Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 71

Mid August 2007

It is only five weeks since the last newsletter but there seems to a huge amount to tell you about and this will certainly be our longest bulletin ever. So much for summer being the quiet season! As usual, I’ll begin with our club’s own activities:

  1. SINGER-SONGWRITER DOUBLE BILL, 23 AUGUST. This Thursday at the Black Swan we have one of our occasional Double Bill events, focusing on female singer-songwriters with the contrasting styles of Rachel Dawick and Liz Ryder.
    Rachel Dawick is a talented New Zealand singer who now lives in Scotland but spent a season in York a couple of years ago and impressed us greatly with the quality of her writing and her assured vocal style and confident presentation. She was certainly an asset to the York busking scene during her time here! She sang at both the 2005 and 2006 York Folk Days, and opened for one of our NCEM concerts. Since then she has been gigging steadily in Scotland and released the CD Journeys late last year. Find out more about her at or on her MySpace page
    Liz Ryder was born in Los Angeles to Greek/American and British parents. She grew up in England and has been writing and playing music for as long as she can remember. Her influences range from Hank Williams to Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez to Tori Amos, so she describes herself as “a little bit folk, a little bit country, a little bit contemporary”. She has a gently reflective style with a pure voice and some interesting accompaniments. She sang at a Black Swan Young Performers Night in 2002, shortly before taking a music degree at Bangor, and now divides her time between Sheffield and California. Earlier this month she was a featured performer at both Sidmouth and Broadstairs Folk Weeks. Find out more at and
    With Stan Graham as MC and a floor spot from David Swann, male songwriters also get a look-in on Thursday and it should be another thoroughly enjoyable evening. Doors open as usual at 8pm and entry is just £5 (concessions £4).

  2. JAKE THACKRAY THEME NIGHT, 30 AUGUST. The late Jake Thackray was one of the most distinctive characters in the folk and acoustic music world of the 60s and 70s, writing thoroughly humorous songs which were full of brilliant ideas and imagery. Long after his death, Jake’s songs continue to entertain and amuse, and our local Thackray devotees Kevin Loughran, John Teesdale and John Watterson have been putting a great deal of effort into their preparation for this homage night. Repertoires have been carefully compared and a running order has been agreed, complete with a few joint performances. With jovial John Cherry as MC, this will be another memorable evening. Entry is again £5 (concessions £4), with the singers donating their takings to charity.

  3. BOXING ON WITH SHONA & DAMIEN, 6 SEPTEMBER. We were greatly impressed by Shona Kipling & Damien O’Kane when they visited us for a Young Performers Night in 2004. At that time Shona was a schoolgirl and Damien was a student on the Newcastle University Folk Degree course. Nowadays Shona is a Newcastle student herself, and an even better accordion virtuoso, while Damien is a full-time musician, playing tasty guitar and banjo and singing with great character and style. Last year’s Box On CD confirmed their burgeoning talent and they were shortlisted for the BBC’s 2007 Horizon Award for most promising folk act. “Two instrumentalists at the top of their game, one of whom also happens to be one of the finest singers around” says no less a judge than Jon Boden. This one is £6 on the door (concessions £5), and as an added bonus we hope to have a floor spot by young singer Laura Hockenhull, who also works in a duo with Damien O’Kane.

  4. AND LOTS MORE GOOD STUFF TO FOLLOW. Our early autumn programme then continues with an international theme: Australian duo Cloudstreet appear on 20 September, Dutch bluesman Hans Theessink returns on 27 September, and we have a first visit by Welsh-American duo Ember on 11 October. By the way, I owe an apology to Ember for having got one of their names wrong in the current club programme brochure – they are in fact Emily Williams and Rebecca Sullivan!

