1st January 2017
Welcome to our first bulletin of 2017. We wish you a very happy and peaceful new year, laced with plenty of great live music.
FOLK CLUB NIGHTS
- ALL WELCOME AT SINGERS NIGHTS 5th JANUARY & 2nd FEBRUARY. We launch the new year in relaxed style with an open Singers & Musicians Night this Thursday, 5th January. They last few of these approximately monthly gatherings have been excellent evenings, with a wide variety of singers and players turning up and offering us all some high quality music. John Storey hosts on Thursday and all are welcome, both performers (who are asked to put a token £1 in the kitty) and pure listeners for whom the entry charge is a modest £3. The following Singers Night falls on February 2nd with Phil Cerny as compere.
- MARTIN CARTHY – STILL SOME TICKETS FOR WEDNESDAY EXTRA. No introductions should be needed for our club guest next week. Martin Carthy is surely England's best known and most influential folk singer and, at the age of 75, is still going strong, performing with his daughter Eliza, with John Kirkpatrick (see item 23) and solo in folk clubs such as ours, venues which he has supported throughout his long career. Martin's Thursday night performance (12th January) has been Sold Out for a while but as I write there are still about 20 tickets left for his second show on Wednesday 11th January. Book your places now at www.wegottickets.com – they are £14 full price or £12 concessions. Chris Euesden acts as MC on the Wednesday night and Phil Cerny on Thursday.
- YOUNG PERFORMER SHOWCASE, 19th JANUARY. From a true veteran to the up-and-coming names of the future. Our annual New Roots showcase night takes place on Thursday 19th January and this year features two young Yorkshire-based acts. Jack Patchett is a 21 year old singer-songwriter from Holmfirth whose songs and performance style are "rich and complex at the same time as being engaging and emotionally touching", while Two's Company are Alice Baillie and David Jenkinson from Sheffield, performing a variety of traditional and original songs and tunes with guitar, mandolin and flute. Eddie Affleck acts as MC for this one (and will be the only floor performer) and both acts will get to perform for about an hour each over two short sets. Entry is £8 full or £7 concessions, with ALL door receipts split 50/50 between the two acts.
Do come along if you possibly can. We've been running Young Performer nights since 1999 and while some past participants have not made a permanent place in the music scene, others have established themselves as major names – artists such as Fay Hield, Roger Davies and Lucy Ward. I particularly recall one of these events nine years ago which gave us our first taste of both The Young'uns and Gilmore & Roberts (see item 8) - and which was, incidentally, "guest" MC'ed by Tom Bliss (see item 15).
- NEW BROCHURE PERIOD, NEW PRICING STRUCTURE. The new club brochure is now printed, covering events from 26th January until 19th May, and copies will be generally available in York from this coming week. As well as at club meetings, they are displayed at the Black Swan Inn and in places such as the Tourist Information Centre, City Screen and Red Cow Music. Copies are also mailed to other outlets around the region (other folk clubs, specialist music shops, arts centres, etc.) although I can't guarantee that they are always displayed. Of course, all relevant information is also loaded onto the club website.
Can I remind you of the change in pricing policy which was announced in the last E-News? From 26th January we are scrapping the £1 off concessionary rate for OAPs. Instead, there will be a single price for all adults, which will be slightly cheaper if you buy in advance through WeGotTickets rather than paying on the door. We are retaining the (so far little-used) half price offer for under-18s and full time students, and indeed we are now able to give it greater prominence by offering child/student booking on WeGotTickets as well
One or two people have already booked child/student tickets online, some of whom I suspect are OAPs who have booked without reading the screen closely and not realising that the lower price no longer applies to them. Of course I will be asking for proof of student status on the door!
- FLOSSIE RETURNS, 26th JANUARY. Our first two guest artists in the next brochure period are both established favourites making return visits and (hopefully) needing little introduction here. For Flossie Malavialle on Thursday 26th January it will be her fourth visit to the Black Swan. This French-born singer now living in North East England has become a much loved performer at clubs and festivals across Britain, including ours. Her wide repertoire - everything from old folk songs to jazz standards, blues numbers to Piaf and Brel classics – combines with her powerful yet sensitive singing and her exuberant stage banter to give us great entertainment. Stan Graham hosts this one and tickets are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
- FIFTEEN PLUS FOR ALLAN TAYLOR, 9th FEBRUARY. Craftsman songwriter Allan Taylor has an association with our club which goes back to the very early days and his appearance here on Thursday 9th February will be at least his 15th solo booking here. Aptly described as one of the last of the travelling troubadours of the 1960s, Allan ranks amongst this country's most literate and accomplished of acoustic songsmiths. His compositions are faultlessly constructed and flawlessly performed, his smooth, dark voice is instantly recognisable and his guitar playing is intricate yet full-sounding. His appearances here are always nights to savour. Chris Euesden acts as MC this week and tickets are £10 in advance or £11 on the door.
