Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 203

31st July 2016


1.        4th AUGUST - JOIN US FOR A PARTY IN GRANNY’S ATTIC.  This week’s club guests are a dynamic student trio who play mostly English folk songs and tunes, either traditional or self-penned, with great gusto and skill. Granny’s Attic comprise Lewis Wood on fiddle, George Sansome on guitar and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne on melodeon and concertina.  All three of them sing, with George or Cohen normally taking the lead.  Jon Boden (Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden) is one of many who have been impressed: “great tunes, great arrangements, great energy, great stuff” he says.
Lewis, George and Cohen first became interested in folk music as schoolboys in Worcester and they have been playing together as Granny’s Attic ever since, indeed reaching the finals of the BBC Young Folk Awards a couple of years ago.  From school, all three went on to study for music degrees, with George and Cohen coming to Leeds University. While in the area they have naturally been out and about to Yorkshire folk clubs, including ours, and we were greatly impressed by their various solo spots at Singers Nights.  Cohen subsequently opened for Fay Hield and her band at the NCEM in March this year and turned in a great performance.  “Always a surprise when the support act almost surpasses the main act” was a typical bit of feedback, “hope we can get to see more of him at the Black Swan soon.”  Well, your wish is granted!
I saw the full Granny’s Attic line-up in action for the first time at Warwick Folk Festival just a few days ago and I soon realised how right I had been to book them for the club.  Not only are they great singers and players but they have a very relaxed performance style with a well-pitched line in stage chat.  Come and enjoy them for yourself this Thursday.  Eddie Affleck is MC, doors open as usual at 7.45pm and entry is £8 full, £7 concessions, £4 students. Full and concession rate tickets can also be pre-booked through WeGotTickets.
2.        11th AUGUST - TWELVE STRING HEAVEN WITH SERIOUS SAM.  Next week it is a blistering mix of folk, blues and country styles withSerious Sam Barrett from Leeds, described by one Guardian critic thus: “old before his years country-folk fellow who mixes intricate John Fahey finger-picking with confessional tales of dirty old Leeds”, while Uncut Magazine talks of “songs that rattle with the ghosts of Appalachian folk and southern blues, yet sound emphatically English”.
Here is a (slightly edited) biographical sketch I found online.  “Born and raised in the village of Addingham in the Yorkshire Dales, Barrett was son to a folksinger father and a mother who loved Dylan, Guthrie, and Leadbelly. He became enamoured of his parents' record collection while young and learned to play the guitar at an early age.  While in his teens, he also took up skateboarding, where he earned his nickname, and got into punk rock, from which he developed an admiration for the D.I.Y. ethic.  Initially playing all-American country and blues, he gradually incorporated more Yorkshire folk influences.  Performing a mixture of material "mainly about heartbreak," Barrett developed a twangy, rootsy fingerpicked style making extensive use of 12-string guitar, while his nasal delivery recalled his childhood heroes. As a young man he moved to Leeds, where with a number of friends, he formed the D.I.Y. collective YaDig? to release music by the best folk and roots artists in Leeds and West Yorkshire. Sam has toured extensively, traveling as far afield as Nashville and Austin's SXSW festival.  His eponymous debut album dropped in 2012, and the follow-up, North Country Steed, came in 2014.”
Serious Sam has played at our club twice before, in 2009 (with David Broad and Michael Rossiter) and in 2011 (with David Broad) and he was due to visit us again this time last year until a skateboarding accident gave him a broken wrist.  Happily that is now fully healed and we look forward to welcoming him back to the club.  Stan Graham will be the MC for this one and entry is again £8 full or £7 concessions on the door, or beforehand through WeGotTickets.
3.        18th AUGUST – THIS MONTH’S SINGERS NIGHT.  David Swann hosts our monthly “open house” Singers & Musicians night on 18th. Summer always seems to bring a few interesting visitors to town and at our July Singers Night we had performers from Scarborough and Barnsley and even a young Italian singer, alongside a selection of our many talented locals. Who knows what to expect this month? Entry is just £3 full or £2 concessions for listeners, on the door only, while performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty.
4.        25th AUGUST - THE AWARD-WINNING RHEINGANS SISTERS. We end the month on 25th with something extra special for you, the delightful fiddle-playing and singing sisters Anna & Rowan Rheingans, who won the Best Original Song trophy in this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, for their composition Mackerel, and reached the final four in the Horizon (best new act) category at the same event.  As Anna lives in France, UK shows are relatively infrequent, but they have managed to slot us in on their way home from a stint at the famous Whitby Folk Week.
