Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 204

28th August 2016


1.        DAMIEN O’KANE’s 21st CENTURY IRISH FOLK.  Our first concert special this autumn sees a return to community venue The Crescent, off Blossom Street.  We join forces with local indie promoter PleasePleaseYou to present Damien O’Kane and his band on Friday 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 a gifted banjo player, an accomplished and 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.
Areas Of High Traffic offers 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.”  ThefRoots reviewer 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”.
His wife Kate Rusby’s busy schedule means that Damien doesn’t get to take his own band out on the road very often, so this is an opportunity not to be missed.  They play at Towersey Festival this weekend, then have only three English dates this autumn, including ours in York and one in the Rusby hometown of Penistone, plus three in northern Ireland.
Our own Irish songstress Paula Ryanacts as MC and support act and the setting is relatively new 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 (  Doors open at 7.30pm and music gets underway at 8pm.  See you there!
2.        NEW CLUB BROCHURE PUBLISHED, MANY MORE EVENTS NOW BOOKING.  Our new brochure has now been printed and is already available at club functions, going into general circulation in another week or so.  The programme page on club website has also been fully updated and tickets for all Thursday night guest artists are now on sale and for all NCEM shows at
The new brochure covers all our activities from 15th September until 19th January 2017 – 13 club guest nights, 5 singers’ nights plus our Christmas Party, 5 concerts at the NCEM and that Damien O’Kane special.  There should be something there for all folk tastes, we hope!
3.        1st SEPTEMBER – THE RETURN OF GREG RUSSELL & CIARAN ALGAR.  One of the very best debut performances we had in 2014 came from youngsters Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, so we are delighted to welcome them back to the club this coming Thursday, 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 in 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 our way.  Stan Graham acts as compere and tickets are £11 and £10 through WeGotTickets (about half of them sold already) or on the door.
4.        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 on 8th September. 
Hungrytown 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.  “The duo’s mostly original material blends smart modern lyrics with a traditional Americana feel” saidDirty Linen, while rock legend Roger McGuinn enthuses “I love the sound of Rebecca’s voice.  There’s sweetness and worldly wisdom in perfect balance”.
Find more about Hungrytown, including audio and video samples,, then come along and see them live.  Newly returned from his summer in Ireland, Chris Euesden acts as MC and entry is £9 full or £8 concessions, online beforehand or on the door.
5.        15th SEPTEMBER – THIS MONTH’S SINGERS NIGHT.  The host for September’s “open house” Singers & Musicians Night on 15th is Phil Cerny.  As usual, we do not know exactly who or what to expect, but it is always a fun and varied evening.  Entry is just £3 full or £2 concessions for listeners, on the door only, while performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty.
6.        22nd SEPTEMBER – A DEBUT BY HANNAH SANDERS & BEN SAVAGE.  We first came across Hannah and Ben when they turned up at a club Singers Night about 18 months ago, a long way from their home base in Cambridge.  They greatly impressed us then with just two or three songs, and when I saw them later in 2015 at the English Folk Expo that first impression was amply confirmed, hence this booking.  Blessed with a stunning voice of unaffected beauty,Hannah Sanders is building a reputation as one of the most exciting new singers around of traditional English folk songs.  She accompanies on guitar or dulcimer, with Ben Savage(also a member of The Willows) adding tasteful Dobro or guitar.
“Absolutely fantastic … every track is a pearl” said Mike Harding of last year’s debut CD, while fRoots verdict was “refreshingly unafraid to take risks – a force to be reckoned with”, andMaverick Magazine wrote that Hannah’s “beautiful voice breathes new life into traditional material from both sides of the pond.”  The duo release their second album Before The Sun in September and they have an extensive autumn tour lined up to promote it.  We are delighted to have the Black Swan included in that tour.  Phil Cerny acts as MC on 22nd and tickets are £9 full or £8 concessions through WeGotTickets or on the door.  The artists’ website
7.        29th SEPTEMBER – DAVID FRANCEY RETURNS TO YORK. Widely covered by other artists (including some of our own club regulars), this Scottish-born Canadian is rated one of that country’s foremost songwriters, composing memorable melodies and deceptively simple yet poetic lyrics about the lives and experiences of ordinary working people.  A three-time winner in Canada’s Juno Music Awards, David Francey has a new album out, Empty Train, and we look forward to hearing some of his new songs alongside old favourites. 
