1st November 2015
CLUB EVENTS – BLACK SWAN AND NCEM
1. OCTOBER WAS ANOTHER MONTH OF GREAT LIVE MUSIC. The month just ended turned out to be a really vintage one for us, with lots of great performances in front of large and appreciative audiences. Chris Sherburn & Findlay Napier and cult singer-songwriter Simone Felice both drew full house attendances at the Black Swan Inn, while master musicians Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick likewise filled the NCEM concert hall to capacity. North American visitors Stephen Fearing and Harpeth Rising were both hugely impressive, the latter trio earning a rare standing ovation, while last week Laura & Charlotte Carrivick reminded another almost full house what excellent young players they are.
Also deserving a mention is our last Singers & Musicians Night, which attracted ten different acts all of a very high standard, and some of them from such exotic places as Australia, Altrincham, Stokesley and Keighley! There were trios, duos and solo performers, twelve different kinds of musical instrument (including cello, hammered dulcimer, harp, flute, fiddle, even a Tibetan singing bowl), a much better gender balance amongst performers than we often achieve (nine men, seven women) and a sizeable and enthusiastic listening audience. Afterwards MC David Swann posted euphorically on Facebook “when you go out to a Singers Night or Open Mic you are never sure of what you are going to get and let's be honest they can be of varying quality. (However) the Singers Night at The Back Swan tonight was magical. Stunning acts playing fantastic songs and tunes. It was a privilege to MC it all.”
So take note that our next Singers Night is on Thursday 12th November, and then we have the customary Christmas Party “open house” on 17th December. Why not give one a try? In November it is the standard door charge of £3 (concessions £2), while the Christmas Party is free entry with a grand raffle and a bring-and-share supper.
2. MAIREARAD & ANNA – SCOTTISH DELIGHTS FOR BONFIRE NIGHT. Back to this week, Thursday 5th November, when our guests promise some musical fireworks in keeping with the date. Mairearad Green & Anna Massie are two of the very best folk players in Scotland, a country which seems to be brimming with musical talent. Just as important, they are great entertainers who really know how to relate to an audience. I saw them in action at the Warwick Folk Festival in 2014 and was much impressed. Living Tradition magazine’s reviewer Fiona Heywood agreed.
“For me, in a weekend full of highlights, one act really stood out. Mairearad and Anna played their only set on Saturday afternoon and it was fabulous. Both from the Scottish Highlands and now living in Glasgow, they have been playing together for ten years. Mairearad (on accordion and bagpipes) and Anna (on guitar, fiddle and banjo) have something really special, the X Factor if you like, both musically and during the very relaxed and humorous chat in between numbers. Describing what they do will never do it justice, it is something to be experienced, so if you can, make sure you do.”
Mairearad is also a member of The Poozies, as seen in York earlier this year, while Anna is also in Blazin’ Fiddles (see item 5 below) and has been a long-term member of Bella Hardy’s backing band as well as an in-demand session player. Both of them are members of Scottish big band The Unusual Suspects. Mairearad and Anna’s show for us on Thursday is the first English date on a fortnight’s tour to mark the release of their third duo CD, Best Day, the first to feature songs alongside virtuoso instrumental sets.
Stan Graham is our MC on Thursday and the scheduled floor spots comprise Eddie Affleck, Chris Euesden and Judith Haswell. Tickets are £11 full or £10 concessions and are still plentiful, so there should be no problem just buying on the door. Do come along if you can – they are a great duo and thoroughly deserve a large and receptive audience.
3. CLIVE GREGSON & LIZ SIMCOCK – HOME AND AWAY AND BACK AGAIN. Our next concert at the Early Music Centre is on Friday 13th November, when Clive Gregson & Liz Simcock revisit the classic Gregson & Collister repertoire of the late 1980s. Between 1985 and 1992 Clive Gregson and Christine Collister were at the very top of the game in British acoustic and roots music. They released five albums, played countless shows all over the world and made many friends along the way. I can still recall their one appearance at the Black Swan in April 1987 – a joyous but riotous affair with a ridiculously large number of people squeezed into our small room. The homemade 1986 debut album Home And Away, recorded live at small folk club venues and first released only on cassette tape, had been a great hit by then and we relished having two such classy performers in York.
