Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 61

Mid January 2007

Happy New Year to you all. We’ve had two great club nights to start the year, courtesy of Steve Tilston and Grace Notes. Long may it continue! As is customary, I begin this newsletter with details of forthcoming club functions, before a longer than usual list of other noteworthy events in the area.

  1. DAMIEN BARBER & MIKE WILSON. Our next club guests on Thursday 25th January are doing their first proper tour as a duo, though they have been singing together informally at festivals and gatherings for the last 15 years. Damien Barber has visited York several times as a soloist, though these days he mostly sings with his electric band The Demon Barbers, as well as dancing with Black Swan Rapper, of which he was a founder member. Raised in Norfolk and heavily influenced by such earlier Norfolk singers as Walter Pardon and Peter Bellamy, Damien is a stylish and distinctive singer, either unaccompanied or using guitar, melodeon or concertina. Though he has lived for a long time in West Yorkshire he retains a strong East Anglian identity.
    Mike Wilson is a younger member of the Wilson Family, the powerful Teesside singing siblings who have raised the rafters at many a festival or folk club event, including the Black Swan on a few occasions. His musical heritage is emphatically that of the North East – rural and industrial folk song both traditional and modern.
    Damien and Mike have a rich shared repertoire of traditional songs plus the work of modern folk writers such as Bellamy, Ewan MacColl and Mike Waterson. Two great voices and many great songs – it should be a splendid evening. It’s a £7/£6 pay-on-the-door event, with John Cherry as MC and floor spots including Gilmore & Roberts (from Leeds) and Geoff Watson.

  2. SINGING OUT & PLAYING UP. This is what Pete Coe (1 February) is happy to have been doing professionally for the last 35 years. Here is an extended quote from Colin Irwin of MOJO magazine: “Singer, songwriter, melodeon, banjo, dulcimer and bouzouki player, bandleader, arranger, broadcaster, dance caller, teacher, step dancer, entrepreneur, folk club organiser, record label boss, sallow-faced wit, raconteur and all-round good guy, Pete Coe in many ways represents the backbone of the modern folk revival. He’s still one of the most committed, most versatile, most important folk artists in Britain”. Enough said! This one is £6/£5 on the door, with Eddie Affleck in charge and floor acts including Chris Euesden and Stan Graham.

  3. NCEM CONCERT BOOKING NOW OPEN. The National Centre for Early Music website has been updated with the full spring programme and it is now possible to book online or via the Box Office (01904 658338, Monday-Friday office hours) for any of our forthcoming folk concerts. I also have tickets available on Thursday evenings and it does help us out financially if you are able to buy direct from the club. To remind you, our concert promotions are 422 plus Fribo (14 February – see below), Spiers & Boden (13 March), Last Night’s Fun (23 April) and Van Eyken (2 May). Blazin’ Fiddles are coming up as well (4 March) but as that one is being promoted by NCEM, tickets are only available from them.

  4. MUSIC FROM BRITAIN, SCANDINAVIA & BEYOND. For the third year running we have agreed to put on an NCEM concert for the Jorvik Viking Festival (after Robin Williamson in 2005 and Swåp last year). This time we have opted for a Double Bill event with a Scottish/Norwegian trio Fribo and a young band from the north of England with a Scandinavian strand to its repertoire, 422. The date is Wednesday 14 February and it promises to be something rather special, so do give it your support. Tickets are on sale now at £12 (concessions £10). Here is some information about 422; I’ll profile Fribo in the next e-news in early February.
    422 is a five-piece band comprising accordion ace Sam Pirt, sisters Emily and Sophy Ball on fiddles and viola, guitarist Ian Stephenson and oboe/whistle player Joey Oliver. They have all been making music together since childhood and formed part of the larger teenage folk ensemble The Pack (along with our own Michael Jary), as heard at Whitby Folk Week and many other festivals a few years ago. 422 won the Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 1999, only a few months after forming. Since then they have toured widely in Britain and overseas, including prestigious festivals at Falun in Sweden and Tønder in Denmark and have released 3 CDs so far. They are a versatile bunch and other projects include membership of Kathryn Tickell’s current band (Ian) and running the Ethno England folk camps (Sam).
    422 are an instrumental band playing tunes from across the British Isles, North America and Scandinavia. All virtuoso musicians, together they combine energetic, driving playing with subtle and complex arrangements. “The playing is really good, ... tight, elaborate, imaginative and professional without being forced or self-conscious” wrote one reviewer (Stirrings), “one listens slack-jawed to the sheer quality ... but the quintet grab your heart as well as your head” said another (Tykes’ News). “A force to be reckoned with” added The Living Tradition.
    Hopefully, 422 will be stressing the Scandinavian parts of their repertoire for this special Viking Festival event, and I’ll be asking Sam Pirt to bring along one of his other unusual instruments, the Swedish nykelharpa or keyed fiddle.

