24th June 2018
SUMMER THURSDAY CLUB NIGHTS
Unlike most folk clubs, the Black Swan has always run a full programme right through the summer season, with regular guest performers just as at any other time of the year. In years past we actually had some of our busiest nights in the summer, thanks to a large influx of tourists and other summer visitors. However in more recent times we have struggled to get a decent sized audience some weeks, particularly in late June and July. Do support us if you possibly can over the coming weeks – we certainly have some top quality performers coming to entertain you and it would be a great shame if they played to a room which was half or more empty!
1. THIS WEEK’S GUEST – LUCY WARD. This week, Thursday 28th June, sees a welcome return to York by an accomplished younger singer, Lucy Ward. She first appeared here as one half of a young performer double bill in 2011, the next year she won the BBC Folk Awards Horizon prize for best newcomer, and then she returned to us as a full guest artist in 2013. The year following that, 2014, Lucy became the youngest-ever nominee as BBC Folk Singer of the Year.
Over the last 2 or 3 years, Lucy has been a bit low-profile as she cared for a young family, but now she is springing back into action and had a brand-new album, Pretty Mornings, her fourth, released earlier this month. It is already picking up some very favourable notices (e.g. “hauntingly beautiful...deep, rich, full of feeling and meaning”). I was granted a sneak preview of the 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 idea of the night visitor reworked in a modern context in the number Cold Caller, or The Cruel Mother re-spun in the song Mari Fach (Sweet Mari), the true story of a young Welsh woman pregnant, unmarried and afraid.
The album launch tour now brings Lucy Ward back to our club. She 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. For a sample of what she sounds like these days, check out the Radio Leeds Durbervilles Folk Show on the BBC iPlayer. Lucy was their guest on 17th June, chatting and performing three songs live in the studio.
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.
2. SINGERS NIGHTS 5th JULY & 2nd AUGUST. If there is one thing which is predictable about our regular open house singers and musicians nights, it is that we never quite know what to expect! Falling either side of the recent Folk Weekend, we anticipated that our last two singers nights would be very quiet and while it is true that both had only a small number of non-performing listeners, each attracted 11 different singers. On May 31st these included visitors from USA and from the English Midlands, while on June 14th the final hour was enlivened by a visit from James Findlay. A professional musician from Dorset who has twice in the past been our booked guest, James was in town as part of the touring production of Birdsong at the Theatre Royal and came along as soon as he got off stage at the theatre.
So what can we expect on 5th July and again on 2nd August? Who can say? What we do know is that the July night will be hosted by John Storey and the early August one by David Swann. Why not come along to sing, play or just to listen? As always, entry to non-performers is just £3 (students and children £2) while performers are asked to put a token £1 in the kitty.
3. VIKKI CLAYTON ON HER FIRST BRITISH TOUR IN 10 YEARS, 12th JULY. Making her first full-scale “Back to Blighty Tour” since moving to New Zealand a decade ago, Vikki Clayton is a great entertainer who was once a regular and popular guest at the Black Swan (six times between 1992 and 2006) and at many other venues. We are delighted to welcome her back to the club on Thursday 12th July.
Celebrated as both a solo artist and for her folk-rock work with Fairport Convention and others, Vikki is a truly superb vocalist with a rich repertoire of originals, covers and traditional English songs. "At heart I'm a folk rocker" she says. “Invited to sing with Ragged Heroes in the early 1980s, I’d found my forte. I'd always kicked around with rock bands and played in folk clubs but here was a chance to combine my two favourite musical loves." With a voice which was very reminiscent of the late Sandy Denny, Vikki inevitably came to the attention of Fairport and began a long period of appearing with them at their Cropredy festivals and on tour.
Eddie Affleck is due to MC this one, we anticipate floor spots from Stan Graham, Sarah Dean and Phil Cerny, and tickets are £9 in advance at WeGotTickets or £10 on the door.
4. PETE MORTON RETURNS TO YORK, 19th JULY. We’ve admired the music of Pete Morton ever since he emerged as a refreshing new voice in the mid-1980s, at a time when the folk scene seemed to lacking in young people (how unlike today!) and was growing increasingly middle-aged. Then and now, his performances are compelling, dynamic and intense, yet approachable and amiable. He has a remarkable singing voice and his songs have been described as an unruly mix of humour, politics, love and social comment wrapping their way around the folk tradition. Numbers like Another Train and When We Sing Together have become folk club standards. Here are a couple of quotes:
- · “A writer who manages to express everything, from the highly personal to the truly international” – R2 Magazine
- · "Pete is everything we want our singer-songwriters to be: fiercely creative, proudly independent, skilful, talented, and terminally unpredictable" - MOJO Magazine.