Clive & Christine were arguably the most memorable UK folk-rock duo to emerge since Richard & Linda Thompson. Gregson's wry tales of the ins and outs of love, sung in Collister's heartbreaking voice, earned the duo a devoted following. Beginning in 1985 on the folk club circuit, the duo went on to international success which continued until they parted company musically and personally in 1992. Later living mostly in America, Clive established himself as a solo artist (he has visited the Black Swan several times in recent years) and to work with artists like Nanci Griffith and Plainsong, as well as more recently reviving Any Trouble, his much loved early '80s rock band.
Earlier this year reissue label Cherry Red asked for permission to release a deluxe edition of Home and Away. The 1986 album has been remastered from the original analogue tapes, to which have been added two bonus CDs of previously unreleased live recordings from the final Gregson and Collister tour in 1992. Almost thirty years down the line, the time seemed right to revive those classic songs, but with Christine not available, Clive found a new vocal foil in Liz Simcock, herself an established singer songwriter in southern England. She says "I've always been a huge fan of Gregson & Collister and couldn’t think of anything nicer to be invited to do. They were what got me into writing songs and I think it's a real privilege to be doing this."
For his part, Clive says "it seems like playing some shows that celebrate a hugely enjoyable part of my musical career is overdue. It's been a very long time since I performed a lot of those songs and I can't think of anybody better to have along for the ride than Liz. She's a terrific singer and an ideal fellow traveller. I'm really looking forward to the tour and I'm sure the audiences are in for a real treat.”
So come along and be treated on Friday 13th! Our friends Union Jill (whose breakthrough album Respectable Rebellion was produced by Clive) will be hosting the night and doing a support spot at 7.30, and tickets are £14 full or £12 concessions through the NCEM website and on 01904 658338. There should be tickets left for sale on the door as well, including a student standby offer of £5 a ticket after 7.15pm.
4. CANADIAN DEBUT GUEST MARIA DUNN. Our club has a particular affection for Canadian folk singers. Ever since the days of Tanglefoot, we have welcomed Canadian musicians to our venue: James Keelaghan, Dan McKinnon, David Francey, Cara Luft and Nathan Rogers to name only some of them. We look forward keenly to the debut of another well-regarded Canadian singer, Maria Dunn, who visits us on 19th November during her first UK tour, joined by violin player and CD producer Shannon Johnson.
A storyteller through song and a true preserver of the spirit of folk music, Maria has been compared to Woody Guthrie for her keen social awareness and her unvarnished songs about the lives of working men and women. For example, her last CD paid tribute to the immigrant women who worked at a Canadian clothing factory, with compositions which while locally inspired touched on universal themes such as migration, family and striving for a better life, while her current project, due for album release in early 2016, highlights stories of love. Not romantic love, but songs about family, community, humanity and the love that knits us together and fires our actions to make the world a better place. Stylistically, Maria melds North American roots music with influences from her Scottish and Irish family heritage. Let’s give her a warm and welcoming night in York! Phil Cerny MCs and tickets are very modestly priced at £8 and £7, on the door or in advance through WeGotTickets.
5. BLAZIN’ FIDDLES LIGHT UP THE EARLY MUSIC CENTRE. Take a group of the hottest fiddle players from the Highlands and Islands, mix in some wonderfully sympathetic piano and guitar arrangements and we’ve got the award winning Blazin’ Fiddles on our hands at the Early Music Centre on Monday 23rd November. In the past decade no other band has quite captured Scottish fiddle music’s variety, energy and sensitivity in the way that Blazin’ Fiddles have. Like rare single malts, each member draws on the distinct musical flavour of their part of Scotland: Jenna Reid from Shetland, Bruce MacGregor of Inverness, Nairn’s Rua Macmillan and Orcadian Kristan Harvey. Joined by Anna Massie (fresh from her club gig with us this week) and Angus Lyon and blending solo and ensemble sets, aged with the occasional insightful tale, they come together in a fiery blend to excite your senses. Whether it is a remote village hall or the Royal Albert Hall, Blazin’ Fiddles never fail to deliver a musically intoxicating evening for all.
“Changing direction as tightly as a flock of birds, their reels can take your breath away” wrote one reviewer in The Scotsman.
Stan Graham does the support for this one, since his last CD was produced by Angus Lyon, with Anna Massie being one of the main session players on it. Note that there are only around 40 tickets left for this one, so don’t delay your booking for too long. Prices are £16 full or £14 concessions and booking is at www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338.
