Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 212

April 2017


1.        A DOUBLE BILL EASTER TREAT THIS WEEK, 13th APRIL.  Why not start the long Easter weekend with a musical treat tomorrow at the Black Swan?  We have a great double bill in prospect with Yan Tan Tether and Bric-a-Brac sharing the night.

Bric-a-Brac are a lively young folk band playing a wide range of traditional and original songs and tunes.  Hailing from exotic corners of Yorkshire and the Midlands, they wield an eclectic mix of instruments and all four of them sing.  With their on-stage energy, clever arrangements and an evident joy in playing, they tick every box going.  They comprise York postgraduate student Bella Gaffney on guitars and concertina, Chris Elliott on fiddle, bouzouki and guitar, Caitlin Jones on whistle and flutes and Heather Sirrel on bass.

In pleasant contrast Yan Tan Tether are a close harmony vocal trio from Otley, performing sublime acapella arrangements of mostly traditional folk songs.  Three voices blend beautifully, creating spine-tingling harmonies interspersed with some rollicking chorus songs.  Rosie Knighton (another York postgraduate student), Tess Leslie and Lynne O’Malley have been singing together since 2013 and have built up a reputation for wonderful performances in folk clubs and festivals around Yorkshire and beyond.

Eddie Affleck hosts this one and will be the only floor singer, with each group doing two 30/35 minute sets in the course of the evening.  Tickets are £8 at WeGotTickets (and about a third already sold) or £9 on the door, with the usual half-price concession for under-18s and full-time students.

2.        WELCOME BACK GILMORE & ROBERTS, 20th APRIL.  Ten years after they first guested in our club room (in a truly memorable Young Performers Night shared with The Young’uns), we welcome back Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts next week 20th April.

Nominated no fewer than three times in the BBC Folk Awards, Gilmore & Roberts combine powerful songwriting with astounding musicianship and trademark harmonies to create a powerful wall of sound.  Jamie and Kat met in 2006 while studying at Leeds College of Music and a musical and personal bond was soon established.  They released their debut album in 2008, since when they have toured the length and breadth of Britain (including with Fairport Convention) and across Europe and Canada, winning countless accolades for their genre-spanning writing and inspired stage performances.  Most recent CD release Conflict Tourismwas widely praised and featured on several end-of-year Best Album lists in 2015.

The last time Gilmore & Roberts visited our club room together, in 2014, it was a packed Full House night, and with over half the seats already sold this time around, a repeat is surely on the cards, so book your tickets now at WeGotTickets.  They are £10 in advance or, if there are any left, £11 on the door.

Incidentally, we will have a rather different to usual constellation of floor singers for you on 20th April.  Introduced by MC Phil Cerny, these will be York student and singer-guitarist-songwriter Tom McKenzie, phenomenal fiddle player Dan Foster and young local singer Joshua Burnell. Dan is a Newcastle University Folk Degree alumnus who now lives and works in USA but is in York for a few days visiting family, while Joshua has had several mentions in this newsletter in recent months, most recently (E-News 210) for his ambitious one-song-a-week-for-a-yearSeasons project – posting on his website a new recording of a traditional song or tune every single week.  See also item 5 below.

3.        ACOUSTIC WORLD MUSIC WITH OPLAND & FREEMAN, 27th APRIL.  Anglo-American couple Tania Opland & Mike Freeman have been touring the world together for over 20 years with a unique and eclectic mix of songs in several languages and acoustic music played on more instruments than any sane duo would travel with: hammered dulcimer, guitar, recorders, cittern, violin, Native American flute, ocarina, hurdy-gurdy and percussion.  Their shows feature traditional and contemporary material from many cultures, all presented with wit and style and guaranteed to provide a hugely entertaining evening, especially for listeners open to something a little off the beaten track. Mike's irreverent sense of humour and Tania's stunning vocals provide the springboard for a rollercoaster ride across several continents and back again. Strap yourself in and enjoy!

Mike is originally from Manchester and has played guitar and percussion with an assortment of bands and has accompanied Middle Eastern and African dance troupes, while Tania was born and raised in Alaska and plays a vast array of musical instruments.  When not on the road, these two divide their time between home bases in Suquamish, Washington State, and Inistioge in Ireland (because anyplace else would be too easy a name to spell!) and they have recorded eight albums to date.  They were last with us at the Black Swan in 2009 so Thursday 27th Aprilis an overdue return visit.  Stan Graham is the MC and tickets are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.

