Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 227

26th May 2018

This newsletter is mainly concerned with our imminent City of York Folk Weekend, but first a few other things:

1. DATA PROTECTION & THIS NEWSLETTER. As you will be all too well aware, new rules have just come into force, the General Data Protection Regulations, which mean that you shouldn’t be on mailing lists unless you’ve explicitly said you want to be. People have been added to this newsletter list in one of three ways; (a) you entered your details on the e-mail sign-up list at one of our club or concert events, (b) you selected the add-to-mailing-list option when booking online at WeGotTickets, or (c) you made a direct request, verbally or electronically, to be added. The only personal information we hold online is your name and your e-mail address and we only ever use your contact details to send you the newsletter or other Black Swan Folk Club information. Your details will never be shared with any other organisation or individual, nor will we ever forward third party mailings to you.
We hope you are all happy to remain on our mailing list, but if you do wish to leave, you can do so at any time. We don't have a fancy unsubscribe button, so just send us an UNSUBCRIBE message/reply and we will immediately take you off our mailing list and delete your e-mail address completely from our records.

2. LAST CALL FOR CANADIAN BAND RPR AT THE NCEM, WEDNESDAY 30th MAY. Our final concert special before the autumn takes place next Wednesday, 30th May, at the National Centre for Early Music. We are looking forward to an evening of “Canadian acoustic folk that rocks” with the great four-piece band Ritchie Parrish Ritchie, who are reaching the end of a month-long British tour and from what I have heard are turning in some barnstorming performances. RPR is fronted by former members of much missed Canadian group Tanglefoot, who were hugely popular here in Britain in the late 1990s and in the first decade of the current century, along the way appearing four times at the Black Swan then twice at NCEM.
In this new band Tanglefoot survivors Steve Ritchie (guitar), Rob Ritchie (keyboards) and Al Parrish (bass), joined by percussionist Beaker Granger, have developed 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.
It has been a packed month for live folk and roots music in York, and perhaps for that reason sales so far for Ritchie Parrish Ritchie have been a bit on the disappointing side. We need quite a few more of you in the audience if we are to cover all our costs! So do consider coming along on Wednesday night – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The band will be on stage at 7.30pm and promise two long (60 minute) sets. There is no support act but Eddie Affleck will be acting as compere.
Tickets will be available on the door from 6.30pm at £16 full price or £14 OAP concessions, or just £5 under the NCEM’s u35 special offer for students and younger people. Alternatively you can book beforehand through the NCEM website or via the box office on 01904 658338 (not Bank Holiday Monday).

3. PRE & POST-FESTIVAL SINGERS NIGHTS, 31st MAY & 7th JUNE. Ease yourself into the folk weekend with a friendly, informal Singers & Musicians night at the club on Thursday night, 31st May, when Steve Marshall will be acting as MC. And then once the folk weekend is behind us, ease back into normal folk club routine with another Singers Night on Thursday 7th June. Phil Cerny will be MC for that one.


4. YORK’S ANNUAL FREE FOLK JAMBOREE READY TO ROLL. Next weekend brings our biggest and most ambitious event of the year, the annual City of York Folk Weekend. As always, this aims to be a massive showcase for and celebration of the many different strands which make up York’s rich folk, roots and acoustic music scene. There will be live entertainment in almost every corner of the Black Swan Inn: a marquee stage with full PA in the car park, plus three rooms of music-making indoors. With concerts, a ceilidh, musicians’ sessions, singarounds, themed events and more, there should be something to suit all folk tastes. And it is all FREE! This unique event in York’s cultural calendar began as a one-day festival in 2003 but soon expanded to a full weekend and has never missed a year, despite relying entirely on volunteers. During this, the 16th Folk Weekend, around forty-five billed singers and bands will be performing, alongside dozens of informal participants, with all the named acts coming from the York area or having strong local connections. You can find the latest update of the full programme on our club website at

5. FRIDAY NIGHT: A CEILIDH AND AN IRISH SESSION. In the upstairs room on Friday it is Irish Night, with a friendly open house session hosted by York’s flourishing Irish Association, while for those who would like to dance there is a “ceilidh under canvas” in the marquee with local outfit FiddlersWreck, fronted by Michael Jary.