David has made three past visits to the Black Swan and we are delighted to welcome him back again, together with regular guitar accompanist Mark Westberg, particularly after a proposed visit last year had to be cancelled due to illness.  Eddie Affleck is lined-up to MC this one and tickets are £10 full or £9 concessions at WeGotTickets and on the door.
8.        COMING IN OCTOBER & BEYOND.  Our October guest list includes an exciting new group The Mile Roses (13th) which combines the talents of Edwina Hayes, Kate Bramley and Simon Haworth.  “Contemporary British folk with a nod to Nashville”, they say.  Veteran Cork Irish singer Jimmy Crowley features on 20th October, exactly 30 years after he last sang at the Black Swan, and he is followed on 27th by a favourite Anglo-American duoCathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby.
November guests include young Tyneside outfit The Rachel Hamer Band (10th) - I saw them in action at Whitby Folk Week just a few days ago, and they really were excellent, lively Otley-based six piece The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band (17th) and a hot new name in Irish folk song Daoiri Farrell(24th).
December brings us two star attractions, bluesy singer guitaristBrooks Williams (8th) and English folk songstress supreme Jackie Oates(15th), while after the Christmas break we resume operations in January with a two-night stand by the legendaryMartin Carthy (Wednesday and Thursday, 11th & 12th), followed on 19th by our annual New Roots Young Performer Showcase, this time featuring singer songwriter Jack Patchett from Holmfirth and Sheffield duo Two’s Company.
To repeat, all the above events are now open for booking
9.        NEW NCEM BROCHURE JUST OUT.  The glossy new brochure from the National Centre for Early Music has also just been released and should be hitting letterboxes and leaflet stands across the region anytime now. This brochure covers events at the Walmgate venue from October right through until March 2017.   We have five folk shows lined up for you at the centre this autumn – two Scottish, two English and one Irish – with a return visit by that mighty singer Steve Knightley to follow on 3rd February 2017 and already on sale.  Booking for all NCEM shows is or on 01904 658338.
10.     RANT – A SUPERB SCOTTISH FIDDLE QUARTET.  The “chamber folk” quartet RANT brings together four of Scotland’s finest fiddle players, Jenna and Bethany Reidfrom Shetland, Lauren MacColl from the Highlands and (standing in for Sarah-Jane Summers who is on family leave) the redoubtable Anna Massie. Using just their fiddles, they weave a rich and vibrant tapestry of melodies, textures, layers and sounds across a wide repertoire of traditional, modern and self-penned tunes.  Also known for their work as soloists and with bands such as Blazin’ Fiddles, RANT made their collective mark in 2013 with a critically acclaimed debut album and a string of festival and concert appearances across the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia.  Brand new follow-up release Reverie consolidates their reputation as a significant and joyous force in modern Scottish music.
Jenna Reid is a delightful musician who has headlined for us twice before at the NCEM, in 2008 and 2012 (joined by her sister Bethany on both occasions as I recall) while Anna Massie appeared last year at both the Black Swan (with Mairearad Green) and at the NCEM (with Blazin’ Fiddles).  This show is the group’s only date south of the border on the Reverie launch tour and should be a must for all lovers of well-played and innovative folk music.  RANT have a website at as I write it seems to be offline) and of course there is a Facebook page and lots of stuff on YouTube – see for
Support comes from local guitar virtuoso Alex O’Neil, who regularly contributes impressive original numbers on his nylon-strung classical guitar at our singers’ nights.  Tickets for this one are £15 full or £13 concessions, with the usual £5 student standby available 15 minutes before the performance if there are unsold tickets left.
11.     FURTHER FOLK CONCERTS THIS SEASON & BEYOND.  A different take on Scottish folk music comes when Breabach pay us a return visit on Monday 24th October, following triumphant performances at NCEM in 2010 and again in 2013.  This dynamic five-piece performs thoughtful and moving songs in both English and Gaelic, alongside driving instrumentals, step-dancing and mouth music.  They comprise Calum MacCrimmon (pipes, whistles, bouzouki and vocals), Ewan Robertson (guitar and vocals), James Mackenzie (pipes, flute and whistles), Megan Henderson (fiddle, vocals and dance) and James Lindsay (double bass).  Support is from Bradford’s young Bella Gaffney, winner of the prestigious Danny Kyle award at Celtic Connections earlier this year, and tickets are priced at £16 full, £14 concessions.
