Early January 2008
Best wishes to all of you out there for a happy, prosperous and musical year in 2008.
- JOHN AND CHRIS, THE SULTANS. First up, a reminder that this Thursday night (10th) we have a special treat when two of England’s finest squeeze-box players, John Kirkpatrick and Chris Parkinson, join forces as The Sultans of Squeeze. Between them John and Chris have worked with countless other top acts, such as Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell, Richard Thompson, Brass Monkey, Martin Carthy, The House Band and Steve Phillips, while John also has a well-established solo career which has brought him to the Black Swan several times before.
The Sultans promise a huge variety of music from Britain and beyond, performed on every possible combination of melodeon, button accordion, piano accordion and anglo concertina – not only folk songs and dance tunes but also military marches, French waltzes, popular classics, blues, zydeco, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. It should be great fun. It is a pay-on-the-door event (£8 full / £6.50 concessions), with doors open around 8pm, and as usual I am happy to take reservations in advance which will guarantee you a seat so long as you arrive before our 8.30 musical kick-off. Just leave me a message or via e-mail. David Kidman takes turn as Master of Ceremonies for this one, with John Cherry and Phil Cerny amongst the floor performers, and note that this will be a fully acoustic evening – no PA system!
- MARTIN CARTHY TICKETS UPDATE. The Sunday night extra performance by Martin Carthy on 27th January is now completely Sold Out. For the Thursday show on 24th, while the NCEM Box Office has sold its full ticket quota, I do still have half a dozen or so tickets available myself (due to a couple of cancellations and other circumstances). Contact me as soon as possible if you are interested in claiming some of these. Chris Euesden MC’s the Thursday night show and Eddie Affleck is at the helm for the Sunday extra (which, do remember, is 7.30 doors).
- WELCOME BACK THE BOLTON BULLFROG. The wonderful Bolton Bullfrog, aka Bernard Wrigley, promises us an evening of “songs, stories and silliness” when he trundles over the M62 to pay us a call on 31st January. Bernard phoned me the other night to ask permission for a small film crew to video a short part of his performance that night. They may also want to record interviews with a few audience members, so be warned! This looks like being another busy club meeting and as with the Sultans I am happy to take seat reservations in advance. It will also be a PA-free acoustic event.
- FLOOR SINGERS & MCS. Regular attendees will know that we have a corps of around a dozen locals who are frequent floor performers at club gatherings, with most of them also taking turns as Master of Ceremonies. However, the list is not a closed shop and we happily welcome other floor acts when we can. I run a booking system for allocating floor spots up to three months ahead, so do get in touch well beforehand if you’d like to take a turn on a specific evening.
Now for a miscellany of other items, beginning with one piece of very sad news:
- MIKE SOAR R.I.P. One of North Yorkshire’s best-loved folk enthusiasts, Mike Soar, passed away on 27th December in Whitby Hospital from pneumonia. Mike was a mainstay of the Selby area folk scene for most of his adult life, as a singer, club organiser and activist. He also had a long-term involvement with Whitby Folk Week, notably as a concert MC and as organiser of the Hiring Fair. He was an enthusiastic and able musician and his self-produced CD Count The Waves (2000) remains for my money one of the best releases ever by a local amateur performer. He is a great loss to folk music in North Yorkshire.
Mike Soar did not have a particularly easy life and shortly after releasing his CD a serious injury in a fall left him unable to play guitar and he had to give up music making. He settled in Whitby and found contentment with his third wife Dorothy.
Mike Soar’s funeral takes place this Wednesday (9th) at 1.30pm at St Ninian’s Church on Baxtergate in Whitby, close by the Plough Inn which for so many years was an integral part of Whitby Folk Week. Our condolences go to Dorothy and his other family and close friends.
- CONGRATULATIONS JOHN AND SHIRLEY. On a lighter note, our hearty congratulations go to John Cherry and his long term partner Shirley Pickersgill, who got married shortly before Christmas. They are now returned from the honeymoon cruise and we look forward to catching up with them soon at the Black Swan Inn.
