Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 214

23rd May 2017


With this week’s club guest Miranda Sykes being fully Sold Out and a pre-festival Singers Night scheduled for Thursday 1st June, we focus here on the Folk Weekend itself.

1.        THE FIRST WEEKEND IN JUNE IS FOLK FESTIVAL TIME IN YORK.  Everything is on course for our annual free festival.  All through the weekend of 2nd-4th June there will be live entertainment in almost every corner of the Black Swan Inn: a marquee stage with full PA in the car park, plus three rooms of music-making indoors. Do come along and enjoy the wide range of free music which will be on offer.

This is the 15th annual Folk Weekend.  It has grown from a fairly modest one-day event in 2003 to become by far our biggest and most ambitious activity of the year.  With concerts, a ceilidh, sessions, workshops, singarounds, themed events and more, there should be something to suit all tastes.  Around forty-five billed singers and bands are taking part this year, no doubt alongside dozens of informal singaround and session participants.  All the named performers come from York or neighbouring parts and the weekend is designed to unite, showcase and celebrate our flourishing local folk, roots and acoustic music scene.

The latest programme is online at When I began to mail out this newsletter (done in batches over 48 hours), there had been very few late changes this year, compared to the printed draft in the current folk club brochure. However, I have just this morning (Wednesday) heard that Stan Graham is having to pull out (see item 15), so that will mean several alterations to the programme. As soon as these are sorted I’ll get them posted on the above website link.

2.        FRIDAY NIGHT EVENTS.  The weekend begins with a Ceilidh in the Marquee, with dancing to local band FiddlersWreck, fronted by Michael Jary.  Indoors we again present an Irish Night upstairs in the Wolfe Room, a friendly open house gathering hosted by York’s flourishing Irish Association, with songs, music and craic.  And as an official “fringe” event, don’t forget York’s weekly Friday night tunes and songs session, happening right in the centre of town at The Three-Legged Mare on High Petergate – always a great gathering.

3.        SATURDAY EVENTS.  The main Marquee concert takes place non-stop from 1.00 to 10.30 on Saturday and kicks off with a public outing for the folk club’s new “house band” Ramshackle, comprising Judith Haswell, Eddie Affleck, Phil Cerny and Stan Graham.  The running order then continues like this: Leather’o, Chechelele, Acorn Morris (offstage in the car park), Blackbeard’s Tea Party, David Ward Maclean, Paula Ryan, King Courgette, Ebor Morris (offstage), Joshua Burnell, White Sail and Bramble Napskins.

There are also two indoor concerts in the upstairs function room on Saturday.  The late afternoon event (4.00 to 6.45) features members of the revitalised York Songwriters Circle, while the evening show (7.30-11.45) presents David Swann, Eddie Affleck, That Mitchell & Wife Sound, Simon Alexander, Judith Haswell & Trish McLean and Stan Graham.

Participation is just as important as concert performance at any grass roots folk festival.  For those who want to sing a few songs themselves, the Rolling Folk Club begins in the Wolfe Room (1.30-3.30) before moving downstairs to continue singaround-style in the Oak Room (3.30-7.30), where Vale Radio’s FAB Tony Haynes also hosts the evening free-for-all (8.00-12.00). Meanwhile the Bowes Room is available all day for tunes session-playing.  The spoken word – poetry and storytelling – also has a place at our events, and this year is no exception, with John Gilham again hosting a lunchtime Poems & Pints open reading session in the Oak Room (1.15-2.45).

4.        SUNDAY EVENTS.  The non-stop Marquee concert line-up for Sunday (1.00-10.00) comprises Martin Heaton, Minster Strays Morris (offstage), The Duncan McFarlane Band, Soundsphere, Union Central, The Ale Marys, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Phil Cerny, Stillhouse and Dan Webster, with Chris Barnes and his mates in Ramblin’ Times to see us out in style.

Sunday is also workshops day.  Soundsphere (Sarah, Paula and Judith) repeat their ever popular singing event in the Wolfe Room (11.00-1.00), after which Jane Stockdale & Chris Bartram present a musical workshop for young children called Bash! That’s also in the Wolfe Room, 1.30 -2.15.

