Late July 2008
Another month and more, so it is high time we had another bulletin.
- TWO GREAT SINGERS FROM DOWN UNDER. Our next club guests are two particular favourites of mine and their visit promises one of the musical highlights of the summer. Kate Burke & Ruth Hazleton (31st July) are both outstanding singers in their own right, while the subtle contrast between voices makes their harmony work truly amazing. They are also skilled accompanists on combinations of guitar, bouzouki and fiddle. They have a deep love of traditional song – British, Irish and American as well as their native Australian – but nor are they afraid to include a few contemporary and self-penned songs in their set.
Kate & Ruth first visited us in 2002 and so impressed us that they were rebooked in 2004. Other commitments have kept them away from the UK in recent years but at last they are back. In fact Ruth had to miss the first stage of this tour due to illness, and Kate did some very creditable solo shows, but now Ruth has joined her and they are currently doing some performances in Ireland in a mouth-watering package with Andy Irvine (a good friend and mentor of theirs), Nancy Kerr and James Fagan.
Doors open as usual at 8pm on the 31st and entry is £ 7 (concessions £ 6). Find out more at www.kateandruth.com or (more up-t-date) www.myspace.com/katenruth.
- NORTHERN TRASH WITH ROGER DAVIES. We switch from traditional folk to quirky and commendable new songs when Roger Davies joins us on 7th August. There’s a real buzz about this young songwriter. "The best I’ve seen in twenty years. If I had a torch I’d throw it to him" says no less a stern critic than Harvey Andrews, one of many who have saluted his talent. Defiantly proud of his roots in Huddersfield, Roger writes from experience, with deceptive simplicity, understated humour and some delightful turns of phrase. "Good old fashioned English singer-songwriter" said one online review "each song strong, self-contained, melodic and honed by stagecraft".
We first noticed Roger’s talent when he showed up at some of our Singers Nights, then last spring he shared billing at a Young Performers event. Since then he has appeared at numerous festivals and music venues as a soloist, or in occasional collaborations with either the poet Simon Armitage or fellow young musicians Jon Gomm and Charlie Barker. Now we can enjoy a whole evening of Roger at the Black Swan. This one is £ 6 on the door (concessions £ 5).
- A WARM WELCOME FOR BRAM. Alternate summers in York would hardly be complete without a visit by Bram Taylor, one of our favourite "stalwarts" of the UK folk scene. He is a thoroughly entertaining performer with a strong, clear and tuneful voice and a wide repertoire of both modern and traditional songs, laced together with a grand line in Lancashire patter. Just the recipe for a relaxed musical evening. Bram revisits us on 14th August and entry is £ 6 (concessions £ 5).
- COMING NEXT – OUR FULL AUTUMN PROGRAMME. Our club programme for the rest of 2008 is now complete and here is a preview of the good things in store:
- August: Singers (21st), Bryony (28th)
- September: Tom Bliss (4th), Bella Hardy with Chris Sherburn (11th). Singers (18th), The Churchfitters (from France, 25th)
- October: Dam McKinnon (Canada, 2nd), Katy Moffatt (USA, 9th), Singers (16th), Steve Suffet & Anne Price (USA, 23rd), David Francey (Canada, 30th)
- November: Chris Wood (6th), Tom McConville & Gerry Kaley (13th), Singers (20th), Young Performers Double Bill with Jiggawatt and Niamh Boadle (27th)
- December: Fil Campbell with Tom McFarland & Brendan Emmett (Ireland, 4th), Mike Silver (11th), Christmas Party (18th)
As previewed in E-News 85, NCEM autumn folk concerts are: Kerr Fagan Harbron plus Methera (Friday 3rd October), Rachel Unthank & The Winterset (Monday 20th October), Tim O’Brien (Saturday 15th November), Emily Smith (Tuesday 25th November) and Jo Freya’s Lal Waterson Project (Tuesday 2nd December). The NCEM Box Office opens for these in very late August or early September.