Rowan and Anna grew up in the Peak District, surrounded by traditional music and encouraged to pick up the fiddle by their violin-maker father from an early age.  Rowan is well known on the English folk scene as part of popular female trio Lady Maisery (past guests of ours at both the Black Swan and the NCEM) as well as for her work with Nancy Kerr & The Sweet Visitor Band (as seen at NCEM in 2014).  Rowan also composes for theatre and is part of the ‘Songs of Separation’ supergroup alongside Eliza Carthy, Karine Polwart and others.
Meanwhile Anna now lives in Toulouse, where she is a much sought after fiddle player and teacher of French music traditions, in which she has become something of an expert.   Like her sister Anna has also spent a significant amount of time studying fiddle music in Scandinavia, and so together they pull a diverse range of influences from Britain and from northern and southern European traditions into their own compositions and arrangements.
The Rheingans’ debut album in 2013 was widely praised (“performed with compelling conviction and disarming warmth” fRoots) and last autumn’s follow-up Already Home garnered even more critical acclaim (“superb” said The Independent, “quite simply extraordinary” fRoots again) and lead inexorably to those Folk Awards nominations.
As well as being virtuoso fiddle players and great singers, with “vocal harmonies to die for” (fRoots), the sisters incorporate a bit of banjo, bansitar (a banjo sitar cross devised by their father), and foot percussion into their stage performance and as I found when I saw them in concert earlier this year, the end result is mesmerising. See for yourselves on 25th August. Eddie Affleck is again MC that night and as befits artists of this stature, tickets are £11 full or £10 concessions, through WeGotTickets or (probably some left) on the door.
5.        1st SEPTEMBER - THE RETURN OF GREG & CIARAN.  One of the very best debut performances we had in 2014 came from Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, so we are delighted to welcome them back to the club on 1st September.  Greg is rated by many (myself included) as one of the most assured and mature male vocalists of his generation, and with their great guitar, bouzouki and fiddle playing plus Ciaran’s madcap stage banter, they make a great live act.  No wonder they won the BBC Young Folk Award 2013, took the Horizon Award for best new act the next year and were shortlisted for Best Duo in 2015. 
Things have been a little bit lower profile for the duo in recent months, while Greg completed his university studies and Ciaran began his, so the chance to book them again for York was one to be seized when it came my way.  Stan Graham acts as compere once again and tickets are £11 and £10 through WeGotTickets or on the door.
6.        8th SEPTEMBER - YORK DEBUT FOR NEW ENGLAND DUO HUNGRYTOWN.  The Black Swan has a long tradition of bringing overseas folk and acoustic acts to York, particularly from USA and Canada, and over the years we have had many memorable debut performances by then little-known artists.  Vermont-based Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, akaHungrytown, promise another such. They already have many admirers across Europe and America and have toured Britain a few times in the past without touching York.  Rebecca is the lead vocalist and lyricist, credited with compositions “that sound as timeless as any traditional songs”, while Ken provides multi-instrumental embellishment and gorgeous vocal harmonies.  Entry is £9 full or £8 concessions, online beforehand or on the door.
7.        AUTUMN CLUB PROGRAMME IMMINENT.  I shall be writing our next publicity brochure soon, covering mid-September 2016 until January 2017, and once that is sent off to the printers (probably around mid-August) all events will go on sale at WeGotTickets.  Highlights includeHannah Sanders and David Francey(September), The Mile Roses (Edwina Hayes, Kate Bramley & Simon Haworth), Jimmy Crowley andCathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby(October), The Rachel Hamer Band,The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band andDaoiri Farrell (November), Brooks Williams and Jackie Oates(December) and the return of Martin Carthy (January, for two nights).
8.        DAMIEN O’KANE’S 21st CENTURY IRISH FOLK AT THE CRESCENT.  Our first large venue concert show of the autumn sees a return to The Crescent, where we join forces with PleasePleaseYou to presentDamien O’Kane and his band onFriday 16th September, for a night of 21st Century Irish folk.  Damien is a no stranger to York – he has appeared at The Barbican several times with his wife Kate Rusby and her band – but this is a headlining first and an absolute must for anyone interested in Irish music.
Damien is an immense banjo player, an accomplished versatile guitarist, a seriously good singer, a naturally inventive arranger, an innovative musical explorer, a producer, a band-leader and a provocatively original interpreter of folk song.  When all the pieces are fitted together with unconditional love, care and attention to detail, the results are spectacular, as evidenced by his new album Areas Of High Traffic, described by The Telegraph as “folk-pop that is Irish music for the 21st Century” and shortlisted in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Album category earlier this year.