6. MAINSTAGE CONCERTS IN THE MARQUEE. The big concerts take place under canvas on Saturday and Sunday, with favourites such as The Duncan McFarlane Band, Leather’o, Graham Hodge, Joshua Burnell and The Dan Webster Band on Saturday from 1pm to 10.30pm, followed by The Ale Marys, Union Jill and White Sail, amongst others, on Sunday from 1pm to 10pm. Also in the marquee, there will be dashes of world vocal music from Chechelele and Soundsphere and mainly unaccompanied folk singing by Two Black Sheep & A Stallion. We will also enjoy American folk, bluegrass and roots sounds from Phil Cerny, King Courgette and Stillhouse, while main stage singer-songwriter acts will include Stan Graham, Holly Taymar (with The Bronze), David Ward Maclean and Edwina Hayes. Making their Folk Weekend debuts this year are York / Stamford Bridge folk trio Alterego and the exciting new duo of Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton, while Ebor Morris will give us a dance display outside the marquee on Saturday evening.

7. INTIMATE INDOOR CONCERTS. Parallel concerts take place in the more intimate setting of the upstairs function room and showcase a wide range of acts, from solo folk favourites such as Eddie Affleck, Paula Ryan, Ian Pybus and Sarah Dean to eclectic bands The Fine Companions, Caramba and That Mitchell & Wife Sound, not to mention instrumental virtuosity from Alex O’Neil on classical guitar and Matthew Mason on ukulele, an eclectic mix of cover songs from Steve & Dee Marshall and quirky humour from Phil Pipe. Singer-songwriters are particularly well represented this year, with younger acts such as Crispin Halcrow, Tilly Moses, Alex Golisti and Tom McKenzie joining the older generation of David Swann, Martin Heaton, Simon Alexander, David Stevenson, Fred Ring, Toni Bunnell and John Storey. Original material is also showcased in a special Sunday afternoon concert by members of the lively York Songwriters’ Circle.

8. POETRY, WORKSHOPS & A CHILDREN’S SHOW. Some indoor events deserve a special mention:

  • Poems & Pints at lunchtime on Saturday in the downstairs Oak Room is our spoken word session, open to all storytellers, poets and eager listeners. Hosted as usual by John Gilham, it kicks off at 1.30pm.
  • Soundsphere (Paula Ryan, Sarah Dean and Judith Simpson) will be repeating their ever popular Singing Workshop on Sunday morning from 11am to 1pm, in the upstairs room. If you want to know a bit more about what this involves, ring Sarah on 07963 792504
  • At 12.30pm on Sunday lunchtime, our recent club guests Polly Bolton & Bella Gaffney present a workshop on Introducing Old Time Music. This is in the Oak Room and scheduled to last an hour. If you’d like to find out a bit more beforehand, contact them on
  • This year’s Children’s Event follows in the Oak Room at 1.45pm on Sunday. Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and children’s writer Toni Bunnell presents Enter the World of Story, a show which she has previously run at libraries and other venues in York and elsewhere. “Come visit the magical world of storytelling” she says, “through songs, music and the spoken word, using the hurdy-gurdy and the Appalachian dulcimer. Enter the story and join in the fun.” Toni’s show lasts approximately 45 minutes and is suitable for children aged 5 to 10.

9. SINGAROUND & SESSION OPPORTUNITIES A-PLENTY. Participation is just as important as concert performance at any folk festival and there will be multiple opportunities for anyone to have a go at singing or playing themselves. The smaller downstairs room, the Oak Room, hosts a variety of singarounds and “free & easy” jams over Saturday and Sunday, while I would remind you that the dining room, the Bowes Room, is also available all day Saturday and Sunday for informal musicians’ sessions or singarounds. Tunes sessions have been a bit hit-and-miss over the last two or three years of our festival (Friday’s Irish Night excepted) and it would be great to have lots of lively informal music making in the Bowes Room this year. Of course York has a very lively session and singaround scene right through the year and hence we have what we call an off-site “Festival Fringe” made up of two regular weekly events, the popular Friday night singers’ and players’ session at the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate and the Sunday night American Old Time music gathering at The Golden Ball, Bishophill.

10. ALL ARE WELCOME. Everyone is invited to come along and join in the festivities, whether for an hour or two or for all three days. Thanks to the generosity of the performers, all events are entirely free of charge, although there are of course some unavoidable costs in staging any festival and volunteers will be rattling collection tins from time to time. The pub will have plenty of good food on sale, which you can enjoy in the two walled beer gardens, and the cellars will be packed to the rafters with real ales and other drinks. The usual marquee and plenty of chairs have again been hired this year, and there will be extra mobile toilet facilities for the ladies. After some confusion last year, we are advised by the pub management that well-behaved dogs on leads will be welcome anywhere in the car park or the beer gardens. The grounds will of course be closed to vehicles, but there are alternative city centre parking or park-and-ride options, and don’t forget that the Black Swan Inn sits on several main bus routes, such as the Coastliner service from Leeds, Malton and Scarborough, which runs frequently through the day and into mid-evening. Throughout the weekend there will be an information desk in the corner of the marquee, where amongst other things artists’ CDs will be on sale, and also this year some books by the late and much missed local poet Don Walls.

