Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 233

3rd December 2018


1. THIS THURSDAY, 6th DECEMBER – TIM EDEY.  This month’s exciting line-up begins with the hugely talented Tim Edey this coming Thursday, 6th December.  This singer, guitarist, melodeon player and songwriter is a wonderfully affable and entertaining performer, as I witnessed for myself at another local venue (Poppleton Live) eighteen months ago.  We can expect everything from Irish tunes and classic Scottish airs to songs that span traditional balladry to country blues, all presented with plenty of informal chat and humour.  A stunning and tuneful genius he may be, but Tim delivers no dry-as-dust academic demonstration of virtuosity. Far from it!
Originally from Broadstairs in Kent although of Irish descent, and now based in Scotland, Tim Edey is rated by many as one of the world's finest ever melodeon and guitar players in folk and acoustic music.  Voted “Musician Of The Year” in the BBC Radio2 Folk Awards 2012, he has toured and recorded with many of the biggest names in Celtic and contemporary folk/roots music, including acts such as The Chieftains, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Natalie MacMaster, Altan, Capercaillie, Brendan Power, Michael McGoldrick, Seamus Begley, Dougie Maclean, JP Cormier, Session A9, Lunasa, Mary Black, Julie Fowlis and Frankie Gavin.  Indeed, Tim’s projected Black Swan debut in 2013 was scuppered when he was called away to join The Chieftains on a US tour.  Five years down the line, we have at last secured this new date for him.

Here are a few quotes:
  • “Tim Edey is brilliant in every which way.  As a guitarist he has few peers.  As a box player he’s a magician.  As a character he’s off the scale.”  Colin Irwin, fRoots
  • “Utterly fantastic.  Sheer, wonderful ebullient music.”  Mike Harding
  • “Tim Edey plays a host of different instruments to a standard us mere mortals can only dream of.  Listen and weep.”  Living Tradition

I must say that given Tim’s stature as a musician and entertainer, I have been surprised at the slow take-up on ticket sales for this one.  Do come along if you possibly can – I can assure you it will be a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  Stan Graham will be acting as MC, not Eddie Affleck as previously announced, and the anticipated floor singers are Toni Bunnell, Ian Pybus and Judith Haswell.  Tickets are £10 in advance or £11 on the door, with students half price as usual.

2. THURSDAY 13th DECEMBER AT THE BLACK SWAN – DAVE BURLAND & THE AWKWARD SQUAD.  For our end-of-year special on Thursday 13th December, who better than one of our all-time favourite singers, Dave Burland and his friends The Awkward Squad?  Dave’s rich and mellow vocal tones and his distinctive guitar style have been enjoyed many times in the long history of our club (and indeed he was once a fairly frequent audience member as well, when he had a pre-retirement day job which regularly brought him to York).  He is currently celebrating 50 years as a touring performer.
Along with contemporaries such as Nic Jones, Tony Rose and Martin Carthy, Dave Burland is regarded as one of the seminal names in the English Folk Revival and an inspiration to later generations of singers.  In The Awkward Squad, he is joined by Dave Fisher on vocals, keyboards, lap steel and pedal steel guitars and Bryan Ledgard on vocals and percussion.  Together they perform a collection of songs that all three musicians regard as timeless classic material.
Dave’s old friend (and record company boss) Chris Euesden will be MC for this one and the scheduled floor singers are Graham Hodge, John Storey and Phil Cerny.  Tickets are £11 in advance or £12.50 on the door, again with students half price.

2. TUESDAY 18th DECEMBER AT THE NCEM – SONGS FOR CHRISTMAS WITH EMILY SMITH.  For her fifth visit to NCEM, the much admired Scottish singer Emily Smith will be presenting her unique show Songs For Christmas on Tuesday 18th December.  Accompanied by Jamie McClennan and Anna Massie (guitar, fiddle, backing vocals), Emily promises a beautiful blend of original and traditional festive songs.  Support comes from popular Ryedale singer-songwriter David Swann.  As I write, there are fewer than 25 tickets left (not bad, given that Kate Rusby is at York Barbican on the same night!) and a Full House seems likely.  Those remaining tickets are £17 full or £15 concessions, at or on (01904) 658338.

