Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 195

6th December 2015


1.        CUCKOLDED MOLE-CATCHERS AND BLACK SWANS.  Our club guests this coming Thursday,10th December, are debut visitors and self-confessed “electro-folk storytellers” Harp and a Monkey.  They have issued the following press release:
One of Britain’s most respected folk clubs, the Radio 2 award-winning Black Swan has been bringing great live music to the York area for 40 years, but the arrival of the Lancashire folk experimentalists and multi-instrumentalists Harp and a Monkey will be a first for both parties.  Tales of cuckolded mole-catchers, a lone oak tree that grows at Gallipoli, care in the community and medieval pilgrims – there’s clearly going to be no shortage of talking points.
Regulars on the festival circuit and counting the likes of Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe and Steve Lamacq among their flag bearers, the trio “from the wrong side of the Pennines” have been gaining a reputation as one of the UK’s leading purveyors of accessible left-field folk.  Martin Purdy, the band’s front-man, said: “It is really exciting to be performing at such a highly respected venue, and we promise those who come some great melodies, real poignancy and plenty of laughter.  We perform a mixture of traditional and original material that often takes the form of short stories set to song.  That is how we come to be singing about such varied things as the Spanish Civil War, cheated brides, Rosa Parks and digging holes.”
Formed in 2008, Harp and a Monkey have released two critically acclaimed albums, with their last, All Life Is Here, among the folk albums of the year of such diverse luminaries as Mike Harding, FolkRadioUK and The Daily Telegraph. They also pride themselves on never having played anywhere and not having been invited back!
I saw this trio in action at a festival last year and immediately offered them a booking.  They have great presence and originality, while staying loyal to their Lancashire roots.  In Martin Purdy they have a charismatic singer and front-man, and with some unusual instruments in the mix (such as glockenspiel and melodica) and inventive use of programmed sounds, I can safely guarantee they’ll offer us a memorable evening.
Entry on Thursday will be £11 (£10 concessions), with doors open at 7.45.  As usual, advance tickets are available at, or simply pay on the door.  Stan Graham will be acting as MC.
2.        A ROLLICKING CHRISTMAS DANCE PARTY WITH SHOOGLENIFTY.  A week tonight, Sunday 13th December, we are trying something quite different to our usual fare.  Working once again with local independent music promoter PleasePleaseYou (aka Joe Coates), we are giving you a rollicking Christmas dance party with top Scottish folk rockers Shooglenifty.  This high energy band is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year with new CD The Untied Knot (“a fine piece of work, awash with spectacular displays of musicianship and bewildering levels of innovation” according to one review), and a major tour, with our York show one of a handful of dates south of the border, immediately after London’s prestigious Borderline venue on Saturday night.
Attempts to describe this pioneering and almost uncatagorisable band include: ‘hypno-folkadelic-ambient-trad’ and ‘acid-croft’.  The Shooglenifty 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. They have entertained at festivals and venues worldwide, including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia, the United States and, of course, Europe.  Career highlights include performing for Nelson Mandela and Emperor Akihito of Japan (not both at once!), performing with the dhol drummers of Rajasthan at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, inciting the crowd to a stage invasion at Sydney Opera House, and collaborating with Lebanese musicians in Beirut.
In the Shooglenifty line-up these days is mandolin and banjo player Ewan MacPherson, who was seen at the Black Swan accompanying Patsy Reid only last February and who has previously performed in York with the groups Malinky and Fine Friday, amongst others.
Shooglenifty appear in a new-to-us setting, “York's latest fully-licensed, independent, open-access community venue” The Crescent.  Formerly the Crescent Working Men’s Club and fully equipped by its new owners for live music, it can be found at 8 The Cresent, YO24 1AW, just off Blossom Street and behind the Reel Cinema, with the nearest evening car park at nearby Nunnery Lane.  The venue has seating for those (like me!) who are less agile, but also a dance floor suitable for Shooglenifty’s “join-in and get-on-your feet vibe”.
Doors open at 7.30pm next Sunday, with music from 8pm.  Tickets are £15 in advance from (NOTE – not our usual online retailer WeGotTickets) or over the counter at The Inkwell on Gillygate or at Jumbo Records in Leeds.  Tickets will also be available on the door, but priced there at £17.50.
3.        CHRISTMAS SPECIALS, 1 – THE ANNUAL PARTY.  Our usual Christmas Party takes place onThursday 17th December.  This is an open house evening much like a normal Singers Night, although some performers opt to do something seasonal.  Entry is free, but you are encouraged to bring along some kind of food for the sociable shared buffet supper, taken during an extended half-time break.  There will be a Grand Raffle as well, the only time in the entire year when we hold one.  This year, in memory of Julie Affleck (see item 8), the proceeds will be donated to St Leonard’s Hospice.
