Early March 2008
Let me begin by thanking everyone who sent me good wishes during my recent brief illness. For those of you who have not heard, my back seized up suddenly one day last week and I had to be carried from work to A&E then ferried home by ambulance. Fortunately I seem to have recovered quickly and (I hope) completely, but it did mean that I had to miss the club on 28th February – a rare occurrence! Heartfelt thanks go to Stan, Julie, Tony, Chris and the others who ran things in my absence.
And now for more good news....
- BRYONY ON THE MEND. As most of you will know, Bryony had to cancel their recent club visit when Ailsa’s fiancé Derek suffered a serious heart attack. Happily, he has been released from hospital and seems to be on his way to a full if gradual recovery. He is back home on Arran at present, where Ailsa is looking after him. Ailsa, Cathy and Alison have agreed to reschedule their Black Swan appearance for Thursday 28th August, which suits them well as it comes just before their booking at the Fylde Folk Festival.
- CLUB DIARY NOW FULL FOR 2008. That new date for Bryony, coupled with a few other recent bookings, means that the Thursday night club diary is now full for the rest of 2008. Amongst recent agreements are singer-songwriter Mike Silver (11th December), Ulster singer Fil Campbell, accompanied by Tom McFarland and Brendan Emmett (4th December), highly-praised young singer (and former York student) Bella Hardy, accompanied by Chris Sherburn (11th September) and six-piece Australian bush band Wongawilli (10th July). There is a full list on the programme page of the club website. I don’t intend to commit to any 2009 bookings for a while yet. Apart from anything else, I still have to complete our Autumn 2008 NCEM concert schedule, which only has one firm date so far, Emily Smith on 25th November.
- ROY BAILEY STILL GOING STRONG. Next Thursday, 13th March, we are proud to present Roy Bailey, one of the most loved and admired performers in folk music. Roy began his singing career in a skiffle group 50 years ago, going on to be a leading interpreter of traditional folk song, then a spirited champion of radical modern songwriting. Roy has sung in folk clubs and concert halls, at festivals and on peace rallies, the length and breadth of the British Isles and in many other countries, always creating an intimate atmosphere of warmth and humour, hope and companionship. His voice remains vigorous and compassionate, and his commitment to basic human values is undiminished as he continues to draw on the rich tradition of “protest” song.
Roy’s performance at the Black Swan Inn is a pay-on-the-door event but has already attracted quite a bit of interest. As usual, I am happy to take seat reservations by phone or e-mail. Tony Morris MCs this one and we are due to have floor spots by three local songwriters: John Storey, Tim Pheby and David Swann.
- SCOTTISH MUSIC FEAST AT NCEM. For our first NCEM concert this season we switch from a 50 year folk veteran to a comparative youngster, the awesomely talented Shetland fiddle player, accordionist and singer Jenna Reid. She performs on Tuesday 18th March with her band, comprising her sister Bethany on piano and fiddle, guitarist Kevin Mackenzie and double bass player Duncan Lyall. They recently filled the Courthouse Arts Centre in Otley (even I couldn’t get a ticket!) and by all accounts went down a storm. Jenna may be young but she is highly experienced and also performs with Shetland band Filska, with Scottish supergroup Deaf Shepherd and with Julie Fowlis and others in Dòchas. Tickets are already more that half sold for her York concert, so don’t delay: book yours soon through the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, online at www.ncem.co.uk, or you can buy from me on Thursdays. Tickets cost £ 12 or £ 10 for concessions. The redoubtable Eddie Affleck acts as host for this one and will also be doing the half hour support spot.
- MORE GOOD STUFF TO FOLLOW AT NCEM. Another NCEM concert which is selling very well is (not surprisingly) the York debut of the trio voted Best Band in the BBC Folk Awards 2008, Lau, on Monday 21st April. Innovative local duo Pillowfish do the support set for this one and tickets cost £ 14 (£ 12 concessions).
