Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 200

8th May 2016

 Five weeks on from no 199 and this is another large one!  The reintroduction of website and email address hyperlinks last time didn’t produce any significant problems and so is continued here.

1.        MILESTONE 200th NEWSLETTER.  With this mailing the newsletter reaches its double century.  When I first did a brief bulletin in September 2002, we little imagined that the service would last as long as it has and grow so much.  That first mailshot was less than a page, in printed form, and went, as I recall, to fewer than 50 people.  We now have over a thousand recipients, and you can see the length and diversity of content for yourself.
2.        NEW CLUB BROCHURE PUBLISHED, WEBSITES UPDATED. The latest club leaflet is now available, covering all our activities from theSingers & Musicians Night this coming Thursday (12th May, hosted by Eddie Affleck) through to a very special concert with Damien O’Kane and his band at The Crescent on Friday 16th September.  Tickets for all our summer Thursday guest artists have been placed on sale and full write-ups have been added to the programme page of the club website.  You can pick up a copy of the new leaflet at places such as York Explore, City Screen, Red Cow Music and the York Tourist Information Centre, and of course at the Black Swan Inn. Copies will be mailed out this week to arts centres, specialist music shops and other sympathetic outlets in the wider Yorkshire region.
3.        ROLL UP, ROLL UP FOR THE MELROSE QUARTET AT NCEM.  Our final event this season at the National Centre for Early Music takes place on Monday 16th May and promises to be a suitably upbeat end to what has been another great run of concerts.  This one showcases the combined talents of Nancy Kerr, James Fagan and Richard and 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, and was itself nominated in the Best Group category in the 2014 Folk Awards.  Nancy & James have entertained us on numerous occasions (James most recently in March with The James Brothers, Nancy at the NCEM fronting her own Sweet Visitor Band eighteen months ago) and Jess & Richard gave us a cracking club night last summer.
Together the Melrose Quartet offer a bold take on English songs and tunes both old and new, with many of the latter penned by Nancy or Jess.  Four strong voices combine with crunchy twin fiddles, full-bodied melodeon and powerful bouzouki in a performance that leaves imaginations stirred, hearts warmed and feet tapping.  They come endorsed by no less a judge than Martin Simpson:
“I would of course expect The Melrose Quartet to be musically excellent knowing the high quality of the players involved.  I was however stunned by the group’s vocal harmonies - it was the best four part singing I’ve heard in ages.  In addition, they have two superb songwriters in Nancy and Jess. All in all an inspired ensemble so obviously playing for joy.”
As an added bonus, support will come from York’s acapella favourites Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, alias Ron, Pete and Martin, who will be on stage at 7.30, before two full sets by The Melrose Quartet.
Rather surprisingly, in view of the band’s talent and reputation, ticket sales have been rather slow on this one and only about half the seats are taken so far.  In fact, we need around 25 more sales just to break even, so do come along if you possibly can – it will be well worth it, musically.  Tickets are on sale through the NCEM website and box office (01904 658338) priced at £14 and £12, and on the door from 7pm.  And students, remember that there is a standby offer of tickets for just £5 after 7.15pm, so bring your SU card.
4.        KYLE CAREY BRINGS HER GAELIC AMERICANA TO YORK. On Thursday week, 19th May, we present the local debut of a touring US singer Kyle Carey, whose highly-rated “Gaelic Americana” sound draws on the traditional music of Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland, alongside Appalachian folk song and poetry.
“Kyle Carey is, quite simply, a delight” wrote one UK critic in R2 Magazine. “Drawing from both the American and British folk traditions, her songs, including some very fine originals, are beautifully crafted and performed. She is assured, confident, charming and irresistible”.  Another critic writes “if you like such artists as Nanci Griffith, this is sure to please”, while for Mike Harding she has “a voice to die for”.
