Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 68

Folk Day Special 2007

It is now just over a week to the fifth annual City of York Folk Day, taking place on Saturday 19th May from noon until midnight at the Black Swan Inn.

  1. THE FOLK DAY STORY. It hardly seems like five years since I first had the idea for an all-embracing folk event in York! The city has a flourishing folk culture, but one that normally exists in several separate dimensions, of which our formal folk club at the Black Swan is only one. I envisaged something that drew together as many strands as possible – the musicians who frequent pubs like the Maltings and the Golden Ball, the singers and players who gather at the Yorkshire Hussar or the Tap & Spile, the acoustic songwriters and bands who stage their own gigs from time to time, and the various teams of local folk dancers. So far we seem to have been fairly successful in this aim, and although the Black Swan Inn is perforce the obvious choice for a venue, I always stress that this is much more than a mere Black Swan Folk Club event. So what do we have lined up this year?

  2. FOLK DAY (1) – DO IT YOURSELF. For many of you, the most important bits of Folk Day are the opportunities to sing or play music with like-minded fellows. The all-day Musicians Session is always well supported - this year it will again be in the larger of the two front bars, the Bowes Room. For chorus singers we have an afternoon Singaround, “mainly acapella” in the other front bar, the Oak Room, followed by an informal all-comers evening Singaround cum Jam Session upstairs in the Wolfe Room. As in previous years, the Rolling Folk Club offers stand-at-the-front floor spots (akin to a club singers night), this year until 7.30pm in the Wolfe Room. Finally we recognise the importance of poets and storytellers to the local scene with a tea-time Poems and Pints session in the Oak Room.

  3. FOLK DAY (2) – NAMED PERFORMERS. The Marquee Stage is the focal point for our best local performers – soloists, duos and bands. As explained in E-News 67, there has been huge demand this year and we have had to limit spots pretty strictly to York-based artists. For some of the other performers we have therefore organised a small Acoustic Concert during the evening in the Oak Room. The line-up for this event is still being confirmed. The full draft programme for Folk Day is available on the Folk Day webpages. The final version should go on the website a day or two beforehand and there will of course be flyers and notices on the day.

    • Timings: The Musicians Session always manages to kick off at the stroke of noon. The Marquee concert has to start promptly at 1.00pm and it would be nice for the first band on stage if there was already a good audience present by then. We’ll try to get the Rolling Folk Club and Singaround under way around the same time. After that it is pretty much non-stop until the curfew at midnight prompt. The latter is a condition of the pub’s licence and will be strictly enforced!
    • Food & Drink: There will once again be barbecue food on offer through the afternoon, including vegetarian options. The bars are open from noon until midnight and this year there will be a secondary bottle bar in the Marquee. Please help the bar staff by returning empty glasses to the main bar.
    • Smoking: We are only six weeks away from the national ban on indoor pub smoking and so we have decided to bite the bullet and make all performance venues smoke free. Nor would we like to see people smoking on the stairs, in the passageways or around the food area. Could smokers please limit their activities to the back bar of the pub (which will be a music-free room) or to the car park?
    • Parking & Access: Parking at the venue will be limited, with priority given to those delivering PA or other equipment. If you are coming from out of town by car, why not use one of the Park & Ride services? Bear in mind also that numerous local buses plus the Coastliner regional service pass through Peasholme Green.
    • Gazebo(s) Needed: Can anyone out there loan us one or two gazebos for the day – to go up on the hard surface beyond the landlord’s garage and provide extra shelter in case of inclement (or overheated!) weather? Not essential, but something we thought worth trying out. Please contact me if you can help.
    • Music Weekend at the Swan: Finally, for those of broad musical tastes, there is also live music in the Marquee on Friday evening and on Sunday, organised by our outgoing landlady Shelly Jenkin as her “Spring Fling”. I can’t say I recognise any of the young bands mentioned in the line-ups so if you want to find out more see the advert in the May edition of The Talk or contact the pub on York 679131.

And now back to strictly Folk Club business:

  1. HARVEY ANDREWS SELLS OUT. Tickets are all sold for Harvey’s visit to the club on 7th June. If any ticket holders find they are no longer able to come, please let me know at once as I am bound to have a waiting list for any returns.

