Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 197

1st February 2016


1.        EAST POINTERS SOLD OUT, BOB FOX HEADING THE SAME WAY.  There has been huge interest in Canadian trio The East Pointers who appear at the Black Swan this coming Thursday, and that event is now completely Sold Out.  Old favourite Bob Fox has also attracted a lot of interest and as I write there are only a dozen or so tickets left for his visit onThursday 11th February.  Bob’s velvet voice, lovely guitar work and wonderful choice of songs, many from his native North East, have delighted folk club audiences since the 1970s and his recent stint as Song Man in the hit stage show Warhorse has won him additional admirers. Go online soon to buy your tickets at – they are priced at £10 full or £9 concessions.  Chris Euesden will be acting as MC.
2.        PLEASE SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION – NEW ROOTS NIGHT.  OnThursday 18th February we present another showcase night for Young Performers – a most important part of our annual programming. 
We’ve run nights like this ever since 1999 and it has been very rewarding to see how many of the featured youngsters have gone on to build substantial careers in folk music.  For example BBC Folk Awards Folk Group of the Year in 2015, The Young’uns, (in concert at the  NCEM in April- see item 7 below), were first enjoyed in York at our 2007 Young Performer night, which they shared with a duo who have also done very well for themselves, Kat Gilmore & Jamie Roberts.  Other Young Performers we have featured over the years include further BBC Folk Awards nominees and winners such as Fay Hield (also back in York soon at the NCEM – see item 6) Jim Causley and Lucy Ward, as well as Roger Davies (currently on tour with Fairport Convention), The Teacups and Kirsty Bromley (who returns to the club for a full booking later this year), amongst others.
This year our chosen Young Performers are Saul Bailey and Hannah Cumming.  Saul Baileyis a versatile English melodeon player from Cambridgeshire.  “Being also a Morris dancer” he says, he has been “exposed to folk in some of its more traditional forms (but I) enjoy mixing this style with original material”.  He takes in some overseas influences and ultimately creates something unique.  “Thank goodness folk music has so few rules” he adds.  Saul is a teenager and still at school, hence the timing of this event in half-term week, but he still manages to perform widely around country thanks to supportive parents.
A few years the older and from Somerset, Hannah Cumming is a fiddle player and singer (often doing both together – which is a real skill) who has been making folk music since she was 12.  She cites influences including Jackie Oates, Paul Sartin and Seth Lakeman and as well as doing solo work she performs in various folk and Klezmer bands and teaches fiddle and fiddle-singing.  Find out more at
These showcase nights are usually great fun and I would urge you to come along and support the youngsters if you possibly can.  “It really means a lot” says Hannah, and who knows but you might be able to say in future years “I saw that Folk Awards winner when she/he was first starting out, down at the Black Swan in 2016”.  Each act will do two half hour sets, and apart from the MC (Phil Cerny this year) who does a couple of “ice-breaker” songs to get the night going there are no floor singers.  Entry will be £8 (concessions £7) on the door or in advance at WeGotTickets, with all proceeds split 50/50 between the two artists.
3.        MORE OUTSTANDING YOUNG PERFORMERS – BARLUATH AT THE NCEM. After our normal Singers Night at the Black Swan on 25th February, we move across the River Foss to the National Centre for Early Music for our first larger concert this season on Friday 26th February.  This one gives you a chance to savour some more very talented young players, already well established in Scotland, who could well go on to be major figures in wider UK folk music.
Barluath (the name is pronounced Bar-lhu-ah and is an ancient bagpiping term) is a diverse and innovative six-piece band based in Glasgow, comprising musicians who met as students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  They have all embraced the traditional and contemporary folk music of their homeland, alongside Irish and American influences, and they excel at both instrumental sets and vocal numbers.
The band’s charismatic lead vocalist is Ainsley Hamill, who is equally at home in Gaelic and English.  Last year she was a finalist in both BBC Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year and the Gaelic Singer category of the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards – the Scottish equivalent to those Radio 2 awards.  Alistair Paterson, Barluath’s keyboards player, has also been a BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician finalist, in his case in 2014.  He also works with the National Theatre of Scotland and in several other musical settings.
Colin Greeves plays highland and border bagpipes, clarinet and whistles while Eddie Seaman also plays pipes and whistles plus the bouzouki.  The band’s fiddle player is Eilidh Firth, who came to folk music from a background in youth orchestral violin playing, while newest member Pedro has recently replaced Luc McNally on guitar.
