Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 225

8th April 2018


1. STUDENT SHOWCASE NIGHT, THURSDAY 12th APRIL. This coming Thursday we have something a little bit different for you. Following the cancellation of Rachel Dawick’s previously announced visit, we are instead handing the club over to some of York’s younger folk and acoustic musicians for an exciting Student Showcase Night, with a selection of current York students and recent graduates, together with their musical friends.

Amongst the talented singers and players taking part will be "guitar & mandolin led Celtic bluegrass fusion duo" Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton. They have only been playing together for a few months (making their public debut with a club floor spot last November) but have already earned a very considerable reputation. Stylish guitar player and singer Bella, a postgraduate student at York University, is well-known to us for her solo work and also her group Bric-a-Brac who guested here at Easter last year, while Polly is a phenomenal mandolin player who first picked up the instrument as a child and has been touring internationally in various line ups since her early teens. Her other main project at present is the progressive bluegrass / acoustic trio Stillhouse. Visit her and Bella’s Facebook page at

Also doing postgraduate work at York, Tom McKenzie is a singer songwriter who has performed several times already as a floor singer at the club and, alongside Bella and Polly, did a longer spot at our Winter Folk Day in January. Like Bella, he hails from Bradford. His songs range “from acoustic folk to indie” he says, with his newest record, simply called Tom McKenzie and released last year, being “folkier than earlier material”. He has a website at

Matthew Mason is an amazingly gifted ukulele player who sometimes attends our singers’ nights or does a guest night floor spot. A recent graduate who has stayed in York, he is also a regular participant at the lively Friday night session in the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate. He has a Facebook page and you can also find half a dozen videos of his excellent playing on YouTube.

Tilly Moses and Crispin Halcrow are both undergraduate students and accomplished singer songwriters. Accompanying herself on mandolin and hailing from Suffolk, Tilly Moses has been performing all over the country since the age of just 13, supporting some of the best-loved folk acts in the UK. She recently released her debut album Alight & Adrift, which has had glowing reviews. For example, Allan Wilkinson writes in Northern Sky “a seriously good debut for a young performer who I'm sure you'll hear more about very soon.” Find out more at

Final year student Crispin Halcrow has been an occasional attender at club singers’ nights since arriving in York. He hails from Kendal, on the fringes of the Lake District, and takes some of his lyrical inspiration from those natural surroundings, drawing comparisons to artists such as Seth Lakeman and Teddy Thompson. He cites influences such as “the chamber-folk of Nick Drake, delicate vocals of Eva Cassidy and guitar work of John Smith” and has earned a reputation for intimate, moving performances. He is online at

We have just been celebrating 40 years of a club founded by an earlier generation of student musicians, so it is highly appropriate to now showcase some of today’s younger generation. Do come along and give them a listen – you’ll not be disappointed. Tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door, with the usual half-price offer for students and under-18s.

2. SINGERS & MUSICIANS NIGHT, THURSDAY 19th APRIL. Our friendly Open House gathering for this month is due to be hosted by John Storey on 19th April. As usual we never know quite who or what to expect. Two or three new-to-us local acts have already been in touch about coming along for a first time, so if we have lots of regulars as well it could be another busy one! Admission is just £3 on the door, or £2 for students. Performers are asked to put £1 in the kitty. After this one, the next Singers Nights will be on 17th May and a pre-Folk Weekend warm-up on 31st May. Incidentally, John Storey has just released a new CD (his fifth) called Follow Me. No doubt he’ll have some with him on 19th.

3. ANDY IRVINE, THURSDAY 26th APRIL – SOLD OUT. As announced last month, Andy Irvine’s visit is understandably Sold Out. I have quite a few names on a waiting list for returns, so if anyone out there has bought tickets which they can no longer use, do please get in touch. Phil Cerny will be acting as MC and the anticipated floor singers are Judith Haswell, Stan Graham and Eddie Affleck.