4.        COMING UP DURING MAY & JUNE.  The Thursday night club schedule for May begins with a Singers Night on 4th, hosted by John Storey, then continues with debut visitors Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith.  This duo hugely impressed me when I saw them in action at a festival last year and I’m confident they’ll give us a splendid show on 11th May.  “To be a great folk singer, you have to be a great storyteller, as Jimmy and Sid are clearly aware” wrote the reviewer in The Guardian of these “fine singers and multi-instrumentalists”.

On 18th May and in place of Vin Garbutt’s visit (postponed until January 2018) we have a specialCharity Night.  This will be in memory of the late Julie Affleck, with all proceeds going to St Leonard’s Hospice.  Stan Graham has taken the lead in organising this special night and his line-up includes short sets from Paula Ryan, Judith Haswell, Sarah Dean, Toni Bunnell, Phil Cerny, Eddie Affleck and Ian Pybus.  Opening the show will be Ramshackle – which is the name chosen for the Black Swan’s new “house band” comprising Stan, Eddie, Phil and Judith (but sadly not, on this occasion, Chris Euesden, who will be away during May), while the second half of the night will feature an extended spot by none other than Jez Lowe & Kate Bramley. Tickets are now on sale at WeGotTickets, modestly priced at £6 but with the option of making an additional voluntary donation at the time of booking.   Please support this one if you possibly can, and give generously.

We continue through late May and into June with three top flight soloists.  Miranda Sykes does her first entirely one-woman show for us on 25th May and (after a Singers Night on 1st June) we welcome the long-overdue Black Swan debut of celebrated singer-songwriter Reg Meuross on 8th June and the return (after a 20-year gap) of veteran British bluesman Dave Kelly on 15th June.  All these events are now open for booking at WeGotTickets.

5.        LATE JUNE ONWARDS – LOTS MORE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.  Our programme for the rest of this year is now settled (aside from one guest night in November still awaiting final confirmation) and you can see the full listing on the Programme page of the club website,

As is usual, I suppose, several strands or themes can be discerned.  One could be labelled “old friends”, with return visits scheduled by soloists Maggie Holland, Tom McConville, Pete Coeand Martyn Wyndham Read, and bands The Long Hill Ramblers, Harp & A Monkey andReal Time.  One night I am particularly looking forward to myself is a repeat visit on 27th July by the incomparable Wizz Jones.

“Overseas visitors” is another recurrent theme, with Cloudstreet and Enda Kenny from Australia, Dana & Susan Robinson from USA and a veritable legion of Canadians – Eileen McGann, Sarah Jane Scouten, Maria Dunn and James Keelaghan.  And of course the Black Swan wouldn’t be the same without a regular input of first-time guests.  Later this year those include the Georgia Shackleton Trio (another product of the Newcastle University folk music course), three young men called The Trials of Cato (who greatly impressed at a Singers Night last winter), local lad Joshua Burnell (see also Item 2 above) and from West Yorkshire the Pete Coe protégé Alice Jones.

I expect to write our next publicity brochure by early May, covering late May to September, and at that point full details for the nights concerned will also be loaded onto WeGotTickets and booking will open.


6.        A JOYOUS NIGHT OF MODERN WELSH FOLK WITH CALAN, 3rd MAY.  We have just one more concert to go this season at the National Centre for Early Music and it should be a cracker.  “Accordion, fiddles, guitar, bagpipes and step-dancing explode into life” when energetic Welsh band Calan take to the stage, with “sparkling melodies, foot-tapping tunes and beautiful, haunting songs”.

Calan brings together five remarkably talented young musicians who are giving a fresh and vibrant slant on traditional Welsh music.  With a contemporary and lively approach they breathe new life into the old traditions, blasting their way through some of the old reels, jigs and hornpipes with fast paced and uplifting arrangements before melting into some of the most beautiful and haunting of songs.

Ever since their debut back in 2008, Calan have been wowing audiences and garnering rave reviews at concerts and festivals around Britain and Europe, including such coveted events as Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Whitby Folk Week and the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany, where they received the award for best group. They have also toured four times in North America and in 2015 they even performed alongside Bryn Terfel and Sting at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Terfel’s 50th birthday party.  Calan, who’ve raised some eyebrows with a deliberate policy of eye-catching clothes and presentation, clearly see themselves as a new generation of cultural ambassadors, raising the profile of Welsh traditional music on an international level.