The rest of Sunday upstairs is taken up with concerts.  The afternoon line-up (2.45-6.15) comprises new female vocal group Concordia, Phil Pipe, Alex Golisti, Tom McKenzie, The Fine Companions and another new female vocal outfit, The Bluebirds.  After a short break the evening event (7.00-10.30) has John Storey, Mary Vipond & Andy Whittaker, Fake Thackray (aka John Watterson), The Lennanshees, Sarah Dean and Steve & Dee Marshall.

Floor singers are again welcome at the Rolling Folk Club, which runs 1.30-7.00 in the Oak Room, singaround style, while the Bowes Room is again available all day for the musicians’ session.  In the evening Two Black Sheep & A Stallion host a final fling song gathering in the Oak Room, while our second official off-site fringe event is York’s long-running American Old Time music session over at the Golden Ball in Bishophill.

5.        GENERAL STUFF.  Please remember that thanks to the generosity of the performers, all these events are entirely free of charge.  However we do still have some unavoidable expenses in staging this festival, notably PA hire for the Marquee, plus publicity.  Our costs are at least £750 this year and so we will be rattling collection tins from time to time.

There will be an information desk in the Marquee all weekend, where you can find out what is going on where and when, buy artists’ CDs and so forth.

The Black Swan will have hot food on sale during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday and of course it offers a fine choice of real ales and other drinks.  The landlord relies on his extra food and bar takings to pay for hire of the marquee, chairs, and extra mobile toilet facilities.  Please do not abuse his goodwill by bringing your own drink and food (other than special dietary requirements) on site!

For safety reasons the car park will be closed to motor vehicles, but there are alternative city centre parking or park-and-ride options, and don’t forget that the Black Swan Inn sits on several main bus routes.  Tony Haynes points out that any blue badge holders can use the Residents Parking spaces directly across the road from the Black Swan.

6.        PUBLICITY STILL NEEDED – PLEASE CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD.  The more people at this event, the better it is for all concerned, so please help us spread the word far and wide.  Tell all your friends/family/work colleagues about it, bearing in mind that it is a totally FREE weekend, so people can drop in whenever they want to sample live folk music, then stay for 10 minutes or 10 hours.  And of course use social media to push the weekend - there is a Facebook page at

For help with publicity this year special thanks go to Red Cow Music on Goodramgate, York’s acoustic music specialists, and to Acorn Instruments of Stillington, suppliers of Castagnari melodeons and accordions and other quality folk instruments.


7.        8th JUNE - REG MEUROSS VISITS OUR CLUB.  We don’t take much of a rest after the Folk Weekend!  In fact it is a case of “top quality music as usual” on Thursday 8th Junewhen we present someone described by Martin Carthy, no less, as “a mighty songwriter and an equally fine singer”, namely Reg Meuross.  We’ve heard his songs sung by others from time to time – for example “England Green and England Grey” by Geoff Lakeman in February – but this will be Reg’s first time at the Black Swan, in a career which now spans 30 years.  He’ll be previewing material from his forthcoming release Faraway People, alongside a selection of favourites from his extensive and highly-acclaimed back catalogue.

Whether it’s a folk club, a village hall or the Royal Albert Hall, Reg brings to the stage an intimate collection of beautiful songs, performed with humour and depth, and sung with the voice of an angel.  He has that rare gift of being able to touch people, through his lyrics and performance, on a really human level.  Check him out.  Our own premier songwriter Stan Graham will be acting as MC and tickets are £9 in advance at WeGotTickets or £10 on door.

8.        15th JUNE - VINTAGE BRITISH BLUES WITH DAVE KELLY.  I was more than a little gobsmacked when vintage British blues musician Dave Kelly approached me about appearing at the folk club.  A founder member of the concert-hall filling Blues Band (with Paul Jones, Rob Townsend, Tom McGuinness and Gary Fletcher), Dave last appeared solo in our venue way back in 1995.  However, as he pointed out he started his career playing in small folk and blues clubs in the 1960s (alongside his sister, the sorely-missed Jo-Ann Kelly) and fifty years down the line he still loves to make occasional forays back to those roots.

