Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 215

24th June 2017

Black Swan Folk Club E-Newsletter 215

Folk music news from York & the surrounding area – 25th June 2017

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With a heavy heart I am obliged to begin this month’s newsletter with obituaries for two special people.

1. ANDY CROSS, LANDLORD OF THE BLACK SWAN INN, DIED 18th JUNE 2017.  I am very sorry to have to tell you all that our landlord at the Black Swan Inn, Andy Macklewain-Cross, passed away last Sunday.  He had been staging a protracted battle with cancer since it was first diagnosed nearly three years ago and until this spring he had been doing remarkably well.  Sadly Andy’s condition deteriorated in recent weeks and (for example) he was too ill to be in action during our recent Folk Weekend.  Nevertheless, the end when it came was both rapid and deeply saddening.

Andy Cross took over the Black Swan Inn in December 2008 at the request of the pub’s owners, after the previous licensee had been declared bankrupt and the pub doors abruptly closed, making the folk club homeless in the process.  Andy had spent most of his adult life in the pub trade in North Yorkshire, latterly in Harrogate, and had a reputation for turning failing businesses around.  He certainly achieved that at the Black Swan Inn!  He built up the food trade very significantly (extending the kitchen along the way), built first one and then a second beer garden to the rear, replaced rather threadbare carpeted floors downstairs with stone flagging, and much else.  One of his next projects, as I reported in E-News 212, was to have been a refurbishment of the Wolfe Room and the staircase.

I remember going rather nervously to the Black Swan just after Christmas 2008, to meet the new landlord and discuss the future of the folk club.  I found Andy and his then partner Steph hard at work cleaning the interior ready for reopening.  He said he was happy to welcome back our club and when just a few weeks later we were voted Folk Club of the Year in the BBC Folk Awards, Andy was delighted and insisted on having our trophy on permanent display on the premises.  A very successful Folk Weekend later that year cemented our standing and we have enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship ever since.

Andy was only the fifth landlord the pub has had in my 35 years of attending the folk club, and he was certainly the best of those five.  He will be sorely missed.  His funeral will be held at York Crematorium on Wednesday 5th July at 3pm.  I will certainly be there to represent the club, no doubt with many colleagues.  There will be a wake at the Black Swan Inn afterwards.  So far as I know at this stage, Andy's current partner Maggie will be taking over as leaseholder and licensee and (fingers crossed) it will be “business as usual” for us.

2. VIN GARBUTT, THE ONE AND ONLY, DIED 6th JUNE 2017.  Our landlord’s death came just as we were mourning the passing of Teesside Troubadour Vin Garbutt, making for a sombre mid-month.  Many of you will have heard already that Vin passed away about three weeks ago: there was considerable coverage in the folk media and even obituaries in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4.  A great favourite across the global folk scene, Vin was due to visit us for the umpteenth time last month, a visit which had to be postponed while he recovered from a scheduled heart operation.  Tragically, that recovery did not go as it should have done and the folk world has lost one of its brightest stars.

Vin’s death was particularly poignant for me as he was one of the first folk singers I ever saw when I started going to clubs as an 18 year old youth in around 1972.  This was on the rural fringes of Teesside where Vin was a frequent and charismatic performer.  I still have a copy of his first LP record released in that year, The Valley of Tees.  I saw him countless times thereafter and never failed to be creased up by his humour or moved to tears by his emotional songs.  My club colleague Stan Graham also became a close friend of Vin’s and was invited to tour Australia with him in 2010.  Along with Judith Haswell, another child of the early 1970’s Teesside folk scene, Stan and I were amongst the hundreds of mourners who filled Middlesbrough Cathedral to capacity for Vin’s funeral.  May he rest in peace.