4. KITTY MACFARLANE – 3rd MAY. Our debut visitor on Thursday 3rd May is a young Somerset-based singer and songwriter called Kitty Macfarlane, who I booked after seeing at the annual English Folk Expo in October 2016, which she attended after reaching the semi-final of the BBC Young Folk Award the previous year. She is a talented lyricist, often tackling big questions through the prism of everyday life past and present, particularly in her native south west, and the songs are well driven by her fingerpicked guitar work.

Kitty has collaborated on record with artists such as Sam Kelly, Jamie Francis and Ciaran Algar and has toured with Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Seth Lakeman and Alasdair Roberts. She has even had one of her songs chosen as theme tune for a Radio 4 programme, and received a creative bursary from the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) for a songwriting project of her own devising.

"This young singer is blessed with a strong identity: a confident singing voice and a compelling writing style deriving inspiration from growing up in the south-west, allied to a talent for finding wider significance in everyday experiences. An outstanding debut" said fRoots Magazine. Stan Graham acts as MC this week, anticipated floor singers are Tom McKenzie (see item 1), Ian Pybus and Toni Bunnell, and tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door, with the usual half-price offer for students and under-18s.

5. ROSIE HOOD & COHEN BRAITHWAITE-KILCOYNE – 10TH MAY. We have three Double Headline touring shows for you in May, two at the Black Swan and one at The Crescent (see item 8 below). Two artists share these nights, doing a mix of solo material and joint collaborations. On Thursday 10th May that means Rosie Hood, previously enjoyed here with The Dovetail Trio, and Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne, who we know from both some solo singers’ night visits (while he was a music student in Leeds) and from the band Granny’s Attic.

Rosie Hood is a young singer known for her strong, pure voice and engaging performances. A BBC Performing Arts Fellow in 2015 and a 2016 Horizon Award nominee at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, Rosie started learning folk songs at an early age from her family and has a keen interest in the history of traditional songs, particularly those of her native Wiltshire, where she has spent time researching in local archives. More recently she has developed her songwriting abilities and honed her instrumental skills. Last summer’s debut solo album The Beautiful and The Actual was widely praised. “A classy arrival” said The Guardian, giving it four stars, while fRoots talked of “immortal songs allowed to speak for themselves” and awarded five stars.

Cohen Braithwaite Kilcoyne is another exceptionally gifted young folk performer with a passion for songs and tunes rooted in the English tradition. He has been a musician since the age of 6, took to squeezeboxes in his teens and is now a fine player of both the melodeon and the Anglo concertina, with his rich voice soaring through a range of historical ballads, industrial songs and shanties. He combines a solo career with playing alongside two old school-friends in Granny’s Attic, and was one of the shortlisted artists in this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Horizon category.

Phil Cerny is the scheduled MC for this one and we expect floor spots from Steve Marshall, Judith Haswell and Simon Alexander. Tickets are £9 in advance or £10 on the door, with the usual half price rate for students and children.

6. HANNAH JAMES & CLAUDIA SCHWAB – 24TH MAY. Our final Double Headline event this spring brings to the Black Swan Hannah James and Claudia Schwab on Thursday 24th May. Hannah has emerged as one of the most imaginative and adventurous younger artists on the folk scene. First coming to attention as accordion player and singer with the teenage band Kerfuffle, she was later in an acclaimed duo with Sam Sweeney and is now a member of leading female trio Lady Maisery, as seen by a full house audience at NCEM last autumn. Hannah also works with folk legend Maddy Prior, in which guise she is back at NCEM for a sold out show on 17th April, and she has also been widely praised for her one-woman show JigDoll.

Claudia Schwab is a fiddle player, singer and composer, originally from Austria but now living in Ireland. Stomping rhythms, fiery reels, consoling Indian ragas and funk-beat Austrian yodelling abound in her eclectic blend of Irish, Indian, Swedish and Eastern European folk music styles. Her restless musical travels have taken her to Asia, Africa, North America and many parts of Europe, with orchestras or bands or as a soloist.

Stan Graham is the designated MC for this event, scheduled floor singers are Toni Bunnell, Phil Cerny and Matthew Mason (see item 1) and tickets are £10 in advance or £11 on the door, again with students half price.

