Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 230

3rd September 2018


1. THIS THURSDAY – GREG RUSSELL & CIARAN ALGAR. Our club guests this week, 6th September, are that outstanding young duo Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, winners of the BBC Young Folk Award in 2013, of the Horizon Award the next year and runners-up for the Folk Awards Best Duo in 2015. Greg & Ciaran have certainly impressed us on their two previous visits to the Black Swan: Greg is one of the most assured and mature male vocalists of his generation, and with their great guitar, bouzouki and fiddle playing plus Ciaran's madcap stage banter, they make a great live act.
Brand new album Utopia and Wasteland has picked up comments such as "an incredibly powerful musical statement" and "confirming their place at folk's top table". It is a collection that "explores a formidable range of human emotions and political ideas, and one that flits easily between the minuscule detail and the grand statement" according to Folk Radio UK, which rates them "currently one of the most exciting duos not just in folk but in any genre".
On top of their busy schedule as a duo, both Greg and Ciaran are involved in various other projects and bands. Greg took part in the recent revival of Peter Bellamy's ballad opera The Transports (described in The Guardian by York journalist Alfred Hickling as "stunning … truly a transport of delight") and in the Shake the Chains project alongside such luminaries as Peggy Seeger and Martin Simpson. He is also a member of Nancy Kerr's Sweet Visitor Band, while Ciaran plays with Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys and the Dan Walsh Trio, amongst others.
Stan Graham acts as MC and the floor singers will be Ian Pybus, Eddie Affleck and Toni Bunnell. Tickets (about half sold already) are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door, with the usual half-price offer for students and children.

2. 13th SEPTEMBER – BILLY MITCHELL. Jack The Lad, Maxie & Mitch, Lindisfarne, a duo partnership with Bob Fox and latterly The Pitman Poets, to name only a few of his many achievements. The CV of our guest Billy Mitchell, on Thursday 13th September, reads like a roll call of North East England's folk and acoustic music scene over the last 50 years.
You can read Billy's full biography on his website Here is much abridged version! He started playing the guitar in the early sixties, first forming a beat group The Triffids and later joining a folk group, The Callies. After a spell living in Canada, Billy was invited to return to England to join Jack The Lad alongside members of the recently split Lindisfarne. There followed four albums and four years of touring around the UK and Europe. Then at the end of the seventies he joined with Peter McIntyre to form the hilarious musical comedy act Maxie & Mitch who spent the next twenty years touring over the world.
In 1996 Billy joined the re-formed Lindisfarne, who enjoyed renewed critical acclaim for their live shows and albums of new songs. After Lindisfarne's final retirement in 2003, he embarked on a successful solo career with albums Backtrackin' and The Devil's Ground, the latter a collection of songs about his formative years, growing up in the mining village of West Wylam in Northumberland.
A bit later, Billy began a collaboration with Bob Fox, doing a series of tours and two highly acclaimed albums, then 2010 saw the birth of The Pitmen Poets, with Billy joining Bob, Jez Lowe, and Benny Graham in a show which continues to tour regularly around the UK. Next came The Lindisfarne Story in 2012, in which Billy joins with Ray Laidlaw and tours every year as a two-man show. Billy has also been a major part of the Sunday for Sammy concerts held every two years at Newcastle City Hall, with luminaries such as Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Nail and the actor Kevin Whately.
Remarkably, this versatile singer, guitarist and entertainer has never before visited our club. One early response to our Facebook posting about Billy said this: "just seen him ~ very warm personality, very amusing and a great collection of songs". So let's make him very welcome! The MC will be Chris Euesden and the anticipated floor singers are Toni Bunnell, Simon Alexander and Steve Marshall. Tickets £10 in advance, £11 on the door.