3. PLEASE TRY TO SUPPORT THE CLUB OVER THE SUMMER.  In recent years July has become our quietest month of the whole year, audience numbers-wise.  This wasn’t always the case – as recently as five years ago we were averaging over 30 paying customers per event (including singers’ nights) in that month.  Last year the equivalent July average per event was just 17, and in 2015 it even sank as low as 12.  This meant firstly that some top quality artists ended up playing to woefully small audiences and secondly that there was a considerable summer drain on our finances.

The downwards trend usually begins in mid-June and sure enough this year Dave Kelly played to considerably fewer people two weeks ago than his stature in British blues would merit, while last weekend we only just scraped into a double figures paying audience for our fine Australian visitors Cloudstreet.

So please remember that we are still here every Thursday throughout the summer season and we’d love to have you drop in and swell our numbers!  Here is what we have coming up for you.

4. 29th JUNE – A RETURN VISIT FOR THE LONG HILL RAMBLERS.  This coming Thursday we welcome back The Long Hill Ramblers, on a rare foray from deepest Sussex.  They comprise angelic Yorkshire-born vocalist Laura Hockenhull (daughter of Helen Hockenhull of Grace Notes fame) 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 from WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.

5. 6th JULY – SINGERS NIGHT.  Phil Cerny acts as Master of Ceremonies for our July “open house” evening.  As we always say, singers, players and listeners are equally welcome, with admission just £3 on the door to non-performers.

6. 13th JULY – THE GEORGIA SHACKLETON TRIO.  Making her York debut and singing a blend of Americana, folk and self-penned material, Georgia is another hugely talented young graduate of the Newcastle University Folk Music course.  Accompanying herself on fiddle and influenced by British, American and Scandinavian traditions, she is joined by acoustic guitar powerhouse Aaren Bennett and mandolin ace Nic Zuppardi.

While I receive dozens of promotional CDs and such like each year, Georgia’s CD really stood out – strong singing, some very tasty playing, and a really interesting mix of material, with a welcome dose of sly humour included – note that the CD is called The Dog Who Would Not Be Washed!  Hence my decision – rarely taken – to chance a booking for an act that I have not previously seen in a live setting.  If they are anything like as good as the CD, it should be a cracking night!  Back with us after extensive travels around Europe, Chris Euesden will be acting as MC and tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door.

7. 20th JULY – MAGGIE HOLLAND.  With a pedigree including Hot Vultures, the English Country Blues Band, Tiger Moth and latterly The Broonzies (with Jez Lowe and Chris Parkinson), Maggie has been involved in folk music for many years.  A highly-regarded if occasional songwriter (including the classics A Place Called England and A Proper Sort of Gardener, both as recorded by June Tabor and others), she also sings a range of traditional and modern covers and accompanies on guitar or banjo.  She was a fairly regular visitor to our club around twenty years ago but was last here in 2006, which is far too long ago!  Now retired from the day job, she is once again gigging more widely away from her adopted home in Leith.  Phil Cerny is the MC and tickets are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.

8. 27th JULY – WIZZ JONES.  This pioneer of the British folk scene has been a favourite visitor to our club for many years.  He may now be in his late 70s but happily he shows no inclination to retire just yet.  A hugely gifted and influential acoustic guitarist, cited by Eric Clapton, Ralph McTell and Keith Richards amongst others, Wizz is also a fine singer and a delightfully modest performer with a wide repertoire of modern songs, blues and originals.  Recent projects have included a duo album with Ralph and also a duo album recorded with John Renbourn shortly before his sad death.  This will be a real summer season highlight and surely deserves a full house.  Tickets are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door, and Chris Euesden again acts as MC.

9. COMING IN AUGUST.  Three talented younger acts appear at our club during August: enterprising and innovative local singer Joshua Burnell on 10th (see also Item 21 below), West Yorkshire’s Alice Jones on 17th and a trio who first impressed at a Singers Night last autumn,The Trials of Cato on 24th.  With more Singers Nights on 3rd and 31st August, that is high quality live musical entertainment each week right through the later summer.


