Black Swan Folk Club
Late October 2005
- JOHNNY DICKINSON REMINDER. First up, a heavy reminder that it is Johnny Dickinson at the Black Swan tomorrow night, Thursday 27 October. There are still tickets available, which will be on sale on the door. Disappointingly, we have sold barely half of our 50 tickets, even at this late stage. Was I so wrong in my estimation of the local “pulling power” of this much talked about guitar player? For those of you not familiar with his work, here is part of the Press Release I issued
“Johnny’s musical apprenticeship was served in rock and blues bands in the late 80s, notably with Paul Lamb & The Kingsnakes. In the 1990s he gave up life on the road and returned to his native Northumberland where he increasingly moved to acoustic guitar and found himself drawn towards the folk music of Northumbria and the Scottish borders at the same time as he was writing new songs of his own. The result is a uniquely individual style of playing which crosses Northumbrian and Celtic flavours with American blues. Stylistically, his near neighbours are probably players like Martin Simpson or Kelly Joe Phelps.
“After the interruption caused by a long spell of illness, Johnny Dickinson recorded his first solo CD in 2002, Castles & Old Kings, which featured original songs grounded in his home county, alongside tasteful re-workings of folk favourites such as She Moved Through The Fair and Black Jack Davey. His second release, Border Ballads, explored this side of things in more depth, being full of traditional songs given intelligent new arrangements, while this year’s English Summer focuses entirely on Dickinson originals, with session support from John McCusker, Andy Cutting and Chris and Kellie While, amongst others.
“Johnny’s music has had considerable air-play on Radio 2, with Mike Harding being a particular fan, and Johnny was nominated in the Horizon (Best Newcomer) category in the 2004 Folk Awards. A gig in York was clearly long-overdue and the Black Swan is happy to oblige.”
And here is John Renbourn’s verdict: “I’d go a long way to listen to Johnny Dickinson … his playing really hits the spot”, while The Scotsman reviewed an Edinburgh show last year in the following terms: “If this had been broadcast on national TV, Dickinson would be a guitar hero by tea-time tomorrow. As it is, he’ll just have to travel the country gently playing his ‘twists and bends’ and singing with his rich, addictive voice … until he finally gets the recognition he deserves.”
So come on, let’s give him some of that recognition in York!
- FUTURE CLUB FIXTURES. Next week at the Black Swan, 3rd November, it is another of our popular Singers & Musicians Nights. These almost always seem to attract at least 10 or a dozen performers, sometimes even more, with a pretty high standard of singing and playing from an ever-changing mix of “residents”, singers-night-only regulars and one-off visitors. With 10 or 20 listeners in the room as well, the atmosphere is usually very relaxed and enjoyable. Why not give it a try sometime? Performers are admitted free of charge, while listeners pay a modest £2 (£1.50 concessions) which all helps to keep the club solvent. There’s another such night on 1st December, then the Christmas Party on 22nd December.
Our next guest night is Jez Lowe on 10th November, for whom no introduction should be needed here. Tickets are on sale for this one (at club meetings, from the Black Swan Inn, or phone or e-mail me) but don’t leave it too long –if there is any justice in this world Jez’s night should Sell Out.
On 17th November we complete our hat trick of North Eastern guest nights with acapella harmony trio Pegleg Ferret, who specialise in industrial folk songs from Durham and Northumberland, together with music hall numbers and modern songs in the folk idiom. With a floor spot promised as well from Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, this should be an evening of really great folk-style singing.
- TANGLEFOOT IN CONCERT. Here is a quick reminder that next Tuesday, 1st November at the National Centre for Early Music we present those five hairy blokes from Canada collectively known as Tanglefoot, one of the most entertaining live acts in the business. Tickets have been flying off to all corners of Yorkshire for this one, and as I write there are just 60 or so left. Book yours by contacting either myself or the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338.
- FUTURE CONCERTS UPDATE. Tickets are still plentiful for the Emily Smith Band on Saturday 19th November, but both NCEM shows by Waterson:Carthy & Friends (18th & 21st December) are now SOLD OUT. If you have missed out, the NCEM Box Office will be holding a short waiting list in case of any returns.
- HARROGATE FOLK CLUB TO CLOSE. Just space for one piece of external news, and very sad it is. The Friday 13th Folk Club in Harrogate is to close at Christmas. Hard-working club organiser Ray Black, who has bravely steered the club through three venues over the last ten years, cites poor support for both Singers Nights and lesser known Guest artists. While our Singers Nights at the Black Swan do pretty well (see item 2 above), recent E-Newsletter readers will be well aware that I share Ray’s frustration at the difficulty in attracting large audiences for anyone other than top rank guests. With poor turnouts closing Driffield Live as well (see E-News 37), the club scene in North and East Yorkshire is beginning to look decidedly thin.
It is not a new problem. Delving through old folk magazines to check when Ray began his labour of love, I found this quote in the announcement of another local club closure in 1995: “Please, dear readers, let this be a lesson to you. Support your local folk club, not just on your favourite guest night but on the nights when they have “new” names and on singers nights….without regular support the club cannot function”. Or as I warned recently, use us or loose us!
- ROUND & ABOUT. Here are just a few other upcoming local gigs of note:
- Saturday 29 October. Country & western swing favourites Los Yobos are back in action at the Black Swan Inn, York, while over at the Courthouse Arts Centre in Otley there is an Amnesty International Fundraiser with Nick Hall, Julie Ellison and the very wonderful Dave Vermond. Info on 01943 817588.
- Sunday 30 October. Take your pick of Al Stewart at Pocklington Arts Centre (01759 301547) or Show Of Hands at Victoria Hall, Saltaire (01274 588614)
- Sunday 6 November. Irish supergroup Dervish are also at the Saltaire venue.