3. THURSDAY 20th DECEMBER – CHRISTMAS PARTY.  We end the year with our customary informal Christmas Party on 20th December.  This is run along the same lines as a Singers and Musicians night, although many people choose to sing something seasonal or otherwise outside their normal repertoire.  There is also a bring–and–share supper which is enjoyed during the extended half time interval, and I’m sure that there will be the regular Christmas Raffle as well.  Stan Graham will be your master of ceremonies and as usual things get under way around 8pm.


4. NEW SEASON, NEW BROCHURE.  As I mentioned in the last newsletter, the club diary is now fully sorted for the first half of 2019 and all dates through to mid-July have been posted at  Our next brochure, covering January to early May, is now at the printers and should be available in time for our gathering this week.  Finally, all club guest nights up to the end of May are now open for booking at WeGotTickets, and all our six spring season NCEM shows are likewise open for booking through the NCEM website and Box Office.

5. JANUARY EVENTS.  January 2019 is a five Thursday month, so we begin (3rd) and end (31st) with Singers and Musicians Nights.  In between, we have three contrasting but equally listenable guests to entertain you, beginning with Jez Lowe on 10th January.  Jez is one of our firmest favourites, another singer who has appeared countless times at the club over his long career.  He is an outstanding songwriter and performer in the folk world, and a leading musical ambassador for his native North East England.  We expect to hear a selection of his finely crafted originals, and perhaps also a few reworked traditional songs from his current Dillen Doll novel and CD project.  Tickets are £11 in advance or £12.50 on door and given how popular Jez can be, early booking is advised!
Jon Palmer and his Otley-based folk, roots and rock & roll combo gave us a great debut show in 2016, so we had no hesitation in inviting them back for a re-match.  Catch The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band on Thursday 17th January The line-up is guitars, mandolin, double bass, violin and percussion, with Jon their songwriter and lead singer, joined by Nick Settle, Wendy Ross, Roy Whyke, Ricky Silvers and Matt Nelson.  Tickets for this one are £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
On Thursday 24th January we switch our focus to North America, with the debut visit by a very promising Kentucky-based female folk duo called The Local Honeys.  Singers Linda Jean Stokley (fiddle) and Montana Hobbs (banjo) fuse Appalachian and bluegrass folk traditions and are dedicated to the preservation of old songs and tunes, alongside creating new music within those traditions.  They can certainly tear into hard driving fiddle tunes, sing the high lonesome sound, and tell a damn good story.  I would urge you to come along and check them out.  Tickets are again £9 in advance or £10 on the door.
Also in January, we are running our usual event for the annual York Residents Festival. York’s Winter Folk Day will be on Sunday 27th January, when there will be afternoon and evening concerts in the upstairs room at the Black Swan, featuring a range of singers and groups who are based in or close to York.  As a Residents Festival event, this will be entirely FREE to holders of York Cards and local SU cards.  Non-York residents are also welcome to attend if there is space, although we may ask you for a token financial contribution.
The Winter Folk Day provisional afternoon line-up looks like this (note that there is still one slot which is awaiting confirmation):  2.00 White Sail, 2.30 Toni Bunnell, 3.00 Stan Graham, 3.20 Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, 3.50 tbc, 4.20 The Old Humpy Band (see item 16), 4.50 Judith Haswell, 5.10 Phil Cerny. 5.30 Break.   Music resumes in the evening: 7.30 Ian Pybus & Annie Curran, 8.00 Leather’o, 8.30 Crispin Halcrow, 9.00 Paula Ryan, 9.30 Ramshackle, 10.30 End.  Stan Graham, Phil Cerny and Paula Ryan will be sharing MC duties, Chris Euesden and Eddie Affleck will be looking after the PA, with help from several other volunteers, and it should be a thoroughly enjoyable day.  Put the date in your diary now!