  2. AMERICANA NIGHT WITH KATY MOFFATT. I’m particularly looking forward to American country/roots singer Katy Moffatt on 24th May, having seen her perform years ago at one of the great gigs which Chris Euesden used to run at The Winning Post. Katy has been a professional musician for over twenty years, writing many fine songs (sometimes in collaboration with Tom Russell) and releasing some classic albums. She occupies that musical space which isn’t quite straight country or rock or contemporary folk for which the term “Americana” was coined. Her songs “provide stirring, poignant and incisive glimpses into the lives of the long-suffering everyman and woman” according to one US reviewer, who likened her writing to Springsteen “except with a dusty Southwest spirit”.
    Tickets are available in advance for this one, priced at £7/£6 – from the NCEM Box Office (01904 658338) or from myself (contact details below), though there will probably be some left for sale on the door as well. Chris acts as MC and we are promised floor spots by Stan Graham, David Swann and Susie & Jack.

  3. ISAMBARDE MAKE A NAME FOR THEMSELVES. We have followed the burgeoning career of young folk threesome Isambarde (31st May) with interest. One of their number is of course former York St John student and Black Swan regular Emily Sanders, on fiddle and (as I heard for myself last summer) increasingly assured vocals. She is joined by oboe player Jude Rees and guitarist, bouzouki player and singer Chris Green on a well-chosen selection of trad. and modern folk songs, performed with humour, enthusiasm, skill and youthful vigour.
    Isambarde have played a lot of gigs in the last couple of years and always get a great response. One reviewer wrote “there’s often one act at a festival that does it for me and at this Chester Folk Festival that act was Isambarde – watch out for them.” They have also come to the notice of the Show of Hands crowd: Emily was in the string section at Show Of Hands’ Easter Sunday concert in the Royal Albert Hall, and the full band have been “special guests” on part of Phil Beer’s current solo tour. Judge for yourselves on 31st May at the Black Swan – entry just £5 / £4.

Next two items of general interest:

  1. YORK LIVE WEEKEND. The annual York Live Music Festival takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend, with loads of music in a wide range of styles and settings. Look out for the full colour brochures which are widely distributed through the city. One event is the Songwriting Workshop on Saturday 26th, as previewed in E-News 67. Also of note is the Miles Cain organised Yorkshire Routes on Sunday 27th at The Junction on Leeman Road: an evening of acoustic acts including Jess Gardham, Jess Morgan, TWO and Pillowfish (the latter two of whom also appear at Folk Day!). Meanwhile David Ward Maclean is involved in two York Live events. On Friday 25th he headlines at Stagecoach Youth Theatre on Monkgate, joined by Chris Helme and other musical friends, then on Monday 28th he has organised a closing concert for York Live in Screen 3 at City Screen. This features 9 local acoustic acts, including Holly Taymar and Edwina Hayes. Well done, David!

  2. OR A VOCAL WEEK IN FRANCE. Once again Martyn and Danni Wyndham-Read are hosting a series of relaxed musical workshop weeks at their rural home in northern France, La Jeusseliniere, during the period May to early August. Local favourites Soundsphere reprise their vocal techniques course from 27th May to 2nd June and there are still some places available. Find out more on 01653 618882 or visit or
    Songwriting features prominently in later weeks at La J, with guest tutors focussing on different aspects. Fresh from his new CD, our own Stan Graham deals with “Songwriting and recording techniques” (29 July – 4 August), while Mike Silver concentrates on “Songwriting and guitar” (17 – 23 June), Harvey Andrews looks at “Songwriting and performance skills” (5 – 11 August) and Bruce Woodley (of The Seekers) tackles “Songwriting experience in the music business” (13 – 19 May).
    Musicians are catered for by John Dipper (fiddle, 15 – 21 July) and Kevin Dempsey & Joe Broughton (advanced guitar and fiddle, 1 – 7 July), while Martyn himself, with Iris Bishop, covers song accompaniment and presentation (10 – 16 June).