  5. EARLY MUSIC CENTRE BOOKING OPENS SOON. The Box Office at the National Centre for Early Music opens for their autumn season on Tuesday 28 August. Tickets will be on sale for the concerts by Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny’s Mozaik (25 September), Martin Simpson (9 October), Malinky (23 October) and Vin Garbutt (4 December). Also available from 28 August via NCEM will be tickets for John Wright’s show at the Black Swan on 13 December, this being the only one of our Thursday night events before Christmas where we are offering tickets in advance. Book as always on 01904 658338 (office hours, Monday-Friday) or online at The new NCEM brochure should be published in a few days time (look out for Martin Simpson grinning from the front cover), with details of all their other forthcoming concerts: classical, jazz and world music.

  6. HALF YEAR FINANCIAL REPORT. The folk club’s unusual financial year reached the six month stage at the end of July and I have drawn up a half year summary of income and expenditure. As usual, things are finely balanced, with a small surplus of around £200 on a turnover of £11.5k (i.e. around 1.7%). Our NCEM concert programme made a small loss, but a surplus on club guest nights, plus singers night income, was more than enough to offset this loss and to cover all our administrative and publicity costs. Ask me if you would like to see the figures.

Next, news of other major folk events taking place in York:

  1. YORKSHIRE GARLAND LAUNCH DAY. As advertised on the front cover of our club brochure, Saturday 15 September sees the Yorkshire Garland Launch Day at the Early Music Centre. I first mentioned this event in E-News 69; it is designed to publicise the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Yorkshire Garland project to set up a web-based archive of Yorkshire folk songs. For an update on the project, see the new (August) edition of The Living Tradition.
    The Launch Day begins with an informal afternoon concert (1.00-4.30) of Yorkshire folk songs with traditional singers including John Greaves, Ray Padgett, Jim Eldon, Mick Haywood, Steve Gardham, Three Score & Ten, Will Noble & John Cocking and Knaresborough Mummers. In the evening (7.30-10.30) there is a rare performance by members of the extended Waterson Family (Norma Waterson being honorary president of Yorkshire Garland), plus support from Noble & Cocking.
    Tickets are available now for both these concerts via the NCEM Box Office (as per item 5 above). The afternoon show is £6 (concessions £5), the evening one £12 (concessions £10). If you would like to find out more about the Yorkshire Garland project, contact Steve Gardham on 01482 850819,

  2. KATE RUSBY AT THE OPERA HOUSE. The very day after Yorkshire Garland, Sunday 16 September, Yorkshire’s most successful young folk singer Kate Rusby, appears at the Grand Opera House in York as part of the tour promoting her new CD, Awkward Annie. Later folk/roots events at the Opera House this year include Runrig on 3 October (already sold out!), Capercaillie (28 October) and Christy Moore (24 November). Find out more at You can book online, or in person at the theatre, or by phone on 0870 4000 709.

Now some news about a selection of interesting performers, national and local:

  1. RACHEL UNTHANK’S BAIRNS. I’m delighted to see that the new CD by Rachel Unthank & the Winterset, The Bairns, is picking up some great press. There was a feature article in fRoots recently, and now Rachel is on the front cover of August’s The Living Tradition. Success is richly deserved and couldn’t have happened to a nicer set of people. Remember, you heard them here first (!) – at the Black Swan in December 2004, then at the NCEM last November.
    After appearances at Cambridge and other summer festivals, Rachel and the band are on tour in September. The nearest local performance is at Leeds City Varieties on Sunday 30 September. Tickets are £12, bookable on 08456 441881 or online at

  2. CHRIS & JULIE FOR YORK. Also on the road this autumn, in acoustic duo format, are Chris While & Julie Matthews. An intimate York performance has been scheduled by their old friend Chris Euesden for Tuesday 30 October in the club room at the Black Swan Inn. Watch this space for more information...