- SCOTTISH SUNDAY SPECIAL WITH KAELA ROWAN, 12th FEBRUARY. As this season's programme took shape, I realised that we did not have a single Scottish act booked, neither at the Black Swan nor at the Early Music Centre. Hence when we were approached about putting on the great Scottish singer Kaela Rowan we seized the opportunity, even though it meant an "extra" show at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 12th February, this being a convenient stopover for Kaela and her band on their way to a high profile London gig at the prestigious Green Note venue.
Who is Kaela Rowan, some of you may be asking? Once heard, never forgotten, we might reply, having seen her guesting with Shooglenifty when they played in York a year ago. Raised in the Scottish Highlands, Kaela has been singing in folk bands and in sessions and festivals since her teens. Moving to Edinburgh in her twenties, her passion for traditional song and dance led her to her becoming a dance and music tutor and she is currently a Traditional Song Development Worker in the Scottish Borders.
Outside of her homeland, Kaela is perhaps best known as lead singer with influential Scottish group Mouth Music, with whom she recorded four albums and toured globally. She has also recorded and performed with artists such as Eliza Carthy, Karen Matheson and Mike McGoldrick and most recently she joined that unique Scottish band Shooglenifty for their acclaimed seventh album The Untied Knot, bringing a dynamic new vocal element to the band's hitherto largely instrumental sound. She toured extensively with the Shoogles throughout 2015, including that York concert.
Citing an eclectic range of early influences (John Martyn, Planxty and Joni Mitchell amongst others) and blessed with an extraordinarily beautiful voice, Kaela has forged her own unique path throughout the Scottish music scene. She can sing equally movingly in Gaelic and in English and was indeed shortlisted for Gaelic Singer of the Year in the 2016 Scots Trad Music Awards, while her 5-star new album The Fruited Thorn was praised in fRoots as "subtle, evocative – a total killer of a record – pure beauty".
For her only two English dates (us and The Green Note) Kaela is joined by Shooglenifty's guitarist/mandolinist Ewan MacPherson and percussionist James Mackintosh, the latter having co-produced The Fruited Thorn. Ewan is no stranger to York– he accompanied Patsy Reid at the club in 2015 and way back in 2007 he appeared at the NCEM with Scottish-Scandinavian outfit Fribo.
This promises to be a really special night and a must-hear for all lovers of Scottish folk song. We are co-promoting the show with our friend Joe Coates of PleasePleaseYou. Being a Sunday night it will be a slightly earlier event – doors open 7.30 – and will have one half hour support act (rather than floor singers) plus two sets from Kaela and her band. Tickets are £11 in advance through WeGotTickets or (if there are any left) £12.50 on the door.
- FUTURE CLUB GUESTS. Our 2017 schedule continues with a wide variety of different singers, duos and groups. From Devon we welcome debut performances by two fine singers of different generations, namely Geoff Lakeman (16th February) and Jim Causley (16th March), while other first-time visitors include the "brilliantly quirky" alt-Americana duo Worry Dolls (23rd February) and highly-rated English folk pairing Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith (11th May). From the continent we are delighted to reprise that unique Anglo-French band The Churchfitters (2nd March) and from his adopted home in Germany, a favourite Irish singer-songwriter Kieran Halpin (23rd March). 2017's influx of North American visitors begins with Debra Cowan (6th April), soon followed by Tania Opland & Mike Freeman (27th April). From closer to home we bring back that great young couple Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts (20th April), while an Easter Double Bill comprises vocal trio Yan Tan Tether and young quartet Bric-a-Brac (13th April). All the above shows are now open for booking at WeGotTickets, as is a "season finale" two night stint by the one and only Vin Garbutt (18th & 19th May).
YORK'S WINTER FOLK DAY
- YORK RESIDENTS' FESTIVAL FOLK EVENT, SUNDAY 29th JANUARY. For the ninth year running, we are offering a free-entry folk event as part of the York Residents' Festival. This annual weekend takes place at the end of January, with dozens of local attractions opening their doors for free to York citizens, and restaurants and eateries offer special deals to local people.
