22nd August 2017
There is a particularly large amount of wider folk news to report this month, but as usual I begin with our own stuff.
1. THIS WEEK, 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 this week.
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 wowed by their floor spot performances and they have been securing bookings at venues and festivals across the country, almost entirely on the strength of their live show since they have yet to release a full-length CD. One punter even got in touch to say she is coming all the way from Stokesley on Thursday to see them after being impressed when she came across them busking one day.
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 £8 in advance or £9 on the door, with Eddie Affleck acting as MC.
2. 31st AUGUST – SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHT. David Swann makes a welcome appearance as our Singers Night host next week, 31st August. These acoustic nights are different every time, but almost always great fun. Compare the last two events. The July Singers Night had 9 performers (including a visitor from Norfolk) and was dominated by the unaccompanied voice, with only 4 instruments seen all night, whereas the early August night had 14 performers (including a father-and-daughters family band) and a plethora of instruments. The long-term average is 12 or 13 performers, but who knows what we can expect next week? Admission is just £3 on the door to non-performers.
Singers Night dates for the rest of this year are 28th September, 26th October, 23rd November and our Christmas Party on 21st December.
3. 7th SEPTEMBER – CANADIAN SONGSTRESS EILEEN McGANN. Our autumn Canadian influx begins on 7th September with a welcome visit by Vancouver-based Eileen McGann, who is regarded as one of North America's finest contemporary folk songwriters, as well as an outstanding singer of traditional songs from Ireland (where she has her family roots), Scotland, England and Canada. She is celebrated for her beautiful voice, compelling guitar style and vibrant stage presence. Here are some recent press quotes:
· “Pocketful of Rhymes [her most recent CD] confirms McGann as one of Canada’s most accomplished contemporary folksingers whose embrace extends far beyond our national borders.”
· “McGann has become synonymous with Celtic influenced Canadian folksong. She is one of the finest contemporary Canadian singer-songwriters of today.”
· “The last decade has seen McGann establish herself as one of the finest singers, songwriters, and interpreters of traditional music on either side of the Atlantic.”
Stan Graham takes the MC duty for this one and tickets are £9 in advance at WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.
4. 14th SEPTEMBER – IRISH AUSTRALIAN ENTERTAINER ENDA KENNY. Enda is an Irish-born singer-songwriter who has lived in Australia since the 1980's. His thoughtful, descriptive story songs about his adoptive homeland have struck a chord with audiences all over Australia and beyond, always memorable and spiced with plenty of humour, and he is a thoroughly entertaining stage performer, as we found in 2015 when he stood in for another indisposed singer at our club. We had no hesitation in inviting him back.
Proud to sing of where he lives now rather than where he left behind, Enda Kenny has a growing international audience and after this English tour he plays dates in Holland. Other recent trips have included Germany, New Zealand and Canada. After a decade of juggling performance with a public service career, Enda went full-time in music in 2013 with the success of his Heart Tattoo album. Winner of several songwriter awards, Enda's recent compositions highlight his quirky sense of humour and add to the impressive catalogue of songs which led Colum Sands (no less) to describe him as "the finest Irish songwriter living overseas". Meanwhile Eleanor McEvoy endorses him thus: "I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Enda Kenny's gigs when I worked with him in Australia. His songs are witty and insightful. On smaller stages to intimate audiences or large stages to festival audiences, he always holds the crowd in the palm of his hand. A brilliant night's entertainment".
Returned from his long summer holidays, Chris Euesden comperes this event and tickets are again £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
5. 21st SEPTEMBER ONWARDS NOW BOOKING & NEW LEAFLET PUBLISHED. The next club leaflet is now printed, covering all our events (over 20 of them) between 21st September and early January 2018. Copies are available now from the Black Swan Inn and at club meetings and I’ll be distributing shortly around other outlets in York and beyond. All Thursday guest nights at the club are now open for booking at www.wegottickets.com (along with the Peggy Seeger show at The Crescent) while tickets for all our Early Music Centre events are now on sale at www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338.
