Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 216

24th July 2017

1.        SO FAR, SO VERY GOOD THIS SUMMER.  We’ve enjoyed a series of excellent club nights so far this summer.  Audience numbers have been on the low side, admittedly, but the quality of the music has been superb and has garnered a lot of positive feedback.  For example one audience member emailed us the day after seeing the Georgia Shackleton Trio, saying “fantastic night last night - many thanks to all involved, including the floor players … the trio were outstanding, and I hope they make a return visit to York before too long”, while another listener posted on Facebook last week that “we were treated to a moving night's singing and playing by Maggie Holland.  (She) excels at taking simple songs and making them powerfully eloquent.  And she is a quite superb banjo player too.  Great evening.”  You can expect more top notch performances in coming weeks……
2.        THIS THURSDAY, 27th JULY – THE LEGENDARY WIZZ JONES.  As I write there are only about a dozen tickets left for this week’s club guest, the mighty Wizz Jones.  This master guitarist, bluesman and songwriter began his musical career way back in 1957, leading a country and skiffle band in his home town of Croydon.  Inspired to play the acoustic guitar by seeing such luminaries as Big Bill Broonzy, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Muddy Waters at the Roundhouse club and learning most of his blues licks from Long John Baldry and Davy Graham whilst playing in the coffee bars of Soho, Wizz followed the time-honoured trail of busking across Europe, playing with many different musicians along the way (including at one time a budding young blues man named Rod Stewart).  Returning to Britain in the early 60's, Wizz formed a bluegrass duo with banjo-picker Pete Stanley and in his turn influenced another generation of young players, including Eric Clapton, John Renbourn and Ralph McTell.
Wizz never found the fame that they did and retained a niche "musician's musician" reputation throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, playing occasional club gigs and the odd festival spot, sometimes with his son Simeon on sax, harmonica and flute.  Happily the last fifteen years or so have seen him belatedly gaining increased recognition, helped by the re-release of classic early recordings and by touring and album projects with Ralph McTell and (the now sadly departed) John Renbourn.  Only last week Wizz was studio guest (with Simeon and old partner Peter Berryman) on Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 2 Folk Show.
Wizz first visited the Black Swan in 1991 and has been a firm favourite of ours ever since.  Do check him out.  Those last few tickets are £11 in advance at WeGotTickets, or £12.50 (if any are left) on the door on Thursday.  MC will be Chris Euesden and the scheduled floor singers are Steve Marshall, John Storey and a welcome visitor from Keighley, Chris Manners.
3.        3rd & 31st AUGUST – SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHTS.  August being a five Thursdays month, we have not one but two “open house” evenings at which all singers and players are welcome - and listeners too, of course.  Eddie Affleck is in charge on 3rd August and David Swann on 31st.  Admission is just £3 on the door to non-performers.
4.        10th AUGUST– JOSHUA BURNELL.  Regular readers of this bulletin will know that I am much impressed by the young York-based musician and singer Joshua Burnell.  We don’t often book very local acts for the club (such people can, after all, arrange their own local gigs) but for Joshua I have happily made an exception.  In a change to the information in our printed brochure, he will now be joined on 10th August by an acoustic version of his full band, with mandolin, double bass, percussion and second guitar alongside Joshua’s voice, keyboard and guitar and Frances Sladen’s singing.  Harpist Catriona Cannon will still be joining them for several numbers as well.
The evening will focus on a selection of traditional pieces from Joshua’s ambitious Seasonsproject, which is seeing the online release of a brand new folk song or instrumental recording each week for this entire year.  Check out the 29 tracks issued so far on his website  We can also expect some songs from Joshua’s Into The Greenalbum, which received widespread praise when it was released last year.
Phil Cerny takes his turn as MC for this one and tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door.  I understand that Sarah Dean will be one of the floor singers, so we’ll have two harps in the room that night!
