Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 75

Mid November 2007

Let’s begin with more about the club’s own upcoming activities:

  1. THE “A CAPPELLA” GLORY THAT IS COCKERSDALE. We have a feast of unaccompanied harmony singing this Thursday (15th) with one of the best vocal groups in the business, Cockersdale. Formed as a vehicle for the modern day folksongs of West Riding writer Keith Marsden, Cockersdale regrouped after Keith’s sad demise, with Graham Pirt joining John O’Hagan and Val Marsden. They still perform some of Keith’s classic songs, alongside a selection of other traditional and contemporary numbers. Graham contributes some fine songs of his own, and they also specialise in singing Peter Bellamy’s settings of poems by Rudyard Kipling.
    Cockersdale’s members are strong singers, with complementary voices and great stage presence. John O’Hagan is well known as a folk festival compere, while Graham Pirt also performs with his son Sam, and is one of the principal organisers of the annual Whitby Folk Week. When not singing, Val Marsden is often to be seen out and about morris dancing. Our MC on Thursday is Phil Cerny (on another flying visit from USA) and entry is £7 at the door, £6 for concessions. Incidentally, Cockersdale’s performance is supported by Arts Council England under their Musicians In Residence scheme, about which you can read more below (item 11).

  2. “NEW ROOTS” SHOWCASE NIGHT. Our second Young Performer event of 2007, on 22nd November, features two winning acts at this year’s New Roots competition held in St Albans in April. Recent Leeds University graduates Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts are already known to us, having done club floor spots and opening for Van Eyken in concert at the NCEM. Virtuoso musicians on fiddle and guitar respectively, they perform mostly self-penned tunes and songs. Katriona is also a member of all-woman outfit Tiny Tin Lady, while Jamie (who is Kathryn Roberts’ kid brother) has recently joined the young band Kerfuffle. Find out more at
    The Young ‘Uns are three young men from the Hartlepool area, singing mostly a cappella (occasionally with guitar or keyboard) in a very robust and heartfelt style which probably owes a debt to Teesside favourites the Wilson Family. They mix established folk songs with some self-penned numbers, have just released a first CD and have bags of enthusiasm. They’ve even started up their own folk club! Find out more at
    We have a guest MC for this event, Tom Bliss, who was one of the New Roots judges, and we hope to have one or two other youngsters amongst the floor performers, though not all spots have yet been confirmed (so get in touch if you are interested!). Entry is just £5 (concessions £4) with ALL proceeds divided between the two guest acts. Do give this one your support if you possibly can.

  3. VIN GARBUTT & JOHN WRIGHT. Looking ahead to December we have two ALL TICKET events. There are still some 50 tickets available for Vin Garbutt’s concert performance at NCEM on Tuesday 4th, but for John Wright’s visit to the Black Swan Inn on Thursday 13th we are down to the last dozen or so. So don’t delay – get your booking in to the NCEM Box Office (01904 658338, or buy at this Thursday’s club meeting or contact me for a postal sale. Prices are £12/£10 for Vin, £9/£7 for John.

  4. ALSO COMING UP. Our other December events are a visit by the dynamic young traditionalist duo Emily & Hazel Askew (6th) and the annual Christmas Party (20th). We then get a whole week off over the holiday before launching the New Year with Edwina Hayes (3rd January), who incidentally did a very good floor spot at last week’s House Full event with Clive Gregson. The next E-Newsletter should be out by the start of December with full details of our New Year season.

  5. “EARLY BIRD” CHANCE TO BOOK FOR MARTIN CARTHY. Talking of New Year, we have a show coming up at the Black Swan Inn by the mighty Martin Carthy on Thursday 24th January which is sure to sell out very fast. This event will not receive general publicity until the new brochure is published next month, so here is an “early bird” opportunity for Newsletter readers to get in first. Tickets are £9 (£7 concessions) and can be obtained from myself or through the NCEM Box Office at

  6. MAILOUT APOLOGIES. Finally in this section, apologies to some recipients of the last E-Newsletter who got it in a garbled plain text format. The E-News has around 700 subscribers and goes out in mailing “groups”, identified by the number in brackets in the e-mail subject line. For a reason I cannot claim to understand, some of you in Group 9 got a garbled message. If this happens again, be advised that the current newsletter is usually loaded on the club website ( within 24 hours, alongside an archive of back numbers.

