22nd October 2016
It’s a bumper bulletin this month, with lots of news items to report, but as always I’ll begin with an update on our own club events.
NCEM CONCERTS – BREABACH AND BEYOND
1. LAST FEW SEATS FOR BREABACH THIS MONDAY, 24th OCTOBER. There are only a handful of tickets left for the performance by barnstorming Scottish band Breabach (“exhilarating, energetic and accomplished” says Songlines) on Monday night. As the Early Music Centre Box Office is unstaffed over the weekend, last minute bookings should be done online at www.ncem.co.uk. The Box Office phone line 01904 658338 reopens at 9am on Monday for on-the-day enquiries. Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions, doors open at 7pm and music gets underway at 7.30pm with a support set by Bella Gaffney – of whom more at item 13 below.
2. SHADOWS: O’HOOLEY & TIDOW ON TUESDAY 1st NOVEMBER. We switch the emphasis to English contemporary folk song in November with a concert by Belinda O’Hooley & Heidi Tidow on Tuesday week, 1st November. This will showcase material from new album Shadows, follow-up to their ground-breaking 2014 release The Hum, which has been picking up excellent reviews. The Guardian gave it 5 stars and called them “England’s answer to The McGarrigles”, while for The Independent it was “formidably brilliant”. Mojo made it their Folk Album of the Month while for Songlines it was “dense, complex and beautifully performed”.
Other endorsements of this great duo come from fellow musicians such as Martin Simpson (“brave, beautiful and full of love”) and Tom Robinson (“in the leading ranks of the new wave of folk music aristocracy”). Support act at the NCEM is another of our favourite local performers, Duncan McFarlane (this time appearing solo) and as I write tickets are over half sold. They cost £14 full or £12 concessions from the NCEM Box Office or website.
3. SO MUCH TO DEFEND: CHRIS WOOD ON WEDNESDAY 30th NOVEMBER. We stay with top-class contemporary songwriting in the folk idiom for our second November concert. This brings back to York the mighty Chris Wood, who also has an album of new songs just out, So Much To Defend. A self-taught musician, composer and songwriter, Chris is a lifelong autodidact whose independent streak shines through everything he does. Always direct and unafraid to speak his mind, his uncompromising songs have been praised for their surgical clarity and gentle intelligence. Lauded as spokesman for an unofficial history of England and citing “anon” as his major influence, Chris weaves the folk tradition into contemporary parables such as the award-winning Hollow Point.
Tom Robinson again supplies a quotable endorsement: “a man of utter integrity … he puts a knife between the ribs of contemporary society and gives it a good old twist”. We look forward to a diverse selection of old favourites and fresh compositions from this master craftsman on 30th November. One of our best local songwriters John Storey is the opening act and tickets cost £16 full price or £14 concessions.
4. CELTIC CHRISTMAS STRINGS ON WEDNESDAY 21st DECEMBER. Our seasonal musical treat this season comes from two much-loved musicians famed for their originality, innovation and virtuosity on their respective instruments, Chris Newman (guitar) and Máire Ní Chathasaigh (harp, vocals). Together they create one of the most distinctive sounds in modern acoustic music, as enjoyed in venues large and small in twenty-plus countries on five continents for the last three decades - including at different times both the Black Swan and the Early Music Centre.
In their seasonal show Celtic Christmas Strings on Wednesday 21st December, Máire and Chris present a breath-taking blend of traditional Irish music, swing jazz and bluegrass, plus festive favourites given a fresh voice with arrangements that are intricate, inventive, moving and beautiful, and all performed in their characteristically warm-hearted style. This will be a delightful winter treat suitable for all the family. Tickets are £14 full and £12 concessions, with a special child rate of £5. Note also that there will be no support act.
5. STEVE KNIGHTLEY KICKS OFF OUR 2017 CONCERT PROGRAMME. The celebrated Show of Hands frontman returns to the NCEM on Friday 3rd February on his solo Landlocked tour. Tickets are already on sale for this one – and getting on for half sold, take note. All tickets are £18 and again there will be no support act.
