Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 46

Late February 2006

  1. CLUB UPDATE. Our next three weeks’ club guests are a nicely varied selection of fine musicians. This Thursday (2 March) Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer will enthral us with their virtuosity on Scottish smallpipes and guitar respectively, not to forget flutes and whistles. The smallpipes should not be confused with highland bagpipes − they are a much gentler and subtler instrument, closer to Northumbrian pipes. Jonny is also a good singer and together they perform a mix of traditional pieces and self-composed tunes in the traditional style.
    BBC4 viewers may have seen our 9 March guest, Maggie Holland, on screen last week. Once playing country blues with Hot Vultures (alongside Ian Anderson of fRoots fame) and still a member of Tiger Moth ceilidh band, Maggie is best known these days for her excellent songwriting. Sharply observed songs such as A Proper Sort of Gardener and Perfumes of Arabia have been covered by such luminaries as June Tabor and Martin Carthy. Maggie also has a large repertoire of traditional songs from Britain and America and accompanies herself on guitar and banjo.
    Local hero Duncan McFarlane (16 March) makes a welcome return with his fiddle playing accompanist Anne Brivonese. Specialising in traditional-style song-writing, plus a few choice covers, Duncan is a vastly energetic and enthusiastic performer, both a strong singer and a punchy guitarist. Working all over the country and in various guises − solo, duo, acoustic band and full-on electric band - he has earned a deservedly devoted following.

  2. AT THE EARLY MUSIC CENTRE. Our next club promotion at the National Centre for Early Music is not until after Easter (Old Blind Dogs on Wednesday 26 April and already selling well), but before then there are two other concerts well worth your pennies. On Wednesday 8 March Jewels Promotions offer The Gathering: An Evening of Appalachian Mountain Music with our very dear friend Debby McClatchy (banjo, vocals, clog dancing), plus Tom Sauber (banjo, guitar, fiddle, vocals), Alice Gerrard (guitar, vocals) and Brad Leftwich (fiddle, vocals). All four of them are steeped in the traditional music of this special part of America: banjo breakdowns and fiddle hoedowns, old timey country songs and dances, string band numbers and gospel hymns. This should be something rather special!
    The NCEM themselves have booked world famous Scottish musicians Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham for a performance on Wednesday 22 March. Little introduction should be needed from me for such celebrities.
    Tickets are still available for both events (£12.50 for The Gathering, £15 or £12.50 for Aly & Phil) from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338,, but be advised that Aly & Phil’s gig in particular is selling fast, so don’t delay.

  3. AUDEN & FOLK FINAL REMINDER. Here is a last mention for the Auden and Folk event in the Tempest Anderson Hall at the Yorkshire Museum in York on Saturday 18 March. Martin Carthy headlines, folk scholar Vic Gammon will be Master of Ceremonies and local artists Odin Dragonfly, David Ward Maclean, John Brown and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion are also taking part.
    Organiser Hugh Bernays writes as follows: "This programme has been put together to explore and celebrate the folk songs that York-born poet W H Auden included in The Oxford Book of Light Verse and his collection for children The Poet’s Tongue. Auden valued popular traditions highly. He loved music and was delighted by folk lyrics, admiring them for their earthy language and rhythmic inventiveness. Honed by generations and written in memory alone, these songs have crossed centuries. To survive, they had to be unforgettable. When performed they can be completely spell-binding." And I might add, who better to perform them than Martin Carthy?
    The evening starts at 7.30 and tickets can be booked through the NCEM Box Office (as in Item 2 above), costing £14.50 or £12 for concessions. I’ll see you there!

  4. DANCING IN THE WOLDS. If dancing is more your thing, I’ve been asked to mention a ceilidh also taking place on 18 March. It’s in Weaverthorpe Village Hall in the Yorkshire Wolds, with music from The Tablets of Stone Ceilidh Band. Tickets £5 (children £3) in aid of the Village Hall Regeneration Fund on 01944 738422.