Also attracting a fair bit of interest is a rare north of England performance by The Young Coppers at NCEM on Friday 4th April. This show comes only a week after the latest generation of the famous Sussex singing family launch their debut CD at a special party in Cecil Sharp House, London, and they take the cover feature on the latest edition of EFDSS magazine English Dance & Song. Five of the six Young Coppers will be present (Mark cannot make it) and they will be drawing on the celebrated Copper Family songbook – both old favourites and some of the less familiar items.
Exploiting the acoustic qualities of the Early Music Centre, this acapella concert will be unamplified – no PA system – and local unaccompanied singers Two Black Sheep & A Stallion (aka Ron, Peter and Martin) make a suitably spirited support act. Tickets are now booking at £ 12 (£ 10 concessions).
Our final spring concert at NCEM is by our Canadian friends Tanglefoot on Tuesday 6th May and this one is also now open for booking.
- MEANWHILE AT THE BLACK SWAN. The Thursday night club programme rolls on with a Singers & Musicians Night on Maundy Thursday, 20th March, and then we have the intriguing combination of Massachusetts-based singer Debra Cowan with English multi-talented guitarist Pete Smith on 27th March. David Moss & Masha Kaestner on 3rd April promise a particularly eclectic mix of musical styles, including David’s ethereal overtone chanting, then Anne Lister makes a long-overdue return on 10th April with her very distinctive brand of songwriting. More information about all of these artists in the next E-Newsletter.
So much for the Folk Club’s own activities. Now for a miscellany of other local news:
- FOLK WEEKEND PLANNING GETS UNDERWAY. The City of York Folk Weekend is now less than three months away and it is time for some serious planning. Could all artists interested in performing during the weekend (31st May and 1st June) please get in touch as soon as possible, together with some indication of preferred day(s) and time(s), if any. I have already had quite a few approaches, and I will be contacting other likely participants shortly, so I apologise if there is any cross posting. Of course I also need to hear from people willing to volunteer their services in other ways – assisting with PA, taking a turn as concert or folk club MC, leading a singaround or acting as a steward.
I would like to have a draft weekend programme ready by the end of April, which will be earlier than I have managed it in previous years. This is because the next Black Swan Folk Club brochure is due for publication in mid May (and therefore goes to the printers in early May), and I would like it to include the Folk Weekend programme in order to give the event maximum publicity. Of course, that is not to say there can’t be subsequent additions and alterations.
- CONGRATULATIONS, DELMA. I have just heard (very belatedly!) that NCEM Director Delma Tomlin was named an MBE in the New Year Honours, for her many contributions to the arts in Yorkshire. It is an award which is richly deserved. Also, the NCEM has done well in the recent Arts Council review of funding, receiving a 55% increase in its grant, which is further recognition of Delma’s outstanding vision and leadership. Well done!
- NEW MAGAZINES GALORE. The Spring editions of our various regional folk magazines are now available (on sale at club meetings) and as usual they all contain some interesting reading. Particularly noteworthy is Tykes’ News, which has changed production method and paper and now looks much clearer and more attractive, but still costs just £ 1.50. Also seen recently has been that new issue of English Dance & Song featuring the Young Coppers (see item 5 above) and the latest Rock ‘n’ Reel which includes a profile of Lau member Kris Drever and a short piece on our May 22nd club guests Dana & Susan Robinson. Both the latter magazines also have favourable reviews of Ben Harker’s biography of Ewan MacColl, Class Act (see E-News 76).
Congratulations go to local music scene magazine The Talk, which has reached its 50th edition this month. This sees a switch to a smaller “pocket friendly” format and includes glowing accounts of gigs by The Sultans of Swing and Martin Carthy at the club in January, plus a belated but very positive review of last year’s CD by Diad, alias Damian Fynes and Frank Pallister.
- YORK YOUNG FIDDLERS WORKSHOP. Local musician (and Bad Pennies member) Kate Bramley leads an all-day workshop for York Young Fiddlers at York Steiner School on Saturday 5th April, aimed at fiddler players aged between eight and eighteen. “If you play fiddle or violin, want to learn new tunes and new styles and meet other fiddlers of your own age, come and join us” they say. Find out more at www.yorkyoungfiddlers.org.uk.