5. CLUB DEBUT FOR KARIN GRANDAL-PARK AND KARL ROBINS, 26th JULY. Making a first appearance at the Black Swan on Thursday 26th July is the duo of Karin Grandal-Park & Karl Robins. Cumbria-based Karin specialised in jazz and blues for many years, singing in numerous bands and working as a studio session vocalist, before discovering and becoming enthralled by folk music. She started to attend folk sessions and to write songs in a modern folk style and she now devotes her time solely to the folk genre. Her songs are based variously on true stories, social issues and historical subjects. With her thought provoking and emotive lyrics she takes listeners on a journey through song.
Initially Karin worked in a duo with the Leeds singer Rosie Clegg but more recently she has teamed up with Karl Robins, a guitarist, singer and writer originally from Yorkshire but now based in Northumberland. He has been around the scene for many years, playing in a variety of bands within the folk and folk-rock genres. A songwriter since his late teens, Karl likes to experiment with different rhythms and styles and plays cuatro as well as guitar.
Karin & Karl have performed at several of the fantastic Costa Del Folk events and at festivals and clubs across Britain. Their first CD together is entitled The Snows They Melt the Soonest and comprises ten original songs by Karin, with Karl having written the music for two of them, plus their take on two traditional numbers.
Stan Graham again acts as MC and the floor singers will include Ian Pybus, Simon Alexander and (health permitting) John Cherry. Tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door.
6. NO INTRODUCTIONS NEEDED FOR EDWINA HAYES, 9th AUGUST. Surely no long introductions are needed for our guest on Thursday 9th August, Driffield’s Edwina Hayes. With her international reputation for beautifully written songs, choice covers, charming stage presence and angelic vocals Edwina is a local lass made very good indeed. She has toured with artists as diverse as Van Morrison, Gretchen Peters and Nanci Griffith (who said “the sweetest voice in England”) but her gentle folk-Americana is at its best in an intimate venue like ours, as we have heard on many previous occasions over the last dozen years, most recently on the Marquee stage at this year’s Folk Weekend.
Chris Euesden is scheduled to MC this one and we anticipate floor spots from Steve Marshall, Toni Bunnell and John Storey, with tickets £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
7. SINGERS FROM THE CROOKES FOLK CLUB, SHEFFIELD, 16th AUGUST. A few weeks ago I had a very enjoyable evening accompanying four of our Black Swan resident singers (John Storey, Sarah Dean, Paula Ryan and Eddie Affleck) on a trip to Sheffield where they had been invited to perform at a special event hosted by that city’s well-established and very hospitable Crookes Folk Club. We reciprocate on Thursday 16th August when we hand the night over to four acts from South Yorkshire:
Paul Pearson is a quietly spoken singer-guitarist who places his own understated stamp on a variety of old, new and traditional material. He is a popular figure around the northern folk circuit and is frequently called upon to provide support at folk venues in the region. Over the years he has visited both the Black Swan Folk Club and our Folk Weekend several times
Julia Waldron first sang at a folk club aged 11, stunning the audience with her unique version of You’ve Got a Friend. Now it’s her self-penned songs that leave her audience wanting more. She tells of real life with ease, confidence and heart. Love, loss, friendship, betrayal, laughter, she’s had them all and tells the tale.
Welsh Geoff is originally from South Wales but now lives in Derbyshire. He writes unusual songs and performs sporadically around Sheffield and sometimes farther afield. “He finds the strange in the ordinary” wrote Paul Davenport in Stirrings and is “by turns wistful, eccentric and very funny” according to the Sheffield Star.
Dogwood Rose just love to play – simple as that. A trio comprising Michael Richards, Judy Clifford and Kiri Smith, their music plots a continuous line from early American songs with roots in English folk, through dust bowl ballads and early blues up to a wide range of modern artists whose songs capture the same essential sincerity and beauty of the tradition. Think Gillian Welch, Neil Young, Slaid Cleaves...you’ll get the idea.