10.     EARLY MUSIC CENTRE AUTUMN CONCERTS NOW OPEN FOR BOOKING.  All five of our autumn concert specials at the National Centre for Early Music are now open for booking, with most of them already generating sales interest.  To remind you, this series begins withPhillip Henry & Hannah Martin on Tuesday 10th October, appearing under their new collective name of Edgelarks.  York favourite Bella Hardy follows on Tuesday 24th October with a brace of accompanists and a support spot by Joshua Burnell.  Martin Simpson gives us a taste of eagerly awaited new release Trails & Tribulations on Monday 6th November, then that excellent trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Hazel Askew and Rowan Rheingans) returns on Monday 20th November, with an opening set from another fine vocal threesome Yan Tan Tether.  Lastly,John Kirkpatrick brings us his seasonal show Carolling & Crumpets on Monday 18th December.  Booking is open on, 01904 658338 or in person at the Centre off Walmgate.  The full NCEM new season brochure should be published by the end of August – with Bella Hardy on the front cover.

11.     PEGGY SEEGER NOVEMBER CONCERT ALSO OPEN FOR BOOKING.  A reminder that we are also joining forces with Joe Coates of PleasePleaseYou to present Peggy Seeger and her sons Neill & Calum MacColl at The Crescent, off Blossom Street, on Monday 27th November.  Tickets for An Evening with the Seeger MacColl Family are on sale on both the SeeTickets and WeGotTickets websites, priced at £18.  With Peggy publishing her autobiography First Time Ever in October, this show is sure to attract interest.

12.     THE CLUB VENTURES INTO FILM.  I can also reveal that we are joining forces with the NCEM for our first ever venture into cinema.  The Ballad of Shirley Collins is a brand new documentary feature about this living folk legend.  Partly inspired by her beguiling autobiographyAmerica Over the Water, the film retells the tale of young Shirley’s famous song-collecting trip around the Deep South of America with field-recordist Alan Lomax. This story is blended together with a celebration of her major role in the English folk revival of the 50s, 60s and 70s, including her collaborations with such as Davey Graham, Dolly Collins and The Albion Country Band.

In 2014 we made a small contribution to the Kickstarter campaign which helped get this film off the ground, so we are delighted that we can now assist in showing it in York.  The screening will be on Sunday 22nd October at 4pm at the Early Music Centre and the film will be preceded by a short set of appropriate folk songs sung by local heroes Two Black Sheep & A Stallion.  Tickets at £7 and £5 will be available later this summer.


13.     PETE THE BARMAN LEAVES THE BLACK SWAN.  On top of the huge upset caused by the sad death of our landlord, we have also lost our long-serving and incredibly helpful and sympathetic Thursday night barman Peter Hall, who has moved on to an “office hours” sales job at Hiscox Insurance next door to the Black Swan.  Pete was a considerable enthusiast for our type of music and regularly used to sneak in for one or two numbers if the bar was quiet, often buying a copy of the guest artist’s CD.  His last night at the Black Swan was on 14th June but he came back as a regular member of the audience for Dave Kelly the very next night.  We hope to see him in the audience again in the near future and meanwhile wish him well in the new job.

14.     CHARITY NIGHT UPDATE.  With a few after-the-event donations added in, the special club night in May in memory of Julie Affleck raised a total sum of £856 for St Leonard’s Hospice.  Stan Graham and I finally got a chance to make an official presentation at the hospice last week and some photos have been posted on the club’s Facebook page.

15.     STAN MAKES A GOOD RECOVERY.  Talking of Stan Graham his operation went well and he is making a good recovery.  He was able to sing a couple of songs at the Reg Meuross night on 8th June and MC’d the Cloudstreet night last week.

16.     LOOKING BACK TO THE FOLK WEEKEND.  Was it really only three weeks ago that we held our Folk Weekend?  So much seems to have happened since.  In most respects it was another very successful event, blessed with great weather (excepting some Friday night rain) and attracting large numbers.  The atmosphere was again amazingly relaxed and friendly and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  One or two things did not work so well, notably the almost complete absence of session-playing musicians in the Dining Room, but overall it was a fantastic few days.  Happily also, we managed to break even, with your donations in the collection boxes totalling £738 while our expenses were £726.  Thank you very much.