- YORK CEILIDH CLUB. A reminder that York Ceilidh Club meets on the second Sunday of each month (except August), so their March event is due this Sunday, 9th. They always welcome new members “keen to learn lively dances from a wide repertoire of folk and barn dance traditions”. All dances are taught and called and no partner is needed. The venue is St Aelred’s Church Hall on Fifth Avenue in Tang Hall, York, and dances run from 7.30 to 10.00. Find out more at www.yorkceilidhclub.org.uk or ring Ros Batchelor on 01904 624216.
- THREE YORK GIGS TO NOTE:
- Singer/songwriter Suzy Bradley, a runner up in the 2006 Radio York Song Contest and enjoyed recently at a club Singers Night, has a support slot at Fibbers on Saturday (8th), under headline act Gwyneth Herbert. She also has a new EP out.
- Don’t forget the Strong Words and Swansongs poetry and music event at the Black Swan Inn next Monday (10th), as previewed in E-News 79.
- Local favourite Geoff Watson does a St Patrick’s Night special at the Yorkshire Hussar, North Street, on 17th March, singing Irish songs and a few of his own.
And finally a gallop around some other events in the wider region:
- KARINE POLWART appears at Pocklington Arts Centre next Wednesday, 12th March. For last minute ticket availability sing 01759 301547.
- SHOOGLENIFTY are the next guests of Saltaire Live, at the Victoria Hall on Friday 14th March with support from Kwame D. If their blend of Scottish music with modern beats is your thing, find out more at www.saltairelive.co.uk.
- QUICKSILVER present their “Make ‘Em Laugh” show, celebrating 100 years of comic song, at Reeth Memorial Hall on 14th March (www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk) and also at Otley Courthouse (26th April, www.courthouseproject.org.uk). Quicksilver are ex-Artisan singer Hilary Spencer and guitarist Grant Baynham (ex-That’s Life on TV!).
- KIRKBY FLEETHAM FOLK CLUB, fresh from the success of their Winter Warmer Weekend, have announced their programme for the next few months. Normal meetings are on the third Saturday of the month, with Tom Bliss on 15th March, plus student band Franana (also due at the Black Swan soon) and Robin Bailey. Venue is the Black Horse Inn and the web address is www.kirkbyfleethamfolkclub.co.uk.
- THE WHITE HART AT MICKLEBY (WHAM) is a lively club with a strong chorus singing reputation. They meet on Saturdays in the village pub at Mickleby, on the North York Moors near Whitby. Like ourselves they do a regular e-mail newsletter, which makes interesting reading. On 15th March they present Mary Humphreys and Anahata. To find out more or to see the newsletter, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- NOT THE WHITE HORSE. Another long-running club is the Beverley one, now known as Not The White Horse Folk Club, after the venue from which they were summarily evicted a couple of years ago. They now meet on Mondays at the Foresters Arms on Beckside in Beverley and have future guests including John Conolly next Monday (10th), Pete Coe and Grace Notes. Find out more at www.whfolk.co.uk.
- REMEMBERING JOHN WRIGHT. The following appeal is just in from Brian Prior, one of the organisers of the Guisborough Folk Club: “We feel sure you were saddened by the death of John Wright; he will be missed by us all. John and his band were due to be the guests at our club on the 16th March and we have decided to go ahead with the rest of the band doing the night. We feel that many of John's fans will want to support the band in these difficult times and would be grateful for any publicity you can give for their evening with us. Ticket details are available from Joan on 01642270674.”
- HELMSLEY FOLK WEEKEND. Word reaches me of a Folk Weekend planned for the 9th-11th May at the Arts Centre in Helmsley. The main events are evening concerts with Last Night’s Fun (Friday), Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies (Saturday) and Vin Garbutt (Sunday). The Yorkshire Garland team will be there to present a workshop on Yorkshire folk songs, Jez will offer a singing workshop, and there will be sessions and singarounds. Find out more from Jean Kershaw on 01439 771109 or go to www.helmsleyarts.co.uk.
That’s it for now! Hopefully I will be back shortly after the Easter break.