We switch the emphasis to English contemporary folk song in November with appearances by O’Hooley & Tidow on Tuesday 1st November (support from Duncan McFarlane, tickets £14 and £12) and by Chris Wood on Wednesday 30th November (support from John Storey, tickets £16 and £14), then for our winter seasonal show Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman present Celtic Christmas Strings on Wednesday 21st December (tickets £14 and12, with special child rate of £5 and no support act).  Lastly,Steve Knightley returns on Friday 3rd February on his solo Landlocked” tour. All tickets for that one are £18 and there will be no support act.
Note also that NCEM themselves are promoting some other folk-related or world music events this season, notablyKathryn Tickell & The Side on Monday 17th October (tickets £20 and £18).
12.     CLUB FACEBOOK PASSES 1000 LIKES.  Shortly after I issued our last E-News bulletin the folk club’s Facebook page reached the landmark of 1000 “likes” and indeed the figure stands at 1006 as I write.  If you are also a Facebook user and have not yet “liked” us, please consider going and doing so now.
13.     HALF YEAR FINANCIAL FIGURES.  Our accounting year runs from 1st February until 31st January, so at the end of July we reached the half way stage in year 2016/17, and one evening a few days later I looked at the books.  I am happy to report that we made a small surplus of £328 over the half-year, most of that down to an excess of income over costs at our Folk Weekend, as reported in E-News 202. This outcome compares favourably with the previous year 2015/16, when we were in deficit to the tune of £400 at 31st July.  During this latest half year guest nights made a net surplus of £212 but concerts a net loss of £120. Singers Nights generated £309 in income.  Artist fees and concert expenses aside, our main administrative costs were things like leaflet printing, folk magazines advertising, postage, website hosting and PAT safety testing of our electrical kit.  At 31st July we had total assets of £7900, which sounds a lot but is in fact only about half of what we are committed to in agreed (in some cases legally contracted) minimum fees for future guest bookings.
14.     CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TOPIC FOLK CLUB.  You may think the Black Swan Folk Club has been around a long time (about 40 years in fact), but we are still a youngster by comparison with the Topic Folk Club in Bradford.  This venerable institution celebrates its 60th Anniversary this autumn and is acknowledged as the longest running club in Britain.  It is a Thursday night gathering like us, so it is a case of “never the twain shall meet” but nevertheless we send our heartiest congratulations to the Topic on this notable landmark.  You can find a potted history of the Topic and for a limited time there is a fascinating podcast on community radio station BCB – go and select the one at the top of the page (11-12pm).
15.     TRADITIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL, 10th & 11th SEPTEMBER.  First up, a reminder that the 29th annual York Festival of Traditional Dance takes place over the weekend of 10th & 11th September, organised once again by the “slightly notorious” Ebor Morris.  A dozen dance teams appear this year, including Blackheath Morris, Brackley Morris, Bacup Britannia Coconut Dancers, Duke's Dandy, Lizzie Dripping, Makeney Morris, Minster Strays, Stony Steppers, Thieving Magpie, and Westmorland Step and Garland Dancers.  These cover a wide range of dance styles such as Cotswold, Border and Step Clog.  There is dancing in the city centre throughout the day on Saturday and again on Sunday morning and lunchtime.  Festival sponsors include our landlord Andy at the Black Swan Inn and our friends at Red Cow Music and at Acorn Instruments. for further details.
16.     SINGING SESSION AT NABURN LOCKS, 11th SEPTEMBER.  Tony Haynes of Vale Radio’s FAB Folk & Blues Show writes “the Canal and River Trust are holding an Open Day at Naburn Locks on the river Ouse on Sunday 11th September. They have asked us if we could provide a running outdoor singaround there in the afternoon, say 12 to 4pm.  A few of us did this last year and it was great fun.  Anyone turning up would be very welcome.”  The singing could then continue at the Sunday evening FAB club in Haxby, adds Tony.
