Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 219

September 2017

Due in part to technical problems (i.e. a dead router) it is longer than usual since my last full newsletter. There was an interim “newsflash” (no 218) last week but I was only able to send it to about half of subscribers. Hence this is a particularly long edition! Here goes….


1. NEXT WEEK, 5th OCTOBER – SARAH JANE SCOUTEN. Next week, 5th October, we are looking forward to welcoming back the young Canadian singer Sarah Jane Scouten. Her first visit to our club in 2014, as a pretty much unknown artist on this side of the Atlantic, was a very enjoyable night, probably one of our best debuts in recent years. Since then Sarah’s reputation has grown steadily at home in Canada and is beginning to build in Europe too. Her new album When The Bloom Falls From The Rose (her third) has been picking up some enthusiastic reviews and there is, for example, a feature article in the latest edition of fRoots magazine.

With influences from country, folk, bluegrass and more, but writing very much in her own style, Sarah has been likened to such as Lucinda Williams, Iris Dement and Nanci Griffith. “A sterling example of the top grade Americana coming out of Canada” said one reviewer. Solo on her first visit, this time Sarah tours Europe with a small semi-electric band (guitar, bass, percussion). They are currently performing in Germany and Belgium, before a fairly intensive run of about 15 UK dates, including York, after which Sarah solo will be opening for Canadian folk-rockers The Paperboys on their British tour (with the latter, incidentally, including Selby Town Hall on 7th November).

As our prime “Americana” enthusiast, Chris Euesden is naturally the MC for this one and tickets are £9 beforehand through WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.

2. 12th OCTOBER – MARIA DUNN WITH SHANNON JOHNSON. The following week we stay with Canadian women singers making a welcome second visit to the Black Swan. Maria Dunn on 12th October has been described as a “storyteller through song” and as “a distaff Woody Guthrie”. With her sixth and latest album Gathering nominated in the Traditional Roots category of the Juno Awards (think Canada’s equivalent to the Mercury Prize, but with much wider scope), Maria continues to write great songs about social and historical themes, blending her personal Scottish-Irish musical heritage with North American bluegrass and country influences.

On Gathering Maria highlights stories of love - not romantic love, but songs of family, community, humanity and the love that fires our actions to make the world a better place. In keeping with Pete Seeger’s words “the key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known”, her songs range from historical and narrative to personal and immediate, inspired by social justice stories both global and local. Sample some tracks on her website at

As on her debut visit, Maria is joined by her record producer Shannon Johnson on violin. Phil Cerny hosts this one and tickets are again £9 beforehand through WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.

3. 19th OCTOBER – PETE COE. After two Canadian weeks, our musical focus is emphatically English on 19th October when we present an outstanding veteran of the native folk scene, Pete Coe, on what will be something like his 15th performance at our club. A professional musician since the very early 1970s, Pete’s CV includes ground-breaking groups like New Victory Band, Red Shift and Bandoggs (the latter with Nic Jones and Tony Rose) and a long-running duo with Chris Coe as well as solo work. He is deeply involved in many aspects of the folk revival – ritual and social dance, education, and much more – and has long been labelled a “one man folk industry”. Last year he and partner Sue Coe were awarded Gold Badges by the English Folk Dance & Song Society in recognition, in particular, of their work with the Ryburn Three Step project in West Yorkshire.

Pete Coe is an incredibly versatile musician, playing bouzouki, dulcimer, banjo and melodeon, and he is a strong, distinctive singer with a rich repertoire of traditional songs and a large portfolio of originals, many of them sharply observant and political, others making their point through humour. Above all, Pete knows how to entrance and inspire a folk club audience.

Eddie Affleck is MC this week and again it is £9 in advance at WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.

4. 26th OCTOBER – SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHT. Our October Singers Night falls on 26th October and this month is hosted by Phil Cerny. As I’ve said many times before, we never know what to expect at one of these nights – 9 performers or 19, a handful of instruments or a shed-full – but they are almost always great fun.