- HELP FAY WITH HER RESEARCH. Some of you will know the singer Fay Hield, one time Witch of Elswick and one of the first graduates from the Newcastle University Folk Music degree course. She is now studying for a PhD at Sheffield University, looking at the role which folk singing plays in people’s lives. She writes: “the research is split into two components, a focus on Sheffield activity and a nationwide survey. I am inviting anyone who is involved in English folk singing on any level – singing, organising, listening or anything else – to participate in the latter survey. It can be found within the University of Sheffield’s web pages, and the easiest way to access it is through my own website (www.fayhield.com) where you can also read more about the research and find a couple of preliminary papers”. For more information you can also contact Fay on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CALLING ALL YOUNG PERFORMERS. Back in E-News 75 I mentioned this year’s Young Acoustic Roots competition, held in South Yorkshire and aimed at performers aged 12 to 21, with a deadline for entries on 16th February ready for finals on 1st March. Now comes news of this year’s New Roots event for under-25s. This takes place in St Albans on 13th April, with a closing date for entries on 31st January. You can find full details and entry forms at www.new-roots.org.uk.
Last year we devoted a Double Bill event to two New Roots 2007 winners, Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts and The Young ‘Uns, and it proved a very successful evening. I have promised a similar performance opportunity to New Roots again this year, with a provisional date of November 27th.
- IF YOU’RE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO. If you are travelling to California and are interested in finding some live music in the Bay area, then I may be able to help you. For many years, the Black Swan Folk Club has been receiving Folknik, the bi-monthly newsletter of the San Francisco Folk Music Club. The January/ February issue arrived recently, with the usual mix of news, reviews, songs and comprehensive listings. The SFFMC is not primarily a promoting organisation like us (although they do run festivals each year around Labor Day and New Year) but more of an umbrella body for folk activists and enthusiasts. If you’d like to have a look at Folknik, just ask. Some content is also on line at www.sffmc.org.
And now for news of a couple of other local York events which may appeal:
- LOS YOBOS AT THE POST. Los Yobos make their first outing of the year this Friday (11th) at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road. It is £5 on the door from 8pm for “an evening of good time Western Swing”.
- TEDDY THOMPSON FOR FIBBERS. Cult singer-songwriter and son of Richard and Linda, Teddy Thompson appears at Fibbers on Stonebow in York on Tuesday 22nd January. Teddy claims to have been obsessed with country music since he was a kid and this tour promotes his new self-produced album of country covers Upfront & Down Low. “Delivering personalized reworkings of a memorable assortment of songs drawn from America’s rich country music tradition,” says The Talk Magazine, which makes it Pick Of The Month, “all with a level of commitment and musical imagination, Teddy consistently cuts to the emotional heart.” Box Office is on 0870 9070 999 or over the bar. Website www.fibbers.co.uk.
Lastly, a run down of other events in the wider region.
- LOTS ON AT POCKLINGTON. The lively Arts Centre in Pocklington, only 20 minutes from York, has announced its new year programme and as usual there is a healthy dose of folk, roots and acoustic music. Highlights include Eleanor McEvoy (9th February), Karine Polwart (12th March), Spiers & Boden (9th May) and Peggy Seeger (23rd May). There are also (unfortunately) a couple of big ones which clash with the Black Swan on a Thursday night, so I’ll leave you to find out for yourself what those might be.
First up at Pocklington is Gretchen Peters on Wednesday 23rd January at 8pm. “She has been hailed by many as one of Nashville’s best contemporary songwriters and her intelligent and introspective songs have been covered by pop, country, blues and folk artists all over the world. She possesses a rare ability to drive a strong point yet capture it eloquently in song.” Support comes most appropriately from our own Edwina Hayes, who gave us a great start to the year at the Black Swan last week. Tickets for Gretchen Peters are £18 from the Box Office on 01759 301547. The website is www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
- KEEPING MUSIC LIVE IN THE DALES. Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale has announced its concert dates for 2008, almost all on a Friday and kicking off with Vin Garbutt on 25th January, followed on 15th February by John Renbourn & Johnny Dickinson. This a very cosy and friendly venue, as I found when I went there before Christmas to catch Denny Bartley’s last gig with Last Night’s Fun. Find out more at www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk or contact the ever-so-helpful organiser John Little on 01748 884759.
- CENTRESTAGE IN BRADFORD. Over in West Yorkshire, folk promoters Centrestage have announced a series of three concerts for The Priestley in the Little Germany quarter of Bradford. New Rope String Band entertain and amaze on Saturday 26th January, with John Tams & Barry Coope to follow on Saturday 1st March and the Kathryn Tickell Band on Friday 25th April. The Box Office is on 01274 820666, or you can book online through www.digyorkshire.com.