5.        17th AUGUST – ALICE JONES.  Next up is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer from Ripponden in West Yorkshire.  Alice Jones’ music is deeply rooted in the English folk tradition and she mostly sings traditional songs, accompanying herself on piano or harmonium, sometimes only with foot percussion.  Her sensitive and intuitive arrangements allow the song’s stories to take centre stage and, inspired by her beginnings as a percussive dancer, they are loaded with a rhythm and energy that portrays her dancer’s heartbeat.  Her distinctive voice and innovative style lends a fresh, modern perspective to traditional material and brings new life to old songs.
Alice grew up in a folk-loving household and made her first public performances as a dancer with Ryburn Longsword and later as an Appalachian clogger, taught by the legendary Ira Bernstein. At the age of 12 she began to perform at festivals and teach workshops around the country.  Later she began to play with ceilidh bands and then joined the John Dipper Band as a singer.  At the age of 18 Alice took on the role of Chair of the Ripponden-based community arts organisation Ryburn 3 Step and at the time was probably the youngest chair of a folk development group in the country.  More recently she has been involved in a long-term research project looking at the vast collection of Leeds-based folk song collector Frank Kidson.  Alongside Pete Coe she has been touring a show featuring songs taken from this formidable collection called The Search for Five Finger Frank.  Together they recorded a double album of the same name, released in 2014, for which they had rave reviews and gained much airplay.  “Superb, sincere vocals – meltingly fine music” says Verity Sharpe of BBC Radio 3.
Stan Graham is MC for this one and tickets are again £8 in advance or £9 on the door.
6.        24th AUGUST – THE TRIALS OF CATO.  Three young men turned up at one of our club Singers Nights last autumn, armed with a considerable array of fretted instruments, and proceeded to greatly impress us with their lively singing and accomplished playing.  Will, Robin and Tom go by the unusual collective name of The Trials of Cato and are welcomed back as full club guests on 24th August.
The band’s members hail from North Wales and West Yorkshire but they first got together in Beirut (of all places) in the summer of 2015 and spent a formative year performing traditional British and Irish music in Lebanon and developing their distinctive sound.  Since returning to the UK in 2016 their feet have hardly touched the ground.  We were far from being the only club to be impressed by their floor spot performance and they have been securing bookings at venues and festivals across the country.  For example, from York they travel to the prestigious Shrewsbury Folk Festival for a series of feature spots.
The Trials of Cato’s live set includes both original and traditional material, including some songs in Welsh.  With tight instrumentation and rousing harmonies, their music is firmly rooted in the folk tradition but with a contemporary edge.  Tickets are again £8 in advance or £9 on the door, with Eddie Affleck acting as MC.
7.        AN INTERNATIONAL AUTUMN AT THE BLACK SWAN.  The club’s autumn months (September, October and November) have a strongly international flavour, with Canadian women singers particularly well represented in the excellent shape of Eileen McGann (7th September), Sarah Jane Scouten, who greatly impressed on her 2014 debut (5th October) and Maria Dunn (12th October).  Also from Canada we welcome back firm favourite James Keelaghan (9th November, accompanied by Hugh McMillan), likewise from the USA Dana & Susan Robinson (16th November), while from Ireland via Australia comes another great performer, Enda Kenny (14th September).  No doubt Australian songs will also feature when veteran English singer Martyn Wyndham-Read returns (2nd November), while two other English folk scene stalwarts who never fail to entertain are Tom McConville (21st September, accompanied by Andy Watt) and Pete Coe (19th October).  All of which leaves space for only a single debut visitor, but an excellent one: Georgia Lewis (30th November, with her band).  She was the “discovery of the 2016 festival season” for me when I saw her sing at Warwick Folk Festival last year.
Tickets for Eileen and for Enda are already available through WeGotTickets.  The rest will go on sale just as soon as I can write the requisite “blurbs”, which will probably be early next month.
8.        EARLY MUSIC CENTRE AUTUMN CONCERTS NOW BOOKING.  A reminder that all five of our autumn concert specials at the National Centre for Early Music are open for booking.  The series begins with Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin on Tuesday 10th October, appearing under their new collective name of Edgelarks and with tour support act The Little Unsaid.  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. 
