Happy New Year to all our readers – may you have a healthy, peaceful and musically rich year in 2018.
THURSDAY CLUB EVENTS
1. CLUB ROOM REFURBISHMENT. First, a reminder that our club room at the Black Swan Inn is being refurbished during January. The badly worn old carpet will be removed, the uneven floorboards extensively repaired and a new carpet laid. There will also be repairs to the windows and some work on the staircase. Our landlady Maggie promises that we can meet as normal, but the events on 11th and 18th may have to take place on a bare wooden floor – which will make for an interestingly different acoustic, I expect. All work should be completed in time for the Winter Folk Day on 28th January.
2. THIS THURSDAY CHRIS WHILE & JULIE MATTHEWS – SOLD OUT. Please note that our very special club night this week (4th) is now completely Sold Out, with a waiting list for any returns. For the record, the MC will be Chris Euesden and the floor singers are Simon Alexander and Judith Haswell. If you missed out on tickets for this one, be advised that Chris & Julie are also appearing at Thorganby Folk in May – see item 22 below.
3. IRISH TROUBADOUR ANTHONY JOHN CLARKE, 11th JANUARY. The Irish-born but UK based singer-songwriter Anthony John Clarke makes his third visit to our club next week, 11th January. He was last here in 2012 for a memorable duo night with Dave Pegg, of Fairport Convention, with whom he continues to tour regularly, but this time around it is a solo show. A lyricist who is by turns hilarious, serious, compassionate, irreverent, brave and challenging, while also a skilled guitarist with an instantly recognizable voice, Anthony John is one of the most engaging and entertaining folk performers in the business and we are delighted to welcome him back.
Stan Graham will be hosting this event and the anticipated floor singers are John Storey, David Swann and Eddie Affleck. Tickets are £9 in advance and are already around half sold at www.wegottickets.com. Whatever seats are left on the night will be £10 on the door from 7.45pm.
4. SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHT, 18th JANUARY. Our friendly Open House gathering this month is due to be hosted by John Storey on 18th January. All acoustic performers are welcome at these nights, and it wouldn’t be the same without listeners too. Come along and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and some excellent music. Admission is just £3 on the door, or £2 for students. Performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty.
5. NAUTICAL BUT NICE WITH TOM LEWIS, 25th JANUARY. Our final guest night for January has a decidedly nautical flavour. With a repertoire ranging from traditional shanties to songs fashioned out of his own seafaring experience (he served 24 years in the Royal Navy), Tom Lewis will take us on a voyage by turns reflective, dramatic and humorous on 25th January. He accompanies on button accordion and ukulele but above all it is his clear and powerful voice which entertains. Celebrating his 75th year and newly resident in Shipley, West Yorkshire, after a three-year peregrination of England’s inland waterways, Tom remains an utterly engaging performer. Recommended!
Our floor singers for this one will include York’s rousing male vocal group Two Black Sheep & A Stallion. They are old friends of Tom Lewis (having first met when Tom was living in western Canada and 2BS were guesting at a festival over there) and they perform several of his compositions. We can surely expect some lively chorus singing that night and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if 2BS join Tom on stage at some point. Phil Cerny will be acting as MC for this one and the other anticipated floor singers are Ian Pybus and Toni Bunnell. Tickets are again £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
6. GUITAR ARTISTRY WITH CLIVE CARROLL, 1st FEBRUARY. Making a welcome return to our club at the start of February is the virtuoso acoustic guitarist Clive Carroll. With his joyfully eclectic bag of tunes, spanning everything from 16th century lute music to jazz standards, delta blues to Irish reels, plus his own ground-breaking compositions, Clive is one of the most accomplished and entertaining yet unassumingly modest guitar players in the business. What is more, his main instrument is a Ralph Bown model made here in York.
Note that instead of floor singers tonight (other than MC Chris Euesden) we will be having a half hour support set by a touring duo from Kentucky, songwriter Brigid Kaelin and banjo ace Steve Cooley. Brigid describes her songs as “alt-country-cabaret” and she plays accordion and musical saw (!) as well as guitar, while Steve is a legendary name in bluegrass circles, first coming to prominence with The Dillards. Check them out at www.brigidkaelin.com and www.stevecooleybanjo.com. Clive Carroll is known for inviting other musicians to jam with him and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him, Brigid and Steve doing something together to end the night.