The excellent local amateur photographer Christine Cockett was again there for much of the weekend and has again created a Flickr album of over 800 of her shots.  Find it at

Assuming that it does continue to be “business as usual” for us at the Black Swan Inn, we would hope to run another Folk Festival there during the equivalent weekend next year, which will be 1st-3rd June.

17.     BEVERLEY FESTIVAL CLUB SESSION.  Despite a few late pull-outs due to illness, family commitments and the like, we had a very pleasant club session at the Beverley Folk Festival on 17th June.  We were given an evening slot, which meant a small audience as most punters were focussed on the big name evening acts in the main marquees, but nevertheless it was an enjoyable couple of hours.  Thanks to Paula Ryan for organising it.

18.     CLUB LIGHTING IMPROVEMENTS.  Our tech guru Eddie Affleck has recently been upgrading our Thursday night lighting.  He has bought a proper lighting stand which can be positioned behind the PA desk, with an LED floodlight and a brace of spotlights.  “With this set up and the two dissolving lights in each corner we will have nice lighting in the room and onto the artists as they perform” he says.  Of course we are in high summer right now and it is daylight until 10pm, so expect to see the full benefit of this lighting once we get into the darker nights of autumn.


19.     FAB FOLK & BLUES SHOW NEWS.  There have been major changes with Tony Haynes’ FAB Folk & Blues radio show over the last month.  When I was the studio guest on 22nd May, talking about our Folk Weekend (, neither Tony nor I had any inkling that it would be the last FAB show hosted on Vale Radio.  Later that week Vale was suddenly sold to a firm called ViewTV, who immediately dropped specialist shows such as FAB and also Rudie Humphrey’s Horse Shoe Lounge Americana broadcasts.  So much for community radio, it seems.

However, our indomitable Mr Haynes and his blues co-presenter Paul Winn haven’t meekly gone away and licked their wounds.  About ten days ago, Tony posted (a fuller version of) the following on the FAB Facebook page

“For the next few weeks we will be uploading some retrospective show samples on, just to keep the momentum going.  FAB will return in August but more localised on Tempo FM 107.4 a local community station for Wetherby ( on Saturday evenings 8-10pm. It will also be streamed online and uploaded to Mixcloud, so very much as before.  We will also be uploading selections from all the shows to but without station IDs or adverts.  This is streamed online and is very popular in Canada, the USA, Australia and the UK.  We will also support Legend Radio (name may change but I hope not) here in York.  This is a venture by the presenters who were let down so badly by the acquisition of Vale Radio by ViewTV.  So FAB Folk and Blues will continue as an entity and grow in strength.”

Good luck to you, Uncle Tone

20.     YORK CALLING RETURNS IN PRINT.  Staying with the media, Graeme Smith, owner of the York Calling website, has announced the return of a printed magazine devoted to music and the arts in York.  The new weekly York Calling Magazine will be launched on 6th July and will be available for hard copy purchase or as a free download from  Past issues of the magazine will also be found there.  It will be a guide to all that's "hot" in terms of music and the arts in York and surrounding areas, with event listings, previews, music reviews, interviews and other features.  “We hope it quickly becomes a must read” says Graeme, adding “our mission has always been to promote the vibrant music scene in York.”  You can contact him on or on 07846 648 918.

21.     JOSHUA BURNELL’S SEASONS PROJECT REACHES HALF WAY STAGE.  Local singer Joshua Burnell is now half way through his highly ambitious project to release online a new recording of a folk song or instrumental every week for a full year.  This is a mammoth undertaking, given that almost all the tracks involve a group of players and singers, so the songs have to be fully arranged and extensively rehearsed before they can be recorded.  It is almost like doing 4 full length albums in one year!  “It's been a fair challenge, I must admit” says Josh, “but I hope worth it”.