7. SUMMER CLUB NIGHTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Our summer months this year are dominated by female voices, with some of the finest women singers in England due to appear. For example, we are delighted to host a night with Nancy Kerr (June 14) on her first ever full-scale entirely solo tour. We are also looking forward to hearing again that accomplished younger folk artist Lucy Ward (June 28) and we are thrilled to have been included on the first major UK trip in 10 years by the wonderful but now expatriate singer Vikki Clayton (July 12). It is always a pleasure to present local favourite Edwina Hayes (August 9), and making her Black Swan debut will be highly-rated Karin Grandal-Park with duo partner Karl Robins (July 26). It’s not all women, of course: two of our favourite male singers also feature this summer. Clive Gregson (June 21) and Pete Morton (July 19) may be very different in style but both have been regular visitors to our club room for over 30 years. With our new club brochure being printed as I write (see item 14), all of the above have been loaded onto WeGotTickets and are open for booking now, or will be by early next week.


8. BROOKS WILLIAMS & HANS THEESSINK AT THE CRESCENT, SUNDAY 6th MAY. We have no concert events during April this year 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, behind the Odeon off Blossom Street, where we work 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.

Brooks Williams hails from Statesboro, Georgia, the town made famous by country-blues legend Blind Willie McTell. He is a mean finger-picker and a stunning slide guitarist who has been ranked in the Top 100 acoustic guitarists. What is more “he has a beautiful voice,” says AmericanaUK, “that you just melt into.” Brooks is now based in England but tours worldwide and has 22 albums to his name. He has entertained us several times at the Black Swan in the last decade, and once at NCEM in partnership with Boo Hewerdine. He’s “the real thing” says fellow guitar wizard Martin Simpson.

Dutch-born, Vienna-based Hans Theessink is probably Europe’s Number One blues export. After more than 7,500 concerts (ten of them in York over the years), 50 years on the road and with more than 30 albums, an instructional video, a songbook and a DVD to his name, he’s a roots and blues institution. His sonorous baritone voice and unmistakable guitar work is instantly recognisable, rich and emotional. The US music press has called him “an international blues treasure” and “one of the world's pre-eminent pickers” while for the legendary Bo Diddley he was “one helluva guitar player.”

Dallas, Texas is where Robert Johnson made roughly half of his iconic recordings. It is also where Hans and Brooks met for the first time and struck up their friendship, sharing a love for the old blues songs, fingerpicking guitar and bottleneck slide. The country blues tradition is alive and well in the hands of these two musical ambassadors and this one-time collaboration, Steady Rollin’ Blues, is not to be missed.

Tickets for this one are £12 and are available online through both WeGotTickets and See Tickets, or over the counter at the venue (evenings only) or from Earworm Records in Powell’s Yard off Goodramgate. Entry on the door from 7.30pm will be £14. With a mix of solo sets and joint numbers there is no support act, but Eddie Affleck will be acting as MC.

9. LANKUM AT THE CRESCENT, TUESDAY 22ND MAY. It will be an Irish night to savour with the great Dublin quartet Lankum, formerly known as Lynched, appear at The Crescent on Tuesday 22nd May. They are surely one of the most talked-about Irish groups in decades, combining distinctive vocal harmonies with uilleann pipes, concertina, accordion, fiddle and guitar on a repertoire ranging from classic ballads to music-hall ditties and street-songs, traditional dance tunes and original material. Comprising brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch with Cormac MacDiarmada and Radie Peat, they carried off the Best Group and Best Original Track trophies at last week’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2018, so this is a particularly suitable time to finally get them to York.

York’s own Irish folk star Paula Ryan acts as MC and support act and doors will open at 7.30pm. Priced at £16, tickets are available through both WeGotTickets and See Tickets, or over the counter at the venue (evenings only) or from Earworm Records in Powell’s Yard off Goodramgate. Early booking is advised but if there are seats left on the night, entry on the door will be £18.