6. AUTUMN AND BEYOND AT THE BLACK SWAN INN. The club’s autumn season has two themes, you could say. On the one hand we welcome back three much loved and highly respected veterans of the English folk music scene. Geordie fiddle maestro and singer Tom McConville (21st September, accompanied on guitar by Andy Watt), multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and activist Pete Coe (19th October) and superlative singer Martyn Wyndham-Read (2nd November) have all been active on the folk scene for 40 years or more and have all sung in our room on many past occasions.
The second theme this autumn is North American music, with three further guests from Canada, namely Sarah Jane Scouten, who greatly impressed on her 2014 debut (5th October), “storyteller through song” Maria Dunn (12th October) and one of our favourite songwriters James Keelaghan (9th November, accompanied by Hugh McMillan), plus from the USA the welcome return of Dana & Susan Robinson (16th November).
There is only one debut guest this autumn, namely Georgia Lewis (30th November, with her fiddle player and her guitarist). She was the discovery of the 2016 festival season for me and has just released what could be her breakthrough album. “A glorious cocktail of modern folk influences, a potent statement of intent and a first glimpse at a burgeoning talent who looks set to put her stamp on English folk music” says one posting.
December brings two highly contrasting but equally impressive bands to the Black Swan Inn: Lancashire’s electro-folk storytellers Harp And A Monkey (7th December) and from the Scottish Borders Kenny Speirs’ group Real Time (14th December). And to get 2018 off to a cracking start, we have an intimate small club show by Chris While & Julie Matthews (4th January – early booking advised).
7. EVENTS AT THE EARLY MUSIC CENTRE AND AT THE CRESCENT. We have five folk concerts at the NCEM this autumn and another one early in 2018, beginning 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 makes her NCEM debut on Tuesday 24th October (and is pictured on the cover of the Centre’s newly published glossy brochure) with accompanists Thomas Gibbs on grand piano and Anna Massie on guitar, plus a support spot by Joshua Burnell. Martin Simpson gives us a taste of brand new solo release Trails & Tribulations on Monday 6th November, then that excellent trioLady 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. John Kirkpatrick brings us his seasonal show Carolling & Crumpets on Monday 18th December, and also now open for booking is a very special early 2018 night with Martin & Eliza Carthy(Tuesday 13th February).
Staying with the NCEM, remember that we are co-promoting a screening of new film The Ballad of Shirley Collins, on Sunday 22nd October at 4pm. Described as “a meditative and richly textured piece of portraiture” rather than a straightforward biopic, it promises fascinating insights into this living folk legend. The movie will be preceded by a short set of appropriate folk songs sung by local heroes Two Black Sheep & A Stallion. Tickets at £7 (£5 concessions) are now on sale, but see item 12 below for a chance to win a pair of them.
Lastly, a reminder that we are co-promoting 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 the 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.
OTHER CLUB NEWS
8. HALF YEAR PROGRESS REPORT. The club’s business year runs from 1st February (it’s a long story…) so Wizz Jones’ full house gig at the end of July marked the half-way point in our current year. A few days later I had a look at the figures. Attendance wise, things are very steady at the club, with average numbers broadly the same as the last two full years, while NCEM numbers were slightly up. Cash-wise, we made a surplus of around £900 over the first six months and we now have just over £9000 in the bank. Some very successful NCEM shows (notably from Steve Knightley) accounted for almost all of this surplus, since club guest nights only just broke even, 19 events being in surplus by a mere £89 in total. Our main expenditures on top of fees, associated costs and publicity bills were a better quality printer for the production of club posters and various bits of PA and lighting kit. I have the half-year financial summary with me on Thursday nights if anyone wants to see the detailed figures.
As there has recently been some Facebook discussion over club floor spots, I also looked at those for the half year. Over 19 guest nights we had 71 performing MCs / floor singers and those spots were contributed by no fewer than 18 different acts. The “core” team of Phil, Chris, Eddie and Stan only accounted for half (35) of the spots. One thing you can always be certain of, it is never the same MC and floor singers two weeks running at our club.
9. CLUB NIGHTS PHOTOGRAPHED. We’ve had a flurry of photographers at recent club events. Joshua Burnell invited Robert Mitchell to take some shots at his Black Swan gig on 10th August, and has posted an album on his Facebook page – see www.facebook.com/pg/JoshuaBurnellMusic/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1453694684695706.