Accordion player Bethan Rhiannon sings in both English and Welsh and is a past winner of the national clog dance competition, while Patrick Rimes was junior Celtic Welsh fiddle champion three years in succession and plays a multitude of other instruments, including the Welsh bagpipes.  Angharad Jenkins plays fiddle and inherited her love of Welsh traditions from her parents, a famous poet and a harp player respectively, whereas guitarist Sam Humphreys came from an altogether different musical background in rock and electronic music before discovering a magic mix of folk and modern styles.  Lastly, Alice French studied harp at the University of Wales and has a particular interest in the traditional harp methods of the Romani Gypsies of Wales.

If you want to sample Calan’s music first, they are the studio session guests on The Durbervillesshow on Radio Leeds this coming Sunday, 16th April, at 8.00pm.  Listen in, then come along and enjoy the music of Calan live at the NCEM on Wednesday 3rd May.  Tickets are £15 full price or £13 concessions from the Box Office on 01904 658338 or at  The concert begins at 7.30 with a support spot by singer-songwriter Dan Wilde (a past guest at our club venue, about 5 years ago), who is appearing on all the English dates on the band’s current tour, then after an interval Calan will be doing one long set (75 minutes or more), rather than the more usual NCEM format of two shorter sets.

7.        PEGGY SEEGER & SONS FOR YORK, 7th JUNE.  We are delighted to be joining forces with Joe Coates of Please Please You in order to bring to York the legendary Peggy Seeger.  “An Evening with the Seeger MacColl Family” features Peggy and her sons Neill and Calum MacColl and will take place at The Crescent, off Blossom Street in York, on Wednesday 7th June.

“The Seeger MacColl family are one of folk music’s most-loved dynasties” says the tour publicity. “Singer, songwriter and feminist icon Peggy Seeger performs with her sons Neill and Calum MacColl.  Join these three exceptional musicians for a gloriously relaxed evening of great music and witty family banter.  Expect to hear songs of love, politics and storytelling, including material from Peggy’s award-winning latest album, alongside some of the late Ewan MacColl’s best loved songs.  This is an intimate evening with a remarkable family that will linger long in the memory.”

All tickets are £18, available now through (NOTE, not our usual online retailer) and they can also be bought over the counter at The Inkwell on Gillygate.  Doors open at 7.30pm and music gets underway at 8.00pm.

8.        NCEM AUTUMN CONCERT SERIES.  We have five contrasting concert events scheduled for the autumn season at the Early Music Centre.  Booking for these won’t open until late summer, but you may care to note relevant dates in your diaries now.  We begin with Show of Hands protégés Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin on Tuesday 10th October and continue with a first NCEM appearance by Bella Hardy on Tuesday 24th October.  November has return visits by Martin Simpson (Monday 6th) and Lady Maisery (Monday 20th) and for our pre-Christmas seasonal show John Kirkpatrick presents Carolling & Crumpets on Monday 18th December.


9.        MARQUEE STAGE & OUTDOOR EVENTS.  Now that I am retired from my day job and have a bit more free time, plans are coming together well for this year’s City of York Folk Weekend, which to remind you is always the first weekend in June, so 2nd-4th this year.

The line-ups and running orders for the Marquee Stage are now complete and look like this:

·         Friday evening – Ceilidh Under Canvas with FiddlersWreck

·         Saturday from 1pm – Ramshackle (see item 4 above), Leather’o, Chechelele, Acorn Morris, Blackbeard’s Tea Party, David Ward Maclean, Paula Ryan, King Courgette, Ebor Morris, Joshua Burnell, White Sail and Bramble Napskins

·         Sunday from 1pm – Martin Heaton, Minster Strays Morris, The Duncan McFarlane Band, Soundsphere, Union Central, The Ale Marys, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Phil Cerny, Stillhouse, Dan Webster and Ramblin’ Times.

PA services on Saturday and Sunday will again be provided by JSS, with the same excellent sound engineer that we had last year and the year before, Tony Evans.

10.     INDOOR CONCERTS.  There will be three main concerts in the Wolfe Room over the course of the weekend, on Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening.  I am still putting the finishing touches to their timings and running orders, but amongst the artists appearing will be:

·         Saturday: David Swann, Eddie Affleck, Simon Alexander, Judith Haswell & Trish Maclean, Stan Graham and That Mitchell & Wife Sound

·         Sunday: Phil Pipe, Alex Golitsi, The Bluebirds, John Storey, The Lennanshees, Sarah Dean and Steve & Dee Marshall.