Barluath first got together in 2010, won a prestigious ‘Danny Kyle Open Stage’ award at Celtic Connections in 2012 and have delighted audiences across Scotland, Europe and North America ever since.  They released a debut album Source in 2012 to widespread critical acclaim and followed it up with At Dawn of Day last year.  Find out more about them at
Barluath have only recently begun to make inroads in England, which is why the name may be unfamiliar to many of you.  I booked them after being mightily impressed at last summer’s Warwick Folk Festival, where they did three sets in radically different settings (huge main stage marquee, smaller open air stage and informal “in the round”) and carried each one off superbly. The Warwick organisers must have been impressed too, as they have booked them back for this year’s event, something which festivals don’t do very often!
Make a date with Barluath on 26th February if you possibly can.  They are coming all the way from Glasgow for this one-off English date and a large and sympathetic audience would be much appreciated.  Tickets are priced at £14 (£12 concessions) from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338 or through  Tickets should also be available on the night, with a £5 standby offer for Student Card holders after 7.15pm.  Doors open at 7pm and the show begins at 7.30pm with an opening set by our very own “Gaelic funkstress” Paula Ryan - of whom more below (item 13).
4.        ANTIPODEAN SOUNDS WITH THE JAMES BROTHERS.  On 3rd March we welcome back to the club Jamie McClennan (New Zealand) and James Fagan (Australia), akaThe James Bothers, with their “antipodean colonial roots music”.  Both are no strangers to York.  Jamie has appeared at the NCEM several times with his wife Emily Smith, while James and his partner Nancy Kerr have been in town in various guises over the years, and will be back at the NCEM in May with The Melrose Quartet.  Stan Graham hosts this one (Jamie McClennan guested on Stan’s last CD) and tickets are now on sale online at £10 and £9.
5.        SCOTTISH TROUBADOUR EWAN.  The following week, 10th March, brings a third visit to our club room by Scottish balladeer and storyteller-in-song Ewan McLennan  He is a songwriter for whom social justice is a burning issue, also a powerful singer and an outstanding acoustic guitarist (incidentally, using instruments built by York luthier Ralph Bown).  Fellow Scot Eddie Affleck hosts this one and again tickets are £10 and £9.
6.        FAY HIELD BRINGS AN ALL STAR BAND TO NCEM.  English folk music takes centre stage on Wednesday 16th March when Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party are our concert guests at the NCEM.  Touring to promote her new album release Old Adam, Fay is an award-winning singer with a rare gift for going straight to the heart of a traditional song.  We first glimpsed her talents about 15 years ago with female student band The Witches of Elswick. Her later solo career has already embraced two highly acclaimed albums and she was also a key member of the much praised Full English collective (with Martin Simpson, Seth Lakeman et al) during its two year life.
At the same time as pursuing her artistic career, Fay Hield is an academic folklorist, lecturing in Ethnomusicology at the University of Sheffield and specializing in the role folk music plays in community life.  What’s more, with her partner Jon Boden (of Bellowhead fame) she has run a celebrated grass-roots folk club at Dungworth near Sheffield ever since 2009.
As she continues her exploration of the incredible repertoire found in the folksong tradition, Fay is joined on this CD launch tour by a stellar group of musicians in her Hurricane Party band. Sam Sweeney (fiddle), Rob Harbron (concertina) and Ben Nicholls (bass) all played with Fay in the Full English project, and they are now joined by multi-instrumentalist Roger Wilson and percussionist Toby Kearney.  At times sparse and contemplative, at times with a wholesome stomp, their accompaniments to Fay’s singing are vivid and engaging.  This is not some dry academic exercise - we expect plenty of choruses and some vibrant interaction with the audience.  In short, it promises to be a grand night.
Opening the show for Fay will be a young music student from Leeds, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne.  He has greatly impressed us on two recent Singers Night visits, a confident and mature vocalist and melodeon player with an evident deep interest in folk song.  Another name to watch out for in years to come.
Tickets are now on sale at £15 (£13 concessions) at or by ringing 01904 658338.
7.        LATE MARCH ONWARDS.  March is a five Thursday month, so in addition to the shows listed above we can also look forward to a debut visit by highly regarded Ange Hardy on 24th, followed by the return of favourite Lancastrian veteran Bernard Wrigley on 31st.  Both of these are already attracting interest and have sold about a quarter of their tickets quota at WeGotTickets.
April brings the above-mentioned 2015 Folk Group of the Year The Young’uns to the NCEM on Friday 15th.  This one has generated huge demand and there are fewer than 30 tickets left as I write, so be warned.  Meanwhile at the club we have Lincolnshire contemporary duoWinter Wilson (7th), the mighty Sam Carter (21st) and a Triple Bill (28th) of acts who have first impressed us last year with great Singers Nights cameo spots, namely Gemma Khawajafrom Norfolk and Dariush Kanani and The Fireside Knights, both from Leeds.
