Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 76

Early December 2007

Welcome to the last E-Newsletter of 2007.

  1. THE ASKEW SISTERS, 6 DECEMBER. This coming Thursday night we have a refreshingly youthful, foot-stomping take on traditional English music and song from London-based sisters Emily & Hazel Askew. Playing melodeon and fiddle in an energetic yet thoughtful style, with both of them singing, the Askews have been building a national name for themselves since winning the New Roots contest in 2005 and reaching the semi-finals of the BBC Young Folk award. “Look out” warn James Fagan and Nancy Kerr, “the sisters of stomp are heading your way”.
    The Askew Sisters have just released their first full length CD and by coincidence the new edition of the EFDSS magazine English Dance & Song arrived a couple of days ago with a very favourable review. Here is a précis:
    “As more and more young people adopt the mantle of traditional music, it is wonderful to see how they treat the material with respect and are prepared to put in hard work researching and collating songs and tunes. Though some are well-known, the songs and tunes on this CD are a delight to listen to, and they have brought a fresh approach to them all. Clear diction and a belief in the story grab the listener and take them along with the singer.”
    Check them out at then come along on Thursday and see once again how the folk tradition is in safe young hands. Eddie Affleck acts as host and entry is a bargain at £5 (or £4 for concessions) when doors open at 8pm.

  2. JOHN WRIGHT, 13 DECEMBER. Tickets are almost all sold for John Wright’s performance on 13th December, when this stupendous singer will be accompanied by Gregor Borland and Pete Abbott. Phone me to check last-minute availability.

  3. MUSIC AND FUN AT THE CHRISTMAS PARTY. Rounding off the club year is our Christmas Party on Thursday 20th December. In essence, this is a singers and musicians “open house”, with extras such as the Grand Prize Raffle (our only raffle in the whole year!) and the Bring-and-Share Supper. Many singers choose to do something seasonal or outside their usual style, but that is not obligatory. Stan Graham marshals the performers (and tells those jokes!), and we try to fit in everyone who wants to take a turn. Whether singing, playing or just listening, you are all welcome to join us. We gather from 8pm and there is no door charge, but contributions to the shared supper are welcome, as are prizes for the raffle.

  4. EDWINA LAUNCHES THE NEW YEAR. 2008 gets off to an auspicious start when we welcome Edwina Hayes to the club on 3rd January. Dividing her time between Nashville, London and her East Yorkshire home, Edwina is a charming singer in the modern folk/country/acoustic mould, and an accomplished songwriter. She cites influences ranging from Ray Charles and Carole King to Bob Dylan and Richard Thompson, and on stage she includes a few cover versions and even the odd traditional song alongside her own numbers.
    Edwina has toured with artists like Van Morrison, Nanci Griffith and Jools Holland and she released her debut CD on Warner Bros in 2005. She has written or co-written songs for such stars as Eddie Reader, James Blunt and Crystal Gayle, with her songwriting collaborators including Boo Hewerdine and Ricky Ross (UK) and Don Rollins and Clive Gregson (Nashville). Her fans include Bob Harris and Michael Parkinson, ensuring plenty of Radio 2 airplay! As well as touring solo, Edwina joined up last year fellow singer-songwriters Amy Wadge and Cathy Burton to form the trio Hummingbird. Find out more about her at
    We are lucky that when she is at home in Driffield Edwina is available for local gigs, such as her memorable Black Swan debut in 2006. This return visit has the usual doors open time of 8pm and entry will be just £6 at the door (£5 concessions), with David Swann acting as Master of Ceremonies.