Five years on from his first solo albumSummer Hill, which proved that he is much more than just a skilful banjo player and a powerful Irish voice, Areas Of High Traffic has significantly upped the stakes with a generous, rich sonic palette and a thrilling, innovative take on Irish traditional song and music.  The songs are largely rooted in Damien’s homeland in the north of Ireland but the arrangements are different to anything that has gone before.  They are a melting pot of contemporary influences – folk, jazz, rock and electronica combined with not a trace of gimmickry. Along with his band of superbly talented musicians Cormac Byrne (percussion), Anthony Davis (keyboards), Steven Iveson (electric guitar) and Steven Byrnes (guitars and percussion), he has created a stunning soundscape which bravely puts a modern coat on these old songs.
Areas Of High Traffic sees O’Kane combine the beloved old with the bracingly new” wrote R2 Magazine, displaying “a fearlessness to augment convention and in doing so, turn out something fresh and new.  (This) album showcases his originality and abilities as a singer, musician and a producer beautifully.  Live, the music is utterly scintillating - brimming with innovation, energy and skilled musicianship.” fRoots wrote “should be filed under ground-breaking” while for The Sunday Express it is “as magnificent a re-imagining of traditional folk as you are likely to hear”.
Our own Irish songstress Paula Ryanacts as MC and support act and the setting is relatively new community venue The Crescent, just off Blossom Street behind the Reel cinema.  Tickets are priced at £15 in advance (£17 on the door), available at Inkwell on Gillygate in York, Jumbo Records in Leeds and online through SeeTickets ( – note, not our usual WeGotTickets.  Doors open at 7.30pm and music gets underway at 8pm.
9.        NCEM AUTUMN FOLK EVENTS.  We have five shows lined up for you at the National Centre for Early Music this autumn – two Scottish, two English and one Irish.  Tickets for three of these are already on sale:  Scottish quintet Breabach on Monday 24th October, with support from Bradford’s Bella Gaffney (£16/£14), O’Hooley & Tidow on Tuesday 1st November, with support from Duncan McFarlane (£14/£12) and Chris Wood on Wednesday 30th November, with support from John Storey (£16/£14). Booking for the other two shows will open around mid-August, once the new NCEM brochure is released.  These shows are “chamber folk” fiddle quartetRANT on Monday 3rd October, with support from Alex O’Neil (£15/£13) and Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman’s seasonal show Celtic Christmas Strings on Wednesday 21st December (£14/£12, with special child rate of £5, and no support act).  All booking is through or on 01904 658338.
Note also that NCEM themselves are presenting a concert by Kathryn Tickell & The Side on Monday 17th October (£20/£18).
10.     CLUB FACEBOOK EVEN NEARER TO 1000 LIKES.  As reported in the last E-News, the folk club’s Facebook page is steadily approaching a landmark 1000 “likes” and stands at 993 as I write.  If you are also a Facebook user and have not yet “liked” us, please consider going and doing so now.
11.     FOLK CLUB NOMINATED IN GRASSROOTS MUSIC AWARDS.  A reminder that voting is open until 31st August in the Grassroots Music Awards run by the Yorkshire Gig Guide website.  See the full story in last month’s edition of this newsletter.  Find the nomination lists and maybe cast a vote at (yes that does say 2015!).
12.     FOLK CLUB PICTURED BY FOLK 21.  There is a national organisation called Folk21, set up to “support Britain's guest-booking folk clubs and local venues and provide a collective voice for Britain's folk club scene.  Our purpose is to do what we can to sustain, support and develop a circuit of guest-booking folk venues that thrives today and into the future.”  It is a very worthy organisation, but not one which the Black Swan has ever felt an urgent need to affiliate to. for more about Folk21 and a list of its affiliates.
I was therefore flattered but also a little bemused to pick up a Folk21 glossy publicity flyer at the recent Warwick Folk Festival.  The reverse of this flyer lists its West Midlands affiliated clubs, while the front cover features a picture of a folk club night in progress.  Namely Flossie Malavialle singing in our very own, unmistakable club room, complete with its oak panelling and reproduction Tudor tapestry!  So not a West Midlands club, and not even a Folk21 affiliate.  Ho-hum!
13.     FAB NEWS FROM TONY HAYNES.  Tony Haynes continues to broadcast his FAB Folk and Blues Show every Monday evening on Vale Radio (on DAB and online) from 8pm to 11pm.  He will be at the Black Swan on Thursday to chat with and record Granny’s Attic, then his studio guest on 8th August will be our own Eddie Affleck, playing a few songs and bringing in some record choices.