6. “SENSATIONS OF A WOUND” WITH JIM & BELINDA. We have something a bit different and rather special for you on Thursday 26th November. Written and sung by Jim Boyes from the acclaimed a cappella trio Coope Boyes & Simpson and with subtle, piano arrangements by Belinda O’Hooley, Sensations Of A Wound recounts the experiences of a young Yorkshire soldier, Jim’s Scarborough grandfather Croppie, as he is caught up in the enormity of the Great War. Presented as a vivid sequence of songs, words and projected images, this is a compelling and poignant show.
Jim writes: “Sensations of a Wound was the title of my grandad’s account written in 1933 of his experiences of the First World War. Why he chose to write it so long after the event is not known, but it is obvious from the way it is written that he intended it to be read and probably published. Croppie first saw action in the opening stages of the Passchendaele campaign and thence to the Italian Front via a spell on the Belgian coast. His long long trail then moves him back to France in time for the German onslaught in March 1918 when he was wounded, left in No Man’s Land, captured, taken to Berlin and finally interned in Switzerland until the end of the war. The concert narrates the journey from Scarborough to Switzerland and back with new and traditional songs, with an exceptional piano accompaniment by Belinda O’Hooley. The CD was released in 2015 and an illustrated book is now available, part of the proceeds of which go to the International Red Cross without whom Croppie may not have survived”.
“Jim’s singing and his accompanist Belinda O’Hooley, on piano and occasional accordion, leave the reviewer reaching for superlatives” wrote CD reviewer Vic Smith in English Dance & Song. “They are moving, affecting, emotional and engaging. Jim’s singing is a delight and Belinda provides accompaniments that are thoughtful, adventurous and always appropriate. The album is a triumph.”
There has been a lot of interest in this one already and be advised that around half the tickets have already been sold. Go to without too much delay if you want to come to this one. Tickets are £12 and £11 and the MC will be Chris Euesden, with all floor spots scheduled in the first half hour, followed by the 90+ minutes show with one half time break.
7. DECEMBER EVENTS. In alternate years our programme 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 December. Lancashire’s electro-folk innovators Harp And A Monkey follow on the 10th - another group which I booked after witnessing a very impressive live performance elsewhere. We have that Christmas Party on 17th, and then end the year with a festive Sunday Special at the Black Swan on 20th December with The Magical Christmas Tree, which offers music and merriment from Pete Morton, Chris Parkinson and our old friend Emily Sanders.
We also try out a new venue on Sunday 13th December, when we present Scottish groupShooglenifty at The Crescent WMC, just off Blossom Street. Now in their 25th anniversary year, Shooglenifty are a high energy band, based in traditional dance music with fiddle, mandolin and banjo prominent, but 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, hence the new venue. This is another of our co-promotions with Please, Please You, who are involved in developing The Crescent as a new music venue for York. Tickets are all £15, on sale atwww.seetickets.com or over the counter at The Inkwell on Gillygate and Jumbo Records in Leeds.
8. LOOKING AHEAD TO 2016. The club diary is pretty much complete for the first half of 2016 and you can find a full listing on the Programme page of our website. “Big name” guests returning to the Black Swan Inn next year will include Jim Moray, Bob Fox, Bernard Wrigley, Sam Carter and Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, while debut visitors include phenomenal Canadian trio The East Pointers, highly-rated English singer Ange Hardy and from USA Kyle Carey. Other old friends we’ll be seeing again include Niamh Boadle (on her first full solo booking), Ewan McLennan, The James Brothers and Dan McKinnon. By the end of November I hope to have booking available at WeGotTickets for club events up to Easter.
We also have four NCEM concerts in the pipeline for the first half of 2016, including young Scottish sextet Barluath (26th February), Fay Hield & The Hurricane Party (16th March), Radio 2’s “Folk Group of The Year” The Young’uns (15th April) and The Melrose Quartet (16th May). I’ll have more on those events in future newsletters.
We will again be running our Winter Folk Day for the York Residents Festival early next year. The date is Sunday 31st January, when there will be free afternoon and evening concerts at the Black Swan Inn. And lastly, don’t forget the dates for the annual City of York Folk Weekend, which are 3rd – 5th June in 2016.