4.        CHRISTMAS SPECIALS, 2 – THE MAGICAL TREE.  We return to the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 20th December for The Magical Christmas Tree.  This seasonal special features singer/songwriter Pete Morton, fiddle player Emily Sanders and accordion virtuoso Chris Parkinson – and a tree!  “Not just any old Christmas tree” says their publicity “but a very magical one.  It makes these three unsuspecting folk performers do things they wouldn’t do the other eleven months of the year.”  After five successful seasons touring the UK, this show is an established festive treat, where audience members pick song scrolls from the magical tree and so make every night a unique occasion.  We greatly enjoyed their previous York performance in 2011, when the much missed Maggie Boyle was in the line-up - our old friend Emily (former York St John student and club regular) taking over from Maggie last year, during her final illness.
Together Pete, Chris and Emily deliver a richly textured collection of vibrant new songs, beautiful old carols and stunning instrumentals – plus all three voices in vocal harmony – and everyone has a great time in the process.  It will be quirky, merry, even slightly manic, but all good fun, sure to set us up for the Christmas break.  Being a Sunday doors will open at 7.15pm and the music will commence at 7.45pm.  Tickets are £11 (Concessions £10), on the door or in advance from WeGotTickets.
5.        2016 NEW SEASON READY TO ROLL.  Full details of our all events between January and May are now on the club website, and the equivalent printed brochure is ready.  You can pick one up at any club function this month or from the Black Swan Inn, and nearer to Christmas I’ll get them into other outlets such as the Tourist Information Centre and City Screen.
Tickets for all club guest events in the first five months of 2016 are now on sale at WeGotTickets, while booking for most of our NCEM concerts will open in early January.  The exception is the concert on 15th April by The Young’uns on their Three for All tour.  This is getting a big national publicity launch this coming week, and tickers for it will go on sale on 01904 658338 and at from next Friday, 11th December.
6.        JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS – AND BEYOND.  We are delighted to have talented youngster Niamh Boadle start the new year for us on 7th January – a fine singer and multi-instrumentalist we have admired since she first visited us as a teenager in 2008.  Our other January guests are Yorkshire-based Irish bandRóisín Bán, one of the hits of our last Folk Weekend, on 21st January, and one of the most innovative singers in English folk music, Jim Moray, on 14th January.  Jim will be previewing material from Upcetera, his new album of ballads due for release early next year.  Be warned: so very popular is Jim that a third of the tickets for this one have sold already, in just six days on sale, so don’t delay!
February guest nights include hot Canadian trio The East Pointers, North Eastern favourite Bob Fox(another one likely to sell quickly) and our annual Young Performers Double Bill.  The James Brothers(James Fagan & Jamie McClennan), Ewan McLennan and Bernard Wrigley all make return visits during March and we welcome Ange Hardy on her York debut, while Sam CarterDan McKinnon and Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker are amongst those guesting for us later in the Spring.
7.        YORK’S WINTER FOLK DAY – 31st JANUARY.  Once again we are running a folk event for the York Residents’ Festival at the end of January.  In keeping with the theme of the festival, our Winter Folk Day showcases folk and acoustic musicians based within the city, with club residents such as Paula Ryan, Ian Pybus, Judith Haswell, Chris Euesden and Phil Cerny being joined by Leather’o, Union Jill, Solar Union, Toni Bunnell, Steve & Dee Marshall, The A-Rhythmics and Miles Salter & Ron James.  There are afternoon (2.00-5.30) and evening (7.30-10.30) concerts at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 31st January, with Free entry to York Card holders and any others admitted for a small charge, space permitting. It will act as a suitable taster for our much bigger City of York Folk Weekend, which next year is scheduled for 3rd, 4th and 5th June.
8.        JULIE AFFLECK, 1954-2015.  It is with the deepest sadness that I record the death of Julie Affleck, the dearly beloved wife of our long-term club resident Eddie Affleck and herself a firm and much cherished friend of ours.  Julie was first taken ill about four years ago and had lived bravely with cancer ever since, resilient and cheerful almost throughout.  Many of us saw her last at the Phil Beer concert in late September, when she remained in good spirits.  The end, when it came, was fairly swift and Julie passed away in St Leonard’s Hospice on 19th November.
Our heartfelt sympathy goes to Eddie and their sons Stewart and Robert and their families.  Julie and Eddie had been married for forty years and we can hardly comprehend the scale of his loss.  We will do all we can to support him in the coming months, and we hope that in time he will find some solace in his love of music-making.
