Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 72

Mid September 2007

Once again there’s lots to tell you about, so straight down to business with reminders about two events which though not being run by the folk club do have our full support:

  1. YORKSHIRE GARLAND LAUNCH DAY THIS SATURDAY. Don’t forget about this special event, as trailed in previous newsletters and advertised on the cover of our current flyer. There are still tickets available for the afternoon concert (1pm), with a big selection of Yorkshire traditional singers, and also for the evening show (7.30pm) headlined by The Waterson Family. The organisers have just had confirmation that Eliza Carthy will be able to perform in the evening, alongside her mother Norma, uncle Mike and other members of the extended Waterson clan. It all happens at the National Centre for Early Music this Saturday, 15 September. Contact the Box Office on 01904 658338 to reserve tickets, or buy them at the door. Sadly, I can’t be there myself, but the club’s master lensman Phil Myers has been engaged as official photographer. No doubt some of his shots will feature on the Yorkshire Garland website which should go live after the launch day.

  2. GLOBAL MOZAIK MUSIC FROM ANDY & DONAL. Also still available are tickets for Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny’s global string band Mozaik, at the Early Music Centre on Tuesday 25 September. The Irish legends (Planxty etc.) team up with American old timey virtuoso Bruce Molsky and two top continental players for a fusion of Celtic, American and Central European folk styles. Incidentally, long-distance club resident Phil Cerny tells me he saw Bruce Molsky on top form at a recent solo performance in New York! Tickets for Mozaik are £12 (concessions £10) from the NCEM as above (01904 658338) or online at It’s a 7.30pm start and is a rare treat NOT TO BE MISSED.

And now to focus on the club’s own activities:

  1. CLOUDSTREET, 20 SEPTEMBER. Australian duo Cloudstreet are back with us on Thursday 20 September after a storming performance on their York debut in 2005. I have to admit then I when I was first approached about booking them around 5 years ago I was doubtful, but then I saw them wow the audience at Warwick Folk Festival and I was converted. It seems many other UK clubs have been won over likewise, as they are back in Britain for an intensive tour with nearly 40 gigs in two months. Exuberantly entertaining yet highly musical performers, Nicole Murray and John Thompson sing both old ballads and modern songs with clever harmonies and great guitar, flute and concertina accompaniment. They really are great value for your (£7/£6) entry money! The aforementioned Phil Cerny MCs this one on a flying visit back to York, and floor performers include the Doncaster-based singer and fellow club organiser Bob Chiswick.

  2. HANS THEESSIINK, 27 SEPTEMBER. The Euro-bluesman Hans Theessink is a long-established favourite of ours who returns on Thursday 27 September. Raised in Holland and long resident in Vienna, Hans is steeped in American blues and roots music, mixing his own compositions with blues classics. To quote one reviewer, he “sings the blues with a voice the texture of black molasses and plays guitar as if he were born to it”, while an American magazine said he is “an international blues treasure. He is one of the world’s pre-eminent pickers and his warm baritone expresses blues”. Hans has worked with many other top players over the years and I seem to recall that he once collaborated with Andy Irvine in an earlier version of Mozaik, which makes a nice coincidence! This one is £8 on the door (£6.50 concessions), with trusty Eddie Affleck as MC. Hans always draws a good house so do come early! Though there are no advance tickets I am always happy to take reservations if you want to give me a call or send an e-mail (likewise for Cloudstreet the week before).

  3. AND THE GOOD MUSIC KEEPS ON COMING. October gets under way with a Singers & Musicians Night on 4th, followed by the debut visit of contemporary female duo Ember (11th), the return of legendary acoustic guitarist Wizz Jones (18th) and the resurgence of 70s/80s regular Steve Turner (25th). Hopefully I’ll have another newsletter out in time to tell you more about all of these artists.

  4. SIMPSON TICKETS SELLING FAST – DON’T MISS OUT. The first of our own concert promotions this autumn at the Early Music Centre is the wonderful Martin Simpson on Tuesday 9 October. Although the box office has only been open for two weeks, this one is already well over half sold, so don’t delay in getting your tickets – available from myself at club functions, or by phone from the NCEM on 01904 658338, or online at Tickets are also available now for young Scottish outfit Malinky on 23 October and for Vin Garbutt on 4 December (with the latter being a quarter sold already).