In addition, York Songwriters will be hosting a Saturday afternoon concert showcasing some of their current members.

11.     OTHER EVENTS – SESSIONS, SINGAROUNDS, WORKSHOPS etc.  In addition to the formal concerts there will be the usual and popular mix of informal singarounds and rolling folk clubs, musicians sessions and more.  York Irish will again host a Friday evening gathering in the Wolfe Room, John Gilham will convene a “poems and pints” Saturday lunchtime spoken word session in the Oak Room, Soundsphere will run their Singing Workshop on Sunday morning, and To The Blue will repeat their well-received BASH event for younger children on Sunday lunchtime.

12.     PUBLICITY AND HELPERS ALWAYS WELCOME.  Once I have the indoor events programme sorted out, our focus switches to two other things – publicity and voluntary helpers. If you can assist spread the word about Folk Weekend, please do so.  And if you are not one of the “usual suspects” but would be willing to help out at some point during the weekend, do get in touch.  Tasks include stewarding at all main venues, stage management in the marquee, possible PA assistance in the Wolfe Room and, of course, rattling the collection cans which we rely on to raise the funds to meet the inevitable costs incurred in running this FREE festival.


13.     EE CUSTOMERS - UPDATE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS WITH US.  So far, only a very few of you who are EE customers have responded to my piece on the last newsletter.  At the end of next month EE will apparently be closing down e-mail accounts associated with the old Orange and Freeserve businesses.  As you will certainly be aware if you have one of them, this includes addresses ending in things like,,, and  If you used one of these old addresses to sign up for this BSFC newsletter, please let us know your new e-address so that we can update our mailing list.

14.     DEVELOPMENTS AT THE BLACK SWAN INN.  If you have been at the Black Swan in the last few weeks you’ll have noticed a few subtle changes.  The main patio drinking area has been revamped, with a larger roofed area and new furnishings, while in the car park (which can now be gated when required) there is a new bin store and a fenced dog run – still under construction as I write - for the landlord’s fast-growing Italian Mastiff pet.

Talking to Andy the landlord the other day he revealed that he also hopes to refurbish our upstairs function room sometime later this year.  The floor certainly needs attention, as it is very uneven at present.  He proposes to fully repair this and then lay fresh carpet in the room and also right down the staircase.  Watch this space for more news.

In the Wolfe Room our much loved tapestry is also looking increasingly frayed and we are hoping that Andy can get it repaired as well.  This would, however, a specialist job, even though it is only a modern (20th century) copy of a Tudor original.  Can anyone out there give us any leads on craftspeople with the relevant skills to do such work?  Send any such ideas to me and I will pass on.

Lastly, Andy’s partner Maggie has been coordinating a revamp of the pub’s website, which will include a page about the folk club, for which I have written some copy.

15.     600th ANNIVERSARY WEEKEND AT THE BLACK SWAN INN.  The first documentary references to the building which is now the Black Swan Inn date from 1417 and to mark the 600th Anniversary there is to be a weekend of events over 29th and 30th April, including a pie-eating challenge, a talent contest, an auction and a quiz.  See the page  This includes reference to live music on the Sunday afternoon organised by us, although I have to say that this is still at the planning stage as I write – unfortunately several of the club’s key members (Stan and Chris as well as myself) are all away that weekend, which has been making things difficult to organise.

16.     A REMINDER ABOUT PARKING AT THE BLACK SWAN INN.  The car park changes mentioned above (item 14) have unfortunately reduced the pub’s parking capacity by two spaces.  We are very lucky to have a city centre pub venue with its own car park (no other pub inside the York city walls has anything comparable) but there will be occasions when the parking area is full up, particularly when there are other evening functions happening at the same time as our folk club – as has happened a couple of times lately.  Bear this in mind if coming to the club by car and be prepared to park elsewhere and walk a few minutes to the venue.  There is a stretch of single yellow line roadside parking near the church on the other side of Peasholme Green, but be warned that the parking area directly across the street from the Black Swan is designated for Residents Only and parking penalty notices are not unknown.  The nearest council run evening car parks (free to residents after 6pm, £2 to others) are probably Monk Bar, off Lord Mayor’s Walk, and Castle, near Clifford’s Tower.  Nearer to the Black Swan but much more expensive is the Q-Park run Shambles multi-storey.