Kyle’s debut album Monongah, produced by former Lùnasa guitarist Donogh Hennessy, was a considerable success in North America, while her second release North Star, recorded in Scotland and produced by Seamus Egan received widespread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic (and incidentally includes contributions by our subsequent club guests Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker).  Find out more about Kyle and listen to some of her music at
For the club, it is always a bit of a gamble booking little known overseas artists, but I hope we have established a reputation with you for making some great choices.  It would be a real shame if Kyle performed to only a handful of people, so do consider supporting this one if you can.  Tickets are £9 full / £8 concessions on the door, or beforehand at WeGotTickets, and Stan Graham will be acting as MC.
5.        LAST TICKETS FOR JOSIENNE & BEN.  The above mentionedJosienne Clarke & Ben Walker are our guests on Thursday 26th May. Winners of the Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo last year, Josienne and Ben infuse ageless stories of love and loss with her exquisite voice and his prowess as an arranger and guitar accompanist.  As I write, there are just 15 tickets left for this one, so book yours soon!  They are £11 full or £10 concessions through WeGotTickets.  Phil Cerny will be MC for this one.
6.        JUNE GUESTS & BEYOND.  Once the annual Folk Weekend is behind us (see below), we carry on with a normal Thursday programme right through the summer months, with the usual selection of first rate guest artists.  June begins with mother and daughter duo Chris & Kellie While(9th) and continues with multi-instrumentalists Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer(16th) and a young singers double header of Kirsty Bromley, from UK, and Lucy Wise, from Australia (30th).  July brings us contemporary folk duo Howdenjones (7th), local star Graham Hodge (14th) and old favourite Bram Taylor (28th), while August’s line-up is student trioGranny’s Attic (4th), Leeds’ finest Serious Sam Barrett (11th) and latest BBC Folk Award best song winners The Rheingans Sisters (25th) – see item 14 below for more about those awards. After a storming performance two years ago, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar return on 1st September, followed on 8th by American duo Hungrytown.  All of these events can now be booked online through WeGotTickets.
7.        COUNTING DOWN TO FOLK WEEKEND.  It is now less than four weeks until our biggest event of the year by far, the 14th annual City of York Folk Weekend, held at the Black Swan Inn over 3rd, 4th and 5th June.  Most of you will have been to previous events at some time or another and will know what is involved, but for any newcomers, here is an overview.
For three nights and two days there will be FREE live entertainment in almost every corner of the Black Swan Inn: a marquee stage with full PA in the car park, plus three rooms of music-making indoors.  With concerts, a ceilidh, sessions, workshops, singarounds, themed events and more, there should be something to suit all tastes.  Around fifty singers and bands are taking part this year, alongside dozens of informal participants.  All the billed performers come from York or neighbouring parts and the weekend is designed to unite, showcase and celebrate our flourishing local folk, roots and acoustic music scene.  The full draft programme (which is of course subject to change) can be found printed on the back of that new folk club brochure and online at
8.        ON THE MARQUEE STAGE.  The weekend begins outside with a Friday night “ceilidh under canvas” with FiddlersWreck.  The main concerts then take place on Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday’s line up (1pm to 10.30pm) comprising Sarah Dean, Leather’o, The Duncan McFarlane Band, Chechelele, Melthem, The Bronze, Phil Cerny, Roisin Ban, Moonshine Creek, Union Jill, Paula Ryan and The Bramble Napskins, plus dancing by Acorn Morris.  Hours on Sunday are 1pm to 10pm and the running order is David Ward Maclean, Dan Webster, Gerry McNeice & The Ale Marys, Soundsphere, Union Central, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Stan Graham, The A-Rhythmics, Rambler’s Gate, The Foresters and Blonde on Bob, plus Japanese drumming by Folk Weekend favourites Kaminari Taiko.