5. NOVEMBER ONWARDS.Making a very welcome return to our club room on 2nd November is that superlative singer, Martyn Wyndham-Read, a 50 year veteran of the UK folk scene with a rich repertoire of traditional and modern songs (including one or two by our own Stan Graham) and a strong strand of Australian material.

The North American season then resumes with return visits by Canada’s James Keelaghan (9th November, joined by Hugh McMillan) and then by New England’s Dana & Susan Robinson (16th November).

Our Singers Night for November is on 23rd, after which we look forward to debut guests Georgia Lewis & Friends (30th November).
   Georgia 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).

The annual Christmas Party ends our year (21st December), but after just a single holiday week we aim to get 2018 off to a cracking start with an intimate small club show by Chris While & Julie Matthews (4th January).

Tickets are on sale for all these guest nights at WeGotTickets.


6. EDGELARKS, AKA PHILLIP HENRY & HANNAH MARTIN, NCEM 10th OCTOBER. Our first event this season at the National Centre for Early Music finally brings to York the acclaimed acoustic duo of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin under their new collective stage name of Edgelarks.
Phillip and Hannah first met in 2009, immediately recognised a powerful musical connection and have been performing together ever since. Spotted busking by Steve Knightley, they were invited to accompany Show Of Hands on a breakthrough tour and went on to win Best Duo at the 2014 BBC Folk Awards (and were nominated again in 2016) and to release several acclaimed albums.
The alchemy of Hannah's evocative songwriting and fiddle and banjo playing and Henry’s much extolled skills on Dobro, lap-steel, harmonica and other instruments creates a wholly distinctive music, burgeoning with ideas and imagery.

Touring to promote their eponymous new album, Edgelarks appear at the Walmgate venue on Tuesday 10th October, where they will be supported by opening act The Little Unsaid, aka John Elliott, who produced the new record.

We've been wanting to bring Phillip and Hannah to York for several years but this is the first time we've managed to find a suitable date, and we are delighted that it coincides with the release of the Edgelarks CD, which has already picked up some glowing reviews as their most innovative work to date.

The record’s promotional material describes it thus:

An album about transitional spaces, liminal places, people and times, the straddling of boundaries and thresholds, crossroads and borderlands, travellers and refugees, dusk and dawn.

It's about the pause between an old way and a new, the idea that, despite often being places of marginalisation, these are also places of change - and therefore places of hope.

It's that, when social norms break down and you are between two established worlds, there is a chance to gain new perspectives.

It is also that in the end, we have far more in common than things that divide us, because we are all standing on the threshold of tomorrow, all just passing through.

If you’d like to sample the new Edgelarks material, the duo were recent studio guests on the Mark Radcliffe Radio 2 Folk Show – available to listen again for another two weeks or so
Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start on 10th October and all tickets are £14 (no concessions) through the NCEM website or the box office on 01904 658338, or on the door.

7. SHIRLEY COLLINS ON FILM, NCEM 22nd OCTOBER. Again at the NCEM, remember that we are co-promoting a screening of new film The Ballad of Shirley Collins, on Sunday 22nd October at 4pm (note that time).
Described as “a meditative and richly textured piece of portraiture” rather than a straightforward biopic, it promises fascinating insights into this living folk legend, from her youthful song collecting trips with Alan Lomax in the southern USA to her genre-crossing partnerships with guitarist Davey Graham, early music sister Dolly Collins and folk-rocker Ashley Hutchings, before a long withdrawal from public performance after she lost her singing voice, a situation finally ended with last year’s triumphant Lodestar album.

The film, receiving its world premiere at the London Film Festival on 13th October, was directed by Rob Curry and Tim Plester (the team behind Way Of The Morris in 2011) and was part-funded through a Kickstarter campaign to which the folk club made a very modest contribution.
The York screening will be preceded by a short set of appropriate folk songs sung by local heroes Two Black Sheep & A Stallion – regulars at the threatened Friday night York session – see item 17 below.
Tickets at £7 (£5 concessions) are now on sale.