Not to be outdone, the York Calling website sent along photographer Andy Argyle to our Alice Jones event last week and he has posted an online album at https://yorkcalling.co.uk/2017/08/19/alice-jones-at-the-black-swan-inn/. This includes the floor singers as well as Alice herself.
Audience member and keen cameraman Chris Jones has also taken numerous pictures at several recent club nights (Georgia Shackleton, Wizz Jones, Joshua Burnell) and has shared them with guests and floor singers, although these have not been posted publicly online.
Note also that our excellent Folk Weekend photographer Christine Cockett has been in touch seeking sponsorship for Cancer Research – see item 13 below.
10. FOLK WEEKEND LOST PROPERTY. Thinking of last June’s Folk Weekend, I still have an item of lost property which was (I think) found in the upstairs room. It is a black folder of song lyrics (Blackleg Miner, Female Drummer, etc.), with the only identifying marks being the initials D (possibly for Dave) and G. If anyone wants to claim, drop me a line.
11. BEST WISHES TO COLIN. One of our loyalist club supporters is Colin Tiffany, whose broad Yorkshire voice keeps alive the ancient folk club custom of the good-natured heckle. Colin rarely misses a Thursday night but was absent last week, having been hospitalised to have a kidney removed. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.
12. FOLK SONG IN ENGLAND – A MAJOR NEW BOOK. Those of you with a particular interest in traditional English folk song will be aware of the name Steve Roud. Steve has done huge amounts of work on systematically indexing traditional ballads and songs, and in 2012, with Julia Bishop, he edited The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. Few people have been more immersed in traditional song in recent times. Now Steve has written an analytical study, Folk Song in England, described as “a new look at the folk music tradition in England, a hugely readable social history”. The book was published last week by Faber & Faber, as a £25 / 784pp hardback, ISBN 9780571309719.
The publisher’s blurb continues “after over a century of collection and discussion, publication and performance, there are still many things we don’t know about traditional song. Where did the songs come from? Who sang them, where, when and why? What part did singing play in the lives of the communities in which the songs thrived? Have the pioneer collectors’ restricted definitions and narrow focus hindered or helped our understanding? This is the first book for many years to investigate the wider social history of traditional song and draws on a wide range of sources to answer these questions and many more.”
I have been sent a promotional pack by the publishers, which includes a contents list and chapter sample, a series of discussion points (e.g. “How much do you feel that first print, and now technology, has affected the oral traditions of folk?”) and even some bespoke beermats. Do get in touch if you’d like to see any of these.
There is also a 20 question Folk Song Quiz compiled by Steve Roud. Would anyone out there like to have a go at this? I have multiple copies so could post out if asked, or scan and send by email attachment. Just how well do you know traditional song? I ran it past one of our club residents and he only managed about a quarter of the answers, so it is not a doddle. In fact, how about having a little competition? How about two free tickets for the Shirley Collins film for the person who submits the most correct answers? That would be quite appropriate really, as Shirley has always been a collector and champion of traditional song and currently serves as President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Get in touch by email or phone if you’d like to give it a try, or pick up a quiz sheet from me one Thursday evening.
13. CHRISTINE COCKETT FUNDRAISES FOR CANCER RESEARCH. Last year and again this year keen amateur photographer Christine Cockett has been at our June Folk Weekend and taken lots of photos, which she has made freely available on Flickr. For this year’s portfolio of over 900 images, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/christinecockett/sets/72157684539232276.
Several singers and groups have used Christine’s Folk Weekend photos in their own promotional and publicity material. Christine is quite happy with this and does not ask for any payment, saying “taking money for my photography would be taking away from something I love to do”. But she now says “I'm working on my fitness and raising money for Cancer Research UK and wonder if the people who are happy with the photos I took of them for your events these past two years would each sponsor me £1”. Specifically, Christine is taking part in the Pretty Muddy York 5k Run on Saturday 16th September. See https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/christines-race-for-life-236
I hope that many of you will give her this modest sponsorship as a thank you for her superb photos. She asks that when you do so you make a comment referencing 'City of York Folk Weekend photography'. I’ve set the ball rolling, so follow my example if you like. Christine concludes that she is happy to continue volunteering her photography when she can, and hopes to support other good causes in the future, such as Dementia UK. She says “anyone who wishes me to photograph them in the future should email firstname.lastname@example.org donate to a good cause I will specify”.