Our final NCEM event this season showcases the combined talents of Nancy Kerr, James Fagan and Richard & Jess Arrowsmith, alias The Melrose Quartet (Monday 16th May), while our May club guests are Dan McKinnon from Canada (5th), Kyle Carey from USA (19th) and BBC Folk Duo of the Year Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker (26th).
8.        A GREAT MONTH DURING JANUARY.  A very well supported Winter Folk Day yesterday (31st January) rounded off a notably successful first month of the year.  Jim Moray was on excellent form before a packed full room, Niamh Boadle and Róisín Bán also turned in fine performances and last week’s Singers Night was phenomenal.  In fact it was our busiest such event for many months, with 21 acts taking part in three hours of non-stop music, and three or four further performers squeezed out by lack of time.  Full marks must go to MC John Storey for handling things so smoothly.
9.        CLUB TO BE FEATURED IN “ENGLISH DANCE & SONG” MAGAZINE.  One of the singers at that hectic Singers Night last week was local journalist and folk song enthusiastNatalya Catton Wilson.  She used to work for the York Press, for whom she reviewed several of our events, and derives her love of folk music from her father’s family, the famous Teesside singing brothers The Wilsons.  Indeed she and some of the Wilson wives and female offspring have their own vocal group Glad’s Tidings - find them on Twitter.
Natalya has recently been appointed Editor of the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s quarterly glossy magazine English Dance & Song, and she is planning to start a regular feature on famous folk clubs, starting with us at the Black Swan.  Hence she and her partner Richard came along last week to interview me, other organisers and audience members.
Photos needed!  Natalya and Richard took some pictures last week, but they are also keen to include archive snaps of the club in the 1990s, 1980 or even 1970s, if such can be found.  If anyone reading this has Black Swan photos of that vintage, available digitally, and is happy to share them, could they please get in touch with me urgently.  All being well, the finished article will be in the spring issue of ED&S, published in March, for which the copy deadline is a week today, so the timing is tight.
Of course, this all comes just a few months after we were featured in Saga Magazine. In addition, Living Tradition magazine has recently expressed an interest in publishing a piece on our club, although that idea has now gone on the back-burner for a little while.
10.     ANNUAL ACCOUNTS SHOW A BREAK-EVEN YEAR.  The Black Swan Folk Club’s financial year runs from 1st February so yesterday’s Winter Folk Day also marked the end of our trading year and I’ve already made a preliminary check on our annual accounts.  We just-to-say broke even over the past year – on a turnover of almost £27,000 we have a surplus of £50! We began the year with £7,525 in our coffers and we end it with assets of £7,575.  How much closer could one possibly get?
Within that overall picture, club guest nights made a loss of about £400 and general running costs (printing, postage, advertising, website-hosting and such like) took up around £1,000, with a further £600 or so going on renewing and improving our PA kit.  Happily all those items of loss or expenditure were almost exactly balanced by the income from Singers Nights (nearly £600), from co-promotions with other parties (almost £350) and from surpluses on well-supported NCEM concerts (around £1,000).  Once I’ve finished work on the accounts I’ll have a summary available on Thursday nights if anyone wants to read more.
Allied to the annual accounts is an analysis of our attendance figures.  So far as guest nights are concerned, and more than fully explaining that £400 shortfall, 150 fewer of you attended such events over the full year (or about 4 fewer per event), taking our average paying audience per night down to its lowest figure for at least 15 years, which is rather worrying.  On the other hand NCEM concerts had an average attendance 12 higher than in 2014/15.
11.     MORE CLUB EVENTS REVIEWED.  Freelance local critic Martin Longley attended the recent Róisín Bán event and an online review will be posted soon.  Meanwhile Martin’s take on the December club performance by Harp & A Monkey can, I understand, be seen in the newly published March 2016 edition of Songlines magazine, although I haven’t yet seen it myself.
12.     STE KENWRIGHT MEMORIAL CD STILL AVAILABLE.  You may remember from earlier newsletters that one-time folk club supporter Ste Kenwright, who sadly died in 2014, made a final album with his band, Ostler's Dog from his bedside in St Leonard’s Hospice.  That fine record, The St Leonard's Sessions was launched last summer, with all proceeds channelled to good causes through the Stephen Kenwright Charitable Trust.  It includes many of the numbers Ste and the band played at our Folk Weekends in the years before he was taken ill.  Covers such as Mirrorball (Elbow), April Morning (learned from Jim Moray) and When Ye Go Away (Waterboys) sit alongside self-penned numbers such as Standing and The Burren, and all in a beautifully produced package.
