Early September 2006
Hello again. There is lots of new stuff to report, but first are a couple of reminders:
- FOLK DAY 2007 OPEN MEETING. All interested parties are welcome at an open discussion meeting to thrash out City of York Folk Day 2007. Should we have one? On the same weekend? How could we improve on this year’s event? Are there any new things we could do? Come along to the Oak Room at the Black Swan Inn next Tuesday, 12 September, from around 8pm and have your say.
- COUNTDOWN TO THE POOZIES. Twelve days and counting to go to the first of our autumn concert series. Over the last five years our shows at the National Centre for Early Music have become an integral part of club life. They are almost always enjoyable and rewarding events, but the effort involved (not to mention the financial risk) is considerable, and "organiser’s nerves" invariably strike me at this stage in proceedings. Which is a roundabout way of urging you to book "early and often" for whichever artists take your fancy.
Our first guests should certainly tickle that fancy! The Poozies are one of the best all-women bands in the business, with a powerful combination of instrumental virtuosity, vocal prowess and on-stage charm. The band began in the early 1990s, when Scottish harp duo Sileas, alias Patsy Seddon and Mary MacMaster, joined forces with fast-rising English musician Karen Tweed and award-winning singer/ songwriter Sally Barker. The groundbreaking fusion of Scottish and English folk influences with Sally’s acoustic rock style made a big impact.
When Sally Barker stepped aside to start a family her place was filled by the up-and-coming Kate Rusby, who moved the band in a more lyrical and traditional direction. Solo fame eventually claimed Kate and she was duly replaced by Gaelic musician Eilidh Shaw, taking the Poozies deeper into Celtic sounds. It was this line up that did a very successful York concert in 2003. Now the wheel comes full circle. Eilidh is on (temporary) maternity leave and Sally Barker returns to the fold.
The Poozies have always been masters of arrangement. Whether playing modern tunes, old ballads or self-penned songs, they produce amazing soundscapes with combinations of metal and nylon strung clarsachs (harps), electro-harp, accordion, fiddle and guitar. The close vocal harmonies can be spine-tingling, while the re-introduction of Sally’s rock-inflected lead voice will add new dimensions.
The Poozies are in concert at NCEM on Wednesday 20 September. Tickets priced at £13 (£11 concessions) are on sale now from the Box Office on 01904 658338, or via the secure on-line facility at www.ncem.co.uk, or on the door.
- SONGWRITING & SINGING NEWS. The York Songwriters Circle continues to meet on the first Sunday of each month at the Black Swan Inn, with the next one due on 1 October. More details from John Pritchard, email@example.com.
Meanwhile songwriting teacher Stan Graham and singing tutors Soundsphere are organising a repeat of their successful joint Workshop Weekend at York Steiner School. I’m promised more details soon; meanwhile you can contact Stan on firstname.lastname@example.org. The dates in question are 11 & 12 November.
- HATS OFF TO THE TOPIC. Our heartiest congratulations go to the Topic Folk Club in Bradford, celebrating its 50th Anniversary this autumn and proudly boasting to be the "oldest folk club in the world". As a Thursday night club, like the Black Swan, it is perhaps a case of "never the twain shall meet", but for the record they convene every week at the Cock & Bottle on Barkerend Road in Bradford city centre, with an anniversary season line-up which includes Vin Garbutt, Eddie Walker, Allan Taylor, Julie Felix, Wizz Jones (who first played the Topic in 1958!) and many more. Find out full details at www.topic-folk-club.org.uk.
- YORK SESSION NEWS. From time to time I am asked about other folk related gatherings in York. The two weekly musicians’ sessions are on Tuesdays at The Maltings on Tanners Moat, and on Sundays at The Golden Ball on Cromwell Road in the Bishophill district. The former is a particularly lively night with lots of players, both young and not-so-young. A good contact for both sessions is Ken Meadows: email@example.com.
The celebrated Friday night gathering at The Tap & Spile on Monkgate is a mixed music and song session which works very well, if sometimes noisily. Two of its principal participants are Steve & Ruth Thompson, who also run a more specifically Irish session on the last Thursday of each month at The Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane. You can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the Wednesday night bar session resumed this week at The Yorkshire Hussar on North Street, after several weeks in temporary exile while the pub (formerly the First Hussar) was being refurbished. This is a song-based open house event run "Singers Night" style, with a wide-ranging clientele which includes a lot of students in term time. Contact man is Chris Barnes, email@example.com.
- SATURDAY NIGHTS AT THE BLACK SWAN. As well as the above folk sessions there are plenty of one-off acoustic/folky/rootsy gigs in York, at venues like City Screen Basement Bar. Likewise, the Black Swan Inn has some good stuff on a Saturday, though these are NOT run by the Folk Club. Old-style country trio The Crocker Bros (www.thecrockerbrothers.com) are there on Saturday 23 September (£5 on the door), followed on 30 September by Miles Cain (www.milescain.com) with fellow songwriters Alex Wilmott and Oliver J. Brooke (£4 on the door).
To see the full range of what is happening musically around York, pick up a copy of the excellent monthly free magazine The Talk, with listings, reviews, previews, etc. Incidentally, the September issue includes a brief interview with our club guest next week (14 September), the delectable Edwina Hayes.
- UP THE JUNCTION WITH LOS YOBOS. The Junction on Leeman Road in York is mostly a rock music pub but has a tasty roots Double Bill coming up with Country & Western Swing heroes Los Yobos, plus recently reformed women’s vocal group No Sleep Til Bedtime (as seen at this year’s Folk Day). The date is Friday 22 September and tickets are £5 in advance from Ark Records in Gillygate, or £6 on the door. Los Yobos also have an outing to Suddaby’s in Malton on Saturday 30 September, at "the popular Yorkshire price of free" as they put it!
- LAST MINUTE EXTRA - CALLING ANY BUDDING MORRIS DANCERS. I’ve just had a message asking to me to let you know that Minster Strays mixed Morris side are holding a couple of open beginners’ nights this month and would welcome anyone interested in giving Morris Dancing a try. The dates are Monday 11 and 18 September, at their practice hall next to the pub in Thornton-le-Clay, a few miles north of York. Sessions run from 8pm to 10pm (doubtless adjourning to the aforesaid pub afterwards!). Lifts can be arranged if required. For more information see their website www.minsterstrays.org.uk or contact Gez or Juliette Pegram on 01904 415443, firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s all for now, but there’s still lots in the "pending" tray, so I’ll be back soon.