Tickets are £9 in advance (and selling quite well already) or £10 on the door at 7.45pm
7. PAUL DOWNES DEBUTS ON OUR EXACT 40th ANNIVERSARY, 8th FEBRUARY. We recently learned that the Black Swan Folk Club held its first ever meeting on 9th February 1978 (see E-News 216 for more about this), so it is perhaps appropriate that our guest 40 years later almost to the day will be a singer who has been a working musician since the 1970s but who has until now completely eluded our bookings radar! Paul Downes first came to prominence in a duo with Phil Beer, went on to play with Arizona Smoke Review and the Joyce Gang, and more recently has worked solo or with Mick Ryan. A skilled guitarist, he also plays mandocello, mandolin and banjo, and has a rich selection of original songs and choice covers. Eddie Affleck (our longest serving club resident) is an appropriate MC for this one and the anticipated floor acts are Sarah Dean, Martin Heaton and Stan Graham
8. AND COMING NEXT… There’s lots more good music to come as we move into spring and early summer. The new club brochure is now available and gives full details through to May. You can also find lots of information on the programme pages of the club website, while all Thursday night events up to mid-June are now on sale at WeGotTickets. So what is next?
· February / March – The Carrivick Sisters, Pilgrims’ Way, Broom Bezzums, our annual New Roots Double Bill, and a club 40th Birthday Party
· April – Róisín Bán, Rachel Dawick and Andy Irvine
· May – Kitty Macfarlane, Rosie Hood & Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, Hannah James & Claudia Schwab
· June – Nancy Kerr, Clive Gregson
SPECIALS AND CONCERTS
9. WINTER FOLK DAY, SUNDAY 28th JANUARY. For the tenth year running, we have organised an event for the York Residents Festival at the end of January, featuring folk and acoustic acts who live within the city. York’s Winter Folk Day will be on Sunday 28th January in the newly refurbished function room at the Black Swan Inn, with the club’s PA system in use. The afternoon concert (2.00-5.30) will feature Leather’o, Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton, Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, Paula Ryan, Union Jill, Tom McKenzie and Toni Bunnell, while the evening bill (7.30-10.30) is The Foresters, Ian Pybus, White Sail, Fake Thackray and the club’s "house-band" Ramshackle, which comprises Stan Graham, Eddie Affleck, Phil Cerny, Chris Euesden and Judith Haswell. “The line-up for the whole day looks brill - maybe the best yet!” was one early comment. Entry is FREE for holders of York cards and local SU cards while non-residents can come in as well (space permitting) for a small charge.
10. CARTHY & CARTHY AT THE NCEM SOLD OUT. Be warned, our first concert of the year at the Early Music Centre is already Sold Out – that is Martin & Eliza Carthy on 13th February. No surprise there!
11. THE ENNIS SISTERS plus DAVE GUNNING, NCEM 27th FEBRUARY. An evening of the best of East Coast Canadian folk music is promised by this double-header concert at the Early Music Centre on Tuesday 27th February. It offers us the chance to discover two top acts from the culturally rich Maritime Provinces of Canada, a country which punches well above its weight in terms of folk artistry. Newfoundland singing sisters Maureen, Teresa and Karen Ennis have won numerous awards and accolades for their contemporary songs with an Irish-infused twist, while in a career spanning twenty years, Nova Scotian singer-songwriter Dave Gunning has also picked up a shelf full of Canadian music industry prizes. Neither act has so far achieved a high profile in Britain but this joint tour looks set to redress that. Each act will do a full set, then they will join forces for a concert finale. All tickets are £14 through www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338.
12. A NORTHUMBRIAN NIGHT WITH NORTHLANDS, NCEM 14th MARCH. We focus on northern Britain at the Early Music Centre during March. Alistair Anderson & Northlands promise us a splendid evening of Northumbrian music and song on Wednesday 14th March. Alistair is an internationally acclaimed master of the English concertina and Northumbrian pipes who in a career spanning five decades has always championed the music and song of North East England. In Northlands he continues this tradition alongside three younger musicians who have been influenced by him as a teacher and mentor through Folkworks or the Newcastle Folk Degree, both of which he co-founded. Sophy Ball is a wonderfully dynamic fiddle player and Sarah Hayes a gifted singer and flautist, while Ian Stephenson plays guitar and creates many of the subtle arrangements that this great group loves to play. Our own Northumberland-born singer-songwriter Stan Graham makes a most appropriate support act. Tickets are £16 full or £14 concessions (65 and above, unemployed, disabled) from www.ncem.co.uk or on 01904 658338. Note that this concert will be largely unamplified, with only a vocal PA, taking advantage of the NCEM’s expertly designed acoustic qualities.
