Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 201

Folk Weekend Special 2016



1.        NEXT WEEKEND IS FOLK WEEKEND IN YORK.  All systems are go for our annual festival of local folk music.  All weekend 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. Do come along and enjoy the wide range of free music which will be on offer.
This is the 14th annual Folk Weekend.  It has grown from a fairly modest one-day event in 2003 to become by far our biggest and most ambitious activity of the year.  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 latest programme is online at  There have been very few late changes this year, compared to the printed draft in the current folk club brochure.  Most significantly, Union Jill and Leather’o have changed places in the Marquee on Saturday – Union Jill will now be on stage at 1.35 and Leather’o at 8.05.
2.        FRIDAY NIGHT EVENTS.  The weekend begins with a Ceilidh in the Marquee, with dancing to local band FiddlersWreck, fronted by Michael Jary.  Indoors we reprise last year’s very successful Irish Night upstairs in the Wolfe Room, a friendly open house gathering hosted by York’s flourishing Irish Association, with songs, music and craic.  And as an official “fringe” event, don’t forget York’s weekly Friday night tunes and songs session, now happening right in the centre of town at The Three-Legged Mare on High Petergate – always a great gathering.
3.        SATURDAY EVENTS.  The main Marquee concert takes place non-stop from 1.00 to 10.30 on Saturday with a running order like this: Sarah Dean, Union Jill, Acorn Morris (offstage in car park), The Duncan McFarlane Band, Chechelele, Melthem, The Bronze, Phil Cerny, Roisin Ban, Moonshine Creek, Leather’o, Paula Ryan and The Bramble Napskins.
There are also two indoor concerts in the upstairs function room on Saturday.  The late afternoon event (4.30 to 6.45) features Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Martin Heaton, Ian Pybus & Anne Curran and John Storey, while the evening show (7.30-11.45) presents Chris Euesden, Over The Yardarm, Phil Pipe, The Acoustic Durbervilles, The Lennanshees, Crispin Halcrow and The Joshua Burnell Trio.
Participation is just as important as concert performance at any folk festival.  For those who want to sing a few songs themselves, the Rolling Folk Club begins in the Wolfe Room (1.30-4.00) before moving downstairs to continue singaround-style in the Oak Room (4.15-7.30), where Chris Barnes also hosts the evening free-for-all (8.00-12.00).  Meanwhile the Bowes Room is available all day for tunes session-playing. We are hopeful of a much better turn-out for this event than we got last year, when many local players were absent from York that weekend.
The spoken word – poetry and storytelling – has always had a place at our events, and this year is no exception.  John Gilham hosts the lunchtime Poems & Pints open reading session in the Oak Room (1.15-2.45), after which we are delighted to have a special storytelling and music event The Blacksmith’s Daughter with Helen M Sant and Roz Walker (3.00-4.00).
4.        SUNDAY EVENTS.  The non-stop Marquee concert line-up for Sunday (1.00-10.00) comprises David Ward Maclean, Dan Webster, Gerry McNeice & The Ale Marys, Soundsphere, Union Central, Kaminari Taiko Drummers (off-stage in car park), Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Stan Graham, The A-Rhythmics, Rambler’s Gate and The Foresters, with Blonde on Bob to bring the weekend to a rousing finale.
Sunday is also workshops day.  Soundsphere (Sarah, Paula and Judith) repeat their ever popular singing event in the Wolfe Room (11.00-1.00), while Simon Alexander is now joined by Stan Graham for a songwriting Q&A session in the Oak Room (12.30-2.00).  And for younger children, Jane Stockdale & Chris Bartram present a musical workshop called Bash! in the Wolfe Room (1.15-2.15).
The rest of Sunday in the Wolfe Room is taken up with concerts.  The afternoon line-up (2.45-6.15) comprises Jessica Lawson & Phil Simpson, Alex O’Neil, Eddie Affleck, Simon Alexander, To The Blue and David Kidman, while the evening event (7.00-10.30) has Caramba!, David Swann, Graham Hodge, Woodsmoke, Judith Haswell & Trish McLean and concludes with Salter & James.