6. FEBRUARY CLUB NIGHTS & CONCERTS.  February brings to the Black Swan another debut duo, more local favourites, and a return booking for two top players.  February also sees the resumption of our folk concert programme at the NCEM venue.
Thursday 7th February brings a Black Swan debut for the award-winning Dorset duo Ninebarrow.  Over the last 2 or 3 years Jon Whitley and Jay La Bouchardiere have been impressing audiences across England with their innovative take on the folk tradition and in 2017 they were nominated in the Horizon category, for best new act, in the BBC Folk Awards.  Combining skilled musicianship with breath-taking vocal harmonies, they deliver great original songs inspired by landscape and history, alongside distinctively reworked traditional numbers.  Tickets are £10 in advance or £11 on the door.
Leeds-based Duncan McFarlane & Anne Brivonese, who appear on 14th February, are familiar faces in York.  With his well justified reputation for exuberant live performance (as regularly enjoyed with his full band at our Folk Weekends) Duncan is always a popular guest.  He writes great songs in the folk idiom and mixes them with choice traditional and modern covers.  A stylish guitarist, he is joined by regular foil Anne on fiddle and backing vocals.  Tickets are £8 in advance or £9 on the door.
The exciting cross-generational partnership of Dan Walsh & Alistair Anderson gave us a truly memorable full house performance five years ago and we are delighted to bring them back on 21st February.  Alistair is of course a celebrated Northumbrian piper, concertina player and composer, while Dan is one of the finest young banjo players in Britain, as well as a superb singer and guitarist.  We can expect some impressively dextrous and energetic musical fireworks.  Tickets are £12 in advance or £14 on the door.
Our Singers & Musicians Night for the month rounds off February on Thursday 28th.
February also brings us two eagerly anticipated NCEM shows.  Phil Beer, best known as one half of Show Of Hands, visits York on his annual solo tour 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).  Two weeks later, on Tuesday 26th February, there is a Celtic special with Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle.  Popular North Yorkshire singer-songwriter Martin Heaton will be the support act.  Both of these NCEM shows have been on sale for some time and indeed tickets are selling very well already.

7. MARCH CLUB NIGHTS & CONCERTS.  Our March line up again contains a hugely popular act which visits us regularly, some local favourites, and a highly rated first-time visitor.  First up, we welcome back Anglo French trio The Churchfitters on 7th March. If you have ever seen them before, you will know that this is a madcap multi-instrumental folk band like no other, one of the most exuberant, energetic and entertaining acts we host.  Churchfitters’ shows almost always sell out, so book early!  Tickets are £12 in advance.
Otley-based trio Yan Tan Tether did one half of an enjoyable double bill two years ago and have also opened for us at the NCEM.  They return for a full booking on 14th March.  Rosie Knighton, Tess Leslie and Lynne O’Malley have built a glowing reputation around Yorkshire.  While they do play instruments such as banjo, guitar and fiddle, their hallmark is beautiful acapella arrangements of traditional and modern folk songs, with spine-tingling harmonies and rollicking good choruses.  This one is £8 in advance or £9 on the door.
The Shetland-based singer Jenny Sturgeon makes an auspicious York debut on 21st March with her Trio.  Jenny writes songs rich with imagery, inspired by folklore, history and the natural world.  “She brings together the old and new with a rare skill" said one review.  She also plays in the critically acclaimed alt-folk band Salt House, while in her own trio she is joined on fiddle and guitar by two top class Scottish players, Jonny Hardie (Old Blind Dogs) and Charlie McKerron (Capercaillie).  This should be a must for all lovers of Scottish acoustic music.  Tickets are £10 in advance or £11 on the door.
Our Singers & Musicians Night for March then takes place on Thursday 28th.
There are a further pair of concerts at the NCEM in March, both of which are now open for booking.  On Monday 11th March we present The Rheingans Sisters, with Judith Haswell as the support act.  Rowan and Anna Rheingans make playful, powerful and deeply connecting music that is wholly contemporary while firmly anchored in European folk traditions.  They have developed a rich artistic approach to music from British and continental cultures, alongside their own beguiling compositions (one of which was voted Best Original Track in the 2016 Folk Awards).  Audiences everywhere are captivated by the sisters’ full-hearted live shows, with their adventurous use of fiddles, voices, banjo, bansitar and percussion.  Tickets are £16 full price or £14 concessions.
Our second NCEM event in March is a very special MNDA fundraiser on Tuesday 26th, with Martin Simpson and Chris While & Julie Matthews giving us their many talents in support of a good cause.  See item 11 for more details of this show.

