Late January 2007
Welcome to another bulletin of Black Swan news and other local folk happenings.
- NEW CLUB LEAFLET PUBLISHED. Our new club publicity flyer has just been published. I have decided to change the flyer’s format and it is now a 4 page folded A5 leaflet, rather than a single A5 sheet. This enables me to cover many more events, about five months’ worth of them. The front cover has a summary diary, plus details of the Folk Day on 19th May. The centre spread gives write-ups for all club guest artists between 8th February and 12th July, while the back cover has NCEM concert blurbs and more about Singers & Musicians Nights.
Feedback on this new format would be greatly appreciated. Hopefully you will find it easier and more convenient to use. It is significantly more expensive to print, and bulk mailings will cost more in postage, but on the other hand we will need only 2 or 3 issues a year, as opposed to 5 or 6 in the old format, so overall costs should be much the same.
- CLUB NIGHT TICKETING ARRANGEMENTS. Most Thursday night club events remain pay-on-the-door functions, but when you scan the new leaflet you will see that I propose to offer advance booking for Allan Taylor and Katy Moffatt in May and for Harvey Andrews and Bob Fox in June. I am currently investigating the options for some kind of on-line booking facility, hence the leaflet wording “ring or e-mail for details”. Once a decision has been reached, I’ll give you all plenty of notice in this newsletter. I would not envisage tickets for any of these events going on sale until March at the earliest, so don’t worry about missing out.
- BBC SONGWRITER NIGHT. Next week’s club event, Thursday 8th February will be something rather different and special, a showcase night for the winners and runners-up in last summer’s “Songwriter of the Year” competition organised by Michael Brothwell at BBC Radio York. “Song for Yorkshire” winner David Swann and overall winner Anna Shannon will share the second half of the night, while the five runners-up will each do two or three songs during the first half. They are (in alphabetical order), Helen Bell (performing with her musical partner Tom Drinkwater as Pillowfish), Suzy Bradley, Paul Culkin, Graham Hodge and John Pritchard (appearing with his singing partner Linda Leeming as Belle Union). Song contest judge and Black Swan resident Stan Graham will be acting as Master of Ceremonies and it promises to be a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting night.
- MUSIC FROM BRITAIN, SCANDINAVIA & BEYOND (2). As promised last time, here is some information about Fribo, the young Scots/Norwegian trio who share the billing with 422 at our Jorvik Viking Festival concert on Wednesday 14th February at NCEM. You’ve probably never heard of Fribo, and neither had I nine months ago when they sent me a preview copy of their first CD. It proved to contain some utterly, entrancingly beautiful music and I am not surprised to see that major folk label Fellside has taken up the album, releasing it just last week under the title The Ha’ O’ Habrahellia. I’m sure you’ll be queuing up to buy copies once you’ve seen them in action! So who are Fribo and what do they play?
Anne Sofie Linge Valdal is a young Norwegian with a delightfully pure singing voice. She comes from a strongly traditional musical background on the west coast of Norway and since settling in Scotland has appeared at Celtic Connections and other events, and on Scottish Television.
Sarah-Jane Summers plays fiddle in a rich Highland style and provides backing vocals. She has worked with bands such as The Grand Union Orchestra and The Unusual Suspects and is also much in demand for her teaching and workshop skills.
Ewan MacPherson drives the music along with inventively sympathetic guitar and mandola playing and takes lead vocals on the English language songs. He is also a current member of top Scottish band Malinky and has worked with artists such as Emily Smith and Claire Mann and bands including Croft No 5, Dàimh and Bùrach.
The three members of Fribo blend their musical styles together in an innovative and sensitive way on a rich repertoire of Norwegian and British folk songs plus a few instrumental numbers. After first getting together around an Edinburgh kitchen table in 2003 they have gone on to perform across Scotland, from Orkney to Skye to Glasgow, and at big Scandinavian festivals such as Telemark (Norway) and Nordlys (Denmark). The recording of their debut CD was funded by a Creative Development Award from the Scottish Arts Council, and their York performance acts as an English “taster” before their first full scale concert tour in March/April.
