at 7.30pm and Phil will be on stage from 8pm.
Note also that for this and all our other NCEM concerts there is now a Student Standby offer.  If not all tickets are pre-sold, full-time students with suitable ID will be able to purchase a ticket for just £5 from 15 minutes before the show starts.
7.        THE MASTERS RETURN – CARTHY & SWARB, MONDAY 19th OCTOBER.  After a blistering performance in 2012, we welcome back Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick to the NCEM venue on Monday 19th October.  This remarkable pairing first came together in 1966 and together or apart they have been an integral part of British folk music ever since.  These days Martin and Swarb combine the innovative fervour of their early days with the maturity and depth of understanding which comes from a lifetime spent in the company of traditional music.  Along the way have been bands such as Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, Whippersnapper and Waterson:Carthy, amongst dozens of other projects which have entertained and inspired generations of listeners and players.  Enjoy an evening of hot instrumentals and subtly sung and accompanied classic songs from two absolute masters of the art.
This one is priced at £17 full or £15 concessions and is a standard 7.30pm start (doors open 7pm).  Phil Cerny will be doing the support spot with a selection of mostly American folk songs.
8.        HOME & AWAY & BACK AGAIN – GREGSON & SIMCOCK, FRIDAY 13th NOVEMBER.  First coming to notice around 1980 with pop band Any Trouble, Clive Gregson went on to form a ground-breaking partnership with singer Christine Collister that Rolling Stone called "the state of the art in British folk-rock".  Between 1985 and 1992 they released five acclaimed albums and toured worldwide.  I can still remember their visit to a hugely packed out club room at the Black Swan in 1987!  Christine’s distinctive voice allied to Clive’s songs and his instrumental and production skills created something truly special.  Thirty years down the road (and after innumerable other achievements), Clive now revisits the classic Gregson & Collister repertoire, having found the perfect new vocal foil in Liz Simcock, herself an established singer-songwriter.  “I’m looking forward to performing some songs that I haven't played for a very long time” he says.
For this one the support will be York’s premier contemporary folk duo Union Jill, whose last CD was produced by Clive. Tickets are £14 full or £12 concessions.
9.        TOP RANK SCOTTISH MUSIC WITH BLAZIN’ FIDDLES, MONDAY 23rd NOVEMBER.  Take a group of the hottest fiddle players from the Highlands and Islands, mix in sympathetic piano and guitar arrangements, and you’ve got the multi-award winning Blazin’ Fiddles.  Over the last fifteen years no other band has quite so well captured the excitement, passion and sensitivity of modern Scottish instrumental music.  Enjoy the regional expressions and individual styles of each fiddler – Inverness’ Bruce MacGregor, Shetlander Jenna Reid, Nairn’s Rua Macmillan and Orcadian Kristan Harvey – in a blend of ensemble and solo sets.  Fiddles and bows come alight atop the subtle guitar of Anna Massie (yes, fresh from her club gig for us with Mairearad on 5th November!) and Angus Lyon’s deft keyboard, delivering a musically intoxicating brew.
Stan Graham does the support for this one, since his last CD (see item 13 below) was produced by Angus, with Anna one of the main session players on it.  Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions.
10.     SIMONE FELICE SUNDAY SPECIAL, 25th OCTOBER.  As reported in previous newsletters we are joining forces with local promoter Please Please You (aka Joe Coates) to present a couple of Sunday Specials this season. Cult American singer songwriter, author and poet Simone Felice is at the Black Swan Inn on 25th October.  This guy has a devoted following and there are already  only a handful of tickets left - £15 at (note, NOT our usual online retailer WeGotTickets) or over the counter at The Inkwell Vinyl Records Shop at 10 Gillygate.
11.     BOP INTO CHRISTMAS WITH SHOOGLENIFTY, 13th DECEMBER.  We bring this high energy Scottish band to York in its 25th anniversary year.  Shooglenifty’s sound springs from traditional dance music with fiddle, mandolin and banjo prominent, but it is energised by the beats and bass line of something altogether more contemporary.   Theirs is not a sit-down kind of music, it’s a join-in, and get-on-your feet kind of vibe, and hence we are staging this show at new-to-us (but well regarded) local venue The Crescent WMC, off Blossom Street.
