Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 48

Easter 2006

  1. OLD DOGS TEACH NEW TRICKS. Our next concert special is fast approaching and I for one am getting excited by the prospect of seeing Old Blind Dogs in action in York for the first time. In Jim Malcolm they have one of the best male singers in Scotland and the band as a whole has an incredibly tight yet innovative approach to Celtic folk music. All the more curious, therefore, that ticket sales have been a touch sluggish so far. Can I persuade you to give them a listen?
    The members of Old Blind Dogs are:
    • Jim Malcolm (lead vocals, guitar and harmonica). Jim's singing has been praised as having the "complex individuality of an aged single-malt whisky", and he is also an accomplished songwriter and a bluesy harmonica player.
    • Jonny Hardie (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, backing vocals). Jonny was a founder member of the band back in 1990 and his distinctive fiddle playing, sweet and gritty by turns, is at the heart of the Dogs' sound.
    • Rory Campbell (whistle, border pipes, backing vocals). A former member of Deaf Shepherd, Rory is one of Scotland's finest young pipers and composes many of the band's exciting original tunes
    • Fraser Stone (percussion). Youngest member Fraser has been playing drums since age 6 and brings a taste of global rhythms with his djembe and conga.
    • Aaron Jones (bouzouki, guitar, bass, vocals). English-born and newest member of the band, Aaron was in the Belfast band Craobh Rua and a popular duo with Claire Mann, and is a sought-after session player.

    Old Blind Dogs have recently released their ninth CD - the fourth with top North American label Green Linnet - and they were voted Folk Band of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards for 2004. Check them out at, and then do yourselves a musical favour and join them at the National Centre for Early Music on Wednesday 26th April. Tickets can be bought from me or at the NCEM Box Office, 01904 658338,, priced at £12 full / £10 usual concessions. Keeping up the Scottish theme Eddie Affleck will be acting as MC and doing the half hour support spot

  2. UPCOMING AT THE BLACK SWAN. Unsurprisingly, our Tuesday Special (18 April) with Andy Irvine is now Sold Out, but we'll be at the Black Swan again on Thursday 20 April for a pay-on-the-door gig with the wonderful roots band The Durbervilles. Their music is a delightful hybrid of country, folk, rock and blues, with a line-up including guitars, banjo, accordion, bass and drums and a mix of strong originals and choice covers. Foot-tapping energy, boisterous sounds and good humour and all for £5 (£4 concessions). Stan Graham MCs that one.
    April 27 is our Singers & Musicians Night for the month, then May 4 brings old favourites Pauline Cato & Tom McConville back to York for an evening of tunes on Northumbrian pipes and fiddle, interspersed with Tom's distinctive singing and his delightful line in stage banter. For this one Chris Euesden will be compere.
    Sadly, the US guest booked for May 11, John McCormick, has had to cancel his tour due to ill health. In his place we have decided to have an additional Singers & Musicians Night, so all you singers, players and poets out there please take note. Remember also that we have our Irish music and dance show Damhsa earlier that week (Tuesday 9 May) at the National Centre for Early Music.
    Lastly don't forget that advance booking is now open for James Keelaghan and his musicians when they revisit us on May 18 - £8 (£6.50) at preceding club functions or over the bar at the Black Swan. Phil Cerny, back in York for the summer, will be hosting James's night.

  3. WEBSITE UPDATE. Web master Michael Jary continues to do wonderful things with His latest addition is an Archive section where you can browse through past club guest lists from July 2002 onwards. I have paper records for club activities back to 1979 and - who knows - we might get them all up there one day. They'd certainly make interesting reading! Michael has also revised the Links page, making it easier both to browse and to submit your own link, and any day now the diary section should have the complete future guest list for the rest of 2006, which I have just finished booking. More about that in the next E-News!