  3. PILLOWFISH ANNOUNCE MINI CD. York-based duo Pillowfish (alias Tom Drinkwater & Helen Bell) announce a 4-track mini CD, including their stirring version of Andy Irvine’s “Never Tire of the Road”, plus two original songs and a set of tunes. They say “we want to take our time over the new album, so we’ve released these preliminary recordings to keep you all interested in the meantime”. You can download all 4 tracks (for free!) at

  4. STAN GRAHAM CD IMMINENT. Our own Stan Graham is almost ready to unleash his third CD, entitled Along The Way and including such current favourites as “Whitby Harbour”, “Christmas Soldier” and “Forgotten Fields”. The official launch takes place in Scotland early next month, but meanwhile I’m sure Stan would be happy to take orders! Contact him on

And finally a miscellany of other news:

  1. TAKE AWAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. The Arts Council has recently announced a scheme to help budding musicians with the purchase of musical instruments, accessories and tuition. Individuals can apply for a loan of up to £2,000 and pay it back in nine monthly instalments completely free of interest. From electric guitars to folk harps, any kind of musical instrument can be included in the Take It Away scheme, along with equipment and services such as music stands, amplifiers, sheet music and tuition. The scheme is open to everyone over the age of 18 and is primarily designed to help people on low incomes who might otherwise be unable to afford an instrument appropriate to their needs. The scheme operates through a network of participating retailers across England. To find out more, visit

  2. STEWARDS NEEDED FOR SWORD DANCE EVENT. The 5th International Sword Spectacular takes place in York next year, over the Bank Holiday weekend 23-26 May. This major event celebrates the sword dancing traditions of Europe and beyond, with dance teams from Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Spanish Basque country and the Czech Republic alongside some of the best UK longsword and rapper sides and even some North American dance teams. There will be daytime dancing in and around York, ceilidhs and showcase performances in the evenings.
    The organisers say “to ensure that the event runs smoothly, we require a number of stewards ... to supervise the performances at each dance spot, check tickets at evening events, (etc). Someone with up-to-date first aid experience would also be useful and we are always happy to hear from linguists who could assist with translating for the overseas guests”. This will of course be unpaid voluntary work. If you are interested, contact Vin Wynne on

  3. SING ANTHEMS FOR OXFAM. Clare Wardman (formerly Clare Rabone, of Ripple and other vocal groups) is indefatigable when it comes to raising money for charity. Her next project is part of Oxfam’s month-long “Oxjam” music festival and is a “Come and Sing” day at St Columba’s Church in York on Saturday 6 October. Spend the day learning a number of coronation anthems under the guidance of Toby Wardman then take part in a public evening performance. “Come along for only £15 – and have a lot of fun in the process” says Clare. She is particularly keen to find tenor voices. There is an online flyer or contact Clare for more information on

  4. FESTIVAL ON THE MOOR. This festival of music, dance and folk arts takes place at venues across the North York Moors between 31 August and 9 September. In particular there is a Folk Weekend at the Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole over the weekend of 1 & 2 September. Those taking part include Steve Dawes & Helen Pitt and John & Joy Rennie (all seen recently at the Black Swan as part of the Otterby Band), New Zealander Phil Drane (who did a spot at last Thursday’s club Singers Night) and acapella group The Young ‘Uns (who will appearing at the club’s New Roots event in November). There is also an evening concert by the Richard Grainger Band and the premiere of a folk opera “The Moorland Whalers”.
    Other events “on the moor” include a Folk Day & Beer Festival at venues in Kirbymoorside on Saturday 8 September, headlined by Michael Marra, and smaller scale events during the intervening week at Farndale, Danby, Swainby and other villages. Get the full programme from

  5. THE LEEDS FOLK EVENT. A somewhat similar series of events takes place around Leeds between 2 and 8 September. There are free evening singarounds and sessions at various pubs through the week, plus bigger concerts on Friday and Saturday in Holy Trinity, Boar Lane and at The Light on The Headrow, with artists such as The Durbervilles, The Duncan McFarlane Band (both acoustic and electric versions) and Tom Napper & Tom Bliss. These events are part of Celebrate Leeds 2007 and you can find more info at

Must stop! I’ve had to drop several items, so I’ll soon be back with another bulletin!