Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 81

Late March 2008

This newsletter is a week or so later than I had originally planned, due to the death of the club PC (item 1). Add in the unavailability of the club website (item 2) and we’ve been having serious technical hassles recently. Thank goodness for the great music which makes up for the headaches.

  1. COMPUTER HASSLES. Sadly, the club PC died on Good Friday morning. We’d had it (second-hand) for almost five years, so I suppose it had had a good innings. Thanks very much to Geoff Watson, who came to our assistance over Easter and after diagnosing the damage as terminal managed to retrieve all our precious data from the hard drive. Heartfelt thanks also to Stan Graham who guided me through the selection and purchase of a replacement machine last weekend. It is a sign of the changing IT market that we have paid significantly less for a high-specification new system, with peripherals, than we paid for a very good but second-hand system in 2003. Still, it is just as well that the club funds were healthy after last year’s trading surplus!
    The new PC has been successfully installed and our data files loaded, but of course I am now well behind schedule. I had intended not only to do this E-Newsletter over Easter but also to get to grips with Folk Weekend planning and catch up with e-correspondence. If you have e-mailed me during the second half of March and are still awaiting a reply, please accept my apologies. You should hear from me within the next day or two. For Folk Weekend latest, see item 7 below.

  2. WEBSITE HASSLES. The club website has been unavailable since 6th March. Lengthy calls by account holder Stan Graham (whose personal website is also down) to the hosting company have so far failed to resolve matters and it looks as though we’ll have to move to a new host to get back online. Meanwhile our web master Michael Jary has set up a basic temporary site at to which he will soon be adding some diary dates. Also, Phil Myers has set up a MySpace page for us at Starting a MySpace page is something we’ve been discussing for quite a while, so thanks very much to Phil for taking the plunge. Hopefully by the time I do the next E-News the main site will be back on line and we’ll have a better than ever overall web presence.

And now for what really matters, the music. Can I urge you to support one or other (or even both) of this week’s distinctive events:

  1. LIGHT GARDEN WITH DAVID & MASHA. This Thursday, 3rd April, we have something rather different from our usual fare, when David Moss and Masha Kaestner present their Light Garden show. David does both conventional singing and Mongolian style overtone harmonics, as well as switching between bouzouki, fiddle and mandolin, while Masha adds portable harmonium. The music is an eclectic blend of influences from Celtic, European and Middle Eastern traditions. Words that crop in reviews include "tranquil", "transporting", "angelic" and "intriguing". David was the front-man with innovative Whitby band Banoffi for several years and has previously played at the Black Swan in that guise. When he and Masha came to a Singers Night to demonstrate their new music we were greatly impressed and this booking soon followed. They are recent winners of a PRS (Performing Rights Society) ATOM Award for Quality and Originality, and their York show is support by Arts Council (Yorkshire) under the final year of its Musicians in Residence scheme. Our own musical eclectic Tony Morris is MC on Thursday and entry is £ 7 (£ 6 concessions).

  2. SING OUT WITH THE COPPERS. Friday night, 4th April, brings our next NCEM concert of the season, an English acapella song fest with The Young Coppers, the latest generation of the celebrated Sussex folk singing family. Copper family members are recorded as singers for at least seven generations back in time and the treasury of songs which the family has preserved include many favourites of the modern folk scene. The Young Coppers are the grandchildren of the late Bob Copper MBE, a celebrated writer and broadcaster as well as singer, and they are determined to keep the family heritage alive well into the 21st Century.
    The Young Coppers have just released Passing Out, a debut CD of songs from the Copper Family songbook, launched last week at Cecil Sharp House in London with special guests from the youth wing of folk music such as John Spiers, Jim Moray and our friend Laura Hockenhull. Early CD reviews talk about “the seamless transmission of songs to a new generation” (English Dance & Song) and “sustaining a remarkable aspect of British culture” (Uncut), while bringing “more than just a sentimental joy to the music” (Daily Telegraph). The Young Coppers have also been involved in the recent award-winning Imagined Village project.
    Despite all the above activity, the Young Coppers remain a determinedly non-professional group. They all have day jobs (and indeed one of the six usual family members, Mark, cannot be present on Friday). Hence this is a very rare chance to see them anywhere in the north of England. On present plans they won’t be back in these parts until the Musicport festival in October.
    Exploiting the acoustic qualities of the Early Music Centre, Friday night’s concert will be an unamplified affair (no PA system) and also features a support set by local acapella trio Two Black Sheep And A Stallion (aka Ron Akehurst, Peter Outhart and Martin Bartlett), who like the Coppers sing with gusto and invariably with glasses of beer close to hand. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and tickets are still available at £ 12 (£ 10 concessions) from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, or on the door, or from me on Thursday. Venue information and on-line booking is at