Ste’s widow Helen has been in touch to say that she still has copies of the CD available.  It can be bought from for £10 plus postage.  Alternatively, contact Helen at ostlersdog(at) or on 01904 625219 if you prefer to buy by old-fashioned mail order.  The recordings are also available in digital format on Amazon, iTunes and most independent music sellers.  For more information, visit
13.     PAULA RYAN’S LATEST NEWS.  Early last month Paula Ryan was thrilled to hear that her self-penned song O My Blue Eyed One (sung several times at the club) was one of just three numbers shortlisted as Track/Song of the Year 2015 in the prestigious and highly respected Annual Awards run by online acoustic music magazine FATEA,  She didn’t end up the winner but it is still a very considerable achievement, so well done you.  If you’d like to hear that song and more of Paula’s work, go to the songs page of her website at
Paula was back in action as both MC and performer at our Winter Folk Day yesterday and she will be singing with Soundsphere at the Black Swan next Saturday (see item 17).  She is also doing the opening spot at that Barluath concert on 26th February (see item 3), when she promises us she will have a brand new solo CD available for the first time.
14.     FOLK MUSIC COMES TO JERICHO.  You may have been watching the new ITV period soap drama Jericho (hopefully on the “watch again” facility, since it is first broadcast on Thursday evenings!).  Much of the soundtrack music has been created by folk artists Chris Parkinson (as seen in The Magical Christmas Tree show at the club last December) andRoger Wilson (who will be at the NCEM in March with Fay Hield’s band) and they also perform on screen in some episodes.  John Tams can also be seen both acting and singing from time to time and at one point there was also a very brief shot of Nancy Kerr singing.
15.     FOLK HORROR WITH JOHN PRITCHARD.  John Pritchard, who was in action yesterday with the trio Solar Union, has asked me to mention a new publication he is involved with.  Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies is “the first major review and celebration of the Folk Horror genre.  Inspired by films such as The Wicker Man and The Witchfinder General, the book includes such articles as ‘Places, Haunts and Haunted Places in British Traditional Song’ as well as interviews with the writer Philip Pullman and director Robin Hardy”.  It is available from, with all proceeds being donated to the Wildlife Trusts.  A further volume focusing solely on ‘folk horror music’ is now in preparation.  “If you are interested in contributing articles about the darker side of folk music please contact me at johnbelleunion(at)” he says.
16.     MORRIS DANCERS WANTED.  A quick reminder that Ebor Morris and ladies’ sideAcorn Morris are both looking out for new members and holding an open evening for potential recruits at the Black Swan Inn on next Monday 8th February, from 8pm to 10:30 pm.
17.     SOUNDSPHERE AT THE BLACK SWAN.  Soundsphere, comprising Judith Simpson, Paula Ryan and Sarah Dean, have an event next Saturday (6th) at the Black Swan. “We thought it was time to organise a concert” they say.  “We've chosen a venue that we love, we've sung here many times and the cosy ambiance upstairs in The Wolfe Room is perfect for a full evening’s concert.  We've been working hard on some new songs and of course, there will be some favourites of ours too.”   Doors open at 8pm and tickets are £6 and £5. They can be reserved beforehand on 07963 792 504.
18.     JEZ & ROZ IN POPPLETON.  Also next Saturday, 6th February, Jez Lowe is the first guest this year at Poppleton Live, held in All Saints Hall, with support from Roz Firth.  “After she went down so well opening for Fairport Convention at the Festival last year, we are pleased to be able to invite Roz Firth back” says organiser John Watterson.  Tickets are on sale at or contact john(at) or ring 01904 785366 if you need any more information.
19.     AND MAMBO JAMBO IN FULFORD.  Next Saturday, 6th February, is a busy day or so it seems.  Hull-based acoustic roots duo Mambo Jambo, aka Frankie & Pete, are also playing in York that night, at Fulford Social Hall, School Lane, Fulford, YO10 4LS, from 8pm.  Tickets are £8 from gardinerd92(at) or on 07563 379 920.  See for more information.