  4. LOCAL CELIDH BANDS. One of the most frequent enquiries I receive is for information about local barn dance and ceilidh bands, so here is my "cut out and keep" guide to the local scene:
    • Hot Not Bothered is York's longest established (and largest) band, with a very full, electric sound. They have drums and bass as well as fiddles, guitars and mandolins, with Susie Mackenzie as caller. Contact through Mike Tavener on 01904 798738,
    • The Bad Bargain Band has a much more traditional and acoustic sound and is an offshoot of the musicians who play for Ebor and Acorn morris dancers. The name is nothing to do with their value-for-money, but comes from Bad Bargain Lane in York, where they have their rehearsal hall! Contact through Jonathan Brockbank on 01904 659600,
    • Pugwash Convention is the latest band put together by Steve and Ruth Thompson, mainstays of the extremely lively Friday night Tap & Spile session. They are joined by James Lavin on fiddle and Paul Davies on keyboard, with Ruth calling. Contact her on 01904 639565,, or look at
    • Fiddlers Wreck is a young 4-piece outfit, including sisters Nicky and Marie Ward on fiddle and accordion respectively, plus Marie's fianci, our very own Michael Jary, doing the calling and working his usual magic on concertina. They have a website at, and can be contacted on 07866 514759,
    • Niblik is another young ceilidh band in which Michael Jary (him again - where does he get the energy?) joins forces with Matt Nelson on saxophone, Helen Bell on electric piano and fiddle and Andy Gibb on bass guitar. Matt, Helen & Andy also perform as a concert version of the same band. Contact Matt on 07779 302488, or look at
    • Byland Rigg is a five-piece based a little outside York; they concentrate on traditional Northumbrian and Yorkshire dance music, with wind instruments (clarinet, whistle, bassoon, etc) prominent alongside mandolin and keyboard. Contact their caller, Linda Hencher, on 01347 868703,

    I hope I've got all the details right. Do please send me any additions or corrections to this list for future E-Newsletters.

  5. CALLING WASS 422. This is an opportune point at which to mention that BBC Young Folk Award-winning band 422, including Sam Pirt, are appearing in concert at the Village Hall in Wass, near Ampleforth, on Tuesday 16th May at 7.30pm. This is a Rural Arts North Yorkshire event, with tickets £6, available from Linda Hencher of the aforementioned Byland Rigg - contact details as above.

  6. NORTH YORKSHIRE FOLK. Michael Brothwell's Radio York programme North Yorkshire Folk continues to impress. Two weeks ago he did a 'special' on the recent Auden & Folk concert, with a recording of Martin Carthy's masterful performance intercut by perceptive interviews with Martin, academic Vic Gammon and Auden Society organiser Hugh Bernays. It made for stimulating listening and I hope it is repeated at some point. Indeed I would urge the station bosses at Radio York to offer it to national radio - it would not have been out of place on Radio2 (or 3 or 4, for that matter). Well done, Michael.
    Last week Michael's show was doubled in length and now goes out 7pm-9pm each Wednesday. Unfortunately the second hour clashes with Mike Harding on Radio 2, but I'm sure most people have the technology to cope with that (though a glitch on the Listen Again service meant that only Michael's first hour was available on the internet: hopefully that will soon be corrected).

  7. BOB DYLAN'S BUS PASS. Wednesday 24 May will be Bob Dylan's 65th birthday, and to celebrate this landmark event Chris Euesden is organising a charity gig at the City Screen Basement Bar in York, under the excellent title of Bob's Bus Pass. It is unlikely Mr Zimmerman can attend in person to collect his OAP bus permit, but standing in for him will be Chris's Dylan tribute band Blonde on Bob, plus special guests including Rory Motion and ex-Whiskey Priests Glenn & Gary Miller. It will be a whole evening of Dylan fandom, so put it in your diaries now. Tickets £5 from City Screen Box Office (08707 583219), with all proceeds donated to Oxfam.

  8. YORK SONGWRITERS CLUB. Bob Dylan's example has probably inspired more would-be songwriters than any other during the last 45 years, so this is a suitable point to mention moves to set up a monthly songwriting club in York. The success of Stan Graham's recent songwriting workshop event coincided with an approach by the BBC Radio 2 "Sold on Song" initiative. Last year they helped set up four pilot clubs in different cities and now they are hoping to expand nationwide.
    I was approached to see if the Folk Club would be interested in participating and I referred them on to Stan. In turn he discussed it at his workshop weekend and the idea emerged of a monthly get-together where writers can meet to share ideas, get feedback and find potential collaborators. The first gathering is provisionally fixed for the last Monday in May at the Black Swan Inn. I'll have more news in the next E-News; meanwhile if you are interested in registering your support contact Stan on, 01904 758228. For information about the wider Sold on Song project, go to

Oh dear - another three page epic in the printed version! I really must learn to curb my enthusiasm. You can expect (a possibly shorter) number 49 early in May.