3. 20th SEPTEMBER – THE ASKEW SISTERS. On Thursday 20th September we have a fourth visit to our club by The Askew Sisters. Emily and Hazel are two of the foremost younger champions of English folk, their performances brimming with the deep understanding of siblings immersed in traditional music all their lives. Using fiddle, melodeon and concertina, they play and sing with infectious enjoyment and deep love for the music. Whether bringing old dance tunes to fresh life or offering powerful interpretations of old songs and ballads, they engage and enthuse all who hear them.
Alongside their work as a duo, both sisters have been involved in a number of other innovative projects in recent years. Emily has been touring with her vibrant fiddle band Alma, as well as releasing her first solo album, which explored the cross-over between folk and early music; while Hazel has been busy with the trio Lady Maisery (as enjoyed at a full house NCEM concert last year), as well as occasional "supergroup" Coven and the Songs of Separation project, the latter winning Best Album at the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
Stirred by these various musical experiences, Emily and Hazel have returned to their duo work with fresh energy and vision, and we expect to sample some of the material they are currently working on for their long awaited new studio album, due for release next year.
Newly returned from a summer of international travelling, Phil Cerny will be your MC this week and the floor singers will be Sarah Dean, Ian Pybus and a visiting performer John Hinshelwood. He is a singer-songwriter from Scotland who performs in country-tinged Americana style, and he is town to do his own gig the night before, Wednesday 19th at Bistro Guy on Gillygate. Tickets are again £10 in advance or £11 on the door, with students and children half price.

4. 27th SEPTEMBER – SINGERS NIGHT. This month's open house Singers & Musicians Night takes place on 27th September with John Storey acting as MC. As usual, we don't know exactly who or what to expect but these nights are almost always great fun, and often throw up a few delightful surprises. Entry is £3 on the door to non-performers.

5. 4th OCTOBER - CHRIS SHERBURN, DENNY BARTLEY & EMILY SANDERS. Chris Sherburn and Denny Bartley have been bringing their unique sound to audiences across Europe and America since the early 1990s, when a chance meeting at a music session created one of folk music's most enduring partnerships. Known for their soul stirring songs, exhilarating tunes and a love of the craic, Chris (concertina) and Denny (guitar and vocals) ensure that no two concerts are ever the same. Chris grew up in Goole, surrounded by folk music of all kinds. His parents ran the local folk club and their home was a regular haunt for passing singers and musicians. Denny, meanwhile, was born in Co. Limerick and likewise grew up to champion the Irish inheritance of age-old slides, slow airs, slip jigs and wild reels.
Founder members of the band Last Night's Fun, which received international acclaim and a loyal fan base over 11 years together, Chris and Denny are joined these days by the fine fiddle player and singer Emily Sanders, who is familiar to older Black Swan hands, having been a resident at our club during her student days at York St John. Also known for her work with the band Isambarde and in The Magical Christmas Tree show, Emily certainly brings an extra layer of magical accompaniment and beautiful harmonies to the trio.
Sherburn, Bartley & Sanders are our eagerly anticipated guests on Thursday 4th October. Phil Cerny again acts as MC and we expect floor spots from Judith Haswell, Sarah Dean and John Storey. Tickets are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door, with the usual half-price offer for students and children.

6. 11th OCTOBER – RACHEL NEWTON. Thursday 11th October brings us the auspicious York debut of Scottish singer and harpist Rachel Newton, who was voted Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2016 Scots Trad Awards and then Musician of the Year in last year's BBC Folk Awards. Rachel specialises in interpreting traditional songs in both English and Scottish Gaelic, as well as performing her own instrumental pieces. Of her last album, "haunting and compelling" said The Guardian and "a thing of great beauty" said fRoots. As well as solo work, Rachel is a founder-member of ground-breaking bands The Shee and The Furrow Collective. Check her out! Tickets are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door.

7. 18th OCTOBER – JACK RUTTER. Our second debut guest of next month, on Thursday 18th October, is Jack Rutter, a highly respected young singer and multi-instrumentalist playing within the British folk tradition. His solo set features a range of well-known and rarer traditional songs from a variety of sources, delivered with guitar, bouzouki or duet concertina accompaniments that complement his signature "honest, unaffected vocals" (Yorkshire Evening Post). "A truly captivating singer of traditional songs, Jack Rutter's new record feels like one of the classic folk albums of the 70s" was Jon Boden's verdict.
Jack grew up in the Holme Valley area of West Yorkshire, a place steeped in a wealth of traditional song, and since graduating from Newcastle University he has gone on to forge a hugely successful career playing folk music professionally in various guises across Britain and Europe, including in the trio Moore Moss Rutter, with Seth Lakeman's band and with Jackie Oates' band.
Tickets for this one are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.