Attempts to describe this almost uncatagorisable band include: ‘dub-diddly', ‘hypno-folkadelic-ambient-trad’ and ‘acid-croft’.  Whatever it is, it has endured, evolved and entertained for quarter of a century.  Shooglenifty are certainly most at home playing live, so check this one out. Tickets are on sale online from SeeTickets or over the counter at The Inkwell on Gillygate and Jumbo Records in Leeds.  NOTE doors open 7.30, music from 8.00.
12.     JOHN STOREY reminds us that he has just released a new CD.  Storey's In Song is his fourth album of original compositions, including two co-written with Stan Graham, and includes musical contributions from Sarah Dean, Elaine Wallace, Angie Gordon and others.  John does a floor spot on 10th September and will be MC for the Singers Night on 24th September.  He also opens the Saturday line-up at Howsham Mill on 12th September – see item 16 below.  His website is
13.     STAN GRAHAM meanwhile is very excited that the title track of his current CD, Fragile, has been shortlisted for possible cover by one of the biggest names in mainstream county music, Trisha Yearwood.  If it comes off, it will be another feather in Stan’s already well-plumed cap, and no doubt a nice boost to the pension!  Stan tells us he will again be singing at the Festival of Remembrance at the York Barbican, which this year is on Sunday 1st November at 7pm. He’ll be accompanied by Elaine Wallace and once again Martyn Wyndham-Read is coming up to York to take part as well.
14.     PAULA RYAN has been travelling far and wide with her music this year.  Earlier this month she was “spotted” singing on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as I write she is on the bill at this weekend’s Shrewsbury Folk Festival. She’ll be in the Sunday afternoon line-up at Howsham Mill on 13th September (see item 16) and is on the York Irish concert bill at the Barbican on 19th September (see item 19).  Her next scheduled club floor spot is on 1st October. Paula also does sterling work (alongside Chris Euesden) in looking after the folk club’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
15.     DAVID SWANN is also singing far and wide these days.  He cannot be at Howsham Mill because he is appearing at the Bromyard Folk Festival in Herefordshire that weekend.  On Friday 2nd October he headlines a concert for Saltburn Folk Club, at the local Golf Club (see for details) and he is scheduled to MC our October 22nd Singers Night at the Black Swan.
16.     HERITAGE OPEN DAYS AT HOWSHAM MILL.  There’s a Heritage Open Weekend coming up on 12th and 13th September at the lovingly restored Howsham Mill on the banks of the River Derwent between Malton and Stamford Bridge.  The weekend includes a full programme of free live music which has been organised by our own Sarah Dean. Weather permitting there will be performances on an amplified outdoor stage from 10am until 4pm on both days, while inside the mill there will be some shorter acoustic performances in an upstairs gallery space.  There will also be crafters and visual artists at work, children’s activities and of course a chance to look around the mill.  The Saturday line-up includes To The Blue, Martin Heaton, Chechelele and King Courgette, while Sunday’s musicians include Eddie Affleck & Sarah Dean, The Lennanshees, Ian Pybus & Anne Curran and Leather’o.  Find full line-ups and other details
17.     YORK’S ANNUAL TRAD DANCE FEST.  That same weekend, 12th and 13th September, sees the 28th annualYork Festival of Traditional Dance, organised as always by the “slightly notorious” Ebor Morris.  Sixteen different dance teams performing styles such as Cotswold, North West and Border Morris, Rapper, Clog and Longsword, will be in action around the City Centre between 10.30am and 5pm on Saturday, reprising between 11am and 4pm on Sunday. Find out more at  I was pleased to see that Festival Sponsors include our own Black Swan Inn (where many a dancer has slaked his or her thirst!), as well as our friends at Red Cow Music and at melodeon specialists Acorn Instruments.
18.     ANOTHER YORK LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC.  Ever enterprising Ellen Cole has organised another series of music events to accompany the York Food and Drink Festival from Friday 18th to Saturday 26th September, except for the 21st and 22nd. “This seven-day event will showcase the work of established musicians as well as introducing the work of new and upcoming performers” says Ellen.  There will be live music in a variety of styles each day between 5pm and 9pm in the special marquee in Parliament Street.  Entry is free, although regular collections will be taken in aid of York Mind.