Along the way Dave has played and recorded with many of the great names in blues – Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Son House, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells – and was named Acoustic Artist of the Year for five consecutive years by British Blues Connection.  This15th June event should be a solid gold treat for all acoustic blues fans and guitar buffs – no bells, no whistles, just Dave’s awesome voice and acoustic slide playing.  Phil Cerny acts as MC and tickets are £13 in advance at WeGotTickets or £15 on the door.

9.        22nd JUNE - CLOUDSTREET MAKE A FAREWELL APPEARANCE.  The exuberant Australian trio of John Thompson, Nicole Murray and Emma Nixon, aka Cloudstreet, will entertain us right royally with clever vocal harmonies, well-chosen songs (traditional, modern & self-penned) and skilled accompaniments on guitar, concertina, flute and fiddle when they revisit us on 22nd June.  It is several years since they were last here, mainly due to John’s long-running commitment as Songman in the Australian production of Warhorse, and sadly, this must be their final UK tour, so catch them while you can.

“Cloudstreet's sense of fun, fabulous arrangements and well-matched, gorgeous voices add up to a great night's entertainment” writes a fellow UK folk club organiser.  “They include a touch of theatricality, without overdoing it, to turn their carefully-chosen material into a performance which totally absorbs their audience."  Another UK promoter endorses that: “Cloudstreet came, sang and conquered with twinkling smiles in their eyes and lots of ambitious music in their hearts. These Australians have luscious, superb voices, so beautifully controlled, but when they mean business, those magnificent voices soar and swell and fly away.”

Originally a duo of Nicole and John, Cloudstreet were first joined briefly by Emma (then a Newcastle University folk student) when they visited the Black Swan in 2010, so this is a significant return to our venue for all of them, with Emma subsequently becoming a full time member of the band in 2015.  Back from his own travels, Chris Euesden will be acting as MC and tickets are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.

10.     29th JUNE – A RETURN VISIT FOR THE RAMBLERS.  On 29th June we welcome back The Long Hill Ramblers, on a rare foray from deepest Sussex.  They comprise angelic vocalist Laura Hockenhull and three top flight players, Tab Hunter on guitar, Ben Paley on fiddle and Dan Edwards on banjo.  Laura’s voice must have been the best-kept secret in folk music over the last few years. Those in the know, including some of the most respected names in the business, have long admired her work for the purity of her voice, and the strength of her interpretations.  Meanwhile Tab, Ben (son of the legendary Tom Paley) and Dan have each earned international reputations as instrumentalists in all sorts of traditional music, in more bands than we could begin to list.

We can expect a repertoire drawn from the finest traditional songs on both sides of the Atlantic, with clear, beautiful lead vocals, rich harmonies and virtuoso musicianship.  First class folk music with no gimmicks!  Eddie Affleck will be our MC and tickets are again £9 in advance or £10 on the door.

11.     JULY & AUGUST GUESTS – OLD FRIENDS, NEW FACES.  Two strands run through our high summer programming this year.  One of those is “old friends” with return visits by the excellent Maggie Holland (20th July) and by British folk and blues pioneer Wizz Jones (27th July).  The other strand is talented younger artists making their first booked appearances, these comprising The Georgia Shackleton Trio (13th July), enterprising and innovative local singer Joshua Burnell (10th August), West Yorkshire’s Alice Jones (17th August) and impressive trio The Trials of Cato (24th August).  Find more details on our club website.


12.     PEGGY SEEGER CONFIRMED FOR NOVEMBER.  In the last newsletter I reported thatPeggy Seeger and her sons Neill and Calum MacColl were having to postpone their spring tour, including the York date on 7th June.  I can now confirm that the rescheduled date for An Evening with the Seeger MacColl Family is indeed Monday 27th November, still at The Crescent, off Blossom Street.  In a statement Peggy said “I’m so disappointed to have to postpone the May/June tour but I’ve been advised to rest for a couple of months.  As you may know, I’m not very good at taking advice but I think it’s for the best.”  Peggy should be back to full fitness by the autumn, with her memoir First Time Ever due for publication in early October. Tickets for the new date are already on sale on both the SeeTickets and WeGotTickets websites, priced at £18.