  5. FOLK MUSICIANS NEEDED FOR CASTLE MUSEUM. The famous Kirkgate street display in York’s Castle Museum reopens this spring after a major revamp, and they would like to put on some traditional music in the street during the York Live weekend at the end of May. They are looking for either solo performers or a small band − specific instruments mentioned are fiddle, hurdy-gurdy and accordion. A small fee would be payable. If anyone out there is interested, contact Kirsty at City of York Council,

  6. BLAZIN’ IN SALTAIRE. Many of you enjoyed the Scottish powerhouse fiddle ensemble Blazin’ Fiddles when they played in York last year. Well, they are back in England shortly and can be heard at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire on Friday 17 March. Support comes from much-talked-about new English traditional singer James Raynard. Tickets are a modest £12.50 and can be bought by post or from various retail outlets in West Yorkshire. Ring Simon on 01274 588614 for more information. (Additionally, Blazin’ Fiddles are at Sheffield City Hall on Friday 10 March − Box Office on 0114 278 9789.) Enterprising promoters Saltaire Live are also hoping to present top Irish band Altan in Leeds in May − more details when I hear that all is confirmed.

  7. SALUTATIONS FROM DONCASTER. There’s a lively Monday night acoustic venue in Doncaster these days. Live At The Sal meets weekly at the Salutation on South Parade in the town centre. Guests next Monday, 6 March, are Maddie Southorn and Janet Martin, who gave us an impressive performance at the Black Swan recently, with Uiscedwr, Steve Tilston and Rachel Unthank & The Winterset coming up in future weeks. There’s also a monthly Open House, "Lively At The Sal", the next one being on 13 March. For more information, ring Bob Chiswick on 01302 788478 or go to

  8. FOLK IN FLAXTON. There’s a small and friendly free folk night every week in the village of Flaxton, ten miles north of York. This club began a few years ago at a pub in nearby Farlington but was forced to move when brewers Sam Smiths adopted their short-sighted "no music" policy. They found a cosy and welcoming home at the Thompson’s Arms, which is near the railway crossing on the Flaxton to Sheriff Hutton road. The club runs singaround style and kicks off around 8.30pm. For more information, contact Nick Blair on, 01347 878536.

  9. WICKERSLEY MUSIC FESTIVAL. Back in E-News 43 I mentioned the Young Acoustic Roots competition. The final takes place during the Wickersley Music Festival near Rotherham on Saturday 11 March. The venue is The Blessed Trinity Church Hall on Northfield Lane, starting 2pm, admission £3. The winners also get a spot in the evening concert at the same venue, which is headlined by Kerfuffle and Jon Gomm. Evening tickets are £9, or there is an all-day ticket for £10. There are also various free music events earlier in the week. For more information contact Pete Thornton-Smith on 01709 546555,

  10. SINGING AND SONGWRITING SKILLS. Next, a reminder of the Workshop Weekend taking place at York Steiner School over the weekend of 25-26 March. Chose from a Vocal Workshop run by harmony specialists Soundsphere (who did a superb support set at last week’s Swåp concert), or Songwriting with our very own award-winning song crafter Stan Graham. For more information and to book contact Stan on, 01904 758228.

  11. TONY THE TRAPPY LAD. Performance poet and singer Tony Morris is back from his midwinter sojourn in the sun and promoting his new CD, Trappy Lad. This is a collection of songs about the life and work of 19th Century ironstone miners and their families in North East Yorkshire. Curiously, there is no folk song tradition associated with this important group of workers, whose labour (along with that of Durham miners) was key to the development of Teesside’s iron and steel industry.
    Tony discovered his only family tree had roots in that community and he was inspired to research the period and to fill the gap by writing his own songs. Many of them we have heard road-tested in his floor spots at the Black Swan over the last year. No doubt Tony will have copies of the CD with him in weeks to come. You can find out more by contacting him on, 01904 413381. In addition, you can find a very fair review of the album in the latest (Spring) issue of Folk Roundabout magazine.

  12. FOLK GOES INTO ORBIT. As an experiment, I am now stocking a monthly folk music What’s On guide called Folk Orbit. This provides a day by day directory of clubs and sessions in many parts of the country (strongest for the Midlands and North, but spreading all the time), plus monthly guest lists for clubs such as ours. If you are travelling around Britain and want to see what folk activities are going on, it is worth picking up on a Thursday night. The magazine is free, but a small donation is encouraged as we are paying a monthly postage and packing charge.

  13. ROUND-UP. Lastly, three quick snippets:
    • Selected highlights (!!) from this newsletter are now being reprinted in York’s excellent monthly music listings magazine The Talk. Thanks, Dean.
    • Local singer-songwriter Dan Webster asks us all to note that he has a new website at
    • Michael Brothwell’s North Yorkshire Folk show (Radio York, Wednesdays, 7pm) is getting very good listener figures and may soon be expanding to two hours.

E-News 47 should follow in about three weeks’ time and will include the full text of our next club flyer. Meanwhile, keep supporting live acoustic music!