- TICKETING FOR CLUB EVENTS – FEEDBACK WANTED. Most of you will be aware that at present we only offer an advance booking facility for our Black Swan Inn club nights on a few selected occasions. This service is currently provided for us (for a modest commission) by the NCEM Box Office, and is only used for the "big name" artists such as Martin Carthy where we anticipate very high demand. Most other club events are simply "pay on the door".
However, I regularly get calls and e-mails asking if tickets can be bought beforehand for other club events, and I often end up with a "reservations" list on the door. For example I’ve had several ticket enquiries about this week’s club with Kate and Ruth. People often travel quite long distances to see someone perform at our club and naturally they can be reluctant to do so without the assurance of tickets in hand.
Hence I have been mulling over the idea of making tickets available in advance for ALL club guest nights. This would probably be too much work for too little reward for Caroline and her staff at NCEM, but there are several efficient and reliable on-line ticketing services which are willing to work with events on our scale. For example, I’ve had good reports about WeGotTickets.com. With them, you can book up to 6pm on the day of performance and get a booking reference as proof of purchase. You are charged a 10% booking fee on top of the ticket price.
Before I make a decision, can I ask for comments from you, our potential audience? What experience have you had with such firms? Would you consider using such a service if it were available for Black Swan events? Would that make you more inclined to visit the club more often? Any and all feedback will be much appreciated.
I should stress that any such change of ticketing policy will only apply to events at the Black Swan Inn. Ticket sales for our concerts at the National Centre for Early Music will continue to be handled largely by the NCEM Box Office, with whom we have a very friendly and efficient relationship.
- FOLK WEEKEND 2009 – AN OPEN MEETING. There will be an open meeting on Monday 8th September at the Black Swan Inn to "de-brief" on this year’s Folk Weekend and discuss our options for 2009. After this year’s event I’m sure everyone will want to try a repeat next year, but what improvements could we make? Also, do we stick with the same weekend (30th and 31st May) and do we try to take in the Friday evening as well? We welcome all feedback, so do come along if you can. And if you can’t manage the meeting but have a suggestion to make, send it to me by e-mail and I’ll take it along for discussion.
And now for a miscellany of other news items
- RAY’S COMPUTER CRASH. Ray Black, folk activist and musician in the Harrogate area, tells me that he suffered a major PC crash last month and lost his entire address book. If you have cause to think that you were in Ray’s address book, or that you ought to be, then please get in touch with him on email@example.com and re-supply your e-address.
- FOLK CLUB HISTORY AROUND HARROGATE. The next news item also comes from Ray Black, who tells us that fellow enthusiast Mark Ellison has set up a website giving the history of folk clubs in and around Harrogate. It can be found at www.folkclubs.wikispaces.com and has some fascinating content, including archive pictures, old posters and so on. If you ever used to attend folk events in Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and thereabouts it is well worth checking out. Ray writes that Mark’s information is "detailed and accurate but could never be complete – there are many people out there with information in their heads". If anyone has relevant information, they can submit it direct to the site or via Mark on Mark.Ellison@bl.uk. "Any documented facts in the form of pictures, articles, posters, tickets or other would be very useful" says Ray.
How about one of you doing the same sort of thing for York’s folk revival history? As somebody who settled in York a mere 25 years ago, I confess I am vague about the earlier sequence of clubs and sessions in our city. Indeed, I’ve never even been able to establish precisely when the current Black Swan Folk Club was founded!
- MONDAY MUSIC NO MORE AT THE REGENT. Sad news from South Yorkshire. Bob Chiswick announces the closure of his Monday night music club at The Regent in Doncaster, due to dwindling attendances, culminating in one recent event with just two people in the audience. Bob has done sterling work over the last four years in promoting live music and the list of 116 guest artists who have performed at his club is virtually a roll call of the current folk & acoustic scene. As a fellow organiser who knows just how hard it is to get "bums on seats", all I can say to Bob is "Thanks" for all that you achieved and "Good Luck" with your own music in the future.