  5. REVIEWER GIVES US THE THUMBS UP. My attention has just been drawn to a review of Katy Moffatt’s Black Swan show last May which was published in the UK country/Americana magazine Maverick. Although not used to folk club venues, Katy gave a tremendous performance that night and the reviewer (Larry Kelly) is full of praise. Happily he also finds time to give positive mention for some of the floor performers, including Chris Lawrence (sic), “dyed-in-the-wool folkie” Dave Kidman and Don Walsh (sic) “a noted poet from York who recited a couple of extremely well composed, hilarious pieces”. Thank you Larry! And by the way, discussions are under way for a return visit by Katy Moffatt in October 2008.

  6. AUTUMN FOLK MAGAZINES IN STOCK. The autumn issues of three regional folk magazines relevant to our area are now in stock at all club gatherings. Tykes’ News (£1.50) covers West Yorkshire and beyond, with news, reviews, features, letters and opinion pieces. Folk Roundabout (£1) covers the whole of North East England from York to Northumberland and is packed with news and reviews – the latter mostly contributed by the aforementioned Dave Kidman – though not feature articles. Folk News (50p) is a slimmer publication and is produced by the North & East Yorkshire District of EFDSS – again with news, features and reviews. All three of them have diaries and lists of clubs, dance sides, etc. For just £3 the lot you get a pretty comprehensive picture of folk music goings-on in this corner of England.

Next, news of other relevant events taking place in York, starting with opera!!

  1. HUGH THE DROVER. York Opera have asked me tell you about their next production at York Theatre Royal. Why, you are asking! Well the work in question is Ralph Vaughan Williams’ first opera, Hugh The Drover, an English romantic folk opera “set in the rolling Cotswolds and packed with rollicking tunes”. RVW was heavily involved in the early 20th Century folk song revival as both collector and scholar (the Library at Cecil Sharp House is named after him) and he made extensive use of folk material in his compositions. He said that he intended this work to be “an opera written to real English words, with a certain amount of real English music and also a real English subject”, and anyone versed in the folk tradition will hear familiar strains and snatches throughout Hugh The Drover.
    This is the third time that York Opera have produced this work and as on previous occasions they hope to be joined on stage by members of Ebor Morris. It all happens on 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th October at 7.30pm, with ticket prices ranging from £7 to £18, online at or from the theatre box office on 01904 623568. York Opera’s own website is

  2. UP THE ACOUSTIC JUNCTION. New fatherhood not withstanding, the ever active Miles Cain has organised an Acoustic Sunday event for 30 September at music pub The Junction on Leeman Road in York. Doors open at 7.30 and entry is £5 for a line-up which includes a solo set by Pete Mitchell (Los Yobos frontman), acapella heroes Ripple, talented songwriter Dan Webster, plus Garron Frith and Fragile. Find out more at

  3. OXJAM FUNDRAISER. As part of Oxfam’s big fundraising music campaign in October, Oxjam, there’s a concert at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road in York on Friday 5 October. Taking part are world music choir Chechelele, African drummers Abelungu and Irish singer/songwriter Paula Ryan, all under the able direction of MC Adrian Spendlow. It’s an 8pm start, £5/£3 on the door.

  4. LOCAL GIGS ROUND UP. Here’s a summary of other local roots events:
    • The Crocker Brothers play bluegrass at City Screen Basement Bar this Friday, 14 September, with guests Daisy-b and Katherine Crocker
    • Los Yobos swing it the Western way at The Junction, Leeman Road, on Saturday 22 September, while the same night at the Black Swan Inn it is acoustic band Beneath The Oak
    • Union Central take their Alison-Krauss style modern bluegrass to the Black Swan Inn on Saturday 29 September, with the lovely Josie Mills on lead vocal.