APRIL & MAY EVENTS.  We have two further NCEM events later next Spring.  Gigspanner, on Wednesday 17th April, is the innovative trio fronted by Steeleye Span’s long-term fiddle player Peter Knight, while on Monday 20th May we welcome back The Melrose Quartet, which brings together Nancy Kerr, James Fagan and Jess & Richard Arrowsmith.  Both these shows are also now open for booking through the NCEM website.
At the Black Swan, April and May’s club programme highlights include return visits by the wonderful Scottish duo of Mairearad Green & Anna Massie and the young blues and folk singer/guitarist Sunjay (formerly Sunjay Brayne).  There is also a rescheduled night with Pilgrims’ Way, whose performance in March this year was scuppered by all that snowy weather, and eagerly awaited debuts by political singer songwriter Grace Petrie and highly rated Irish duo Ye Vagabonds.  There will also be a Young Performers Night featuring the bands Nidd and Don’t Feed The Peacocks and a debut visit by the excellent duo of Rosie Hodgson & Rowan Piggott.


As most of you will know by now, I am quite seriously ill with motor neurone disease, a progressive and untreatable neurological condition which is invariably fatal sooner or later.  I am receiving wonderful support from NHS staff at York Hospital and in addition I have had considerable financial and practical help from national charity the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).
I have been greatly touched by the way in which my many friends in the folk music world, locally and nationally, have rallied round to offer assistance.  One way in which a great many people are helping is through fundraising efforts in support of the MNDA, and indeed this will become a regular theme in our club activities over the next few months.

9. GREAT NIGHT AT CLUB 15th NOVEMBER.  Last month’s MNDA Fundraiser at the Black Swan was a huge success, by all accounts, although sadly following a fall at home earlier that evening, I was unable to attend myself.  Stan Graham, who took on the task of organising it, subsequently e-mailed the participants to say: “thank you all for your support and wonderful performances last night.  Everyone was on top form and contributed to one of the best evenings at the Black Swan that I have attended since I joined the club.  The complements flowed thick and fast from everyone I spoke to at the end of the evening.  Great music, top performances, excellent sound, what more could you ask for?”
My thanks go to Stan and to all the participants: Toni Bunnell, The Old Humpy Band (alias Dee Marshall, Steve Marshall and Jo Wheldon), Fake Thackray (alias John Watterson), all six members of Blackbeard’s Tea Party, who did an acoustic set to finish the first half, and then to my dear club colleagues in Ramshackle, who did the final hour, joined at the end by many of the other musicians for a rousing pair of encores – it seems there were almost as many people on the stage as were left in the audience!  Thanks also to Michael Jary, who handled the PA for the evening, to John and Jen who organised the raffle and to Paul Culkin who generously donated a ukulele as a raffle prize.
With numerous donations also received, both on the night and from people who were unable to be there, the event raised the magnificent sum of £849.  In addition we had already received a further £200 which Ramshackle donated after a recent appearance at the Pickering folk club, so the grand total is £1049.  We have sent a cheque for £600 to the York Group of the MNDA and we have used the balance to cover the cost of the stairlift installed on the Black Swan fire escape staircase last summer, which was initially paid out of general club funds.

10. MARTIN SIMPSON AND WHILE & MATTHEWS AT THE NCEM, 26th MARCH.  Several leading national folk names have offered to support our MNDA fundraising effort and there will be a charity concert at the NCEM venue on Tuesday 26th March, featuring a pair of top acts that I have booked many times over my long career.  Chris While & Julie Matthews are two of England’s finest acoustic songwriters and singers and perform with great stage presence, while Martin Simpson is consistently named one of the best folk guitarists in the world, with a rich repertoire of original songs, traditional ballads and choice covers.  They will each do a full length set at the NCEM that night and tickets have now gone on sale, priced at £20 or concessions £18.