17.     YORK’S LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC, 23rd SEPTEMBER - 1st OCTOBER.  Ellen Cole writes that York’s Little Festival of Live Music is again 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 David Ward Maclean, Dan Webster and The Duncan Macfarlane Band (all on Friday 23rd), King Courgette, Leather’o, Mulholland and Boss Caine (all on Sunday 25th), and The Bronze (on Friday 30th)  Live music takes place each day (except Tuesday 27th) from 5pm until 9pm and entry is free.  For the full programme
18.     YORK’S IRISH CULTURE NIGHT, 29th SEPTEMBER.  I generally don’t mention events here which are a direct clash with one of our shows, but for our friends in the York Irish Association I will make an exception.  They are hosting an Irish Culture Night at the De Grey Rooms on St Leonard’s Place on Thursday 29th September.  Headlining are the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners, Celtic band Talisk and also appearing are Paula Ryan, the O'Connor Academy of Irish Dance and Kevin Mullowney & Des Hurley.  The evening begins at 7pm and will be hosted by Elly Fiorentini from BBC Radio York.  Tickets cost £15 and can be reserved by
19.     FRACK FREE RYEDALE CONCERT, 2nd SEPTEMBER.  There is a Frack Free Ryedale fundraiser concert at Middleton Village Hall near Pickering this Friday, 2nd September.  It features our own Stan Graham and our good friend David Swann, supported by The Eclairs and The Sweet Martinis.  Doors open 7pm and entry is £7.50, bring your own drinks.
20.     SAM LEE LAUNCHES FOLK SEASON AT SELBY TOWN HALL, 3rd SEPTEMBER.  The highly rated, Mercury Prize nominated singer Sam Lee is the first folk act this new season at Selby Town Hall.  That is with his band next Saturday, 3rd September, with tickets £14 in advance or £16 on the door.  Several Selby events this season are already sold out, including The Young’uns (no surprise there!) and there are reported to be only a few tickets left for some others, includingPeggy Seeger on 2nd October.
21.     THIRTY YEARS OF LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IN HOWDEN, 17th SEPTEMBER.  The Howden Live organisation celebrates its 30th anniversary with a full day of live music on Saturday 17th September at the Shire Hall.  It’s a varied line-up but with several folk / acoustic performers included.  The afternoon bill is Fiona Lee, Katie Spencer, Carrie Martin and Stony, then in the evening Joe Solo, Paul Liddell and Derrin Nauendorf. The whole day is just £12.50 and details can be found at
22.     LIVE FOLK MUSIC IN RIPON WITH JOHN SPIERS, 8th OCTOBER.  Nick Thompson continues to do great work in bringing occasional live music to Ripon, a town which has hitherto been a bit of a folk music void. Nick has put on Faustus and John Kirkpatrick recently and has now announced a solo show by John “Squeezy” Spiers (of Bellowhead fame) on Saturday 8th October at The Golden Lion.  “The concert will be mainly seated” says Nick, “we do have raised staging to give good visibility for all, and tickets are limited to 70”.  They cost £12 and more than half have been taken already. to reserve yours.   The next event announced for The Golden Lion will be The Buffalo Skinners on Friday 16th December.
23.     GUY CLARK TRIBUTE NIGHT, 8th NOVEMBER.  Chris Euesden is planning a tribute night for the great American singer-songwriter Guy Clark, who passed away earlier this year.  It will be at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road in York on Tuesday 8th November.  More details to follow, but put it in your diary now.
24.     LADY MAISERY AT NUNNINGTON HALL, 11th NOVEMBER.  Outstanding female folk trio Lady Maisery appear in the atmospheric setting of National Trust property Nunnington Hall, Ryedale, on Friday 11th November.  This band (which includes last week’s club guest Rowan Rheingans) did a great NCEM concert for us in spring 2015 and I hope to bring them back there sometime in 2017, but meanwhile you can enjoy them in this very special venue.  Tickets are £18 and the incredibly long URL for more details
25.     ROISIN BAN RETURN TO TOCKWITH, 12th NOVEMBER.  After a successful gig there last year, Róisín Bán return to Tockwith Village Hall (YO26 7PR) for another Irish Ceili Night, a combined concert and dance event, on Saturday 12th November. Barry Evans calls the dances and the event starts at 7.30pm.  Tickets are £10 on 01423 358808.  Incidentally, I was interested to hear that our old friend Gordon Tyrrall will be joining Róisín Bán next year.
Our next mailing will be around the end of September, all being well, by which time we should be well into an autumn packed with top quality folk, roots and acoustic music. Support and enjoy!