8. LATE AUTUMN CLUB GUESTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Iconoclastic English performer Jim Moray starts the November line-up (1st), followed by the local debut for up-and-coming band Kim Lowings & The Greenwood (8th), a return visit by Ange Hardy (15th) and our old friend Steve Tilston (29th), while December brings us Tim Edey (6th) followed by Dave Burland & The Awkward Squad (13th).


Our Autumn line-up at the National Centre for Early Music features one of the biggest names in modern English folk, an outstanding new star of Irish folk song and three very different Scottish acts: an award-winning young instrumental trio and two contrasting singers, both accompanied by small bands. All the following are now open for booking at or on 01904 658338.

9. JON BODEN, MONDAY 8th OCTOBER. Best known as the lead singer and main arranger of progressive folk juggernaut Bellowhead and as one half of much-loved duo Spiers & Boden, Jon Boden launched his solo career in 2016. Showcasing his playing talents on fiddle, guitar and concertina and performing a mix of self-penned songs and re-worked traditional numbers, his dynamic solo shows have been enthusiastically received and critically acclaimed. In one context or another, Jon has shared in eleven BBC Radio 2 Folk Award wins, more than any other artist, and he is surely the stand-out performer of his generation in English folk music. There is no support act for this one, so Jon will be on stage at 7.30pm, and tickets are £20 or £18 concessions.

10. TALISK, TUESDAY 23rd OCTOBER. Band of the Year in the latest MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, 2015 winners of the BBC Young Folk Award and Horizon finalists in 2017, Talisk are one of the fastest rising instrumental acts on the folk scene. Mohsen Amini on concertina (Musician of the Year in this year's BBC Folk Awards), Hayley Keenan on fiddle and Graeme Armstrong on guitar create a captivating and energetic sound that has earned them media praise and standing ovations from audiences far and wide, including at such leading festivals as Cambridge, Tønder, Celtic Colours and Celtic Connections. What is more, there will be some top class support from local stars Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton (see also item 16 below). Tickets are £16 and £14.

11. DAOIRI FARRELL, TUESDAY 6th NOVEMBER. Dublin-born singer and bouzouki player Daoirí Farrell is widely acclaimed as one of most important performers to come out of Ireland in recent years, breathing vigorous new life into the Irish folksong repertoire. His breakthrough album True Born Irishman lead to three BBC Folk Award nominations in 2017, more than any other artist, with wins in the Horizon (for best newcomer) and Best Traditional Track categories. Since then Daoirí (pronounced Derry) has toured widely around Britain and far beyond, including with the Transatlantic Sessions, and at leading festivals such as Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Costa del Folk. Support comes from York Irish singer Damian Fynes and tickets are £15 and £13.

12. SIOBHAN MILLER, MONDAY 19th NOVEMBER. One of the foremost young performers in Scotland, Siobhan Miller is a truly exceptional talent whose soulful and stirring take on folk song has won her Singer Of The Year an unprecedented three times at the Scots Trad Music Awards, as well as this year's Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Traditional Track. Siobhan's superb vocal style has been honed through collaborations with many of Scotland's top musicians and tradition bearers, while her extensive range spans choice contemporary songs and lyrically rich self-penned material as well as traditional favourites. She is accompanied by a small backing band. Support comes from adventurous local trio White Sail (Jane Stockdale, Chris Bartram & Sarah Dean) and tickets are £16 and £14.

13. SONGS FOR CHRISTMAS WITH EMILY SMITH, TUESDAY 18th DECEMBER. For her fifth visit to NCEM, the much admired Scottish singer Emily Smith presents her unique Christmas show. Accompanied with guitar, fiddle and backing vocals, she promises a beautiful blend of original and traditional festive songs. Sing along with old carols, tap your toes to upbeat instrumentals or simply close your eyes and let Emily's evocative voice help you dwell on the joy and peace that Christmas can bring. From humble beginnings in 2012, she has honed this show into a widely-acclaimed and moving, family friendly seasonal night out. Support comes from popular Ryedale singer-songwriter David Swann and tickets are £17 full or £15 concessions.

