Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 198

28th February 2016


1.        ANTIPODEAN SONGS FROM THE JAMES BROTHERS.  This coming Thursday, 3rd March, we welcome back to the club Jamie McClennan (New Zealand) andJames Fagan (Australia), aka The James Bothers, with their “antipodean colonial roots music”.  Playing between them fiddle, bouzouki and guitars, and with both of them doing vocals, Jamie and James specialise in the songs and tunes of their respective homelands “down under”.  They are both gifted musicians but also have a strong sense of humour, making for a lively and thoroughly entertaining performance.
These non-brothers are of course 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 indeed will be back at the NCEM in May with The Melrose Quartet (see item 8).  Stan Graham hosts this one (Jamie McClennan having guested on Stan’s last CD) and tickets are priced at £10 and £9, on the door or beforehand through WeGotTickets.
2.        FOLK TROUBABOUR EWAN McLENNAN.  Making his third visit to the Black Swan on 10th March is Scottish balladeer Ewan McLennan. He is an outstanding acoustic guitarist in the modern folk style (playing instruments built by York’s own master luthier Ralph Bown) and a notable singer of traditional, modern and classy self-penned songs, the latter often with a strong element of social comment. For a good sample of Ewan’s style, watch him sing Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather on YouTube,
In his latest mailing, Ewan tells us that “(one) recording project I have scheduled for this year is my next solo album.  I've been working away on writing songs and arranging and digging out traditional material too.  A selection of these will be coming with me into the studio in the autumn.  Make it to a gig and you might just hear one or two.”  Quite a few of you are evidently keen to hear him do just that, as tickets (again priced at £10 and £9) are already getting on for half sold through WeGotTickets.  Naturally, Ewan’s fellow Scot Eddie Affleck volunteered to act as MC for this one.
3.        FAY HIELD BRINGS AN ALL STAR BAND TO NCEM.  After a great evening of Scottish folk music at the NCEM last week with Barluath, we switch the emphasis firmly onto English music on Wednesday 16th Marchwhen Fay Hield and The Hurricane Party are our concert guests.  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 by a stellar group of musicians in her Hurricane Party band.  Sam Sweeney(fiddle), Rob Harbron (concertina) andBen Nicholls (bass) all played with Fay in the Full English project, and they are now joined by multi-instrumentalistRoger 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.
If you want to know a bit more about Fay and her music, she and the band were studio guests on the Mark Radcliffe Radio 2 Folk Show on 10th February, and that programme is still available to listen to for a few more days on the BBC iPlayer Radio.
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 and deep interest in folk song.  A name to watch out for in years to come, we think.
Tickets are now on sale at £15 (£13 concessions) at or by ringing 01904 658338.  There MAY be some left for sale on the door as well, in which case a £5 student standby offer will apply to SU card holders from 7.15pm.
4.        ANGE HARDY MAKES HER DEBUT.  The day after Fay Hield’s concert, Thursday 17th, we have our monthly Singers Night at the Black Swan Inn (once again hosted by John Storey), then on 24th March we are greatly looking forward to a first visit by award winning Somerset folk songwriter and singer Ange Hardy. Winner of the FATEA Album of the Year in 2015 and Female Vocalist of the Year in 2014, and also nominated in last year’s BBC Folk Awards, Ange has grabbed the attention of the traditional folk music world by writing new material and embracing modern technologies whilst maintaining a strong traditional feel.  She performs with a 27-string harp, three different guitars, a variety of low whistles, a bodhran, a tambourine, and an Indian shruti box.  Combined with her innovative and subtle use of live looping, Ange is one of the most diverse solo artists you're likely to encounter in folk club.  Her latest album, inspired by the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, has attracted particular critical acclaim.
“Ange performs with a warmth that is both disarming and inspirational” wrote a live show reviewer in R2 Magazine. “Her songs of life and the countryside feel traditional, and she augments voice and guitar with very effective use of a loop pedal to add harmonies or extra instruments.  It is a great feat of perfect timing.”  Paula Ryan is MC for this one and tickets (already around one third sold) are modestly priced at £8 and £7 through WeGotTickets
5.        BERNARD WRIGLEY ENTERTAINS.  By comparison with Ange Hardy, our final March guest should need little introduction.  Bernard Wrigley has been a popular feature on the folk circuit since the 1960s, particularly here in northern England, as well as building a considerable reputation as a TV and screen character actor.  Popularly known as The Bolton Bullfrog, Bernard promises another evening of “songs, stories and silliness” on 31st March.  The last time he visited the Black Swan in 2008 (was it really that long ago?), we had a full house, and another such is surely on the cards this time.  Eddie Affleck will again be Master of Ceremonies and tickets are £9 and £8 – book sooner rather than later!