  3. MORE GOOD STUFF TO FOLLOW AT NCEM. At present there are still tickets available for the York debut of Lau, the trio voted Best Band in the BBC Folk Awards 2008, but that could well change so don’t delay your booking for too long. That one is on Monday 21st April at the Early Music Centre. Innovative local duo Pillowfish do the support set and tickets cost £14 (£12 concessions).
    Our final Spring concert at NCEM is by our Canadian friends Tanglefoot on Tuesday 6th May and this one has plenty of tickets left at this stage. It is priced at £12 (£10 concessions) and David Swann does the opening spot. Tickets can be bought from the NCEM Box Office (as in item 4 above) or through myself.

  4. MEANWHILE AT THE BLACK SWAN. The Thursday night club programme continues when Anne Lister makes a long-overdue return on 10th April with her very distinctive brand of songwriting. The monthly Singers & Musicians Night takes place on 17th April, then we have a Young Performers Showcase on 24th April with two trios, Franana and Midnight Special, followed on May Day by high-energy Anglo-American band Gypsy Reel. Looking a bit further ahead, please remember that advance tickets are now available (and already selling) for New York City 60s folk legend Eric Andersen on 15th May – from myself or via the NCEM Box Office.

  5. FOLK WEEKEND LATEST. I’ve had lots of approaches from local singers and bands about the Folk Weekend on 31st May and 1st June and it looks like we’ll have a couple of very full and lively days. The IT problems mentioned earlier have slowed down the business of collating responses and working out running order options, but now that we have a new club PC (and while I have a few days off work) things should fall further into place.
    Of course most of the annual favourites will be there: not just Black Swan Folk Club residents but groups such as Soundsphere, Ripple, Two Black Sheep and The Basement Band and soloists like Dan Webster, Graham Hodge and Pete Mitchell (of Los Yobos fame). New bands this year include Union Central, Sixpenny Wayke, Midnight Special and Beneath The Oak, while visitors from the wider region include Duncan McFarlane, Anne Curran, Wendy Arrowsmith, and Paul Pearson. On the dance front we have local sides Ebor and Acorn on Saturday, plus Medusa from Harrogate, and (subject to confirmation) Minster Strays on Sunday.
    Aside from the usual sessions, open mics, singarounds and mini-concerts, indoor events include a Sunday lunchtime “poems and pints” hour and Sunday evening with the York Songwriters Circle. Soundsphere are organising vocal workshops on Sunday morning (at another venue), which will be followed by an afternoon “open sing” at the Black Swan. Yes, things are definitely taking shape. Watch this space for more news!

So much for the Folk Club’s own activities. Now for a miscellany of other local events:

  1. RUBY’s GUARDIAN ANGELS. Singer/songwriter Ruby Paul appears in concert at City Screen Basement Bar on Tuesday 8th April, in a fund-raising event for the High Dependency Unit at York Hospital. She will be introducing two new young singing talents discovered through her recent “Search for the Voice of an Angel” competition, winner Natasha Merritt and runner-up Bethan Ratcliffe. We had a nice taster for this one when Ruby and Natasha sang at our pre-Easter Singers Night. Tickets are £4 from the City Screen Box Office, 08717 042054.