13.     THE BLACK SWAN VISITS BEVERLEY FESTIVAL.  Two weeks after our own modest Folk Weekend comes one of the region’s biggest events, the Beverley Folk Festival, held over 16th – 18th June.  Local folk clubs have been invited to host sessions at the festival and the Black Swan is happy to take up the offer.  Organised for us by Paula Ryan, the Black Swan “roadshow” will take place in the Touch Above Bar on the festival’s Racecourse site from 8pm onSaturday 17th June.  Paula will host, introducing a selection of talented club singers such as Judith Haswell, Phil Cerny, John Storey, Sarah Dean (solo and with White Sail), Peter Quinn, Soundsphere (Paula, Sarah and Judith Simpson), Tim Pheby and more.  The festival website is simply

14.     CHARITY NIGHT A HUGE SUCCESS.  The recent club night in memory of Julie Affleck raised the phenomenal sum of £839 for St Leonard’s Hospice.  We will be making an official presentation shortly, possibly at the Folk Weekend.  Well done Stan Graham, who organised the whole thing, and deepest thanks to all those who performed, both club residents and our good friends Jez Lowe & Kate Bramley.  Also to Michael Jary who handled the club PA expertly, leaving Eddie and Stan free to focus on performing.

15.     WISHING STAN A SPEEDY RECOVERY.  Talking of Stan Graham he had an operation earlier this week which he says went very well. However, his consultant advises that he must rest for at least four weeks to recover and so, reluctantly, he is having to pull out of all of his commitments at the Folk Weekend. In other news, he has for the second time had a track included in the covermount free CD supplied with national bi-monthly music magazine RnR(formerly R2 and originally Rock ‘n’ Reel).  This time the track is Stan’s outstandingly successful song Whitby Harbour from his Along The Way album.

16.     BOOKING OPENS SOON FOR SOME NCEM AUTUMN CONCERTS.  We have five folk concerts lined up for your pleasure this autumn at the National Centre for Early Music. Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin appear on 10th October, followed by Bella Hardy on 24th October and Martin Simpson on 6th November.  Lady Maisery return on 20th November andJohn Kirkpatrick presents his seasonal show Carolling & Crumpets on 18th December.  In a break with previous practice, we aim to open booking for at least some of these shows within the next few weeks, rather than waiting for publication of the NCEM brochure in late August.  Watch this space - or rather the NCEM and Folk Club websites!

17.     MORE CLUB EVENTS REVIEWED AND PHOTOGRAPHED.  I failed to mention in a previous newsletter that our March NCEM concert by Leveret was reviewed by Martin Longley, whose thoughts can be found at


18.     NINEBARROW FOR THORGANBY.  A reminder that the Dorset duo Ninebarrow are appearing at Thorganby Village Hall this Sunday, 28th May.  Nominated in the Horizon best up-and-coming act category in the recent Radio 2 Folk awards, they sound well worth catching. Tickets are £11 and can still be bought online at, with proceeds raised being donated to Ebor Vale Riding for the Disabled.  The show begins at 7.30pm and there will be a real ale bar.

19.     LAST FRIDAY FOLK IN RIPON.  Tish Hall-Wilkinson writes to tell us that there is now a folk night on the last Friday of every month in Ripon.  It is being held at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre on Trinity Lane from 8pm with the next gathering this week, Friday 26th May.  “New performers are welcome or just come along and listen to the excellent floor singers” Tish says. Entrance £3 at the door and beer and wine are available or you can bring your own drinks.  For further information contact Tish on

20.     AND FIRST SUNDAY FOLK RESURFACES IN ELVINGTON.  Following the closure of the long-running first Sunday of the month singers club in Hemingbrough (E-News 210), I hear that a new one has sprung up at The Grey Horse in Elvington.  “Last month showed great promise and hopefully things will progress from there” said organisers Bruce and Pat Gowthorpe of the first event in April.  Cunningly entitled ELVIS - The Elvington Live Vocal and Instrumental Singaround, they should be meeting again on 4th June.