9.        EVENTS INDOORS.  In the club room on Friday we reprise last year’s very successful Irish Night, a friendly open house session hosted by York’s flourishing Irish Association. Then on Saturday and Sunday, a series of concerts in the upstairs room will showcase a further 23 acts, ranging from acapella vocalists The Lennanshees and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion to instrumental trio Over The Yardarm and acoustic guitar virtuoso Alex O’Neil.  There will be global folk sounds from Caramba, humour with Phil Pipe, and original songwriting from the likes of John Storey, Martin Heaton and David Swann, plus younger local singers Joshua Burnell and Crispin Halcrow.  Club residents Chris Euesden, Ian Pybus, Eddie Affleck and Judith Haswell all have spots and we welcome The Acoustic Durbervilles from Leeds and Jessica Lawson & Phil Simpson from Beverley.
Participation is just as important as concert performance at any folk festival and there will be multiple opportunities for anyone to have a go at singing or playing themselves.  These include all-day musicians’ sessions in the dining room, “open mic” club events, singarounds and “free & easy” jams.
Participants are also invited for two workshop sessions on Sunday – singing (with vocal harmonisers Soundsphere) and songwriting (hosted by Simon Alexander), while young children are catered for by Jane Stockdale & Chris Bartram in a special workshop event called Bash!  Meanwhile, poets and storytellers are in focus on Saturday, with a lunchtime “poems and pints” open reading, hosted by local writer John Gilham, followed by a music and storytelling event The Blacksmith’s Daughter, created by Helen M Sant and Roz Walker.
10.     OFFICIAL FRINGE EVENTS TOO.  Constituting an off-site Festival Fringe are two regular weekly events, the Friday night singers’ and players’ session at its new home in the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate, and the Sunday night American Old Time music gathering at The Golden Ball, Bishophill.
11.     GENERAL STUFF.  Please remember that thanks to the generosity of the performers, all these events are entirely free of charge.  Of course the folk club does still have some unavoidable costs in staging the festival (notably PA hire for the Marquee, plus publicity) and we will be rattling collection tins from time to time.
The Black Swan will have plenty of good food on sale, which you can enjoy in the two walled beer gardens, and of course it offers a fine choice of real ales and other drinks.  We are even promised an ice-cream van this year! The pub landlord has again hired a large marquee and plenty of chairs, and extra mobile ladies toilet facilities.  For safety reasons the car park will be closed to motor vehicles, but there are alternative city centre parking or park-and-ride options, and don’t forget that the Black Swan Inn sits on several main bus routes.
12.     PUBLICITY NEEDED – PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.  The more people at this event, the better it is for all concerned (unless you are queuing at the bar, I suppose!), so please help us spread the word far and wide.  Tell all your friends/family/work colleagues about it, bearing in mind that it is a totally FREE weekend, so people can drop in whenever they want to sample live folk music, then stay for 10 minutes or 10 hours.  Use social media to push the weekend (there is a Facebook page and if you can use printed publicity, just let me know – or download the poster yourself from the Folk Weekend section of the club website.
13.     CROWDFUNDING DON WALLS’ PLAY.  Many of you will be familiar with much-loved local poet Don Walls (no relation, incidentally), whose weekly readings were a favourite fixture at our club for many years, until increasing illness and infirmity limited Don’s ability to travel.  Over the last few years Don has published six volumes of poetry but now, aged 86, he makes his playwriting debut with The Beggars of York, a “sharp, poignant and defiant record of an ongoing chapter in York’s social history”. Through the chaotic bustle of living, sleeping and begging, Nick, Pearl and Paul tell their stories of life on the streets.  The play is based on the life and experiences of Don’s late son, Peter, who lived on the streets of York for 30 years.  It is described as “part eulogy, part performance-poetry and part exposé of the criminal justice system and will make you reconsider what happens on the very street outside your window”.
Don and the team at Tiny Window Theatre Company have been offered a short premiere run of The Beggars of York in the Studio at the newly refurbished York Theatre Royal in July.  “But we desperately need your help to fund the project”, they say, and an urgent crowdfunding campaign has been launched.  Go to and you can find out more, including a video in which Don and the team talk about the project.
The campaign has a target of £6000, with about a quarter pledged so far, and its deadline is tight, set at 26th May.  Do please consider giving Don your support.