  5. NEW SEASON BROCHURE LAUNCHED. The new club brochure is due back from our printers any day now. It covers the first five months of 2008 and the full text, minus swan logo, is attached to this newsletter as a Word Document. The information should also be available on our website very soon, together with details of other confirmed bookings through to November 2008. To summarise the listings here, January continues after Edwina Hayes with The Sultans of Squeeze (10th), Singers Night (17th), two performances by Martin Carthy (24th and 27th, see item 6 below) and then Bernard Wrigley (31st).
    February comprises Eddie Walker & Fraser Speirs (7th), Singers Night (14th), Bryony (21st) and Kirsty McGee & Mat Martin (28th), while March brings in Emma Reid & Roger Wilson (6th), Roy Bailey (13th), Singers Night (20th) and Debra Cowan & Pete Smith (27th), plus an NCEM show by Jenna Reid (18th).
    The April line-up has David Moss & Masha Kaestner (3rd), Anne Lister (10th), Singers Night (17th) and a Young Performers Double Bill (24th), plus two more NCEM concerts: The Young Coppers (4th) and Lau (21st). May is a 5-Thursday month with Gypsy Reel (1st), Singers Night (8th), Eric Andersen (15th), Dana & Susan Robinson (22nd) and a further Singers Night (29th), plus Tanglefoot at NCEM (6th) and of course the Folk Weekend over 31st May/1st June.
    As always, we hope there will be something for all tastes in that broad mix of musical styles, with veteran performers and major artists sharing programme space with the less familiar and the up-and-coming. Aside from Martin Carthy, the only Thursday night event with advance ticketing will be 1960s Greenwich Village folk legend Eric Andersen in May, for whom booking should open through the NCEM Box Office in late January or early February, around the same time that they start to sell tickets for events at the Early Music Centre itself.

  6. A DOUBLE DOSE OF CARTHY. There are now two chances to see Martin Carthy at the Black Swan Inn in January. Thursday 24th is already virtually Sold Out after the “early bird” notice in E-News 75 – phone me to check remaining availability. Happily, Martin had a free night on Sunday 27th January and has agreed a second booking. Aside from a slightly earlier start (doors open 7.30), this will follow the same format and price (£9/£7) with booking opening very soon via myself or the NCEM Box Office, 01904 658338, online at

Now for a miscellany of other news items and local events:

  1. BEN’S CLASS ACT. Former York resident Ben Harker, who recently relocated to Manchester with his partner Emily Weygang, spent his last two years researching and writing the first biography of Ewan MacColl. The book has now been published by Pluto Press under the title Class Act: The Cultural and Political Life of Ewan MacColl. Here is what one review posted on Amazon has to say: “very well written, detailed and with excellent notes ... very readable for anyone with an interest in MacColl ... Harker is sympathetic, though it is no hagiography”. Another reviewer agrees that, although the book was “authorised” by Ewan’s widow Peggy Seeger, Ben “is not reluctant to be critical of MacColl where he thinks necessary. An enjoyable and very well-researched book”. Class Act is available through bookshops at £15.99 in paperback on ISBN 9780745321653. It is also in stock at York Central Library at class mark 782.42.

  2. FOLK RADIO FROM SHEFFIELD. Dave Eyre writes to tell me that he presents a folk show on new community radio station Sheffield Live!, going out on 93.2 FM and on The broadcast is on Friday morning, 10am to noon, but of course each show is available at any time as a podcast on the web. Dave says: “Having moaned at the lack of folk music on radio for the past 35 years, I had to take the chance when offered my own show. If any of your artists want a plug then I am more than happy to give them a mention.” Artists wanting to send in CDs for possible airplay should address them to Dave Eyre at Sheffield Live!, 6 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2QQ or to his home at 43 Storrs Hall Road, S6 5AW.

  3. DAN WEBSTER ON RADIO 2. Still with radio, York songwriter Dan Webster tells me he recently had airplay on BBC Radio 2. Dan’s track Diamond Land was aired on the Good Morning Sunday programme hosted by Aled Jones. Well done, Dan!

  4. BRAMPTON FESTIVAL UNDER THREAT. The excellent Brampton Live music festival, held each July in the Cumbrian market town, is under threat. The local authority is considering a two-thirds cut in its financial support next year and a total withdrawal of funding the year after. Only recently, a national research report quantified the sizeable economic benefit that folk festivals bring to local communities, yet here is one such community thinking of shooting itself in the foot! A petition has been launched at - do consider adding your name to it.