The full NCEM new season brochure should be published by the end of August – with Bella Hardy on the front cover – but booking is already available at, on 01904 658338 or in person at the Centre off Walmgate.  Younger readers please note that we are offering a quantity of specially priced (£5) “under-35s” tickets for all events other than Edgelarks.  The Early Music Centre trialled this u35 offer during their recent summer festival and it went down well, enabling younger people with limited disposable incomes to attend events which might otherwise have been unaffordable.  The number of such cheap tickets is of course strictly limited.  Contact the NCEM Box Office team for more information.
9.        PEGGY SEEGER CONCERT AT THE CRESCENT ALSO BOOKING.  A reminder also that we are collaborating 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.  Peggy Seeger & Family  The “First Time Ever” Tour coincides with the publication of her memoir First Time Ever and will feature some of the best-loved songs by Peggy and the late Ewan MacColl, interspersed with readings from her book.  Tickets are on sale on both the SeeTickets and WeGotTickets websites, priced at £18.  They can also be purchased at Inkwell on Gillygate and over the bar at the venue after 7pm weekdays or all day Sunday.
10.     SHIRLEY COLLINS ON FILM.  Lastly, a reminder 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.  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 by the end of August.
11.     BLACK SWAN INN NEWS.  In the last e-newsletter I reported the sad death of our much-loved Black Swan Inn landlord Andy Cross.  There was a full-page obituary in the York Press on 30th June – - and the funeral on 4th July saw York Crematorium filled to capacity, with a eulogy delivered by Trevor Rooney.  Chris Euesden, Phil Cerny, John Cherry and Peter Quinn joined me in representing the folk club.
Andy’s partner Maggie Anderton has taken over as licensee and as holder of the lease from pub owners Enterprise Inns.  She assures us that it is “business as usual” so far as the folk club is concerned and has even expressed her intention to go ahead with the refurbishment of the Wolfe Room which Andy was planning (see E-News 212), although that probably won’t now be until 2018.
12.     CLUB’S 40th ANNIVERSARY APPROACHES.  Talking of 2018, we know now that next year will mark the 40th Anniversary of our club’s foundation.  Let me explain.  As it was initially a student club and there are no surviving archives, we’ve never been sure exactly when the club began – only that it was some time in the later 1970s.  Then out of the blue last month I had an email from a musician called Paul Buckley, who wrote: “I inherited the folk club at the University of York in 1976 and after running it in the form of club nights and concerts in university rooms, moved it into the town.  I started making enquiries in a few York pubs, well quite a lot of them actually, particularly the real ale ones (and) eventually settled on the Black Swan.  I'm struggling to remember details but I found an old diary the other day and the first reference I can find is Thursday 9th February 1978, which would make the folk club at the Black Swan 40 years old early next year.”
Paul lives in Ireland these days but has agreed to come back to York for a special 40th Birthday Party.  That will be on 29th March 2018, which is the Thursday before Easter.  We’ll try to roust out a few other names from the early days of the club (are you listening, Mike?). And thinking of which, does anyone out there have contact details for Bob Greenwood, or know what became of him?  More details to follow, but mark that date.
13.     YORKSHIRE GIG GUIDE AWARDS NOW VOTING.  Regular readers may recall that last year we were voted Outstanding Music Club in the annual awards run by the Yorkshire Gig Guide website.  Well, I am delighted to report that we have been nominated for the same award again this year.  To find out more and (if you are so inclined) vote for us, go to (yes, that does still say 2015). There are other familiar names amongst the umpteen nominations across 13 categories, for example Tony Haynes in the Yorkshire Media category.  I would particularly draw your attention to the Live Sound & Recording Engineer award, where one of the nominees is Tony Evans, who has done such a great job with our Marquee sound at the last three York Folk Weekends. Do show your appreciation by voting for Tony.