Floor singers are again welcome at the Rolling Folk Club, which runs 2.30-7.00 in the Oak Room, singaround style, while the Bowes Room is again available all day for the musicians’ session.  In the evening Two Black Sheep & A Stallion host a final fling singing session in the Oak Room, while our second official off-site fringe event is York’s long-running American Old Time music session over at the Golden Ball in Bishophill.
5.        GENERAL STUFF.  Please remember that thanks to the generosity of the performers, all these events are entirely free of charge.  However we do still have some unavoidable expenses in staging this festival, notably PA hire for the Marquee, plus publicity.  Our costs are at least £750 this year and so we will be rattling collection tins from time to time.
There will be an information desk in the Marquee all weekend, where you can find out what is going on where and when, buy artists’ CDs and so forth.
The Black Swan will have hot food on sale during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday 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 landlord uses some of his food and bar takings to pay for hire of the marquee, chairs, and extra mobile toilet facilities.  Please do not abuse his goodwill by bringing your own drink and food (other than special dietary requirements) on site!
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.
6.        PUBLICITY STILL NEEDED – PLEASE CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD.  The more people at this event, the better it is for all concerned, 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.  And of course use social media to push the weekend - there is a Facebook page at
Our thanks go to Red Cow Music, York’s acoustic music specialist retailers, for help with publicity this year. They have funded a large banner which is now hanging on the outside the Black Swan Inn, advertising the event to all passers-by.
7.        CHRIS & KELLIE WHILE MAKE A RARE LOCAL APPEARANCE.  We don’t take much of a rest after the Folk Weekend!  In fact it is a case of “top quality music as usual” on Thursday 9th June when we present a rare local show by Chris & Kellie While.  Two generations of outstanding musical talent combine in this scintillating vocal duo.  Chris and her daughter Kellie have impeccable pedigrees as singers and guitar accompanists.  Both of them have exquisitely pure voices but it is as a duo that they really soar, their harmonies having that unique quality found only within close family partnerships.
Chris and Kellie will present a mix of self-penned material, imaginative interpretations of other modern songwriters’ work, and inspired arrangements of standards from the acoustic repertoire.
Chris is of course best known for her long-running and award-winning partnership with Julie Matthews, while Kellie (who succeeded her mother in The Albion Band at age 19) these days mostly spends her time working for Smooth Operations, the company behind the Radio 2 Folk Show.  In fact it was Kellie who phoned me to say that the Black Swan had been voted Club of the Year in 2008, so she will always have a special place in our affections.
Tickets for this one are £12 (concessions £11) on the door or beforehand through WeGotTickets.  Needless to say, their record company manager and long-time friend Chris Euesden will be acting as MC.
8.        VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER RETURN TO YORK.  A different strand within the British folk scene is exemplified by our guests on 16th June, namely Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer.  These two very experienced and skilful musicians effortlessly blend traditional material with contemporary sounds, showcasing fresh new interpretations of old songs alongside self-penned tunes and newly written songs that are entirely at home in the tradition.
Vicki and Jonny play a wide range of instruments.  As well as guitar and accordion, prepare to be entranced by the haunting nyckelharpa, amazed at the cow horn (one of the world’s earliest communication devices) and meet some of the bagpipes that didn’t come from Scotland.  Their shows are packed with toe-tapping tunes and songs of love, death, trains and dressing up (not always at the same time) all presented with gentle good humour.
Vicki and Jonny were last here at the club in 2012, although in 2014 they joined forces with storyteller Nick Hennessey to present The Whispering Road at Barley Hall during the Jorvik Viking Festival, a show which was reprised at the NCEM last year.  Tickets for their Black Swan return are £9 full or £8 concessions, on the door from 7.45 or available in advance through WeGotTickets.
9.        MORE DUOS TO COME.  Our early summer season has a strong duos theme this year, beginning with Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker last week and continuing with Chris & Kellie and Vicki & Jonny as outlined above.  After a Singers Night on 23rd June (for which we are promised a visit by Otley-based vocal trio Yan Tan Tether), we return to duos with Kirsty Bromley & Lucy Wise on 30th June, andhowdenjones on 7th July.  Young singers Kirsty (UK) and Lucy (Australia) have joined forces on what they are calling The Two Hemispheres Tour, while for Kate Howden and Paul Jones it is an overdue return to the club after several years where they have honed their considerable talents on the rural arts village hall circuit.