  5. CLUB ETIQUETTE. Following some recent comments, it seems appropriate to say something about etiquette at club meetings. This is not something we want to be heavy or dogmatic about, but we do operate on the assumption that having paid your admission money, you, the audience, want to listen to and enjoy the music. Therefore we ask that people refrain from talking at all during songs and keep chat during introductions and links as brief and quiet as possible.
    We also ask that people wait until the end of a song to enter or leave the room if the door is closed, as comings and goings mid song can be distracting for both singer and listeners. On nights when the door is open, because it is very warm or because the guest is using PA, a certain amount of movement around and through the doorway is OK, but not long treks up or down a row of seats past other people.
    People outside on the landing during a song are asked to keep any conversation low. Even when the door is closed, “normal” voices can carry well into the room. Likewise, smoke and smoking odours can travel, so while we wait for the total smoking ban in July could smokers please not use the landing for lighting up.
    If you want to take photographs, please ask the performer for consent beforehand, refrain from using lots of flash, and never obstruct other audience members to get in a good shot. Audio recording is completely ruled out without the express written permission of the performer. Lastly, there is the usual request to switch off all mobile phones during the performance!

  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY NIC. Much loved York resident Nic Jones was 60 last week and found himself at a surprise party organised by his wife and daughter in the atmospheric setting of the Kirkgate Victorian street at the Castle Museum. As well as family and local friends many old acquaintances from the folk world were there and a splendid time was had by all. Special thanks go to the musicians. Robin Garside and Paul Gough played jazz guitar, followed by Duncan MacFarlane with Steve Fairholme and Anne Brivonese, joined for some of Nic’s favourite rock and pop songs by Phil Beer on electric guitar. It has been a pleasure and a privilege having Nic amongst us these last 20 years and we wish him many happy returns.

  7. AND THE REST... To end with, here is a chronological run down of some other events which ought to be of interest to at least some of you out there:
    • There’s an Oxfam Bash at the Winning Post in York this Saturday, 20th, from 8pm, with sets by Los Yobos, The Basement Band (aka Blonde on Bob, but playing more than just Dylan covers) and Tom Euesden. Minimum donation £5 to Oxfam on the door; enquiries 01904 610899. Fun in a good cause!
    • Highly rated American roots band Crooked Still are at the National Centre for Early Music on Wednesday 24th January. “Rock energy coexists with old-time mountain soul, spooky backwoods melodies combine with hip hard-hitting beats” it says here, all performed acoustically! Book through NCEM Box Office.
    • Check out much-talked-about new young folk singer James Raynard at the Foresters Arms, Beckside North in Beverley on Monday 29th January. Entry is £6, contact number for more information is 01482 823743.
    • The Burn, otherwise the Kirkburn Acoustic Night, has its first meeting of 2007 on Saturday 3rd February at the Village Hall in Kirkburn near Driffield. This friendly “open mic” event kicks off at 7.30. Find out more on 01377 229048.
    • Also on 3rd February there’s an all day event entitled Yorkshire’s Folk Heritage at the Glusburn Institute, near Skipton, organised by Yorkshire Dales Workshops. “Yorkshire has a wealth of traditional dances, a large inheritance of music and songs and a treasure trove of myths and legends. This will be day of celebration and discovery through workshops, sessions, performances and dances.” Find out more at, 01535 631166.
    • Saltaire Live resume at the Victoria Hall in Saltaire on Sunday 4th February with the mighty Irish instrumental band Lunasa, plus by award-winning youngsters Kerfuffle. Tickets are £12.50 from Jumbo Records in Leeds and local outlets, online at or ring Simon on 01274 588614.
    • The delightful Edwina Hayes launches the new season at the Processed Pea music club on Tuesday 6th February. Venue is The Light Dragoon at Etton, near Beverley, tickets cost £8 and the contact number is 01430 810669.
    • Storyteller, singer and harp player Nick Hennessey (as enjoyed at our club last spring), presents “Moss and Stones, Skin and Bones” at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on Friday 9th February as one of a series of adult storytelling events. Advance booking is advised on 0113 213 7700; tickets cost just £6 or £4.50.
    • Local favourite Ruby Paul (aka Jane Edwards to us old hands) returns to City Screen Basement Bar in York on Friday 9th February for another evening of her own songs and selected covers. Ruby recently reached the finals of the 2006 UK Songwriting Competition – not bad with several thousand entrants! Tickets £3.50 / £2.50 advance from the City Screen Box Office 08707 583219.

I’ll be back early next month with the text of our next publicity flyer and other stuff.