9.        MAILING LIST PASSES THE ONE THOUSAND MARK.  With this edition, our newsletter mailing list has passed the 1,000 subscribers milestone.  Welcome on board all new readers!  Each month there are some deletions from the database – either repeated bounce-backs or deliberate “unsubscribes” – but happily new sign-ups generally outnumber those losses.  The next target is to get our Facebook page up to 1,000 likes – it currently stands at 876.
With the last newsletter, no. 194, there were a lot of “spam” bounce-backs, particularly from ntlworld users. In an attempt to prevent a repeat, this time I am deliberately entering web addresses and such like in a form will not convert automatically to a hyperlink, even if that will inconvenience others who want to follow the link quickly and easily.  For the future, I am wondering about using a mailing list service such as Mail Chimp. Has anyone out there any experience of using that, and have you any tips or thoughts you are willing to share?
10.     READ ALL ABOUT US - IN SAGA MAGAZINE.  There was a great article about the resilience and continued relevance of live folk club venues in the November issue of Saga Magazine, that top-selling title aimed at Britain’s “older demographic”.  It featured the Black Swan FC alongside Topsham Folk Club in Devon. “It is an upbeat article and well worth a read” says John Storey, who is name-checked in it. Freelance journalist Jude Rogers visited both clubs during June, acting on recommendations by Jackie Oates and Belinda O’Hooley, and she has gone on to write a very sympathetic piece.  You can find the article online at, so read it for yourself and see if you agree.
Sadly, Saga’s photographer did not make it to York, so in the print version, all the pictures come from Topsham FC.  Steve Tilston also featured in Saga Magazine this year - an article also still available online. “Could Saga be getting folk savvy?” asks one correspondent.
11.     NEW CLUB PA KIT.  Having had an upturn in our finances since the summer, we have recently invested £500+ in some improvements to our PA kit.  More robust microphone stands, some replacement cabling, a better DI box, a compressor and a graphic equalizer were amongst our purchases, enabling Eddie, Chris and Stan to continue to give us a high quality aural experience on Thursday evenings.
12.     BLACK SWAN SINGERS ON VALE RADIO.  A reminder that Tony Haynes’ FAB Folk & Blues Show goes out to North Yorkshire and beyond from 8pm-10pm on Monday evenings on Vale Radio, which is now broadcast on DAB as well as being available on the internet.  Go to http(colon)// for more information.  The latest programme is available for a week after broadcast on the Vale Radio website – the 30th November show is still up there as I write and has studio guest Anna Shannon – and Tony archives all his past shows at  
If you find the 23rd November programme on Mixcloud you will find that most of the second hour comprises recordings Tony made at our 12th November Singers Night, including Stan Graham, Alex O’Neil, Gloria, Pauline Bate, Leeds students Cohen and George, MC David Kidman and visitor from Hertfordshire Tim Brooks.  The same show also has a short interview with Clive Gregson recorded at his recent NCEM concert.  Go back to the 2nd November show and you’ll find me burbling on for two hours as that week’s studio guest!
13.     MORE FOLK RADIO.  Fairness dictates that I also remind you about two other bits of weekly folk broadcasting.  On BBC Radio Leeds The Durbervilles’ Folk & Roots Show has been doing a great service to the folk scene in and around West Yorkshire for many years.  It goes out for 8pm-9pm on Sunday evenings and the past four weeks’ programmes are also available on the BBC iPlayer radio website.  Our upcoming club guests Harp and a Monkey were in the studio on 8th November and can be heard for another day or two on the iPlayer.
Solely on the internet, Mike Harding continues to produce a good weekly records-based folk podcast lasting approximately an hour.  New shows are loaded at 5pm every Sunday at and there is a full archive of past programmes on Mixcloud and iTunes.
14.     NEW EDITIONS OF REGIONAL FOLK MAGAZINES.  Staying with folk “media”, a quick note that the new season Winter editions of Tykes’ News and Folk Roundabout are now published and available for purchase at our club gatherings.  These quarterly magazines cover respectively West Yorkshire (and vicinity) and North East England, and at just £3.50 for both, they will cost you less than a single pint of beer or glass of wine.  The previously mentioned Steve Tilston gets the cover feature in the new Tykes’ News. We also sometimes have available the South Yorkshire magazine Stirrings, another good read and also just £2.