8. BELLA HARDY’S “HEY SAMMY” TOUR, NCEM 24th OCTOBER Previewing material from her keenly waited new album Hey Sammy, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bella Hardy makes her long overdue NCEM debut on Tuesday 24th October.
First coming to our attention in the early 2000s as a teenage fiddler and singer with youth big band The Pack, Bella subsequently came to York St John University and took a degree in English Literature before deciding on a career in music.
Her debut album  Night Visiting, released exactly ten years ago, suggested her potential as a songwriter when her first original composition Three Black Feathers earned a BBC Folk Awards nomination (a prize she went on to win in 2012 with  The Herring Girl).
Bella has since become a regular on radio and television, notably singing solo in a sold-out Albert Hall Folk Prom.
She has written and recorded with everyone from Beautiful South founder David Rotheray to folk luminary Eliza Carthy, and performed with the great Mary Chapin Carpenter on her 2016 UK tour.
In 2014 she was named BBC Folk Singer of the Year and her 2015 album With The Dawn was her most successful release to date.

In the last two years Bella has made extensive musical expeditions far from home.
She relocated to Nashville for a while and became immersed in Music City’s culture of collaborative songwriting, and she also made two music-finding trips to Yunnan Province in China, returning with a suitcase overflowing with new lyrical and musical notions.
These perspectives flow through every word and note of the eleven new songs on Hey Sammy, which is being described as a glorious, accomplished, grown-up record.
Humanist hymns, ancient Chinese poems, feminist battle cries and reflections on the rise of racism in Britain make this Bella’s most wide reaching and richly rewarding album to date.
She also returns to her traditional roots with a retelling of the supernatural ballad Tam Lin.

Bella is joined at the NCEM by Tom Gibbs on the Centre’s grand piano and Anna Massie on guitar.
The latter is of course almost a York “regular” these days – she sang at the Black Swan with Mairearad Green in 2015 and performed at the NCEM twice in 2016, with RANT and with Blazin’ Fiddles.

Opening the night will be another York St John graduate, Joshua Burnell.
Also playing the grand piano and joined by singer Fe Sladen, Joshua will do pared-down acoustic versions of a few of the songs from his acclaimed Into The Green album and his ambitious “a folk song a week for a year” Seasons project.

Our usual soundman Michael Jary will be on hand and has a special reason for being there this time, as he was a member of The Pack with Bella Hardy in his own teenage years.

Tickets are £17 for this one (£15 to concessions, i.e. 65 and over, disabled or unemployed) and as usual doors will open at 7pm with music from 7.30pm. Advance booking is advised at or on 01904 658338.

9. MARTIN SIMPSON’S “TRAILS & TRIBULATIONS” TOUR, NCEM 6th NOVEMBER. Also touring to promote an album of new material, Trails & Tribulations, we welcome back master guitarist and singer Martin Simpson on Monday 6th November.

This NCEM show has already attracted great interest and as I write there are only about 40 tickets left, so don’t leave it much longer before booking.
Tickets are £18 full price or £16 concessions.
Note also that as Martin often plays long sets, there will be no opening act at this concert.

10. LADY MAISERY, NCEM 20th NOVEMBER. This multi-instrumental and vocal trio brings together three of the most innovative and accomplished younger women on the English folk scene – Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Hazel Askew.
All three have appeared in other guises at the Black Swan Inn and their NCEM debut as Lady Maisery was a standout success of our 2015 season.
Opening the night on Monday 20th November are another female trio, Otley acapella stars Yan Tan Tether.Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions.

11. PEGGY SEEGER’S “FIRST TIME EVER” TOUR, THE CRESCENT 27th NOVEMBER. We move across town to The Crescent Community Venue, off Blossom Street, for a very special show with Peggy Seeger and her sons Neill & Calum MacColl on Monday 27th November. A co-promotion with Joe Coates of PleasePleaseYou 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 associated with Peggy and the late Ewan MacColl, interspersed with readings from the book.