Now for a miscellany of other news items, gigs and events:

  1. YOUNG FIDDLERS CHANGE THEIR PLANS. I’ve been asked to tell you that York Young Fiddlers have had to change their schedule for this month. Instead of a full day session with guest tutor on 24th November there will now be a half-day workshop on 17th November. Find out more at

  2. AND FOR FIDDLE PLAYERS OF ANY AGE. Fiddle enthusiasts both young and not-so-young may well be interested in a Fiddle Day at The Music Room shop in St John’s Place, Cleckheaton on Saturday 24th November. There will be a playing workshop and a fiddle “health check”, a “fiddle tasting” competition, the chance to try a range of top quality instruments, special offers and discounts, and a concert spot by Gina Le Faux, who is launching a new DVD tutor. It runs from 10am until 5pm and is a Free event. Find out more at

  3. THREE CHEERS FOR BELLA. Former York St John student and member of both Ola and The Pack, Bella Hardy has been receiving great press for her recently released solo debut, Night Visiting. There has been airplay from Mike Harding (Radio 2), Late Junction (Radio 3) and others, and some rave reviews. Now I hear that Bella is the cover feature on the December issue of fRoots (due out later this week), with an interview conducted by Colin Irwin. Bella was last heard in York in February, when she joined Sam Pirt and Joey Oliver of 422 for an impromptu set at the NCEM after the other members of 422 were involved in a traffic accident and missed the concert. We shall have to try to tempt her back sometime in 2008!

  4. DOWNLOAD TONY MORRIS. Tony Morris tells us that his new “virtual” album is available to download from Called Farewell To Friends, Album One it contains audio versions of ten poems from the well-received book of the same name which he published a few years ago. Tony reads with minimal folk music accompaniment and ruminates on “loss, memory, dreams and the life around us”. This will be the first of several themed releases in a Farewell To Friends series. You can listen to sample tracks free and then download the full album for just £3.00 on the Woven Wheat Whispers website.

  5. ROOTS RADIO FROM LEEDS. Those of you who still mourn the loss of Radio York’s folk programme with Michael Brothwell (where the aforementioned Tony Morris was Poet In Residence) may care to tune in to BBC Radio Leeds on Sundays at 8pm, where those lovable lads The Durbervilles host a weekly show. They play a wide variety of folk, roots and acoustic sounds, plus studio guests, events diary and “mp3 of the week”. Radio Leeds can be found at 92.4 or 95.3 FM, and of course there is also a listen again facility at
    Meanwhile anyone curious about what Michael Brothwell left Radio York to do should take a look at This is the new mini-brewery set up by Michael and his partner, capable of producing up to 24,000 pints of amber nectar every week. I’ve yet to sample any of their brews but I’m sure they’ll be well worth trying. Local stockists usually include some of the York Brewery’s pubs, for whom Michael used to work alongside his broadcasting “career”.

  6. MUSICIANS IN RESIDENCE. The Yorkshire office of Arts Council England has a longstanding scheme called Musicians In Residence, whereby promoters can claim an element of financial support when booking performers registered on the scheme, which is open to all professional musicians based in Yorkshire in genres such as Classical, Jazz and World Music.
    The Black Swan Folk Club has been making use of the scheme ever since it was extended to take in folk and acoustic artists (following successful lobbying by Pete & Sue Coe and others) and each year we book two, three or four guest artists under the scheme. We can claim up to 30% of the artist’s fee (unless our event makes a surplus) and in practice this means that the artists can ask for a more rewarding fee than might otherwise be the case. It is mercifully un-bureaucratic to operate (these days largely on-line) and I would recommend it to anyone else out there involved in promoting live music.
    To find out which artists are registered this year and more about how the scheme operates, go to For financial year 2008/9 there are two deadlines for applications for support, 14th January and 19th May.