Do come along and give all four acts a warm York welcome. John Storey will be acting as MC but there will be no local floor singers in order to hand the whole evening over to our Sheffield visitors. Tickets are just £5 in advance or £6 on the door.
8. LATE SUMMER AND AUTUMN CLUB EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO. The club diary is full until the end of the year and I’ll soon have to begin drafting copy for our next publicity leaflet. There is already an outline listing available on the programme page of the club website. Leeds-based trio The Heathen Kings appear on 23rd August, then September guests include Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar, Billy Mitchell and The Askew Sisters. October brings us Chris Sherburn, Denny Bartley & Emily Sanders, then Rachel Newton and Jack Rutter, followed in November by Jim Moray, Kim Lowings, Ange Hardy and Steve Tilston, with Tim Edey followed by Dave Burland & The Awkward Squad to round off the year in December. As soon as that next leaflet is drafted and dispatched to the printers, I’ll put tickets on sale at WeGotTickets.
9. FOLK WEEKEND SUCCESS? All the feedback we have had about the recent City of York Folk Weekend has been incredibly positive. Despite some poor weather on the Saturday, everyone seems to have had a very good time and attendance numbers were good throughout. Although I am now in failing health, I managed to attend about 5 hours on Saturday and 9 hours on Sunday and certainly it seemed like a success to me. Very many thanks go first of all to the numerous singers and bands who took part, and just as important to the large team of volunteers, led by Stan Graham, who ran the weekend so smoothly. Particular thanks are due to Marquee stage PA man Tony Evans who once again did a brilliant job of both balancing the sound and handling some speedy and complex stage changeovers.
Financially I am happy to report that your generous donations in the collection tins more than matched our expenditure on the weekend: in fact we were left with a surplus of around £190. Thank you all.
So do we do it again next year? It is unlikely that I will be well enough to organise such an event again but it does seem as though enough people are prepared to step forward to make sure the folk weekend runs again in 2019. We have been discussing amongst ourselves the timing for such an event next year. Do we keep it to the same weekend, which next year would mean 31st May to 2nd June, or do we move it a bit later into the summer? The balance of opinion so far seems to favour staying with the weekend at the end of the half term break, but if you have strong opinions on this, do get in touch.
10. AUTUMN FOLK CONCERTS AT THE NCEM. Over the summer months we take a break from larger concert events but we are back at the Early Music Centre for five shows in October, November and December. I have already drafted the promotional copy for these events and it is possible that tickets will go on sale as early as sometime in July. To remind you what delights we have in store, we kick off with a great English solo performer Jon Boden on 8th October, continue with a fast rising young Scottish band Talisk on 23rd October, have an Irish night to savour with that fine singer Daoirí Farrell on 6th November, welcome the highly rated Scottish vocalist Siobhan Miller on 19th November and bring back another leading Scottish singer Emily Smith on 18th December with her Songs For Christmas special show.
11. THE BLACK SWAN ON FILM. Our old friend Maggie Holland writes to send us the link for the trailer for an upcoming film about veteran political activist folk singer Robb Johnson, called The Future Starts Here. “I was filmed for it, chatting about Robb and also doing one of his songs,” says Maggie “in the afternoon preceding my last appearance at the Black Swan” which was in July last year. “If you watch it, I'm about 5 minutes in. The (club room’s) wood panelling and blue-and-white tiles are clearly visible in the background!” You can find the trailer at http://futurestartshere.tv. “I know nothing about the film other than what I did and I've no idea where or when it will be screened” she continues, “but the trailer is worth a look.”
12. REMEMBERING DON WALLS. Martin Davies, the friend and executor of dearly departed local poet Don Walls writes that “I have had a bench installed in the Homestead Park in Clifton, York in memory of Don and (his son) Peter. Don and I had discussed this and he was quite taken with the idea. It is situated on Cherry Tree Walk and faces the big horse chestnut tree under which Don used to play as a child.” Martin also tells us that he has donated Don’s remaining pieces of artwork to St Leonard's Hospice. “They are having an event entitled The Sunflower Exhibition at the Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York on 13th and 14th of July and it would be good if you would tell other people about this” he adds. “St Leonard's was a cause close to Don's heart and he would be pleased to know that his friends were continuing to support it.”