6.        APRIL SHOWS.  We welcome the Lincolnshire contemporary duoWinter Wilson on 7th April, hold aSingers & Musicians Night on 14th and present the supremely talented singer, writer and guitarist Sam Carteron the 21st.  Then for something a little different on 28th April, we offer a Triple Bill of acts who first impressed us last year with great Singers Nights cameo spots, namely traditional singer Gemma Khawaja from Norfolk, folk/blues guitar specialist Dariush Kanani, from Leeds, and guitar/mandolin/percussion folk song trio The Fireside Knights, also from Leeds.  Each act will do one 40/45 minute set, with no floor singers other than an ice-breaker spot from the MC.
Still with April, please note that the performance by BBC Folk Group of the Year The Young’uns at the NCEM on Friday 15th April is now Sold Out, just as we predicted, with a waiting list for any returns.
7.        MAY CLUB NIGHTS. Consecutive Thursdays in May at the Black Swan Inn feature much-loved Canadian singer Dan McKinnon on the 5th, our monthly Singers Night on the 12th, American debut visitor Kyle Carey on the 19th and BBC 2015 Folk Duo of the Year Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker on the 26th.  Be advised, the latter is already selling strongly at WeGotTickets.
8.        MELROSE QUARTET AT THE EARLY MUSIC CENTRE.  Our final NCEM event this season takes place on Monday 16th May and showcases the combined talents of Nancy Kerr, James Fagan and Richard & Jess Arrowsmith, alias The Melrose Quartet.  This band has an illustrious pedigree, bringing together multiple BBC Folk Award winners James and (Singer of the Year in 2015) Nancy with another of Sheffield’s most versatile musical couples.  Together they offer a bold take on English songs and tunes both old and new, with many of the latter penned by Nancy or Jess. Glorious four-part harmony singing combines with crunchy twin fiddles, full-bodied melodeon and powerful bouzouki in a performance that leaves imaginations stirred, hearts singing and feet tapping.  Support comes from York’s acapella favourites Two Black Sheep & A Stallion and tickets are now on sale through the NCEM website and box office priced at £14 and £12.
9.        PLANNING HAS BEGUN.   I have now begun detailed planning for our annual free festival, the City of York Folk Weekend.  This takes place as usual over the first weekend in June, so 3rd-5th this year, when we aim to fill the entire Black Swan Inn with live music and song.  There will be a large marquee in the car park, hosting a “ceilidh under canvas” on the Friday evening and then all day concerts during Saturday and Sunday.  Indoors there will be smaller concerts, rolling folk clubs, singarounds, sessions and more in the Wolfe Room (upstairs) and in the Bowes Room and the Oak Room (downstairs).
Early indications are that it will be a bumper concert line-up.  Several very popular bands who were unable to take part last year have indicated their availability this time, including Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Blonde on Bob, Union Central and the Foresters. Alongside them and many other established favourites, we should also have one or two very interesting debut acts, so watch out for more news.  I hope to have the first draft running orders ready by early April, possibly even in time for the next edition of this newsletter
10.     PLENTY OF CHANCES TO SING AND PLAY YOURSELF. Participation is just as important as sitting back and listening at our Folk Weekend, so there will be plenty of opportunities to have a go yourself, in singarounds, rolling folk club and musicians’ sessions.  The latter did fall a bit flat last year, so we are particularly keen to have lots of players come along this time.  We have also had several suggestions for workshops this year, and we are on the look-out for one or two children’s events as well.  Lastly, York Irish Association will host their very popular Irish gathering one evening, while off-site the lively Friday night folk session at The Woolpack on Fawcett Street will again be an “official fringe” event.
11.     FACILITIES AND SPONSORSHIP.  Our landlord Andy and his team at the Black Swan are once again fully behind the whole event.  Andy sees to the official paperwork with York Council, hires the marquee, staging, seating and Portaloos, and organises the provision of food and the ample stocking of the pub cellars.  We couldn’t do it all without him.
In an exciting new departure this year, we have been offered some Folk Weekend sponsorship by Red Cow Music, York’s very enterprising folk instrument shop on Goodramgate.  This will probably be used to help us with promotional material and publicity for the event, which has hitherto been done largely on a shoestring budget. Thank you very much indeed, Steve and all at Red Cow.
12.     ROISIN BAN REVIEWED. Local critic Martin Longley has now posted his account of our January club gig with Róisín Bán.  You can find it at  Martin also attended several of our February events - in a month which he reported was otherwise bereft of much interesting live music.