  7. MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PERFORMERS. Along the same lines as the annual New Roots competition (item 2 above), but nearer to home, entries are now invited for Young Acoustic Roots 2008. This competition is open to folk, roots and acoustic musicians aged between 12 and 21, with prizes including an appearance at Cleethorpes Folk Festival and recording time in a professional studio. The final takes place at The Phoenix Theatre in Bawtry, near Doncaster, on Saturday 1st March 2008, in a concert headlined by Jez Lowe.
    All acoustic styles are eligible and there is no entry fee – just submit a demo recording of at least three tracks. Organiser Pete Thornton-Smith of the BPAS Group says “it is an opportunity not to miss. We are looking for those with a desire and the ability to develop as musicians, performing in front of a live audience”. To find out more and obtain an application form, contact Pete on 01709 739093 or via The closing date is 16th February.

  8. OUR BACK PAGES (1). Strange to say, nobody seems to know exactly when the Black Swan Folk Club started. I arrived in York in 1982 and understood that the present club had begun sometime in the previous decade. It seems to have been involved a lot of students in those early days, hence a fairly rapid turnover of personnel and a lack of records. The earliest documentation I have is from 1979. I’ve now had an appeal for information about one of the club’s early organisers, Noel Dobson. If you know what became of Noel and his wife Maureen, especially their present whereabouts, then their old acquaintance John Rodd would love to hear from you. Contact him on or 07712 003232

  9. OUR BACK PAGES (2). During the 1980s one of the Black Swan Folk Club’s mainstays was Judith Morrison, a regular floor singer and the person in charge of guest bookings until I took over in 1987. Judith subsequently moved back to her native Australia and lost touch with most of us. Out of the blue the other day I had a phone call from her, on a short UK trip, and we met up for a very welcome spot of catching up and reminiscing. I am sure she would like to be remembered to anyone else out there from those “good old days”.

  10. FOLK ROCK MUSICIANS GALORE! Peter Hall writes “since you published my request for musicians in the Black Swan Newsletter [no 73], the response has been overwhelming. The band is now no longer an idea and dream of mine, but a reality. I would like to thank your readers for the help and support received in getting this project up and running.” The band has begun rehearsing and Peter promises to let us know when they start gigging.

  11. SATURDAYS AT THE BLACK SWAN. Here is a reminder about some future Saturday events at the Black Swan Inn. These are NOT promoted by the Folk Club, but I am always happy to help out with publicity:
    • On 17th November acoustic band Beneath The Oak are in action, with support from Sarah Dean (of Soundsphere, in solo mode). £3 entry.
    • On 24th November it is “New Singers, New Songs” with members of the York Songwriters Circle, including Stan Graham, Belle Union, Paula Ryan, David Swann, Tim Pheby, John Storey, Maggie Allred, Ruby Paul and many others. This one is £4 with all proceeds to Woodlands Respite Care Centre.
    • On 8th December it is back to Western Swing with Los Yobos. £4 entry.
    • On 22nd December it is pre-Xmas special with Union Central (who meanwhile have another local outing at City Screen Basement Bar on 28th November).

  12. KIRKBY FLEETHAM FOLK CLUB. Since my piece in the last issue, the new Folk Club at Kirkby Fleetham near Northallerton has acquired a website at and there is also a MySpace page. Plans are all in place for the launch night on 24th November, starting at 8.30pm and running until late. The opening night is free (though contributions towards setting up some club funds will be invited) and features Wendy Arrowsmith, Kim Guy and Ian McKone. Following the main acts there will be a “singaround / open mic thingy until 2am for the young and insomniacs”. The venue is the Black Horse Inn, which for sat-nav types is at DL7 0SH.

That’s all for now – four pages (in the hard copy version) now seems the standard!