Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 49

Early May 2006

  1. IRISH MUSIC, DANCE & SONG SPECTACULAR. For our final concert of this season at the National Centre for Early Music we have organised something a little special. Damhsa are a Yorkshire-based troupe performing traditional Irish dances and music, with an eight-strong band of players and up to a dozen award-winning dancers from the highly competitive world of Irish folk dancing. Their show (two full sets) is a sequence of choreographed group dances, songs and mouth music, solo dances, tune sets and instrumental solos. Visually and musically this is sure to be one of the most ambitious and exciting events we have held so far at NCEM!
    The musicians in Damhsa (pronounced ’D-how-sa’, one of the Irish words for dance) include Chris Dyson (ex- Gaelforce and many other Celtic bands) on fiddle, Berni Byrne on harp, Jody Moran on banjo, Rachael Hewitt on flute and whistle, Aiden Kilroy on bodhran, Dominic Byrne on accordion and newest recruit Alistair Russell (ex-Battlefield Band) on guitar. Karen Dyson takes lead vocals, with three other members of the band also joining in the singing.
    Damhsa appear at NCEM next Tuesday, 9th May, starting at 7.30pm. To accommodate such a large cast and give everyone in the audience a good view of the dancing, we are hiring in extra staging and limiting ticket numbers to around 140. Tickets are moderately priced at £10 (concessions £8) and there are still plenty available at present - booking as always through the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, Do give this one a try if you possibly can!

  2. UPCOMING AT THE BLACK SWAN. A reminder that we have an extra Singers & Musicians Night on Thursday 11th May, following the cancellation (due to illness) of John McCormick’s planned visit. The following week, 18th May, is the eagerly awaited return of mighty Canadian singer-songwriter James Keelaghan. I have just heard that James will be joined on this tour not only by his regular bass player Hugh McMillan (formerly of Canadian roots band Spirit Of The West), but also by the phenomenal fiddle player Oliver Schroer, whose playing caused many a jaw to drop when he accompanied James on his 2002 visit to York. We are offering advance booking for this one, though there may well be tickets left on the door as well. They are £8 each (concessions £6.50) and can be bought over the bar at the Black Swan, or on preceding Thursday club nights, or from myself.

  3. FOLK DAY APPROACHES. It is just two weeks to go to the fourth City of York Folk Day, held on Saturday 20th May at the Black Swan Inn. I am busy putting together draft running orders for the Marquee and the Club Room and should have something ready any day now. This will go up on the club web site as soon as our web master can manage, and I also hope to do an E-Newsletter Folk Day Special in a week or so’s time. This looks as though it could be the best Folk Day yet - I’ve certainly been inundated with artists offering to perform - so make sure the date is firmly ringed in your diary. There will be music and song from noon until midnight and it is all entirely free, so drop in for ten minutes or ten hours and enjoy.

  4. LOCAL CELIDH BANDS - UPDATE. Jonathan Brockbank gives me a bit more detail about the Bad Bargain Band (E-News 48) - they specialise in northern English dances with a varied line-up including melodeon, fiddle and hammer dulcimer. Jonathan does the calling, and the band can be both seen and heard on They are not, as I stated, directly linked to Acorn Morris.

  5. LOOKING AHEAD - SUMMER & BEYOND. The Folk Club’s programme is now complete for the rest of 2006 and can be viewed on the website. There are even some 2007 dates in the diary already! The Summer months see many excellent local artists rallying to our support after the difficult time we had in Summer 2005. Quality is assured with the likes of Graham Hodge (6 July), Emily Weygang & Ben Harker (10 August) and Two Black Sheep &anp; A Stallion (in Double Bill with Damian Fynes, 20 July). We also have old favourites Bram Taylor (3 August) and Debby McClatchy (31 August), an upcoming young band, The Queensberry Rules (13 July) and highly-rated songwriter George Papavgeris (17 August).
    Autumn club nights include top acts such as Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Mike Silver and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman while our next concert series at NCEM com-prises The Poozies, Dochas (featuring Julie Fowlis), Stefan Grossman, Flook and Rachel Unthank & The Winterset. Go to for the precise dates.

  6. NEWS FROM OTHER CLUBS & VENUES. Here is news of several other local live music venues and events:
    • Harrogate Folk, the monthly Singers & Musicians Club at The Empress, Church Square, has switched to the third Friday of the month, so their next meeting is on 19th May. More information from Edna on 01423 883404.
    • Skipton Folk Club has changed venue and now meets at The Royal Oak on Water Street in Skipton, still weekly on Tuesdays. They have a website at
    • Scholars Notes music nights in Scarborough (see E-News 44) announce that they are to close, with their last session next Wednesday, 10th May, featuring that unique Scottish singer/songwriter Michael Marra.
    • York Young Fiddlers held a very successful half-day workshop in March and now have a Young Fiddlers Weekend planned for 10th & 11th June, again at York Steiner School, with tutors Peter Tickell, Robin Shepherd and Maggie Allred. Find out more at or ring Tatjana Neupert on 07906 331613.
    • Pillowfish (Helen Bell & Tom Drinkwater, as featured on Radio York earlier this week) host their fourth Pillowfish Club Contemporary Folk Night at the Black Swan Inn on Saturday 13th May, with special guest Richard Grainger. It’s an 8pm start, entry £4. Find out more at

  7. GO SINGING IN FRANCE. Local acapella quartet Soundsphere host a singing workshop week in France next month and tell me that there are still some places available. It is June 11th-17th at La Jeusseliniere on the Brittany / Normandy border, the home of Martyn and Danni Wyndham-Read. Spend a relaxed, informal yet constructive and inspiring week with like-minded people, improving your singing technique and enjoying excellent food, drink and company. For details of prices etc, contact or ring Paula Ryan on York 345458; for more general information about La Jeuss see Other weeks this summer are hosted by our own Stan Graham and such luminaries as Harvey Andrews, Mike Silver and Kevin Dempsey & Joe Broughton.

That’s enough for now! You can expect E-News 50 (!) in little more than a week or so with full Folk Day line-ups and other stuff I did not have room for here.