14. DEE & STEVE’S FUNDRAISING – NEXT CHARITY CEILIDH. Staying with charity fundraising, in recent newsletters I mentioned Dee Marshall’s participation in the 10K Jane Tomlinson Run. “Thank you so much for your amazing donations” she now says. “I ran it in 1hr 23 minutes and was apparently 40th in my age group. The total fund from all you wonderful people comes to £2130. As previously advised this will be divided between the Jane Tomlinson fund (Yorkshire Cancer Research) and the Oxford Hospital charity fund.”
Dee and husband Steve have now announced another fundraising effort. This will be a ceilidh in aid of the Keep Your Pet charity (www.keepyourpet.co.uk), which helps elderly and vulnerable people in times of illness or emergency with pet care, fostering, walking, feeding and such like. Naturally, Steve’s band Alterego will be playing and the venue is Bishopthorpe Social Club on Saturday 21st October, starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 from Steve on 07929 719286 or email@example.com.
Incidentally, Steve & Dee have just released a CD of their duo work: 11 tracks under the titleSampler, covering writers as diverse as Cole Porter, Leiber & Stoller, Trad., Simon Nicol and Siobhan Miller. I’m sure a call to Steve as above could secure you a copy.
15. FAB FOLK & BLUES LATEST. Following the sudden demise of Vale Radio, Tony Haynes is back on air with his FAB Folk and Blues show. He now broadcasts 8-10pm on Saturdays on Wetherby community station TempoFM. This can be heard live online (tempofm.co.uk) or in the lower Wharfe valley on 107.4FM. The signal reaches western York and Leeds, says Tony. Stripped of their station IDs, the shows are also being uploaded to Tony’s Mixcloud site www.mixcloud.com/tonyhaynes52/. Phil Pipe, an old friend of ours, was studio guest on the latest (19th August) show. Apparently TempoFM are monitoring the Mixcloud site to see how many hits it gets, so Tony urges you to go there and click on one of his August shows. “Have a listen for a few minutes at least - that will register on the counter” he says.
16. ACCORDIONS 1 – A TRIP TO ITALY. Calling any accordion buffs out there. I’ve been asked to mention a specialist holiday trip for accordion lovers to Castelfidardo and San Marino in Italy, with visits to accordion factories, showrooms and museums. It’s a 5 day (4 night) trip on 22nd-26th May next year. “An extremely informative and fun visit within the lovely Emilia Romagna and Le Marche regions of Italy” it says here. Further details from amateur accordionist and professional marketing man Peter Le Geyt on 020 8977 6680 /firstname.lastname@example.org.
17. ACCORDIONS 2 – LOCAL SPECIALISTS FOR SQUEEZE-BOX PLAYERS. Players of accordions, melodeons and concertinas are very well catered for here in York these days. In the city centre the wonderful Red Cow Music on Goodramgate (www.redcowmusic.co.uk) deal in all manner of acoustic instruments, including squeeze-boxes, while out at Stillington areAcorn Instruments (www.acorninstruments.co.uk), specialists in Castagnari melodeons and accordions, Manfrini accordions and other quality folk instruments. This business is run by Peter Ward, a long-time friend of our club (formerly a cabinet-maker, he built the club A-board which usually sits at the foot of the Black Swan Inn staircase). Both Red Cow and Acorn have sponsored our annual Folk Weekend.
Now I’ve been given details of another specialist free reed instrument business in North Yorkshire. Established within the last year but by “experts with years of experience”, The Reed Lounge (www.thereedlounge.com) is based at Marton cum Grafton near Boroughbridge and offers a wide range of new instruments, plus a specialist repair service.