The main “folk” day is Sunday 20th, when you can hear successively King Courgette, Sarah Dean, Leather’o and Zak Ford.  Amongst the folk or roots-oriented and acoustic acts on other days are Dan Webster (19th), To The Blue and Pelico (23rd), David Ward Maclean (24th) and The Rusty Pegs, The Bronze and Boss Caine (26th).  Find a full line-up
19.     IRISH NIGHT AT THE BARBICAN.  A final reminder that York Irish Association hold their big Irish Culture Night at the York Barbican on Saturday 19th September from 7pm.  Headlining is one of Ireland’s leading singer-songwriters John Spillane who, says the website “has sold over 100,000 albums in Ireland (and) has been awarded two Meteor Irish Music Awards for ‘Best Folk Act’ and ‘Traditional’ act.  His songs have been covered by many Irish folk luminaries such as Christy Moore, Sean Keane, Karan Casey, Pauline Scanlon, Solas, Mary Black, Méav, Sinead Lohan and Sharon Shannon.”
Other performers include Brian Stafford & Josie Nugent, Paula Ryan, Steve Campbell and other members of the York Irish music community.  There will also be dance displays by the O’Connor Academy of Irish Dance and a keynote talk by the Irish Ambassador to Britain, while Elly Fiorentini from BBC Radio York, who has Irish ancestry, will be acting as compere.  All tickets are £14 and booking is through the Barbican website or on 0844 854 2757.
20.     AUTUMN FOLK MAGAZINES NOW AVAVAILABLE.  The autumn editions (September-November) of both Folk Roundabout (North East England, from York to Northumberland) and Tykes’ News (West Yorkshire & beyond) are now available at our club meetings.  They contain plenty of interesting reading and at £1.50 and £2 respectively you can buy both for less than the cost of a pint of beer or a glass of wine!
21.     SIMON JAMES & HILARY MAYOR have two dates coming up as part of the Ripon International Festival.  Catch Hilary’s divine singing and Simon’s virtuoso mandolin, fiddle and guitar at either Helperby Village Hall on Sunday 6th September or Pateley Bridge Church in Nidderdale on Monday 7th.  Both shows are at 7.30pm and tickets cost £15 or £5 for children and students.  Bookings via or on 01765 603994.
22.     RACHEL DAWICK the fine New Zealand based singer and songwriter appears for Loosely, Folk at The Golden Fleece in Thirsk Market Place on Friday 11th September.  Rachel has family locally and has been seen at our club from time to time in recent years, or busking in York.  Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start and tickets are available through WeGoTickets and on the door.
23.     SALTAIRE LIVE begin their new season with Sam Sweeney’s Made In The Great War at the Victoria Hall on Friday 11th September.  Future gigs in Saltaire include Dervish (9th October, also at Selby Town Hall on 10th October), Bain, Moller & Molsky (1st November) and Cara Dillon (27th November).  The website is
24.     STEVE & DEE MARSHALL of Foresters fame have an evening duo gig at The Lord Nelson in Poppleton on Saturday 19th September.  “This is a free entry do in the pub” they say, “just for fun and different music to the usual Foresters set list”.
25.     RACHEL SERMANNI, the highly touted young “folk-noir balladeer” from the Highlands (as played by Mark Radcliffe and others on Radio 2) appears with special guests at City Screen Basement in York on Wednesday 23rd September, in another Please Please You promotion.  Doors 8pm, tickets £10 in advance or £12 on the door.
26.     KAMINARI TAIKO DRUMMERS, one of our Folk Weekend favourites each year, have a new show calledMatsuri, which they describe as “a festival of music inspired by Japan, featuring the pounding beats of the Japanese drum, the gentle melodies of the koto and the haunting sound of the Japanese flute”.  Catch it at The Milton Rooms in Malton Market Place on Saturday 26th September.  Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start, with tickets £10 (concessions £8) from the venue in person or on 01653 696240.
27.     THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS is a two-handed play based on Robert Tressell’s classic book, with musical direction by none other than John Kirkpatrick (although I don’t think he is performing in it).  It has a short run at Harrogate Studio Theatre from 29th September to 3rd October.  Find out more
28.     TOM RUSSELL, the man from El Paso, whose songs have been recorded by everyone from Johnny Cash to Nanci Griffith, appears at Pocklington Arts Centre on Tuesday 6th October.  See
29.     GILMORE & ROBERTS are the next guests at Poppleton Live, on Saturday 10th October, as part of a tour to promote new CD Conflict Tourism.  See for more details and booking information.  Dates have also been confirmed for another Poppleton Live Festival next year, 5th-8th May.
That’s a veritable bumper bundle of good stuff coming up, so go out and enjoy!  You can expect another mailing around the end of September.