9. VALE RADIO GOES TO DAB & COUNTY-WIDE. Community broadcaster Vale Radio was launched in 2014 as an internet-only station for the Vale of York area. It has been a great success, not least with its specialist music shows, and has now been granted a DAB digital license to broadcast to the whole of North Yorkshire. Tony Haynes has therefore expanded the geographical coverage on his FAB Folk and Blues Show, broadcast 8pm-10pm on Monday evenings, which he reckons may now be “the biggest coverage independent folk show on real radio in the country”, and says he is looking for “entertaining live guests and information about events and venues in our new extended area”. Contact him on email@example.com, putting FAB in the subject line. I am Tony’s studio guest this Monday (2nd) and I’ll try to be suitably “entertaining”. Listen in if you dare!
You can pick up Vale Radio on a digital radio receiver just by pushing your search button. “Alternatively” they say “manual search to 213.36 MHZ or 10c platform. On most DAB radios we should just appear.” Of course you can still listen online at www.thevaleonline.com/radio and there is a free app, downloadable from most app stores. Tony’s show is no longer repeated on Saturdays but it is podcast and archived on www.mixcloud.com/tonyhaynes52.
Also of interest should be Rudie Humphrey’s Horseshoe Lounge Music Session, covering Americana and roots music, which is broadcast 6pm-8pm on Saturdays and (at present) is still repeated on Wednesdays at 8pm.
OTHER EVENTS – YORK & VICINITY
10. CLASSIC COUNTRY AT THE VOLUNTEER ARMS. Veteran local musician (and one-time Black Swan Folk Club organiser) Mike Tavener has several musical projects on the go, including Moonshine Creek and recently reformed Los Yobos. Another is the improbably named Murston Bapchild & the Braxton Hicks, a four-piece specialising in old time Country from the “golden age” of the 1940s & 1950s, with “sizzling fiddle, death defying Dobro, devilish double bass and gorgeous guitar, virtuoso vocals and harmonies”. Their next York outing is at The Volunteer Arms on Watson Street off Holgate on Saturday 14th November.
11. CEILIDH FOR AMNESTY. Also on Saturday 14th November the York branch of Amnesty International is holding a fundraising ceilidh at Melodie Park on Wigginton Road, York, YO32 2RJ, with live music from Leeds-based ceilidh band Bandiera Rossa from 7.30 to 11pm, after doors open at 7pm. Tickets are £8 (children £4) and include interval snacks, available at the Amnesty Bookshop at 42 Goodramgate, Fairer World at 84 Gillygate, Cycle Heaven at 2 Bishopthorpe Road and online at www.wegottickets.com/
YorkAmnesty. For further information phone 01904 479477.
12. CONCERT FOR YORK MIND AT THE NCEM. A reminder that York Mind are running a fundraising evening of first class acoustic music at the National Centre for Early Music on Friday 20th November, starting at 7.30. “Four fantastic artists from across the North will be appearing this year, each bringing their unique sound and personality to the show” says organiser and host Holly Taymar. They are Edwina Hayes, Paul Liddell, Dan Webster and David Ward Maclean. “There will of course be an awesome raffle and cake stall” adds Holly “and all proceeds will be donated to York Mind (www.yorkmind.org.uk), to help local people struggling with their mental health”. Tickets are £8 full / £6 concessions via WeGotTickets, specifically www.wegottickets.com/event/
334896. Incidentally, I hear that collections at the recent Little Festival of Live Music during the York Food & Drink Festival raised over £1700 for this same good cause.
13. ROISIN BAN’S IRISH NIGHT AT TOCKWITH. One of the best received acts at our last Folk Weekend was “Yorkshire Irish” quartet Róisín Bán. They now have a show coming up at Tockwith Village Hall, between York and Wetherby (YO26 7PR) on Saturday 21st November, which promises “an Irish Ceili Night with songs, tunes and sean nos dance”. Tickets are £10 and can be booked on 01423 358808, and doors open at 7pm. Chris Dyson, Tom Leedale, Paddy Hefferon and Steve Lacey are also booked for a night at our club venue in late January 2016
14. AND AN IRISH NIGHT WITH DES HURLEY IN YORK. Also on Saturday 21st, York Irish Association present their next musical event, this time with Des Hurley and friends. “Despite a reluctance to commercially record, Leeds-based Des remains one of the most respected and influential Irish musicians of his generation” they say. “Playing a somewhat backseat role on button accordion as part of The Gemma Irving Trio, Des is joined by Gemma (guitar/vocals) and Ian Pearson(fiddle/vocals) and special guest York's own legend Bill Fry (whistles/fiddle)”. That one is at The Gillygate from 8pm.