Next a miscellany of other folk-related items:

  1. MORRIS RECRUITS WANTED. As our local Morris teams get back into the business of regular rehearsals after their summer dance-outs and holidays, all three have issued a joint appeal for new recruits. If you’ve ever fancied trying traditional dance, why not give it a go this winter? I’m sure new musician recruits would also be welcome. The teams concerned are Acorn Morris, a women’s side who dance the Cotswold and Border styles, Ebor Morris, a male side dancing Cotswold and Longsword dances, and Minster Strays, a mixed side specialising in Border and Cotswold traditions. Ebor and Acorn both practice in York and can be contacted via Jonathan Brockbank, 01904 659600,, while the Strays practice at Thornton-le-Clay, a few miles north of York, and can be contacted through Wendy Williamson on 01904 414157,

  2. DOES ANYONE REMEMBER GEORDIE COULSON? Were you on the York folk scene in the late 1960s? If so, can you remember a north-eastern singer and songwriter called Geordie Coulson. Apparently he “turned up in York around 1966 and soon established himself on the fringes of the local folk music fraternity”. His most popular song was Sea Watter Shy: “he sang as a resident at the Lowther Folk Club for a couple of years and would be asked to sing it every single week!” The quotes come from Terri Peacock, who posted the blog, asks if anyone out there has reminiscences of Geordie Coulson or knows his present whereabouts. If you have anything to tell, add a comment on the blog or contact Terri direct on

  3. BELLE UNION CD OFFER. Following its successful launch at the Black Swan last month, Belle Union (aka John Pritchard and Linda Leeming) ask me to tell you that their CD The Light and The Dark is now available to recipients of this newsletter at a special price of £7 (including postage & packing). Four of the songs on the disc have just gained distinctions in the 2007 UK Songwriting Contest, with the title track missing out on a finalist’s place by a single point. You can contact the duo via or find out more about them at Belle Union will be one of several acts associated with the York Songwriters’ Circle taking place in a showcase concert later this year – I’ll have more news on this in a future newsletter.

  4. NEWS FROM TWO. TWO, otherwise Turner Winfield Originals, as heard at the Folk Day and elsewhere, tell me that they are having a rest from gigging and recording until November because Helen has just had a baby girl (sounds like a good excuse to me!), but that meanwhile they have a brand new website up-and-running at

  5. WHITBY FOLK CLUB SWITCHES DAYS AGAIN. Tony Morris, dividing his time between York and Whitby, tells me that Whitby Folk Club has reverted to its old meeting night of Wednesday, in the bar at the Friendship Rowing Club. This arrangement will last until the next rowing season starts in May 2008, then it will be back to Thursdays during the summer months, “as the club negotiates the twin buoys of rowing and bingo” as Tony puts it. He is of course delighted, since he can now spend Wednesday nights in Whitby and Thursdays with us in York!

Crickey! I’m half way down page 4 (in my printed version) and I haven’t even begun to touch on events taking place around the wider area. Here is a very quick “bullet point” summary of imminent events. Hopefully I’ll have space to say more next time:

  • Saltaire Live begin their new season with Sharon Shannon & Friends (Michael McGoldrick, Dezi Donnelly, Jim Murray) next Monday, 17 September. Find out more at
  • Ingleton Folk Weekend is a cosy event taking place this year 5th – 7th October, with main concerts by Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies on Friday and Bernard Wrigley plus The Devil’s Interval (an unusual pairing!) on Saturday.
  • Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale has at least one good concert every month, with Steam Radio on Friday 21 September, followed by Bob Fox & Billy Mitchell, then Swarb’s Lazarus in October. Find out more at
  • Wetherby Festival during October includes folk concerts by the wonderful Dochas (with Julie Fowlis), plus Kathryn Tickell and others. For more information, go to
  • Pocklington Arts Centre is about to reopen with a refurbished auditorium. Autumn guests of a folky/rootsy persuasion include Oysterband, Ralph McTell, Roy Bailey & Tony Benn and Rachel Unthank & The Winterset. They also have living Woodstock legend Richie Havens! See

Must stop! I’ll be back around the beginning of October with another bulletin!