11. OTHER FUNDRAISING EFFORTS.  That’s not all by any means! Here are details of some other fundraising events and activities:

  • Singers In Support Of MNDA.  Soundsphere and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion have unanimously agreed to offer all the proceeds of their forthcoming Christmas special to the MNDA, in my honour. See item 19 below for details of this event on Saturday 15th December, and do try to give it your support!
  • And A Fundraising CD.  Harrogate musician Chas Marshall has sent us some copies of a CD which he released recently.  Chas’s wife also suffers from MND and he is donating all proceeds from the sale of this record equally between MNDA and the Air Ambulance.  The Complete Anglo is a collection of jigs, hornpipes and airs played by Chas on Anglo-concertina with support from Nick Barber (soprano recorder and melodeon) and Mary Barber (fiddle).  The CDs are on sale at all club gatherings, priced £10.  If you are at all interested in English instrumental folk music, do consider buying a copy.
  • My Bike For Sale In Aid Of MNDA.  Those of you who know me well will appreciate that one of my great leisure activities before the disease took hold was country cycling.  I still have my trusted Trek 7200 Hybrid bike but it is now gathering dust in the backyard.  It is quite an old model, bought in the “Foot & Mouth” year of 2001, but it has always been scrupulously maintained and serviced.  I have ridden at least 10,000 miles on it, including 1,600 during 2017 alone, after I had retired from the day job.  I can’t find a record of the frame size but it is a fairly small one as I am not a long legged person.  With that proviso, would anybody out there be interested in giving it a new home, in return for a suitable donation to MNDA?  There is a fitted Trek Incite cycle computer to measure mileage, speed, etc., and two good quality panniers are an optional extra.
  • Another Charity Concert Next Autumn.  Still in the planning stage is a second MNDA fundraiser concert scheduled for Tuesday 24th September at The Crescent venue off Blossom Street.  Martin Carthy will certainly be headlining.  We’ll have more details nearer the time but maybe put that date in your diary now!


12. FAREWELL ROY BAILEY & BILL CADDICK.  We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of two stalwarts of the English folk scene last month.  Roy Bailey passed away on 20th November at the age of 83, only a few weeks after appearing at a birthday concert.  Roy sang for us many times over the years and was always an inspirational performer, a great champion of ordinary people and simple humanity.  There have been numerous obituaries published – see for example
Only the previous day, 19th November, we also lost Bill Caddick, the writer of songs such as Unicorns and She Moves Among Men, and probably best known for his National Theatre work and bands such as Magic Lantern, Albion Band and (with John Tams) Home Service.  His is another great loss.  See for example

13. CONGRATULATIONS DELMA, CHECHELELE.  In last month’s newsletter I mentioned the annual York Culture Awards, which this year took place on 19th November.  One of the awards is for Cultural Champion and this year I am happy to say that it was given to Delma Tomlin, the Director of and driving force behind the National Centre for Early Music and long-serving organiser of York’s two annual Early Music festivals.  We have collaborated closely and fruitfully with Delma ever since the NCEM opened in 2000 and it is thanks to her encouragement and support that we have been able to bring such a rich strand of folk music into the NCEM concert schedule.  The award citation says that it recognises “an individual from the creative community, who has actively supported / significantly contributed to York’s cultural scene”, and that is certainly true over very many years in Delma’s case.
Last year the same award was handed to Joe Coates, of PleasePleaseYou and The Crescent, somebody else with whom we have collaborated fruitfully in recent times.
Amongst the other awards, I was pleased to see that Chechelele, York’s multilingual world music choir, usually to be heard singing at our annual Folk Weekend, were Highly Commended (i.e. runners-up) in the Outstanding Performing Artist category.

14. WELL DONE IAN & SUE PYBUS.  Club regulars Ian and Sue Pybus host occasional house concerts as charity fundraisers.  I was privileged to attend one recently which featured the Canadian singer Dan McKinnon.  The night raised the fantastic some of £840, which will go towards supporting the Hope Orphanage in Myanmar, a project which has long been dear to the hearts of the Pybus family.  “How brilliant to be able to raise money while having a houseful of friends and fabulous music” says Sue.  “To count Dan McKinnon as one of our close friends is indeed a privilege and once again he had us all enthralled”.  And incidentally Dan will be back in York for a public show at the Black Swan on 31st October next year.

15. GOODBYE THE FORESTERS, WELCOME OLD HUMPY.  Steve Marshall writes that The Foresters last ever concert on 14th December is sold out.  However there are still tickets available for their penultimate performance this coming Saturday, 8th December, at the Severus Club on Milner Street, YO24 4NJ.  It is benefit show for Green Lane Growers and tickets costing £5 are available from Colin Smith on 07758 857943 or by emailing  The start time is 7.30pm.