Other concerts scheduled for the NCEM next spring include a singer-songwriter double bill of Steve Tilston & Jez Lowe (28th March), English folk trios Leveret (6th March) and Faustus (10th April) and hot young Welsh outfit Calan (3rd May). Booking for these shows won’t start for a while (Calan in December, the others in January) but do put relevant dates in your diary now.
THURSDAY NIGHT CLUB EVENTS
6. CATHRYN CRAIG & BRIAN WILLOUGHBY, 27th OCTOBER. The club guests this week are old friends of ours. Brian Willoughby is a virtuoso guitarist and former member of the Strawbs whose strong British folk rock influence mixes refreshingly well with the country roots of Virginia’s Cathryn Craig - whose debut solo album Porch Songs from 1995 remains one of my all-time favourite Americana albums.
Brian and Cathryn’s music blurs boundaries and showcases her voice, his guitar and their intricately crafted songs in a unique and dynamic way, a magical combination of folk, Americana and country. They have performed and recorded with a host of names: Cathryn alongside Garth Brooks and Nanci Griffith, Brian with Nanci Griffith and everyone from Jim Diamond, Mary Hopkin and Joe Brown to Monty Python. Together they have been described as a “made-in-heaven musical partnership”.
Stan Graham MCs on Thursday and entry is £10 full or £9 concessions.
7. OPEN SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHT, 3rd NOVEMBER. Eddie Affleck takes his turn as compere at our next “open” evening on 3rd November. If it is anything like as busy as the last one (see item 13) then he’ll be kept well occupied. Music kicks off around 8.15 and entry is just £3 full or £2 concessions, while performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty.
8. THE RACHEL HAMER BAND, 10th NOVEMBER. I booked our guest band for the 10th November purely on the strength of their reputation. Having then seem them on stage during Whitby Folk Week in August, I knew I’d made a good choice. Rachel Hamer is a powerful and emotive young singer from Whitley Bay on Tyneside whose repertoire of traditional and modern folk songs draws heavily on her northern heritage. She gets innovative and inspired accompaniment by onetime York Young Fiddler Grace Smith (also doing backing vocals and a bit of clog dance) together with guitarist and singer Graeme Armstrong and Sam Partridge on flute and piano. Well worth checking out, I’d advise you. Tickets are £9 full, £8 concessions, and Stan Graham is again timetabled as MC.
9. THE JON PALMER ACOUSTIC BAND, 17th NOVEMBER. Somehow we’ll squeeze a 6-piece group onto our club room “stage” on 17th November. The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band are a folk, roots and rock & roll combo based in and around the musically vibrant West Yorkshire market town of Otley and winning a name for themselves across the region.
They have been described as “a cross between The Pogues and Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions band, with a bit of The Waterboys and Saw Doctors thrown in for good measure”. Their latest album gets a 5-star review in the new edition of R2 Magazine. “I never tire of this band: soaring songs, sing-along choruses… and passion. Perfect!” says reviewer Nick Toczek. “Do yourself a favour and acquire Live at Otley Courthouse. Do yourself a second favour: go see them at their live best”.
Jon Palmer is a charismatic front man and writes catchy, commercial songs. He is ably supported by a line-up of guitars, mandolin, whistle, double bass, violin and percussion, with everyone singing, the other band members being Nick Settle, Wendy Ross, Tom Palmer, Ricky Silvers and Matt Nelson. Tickets for this one are a bargain at just £8 full price or £7 concessions and the night’s MC is still to be agreed.
10. DAOIRI FARRELL, 24th NOVEMBER. We move the emphasis over to Ireland on 24th November when we are delighted to bring you a rising star in Irish folk. Daoiri (pronounced Derry) Farrell is a singer and bouzouki player from Dublin who is generating lots of interest following his UK solo debut last January at Celtic Connections. Named the All Ireland Champion Singer at the Fleadh in Co. Derry back in 2013 but only now beginning a full time music career, Daoiri cites influences such as Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and The Bothy Band.