  5. NEW CROP OF FOLK MAGAZINES. December brings in the new issues of various quarterly regional folk magazines. At club functions we stock the three directly relevant to our region. Folk News (50p) is published by the EFDSS North and East Yorkshire District and focuses on the Black Swan this issue, with our guitar playing swan logo on the front cover and a review of a recent Singers Night inside, alongside other news, features and diary dates.
    Covering the entire North East from York northwards, Folk Roundabout (£1) is a packed 110 pages of club, dance and performer news, diary dates and reviews, the latter contributed by our own David Kidman. Meanwhile Tykes’ News (£1.50) weighs in at 64 pages covering West Yorkshire and beyond, with features, letters and opinion pieces as well as plenty of news and reviews. All three would cost you little more than a pint of beer – well worth it!

  6. SATURDAY GIGS AT THE BLACK SWAN. An increasing number of folk, roots and acoustic artists are booking the upstairs room at the Black Swan Inn for their own gigs. Of note this month are:
    • An “unplugged” performance by hot Western Swing combo Los Yobos ( on Saturday 8th December at 8.30, admission £4.
    • A pre-Xmas special by Alison Krauss-style modern bluegrass band Union Central on Saturday 22nd December.
    • An evening of “nothin’ but Dylan” with Blonde on Bob, the Dylan covers band fronted by Chris Euesden, on Saturday 29th December at 8.00. This one is £5 with advance tickets available at or on 01904 610899.

  7. CLARE’S CHARITY CAROLS. Active musical fundraiser Clare Wardman ( is organising a charity carol session for Saturday 15th December, meeting at 2pm by the fountain in Parliament Street. Clare writes that “basically, a big crowd of singers meets in the centre of York and sings carols all afternoon, stopping after dark or when frostbite sets in and retiring to a local hostelry for a pleasant evening by the fire. You don’t have to be able to read music, but if you do, music with the familiar SATB harmonies is provided. If you can’t do the whole afternoon, come and go as you like. Friends and families, including children, are welcome.” Last year Clare and company raised £270 for York Blind & Partially Sighted Society. This year’s chosen charity is Oxfam.

  8. LUCY KAPLANSKY AT NCEM. A quick reminder that there are still tickets available for American contemporary folk singer Lucy Kaplansky when she appears at the Early Music Centre on Sunday 16th December, in a concert organised by Jewels Promotions. Contact the Box Office on 01904 658338,

  9. YULE RIDING WITH THE WAITS. Our local early music group The York Waits are out and about this month, sometimes with soprano Deborah Catterall, with two different programmes. Yule Riding is billed as “Music for the twelve days of Christmas, played on instruments of the Renaissance” and has showings in York (22nd December at the Salvation Army Citadel on Gillygate) and in Halifax (Dec 15th, afternoon, and 16th) and Wentworth (15th, evening). Green Grow’th the Hollie is “English medieval and Renaissance music for Christmas” and can be enjoyed in Bridlington (5th), Scunthorpe (7th) and Richmond (23rd). Full details at; York show booking via the NCEM Box Office (as above).

  10. AND THE REST.... A brief résumé of other events in the wider region:
    • Last Night’s Fun are at the Shire Hall in Howden on Saturday 8th December, with tickets at £10 available through or 01430 431535.
    • Roy Bailey is at Goole Arts Theatre, The Gate, the same night, 8th December. Online ticketing is likewise through
    • Ashley Hutchings’ Rainbow Chasers are the last act of 2007 for Saltaire Live on Sunday 9th December at the Victoria Hall, with support from BBC Young Folk winners Last Orders. Find more details at
    • The Monday Music Club in Doncaster celebrated its 100th meeting this week. Congratulations to Bob Chiswick and crew. They have Tom McConville & Dave Wood next week, 10th December, then reopen on 7th January with local stars Allan & Liam Wilkinson, followed on 14th by Jez Lowe. Venue is The Regent Hotel on Regent Square. Find out more at
    • Waterson:Carthy and Friends present the only northern performance this year of “Frost and Fire” at The Priestley in Bradford on Sunday 16th December. The Box Office is on 01274 820666, website at

I’ll be back early in January. Meanwhile, do have a very merry and musical Christmas and a happy, harmonious New Year.