10. RITCHIE PARRISH RITCHIE AT THE NCEM, 30th MAY. We return to the Early Music Centre and to Canadian music for our final concert special of the spring on Wednesday 30th May with Ritchie Parrish Ritchie. Canadian powerhouse folk band Tanglefoot were hugely popular in Britain in the first decade of the century, along the way appearing first at the Black Swan then twice at NCEM. Survivors of that much missed group Steve Ritchie (guitar), Rob Ritchie (keyboards) and Al Parrish (bass), with percussionist Beaker Granger, have their own contemporary folk-rock sound that echoes the Tanglefoot legacy whilst expanding the envelope. Their music, storytelling and high-spirited presence displays the same blend of enthusiasm, ability and personality that made the earlier band so successful. Whether an original song of Al's, Steve's recollection of a Robert Plant version of a Dylan tune or Rob's incisive humour, all the trademark harmony, chemistry and impact are there.

Tickets are now on sale at £16 full price, £14 concessions through the NCEM website or box office on 01904 658338. Note also that there will be no support act for this one: RPR will be on stage at 7.30 and promise two long (60+ minutes) sets.


11. FOLK WEEKEND TAKING SHAPE. Work continues on planning our annual early summer jamboree, the City of York Folk Weekend, which this year takes place on 1st, 2nd & 3rd June. The programme is now pretty much finalised and has been loaded onto the club website: follow the link at Also there you will find links to the official Folk Weekend poster kindly designed for us by Richard Nagy, Sarah Dean’s partner. This is available in colour or black and white, in either PDF or JPEG version. Please make use of this artwork in any way you can to help spread word about this year’s event. Remember that there is also a Facebook page for the folk weekend, at

12. MARQUEE STAGE DRAFT RUNNING ORDERS. To whet your appetites, the draft running orders for the Marquee stage look like this at present:
· Friday Night: Ceilidh with FiddlersWreck
· Saturday: 1.00 The Bronze, 1.45 Stan Graham, 2.40 The Duncan McFarlane Band, 3.45 Chechelele, 4.40 Leather’o, 5.30 Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, 6.25 Stillhouse, 7.15 Graham Hodge, 7.55 Ebor Morris, 8.25 Joshua Burnell Band, 9.30 Dan Webster Band, 10.30 Close
· Sunday: 1.00 Phil Cerny, 1.50 Alterego, 2.45 The Ale Marys, 3.50 David Ward Maclean, 4.40 Soundsphere, 5.30 Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton, 6.20 Union Jill, 7.15 White Sail, 8.05 Edwina Hayes, 9.00 King Courgette, 10.00 Close
JSS will again be providing PA services on Saturday and Sunday, with ace engineer Tony Evans at the controls.

13. INDOOR EVENTS: CONCERTS, WORKSHOPS, KIDS’ SHOW, ROLLING FOLK CLUB AND MORE. A further 20+ local singers and groups will be appearing over Saturday and Sunday in concerts in the Wolfe Room, while other events include:
· Friday night Irish Session with York Irish Association
· Saturday lunchtime “Poems & Pints” spoken word gathering
· Sunday late morning a repeat of Soundsphere’s ever popular Singing Workshop
· Sunday lunchtime workshop on Old Time Music with Polly Bolton & Bella Gaffney
· Sunday afternoon children’s event Enter the World of Story, presented by Toni Bunnell, lasting approx. 45 minutes and suitable for children aged 5 to 10.
· Open House Rolling Folk Club and Singaround sessions in the Oak Room
Over Saturday and Sunday the Dining Room (Bowes Room) will be available for musicians’ sessions or more informal singing if required, and remember also our “official fringe” – two lively sessions which take place every weekend of the year in York. These are Friday night’s mixed music and song gathering at the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate and the Sunday night musicians’ session at the Golden Ball, Cromwell Road, Bishophill.


14. NEW CLUB BROCHURE IMMINENT. Over the Easter break I prepared our new season club brochure and it is now with our printers. It covers all our activities from early May until mid-August and includes the draft programme for our folk weekend. Hopefully it will be ready for distribution by the end of the coming week or so – watch out for it.