13.     PAULA’S CD RELEASED AND REVIEWED.  As trailed in the last E-News, club supporter Paula Ryanhas now released her new album and had it on sale for the first time locally at last Friday’s very successful Barluath NCEM concert, where she was the opening act.  The CD is called Let Me Fly and has already had some good reviews.  For example Acoustic Magazine said “intriguing mix…..ambitious scope of material….haunting”, while fRootspicked out “attractive Irish/African motifs” and called it “melodic (and) uplifting”.  It is available to download through Amazon or you can order a physical copy through Paula’s own website at And no doubt Paula will have copies with her when she MCs the club night with Ange Hardy on 24th March.
14.     DAMIAN TREADS THE BOARDS.  I’ve been asked to mention a “renowned Irish play”, The Mai, which is being staged soon by adventurous local company the York Settlement Community Players.  Written by Marina Carr, “one of Ireland’s leading and most daring playwrights”, and set in Co Offaly, The Mai explores the hopes and disappointments of four generations of women within one Irish family.  Well-known local musician Damian Fynes, of the A-Rhythmics and Diad, has an acting part in this production, which takes place from 16th to 19th March at Upstage Theatre on Monkgate, behind Trinity Methodist Church.   The show has a 16+ restriction and tickets are on sale now through the Theatre Royal Box Office (01904 623568) or website.
15.     BBC FOLK AWARDS NEWS. It is that time of year again!  The same edition of the Radio 2 Folk Show on which Fay Hield appeared (item 3 above) also revealed the nominations for this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, the winners of which will be announced at the Royal Albert Hall on 27th April.  As usual, several past or future guests of ours feature in the lists.  For example, reigning band The Young’uns earn a rare second-year-running nomination as Best Group, with the trio Leveret (which includes Rob Harbron and Sam Sweeney from Fay Hield’s band) also in contention.  And by the way Leveret are already booked for a concert at the NCEM in Marchnext year!
The Horizon Award for best newcomer is always an interesting one.  2016 nominees include Rosie Hood, who sang for us with The Dovetail Trio last September, and The Rheingans Sisters, who are booked for a club show in York on 25th August. Meanwhile Rosie’s fellow Dovetail member Jamie Roberts features in the Best Duo shortlist, with regular partnerKat Gilmore, where he is up against his own sister Kathryn Roberts, with her partner Sean Lakeman.  You can find the full list of nominees on the BBC website.
16.     JOSHUA BURNELL AT THE BLACK SWAN.  A new name to me,Joshua Burnell is a young singer-songwriter based in York who says he is influenced by storytelling and folk songs, and plays in a style reminiscent of some of the 1970s alt-folk groups. He has just recorded a CD with contributions from the likes of Angela Gordon, Paul Young, Yom Hardy and Antonio Curiale.  With his group the Oakwood Band, Joshua appears at the Black Swan Inn this coming Friday, 4th March, from 8pm, entry £3 on the door.
17.     WORLD SOUNDS AT NCEM. The Early Music Centre has two contrasting World Music events coming up.  Russian group Otava Yo appear next Saturday 5th March and cosmopolitan guitar virtuoso Antonio Forcione is in concert on Friday 11th March. See the NCEM website for full details.
18.     WOMEN’S FEST EVENTS AT THE BASEMENT.  There are couple of interesting acoustic/roots events lined up soon for City Screen Basement as part of the York International Women’s Festival.  Local indie promoter PleasePleaseYou offers us the highly-rated American singer-songwriter Joan Shelley and her musical partnerNathan Salsburg next Sunday, 6th March (£8 advance, £10 on the door), with support from Red River Dialect. And incidentally, this “duo made in heaven” also performs at The Band Room in Farndale this coming Friday night.
A week later, Sunday 13th March, the Basement presents The Dyr Sister. Otherwise known as Sally Currie and hailing from Hull, The Dyr Sister is a multi-instrumentalist one-woman band who “conjures up her haunting and ethereal modern day folk songs with the aid of a viola, a mandolin, her voice and an array of found sounds.”  This one is £5 in advance or £6 on the door. 
19.     DYLAN AT THE BLACK SWAN - AFTER THE FLOOD.  A final reminder that the Blonde on BobXmas Bash which was scuppered by the floods in late December has been rescheduled by Chris Euesden for Monday week, 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 and Freewheelin’ (Graham Hodge & Billy Bills) as well as headliners Blonde on Bob.  There are just a handful of tickets left for “After the Flood” at WeGotTickets, priced at £8.