York's Winter Folk Day for 2017 is on Sunday 29th January at the Black Swan Inn, with afternoon (2.00-5.30) and evening (7.30-10.30) concerts in the club room showcasing some of the best folk and acoustic singers and bands who are based within the boundaries of the City of York. Line-ups are now confirmed. The afternoon kicks off with The Foresters and continues with Chris Euesden (2.30), Judith Haswell (3.00), Phil Cerny (3.30), White Sail (aka Sarah Dean, Jane Stockdale and Chris Bartram, 4.00), Paula Ryan (4.30) and Ian Pybus (5.00). The evening show begins with Leather'o (in their "stripped-down" four piece line-up) then offers Eddie Affleck (8.00), Bella Gaffney (8.30), Tom McKenzie (9.00) and Stan Graham (9.30), before possibly ending with an outing for the Black Swan "boy band".
Entry is free to York Card holders and to holders of local SU cards. The Residents' Festival organisers are keen to get more students involved this year, so we are particularly pleased to have Bella and Tom appearing during the evening concert. People without a qualifying card will also be admitted, space permitting, but for a small charge of £3 each. The club PA will be in operation and MC duties will be shared amongst members of our team.
By the way, I gather that the full Residents' Festival programme brochure will be available from next Friday (6th January) at the Tourist Information Centre or from local libraries, and of course libraries are also where to go if you live within the city boundary but don't already have a York Card.
NEW CONCERT SEASON AT NCEM
- LAST TICKETS FOR STEVE KNIGHTLEY'S LANDLOCKED SHOW. Our first concert promotion this year at the National Centre for Early Music is Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley, on his solo Landlocked tour, in which he combines songs of the land in one half with songs of the sea in the other. This concert is on Friday 3rd February and tickets have been on sale for some time. Indeed, as I write there are only around 30 of them left, so if you want to go to this one, book very soon. All tickets are £18 (i.e. no concessions) and they are available through www.ncem.co.uk and (after the holiday) on 01904 658338.
- ENGLISH FOLK, INSTRUMENTAL AND VOCAL, WITH LEVERET AND FAUSTUS. Two of our other NCEM concerts this coming season showcase contrasting approaches to modern English folk music. Both events feature trios of celebrated musicians, all of whom have appeared in one guise or another at the NCEM before.
On Monday 6th March we present the instrumental trio Leveret, comprising Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney and Rob Harbron. All three are rated masters of their respective instruments (melodeon, fiddle and concertina) and over the years they have all been involved in high profile collaborations with artists such as Bellowhead, The Full English, Nancy Kerr, Eliza Carthy and Martin Simpson. The Leveret repertoire is firmly rooted in the English tradition but sounds fresh and modern, with original settings of ancient folk tunes sitting alongside the finest of new compositions. The music is not arranged in the conventional sense - instead it is played entirely in the moment, combining consummate musicianship, compelling delivery and captivating spontaneity to produce a sound both timeless and contemporary, warm, listenable, engaging and refreshing. Toni Bunnell does the opening half support spot for this one.
Five weeks later, on Monday 10th April, and making their third appearance at the NCEM, we have Faustus for you, comprising Saul Rose (Waterson:Carthy, War Horse), Benji Kirkpatrick (Seth Lakeman Band, Bellowhead) and Paul Sartin (Bellowhead, Belshazzar's Feast). All three of them sing and with an instrumental mix of melodeon, bouzouki, guitar, fiddle and oboe they offer a richly varied and virtuosic musical display, no doubt focusing on material from newest CD Death and Other Animals, researched and recorded during their 2016 year as Artists In Residence at Halsway Manor Folk Arts Centre in Somerset. Support comes from local duo Steve & Dee Marshall, best known as part of The Foresters.
Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions for both of these shows and should be on sale any day now through the NCEM website and box office.
- WELSH FOLK MAKES ITS NCEM DEBUT WITH CALAN. Welsh folk music has been undergoing a renaissance in the last few years and one of its foremost exponents is the five piece group Calan, who are our concert guests on Wednesday 3rd May. Fiddles, guitar, accordion, bagpipes and step dancing explode into life when this energetic young band takes the stage. These virtuoso musicians breathe fire into old traditions with their infectious rhythms and high voltage routines before melting into beautiful and haunting songs which explore the legends of Wales with tales of fairies and magic, myth and mischief.
Calan are introducing a new generation of listeners to Welsh traditional music as they tour widely across the UK and into Europe, North America and beyond, with their musicianship and huge sense of humour making for an outstanding show. In a departure from our usual concert pattern, they will be doing one long set, rather than two shorter ones, and they will be preceded on stage by their own special tour guest, singer-songwriter Dan Wilde. Tickets are £15 full or £13 concessions and are already on sale.
- SONGWRITER FEAST WITH STEVE AND JEZ. Our other concert at the NCEM this season places the emphasis firmly on modern songwriting when Steve Tilston and Jez Lowe share the stage on Tuesday 28th March, in an event which we are running with the support of the 2017 York Literature Festival.