14. COMING IN FEBRUARY 2019. Also now open for booking are a return visit by Phil Beer on Tuesday 12th February (almost exactly 10 years after he presented us with our Folk Club of the Year trophy at the 2009 BBC Folk Awards) and a Celtic special with Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle on Tuesday 26th February.


15. SUMMER SEASON RETROSPECT. The months of July and August can be the most difficult of the whole year when it comes to running our weekly folk club, with so much else happening locally and most people taking holidays at some point or another. So I am pleased to say that this year our summer season has gone pretty well. The stand-out night was perhaps a full-house show by Edwina Hayes. Local broadcaster Tony Haynes was there and commented afterwards "it was a great night last night, Roland, everybody on form…the Black Swan FC at its best". Tony recorded most of the evening's proceedings and subsequently broadcast some snippets on his weekly Tempo FM radio show.
The Crookes Folk Club visit was also a very enjoyable night, so much so that we are proposing to repeat the club swap sometime next summer, with more of our residents going to Sheffield to entertain the Crookes audience and some of their people coming up to do the same for us in York.
Our other guest artists during July and August all turned in creditable performances, even in a couple of cases where audience numbers were on the low side, and we had three very varied and enjoyable singers nights besides. I was particularly pleased to see a higher than usual percentage of women performers at the latter, and also several younger singers.
Special thanks are due to Stan Graham for his sterling work to keep the club running over the summer. My poor health means that there is little that I can do these days on a practical level, and with other key figures (Chris, Eddie, Phil) all away at some time or another, the burden fell disproportionately upon Stan, but he rose magnificently to the challenge!

16. REGIONAL FOLK MAGAZINES – TYKES' NEWS & FOLK ROUNDABOUT. England is covered by a patchwork of regional folk scene publications, mostly quarterly and almost without exception run by volunteers as a not-for-profit service to the wider folk community. Here in York we are where two such magazines' catchment areas overlap. Tykes' News has a core coverage area of West Yorkshire but extends its reach into North and East Yorkshire as well, while Folk Roundabout covers the whole of North East England, from North Yorkshire up to Northumberland. The autumn editions of both magazines have recently been published and we stock them for sale at the club. At the bargain prices of £2 for Tykes' News (64pp) and just £1.50 for Folk Roundabout (96pp), you could buy both for less than the price of a pint of beer!
This quarter's cover feature in Tykes' News is devoted to Bella Gaffney, originally from Bradford, now a postgraduate student here in York, and making quite a name for herself as both a solo performer and in her stunning duo with Polly Bolton (opening the Talisk concert for us on 23rd October). There are other feature articles, a large news section, CD reviews and a diary of events across the region. Amongst the albums reviewed is the new release by York band Leather'o (see E-News 229) which is described as "an absolute delight".
Folk Roundabout has recently been taken over by a new editor, Su Childs, and is getting something of a makeover. One of its particular strengths is a very comprehensive listings section, covering not only folk clubs but also informal musicians' sessions, ceilidhs, dance clubs and Morris sides. There is also the usual mix of features, news items and reviews. Amongst the latter, the new release by this week's club guests Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar gets a very positive commendation "another totally engaging, unbeatable offering from this totally engaging, unbeatable duo".