The memoir is released on 5th October (Faber & Faber, £20 hardback, ISBN 9780571336791), but the publisher kindly sent me an advance proof copy and it made fascinating reading.
The structure is as much thematic as chronological, but it still covers everything from Peggy’s childhood in and around Washington DC to her many years in England with Ewan MacColl, to her varied life since Ewan’s passing. One snippet from the latter caught my eye.
“In December 1993” Peggy writes “I upped sticks and rented a small renovated stable in Breighton, a tiny village just south of York, a city in which I’d live if it wasn’t so friggin’ cold”. Let’s hope the late autumn weather is suitably mild when Peggy returns to our area on 27th November!

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. Doors open at 7.30pm and the concert begins at 8pm, with no support act.

12. CAROLLING & CRUMPETS WITH JOHN KIRKPATRICK, NCEM 18th DECEMBER. Our seasonal show this year at the Early Music Centre is light-hearted presentation by the celebrated John Kirkpatrick on Monday 18th December. Carolling & Crumpets is proving another popular concert, with about half the tickets sold already.
They are £15 full or £13 concessions, and again there is no support act, it being a themed show.

13. EARLY 2018 CONCERTS AT NCEM. Our first two events of 2018 at the Early Music Centre are also open for booking now.
The visit by Martin & Eliza Carthy on Tuesday 13th February has attracted a lot of early interest (not surprisingly!) and is already about 40% sold.
Just gone on sale also, and happening on Tuesday 27th February, is a Canadian folk music “package tour” double bill with The Ennis Sisters from Newfoundland and singer-songwriter Dave Gunning.
More on that one nearer the time.


14. CLUB ROOM REFURBISHMENT SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY. Black Swan Inn landlady Maggie Anderton has confirmed her intention to have our upstairs function room, the Wolfe Room, spruced up a bit.
This work will take place during January, and will involve some much-needed repairs to the very uneven floor followed by the laying of a new carpet.
The window catches will also be repaired and (all being well) the tapestry should be patched up and cleaned.
There will also be some work on the staircase.

The club will be able to go ahead as normal during the work, though for a couple of weeks we may be meeting on bare floorboards.
It will be interesting to hear what difference that makes to the acoustics!
Maggie promises to have the work completed in time for our Residents’ Festival Winter Folk Day on 28th January.

15. CHRISTINE COCKETT FUNDRAISING SUCCESS. Folk Weekend volunteer photographer Christine Cockett writes to thank all of you users of her photos who sponsored her on the Pretty Muddy York 5k Run on Saturday 16th September.
Your donations raised over £400 for Cancer Research UK, she says, and continues: “the City of Folk Weekend is the highlight of my year not only for the music, it's a music family reunion and I'm proud I feel part of the extended family.”
Thank you for those kind words, Christine.

16. AUTUMN REGIONAL FOLK MAGAZINES. We now have the latest (September – November) editions of both  Folk Roundabout and Tykes’ News available for sale on Thursday nights and at NCEM events.
Folk Roundabout covers the North East folk scene, from York up to Northumberland and is packed with news as well as extensive reviews, while Tykes’ News covers West Yorkshire and well beyond and besides news, diary and reviews has several interesting feature articles each quarter.
The cover feature this season is devoted to The Young’uns.
Costing just £1.50 and £2 respectively, you could have both for less than the price of a pint at the bar!

17. YORK SESSIONS NEWS (1) – THE THREE LEGGED MARE. Alongside our fairly structured club, York has a lively and varied informal folk music scene, with “sessions” on several nights of the week.
One of the longest-running and most popular of these is the Friday night session, which is an equal parts mix of rousing singing and spirited tunes-playing.
For the last 18 months or so this gathering has taken place at the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate, right at the heart of the city, where it draws in a considerable passing audience.
Certainly whenever I have been there the bar has been full of people, either participants or appreciative listeners.