14.     BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS 2016.  The annual shindig that is the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards took place a couple of weeks ago at the Royal Albert Hall and can be watched in full through the BBC website  After their wonderful performance at the NCEM a few days earlier, we were particularly pleased to see The Young’uns carry off the Best Group award for the second year running.  That is no mean feat. Our upcoming guests The Rheingans Sisters took the Best Original Song trophy for Mackerel.  Andy Cutting picked up the Musician of the Year award (he’ll be back at the NCEM in March next year with the band Leveret) and past club and concert guests of ours who also won awards include Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (best duo) and The Unthanks (best album), while a Lifetime Achievement Award for Norma Waterson was particularly well-deserved.
15.     LOCAL AWARDS – YORKSHIRE GIG GUIDE.  Talking of awards, I have been pointed towards the Grassroots Awards run by website Yorkshire Gig Guide.  Nominations are now open (deadline 29th May) in categories such as Outstanding Music Club, Outstanding Small Live Music Venue and Outstanding Songwriter.  These awards are supposed to cover the whole span of grassroots music-making, not just rock and pop, so maybe somebody out there would like to make a few folk-related nominations!!  Find out full details at (yes, that does say 2015!).
16.     NEW FACEBOOK GROUP – FOLK MUSIC IN YORK.  Talking of things on the Internet, local enthusiast Steven Field has recently started a Facebook public group Folk Music In York as a forum for “all things folkie in York” – concerts, ceilidhs, gigs and more.  “Follow us for updates on the latest folk happenings in and around York ... and send us your event details” he says.  Membership is growing steadily and you may be interested in following/joining as well.  See and also the related Twitter account @folkmusicyork.
17.     VALE RADIO FAB FOLK & BLUES SHOW LATEST.  More good news from Tony Haynes at community station Vale Radio.  “As from Monday 9th May Vale Radio's FAB Folk and Blues Show goes to three hours, from 8-11pm.  It will probably be two hours of folk 8-10pm plus a whole weekly hour of blues featuring mostly Yorkshire bands 10-11pm.” Tony’s studio guests on Monday 9th will be York duo Miles Salter and Ron James (who needless to say will also be performing at our Folk Weekend in June).
Tony has also issued an update on his related Vale Radio FAB Club, held at The Cottage Inn in Haxby on every second and fourth Sunday from 7.30pm, with featured artists usually recorded for the Monday night radio show.  On 22nd May that means Beggars Bridge and singer songwriter Carrie Martin, both from Hull, and Scarborough duo The Habit.  Sunday 12th June is more of a blues/rock night with The Petty Heartbreakers, then on 26th June The Foresters are featured.  Floor spots are available every time as well, and with free entry the club relies on a good turnout to show the pub management that it is worthwhile to let Tony have free use of a function room for which there is normally a hefty hire charge.  “Please give us your support” he says.
18.     WEDNESDAY NIGHT HUBY CLUB UNCERTAIN.  The latest local club to be hit by venue problems is the informal Wednesday night gathering at The New Inn at Huby.  New pub managers seem more interested in using their space for extra dining capacity than for the folk session, and as I write the situation remains unclear, so check before travelling.
On a happier note, The Black Bull at Birstall in West Yorkshire (see E-News 199) is open again and continuing to host three different folk clubs.
19.     STAN’S CD TRACK IN NATIONAL MAGAZINE SUCCESS. National bi-monthly music magazine R2 (formerly Rock ‘n’ Reel) includes a covermount free CD with each issue.  Stan Graham contributed the title track of his last album Fragile to the latest R2 sampler and he counts it a great success.  “I've had an amazing response” Stan says “both on my web site, (in) CD sales and (by) e-mail.  Well worth the time and effort.”
20.     MORE NEWS FROM SARAH DEAN.  “It’s a busy time for me just now as I return from The Heather Findlay Band tour (and) head to Swansea to continue my work with award-winning duo Luna Rossa” says club resident Sarah Dean.  She adds that she is joining forces with Jane Stockdale and Chris Bartram (aka To The Blue).  “After collaborating on each other’s songs for the last two years or so, we've decided to create a trio - as yet unnamed.  We are looking forward to creating some magic, melding harmony vocals & guitars, harp, trumpet, percussion, schruti box and my newly acquired Appalachian dulcimer.”