15. EXCHANGES WITH CROOKES FOLK CLUB, SHEFFIELD. Earlier this year four Black Swan residents were invited to perform at the well-established Crookes Folk Club in Sheffield. John Storey, Paula Ryan, Sarah Dean and Eddie Affleck were due to appear at The Princess Royal, 43 Slinn Street, Crookes, S10 1NW in early March but the atrocious weather put paid to that. A new date for their visit has now been agreed for Friday 8th June. We then reciprocate with a night at the Black Swan featuring some of the Crookes singers. The trio Dogwood Rose and soloists Julia Waldron, Paul Pearson and Welsh Geoff will entertain us at the Black Swan on 16th August.

16. REMINDER - NATIONAL YOUTH FOLK ENSEMBLE – SAMPLER DAY, 27th MAY. I’ve been asked to repeat an item from E-News 223. The English Folk Dance & Song Society is running a series of free Sampler Days across the country in late May and early June, opportunities for teenage musicians to explore English folk music, learn from inspiring tutors and play with other musicians from their region. The samplers are being led by Sam Sweeney as Artistic Director, with Rob Harbron and Miranda Rutter, and the aim is to offer a positive and welcoming atmosphere for young musicians to take part in a day of creative folk music workshops and, if they so wish, audition for the 2018–19 line-up of the National Youth Folk Ensemble. One of these sampler days will be held at the National Centre for Early Music here in York on Sunday 27th May. To register for this free day, young musicians need to be aged between 14 and 18 (as of 1st September 2018), live in England and play confidently on their chosen instrument. You can find out more and book at

The National Youth Folk Ensemble brings together talented young musicians from across England to create and perform inspiring new versions of traditional music. EFDSS are looking for excellent players to join the Ensemble in 2018-19. To be considered, they need to be “dedicated to their development as a folk musician, and excited about collaborating with others who share their passion.” Ensemble members will participate in four weeks of intensive residential courses in different parts of England and receive high quality tuition and guidance from leading folk musicians. Anyone who is interested in joining the National Youth Folk Ensemble should attend a Sampler Day to start the audition process.

17. CHRIS EUESDEN SHARES A DRINK WITH JOAN BAEZ! My fellow club organiser Chris Euesden recently attended Joan Baez’s concert at the York Barbican with his wife Mary Coyle and other friends. Going for a drink in a nearby pub afterwards, who should come in and join them but Joan herself! See the photographic evidence on Chris’s Facebook page What is more, Chris attended the BBC Folk Awards in Belfast last Wednesday and found himself sitting almost next to Van Morrison, but there is no photographic evidence for that.


18. BLONDE ON BOB AT THE WINNING POST, 13th APRIL. Staying with Chris Euesden, he and his Blonde on Bob covers band are doing a semi-unplugged night of “Nothin’ but Dylan” at The Winning Post, Bishopthorpe Road, on Friday 13th April at 8pm. Tickets are £7 at or £9 on the door.

19. CHARITY CONCERT AT THE BLACK SWAN, 15th APRIL. Still with Chris Euesden, he also appears as part of Ramshackle in a charity concert on Sunday 15th April at the Black Swan. Organised by Stan Graham, it is in aid of SeeAbility, one of the oldest disability charities in the UK, which has pioneered specialist support for blind people for over 200 years. As well as folk club “house band” Ramshackle (Stan, Eddie, Phil and Judith as well as Chris), Stan will also do a solo spot, and Dorset based singer-songwriter Nigel Waite is a special guest. The show will start at 7.30pm and tickets at just £5 can be booked online at There will also be a fund-raising raffle, with some very tempting prizes, I understand.

20. NISH AS RISH AT YORK UNIVERSITY, 27th APRIL. A reminder that former York University student folk group Nish As Rish bring their “joyful Celtic folk music” back to the campus on Friday 27th April for a concert in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall. See The line-up includes respected Manx vocalist Ruth Keggin.