21.     JEZ & KATE AT GREEN HAMMERTON.  Kate Bramley and Jez Lowe are well-known faces on the folk scene.  Shortly after returning from a tour of Denmark last month they kindly supported our own St Leonard’s Hospice charity night (see item 14) and of course Jez played at the Royal Albert Hall in April as part of the BBC Folk Awards.  The next highlight of their year will be a gig in their home village of Green Hammerton, on the A59 between York and Knaresborough.  It’s in the Village Club on midsummer’s day Wednesday 21st June and is a fund-raising event for the club.  “Come along for a light-hearted, foot-tapping evening of guitar playing, fiddling and singing, with the odd joke and sing-along thrown in” they say.  The show starts at 8pm and tickets are £8 on the door or £6 in advance, available from the Village Club, on 01423 339168 or online at

22.     FOLK IN THE FIELD AT SHIPTONTHORPE.  There is a tempting summer Saturday evening concert lined up for 24th June in the village of Shiptonthorpe, between Pocklington and Market Weighton.  Folk In The Field features local favourites Bramble Napskins and The Nick Rooke Band plus two artists whom we enjoyed at the Black Swan back in January, youngster Jack Patchett and the incomparable Flossie Malavialle.  The event, complete with beer tent and food, takes place at the Playing Fields on Station Road, YO43 3PD, with gates opening at 5pm and music 6pm-11pm.  Tickets are £10 (£5 concessions) available through various local shops or via Facebook at

There is also a Free daytime Fete (11am – 4pm) with children’s events, produce and dog shows, vintage tractors and such like, plus live music from Edwina Hayes, Altergo and many others.

23.     AMERICANA TREAT AT THE CRESCENT.  Our good friend Joe Coates at Please Please You consistently puts on interesting shows, often crossing musical boundaries.  One such which may appeal to some of you is Americana star Justin Townes Earle on Monday 3rd July.  Justin (the son of Steve Earle and named in tribute to Townes Van Zandt) is a singer who displays “a natural talent for deeply revealing lyrics that reflected his often-harsh life experiences, and a musical approach that effortlessly integrated elements of blues, folk and country.”  Find out more at, booking (£15) is through SeeTickets.

24.     POCKLINGTON’S PLATFORM FESTIVAL.  The Old Station in Pocklington is again the venue for the Platform Festival in July, organised by Pocklington Arts Centre.  Kate Rusby is in concert on Wednesday 12th, The Levellers on Friday 14th, then an all-day event on Saturday 15th is headlined by KT Tunstall.  Find out more at

25.     ROOTS MUSIC IN ESCRICK.  Scheduled for Bank Holiday Weekend 26th & 27th August is another music event close to York with a strong folk/roots element.  The Escrick Live & Roots Music Festival will be held at the 100-year old Escrick & Deighton Club in the village on the A19 between York and Selby and promises “exceptional talent from around the UK”. Rootsier acts include Edwina Hayes and York’s country/bluegrass favourites The Crocker Brothers, while from the rockier side of things there is Baz Warne of The Stranglers and George Barowski and the Fabulous Wonderfuls.  There will also be games, face painting and other activities, and of course beers and foods.  Full weekend tickets are £30, with one-day tickets and concessions also available.  Find out more at

26.     MOONBEAMS NEWS.  Leila Slater advises that there are just a handful of tickets remaining for her 9th Moonbeams Summer Festival on the Yorkshire Wolds on 8th & 9th July, so “to avoid disappointment please act soon if you would like to join us!”  Meanwhile she announces that since this coming November will mark 10 years of Moonbeams Events “we have organised a very special Birthday Party which shall be held in the Wold Top Barn on Saturday 25th November.  This will feature a selection of Moonbeams favourites, including the wonderful singer songwriter Martyn Joseph and festival patrons Skerryvore.”  Find out more about both events at

There’s certainly plenty going on in our region!  Meanwhile, our next mailing will be towards the end of June, all being well.