“Fribo make innovative and modern music yet stay close to their roots” Heartland FM
“One of the most adventurous sets of the festival” Orkney Today
“One of the discoveries of the year” New Folk Sounds, The Netherlands
“(Fribo) combine the Scandinavian and Scottish traditions with an exuberant feel for contemporary sounds and rhythms” The Tolbooth, Stirling
What more can I say to tempt you along? So far, I have to admit, advance sales for this concert have been poor. We need well over a hundred people to break even, but we are nowhere near that figure yet. Come on, do yourselves a favour and save the club from a major financial embarrassment! Tickets are on sale now at £12 (concessions £10), from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, online at www.ncem.co.uk, or from myself on Thursday evenings.
- TALKING OF CLUB FUNDS... January 31st marks the end of the folk club’s unusual financial year. I still have a few loose ends to tidy up, but we have certainly broken even over the last twelve months, and may even have made a small surplus of around £125. This is just 0.5% of a total annual income of nearly £23,000 - which shows you the financial knife-edge upon which we operate! I should have a full report in the next e-newsletter.
- FOLK AT THE REINDEER. Word reaches me of plans to start up two new folk nights at The Reindeer public house on Penley’s Grove Street in the Groves district of York. Landlady Lorna Wilkinson tells me she is very keen on folk traditions, playing piano accordion, bagpipes and recorders herself and doing a bit of clog dancing and highland dancing. A weekly music session was due to start last Monday (29th January), hosted by popular local band Pugwash Convention (alias Ruth & Steve Thompson et al), and a singaround session was timetabled for Saturday evenings beginning a couple of weeks ago. I gather that some of the York University folk gang may be involved in that one.
Saturdays and Mondays are the two nights of the week in York currently without a regular folk activity so the Reindeer initiative is to be welcomed and I certainly hope that both sessions take off and become firm fixtures on the local scene. To find out more, contact Lorna on 01904 633521, firstname.lastname@example.org, or turn up either evening from around 8.30pm.
- AND THE REST... To end with, here is another chronological run down of other events which ought to be of interest to at least some of you out there:
- Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies have a relatively local gig on Saturday 3rd February at the The Gate, Goole’s enterprising Arts Theatre on Dunhill Road. Tickets a real bargain at £7/£5 on the door (8pm start) or in advance on 01405 763652. Find out more at www.thegategoole.com.
- Meanwhile in York on Saturday 3rd February, Soundsphere work their vocal magic in concert at the Black Swan Inn. “Four astounding voices spiced with fiery percussion” it says here, “a unique sound experience”, and I can but agree wholeheartedly. Our own Geoff Watson does the support spot and it is an 8pm start, £6/£4 on the door. Find out more at www.soundsphere.co.uk.
- Well known Irish banjo player Éamonn Coyne and fearsomely talented Orkney singer and guitarist Kris Drever have just collaborated to record a CD. This is launched on Wednesday 7th February at the Leeds Irish Centre, in an evening organised by the Irish Arts Foundation which also includes an Irish poetry reading and some Irish dancing. Tickets are £7 on 0113 224 3801. Find out more at www.irisharts.org.uk.
- Wonderful Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis (as enjoyed last autumn at NCEM with Dòchas) and leading Irish singer Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh (of Danú fame) are touring together under the Nu Routes scheme and appear at Pocklington Arts Centre on Friday 9th February at 8pm. As an added bonus, support comes from Pillowfish (Helen Bell & Tom Drinkwater), the day after their spot at the Black Swan’s Radio York Songwriter night. Pocklington tickets are £12/£10 on 01759 301547. Find out more at www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
- A reminder that local favourite Ruby Paul returns to City Screen Basement Bar in York on Friday 9th February, for another evening of her own songs and selected covers. Ruby was a highly-rated entry in the Radio York song contest, though she narrowly missed the final shortlist. By contrast, she reached the finals of the 2006 UK Songwriting Competition ahead of several thousand other entrants! Tickets £3.50 / £2.50 from the City Screen Box Office 08707 583219.
- Los Yobos have upcoming gigs at The Junction on Leeman Road, York (Friday 16th February, with opener Miles Cain) and at Stockton on Forest Village Hall on Friday 23 February. This latter one is a fundraiser for St Leonard’s Hospice and also appearing are The Crocker Brothers, Graham Hodge and Hot Not Bothered. It sounds like fun! Find out more on 01904 421582.
There’s always a lot happening, so I’ll be back within a few weeks.