13. JEZ LOWE ON TV, RADIO AND LIVE. Our good friend Jez Lowe has been working closely with the BBC recently. First he appeared on the Look North TV news programme, talking about his novel The Dillen Doll (this included a brief clip of Jez performing his song Mike Neville Said It on the same show back in 1994!) and then he was the guest presenter on an edition of Radio 4’s Open Country magazine programme, recorded a few weeks ago and due for broadcast sometime in July. This features Jez revisiting some of the locations that he mentions in the novel, including Tynemouth Priory and North Shields Fish Quay. “We’ll post transmission date on the news page at www.jezlowe.com as soon as it’s scheduled” says Jez’s newsletter.
Incidentally, Jez will be our first guest artist of 2019 at the Black Swan, on 10th January. Before that you have a local opportunity to catch him with his band The Bad Pennies when they perform at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough on Friday 10th August as part of the FEVA Festival. See www.feva.info for further details and links to the ticket purchasing site. The Frazer Theatre is located just off the High Street in Knaresborough, HG5 0EQ.
14. GREAT REVIEWS FOR JOSHUA’S NEW ALBUM. Joshua Burnell and his band did a cracking set on the Saturday evening of our Folk Weekend, with the marquee crowded to capacity as the rain fell outside. Joshua has been picking up some glowing reviews for his recently released Songs From The Seasons album. RnR (Rock & Reel) gave it 5 stars while Songlines and English Dance & Song (the EFDSS quarterly magazine) both gave it 4 stars. There was even a 4 star review in The Sun! “A remarkable album of marvellous musicality” wrote the Daily Express, while for Fatea Magazine “this album is pretty much perfect”. “They would go down a storm at Cropredy – Burnell and the band deserve all the success they get” was the opinion of local paper The York Press. There are no York dates in the near future for Joshua but he is at several festivals in the second half of the year, including Lincoln, Music On The Marr (Cumbria), Folkeast (Suffolk) and in December the Great British Folk Festival.
15. FROM THE BLACK SWAN TO CARNEGIE HALL. Proud local father Richard Foster was in touch recently to say that his son Dan Foster, who did the Newcastle University folk music degree and now lives in USA, was recently invited to play Irish fiddle in a big event at Carnegie Hall in New York. “Dan’s come a long way since he played as a 13-year-old at the Black Swan Folk Club’s Christmas party in 2003” says Richard. Local news website YorkMix ran a story, see www.yorkmix.com/entertainment/from-coney-street-to-carnegie-hall-york-busker-goes-global/
16. LOCAL FOLK BAND SEEKS FIDDLE PLAYER. With members drawn from the Malton and York areas, folk band The Fine Companions have been around for quite a long time and have featured in several of our Folk Weekends, including this year’s. They write that they are now seeking a fiddle player to join the band, preferably one who can also help with vocals. Anyone out there who is interested should contact Glenn Stott on 01653 690212.
OTHER EVENTS IN AND AROUND YORK
17. NEW SINGAROUND AT THORNTON LE DALE, TUESDAY 26th JUNE. A new singaround/mixed session started last month at the Buck Inn in Thornton-le-Dale near Pickering. Thornton le Dale Acoustic will be held on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 8.00pm, so next on this coming Tuesday, 26th June. For further details contact Trevor Appleton on firstname.lastname@example.org.
18. FOLK SINGERS AT SHERIFF HUTTON, SATURDAY 30th JUNE. A well-established weekly singaround session is the one that happens on Wednesday evenings in Huby, these days at The Mended Drum pub. One of the Huby regulars, Neil Hodges, writes that “from time to time the folk that sing at The Mended Drum have sung for events at Sheriff Hutton Church. On Saturday 30th June we are singing there in the evening, after a BBQ being held at the church. Anyone is welcome to both the BBQ and the singing. Tickets cost £3 for the BBQ only, £6 for the BBQ and the concert. There will be a cash bar at the event. Tickets and further information from Neil on 01347 878595 or 07973 157127.
19. DAVID WARD MACLEAN 60TH BIRTHDAY BASH, SATURDAY 30th JUNE. Widely respected local singer, songwriter, guitarist and busker David Ward MacLean celebrates his 60th birthday with a concert party night at The Crescent Community Venue, off Blossom Street in York. It’s on Saturday 30th June, doors open 7.30pm, and David will be joined by lots of his musical friends for what should be a wonderful evening. Tickets are £10 in advance (more on the door), available from the venue in person (evenings), from Earworm Records on Goodramgate or online via SeeTickets.