15.     NEW ROOTS CALLS FOR PERFORMERS.  Each year we present a Double Bill of Young Performers, recommended to us by an annual event in St Albans called New Roots.  Our next “New Roots” night is on 18th February, with melodeon player Saul Bailey and singer and fiddle player Hannah Cumming.  The New Roots organisation is now calling for young musicians under the age of 25 who sing or play traditionally-based music to enter New Roots 2016.  “Whether your style is traditional or contemporary folk, roots or world music, whether you perform traditional material or write your own, the organisers would like to hear from you”, they say.  There are two age categories, under 18 and 18-24. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to take part in the final which is on Sunday 10th April in St Albans. “There is no overall winner” they explain “and the aim is to match the performers to the opportunities at the folk festivals, clubs [like ours] and other events which are offered to New Roots finalists.”  For further information and an entry form, go to  The closing date for entries is 31st January
16.     FAREWELL SHERIFF HUTTON, HELLO HUBY.  The friendly Wednesday night singers and players club meeting north of York has moved again.  Temporary closure of their last home at Sheriff Hutton has occasioned a move to the New Inn at Huby, where they have use of a separate semi-private snug room.  Start time is around 8.30pm.  This is the club which began many years ago at Farlington before a long stint in Flaxton and a shorter spell in Sheriff Hutton.  Good luck to them in their new home.
17.     WHITE HORSE FOLK CLUB BEVERLEY ALSO ON THE MOVE.  Also obliged to find a new home recently has been the long-running White Horse Folk Club in Beverley.  They have found (temporary) lodgings at the Conservative Club on Wylies Road (opposite their last home The Rose & Crown) but this may change again so you are advised to check their website before travelling.
18.     AMNESTY CEILIDH SUCCESS.  I’ve been asked to tell you that the charity ceilidh which I trailed in the last E-News raised £550 to support Amnesty International’s human rights work.  Well done all concerned.
19.     SARAH DEAN ON TOUR.  Club regular Sarah Dean writes that she has been out on tour withLuna Rossa, the acoustic duo formed by Anne-Marie Helder and Jonathan Edwards, songwriters with rock band Panic Room.  Sarah, who previously contributed to the recording of the duo’s second CD, has been adding her “shimmering Celtic harp”, percussion and whistling to their live performances, as well as doing a support spot.  By the time you read this, there is just one gig left, in Bilston on 13th December.
20.     UNION CENTRAL BACK IN ACTION.  Local modern bluegrass band Union Central had to miss out on this year’s Folk Weekend due to illness, but happily things are now on the mend.  Graham Metcalf writes that “following a very traumatic year for our lead singer Kat Priestley, we are now getting back into playing and looking forward to meeting friends old and new at our Christmas Concert”.  This will be at the Black Swan Inn next Saturday, 12th December at 7.30.  Tickets will be £5.00 on the door and can be reserved by phoning Phil on 01904 783029 or Graham on 01904 795300.
21.     BLONDE ON BOB’S CHRISTMAS BASH.  The folk club may be closed for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, but you can still enjoy live music at the Black Swan courtesy of our own Chris Euesden, when his Bob Dylan covers band Blonde on Bob hold their traditional Xmas Bash.  That is on Monday 28th December, starting at 8pm.  Also appearing for an evening of “nothin’ but Dylan” are local outfit Mulholland and the duo Freewheelin’ (aka Billy Bills and Graham Hodge), and there will also be another fiendishly difficult Dylan quiz.  Tickets are £8 in advance from WeGotTickets, or £10 on the door, space permitting.
22.     DUNCAN ACOUSTIC IN LEEDS.   Our good friend Duncan McFarlane plays a Christmas gig in Leeds on Tuesday 15th December with the acoustic version of his band.  It’s a joint event with Leeds trioFireside Knights (who are guesting at the Black Swan in April next year) held at The Chemic Tavern on Johnston Street, off Woodhouse Street, LS6 2NG.  As well as playing their usual fare, the bands will be “getting together to play actual Christmas-type songs - which we hope you'll join in with” says Duncan.  The show starts at 8.30pm and will finish around 10.50pm.  There will be a bucket collection rather than a fixed entry fee.
23.     TWO NEW YEAR EVENTS AT CITY SCREEN BASEMENT.  Two acts taking part in our Winter Folk Day (item 7 above) also have events of their own coming up at the Basement early next year. Leather’o are there on Saturday 16th January, with special guests Zak Ford & Jennifer Chubb, Over The Yardarm and Mulholland, then Toni Bunnell is running a fundraiser for York Arc Light Centre for the homeless on Sunday 7th February.  Five singer-songwriters and three poets will perform original material which highlights people who have made a difference in the world.  Taking part are David Swann, James Cramphorn, John Storey, Don Walls, Paula Ryan, John Gilham, Stan Graham and Toni herself.
There will be another of these mailings round-about New Year.  Meanwhile, do have a peaceful and merry Christmas, and take in some live music along with the turkey and mince pies!