The Vale Radio FAB Club continues at The Cottage Inn in Haxby on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from 8pm, with an open acoustic evening on 14th August and local favourites Leather’o on 28th, the latter being recorded for broadcast the following week.  This alternating pattern of open evenings and band recording nights seems to be most popular, says Uncle Tone.  “If any artist fancies being on the show”, he adds “then the open acoustic evenings are a great opportunity to come along and show us what you can do.”
On a personal note, Tony also tells us, his song Tommy's Remedy won the songwriting competition at the recent Great North Folk Festival, taking home a certificate and a cheque for £50. “Fame at last!” he says.
14.     NEW MONTHLY OPEN SESSION IN YORK.  Last week Alex Golisti of Red Cow Music, York’s acoustic music specialists, launched a monthly Red Cow Folk Night, to be held at The Nook Bar & Kitchen on Castlegate (YO1 9RN) on the last Wednesday of each month, so next on 31st August.  “To try and get away from the standard Open Mic/Singers Night, the format will be an informal singaround where players are welcomed to play along with each other as each musician takes their turn at suggesting a song or tune to play,” says Alex.  “In short, bring down your guitars, banjos, mandolins, fiddles, double basses and anything you fancy playing, having a few pints whilst singing out some tunes in the Nook.”
15.     MORE FOLK CLUB VENUE PROBLEMS IN WEST YORKSHIRE. The saga of the Black Bull Inn at Birstall in West Yorkshire continues.  Back in E-News 199 I reported that this historic inn had closed, making three different folk clubs homeless.  Then in E-News 200 I had an update that the pub had reopened.  Well, it seems that was only temporary.  David Kidman now reports that The Black Bull closed suddenly again in June,  His monthly Just Voices singers’ session has found a temporary home at The Garden Gate in Hunslet, Leeds LS10. “This was used for the June 28th session and will be used until further notice” says David.  Just Voices will continue to be held on the last Tuesday of each month.
16.     RYLEY WALKER AT THE CRESCENT, 10th AUGUST.  Highly-rated Americana musician Ryley Walker is York’s August treat from indie promoter Joe Coates (PleasePleaseYou) at The Crescent off Blossom Street on Wednesday 10th August.  “Owing a doff of the cap to legends of the past Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin and John Martyn, Ryley's last album Primrose Green received universal praise on its release due to its expert musicianship and song craft. Ryley is a crazy talented guy”, says Joe Coates “and opportunities to see him solo and acoustic in a room this size are now few and far between.”  Doors open 7.30pm, support comes from Andy Gaines, and tickets are £11 in advance from The Inkwell on Gillygate or online at, alternatively £13 on the door.
17.     A BRACE OF HILARY JAMES & SIMON MAYOR.  Hilary & Simon have two August shows in Yorkshire: Friday 19th at The Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough for the FEVA Festival ( and Saturday 20th at Ilkley Playhouse (
18.     OTHER FEVA EVENTS IN KNARESBOROUGH.  As well as Hilary James & Simon Mayor this year’s FEVA line-up includes Faustuson Friday 12th August and past Black Swan Young Performer Night visitorsProject Jam Sandwich on Tuesday 16th, both at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre. See for details.
19.     TRADITIONAL DANCE FEST. The “slightly notorious” Ebor Morris have announced details of their 29th annual York Festival of Traditional Dance which takes place over the weekend of 10th & 11th September. Teams appearing this year are Ebor Morris, Acorn Morris, Blackheath Morris (as seen on the Olympics!), Brackley Morris, Bacup Coconut Dancers, Duke's Dandy, Lizzie Dripping, Makeney Morris, Minster Strays, Stony Steppers, Thieving Magpie, and Westmorland Step and Garland Dancers.  See
20.     MORE FROM YORK’S LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC.  Ellen Cole writes that York’s Little Festival of Live Music is delighted to again be hosting over 24 hours of musical entertainment at this year’s York Food and Drink Festival, which takes place in Parliament Street from 23rd September to 1st October.  “This year’s line-up has 27 acts including quite a few folk acts from both York and further afield that you might be interested in seeing” Ellen says.  These include Mulholland, Gracie Falls, The Bronze, David Ward Maclean, Dan Webster, The Duncan Macfarlane Band, King Courgette, Leather’o, and renowned York Americana performer Boss Caine.  Live music takes place each day from 5pm until 9pm and entry is free.  For the full programme see
Our next mailing will around the end of August, all being well.  Enjoy what is left of the summer, and support live music along the way.