17. MENTIONED IN THE GUARDIAN. Looking through The Guardian newspaper on a rather cool and grey late summer Bank Holiday Monday, I was delighted to see the following mention in an autumn arts preview piece about forthcoming music highlights:
Kitty Macfarlane. The Somerset singer songwriter and semi–finalist in the BBC Young Folk Awards offers an accomplished debut album, Namer of Clouds, which beguiles with its poetry and tenderness. A captivating listen.
Kitty was one of our most impressive debut guests at the club so far this year and it is a real pleasure to see that a national newspaper has picked up on her potential. The album is released on 21st September on Navigator Records.
In the same preview article there was also a mention for Sam Sweeney (Bellowhead, Leveret, etc. etc.) who releases his very first solo album The Unfinished Violin in November, "inspired by the extraordinary tale of his own violin, carved but left unfinished by a music hall performer killed on a First World War battlefield. Sweeney has collected music that would have been heard or made in the British trenches as well as tunes from Belgium, France and Germany. A poignant and thoughtful memorial" says The Guardian. Sam will be touring this album next year, including a performance at the NCEM in May 2019.


18. SESSION AT THE FOX, THIS WEDNESDAY. Paula Ryan's monthly "Havin' The Craic" session is this Wednesday, 5th September, from 8pm at The Fox Inn on Holgate Road in York. "Come and join us to play some tunes, sing some songs and share some craic" she says, "anything goes - all genres and abilities welcome!"

19. ALLAN TAYLOR IN TADCASTER, ALSO THIS WEDNESDAY. A reminder that master singer-songwriter Allan Taylor makes a very welcome local appearance this Wednesday, 5th September. The intimate venue is Everything Good Goes, the coffee shop, restaurant and wine bar at 2-4 Westgate in Tadcaster, LS24 9AB. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are £12.50 on 07988 496567 or via the venue's website,

20. SUNDAY AFTERNOON SESSION IN WHELDRAKE, 9th SEPTEMBER. An acoustic session and singaround takes place at the Wenlock Arms in Wheldrake on the second Sunday afternoon of each month from 4pm to 7pm, so next happening next Sunday, 9th September. "Bring along your instruments and voices or just come along to listen…we look forward to seeing some of you there" say hosts Alterego.

21. TUULIKKI BARTOSIK AT THE BLACK SWAN, 12th SEPTEMBER. As I trailed in the last E-news, occasional local promoter Steve Collington from Thirsk presents the noted Estonian accordion player Tuulikki Bartosik at the Black Swan Inn on Wednesday 12th September. "It's rare that accordion music is described as innovative and fresh, but Tuulikki specialises in confounding expectations" says Steve. "Her work ranges from introspective and beautiful solo pieces to collaborations with some of the finest box players around. Recent projects have included playing with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and an all-female accordion band featuring Tuulikki, Hannah James, Karen Tweed, Mairearad Green and Teija Niku".
The concert will run from 7:30pm till 10pm and advance tickets are available for £8 through, while entry on the door will be £11. There is also a £3 refund offer if you pick up one of the special flyers which we will have at the club this week.

22. YORK'S LITTLE FESTIVAL OF LIVE MUSIC, 21st – 29th SEPTEMBER. Over the last few years, a musical highlight each September has been York's Little Festival of Live Music, organised by the indefatigable Ellen Cole and taking place within the annual York Food and Drink Festival. The Little Festival happens again this September, with plenty of exciting local acts mostly drawn from the folk, roots and acoustic sector. It runs between 21st and 29th September (except Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th), with four acts performing each day between 5pm and 9pm, in The Music Marquee on Parliament Street. This year's line-up includes The Rusty Pegs (Friday 21st), Stan Smith, Laura Kindelan and Jess Gardham (Saturday 22nd), Leather'o, The Bronze and Boss Caine (Sunday 23rd), Union Jill and White Sail (Wednesday 26th), Edwina Hayes, Rachel Croft and the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band (Friday 28th) and Smith n Wallace and Nick B Hall (Saturday 29th). Entry is free but collection tins will be rattled regularly. "This year we'll be raising money for York Mind, which supports local people with mental ill-health", says Ellen. For more information on the festival, including full daily line-ups and timings, visit Ellen Cole is also the person behind the new Eboracum Sessions, a six-hour acoustic and folk event which will be held 3 or 4 times a year at the Black Swan Inn, on Saturdays between 3pm and 9pm. The next of these is scheduled for Saturday 20th October and Ellen is currently putting the finishing touches to her line-up. To find out more visit

