Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 37

Mid September 2005

Here I am again with another mixed bag of club, concert and other news. There’ll be a further E-News in a couple of weeks which will include our full Autumn club flyer.

  1. NIAMH PARSONS LAUNCHES NCEM CONCERT SEASON. Our first concert in the new season at the National Centre for Early Music brings the magnificent Irish singer Niamh Parsons to York for the first time. A superb interpreter of both traditional folk songs and modern compositions, Niamh has "a voice to die for", according to fRoots magazine, "she can sing the spots off a leopard". Judge for yourselves a week on Friday, 23rd September, when she is accompanied by her regular touring partner Graham Dunne on guitar.
    Brought up in a musical family in Dublin, Niamh was drawn into traditional singing sessions as a young woman and joined her first group, Killera, in the late 1980s. She worked with the bands Arcady and The Loose Connections through the 1990s, releasing the albums Loosely Connected and Loosen Up. The prize-winning solo CD Blackbirds and Thrushes (1999) demonstrated her mastery of traditional balladry, and soon after she began to tour under her own name, accompanied by Graham. In My Prime (2000) and Heart’s Desire (2004, an Indie Award-winner in America) reinforced her stature as one of Ireland’s foremost women singers.
    Niamh’s smoky, silken voice is suited to wide range of material and she has been likened to such other versatile singers as Sandy Denny, June Tabor and Dolores Keane. "A voice like hers comes along only once or twice in a generation" says folk luminary Archie Fisher − who has heard thousands of singers in his time!
    It’s a 7.30 start on Friday 23rd, with a half-hour support set by Rachel Dawick, as trailed in E-News 36. Tickets are £10 (£8 for concessions) available in advance from the NCEM Box Office on York 658338,, and also on sale on the door or from me at club meetings on 15th and 22nd September.

  2. MORE NCEM ACTION. Tickets are also available - and selling well - for our later concerts at the Early Music Centre: Tanglefoot (Nov 1), Emily Smith (Nov 19) and Waterson:Carthy (Dec 21). In particular, Waterson:Carthy’s seasonal show Frost and Fire is already more than half sold − so don’t delay or you will miss out! As for Niamh, tickets available through the NCEM Box Office or direct from myself.

  3. SAD NEWS FROM DRIFFIELD. Word reaches us that Driffield Live has had to halt operations "due to disappointing turnouts for recent concerts". In its heyday, not so very long ago, Driffield was a flourishing venue for folk music, but it seems audiences can be fickle. Although it met on Thursdays and could have been seen as competition for the Black Swan, I never viewed things that way. The more live music the better, I say, and it is a huge pity when any venue has to close.

  4. THE BLACK SWAN NOT IMMUNE. Let’s have no complacency here. The Black Swan FC has had a poor summer itself, with audience numbers often in teens and twenties (even in single figures one week) when they should have been in the thirties or forties. Even well-attended nights have often failed to reach completely full house level. With the high standard of the acts we’ve had on offer, this is very dispiriting. So far this year, the average paying audience is 4 down per week, compared with the year before, which was in turn down on the year before that.
    The upshot is that we have been loosing money and eating into our modest cash reserves. Over the summer quarter (June, July, August), we were down almost £600! Losses would be even worse had not some guests kindly offered to waive a part of their agreed fee. We cannot afford to go on for long at this rate of loss, nor can we assume that surpluses on the NCEM concert programme will save the day.
    Club fortunes are normally cyclical and I am ever optimistic that things will pick up. However, as a precaution I am not making any more bookings beyond June next year, though I will fill the gaps in the diary between now and then. There are 450 of you on the e-mail list: just one more club visit each per year would make all the difference! Support your local folk club or loose it!

  5. FIDDLE TUTOR NEEDED. E-News subscriber Dave Petts is looking for a fiddle teacher in the York area. If anyone out there could teach folk style fiddle to an absolute beginner, contact Dave on York 672698,

  6. CLARE GOES HOBBLING! Just as E-News 36 mentioned Clare Rabone’s forthcoming sponsored trek on the Inca Trail for the Mind charity, she managed to come off her bicycle and break an ankle in two places, requiring surgery and a cast! Undaunted, she says that all the walking around on crutches does wonders for her upper body strength! A reminder that you can sponsor her easily online at, or contact her on

  7. MORE MORRIS DANCERS WANTED. Following on from last time’s appeal by The Minster Strays, we hear that Acorn Morris (Women) and Ebor Morris (Men) are also on the look-out for recruits. They offer free practice and tuition to anyone interested in performing traditional English ritual dance. For more info about these friendly, long-established York sides (or their ceilidh band The Bad Bargain Band), contact Jonathan Brockbank on York 659600,

  8. NORTH YORKSHIRE FOLK. Michael Brothwell’s Radio York folk show continues to give sterling support to the local folk scene. Yours truly recently did a two-part "listener’s choice" spot, as did Black Swan regular David Kidman back in August, and of course Tony Morris remains as "poet in residence". Two recent Nic Jones specials made stimulating listening, with Nic chatting in the studio and introducing a diverse selection of his personal favourite music. Check out North Yorkshire Folk on Radio York, Wednesdays at 7.05pm (103.7, 104.3 & 95.5 fm), or use the listen again facility on the BBC web site − where it is the most visited Radio York show!

  9. DIARY DATES. Just space for a run-down on the next 2/3 weeks:
    • 15 September Mike Agranoff (USA) at the Black Swan Folk Club
    • 22 September Singers Night at the Folk Club
    • 29 September Cloudstreet (Australia) at the Folk Club
    • 30 September Kathryn Tickell Band at Victoria Hall, Saltaire. Another promotion by the enterprising SaltaireLive. Tickets £12.50 on 01274 588614
    • 5 October Don Walls book-launch at The Victoria Vaults, Nunnery Lane, York
    • 6 October Christine Collister at the Folk Club. TICKETS NOW ON SALE