Steve and Jez are of course two of the British folk scene's most accomplished songwriters and in this show they join forces for a shared night filled with lyrics and music, chat and banter and intimate insights into their very successful approach to the writing craft. Head to head, neck and neck (guitar necks, that is!) listen in as they rekindle the spontaneity of their late-night living room song-swaps. Expect an eclectic mix of solo compositions alongside material from the brand new album of co-written songs, The Janus Game.
Both established artists since the 1970s and both regular guests at our club venue, Steve and Jez have been widely covered by other singers and have been involved in many different projects over the years. For example Jez is a notable contributor to the BBC Radio Ballads series and has written extensively for musical theatre, while an incident from Steve's past was the inspiration for Hollywood movie Danny Collins and he has published a novel.
Tickets are again £15 full or £13 concessions and will be on sale any day now. Note also that there is no support act for this event.
The full York Literature Festival brochure is due out within the next week, likewise the NCEM Spring Season brochure is imminent.
- CLUB SHOWS REVIEWED. Local freelance music critic Martin Longley attended several of our autumn events. You can read his account of Breabach's October performance at the NCEM at www.allaboutjazz.com/live-from-old-york-kathryn-tickell-tom-brosseau-breabach-and-loudon-wainwright-iii-by-martin-longley.php?page=1 and find a review of Brooks Williams' December club show at www.allaboutjazz.com/live-from-old-york-laura-jurd-annie-whitehead-brooks-williams-and-koshka-by-martin-longley.php?page=1.
Richard Foster also gets in on the act. This former York Press journalist and folk music fan has reviewed the recent Chris Wood concert for the YorkMix website. You can read his thoughts on Chris' performance at www.yorkmix.com/things-to-do/review-chris-wood/.
- TOM BLISS CHARITY SHOWS – A REMINDER. In my last bulletin I told you about some charity shows that Tom Bliss is putting on with his band The Burning Bridges to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The York show is on Saturday 14th January in the function room at the Black Swan Inn, starting at 8.30, and there are also two performances in Leeds, one next Saturday (7th January) at Inkwell Arts in Chapel Allerton (NOTE – an early evening show, starting at 6.30) and then on Saturday 11th February at 8.30 at the New Headingley Club. All events will be "pay as you feel" entry by donation, with proceeds going to the MS charity, so please give generously!
In case you missed my piece last time and are scratching your head thinking "I know the name Tom Bliss from somewhere", I'll repeat what I wrote then. "Songwriter Tom Bliss has recently been in touch to tell us he will soon be stepping back on to the stage after several years in retirement, to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. In his youth Tom wrote pop songs for impresario Pete Waterman but by the naughties he'd rediscovered his first love of folk and was touring the across the UK from his Leeds base (including several appearances at our club) and releasing nine albums of "astonishingly moving and inspirational" (Tykes News) story songs. However in 2009 Tom decided to retire from the music scene and pursue other interests. "Whatever happened to Tom Bliss?" has since become a frequently aired question whenever folk fans get together, particularly here in Yorkshire.
"Tom's daughter has recently been diagnosed with the debilitating neurological condition MS and he has decided to make a limited return to the stage to raise funds for the MS Society. Together with long-time collaborator Dave Bowie on double bass and York-based singer-guitarist Ross Bennett, and under a name that gently mocks his retirement, Tom Bliss and the Burning Bridges, Tom has arranged these three charity shows."
- YORK IRISH NEWS & EVENTS. The ever active York Irish Association has announced a range of events for the new year, most of them music-related and not limited just to YIA members. Young local "prog folk-rock" singer Joshua Burnell appears with his Trio at The Gillygate Pub on Saturday 21st January at 8pm, playing a mix of self-penned songs and traditional songs and folk tunes. There is then a Ceilidh on Saturday 18th February at St Clement's Hall with FiddlersWreck (this one a joint promotion with the University of York Irish Society) and in March York Irish hold their third annual St Patrick's Festival in the St Sampson's Square marquee on Friday17th and Saturday 18th. "Ceilidhs, Irish dancing, music, face-painting, food, drink and much more" are promised. There is a website at www.yorkirish.co.uk, although at present it has not been updated with these latest activities, so if you want more details, I suggest you email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- FELLOW FOLK CLUBS ON THE MOVE. While (one wobble aside) we have been blessed with a single and stable venue throughout our club's 40 year history, many other folk gatherings are not so lucky. Recently two monthly West Yorkshire clubs have had to move. Ryburn3Step folk club suddenly found their venue at The Works in Sowerby Bridge had closed its doors last autumn and they have relocated (at least for now) to the upstairs room at The Malthouse, formerly the Royal, at 270 Oldham Road in Rishworth (HX6 4QB), which is close to J22 on the M62. The club meets on the last Wednesday of each month from September to June, with their next event featuring Tom Lewis on 25th January. Watch www.ryburn3step.org.uk for further updates.