And lastly, a chronological run-down on some other forthcoming events:
  1. WENDY ARROWSMITH, Keepers Fold and other North Riding folk artists appear at a charity afternoon at the New Inn, Thrintoft, near Northallerton, starting at 2.30pm on Sunday 13 May. Wendy will also be singing at York Folk Day.

  2. CHRIS NEWMAN & MAIRE Ni CHATHASAIGH do a North Yorkshire rural tour this month, including appearances at Appleton le Moors (15th), Ravenscar (17th), Topcliffe (18th), Kilburn (19th) and Arncliffe (25th). I’ve been specifically asked to mention their show on Wednesday 16th May at Amotherby Village Hall, near Malton. It’s a 7.30 start and tickets at a very modest £6/£4 can be reserved on 01653 694009. More tour details on

  3. BLONDE ON BOB’s Bob Dylan Birthday Bash also takes place on Wednesday 16th May, at the Post Office Social Club on Marygate in York from 8.00pm . See E-News 67 for more details. Minimum entry £5 on the door.

  4. MAALSTROOM are a Dutch-based international band who play an exciting mixture of instrumental folk/jazz, strongly influenced by Irish, Flemish and Dutch traditional music and klezmer music too. They line-up includes guitar, Flemish bagpipes, fiddle, clarinet and percussion. Apparently Brian Finnegan was a founder member, though he left the band later to concentrate on Flook. Anyway, I have been asked to tell you that Maalstroom are about to do their first mini-tour of Britain, with two dates in North Yorkshire. On Friday 18th May they are at the Rifle Club in Whitby (info 0845 373 2760) and on Sunday afternoon, 20th May, they perform a 3pm concert at the lovely church in Grinton, Swaledale. Tickets and info. on 01748 884316.

  5. HORSES BRAWL are a duo (Laura Cannell on recorders, crumhorns and fiddle and Adrian Lever on guitars) who combine traditional folk with early music. They present an event called “The Music of Madness & Dance” for this year’s Beverley Early Music Festival which promises to be great fun. “Foot-tapping folk rhythms (combined with) baroque ornamentation”, says The Telegraph. It’s at 4pm on Saturday 26th May at Toll Gavel Methodist Church in the centre of that lovely East Riding town. Find out more or make a booking via

  6. SUFI MUSIC & DANCE FROM RAJASTHAN is another interesting bit of programming at the National Centre for Early Music. “From the colourful deserts of Western Rajasthan, traditional folk musicians perform vocal compositions of the great Sufi poets, accompanied on the beautiful sarangi and kamaiche (bowed stringed instruments)” says the tour flyer, as well as promising “the entertaining dance and music of the original snake charmers community”. The date is Sunday 3rd June (as part of the Late Music Festival) with booking via NCEM Box Office.

  7. HISSYFIT are an East Yorkshire duo of (mostly unaccompanied) singers Linda and Hazel, about whom I have been hearing good things. Linda writes many of the songs and I understand that Grace Notes cover one on their new CD. Anyway, the flourishing Wednesday club at The Thompson’s Arms in Flaxton, which normally runs as a very lively singers & musicians venue, has invited Hissyfit to come along and sing on 6th June. Find out more from Nick on

  8. PHIL BEER of Show of Hands is doing a lot of solo work this spring (see item 7 above) and Sunday 10th June brings him to Thorganby Village Hall, south of York, where he will be joined by bass player and singer Miranda Sykes. This one is bound to sell well – tickets are £10 or £8 from the Ferry Boat Inn at Thorganby, Rock-Ola Music on Walmgate in York or on 01904 448220.

  9. TERRINGTON VILLAGE FESTIVAL is another very enterprising village-based event, taking place 22nd June – 1st July. Alongside guided walks, art events, celebrity authors and wine tastings, the standout musical item is Waterson:Carthy in concert in the Village Hall on Saturday 30th June. This will be an early opportunity to sample the “new” line-up, with Saul Rose returning to the band in place of Tim van Eyken. Tickets are £17 from the Festival Box Office on 01653 648835, or over the counter at Terrington Village Stores.

This has been the longest Newsletter yet! After Folk Day I plan to take a bit of a rest, but hopefully I’ll be sufficiently refreshed by mid June to do another (shorter) bulletin!