- STAN ON AIR. Our own Stan Graham is now a broadcaster! He presents a weekly show on Drystone Radio, a community internet radio station serving the Craven and Airedale areas. It is called The Akoustik Hour (sic) and goes out on Mondays at 8pm, online at www.drystoneradio.co.uk and hopefully soon on FM as well. News, requests and feedback very welcome – contact Stan on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another community station with a folk music slot is Phoenix Radio in Calderdale, which goes out locally on 96.7FM and streams live at www.phoenixfm.co.uk. Their folk show goes out 10am to noon on Sundays with "various presenters".
- DON IN PRINT. Our best loved local poet and Black Swan resident Don Walls has just published his third book of verse, following on from In The Shed (2005) and Inside Out (2006). Called Down The Lane, the new book contains over 70 poems, some serious, some humorous and some often both at once. Many will be familiar from Don’s almost weekly readings at our club and at other local venues. The book has one of Don’s own striking paintings on the cover, costs £ 7.95 and is available at all Black Swan meetings and usually from Don himself on his wanderings around York.
- GRAND OPERA HOUSE AUTUMN SHOWS. For once I have no news of imminent local folk/acoustic gigs – it must be the summer closed season! – but I have had word from the Grand Opera House in York about their autumn schedule. Most attention will focus on gigs by Ralph McTell (Saturday 25th October) and Kate Rusby (Sunday 16th November), but also of interest will be Eddie Reader (clashing with us, unfortunately, on 23rd October) and Joe Brown with Sam Brown (Friday 7th November). Find out more at www.GrandOperaHouseYork.org.uk.
Lastly, a resume of some other events taking place soon in the wider area
- CHARITY CELIDH. For those within striking distance of Teesside, there is an Open Air Charity Ceilidh on Saturday 2nd August at Preston Park Walled Garden, off the A135 between Yarm and Stockton. It runs 6pm to 9pm in aid of Butterwick Hospice, and the band is Accordance with caller Dave Turner. Tickets (£ 5, children free) and more info from Clair Boyd on 01325 488089, email@example.com.
- COCKERSDALE IN A FEVA. The annual FEVA festival in Knaresborough always has at least one good folk concert and this year it falls on Monday 11th August at 7.30pm in the Frazer Theatre, off the High Street. Cockersdale headline and other guests include Otley monologist Kevin Collier, Zeke Deighton, The Knaresborough Mummers and Betty Lupton’s Ladle Laikers. The evening also sees the launch of The Blind Jack Band, a CD of Yorkshire songs issued in aid of Henshaw’s Society for Blind People. The man behind both CD and concert is the indefatigable Mark Ellison (see item 8 above). Tickets cost £ 8 (concessions £ 6), from Knaresborough Tourist Information Centre or from the Harrogate International Centre Box Office, 0845 130 8840, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CHOICE OF FESTIVALS. The second weekend in August (8th, 9th and 10th) gives you a choice of two reasonably local folk festivals. The well-established event at Saltburn has headliners including Vin Garbutt (as always), Jez Lowe, Steve Tilston, Roy Bailey and The Sands Family. Find out more on 01287 622623 or at www.myspace.com/saltburnfolkfestival. Meanwhile the brand new event on the Showground at Pickering has an ambitious guest list including The Waterboys, Cara Dillon and Luka Bloom (Friday), Eddie Reader, Last Night’s Fun and Bella Hardy (Saturday) and Eliza Carthy, Clive Gregson, Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick and Coope Boyes & Simpson (Sunday). Find out more at www.pickeringfolkfestival.com.
- HEIDI AND BOO IN REETH. Concerts continue through the summer months at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale, with the next one featuring Heidi Talbot & Boo Hewerdine on Friday 15th August. Tickets cost £ 10 – for bookings and further details contact John Little on 01748 884759, email@example.com.
Enjoy what is left of the summer and do keep on supporting live music.