13. SCOTTISH SOUNDS AND MORE WITH BARLUATH, NCEM 27th MARCH. The innovative young Celtic folk band Barluath is based in Glasgow, where some of its members studied at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire. Barluath were a great hit on their NCEM debut two years ago and so we are delighted to bring them back to York on Tuesday 27th March. Now a five-piece, the group embraces both traditional and contemporary folk music from Scotland, Ireland and North America. They are fronted by the wonderful singing, in both English and Gaelic, (not to mention occasional step-dancing) of Ainsley Hamill, who is superbly supported by a rich instrumental mix of highland and border bagpipes, whistle, fiddle, piano and guitar. Tickets are again £16 full and £14 concessions.
14. THREE DIVERSE CONCERTS DURING MAY. We have no concert events during April this year (although NCEM themselves are presenting the Maddy Prior Trio on 17th April) but we bounce back into action in May with two shows at The Crescent and a third at the Early Music Centre. At The Crescent Community Venue, and working in collaboration with Joe Coates of PleasePleaseYou, we have a feast of acoustic blues on Sunday 6th May when two of our favourite players Hans Theessink & Brooks Williams pass through York on their Steady Rollin’ Blues joint tour. Then on Tuesday 22nd May it is an Irish night to savour when the Dublin quartet Lankum, formerly known as Lynched, finally makes it to York. Both shows are now on sale at www.seetickets.com and other outlets, the first at £12, the second at £16. Finally we return to Canadian music for a show by former Tanglefoot members Ritchie Parrish Ritchie at the NCEM on Wednesday 30th May – also now on sale at £16 full price, £14 concessions.
15. fROOTS KICKSTARTER SUCCESS. In the last E-News I reported on the Save fRoots Magazine Kickstarter campaign. This has now closed and has been a great success. “Thank you” says editor Ian Anderson, “we've not only hit our original target of £20k, we've more than doubled it. After fees, charges, admin costs etc. are taken into account, we hope to end up with something in excess of £30k. This is making an enormous difference to the future of the magazine, and we'll update you in due course on our next steps.” The folk club made a modest contribution of £30 – in total there were apparently 718 backers.
16. LIKEWISE JOSHUA BURNELL’S KICKSTARTER. “We did it! We reached our goal! Thank you!” says Joshua Burnell. “Thanks to your generosity, Songs from the Seasons is coming into the world on CD”. Set a minimum target of £3000, Joshua’s Kickstarter campaign has actually raised over £4000 from 70 backers (including myself, in a personal capacity) and still has a few days to run before closing on 12th January – so you can still sign up to support it. “Now I need to make the product bigger and better for you” he adds.
Meanwhile, the hugely ambitious “a-song-a-week-for a-year” Seasons project came to a triumphant conclusion just before Christmas with the release of track 52, Joshua’s take on the classic Irish folk song She Moved Through The Fair, which was segued with the first and only original composition in the entire project, an instrumental Seasons Finale. And not content with that, Joshua also released a Christmas special in the shape of his folky take on God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – check it out at https://youtu.be/rR6QtO5rPoI.
What is more, at the beginning of December Joshua and his band played the “Introducing” stage at the Great British Folk Festival in Skegness, where the audience gets to vote on their favourite act, which is then invited to return to the 2018 festival and play the main stage in front of an audience of 2500 people. “Even though the power cut out half way through our set, we powered through and we won” reported an elated Joshua. “We're over the moon!”
17. FOLK CLUBS ON THE MOVE. In our wider region, two long-running folk clubs have changed venues lately. Over in Otley the Wednesday night folk club has left Korks wine bar and from next week, 10th January, will be meeting at the Black Horse on Westgate. And up in Teesside, the venerable Stockton Folk Club which has met on Monday nights at The Sun Inn for all of 47 years (I remember going there in the 1970s!) has been forced out by inimical changes to the pub layout. “So, after a frantic scramble around we are moving to The George and Dragon in Norton” say the organisers. Norton is just to the north of Stockton; the exact address is 109 High Street, Norton, TS20 1AA.