21.     ALEX CUMMING & NICOLA BEAZLEY AT THE FALCON TAP. Newcastle University folk degree alumni Alex Cumming & Nicola Beazley are on a launch tour for their debut album and call into York onFriday 13th May.  Some of you may remember Alex from acapella quartet The Teacups (though illness forced him to pull out of their second Black Swan booking last summer), and his sister Hannah took part in our Young Performers Night earlier this year.  In this duo, Alex plays accordion and Nicola fiddle, and they perform a mix of folk songs and tunes from around England.  Venue is The Falcon Tap on Micklegate, from 7.30, entry is by donation, and a general session/singaround is also promised.
22.     A FEW TICKETS LEFT FOR FORESTERS FUNDRAISER.  I understand that there are a few tickets left for The Foresters concert also next Friday, 13th May, at the Tramways Club on Mill Street in York as a fundraiser for local charity York Racial Equality Network. or call Ginnie Shaw on 01904 500281 for details/reservations.
23.     KAREN TWEED COMES TO YORK.  A reminder that the celebrated accordion player Karen Tweed is going to be in York over the weekend of 21st/22nd May during her Sweet Spaces solo tour.  She will be doing a Saturday evening concert at the Black Swan Inn from 8pm, then running an all-day mixed ensemble workshop (so not just limited to accordion) on the Sunday, also at the Black Swan.  Karen is very highly regarded as a music tutor, so this could be a must for budding players amongst you.  The contact number for details and bookings is 07522 606871, or e-mail  The workshop day costs £25, while the concert is £10 in advance or £12 on the door.
24.     JOHN WRIGHTSON IN WELBURN.  Well-respected Co Durham folk group The John Wrightson Band appear for Rural Arts at the Village Hall in Welburn (just off the A64 near Castle Howard) this coming Friday, 13th May.  Tickets are £10 and as the hall has limited capacity they should be reserved beforehand from Sylvia Haines on 01653 619764
25.     FAERIES IN SALTAIRE.  Those trailblazers of Celtic dance music,The Peatbog Faeries appear at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire on Sunday 15th May.  Find out more at
26.     CARRIVICKS IN MALTON.  Those wonderful young musicians The Carrivick Sisters have entertained us on several occasions at the Black Swan.  They are back in the area on Friday 20th May for an appearance at the Milton Rooms in Malton.  It is a 7.30pm start and tickets are available from the Milton Rooms in person or on 01653 696240.
27.     BEER & MUSIC IN STILLINGFLEET.  Live music and real ale come together again at the 6th Stillingfleet Beer & Music Festival onSaturday 21st May.  Alongside a mix of ales and ciders is live music ranging from the acoustic sounds of Leather’o and Jan Nielsen to R’n’B and rock ‘n’ roll.  Stillingfleet is a few miles south of York on bus route 42. Events start at noon and entry is £5.  There is a Facebook page
28.     EVENTS IN POCKLINGTON.  Teddy Thompson appears at Pocklington Arts Centre on Saturday 21st May, also Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams on Wednesday 22nd June.  Details have been announced for the Centre’s Platform Festival, taking place this year over 12th-16th July at The Old Station, in Pocklington.  This cosmopolitan music festival has a line up including Lucinda Williams, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Gretchen Peters, The Shires, Badly Drawn Boy, Danny & The Champions of the World, Seafret, Barcode Zebra and The Dunwells.  The Box Office is on 01759 301547 and the websites are and
29.     CAJUN NIGHT AT THE BAND ROOM IN FARNDALE.  Cajun superstars Joel Savoy, Jesse Lége and the Cajun Country Revival visit The Band Room in Farndale on Monday 23rd May.  Finds tickets and more info at or on 01751 432900.
Our next mailing will be at the very end of May and will be mainly concerned with Folk Weekend – any late programme changes, etc.