Three of The Foresters, Steve, his partner Dee and Jo Wheldon have formed a new group called The Old Humpy Band.  “Nothing to do with rumpy pumpy or Humpty Dumpty, and much to do with Strensall’s hump back bridge” Steve explains.  They took part in our MNDA fundraiser (item 10), will do a set in the Winter Folk Day (item 6) and will open for The Melrose Quartet at NCEM in May (item 9).


16. REG MEUROSS IN RIPON, 8th DECEMBER.  The highly rated singer songwriter Reg Meuross appears in Ripon this coming Saturday night, 8th December, in an event organised by local music enthusiast and occasional promoter Nick Thompson.  The venue is the Ripon Amateur Operatic Society Hall at 49 Allhallowgate, HG4 1LQ, the concert starts at 8pm, and tickets are £10.  They can be booked through WeGotTickets or by contacting Nick direct on

17. BELLA, POLLY & THE MAGPIES, 9th DECEMBER.  Bella Gaffney, Polly Bolton, Holly Brandon and Sarah Smout, aka Bella, Polly and The Magpies are holding a Winter Party at the Black Swan Inn next Sunday 9th December. Doors will open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start by the support act, singer-songwriter Tom McKenzie.  Tickets priced at £8 (£7 students) are now on sale through
Bella (guitar, vocals) and mandolin player Polly came together last year, fusing Celtic folk with bluegrass in an exciting new collaboration.  Now joined by Sarah (cello) and Holly (fiddle), this all-female four-piece is already establishing a fearsome reputation for their glittering live shows, onstage rapport and genre-busting original and traditional material.  Watch them online at

18. SOUNDSPHERE & TWO BLACK SHEEP, 15th DECEMBER.  Two of York’s mightiest vocal groups are getting together for a special pre-Christmas night also at the Black Swan Inn.  Soundsphere and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion tell me that they are” joining forces and voices for a joyous rousing celebration of the winter season in glorious song” on Saturday 15th December at 8pm.  There will be classics from both groups as well as Wassailing songs, Christmas carols, yuletide airs and plenty of opportunity to sing along.  Tickets are £5 in advance or £6 on the door, with pre–booking advisable by email to, or by ringing 07963 792504.  As I mentioned earlier, both groups are very kindly donating proceeds to our MNDA fundraising effort.

19. A NORTHERN CHRISTMAS IN OTLEY.  An upcoming event at Otley Courthouse caught my eye the other day.  “A Northern Christmas Show” with Coope, Simpson, Freya & Fraser takes place on Friday 21st December at 8pm, with tickets costing £13.  The venue publicity says “this legendary quartet bring their seasonal show to Otley with a feast of acapella carols from Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and beyond.”

20. BLONDE ON BOB’S CHRISTMAS BASH, 28th DECEMBER.  Chris Euesden writes that Blonde on Bob will be doing their usual Bob’s Xmas Bash between Christmas and New Year in the club room at the Black Swan Inn.  This year it will be on Friday 28th December and Blonde on Bob will be supported once again by Freewheelin', compromising Graham Hodge, Billy Bills and Geoff Earp, for another evening of “nothin’ but Dylan”.  No doubt there will be the usual fiendishly difficult Dylan quiz as well.  The night gets underway at 8pm and tickets are now on sale on through WeGotTickets at £9, or they will be £11 on the door.

21. EDWINA HAYES, DAVE BURLAND, STAN GRAHAM, DRIFFIELD 28th DECEMBER.  Edwina Hayes tells us of a special Christmas concert being organised by Moonbeams at the Bell Hotel on the Market Place in Driffield (YO25 6AN) on Friday 28th December.  Appearing alongside Edwina will be our own pre-Christmas guest Dave Burland and York’s finest singer-songwriter, Stan Graham.  Doors open at 7:30pm and the event runs from 8pm until 10:30pm. Tickets are now on sale at £10, or £20 to include a pre-concert 2-course bar meal.  The only snag is, the ticket link Edwina supplied is invalid and I cannot at present find out how to book tickets!

Health permitting, I’ll be back early next year!