Recent selections have included Wild Mountain Thyme, Black Is The Colour, The Foggy Dew and Lowlands of Holland.  All the songs are available on YouTube, or via Josh’s website at and

I must say I have been impressed, both with Josh’s commitment to this project and to the quality and variety of the finished music.  Musicians such as Antonio Curiale on fiddle, singer Fe Sladen, harpist Catriona Cannon and Josh’s regular band members all feature from time to time, with Dan Webster doing a lot of the recording and mixing.  There is a patron scheme if you want to give Josh some practical support (follow the link on the above pages) and I’ll be signing up to that myself once I get this newsletter done.

Josh will be appearing at our club on 10th August, joined by Fe and Catriona, and will perform some of his Seasons material for us.  He will also be opening for Bella Hardy at the NCEM on 24th October and, his first instrument being piano, he is relishing a chance to play the Centre’s concert grand!

22.     DEE’S CHARITY RUN. Occasional club visitor Dee Marshall is doing the Jane Tomlinson Appeal 10k run in York on Sunday 6th August and is looking for sponsors.  She has a particular and very personal reason for doing so, as her husband Steve Marshall (Foresters, Alterego Ceilidh Band, and a regular Black Swan singer) explains.  “Money raised by the Jane Tomlinson Appeal has reached millions over the years and goes to a range of children's and cancer funds.  However, Dee has decided to split the money she raises two ways, part to the original fund and part as follows.  Our daughter-in-law was involved in a serious car crash two months ago and subsequently had a devastating stroke.  She remains in a dreadful condition in the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, partially paralysed, unable to communicate, and being sustained through feeding tubes.”

Dee’s money raised will therefore be divided between the fundraising carried out for Oxford hospitals (see and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal (see  If you’d like to support Dee in this valiant fundraising effort then Steve says you can send money directly into his bank account “but I need to hear from the donor by email that they have donated” he advises.  Steve is also in the process of sorting out gift aid arrangements, he says.  He can be contacted on 01904 490440 / 07929 719286 / his bank account is a TSB one, sort code 77-71-01, account number 41460060.  Alternatively, I am happy to collect cash donations at folk club meetings, so long as donors are prepared to leave their names with their donations.  “It would be brilliant if Dee could further increase her fund which already stands at an amazing £1400” adds Steve.

23.     NEW SINGERS CLUB NEAR SCARBOROUGH.  Tony Haynes advises that “friends in Scarborough are opening a singaround/session club at The Forge Inn, West Ayton on the second and fourth Sunday evenings at 7pm, with the first meeting on 9th July.  This will not clash with existing Sunday clubs.  It will be held in a separate large back room with an open wood fire in winter, so no bar noise to contend with.  All genres of song and music are welcome.  Some occasional recording will take place for radio use.  If you can make it you would be most welcome.”

24.     CHARITY BARN DANCE IN AID OF POCKLINGTON CANAL.  The Pocklington Canal Amenity Society, who are continuing to bring neglected parts of this lovely waterway back to life, are holding a fund-raising barn dance on Friday 14th July at Melbourne Village Hall, with dancing to York’s Bad Bargain Ceilidh Band.  Doors open at 6.45pm and tickets are £10, which includes supper.  Contact Tim Charlson on 07926 910717, for further details.

25.     SUMMER SUNDAY AFTERNOONS IN PICKERING.  Trevor Appleton proposes to hold a couple of Sunday afternoon “open mic” outdoor events at the Sun Inn in Pickering, while the lively monthly acoustic jam session takes its summer break.  These will be on 16th July and 20th August, from 2pm to 5pm, using the pub’s outside stage, and will of course be dependent on good weather.  Details from Trevor on

That had better be your lot!  For some other events around the region which are still to happen, refer back to the extensive listings given in E-News 214.   Our next mailing will probably be towards the end of July or early in August.  Meanwhile, do keep on supporting live music.