23. THE MILE ROSES AT GREEN HAMMERTON, 23rd SEPTEMBER. Contemporary folk trio The Mile Roses introduce us to their new line-up with a show called Whisky Fireside and Tales From The Road. "Join us for an upbeat musical evening of songs of the road well-travelled and songs of single malts" they say, "songs that will warm the heart, soothe the soul and leave you with a smile on your face". It's contemporary British folk music with a nod to Nashville, featuring soaring three part harmonies and a blend of guitars, fretless bass, mandolins and fiddles. Founder members Kate Bramley and Simon Haworth are now joined by Kari Macleod, a virtuoso fiddler, singer and Americana-style songwriter originally from Tain in Ross-shire, now based in Newcastle, where she took the Folk Music Degree course. They are in action in the Village Hall in Kate's home village of Green Hammerton near York (YO26 8AB) on Sunday 23rd September at 7.30pm. Tickets are £12 full/ £10 concessions/ £6 children on 01423 339168 or online at

24. POPPLETON LIVE, 29th SEPTEMBER. A reminder that the first Poppleton Live event of the autumn is a gig by The Ric Sanders Trio on Saturday 29th September. The Fairport Convention fiddle player is joined by guitarist and vocalist Vo Fletcher and drummer Michael Gregory and support comes from the excellent Yan Tan Tether. The concert is at All Saints Hall in Upper Poppleton, where doors open at 6.45 for a 7.30 start. Tickets are £12.50 – for information and bookings go to

25. GRAHAM HODGE AT GREEN CHILLI ROOTS, 2nd OCTOBER. Next up for local Americana and contemporary folk promoters Green Chilli Roots, in their first Tuesday of the month slot at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road, will be our old friend Graham Hodge on Tuesday 2nd October. Main man behind Green Chilli Roots, Joe Grint, who has only been living in York for a couple of years, tells me he hadn't come across Graham until he saw him at our Folk Weekend in June. He was much impressed by Graham's set on that occasion and hence offered him this headline booking. Advance tickets are available at £5 through, or pay on the door for £8.

26. BLONDE ON BOB IN THE BASEMENT, 5th OCTOBER. There's an evening of "Nothin' but Dylan" in prospect when Blonde On Bob play at the City Screen Basement Bar on Coney Street on Friday 5th October from 8pm. "It's our regular 4 piece line up" says frontman Chris Euesden "with Elaine Wallace joining us on fiddle for the Rolling Thunder songs". Tickets are £7 in advance from the venue box office on 0871 902 5747 or online at Tickets on the door will be £9.

27. THORGANBY FOLK, 13th OCTOBER. A reminder that Thorganby Folk begin their autumn season with top female trio Lady Maisery on Saturday 13th October, at the usual venue in Thorganby Village Hall. Booking is now open at Alternatively, if you would prefer to book direct and pay by BACS, cheque or cash, email them on


28. LIVE MUSIC IN REETH. The admirable John Little continues to do sterling work in promoting live music in Reeth, up in Swaledale. Artists coming to the Memorial Hall later this year include fiddle quartet RANT, Emily Smith & Jamie McClennan, John Tams & Barry Coope, Danish group Himmerland, The Urban Folk Quartet and GreenMatthews with their seasonal show A Christmas Carol, while folk acts already booked for 2019 include Martin Carthy & John Kirkpatrick, Other Roads and Martin Simpson. For more information go to or ring 01748 884759.

29. DEMON BARBERS IN "QUEST". The latest genre-crossing project for The Demon Barbers, past winners of the Best Live Act category in the BBC Folk Awards, is a stage show called Quest. "Enter the world of Quest" it says, "a computer game adventure where folk dance, hip-hop, martial arts and stomping tunes meet!" This production is on tour throughout September, with local performances including Halifax (21st), Goole (28th) and Doncaster (30th). Find out more at

30. MND CHARITY FUNDRAISER. Further away in distance, but dear to my own heart as an MND sufferer, 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 great value at £12 on the door or £10 in advance, from Mel White on 07870 298985. All proceeds are going to the South Yorkshire branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

All being well there should be another of the newsletters around the end of September, my slowly deteriorating health permitting.