20. UNION JILL CD LAUNCH, SUNDAY 1st JULY. Local singers made good Helen Turner and Sharon Jagger, alias Union Jill, will be launching their fourth album of original material, Rum & Devotion, at a special one-off concert at the National Centre for Early Music on Sunday 1st July. “It will be an evening of music, poetry, comedy and the usual audience interaction” they say. “Guests will include the inimitable Kate Fox with her poetic comedy, and the album’s producer Clive Gregson, who will whip us in to shape. We will be accompanied by a band and can confirm Fiona Lander on sax, whistle and keyboard and Simon Whitbread on drums. Both bring an excellence to the sound and musicality we'd love to bottle and take home”. The duo’s latest songs “tell stories about the personal and the political, from mythology to the contemporary, delivered with warm humour and accomplished musicality”.
The concert begins at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 (£8 concessions) through the NCEM box office or website, or on the door. We had a taste of the new material at the Black Swan last week, when Union Jill did an extended floor spot and were joined by Clive Gregson.
21. SUMMER AMERICANA WITH GREEN CHILLI ROOTS. New local Americana and contemporary folk promoters Green Chilli Roots, like ourselves, are operating as usual through the summer season with concerts on the first Tuesday of each month at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road, plus occasional extra events. On Tuesday 3rd July that means a double headline gig with Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes and Amelia White, followed on Tuesday 24th July by Meaghan Blanchard with support from Dan Webster. August’s event is on the 7th, with Hannah Rose Platt and in September it is Plumhall on Tuesday 4th. You can find out more about the artists and book tickets at www.yorkshireticketshop.co/m.green.chilli.roots.html
22. FUNDRAISING FOLK CONCERT IN HAXBY, SATURDAY 14th JULY. Tracey Hutchinson is a long-term friend and supporter of the Black Swan Folk Club and has now called upon some of our resident singers to help her raise the sum of over £4000 which is needed for her teenage daughter India to go on an eagerly anticipated expedition to Peru in August next year. On Saturday 14th July Tracey is running a fundraising concert at The Cottage Inn in Haxby, with a line up which includes Stan Graham, David Swann, Paula Ryan, Graham Hodge, Eddie Affleck and the combined forces of Ramshackle, comprising on this occasion Stan, Eddie, Judith Haswell and Phil Cerny. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start with entry £5 on the door. There will also be a raffle and home baked cakes will be for sale (as tasted on the Sunday of our recent Folk Weekend). The Cottage Inn is on Haxby’s main street, The Village, postcode YO32 2JH.
23. YORK IRISH TRAD SESSION, 18th AUGUST. The York Irish Association, who ran a very lively Friday night session at our recent Folk Weekend, have regular open traditional music sessions at The Gillygate with the next one scheduled for Saturday 18th August from 8pm. “Bring your instruments and join in” they say.
24. DAN WEBSTER CD LAUNCH, FRIDAY 31st AUGUST. Dan Webster gave an excellent performance at the recent Folk Weekend, joined by his full band and previewing material from forthcoming album Devil Sky. This is due to be formally launched at The Crescent Community Venue in York on Friday 31st August. Dan will again have the full band with him, and there will be a support spot by Phil Simpson & Jessica Lawson. Doors will open at 7.30pm and tickets are just £5 in advance from SeeTickets, from the venue (evenings) or from Earworm Records on Goodramgate.
25. FURTHER AHEAD AND FURTHER AWAY: MND CHARITY FUNDRAISER. Much further away in both time and distance, but dear to my own heart as an MND sufferer myself, is a charity concert scheduled for Friday 5th October at the Pie Hall in Denby Dale near Huddersfield, HD8 8RX. The all-star Yorkshire folk line-up includes Dave Burland & The Awkward Squad, Roisin Ban, Duncan McFarlane and Gordon Tyrrall. Tickets are a great value at £12 on the door or £10 in advance, available from Mel White on 07870 298985. All proceeds are going to the South Yorkshire branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
I anticipate being back with another newsletter around the end of July or early August, health permitting. By then I hope to have written the next season’s club brochure and dispatched it to our printers, and also to have loaded full details on the club website and on WeGotTickets.