Now, however, it seems that some person in the brewery management is questioning the financial benefits of hosting the session.
It is proposed to cancel it on two up-coming Fridays and then compare bar takings with a normal Friday session evening.
Talk about bean-counting!
Hence there will be NO session at the Three Legged Mare on 20th October nor on 3rd November.
So the advice must be, please support the session if you can on any upcoming Friday  other than those two, and try to spend generously at the bar.

Undaunted, the session players have arranged to temporarily relocate to The Cross Keys on Goodramgate on those two dates, 20th October and 3rd November.
So if you are in town on either of those evenings, avoid the Three Legged Mare at all costs but drop in at the Cross Keys instead.
And see also item 19 below.

18. YORK SESSIONS NEWS (2) – THE FOX. “Havin' The Craic” is a new monthly session which is being organised by our good friend Paula Ryan at the Fox Inn on Holgate Road.
It is open to all musicians and singers, she says.
“All genres, all abilities are welcome to come and join us to play some tunes, sing some songs and share the craic”.
Of course entry is free and listeners who just want to relax, have a drink and enjoy the atmosphere are also encouraged.
The session will be held on the first Wednesday of each month, starting around 8pm, so next on next Wednesday, 4th October.

19. YORK SINGERS & DANCERS FEATURE IN YORK SYMPHONY. Last week I was invited to attend a preview at the York Art Gallery.
The specially commissioned work being launched was York Symphony by Italian multi-media artist Marinella Senatore.

The website explains: “through a series of workshops and conversations collecting individual stories in York, Marinella has created a new Symphony which celebrates the city.
Well-known in Europe and the US for her collaborative process of making new artworks through public participation, Senatore uses a range of media including video, collage and text to allow her projects to speak within a range of contexts.”
Among the numerous community groups captured in the artwork were Ebor Morris (see also item 20 below) and those self-same Friday night session singers and players whose value is now being questioned by the management behind the Three Legged Mare.
At the preview the Friday singers did a rousing version of the Sydney Carter song John Ball and Steve Thompson played a solo fiddle piece.

The Symphony installation is being displayed until 7th May 2018 – see

20. EBOR MORRIS SEEK NEW RECRUITS. Autumn is the time when traditional dance teams get back into regular rehearsal and often seek out new members.
Fresh from their appearance in the above mentioned York Symphony, not to mention running their annual Festival of Traditional Dance earlier this month, York’s male dance side Ebor Morris are certainly looking for potential recruits. 
“No experience required” they say.
They practice on Monday evenings from 8:30pm in the Scout Hut on Bad Bargain Lane in Heworth. 
For more information and follow the join or contact links.

21. YORKSHIRE GIG GUIDE SHORTLISTS. Our club hasn’t made the final shortlist this year in the Outstanding Music Club category of the Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Awards, but I’m pleased to see that our equivalent in Bradford, the Topic Folk Club (the longest-running club in the world, founded in 1956) has made the cut.

You can see all the various shortlists at
The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at Pocklington Arts Centre on Saturday 7th October.


22. LOTS MORE GOOD MUSIC AT THE NCEM. As well as all our folk music shows, the autumn season at the Early Music Centre has a wide range of classical, jazz and world music events lined up.

The following concerts may be of particular interest: Klezmer band Moishe’s Bagel on Friday 13th October, guitarist Eduardo Niebla on Friday 20th October, Persian-Malian collaboration Kayhan Kalhor & Toumani Diabate on Friday 3rd November and southern Albanian folk group Saz’iso on Tuesday 7th November.

There is also World Music on screen with the film The Music of Strangers on Sunday 26th November.