15. HUNGARIAN ROOTS AT THE NCEM. The day after our Blazin’ Fiddles Scottish concert at the Early Music Centre, the emphasis switches to Hungary. Hungarian roots band Söndörgö, (comprising three brothers, a cousin and an old school friend) appear at NCEM on Tuesday 24th November and sound like they could be fun. Tickets are £13 and £11 through the usual website and box office.
16. MARRY & DAVID AT CITY SCREEN BASEMENT. With a new CD of original material just out, songwriter member of that famous folk family Marry Waterson appears in York this month with her musical partner David A Jaycock. Please Please You stage the show at City Screen Basement on Wednesday 25th. Tickets are £15 in advance from City Screen.
17. POETRY AT THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE. Miles Salter & co of the York Literature Festival are offering “a rare chance to see two brilliant northern poets on the same bill” when they present Roger McGough and Ian McMillan at the Grand Opera House, also on Wednesday 25th November. Tickets are £15.50 plus booking fee on 0844 8713024 or at www.atgtickets.com.
18. AND VERSE AT CLEMENTS HALL. Staying with poetry, regular Black Swan audience member and occasional Singers Night performer John Gilham invites us to the launch of Learning to Breathe, his latest book of poetry, on Sunday 29th November from 7pm to 9pm at Clements Hall, off Nunthorpe Road in York (just opposite Scarcroft School, postcode YO23 1BW). It is free entry, with a licensed bar, and as well as readings there will be music from These and the Other Guy and Toni Bunnell.
SHORT NOTICES – EVENTS FUTHER AFIELD
19. GILMORE & ROBERTS IN OTLEY, 6th NOVEMBER. Kat & Jamie continue their CD launch tour with a show at Otley Courthouse this coming Friday. Details and ticket prices can be found at www.otleycourthouse.org.uk
20. BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY IN HOWDEN, 7th NOVEMBER. Also on a CD launch tour, Blackbeards find themselves at the Shire Hall in Howden next Saturday. Find out full details atwww.howden-live.com.
21. CELEBRATING FRANK KIDSON IN LEEDS, 14th NOVEMBER. In The Search for Five Finger Frank, Pete Coe & Alice Jones present ballads, broadsides and dance tunes from the pioneering Leeds collector Frank Kidson (1855-1926). An evening concert on Saturday 14th November at Leeds Central Library, 6pm-8pm, is preceded by a lunchtime presentation and afternoon workshops. Entry is free, reservations on 0113 247 6016, further details onhttp://fivefingerfrank.co.uk.
22. WELSH MUSIC WITH CALAN IN HELMSLEY, 15th NOVEMBER. Highly regarded young Welsh folk group Calan (fiddles, guitar, accordion, bagpipes, step dancing) perform a selection of songs and tunes at Helmsley Arts Centre on Sunday 15th November. Find out more atwww.helmsleyarts.co.uk.
23. FINE COMPANIONS IN MALTON, 21st NOVEMBER. The Fine Companions do a home town show when they appear in the main hall at the Milton Rooms in Malton on Saturday 21st November “for an evening of songs jigs and reels etc. plus the usual craic”. Tickets are £8 (£7 concs.) from the Milton Rooms box office, 01653 696240, www.themiltonrooms.com.
24. TAMS & COOPE IN REETH, 21st NOVEMBER. Also on Saturday 21st November, Jon Tams & Barry Coope are the next musical guests at The Memorial Hall in Reeth, Swaledale. Enquiries to 01748 884759, booking through www.wegottickets.com.
25. CARA DILLON IN SALTAIRE, 27th NOVEMBER. Irish songstress Cara Dillon appears at the Victoria Hall on Friday 27th November. See www.saltairelive.co.uk for details.
26. DOUBLE BILL IN THIRSK, 27th NOVEMBER. The final Loosely, Folk event of 2015 is a shared bill of London’s Samantha Whates and our very own David Ward MacLean on Friday 27th November. Venue is the Golden Fleece Hotel on the Market Place and booking is through WeGotTickets.
Another month of great music is certainly in prospect, so go out and enjoy at least a bit of it! You can expect another mailing around the end of this month or very early in December