Meanwhile the Just Voices acapella singing session was one of several music clubs made homeless by the closure of the historic Black Bull in Birstall. Joint organiser David Kidman has been in touch to say that their monthly gatherings will for the foreseeable future take place at The Garden Gate in Hunslet. They meet on the final Tuesday of each month, so next on 31st January.
Incidentally, David Kidman also tells me he has just issued a CD Songs Worth the Singing, which contains 18 of his favourite songs "all of which I've sung at the (York) club at some point". It is available from David at gigs or via his website www.davidkidman.co.uk.
OTHER EVENTS IN THE WIDER REGION
- TOM PAXTON IN LEEDS, 17th JANUARY. Talk of his retirement from live touring was evidently premature! American folk legend Tom Paxton is back in Britain this month and appears locally at Leeds City Varieties on Tuesday 17th January, with special guests Cathy & Marcy. Find out more and book your tickets at www.cityvarieties.co.uk. And see if you can spot our Stan in the audience! Tom is also at The Sage in Gateshead a week later, Tuesday 24th January.
- PITMAN POETS IN LEEDS AND ELSEWHERE. The City Varieties is also one of several local(ish) venues for the latest Pitman Poets tour, in which Billy Mitchell, Jez Lowe, Bob Fox and Benny Graham "celebrate the triumphs, tragedy, humour and hard times of North-East England's coal mining tradition in an evening of music, song and spoken word, illustrated by atmospheric archive photography". The show can be enjoyed at Scarborough Spa Theatre on Sunday 15th January, Pocklington Arts Centre on Wednesday 18th, The Cast Theatre in Doncaster on Friday 20th, Leeds City Varieties on Saturday 21st, Billingham Forum Theatre on Wednesday 25th or Barnsley Civic Theatre on Friday 27th. For full tour dates, further details and relevant links go to www.thepitmenpoets.co.uk.
- SARAH JAROSZ LAUNCHES NEW SALTAIRE LIVE SEASON. The first show of 2017 promoted by Simon Heginbotham and Saltaire Live is actually in Leeds, when "one of the brightest lights in acoustic Americana" Sarah Jarosz, appears with her trio on Tuesday 31st January at the Brudenell Social Club. Events then follow throughout the spring at The Brudenell, at Otley Courthouse and back in the Victoria Hall at Saltaire itself, with artists such as Peatbog Faeries, Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, Eddie Reader and Oysters 3. See www.saltairelive.co.uk for details.
- HILLBILLIES AND MORE IN HOWDEN. Howden Live have also announced their programme for the first part of the new year. As usual it is a varied line-up at The Shire Hall, but amongst the more folk-oriented shows are The Hillbilly Troupe plus Beggars Bridge on Saturday 4th February, The Sam Kelly Trio on Friday 31st March and our own recent club guests (and very good they were!), the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band on Saturday 13th May. Find out more at www.howden-live.com.
- AND A NEW SEASON AT SELBY TOWN HALL. The Selby Town Hall arts venue has just released full details of its next season and as usual there are several musical shows within our area of interest, notably Blair Dunlop with his band on 4th February, Irish sensation Lankum (formerly known as Lynched) on 30th April and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman (son of our above-mentioned Geoff) on 6th May. See www.selbytownhall.co.uk.
- CARTHY & KIRKPATRICK IN REETH. Up in Swaledale, John Little and co. continue to promote some excellent folk gigs at the Memorial Hall in Reeth. There first such this year is Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick on their duo tour, on Friday 24th February. For a full listing of Reeth 2017 events and all further details, go to www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk.
- FAIRPORT's 50th ANNIVERSARY TOUR. Lastly, it cannot go unremarked that Fairport Convention celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band this year with another massive winter tour. After all, they more than anybody else are responsible for me – and I suspect some of you - getting interested in folk music in the first place. Unfortunately there is no York date on the itinerary this year, so your nearest chances to catch this "celebratory" tour are Friday 3rd March at Whitby Pavilion or Saturday 4th March at Leeds City Varieties. Sometime Poozie (and TV's The Voice runner-up in 2014) Sally Barker is the special tour guest. The band website is, of course, www.fairportconvention.com.
Our next mailing will probably not be until early February. Before then there are certainly plenty of chances to enjoy some great live folk music.