Daoiri is certainly a great singer (check him out on YouTube doing The Creggan White Hare,www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPI_
tHNjS78) and also a very skilled accompanist on that adopted Irish instrument the bouzouki. It seems there is a new wave of Irish folk music at the moment – think Lynched or Damien O’Kane (with whom Doairi will be touring in 2017). Certainly two of our club regulars who saw Daoiri in action at the recent Costa del Folk Festival were waxing most enthusiastic. Judge for yourself on 24th November. Tickets are £9 full or £8 concessions.
11. DECEMBER & BEYOND. December brings us two star attractions, bluesy singer guitarist Brooks 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 legendary Martin 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. All these shows are now open for booking at www.wegottickets.com and we would expect Brooks, Jackie and Martin all to attract full houses, so book early if you can.
The club diary is now full until Easter and in a month or so I’ll begin to write our next brochure, after which the following events will also go on sale at WeGotTickets. Favourite artists you can look forward to seeing again include Flossie Malavialle (26th January), Allan Taylor (9th February), The Churchfitters (2nd March), Kieran Halpin (23rd March) and Debra Cowan (6th April) while amongst the first-time guests areGeoff Lakeman (16th February) and Jim Causley (16th March). There will also be a Sunday Night Special on 12th February with song-based Shooglenifty-offshoot The Kaela Rowan Band. Once again, put relevant dates in your diary now.
OTHER CLUB NEWS
12. WE ARE VOTED OUSTANDING YORKSHIRE MUSIC CLUB OF 2016. A couple of weeks ago we were delighted to be voted Outstanding Music Club of the year in the annual Grassroots Awards run by theYorkshire Gig Guide website. A finely engraved glass trophy now sits alongside our 2009 BBC Folk Club of the Year gong in the display cabinet at the foot of the Black Swan Inn staircase. Particularly gratifying is that this award was largely determined by online public voting and also that it spans all styles of live music, not just folk.
Stan Graham and I attended the Awards ceremony at Marsden Mechanics and were pleased to see quite a few other people we knew from the Yorkshire music scene amongst the attendees. Janet Farmer of Pocklington Arts Centre picked up the Outstanding Contribution award, folk musician Sam Pirt took the People's Choice award, Ellen Cole of York's Little Festival of Live Music was runner up in no fewer than three different categories and Folk Weekend regular Ani McNeice won the Outstanding Live Sound award for the Wee Dog PA business she runs with husband Gerry. Tony Haynes of Vale Radio was also there and recorded a few highlights for his FAB show.
13. WHAT A GLORIOUS NIGHT THAT WAS – OUR OCTOBER SINGERS NIGHT. After a very quiet event in September (see E-News 205), the early October Singers Night was an absolute cracker of a session, packed full of good music from no fewer than 17 different acts, including a healthy number of younger singers and female artists, something we are sometimes short of, and with a large and appreciative complement of non-performing listeners as well. “Stunning night at the Black Swan Folk Club in York last night” posted one attendee, “packed with great singers and musicians and audience with a real eclectic mix of styles with everyone giving an amazing performance”, while another audience member emailed me the next day: “I just wanted to say how great we thought last night's singers night was. The time just flew by … the visitor singers were excellent, some of them fabulous. Honestly, we loved it - one of those special nights.”
No fewer than four of the new singers that night had just arrived in York as university students, all with pedigrees as working performers. Beginning first degree courses are Tilly Moses(www.facebook.com/Tillysmusic) and Tom McKenzie (http://tommckenzie.co.uk), while Bella Gaffney(http://bellagaffney.weebly.
com) and Rosie Knighton of Otley-based vocal trio Yan Tan Tether(www.facebook.com/ Yantantetherotley) have both moved here as postgraduate students. Bella (doing the support for Breabach on Monday) and Yan Tan Tether were both already known to us and indeed I have arranged for them to share a Double Bill night as guest artists on 13th April next year.