18. YORKSHIRE GIG GUIDE AWARDS REMINDER. Just a quick reminder that voting is still open until 31st August in the Yorkshire Gig Guide Awards for 2017. The Black Swan is again nominated in the Music Club category and there are many names in other categories which you will recognise and may wish to support with your vote. Go tohttp://yorkshiregigguide.co.uk/grass-roots-awards-2015.html.
SOME OTHER EVENTS IN OR NEAR YORK
19. ESCRICK ROOTS CANCELLED. I am sorry to have to report that the Escrick Live and Roots Festival on 26th and 27th August, trailed in the last E-News, has been cancelled by the organisers at short notice. One source says this is due to lack of advance ticket sales, another cites council compliance problems.
20. CROCKER BROTHERS AT THE VOLUNTEER. York’s excellent country and bluegrass band The Crocker Brothers are one act who have lost out by cancellation of the Escrick event, but “we are still top-of-the-bill at our favourite venue, The Volunteer Arms” they say. That’s on Watson Terrace off Holgate on Saturday 2nd September, from 8.30pm, with free admission. We really must tempt them to appear at the Folk Weekend next year!
21. COMMONERS CHOIR CD LAUNCH. Occasional club visitor Mike Feist asks me to mention the CD Launch Concert by West Yorkshire community singing group Commoners Choir, who describe themselves as “a strange yet open and inclusive choir that meets in Leeds. We come from all over the place, and try to act more like a band or a gang than a choir. We sing our own songs, about the world immediately around us, about inequality, hope, and Tory politicians”. The launch is on the afternoon of Sunday 3rd September (2pm-5pm) at Sunnybank Mills in Leeds, with additional music from Nick Harper and a range of other participants. See www.commonerschoir.com for full details. If you don’t already know them and want to hear what they sound like, Commoners Choir were studio guests on The Durbervilles Radio Leeds show last Sunday, 20th August – available to listen to online on the BBC website.
22. THE LOCK IN - REMIXED AT YORK THEATRE ROYAL. The Demon Barbers Roadshow brings its folk and hip hop dance extravaganza The Lock In – Remixed to York Theatre Royal for one night only on Saturday 16th September. “A full-on show of such blazing energy and joyous ingenuity you scarcely ponder on the apparent madness of trying to marry folk dance and hip hop” wrote The Telegraph. Tickets are £18 (£16 concessions) from the Box Office on 01904 623568 or online.
23. LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC LINE-UPS. York’s Little Festival of Live Music takes place between 22nd and 30th September, alongside the York Food & Drink Festival in the Music Marquee in Parliament Street, from 5pm to 9pm every day except Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th. It is all organised by the indefatigable Ellen Cole and is all free – although there will be regular charity collections in aid of York Mind. There is a strong proportion of folk and acoustic acts within Ellen’s inspired line-ups, which are in full
· Friday 22nd – Toni Bunnell, Leather’o, Dan Webster and Joshua Burnell
· Saturday 23rd – Barcode Zebra, Laura Kindelan, Ramble Gamble and Grinny Grandad
· Sunday 24th – Chris Helme, Gracie Falls, Smith & Wallace (aka Rio Bravo) and Boss Caine
· Wednesday 27th – Fiona Lee, Robin Gordon & Bushy, Simon Bolley Band and Slack Habits
· Thursday 28th – Edwina Hayes, Mulholland, The Bronze and Heather Findlay
· Friday 29th - Kitty VR Music, Bull, Andy Doonan and The Blueprints
· Saturday 30th – Flora Greysteel, Kitsch, Kymberley Kennedy and Atomic Raygun
The website is www.facebook.com/YorksLittleFestivalOfLiveMusic
24. FOLK IN RIPON UPDATE. Tish Hall-Wilkinson reminds us that there is no August folk night in Ripon. The next monthly (final Friday) event at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre will therefore be on 29th September at 8pm, an open evening of live music hosted this month by Patrice and Phil Lyth and featuring Becca and Ben on flute and guitar. £3 on the door. On 27th October the guests are York trio White Sail. The community centre is on Trinity Lane and Tish can be contacted on email@example.com.
A monster mailing, this one! I hope you find at least some of it interesting / useful. The next bulletin will probably be around mid-September.