Public voting closes on Thursday 31st August and decides the top five in each category.  A judging panel will then chose the final winners and runners-up under each heading.  The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday 7th October at Pocklington Arts Centre.
14.     LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC LINE-UP ANNOUNCED.  Another person receiving multiple nominations in the Yorkshire Gig Guide awards (as she did last year) is Ellen Cole, who has just announced the line-up for her latest Little Festival of Live Music.  This takes place between 22nd and 30th September, alongside the York Food & Drink Festival in Parliament Street, from 5pm to 9pm on most days.  Ellen will be offering 28 hours of free live music in that time, with a strong proportion of folk and acoustic acts.  Artists appearing include Edwina Hayes, Leather’o, Dan Webster, Joshua Burnell, Toni Bunnell, Smith & Wallace, Mulholland and The Bronze.  Find the full running orders and other details
15.     NCEM SECURES RENEWED ARTS COUNCIL FUNDING.  At the end of June Arts Council England announced its new National Portfolio, the 831 organisations it will be funding between 2018 and 2022.  Happily for us, the York Early Music Foundation is again amongst them, with an award of £1.08m.  That’s £270,000 a year for their work at the National Centre for Early Music supporting artistic excellence in early music, supporting the development of young talented professionals and encourage people to be inspired by early music in particular, alongside other musical genres including world, jazz and folk.  “We are a small and hard-working team, dedicated to bringing arts to everyone and ensuring high quality and enjoyable experiences,” said NCEM Director Delma Tomlin.  “We have some very exciting and ambitious plans over the next few years and will continue to build of the fantastic work we do people of all ages, from different backgrounds and ability in music.  Our stunning medieval church provides the perfect setting for us to enjoy music.”  Other local organisations to benefit from National Portfolio funding include the York Museums Trust, York Theatre Royal and David Porter’s J Night jazz music organisation.
16.     PADDED BAGS AVAILABLE.  On a more prosaic note, I’ve been having a domestic clear-out and have a large storage box full of second-hand but re-usable padded bags – some CD-sized, others larger.  Is there anyone out there (e.g. someone doing regular mailings) who could use them?  Drop me a line if interested.
17.     DEE’S CHARITY RUN.  A reminder that there is still time to sponsor occasional club visitor Dee Marshall in the Jane Tomlinson Appeal 10k run in York on Sunday 6th August.  See last month’s E-News for details.  If you’d like to support Dee in this fundraising effort contact her partner Steve about how to do it – he is on 01904 490440 / 07929 719286 /
18.     FOLK EVENT IN THIRSK.  I’ve been asked to mention an event taking place in Thirsk on Friday 18th August, when a singer called George Boomsma will be appearing at the Rural Arts venue in the Courthouse at 7.30pm.  George is described as “a progressive folk musician from Northallerton … (his) effortless vocals and sensitive guitar playing create an intimate atmosphere for showcasing songs from his recent album, a charming collection of sweet melodies and sincere vocals that will serenade away your worries.”  It’s a new name to me, and from a town which (Rebekah Findlay aside) has not been notable for its recent output of folk/acoustic musicians.  Find out more at
19.     LATE AUGUST MUSIC FESTIVAL IN ESCRICK.  Looking for entertainment over the late August holiday weekend?  Check out the Escrick Live & Roots Music Festival, which is taking place on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th August at the Escrick & Deighton Club on the Main Street in the village of Escrick, a few miles south of York on the A19 (YO19 6LQ).  Doors open each day at 11.00 with music from 1.00.  Saturday’s line-up includes a rare appearance by Johnny Dickinson, York’s Crocker Family Band and three or four other acts, while Sunday has Edwina Hayes, York’s Rachel Croft, The Blueflies and more.  Adult tickets are £20 each day or £30 for the full weekend, with any surplus funds going to Yorkshire Air Ambulance and St Leonard’s Hospice.  Find full line-ups and more at
I hope you are enjoying your summer, musically and otherwise.   Our next mailing will probably be towards the end of August, by which time we’ll no doubt be turning our thoughts to the autumn.