11. ORGANISED AND RUN BY VOLUNTEERS. While I do most of the preliminary organisation and programming, the Folk Weekend would not succeed without the help of a large contingent of willing volunteers, doing things such as MC’ing concerts and singarounds, operating the club room PA, staffing the information desk, and rattling those collection tins. As my own health precludes me from being as active as I would like this year, Stan Graham will be in overall charge this weekend and is the person to turn to if you have any serious problems. If you would like to help out in some way and haven’t already volunteered, do approach Stan, the MC of the event you are attending or the people on the information desk and see if there’s anything else which you can help with. Thank you very much!

12. PLEASE CONTINUE TO SPREAD THE WORD. The more the merrier for an event like this, so please continue to spread the word over the coming few days. Remember that there is a dedicated Facebook page at There was a feature in The Press last Thursday, also available online, and tomorrow (Sunday) I will be talking about the Folk Weekend on the BBC Radio Leeds Durbervilles Show (8pm) with a few live numbers in the studio from Josh Burnell.


13. NANCY KERR SOLO SHOW, 14TH JUNE. We have three outstanding solo performers at the club for you during June, beginning with Nancy Kerr on Thursday 14th June. Long celebrated as a skilled interpreter of traditional music and more recently praised as a composer of startlingly original new folk songs, Nancy was BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year in 2015. She has entertained us numerous times over the years: as a teenager in her duo with Eliza Carthy and then in her long-term partnership with James Fagan, as well as in groups such as the Sweet Visitor Band and Melrose Quartet. Armed with fiddle, viola and guitar, Nancy is now embarking on her first entirely solo tour of intimate smaller venues like ours and needless to say she is attracting a lot of interest, with tickets already more than half sold. Get yours sooner rather than later through WeGotTickets, where they are priced at £12. Freshly returned from his lengthy European holiday, Chris Euesden will be acting as MC and we anticipate floor spots from Ian Pybus, Eddie Affleck and Judith Haswell.

14. CLIVE GREGSON RETURNS, 21ST JUNE. A very different singer who has also entertained us numerous times over the last 30 years is Clive Gregson, who returns to the Black Swan on Midsummer Day, 21st June. This celebrated guitarist, singer and songwriter’s long career includes Any Trouble, the Richard Thompson band, the sublime Christine Collister duo and work with Eddi Reader, Nanci Griffith et al. Clive continues to write great songs and is always an inspiring live performer so we are delighted to have him back. Eddie Affleck will be acting as MC this week and amongst the floor singers will be York duo Union Jill, aka Sharon Jagger and Helen Turner. Clive has recently produced Sharon and Helen’s latest CD, as he did their previous album, and in fact he will be back in York to join them at the CD’s official launch on Sunday 1st July at the NCEM. I will have more about that event in the next newsletter, or look it up at Tickets for Clive’s club performance are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door.

15. LUCY WARD BACK ON THE ROAD, 28TH JUNE. The former BBC Horizon award winner (and in 2014 the youngest-ever nominee as BBC Folk Singer of the Year) Lucy Ward has been a bit low-profile in the last year or two as she cares for a young family, but now she is springing back into action and has a brand-new album, Pretty Mornings, released on 15th June. Two weeks later, the launch tour brings her to the Black Swan on Thursday 28th June. I’ve been granted a sneak preview of the new album and I must say it sounds pretty impressive, an intriguing mix of exquisitely penned original songs, distinctive versions of traditional numbers such as the ballad Bill Norrie, and modern retellings of old song themes, for example the recurring theme of the night visitor reworked in a modern context in the number Cold Caller. Lucy has always been a delightful performer with an enchanting voice and she has a warm personality which positively radiates off the stage, so this is an auspicious return. Phil Cerny MC’s this one, we expect floor spots from Sarah Dean, Stan Graham and Martin Heaton, and tickets are £10 in advance at WeGotTickets or £11 on the door.


I anticipate being back with another newsletter around the middle of June, once the Folk Weekend dust has settled. That one will include the usual bits of interesting non-folk club news and details of other events in and around York which are missing this time, as well as full coverage of our summer club events, which continue every Thursday throughout July and August. Meanwhile and despite my increasingly frail health, I hope to attend quite a bit of the Folk Weekend myself and I look forward to meeting many of you there.