20.     ST. PATRICK'S WEEKEND FESTIVAL.  The York Irish Association has a wide range of activities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.  Over the weekend of 12th-13th March a marquee in St Sampson’s Square will host free events including music, Irish dancing, talks, poetry, food and drink. Musical performers will include the above mentioned Paula Ryan, Diad and Róisín Bán, with dancing to FiddlersWreck and The New Fox Band.  On the day itself, 17th March, there will be an Irish music session at the Gillygate pub from 7.30.   Find full details at
21.     MAGGIE’S FOLK FUSION AT THE WINNING POST.  Fiddle player and singer Maggie Allred (York Young Fiddlers, Solar Union, etc.) writes “I'm in a 5 piece band called Fusion, which is a taste of jazz, folk, flamenco, Africa and the East.  We have songs and sounds from Spain, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Greece, the Punjab, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Scotland, mixed in with our own original material.” Fusion are doing a benefit gig at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road on Friday 18th March, raising funds for St Nicks, York's Green Space and Environmental Centre, and for RAY, Refugee Action York.  Doors open at 8pm and admission is £5 full / £4 concessions.
Incidentally, it is good to see The Winning Post back in action as a live music venue.  The new licensees are gradually refurbishing what had become a rather run-down establishment, and they are keen to restore the pub as an active local venue.  Evening meals are now available as well.
22.     NISH AS RISH AT THE BLACK SWAN.  A reminder that five-piece ex York student band Nish as Rish will be returning to town on Tuesday 22nd March for a rare one-off show at the Black Swan Inn, with doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.  With members now based across the British Isles – including Manx singer Ruth Keggin whose solo work has seen her sharing stages with the likes of Julie Fowlis, Brian Finnegan and Mary Black – the band don’t get too many chances to play together these days, which is a shame.  A new video of them in action can be seen at  Tickets for this show are £8, available online from
23.     A QUICK LOOK AT SOME APRIL EVENTS.  On Friday 1st April those April Fools Blackbeard’s Tea Party have a no-doubt riotous hometown gig at The Duchess.  More sedate but equally thrilling musically should be the pairing of Martin Simpson & Martin Taylor at the NCEM on Tuesday 5th April – one of several folk-related events being promoted this season by the NCEM themselves, rather than by us.  Others are John McCusker, bringing his band to York during his 25th Anniversary Tour on 3rd May, and June Tabor appearing with Iain Ballamy (saxophones) and Huw Warren (piano) as folk/jazz fusion trio Quercus on 17th June.   Note also that PleasePleaseYou are presenting roots band Holy Moly & The Crackers at The Crescent off Blossom Street, on Wednesday 20th April – see
24.     DONCASTER FOLK FESTIVAL TASTER.  There is a warm-up gig for May’s Doncaster Folk Festival on Saturday 12th March. Flossie Malavialle, local folk-rockers Coil and Sheffield’s Paul Pearson appear at the Ukrainian Centre, Beckett Road, Doncaster from 7.30 – booking is through WeGotTickets.
25.     FOLK & ROOTS AT SELBY TOWN HALL.  The music programme at Selby Town Hall arts venue this season includes Jamie Smith’s Mabon on Friday 11th March, “one of the most highly accomplished and critically acclaimed Celtic/world/roots bands in the UK today” and The Yves Lambert Trio a week later, 18th March, “perhaps the most significant traditional Québécois musician of the past half century”.  Find out full details at
26.     FOLK IN TEESDALE AT THE WITHAM.  Those of you living well to the north of York may care to take note of the adventurous music programming at Barnard Castle’s newish arts venue The Witham on Horse Market, which also offers Jamie Smith’s Mabon (Saturday 12th March) and The Yves Lambert Trio (Tuesday 22nd March). Later guests include Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar (2nd April), Anna Massie & Mairearad Green (27th April), Cara Dillon (14th May) and RURA (24th May).  Find out more at
27.     MORE ACTS ANNOUNCED FOR POPPLETON LIVE.  To remind you, the Poppleton Live Festival is taking place over two weekends this year, between 29th April and 8th May. The first weekend “will be smaller shows similar to the Poppleton Live events we hold through the year” they say, while the second weekend “will be the larger shows in the Poppleton Centre that you've come to know and love”.   Mean Mary has been announced for Friday 29th April and the unique Les Barker for Bank Holiday Monday 2nd May.  The Lindisfarne Story Band headline on Friday 6th May, then the Saturday Spectacular on 7th May has an afternoon line-up including Grand Old Uke of York, King Courgette, The Mather Robinson Band and Blackbeard’s Tea Party, while the evening show comprises Richard Digance and The Animals & Friends.  For further details visit
28.     KAREN TWEED COMES TO YORK.  Lastly, early notice that the celebrated accordion player Karen Tweed is going to be in York over the weekend of 21st/22nd May.  She will be doing a Saturday evening concert at the Black Swan Inn, then running an all-day workshop on the Sunday, probably also at the Black Swan.  Karen is very highly regarded as a music tutor, so this could be a must for any accordion players amongst you.  I’ll have full details in the next newsletter, but meanwhile if you’d care to register interest, contact Alastair Robinson on
There will be another of these mailings around the beginning of April, all being well. Meanwhile keep on making and supporting live music.