21. EDDI READER COMES TO YORK, 28th APRIL, WITH SHOW OF HANDS TO FOLLOW. West Yorkshire promoters Saltaire Live spread their wings to York this spring with two shows in what is (to us) a new venue, namely St Michael-le-Belfrey church, next door to the west end of York Minster. “Both are with artists who played in Saltaire in 2017” says lead organiser Simon Heginbotham “so it's too soon for them to return there. However, they approached us to do something elsewhere in Yorkshire, and as they struggle to find a venue of the appropriate size in York, we are taking over a church for two nights.”

First up is Scottish singer-songwriter Eddi Reader on Saturday 28th April at 8pm. Also on the bill is Folk Awards nominated Siobhan Miller (who will be back in York in November, headlining at NCEM) and tickets are £20. Show of Hands then follow on Saturday 12th May, on their “Where We’re Bound” tour. Geoff Lakeman, as enjoyed a few months ago at the Black Swan, is the opening act at 8pm and tickets are £22.50. Both shows can be booked through or on 0114-233-3777. Alternatively, to avoid ticket agency booking fees, buy direct by post or by bank transfer from the promoter - see for details.

22. MULTIPLE OTHER EVENTS ON SATURDAY 28th APRIL. On some dates you are truly spoilt for live music options, and 28th April is proving to be one such. As well as Eddie Reader, events also taking place that night in or near York include:
· Joshua Burnell & his band giving new album Songs From The Seasons its official launch party at The Crescent in York. It’s a 7.30 start and advance tickets are only £6 through, or from Earworm Records on Goodramgate, or from the venue (evenings).
· Legendary singer-guitarist Michael Chapman appearing at City Screen Basement. See
· Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow (BBC Folk Awards nominees in 2017) making a return visit to Thorganby Village Hall, on the launch tour for their third album and following a very successful Thorganby debut last year. See
· York Irish holding another of their regular Irish traditional music sessions at the Gillygate pub from 8pm, with free entry. “All musicians and singers are welcome to join in” they say.

23. GARY STEWART AT THE WINNING POST, 1ST MAY. New local roots music promoters Green Chilli Music present the Leeds-based singer Gary Stewart at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road on Tuesday 1st May. This Scottish songsmith is influenced by the singer/songwriters of the 1960s, including James Taylor, Carole King, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and most notably, Paul Simon, whose Graceland album he has recreated in critically acclaimed live performances nationwide. Tickets are £5 in advance or £8 on the door. See

24. MARTIN CARTHY IN PICKERING, 4th MAY. A reminder that Martin Carthy does a fund-raising concert at Pickering Memorial Hall on Friday 4th May in aid of the Frack Free Ryedale campaigning group. He will be supported by David Swann, the show begins at 7.30 and tickets are £15. They can be obtained from Lynne Blair on

25. CHRISTY MOORE AT YORK BARBICAN, 9th MAY. “One of the most compelling and inspirational musicians Ireland has ever seen” Christy Moore appears at York Barbican on Wednesday 9th May. Tickets start at £38 and note that it is an 8pm start with no support act and no interval.

26. SWANSONGS AT THE BLACK SWAN, 12TH MAY. John Pritchard, in association with Folk Horror Revival, is hosting an evening of haunting music at the Black Swan on Saturday 12th May, from 7.00pm. Headlining is the Sheffield folk singer Sharron Kraus who “draws on landscape, folk tales and traditions to create portals into other worlds of magic and mystery”. Also appearing are harp player, singer and Black Swan regular Sarah Dean, and Hawthonn, “a Leeds based electronic duo of Mugwort-smoking suburban witches”. Tickets are £10 in advance see


hank you all so very much for the continuing flow of goodwill messages since I revealed that I am terminally ill with motor neurone disease. My condition continues to deteriorate but only slowly and despite some very poor weather I have been managing to get out and about to most club functions over recent weeks. Particular thanks should go to those of you who offered advice and assistance about alternative approaches to keeping myself online, notably old friend George Layfield who got my Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking dictation software up-and-running. Some of this newsletter was composed using it. The NHS Assistive Technology team for Yorkshire (based in Barnsley) has also been very helpful.