18. NEWS FROM SARAH DEAN AND WHITE SAIL. Club supporter Sarah Dean has been a busy woman lately. She is now playing regularly with the former Mostly Autumn singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Heather Findlay and her band. As The Heather Findlay Quartet they released a Christmas single last month called Horse Feathers, comprising the folk songs The Snows They Melt The Soonest and Gaudete. Listen to a segued taster at soundcloud.com/heatherfindlaymusic/horse-feathers-taster.
As a solo performer, Sarah says “my gigging year commences with a welcome return to the Pickering Acoustic Music Club held at The Sun Inn on Wednesday 10th January. This award winning traditional pub supports a very vibrant music scene in Pickering, with our own David Swann being a regular.” It is a free entry event.
What is more, Sarah also plays with Jane Stockdale and Chris Bartram in the trio White Sail. They’ll be appearing in the evening part of our Winter Folk Day on 28th January and then they are back at the Black Swan Inn to run their own gig with ex-Oysterband singer Ray Cooper on Wednesday 14th February. Songs From The Heart is described as “a very special evening of music with beautiful original songs from singer-songwriter Ray Cooper and alt-folk trio White Sail. Ray's material is influenced by his Scottish heritage and adopted homeland of Sweden. Both Ray and White Sail will be playing material from their new recordings”. Tickets are £10 in advance from www.wegottickets.com/event/418769, or £12 on the door. Ray has appeared several times before in York as part of the Jorvik Viking Festival, and so “we are very excited about welcoming him back” says Jane Stockdale.
OTHER EVENTS IN YORK & BEYOND
19. PAULA’S CRAIC A WEEK LATER THIS MONTH. Paula Ryan’s “Havin' The Craic” monthly session at the Fox Inn on Holgate Road is usually on the first Wednesday but this month only it is a week later, 10th January rather than the 3rd, starting around 8pm. “All genres, all abilities are welcome to come and join us to play some tunes, sing some songs and share the craic”, Paula says.
20. YORK IRISH EVENTS ANNOUNCED. The York Irish Association has announced lots of events for 2018. Those of a musical nature include a Ceilidh on Saturday 13th January at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road. The band is Fiddlers Wreck and entry is £5 with a 7.30 start. There will also be Irish session nights at The Gillygate Pub on 17th February and 28th April (“all musicians and singers welcome to join in”) and the customary St Patrick’s Festival events – music, dancing, food, drink and much more – in a marquee in St Sampson’s Square on 16th & 17th March. Full details to follow.
21. LARRY CAMPBELL & TERESA WILLIAMS AT THORNER. Larry Campbell is a highly-regarded American multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, slide guitar, and violin, across genres including country, folk, blues, and rock. He is perhaps best known for his time as part of Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour band from 1997 to 2004. In July 2014 he and fellow American roots music star David Bromberg made an impromptu appearance at our folk club, doing a set themselves, then jamming with booked guests Plumhall – a magical night that people still talk about fondly. Well, Larry is back in Britain soon, this time touring with his wife Teresa Williams, a powerhouse country, blues, gospel and honky-tonk singer. They appear at the Victory Hall in Thorner near Leeds on Friday 19th January, and who else but Plumhall are doing the support spot. It should be a great concert! Tickets are £17.50 through www.thornervictoryhall.com/buy-tickets. Doors open at 7pm and the show begins at 8pm. Further information on 07988 496567.
22. THORGANBY FOLK PRESENT MEGSON. The good people of Thorganby Folk have several events scheduled for Thorganby Village Hall, south of York, during 2018, beginning with that fine husband and wife duo Megson on Saturday 17th February. Four times nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and double winners of the Spiral Earth Awards, Stu and Debbie Hanna draw heavily on their Teesside heritage to create their distinctive brand of folk music, with heavenly vocals, lush harmonies and driving rhythmic guitars. Ninebarrow are next up at Thorganby on 28th April and Chris While & Julie Matthews follow on 26th May. Booking is through www.ticketsource.co.uk/thorganby-folk or for more information and alternative booking options contact firstname.lastname@example.org.