17.     MUSICIANS WANTED (1).  Steve Marshall writes: “You may know that Dee and I are involved in a group called Keep Your Pet which provides emergency cover for old and vulnerable people’s pets in times of illness or family crisis.  We need to raise funds and one event which is a big deal for us is the annual dog walk on the Knavesmire on Sunday 30th April.  I have been asked if I know of anyone who might provide half an hour of music, for free, at that event, at approximately 11am, hopefully under a gazebo.  Is there a small band out there who might be up for this?  It probably suits a ceilidh band who might play some tunes or a band who could do a few songs.”  Steve would of course do it himself but has to be away that day.  If you can help out, contact Steve on

18.     MUSICIANS WANTED (2).  Meanwhile Brendan Tannam of York Irish writes “one of our members, Claire McMahon, is involved with a group called Holgate Community Garden. They arrange gardening and social events for the community in a small, but actively used patch of green in Holgate. They would like to have a small outdoor music event on May 29th and hope to have some local musicians, including a live Irish group or trad session. If you are a musician and can play at the event, please let us know.”  Contact Brendan on or 0745 632 7101.


19.     MULHOLLAND AT CITY SCREEN BASEMENT THIS FRIDAY.  A night of the very best in Americana and Alt-Country is promised by York duo Mulholland and their friends at City Screen Basement on Good Friday, 14th.  “Come and be transported to another world filled with the acoustic sounds of guitars, banjos and fiddles and gorgeous harmonies” they say.  Doors open at 8pm and entry will be just £5

20.     JOSIENNE & BEN AT THE BASEMENT, 19th APRIL.  A reminder that double BBC Folk Award winners and twice past club guests of ours, Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker return to York for a show at The Basement on Wednesday 19th April.  Tickets are £10 in advance or £12 on the door from 8pm.  The show is promoted by Mr H Presents (aka Tim Hornsby), who also has Lisbee Stainton coming to the same venue on Friday 19th May.

21.     HOLY MOLY & ROB HERON AT THE CRESCENT, 28th APRIL.  The Double Bill combination of Holy Moly & The Crackers and Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra should make it a great night at The Crescent in York on Friday 28th April.  Tickets are £9 or from Inkwell on Gillygate.

22.     YORK IRISH MUSIC SESSION AT THE GILLYGATE, 29th APRIL.  “Bring your instruments if you play and join in” say York Irish about their next open Irish traditional session, which is at The Gillygate Pub on Saturday 29th April from 8pm.

23.     WATH FESTIVAL, MAYDAY BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND.  In my opinion, one of the best, and certainly longest running, community music festivals in Yorkshire is held at Wath upon Dearne over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, so 28th April to 1st May this year.  “With more artists booked than ever before” they say “the event is set to be the biggest yet and will feature Chris While & Julie Matthews, Fairport's Ric Sanders & his Trio, Holy Moly and The Crackers, Megson, Reg Meuross, Merry Hell and many more.  Ticket prices will be held at last year's prices with individual concerts from £8”.  Find out full details at

24.     MAMBO JAMBO IN CHERRY BURTON, 6th MAY.  Cherry Burton Arts present that great roots music duo Mambo Jambo at the Village Hall in Cherry Burton near Beverley on Saturday 6th May at 8pm, with support from Luke Carver Goss.   Tickets are £10 in advance through WeGotTickets.

25.     THE FURROW COLLECTIVE IN FARNDALE, 13th MAY.  Nominated as Best Group in this year’s Folk Awards, the Anglo-Scottish outfit The Furrow Collective comprises Lucy Farrell, Emily Portman, Alasdair Roberts and Rachel Newton (who was Folk Awards winner as Musician of the Year).  They have a fairly rare appearance in our region at The Band Room in Farndale on Saturday 13th May.  A week later (20th) the same venue has another much-talked-about folk act,Stick In The Wheel.  For tickets and more information visit or

26.     FOLK AWARDS NOMINEES NINEBARROW AT THORGANBY, 28th MAY.  Liz Allen writes “just to let you know about the next gig being organised by Thorganby Folk at Thorganby Village Hall.  Ninebarrow from Dorset will be entertaining us on Sunday May 28th.  Nominated as best up-and-coming act in the recent Radio 2 Folk awards, their visit to Thorganby should be a great evening.  Proceeds raised from this gig will be donated to Ebor Vale Riding for the Disabled.”  Tickets can be bought online at thorganby-folk or  There will be a real ale bar.

That’s your lot for now.  My next mailing will probably be in about three or four weeks’ time.