  2. SONGWRITERS WEEKEND. Two events on successive nights at the Black Swan Inn showcase some of the talents nurtured by the York Songwriters Circle. On Saturday 12th April there is a Triple Bill of Belle Union, David Swann and Maggie Allred. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start and tickets are £5 (£3 concessions), reservable in advance on 07933 239133. The next night, Sunday 13th April, Harrogate-based John Storey launches his debut CD Love, Lives and Landscape, in the same York venue. Supporting John and performing in their own right will be some of the musicians who guested on the CD, including David Swann and Maggie Allred (busy people!), David Thomas and Stan Graham, who will also act as MC. This one starts at 7.30 and is a free event.

  3. A BUSY WEDNESDAY IN MAY. Looking ahead to 7th May, I’ve been asked to mention two competing events taking place in York on the same night (and the day after our Tanglefoot concert – a case of over-congestion in the folk diary?).
    At the Theatre Royal you can enjoy The Demon Barber Roadshow, the high-energy music and dance spectacular featuring Damien Barber and his folk-rock band alongside a range of young Irish, clog and Morris dancers. Described as youthful, enthralling and charismatic, the Demon Barbers combine melodeon, guitar and fiddle on a largely traditional repertoire with a superbly tight rhythm section. They were described thus in fRoots: “with driven punchy tunes and songs, drum ‘n’ bass grooves, the odd touch of ska and an ever present feel that this lot know how to party.” The Theatre Royal show (which begins at 8pm and costs £12 or £5 concessions) features the premiere of a pilot project created by Damien and Yorkshire Dance. “Be one of the first to see this stunning fusion between traditional clog dance, break dance, beat box and percussion” it says here. 01904 623568 /
    For something a little more cerebral the same evening, cross town to the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on the University campus. Folk From Here is a collaboration between table player Kuljit Bhamra and Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell. Joined by sitar, fiddle and melodeon players, they will be exploring the connections between, and possibilities in combining, Indian and British folk traditions. This is a 7.30pm start, cost £14 (£12 concessions). 01904 432439 /

And finally another gallop around some other events in the wider region:

  1. KATHRN WILLIAMS & NEILL MACCOLL have been attracting a lot of good press for their new partnership. Check them out at Pocklington Arts Centre on Saturday 12th April. Go to or ring 01759 301547.

  2. MICHAEL MARRA appears at The Shed at Hovingham the same night, 12th April. This one is already Sold Out but I still want to mention it because, having put him on twice now at the Black Swan, it is a real pleasure to see this unique Scottish songwriter getting noticed by other local promoters, and even better to see him staring out of the cover of The Shed’s current brochure!

  3. 422 lead a dance party also on 12th April, if that is more your thing. This one is at the Otley Courthouse and they warn “book early: tickets (£10/£8) are limited to ensure space for dancing”. 01943 467466 /

  4. KATHRYN TICKELL does a more conventional concert with her usual band (which of course includes one member of 422!) at The Priestley, Chapel Street in Bradford on Friday 25th April. Tickets are £16 (£14 concessions) and it is an 8pm start. Book on 01274 820666 or via

  5. SALSA CELTICA entertain at Saltaire Live, at the Victoria Hall, on Sunday 27th April. Tickets are £12.50 on 01274 588614 or via

  6. KLEZMER MUSIC is featured in a daytime event at Leeds University School of Music also on Sunday 27th April. From 10am until 1pm there is a Klezmer music and Yiddish dance workshop led by Ilana Cravitz, then from 2.30pm to 5pm there is a concert by FDT Klezmorim (some of “the most in-demand performers on the UK klezmer scene”), entitled “Bessarabia – London – Philadelphia: Klezmer from Old World to New and back again”. Tickets are available for either event or for the whole day. Find out more by e-mailing

Lastly, we return to the IT theme with a real funny. A few weeks ago I received an email enquiring whether membership was required to attend the club for Mike Whellans’ show in August. Wait a moment, I thought – Mike was last with us in 2004! I then checked the date on the e-mail. A message sent in June 2004 finally reached my inbox on 8th March 2008. So much for email being “instant” communication!