10.     CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS FOR DON’S PLAY.  In the last newsletter I reported a Crowdfunder appeal to raise money to help stage the debut play written by much-loved local poet Don Walls (no relation).  Happily, the organisers report that they had reached and indeed exceeded their target of £6000 when the appeal closed last Thursday.  The Beggars of York will be staged three times in the Studio at York Theatre Royal – at 7pm on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th July, plus a 2pm matinee on the Wednesday.  Tickets are £12 full or £10 concessions through the theatre box office, online
11.     BEVERLEY FOLK FESTIVAL SEEKS VOLUNTEERS.  Our own Folk Weekend relies on a small but hard working team of volunteers for its success. You can multiply that a hundred-fold for a big “commercial” event.  So it is no surprise that Beverley Folk Festival has launched an appeal for more volunteers to come forward and help at this year’s festival, which takes place at Beverley Racecourse over 17th to 19th June and has been programmed this year by York’s own John Watterson (Fake Thackray, Poppleton Live).
“If music is at the heart of the festival, then volunteers are its life blood” say the organisers.  “Every year (we) are amazed by the number of people who are prepared to volunteer, but more are still needed.”  The range of duties includes helping to set up the festival site and clear up afterwards, working on the box office and information desk, stewarding the various performance venues, selling merchandise, and campsite and traffic control.
Volunteers must be 18 years or over and able to give 12 hours of their time over the festival weekend.  In return they will receive a ticket to all events at the festival, worth £115.  A camping pass can also be provided for those wishing to stay on site for the weekend.  “You can also receive a certificate in volunteering” they say, “which can be used to help gain similar opportunities at other events and is great for your CV.”
If you would like to apply, please visit, email for a volunteer pack, or call 01377 219112.
12.     FIVE STARS FOR STAN.  In E-News 200 I reported that Stan Graham had recently had a track included in the covermount free CD supplied with national bi-monthly music magazine R2 (formerly Rock ‘n’ Reel).  The latest issue of that same magazine has now given a 5* review to Stan’s current album Fragile. “On the surface his themes may appear deceptively simple” writes Colin Bailey “but the unhurried songs are poignantly deep and enriching”.  Stan comments “after all these years of trying it looks as if someone has eventually taken notice.  I doubt that many people apart from a few at the club realise how hard I have worked over the years to get to where I am now.”  He also reports very good CD sales and downloads this year in USA and hopes for more of the same in the UK after this review.
13.     JOSHUA’S GREEN CD LAUNCH.  One of the “new” names on our Folk Weekend programme this year (Saturday, Wolfe Room, 11.00) is Joshua Burnell, a most interesting young local singer influenced by what he has called the “prog-folk-rock” sounds of the 1970s.  Later in June, Joshua releases his debut CD,Into The Green, celebrated with a launch party at City Screen Basement on Saturday 25th.  Joined by a full band, Josh will play the entire record live.  “It is an album in two halves”, he says “the first half a collection of folk-inspired ballads, the second half a prog-folk-rock epic narrating a tale of fantastical adventure.”  The album was recorded by another stalwart of the local acoustic scene, Dan Webster.  Launch party tickets are just £3 through the website or City Screen box office.
14.     FINERY & FILTH AT THE BLACK SWAN.  I have been asked to tell you about a non-folk club event taking place at the Black Swan Inn on Friday 1st July.  Finery & Filth is “a ribald tale set in 1695 with music and songs by Henry Purcell and the Restoration Rat Pack”, presented by early music specialist Dante Ferrara, who sings and plays cittern and hurdy-gurdy.  What I most like is the idea of music being performed in the Wolfe Room which will be almost exactly contemporary with its late 17th century interior!  Find out more at  Tickets are £8, on the door or through WeGotTickets.
15.     MARTIN SIMPSON IN KNARESBOROUGH.  Lastly, it is good to hear that the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough is still functioning as an occasional live music venue.  The Acoustic Strawbs were there at Easter, and Martin Simpson appears on Saturday 2nd July.  Martin’s shows usually sell out (as in York recently), so early booking is advised.  The website is, tickets are £18 and doors open at 7pm.  Enquiries to Mike Addison on 07515 299162.  Simon Mayor & Hilary James are at the same venue on 19th August.
Our next mailing will be towards the end of June, all being well.