Check out the full season programme at

23. ROISIN BAN IN KNARESBROUGH. Celtic folk band Róisín Bán, with Gordon Tyrrall now in the line-up alongside Chris Dyson, Paddy Hefron and Steve Lacey, have a concert tomorrow night, Saturday 30th September, at The Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough.
Doors open at 7pm and tickets are £10 through

24. UNTHANKS CELEBRATE MOLLY DRAKE IN HULL. The Unthanks bring their well-received celebration of the songs and poems of Molly Drake to the Jubilee Central Hall in Hull this coming Sunday, 1st October, as part of the 2017 City of Culture programme.
Described as “an audio visual work featuring live performance by The Unthanks, film footage of Molly Drake, a set depicting her living room in abstract fashion, and spoken word pre-recorded by Molly’s daughter, actress Gabrielle Drake”, When The Wind Blows is at 8.30pm and costs £25.
For details go

25. MILE ROSES DO IT BY THE BOOK IN MALTON AND GO RURAL IN THIRSK With their first album recently released, The Mile Roses are out and about this autumn.

Songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Edwina Hayes, Kate Bramley and Simon Howarth take their blend of folk and country influences to the Ryedale Book Festival in Malton next Friday, 6th October, in a shared evening with performance poet Mandy Coe. It’s an early evening show (doors open 6.30pm, music & verse from 7pm) at the Milton Rooms and tickets are £15 (£8 for under-18s) via
And then on Saturday 28th October The Mile Roses appear at a Rural Arts event at The Courthouse in Thirsk. That one is £12 from and starts at 7.30.

Also coming up at The Milton Rooms in Malton are high energy folk foursome 4Square on Sunday 29th October at 7.30, while other Rural Arts events of interest include songwriter Luke Jackson at Kilburn Institute on Saturday 14th October and the duo Ninebarrow at Gilling East Village Hall on Friday 20th October.

26. MOONBEAMS PRESENTS ROBERTS & LAKEMAN. Leila and the other good people behind Moonbeams Festival have a one-off event coming up with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman.
It’s on Saturday 7th October at 7.30 in the Village Hall in Harpham, between Driffield and Bridlington. Tickets are £12 through

27. RHEINGANS AT THORGANBY. This autumn’s occasional series of attractive folk events at Thorganby Village Hall, south of York, began with Union Jill three weeks ago (news which came too late for our last Newsletter) and continues with The Rheingans Sisters on Saturday 14th October, then O’Hooley & Tidow on their Winter Folk tour on 22nd December.
Tickets are £12 and £15 respectively through WeGotTickets.
For further information contact, or find them on Facebook.
Maybe catch up with Anna and Rowan Rheingans at Thorganby, then come and enjoy Rowan with Lady Maisery at the NCEM in November (see item 10 above)!

28. POPPLETON LIVE GOES TO MERRY HELL. A new season of events organised by Poppleton Live at All Saints Hall in Upper Poppleton kicks off with an acoustic show by energetic folk-rock festival favourites Merry Hell on Saturday 21st October.
Tickets are £12.50 through the revamped website at

29. KING COURGETTE ARE IN THE POST. Happily, our local roots band King Courgette  are now able to gig again, after illness forced them to pull out of the Folk Weekend back in June.
They are celebrating by putting on a concert on Friday 27th October at the Post Office Club on Marygate.
It is a triple-header with themselves, Billy Kemp (ex-Jeni and Billy) on his first solo visit to York and Karla Kane and The Corner Laughers “a very wonderful folk-pop band from California”.
The Post Office Club is “quite a big room to fill”, they say, “so we need as much help as possible in spreading the word!”
Tickets at £10 general / £7 concessions / £5 under 16s will be on sale on the night (doors open at 7.30) or beforehand at Little Apple on High Petergate, 01904 676103,

30. WHITE SAIL IN RIPON. October guests at the monthly (final Friday) folk event in Ripon are York trio  White Sail, comprising Jane Stockdale, Chris Bartram and Sarah Dean.
That is at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre on Trinity Lane on 27th October at 8pm, with tickets £5 in advance or on the door.
Find out more from Tish Hall-Wilkinson on

Thirty items - that’s more than enough for now!

IT gremlins permitting, I should be back in about 4 weeks.