20.     SUNDAY AFTERNOON DANCING.  The organisers of York’s well-established last-Sunday-of-the-month public ceilidhs have been asked to consider running daytime dances as well and they are testing the water with a ceilidh this coming Sunday afternoon, 7th February, at Clements Hall on Nunthorpe Road.  One-man dance band Paul Young will be playing and calling the dances, doors open at 1.45pm and there will be dancing from 2pm until 4.30pm. Admission is just £5 on the door (under 12s £3).  If this one is a success, Sunday afternoon dances will become a regular fixture.  The normal end-of-the-month evening ceilidhs will continue at The Railway Institute, with FiddlersWreck on 28th February.  See
21.     YORK ARC LIGHT FUNDRAISER.  A final reminder that Toni Bunnell is running a fundraiser for York Arc Light Centre for the homeless on Sunday 7th February at 7.30pm, at City Screen Basement.  Five singer-songwriters and three poets are taking part: David Swann, James Cramphorn, John Storey, Don Walls, Paula Ryan, John Gilham, Stan Graham and Toni herself.  Tickets are £6 from City Screen and on the door.
22.     IRISH MUSIC AT THE GILLYGATE & BEYOND.  The ever active York Irish Association are planning a series of four open music sessions this year, the first of them on Saturday 26th February at The Gillygate pub, starting around 8pm.  “A traditional Irish music and singing session for anyone to join in” they say “bring along your instruments for this if you play, for a bit of craic”.  Following a successful first effort last year, York Irish are also planning a weekend of events on 12th and 13th March for St Patrick’s Day, centred on a special marquee in St Sampson’s Square, with more live music-making at the Gillygate on St Patrick’s Day itself, 17th March.  I’ll have more details in the next e-newsletter.
23.     DYLAN AT THE BLACK SWAN - AFTER THE FLOOD.  The Blonde on Bob Xmas bash which was scuppered by the floods in late December has been rescheduled by Chris Euesden for Monday 7th March, still at the Black Swan Inn from 8pm and with all the original line-up still able to appear in an evening of “nothin’ but Dylan” songs, namely Mulholland andFreewheelin’ (Graham Hodge & Billy Bills) as well as headliners Blonde on Bob.  Tickets for “After the Flood” are £8 in advance from WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.
24.     NISH AS RISH AT THE BLACK SWAN.  Five-piece folk band Nish as Rish, who first got together in 2009 while studying music at the University of York, will be returning to town on Tuesday 22nd March for a one-off show at the Black Swan Inn, with doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.  The group performs an eclectic mix of traditional, contemporary and original folk music, interwoven with strands of rock, jazz and classical.  Some of you may remember their standing-room-only full house night at the folk club in August 2013, while last year we collaborated with the Jorvik Viking Festival to give their Manx lead singer Ruth Keggin a solo show at Barley Hall.  Tickets at £8 are available at
25.     WEEKLY SINGING AND PLAYING IN HUBY.  A reminder that the weekly Vale of York Wednesday night folk gathering is now being held at the The New Inn at Huby, a few miles north of the city.  Things kick off around 8.30pm and singers, players and listeners are always welcome.
26.     MAINLY MARITIME IN HULL.  There’s another in the ongoing series of Mainly Maritime free concerts in Hull this coming Saturday, 6th February.  It runs from 1pm until 4pm in The Courtroom at Hull Maritime Museum in the city centre.  “This must be about our 8th free concert for Hull Museums over the last couple of years” says organiser Steve Gardham.  “We have a new line-up of artists for this one: Hissyfit, Spare Hands, Beggar's Bridge, Jim Eldon, Sam Martyn and Brian Nelson.”
27.     HUT PEOPLE IN HELMSLEY.  The first folk concert this year at Helmsley Arts Centre takes place this coming Saturday with that hugely entertaining duo The Hut People (one of whom, Sam Pirt, is another former Black Swan Young Performer guest – see item 2 above). For tickets and further information contact the Box Office on 01439 771700 or go online at
28.     ROOTS AND FOLK AT HOWDEN SHIRE HALL.  Howden Live have a show at Howden Shire Hall with Holy Moly & the Crackers next Saturday 6th February, “playing a unique mash-up of folk/blues, waltz tempos and hoe-downs and French zazou in outlandish carnival style - loud, funky and fun”.  They also have Vin Garbutt there on 16th April.  See
29.     SARAH’S DANBY VALENTINE.  Sarah Dean has some Valentine’s Day concerts on Sunday 14th February – two special Love In The Air afternoon shows at the North York Moors Visitors Centre at Danby, at 2pm repeated at 3pm.  She is also in action the next day with To The Blue, supporting Ray Cooper’s Viking Festival concert at Barley Hall, but that one is already sold out.
There will be another of these mailings in about four weeks’ time, all being well.  Meanwhile keep on making and supporting live music.