Late Sept 2008
Hello. I’m back at last with another York area folk music bulletin. I had intended to get this newsletter out much earlier but many other things got in the way. As usual, I begin with a focus on forthcoming Black Swan Folk Club events:
- CHURCHFITTING THE FRENCH WAY. This week’s club (25th) should be a lively affair as we welcome Anglo – Irish – French folk rockers The Churchfitters, who sound like being great fun. Originally from East Anglia but long-based in Brittany, this four piece band play songs and tunes from Ireland, Scotland, England and North America, together with original numbers. They have three explosive lead vocalists, one of whom has been described as the “Annie Lennox of folk”, and the instrumental line-up includes fiddle, guitar, banjo, dulcimer, mandolin, bouzouki, double bass, flute, saxophone, percussion and more!
When they took the booking I explained to the Churchfitters the relatively small size of our club room but they assured me they could squeeze themselves in and still leave space for an audience! Let’s hope it’s a really full house. It is a £ 7 evening (or £ 6 concessions) and our first event where you can book online at www.wegottickets.com (as quite a few people have already done, I note). There will also be tickets available on the night with the usual “doors open” time of 8pm. The band are using their own modest PA and John Cherry is Master of Ceremonies. See you there!
- WELCOME BACK CANADIAN DAN. October is emphatically North America month at the Black Swan and it begins on 2nd October with a heartily welcome reprise for the Nova Scotian singer Dan McKinnon who impressed one and all on his 2006 UK tour (“why haven’t I heard of this guy before – he’s brilliant” was a standard response). Dan is a supremely warm-heated, rich-voiced singer who writes some grand songs of his own while also turning in great versions of traditional numbers, Stan Rogers songs, etc. David Kidman MCs this one and amongst the floor performers will be a welcome couple of “non-residents”, Ian Pybus and John Storey. Tickets are £ 6 (£ 5 concessions), on the door or in advance through www.wegottickets.com.
- AND LIKEWISE KATY MOFFATT. One of our very best club nights last year was spent in the company of US singer-songwriter Katy Moffatt, so we bent our usual “two year rule” for a return engagement and signed her up for 9th October on her next British tour, . Appealing to fans across the country/folk/Americana spectrum, Katy is quite simply a top class writer of songs and a marvellous performer, particularly in an “up close and personal” small venue setting. Last year’s gig earned a glowing review in Americana magazine Maverick, which as well as praising Katy’s singing said some very favourable things about the club itself. Chris Euesden MCs this one (who else?) and Stan Graham is amongst the floor singers lined up. Tickets are £ 8 (or £ 6.50 concessions and again, online advance booking is available at www.wegottickets.com.
- FULL AUTUMN PROGRAMME Available. One of the things keeping me busy this month has been writing, printing and distributing our new club brochure. I attach the basic “blurbs” to the programme. North America month continues with New Yorkers Steve Suffet & Anne Price (23rd October) and Canadian David Francey (3Oth), then a very English night with Chris Wood (6th November), followed by the inimitable Tom McConville (13th). We have a Young Performers Showcase on 27th November, an Irish night with Fil Campbell (4th December) and a pre-Christmas treat with Mike Silver (11th December). Singers Nights are 16th October, 20th November and the Christmas Party on 18th December.
- “WE GOT TICKETS” NOW IN OPERATION. As outlined in E-News 88, we are using the online agency WeGotTickets.com to facilitate advance booking. Simply go to their website, search under “York Black Swan” and see a full list of forthcoming club guests. You can book up to 6pm on the day of performance and all you pay on top of the ticket price is a 10% booking fee. Note that there are separate lines for each event for Full Price and Concessions tickets.
On most Thursdays, there will also be plenty of tickets left for sale on the door, but in a few cases we will certainly sell out beforehand – Chris Wood’s gig is sure to be one such. This is an experiment for the current season, and we’d be interested to have your feedback – good or critical – once you’ve used the system.
- FOLK WEEKEND UPDATE. The recent Open Meeting drew a small but enthusiastic group of participants and there was little in the way of controversy. This year’s event was judged such a success that we will stick with pretty much the same format next year, on the same weekend, 30th-31st May 2009. Some enhancements were agreed and it was decided to see if we could also do something in the marquee on Friday evening, possibly a small barn dance or a distinctively themed concert. Watch out for more news in the new year.
Next, a look at the forthcoming National Centre for Early Music folk concert series:
- KFH METHERA DOUBLE BILL. Our first NCEM concert, a week on Friday, 3rd October, is a celebration of virtuoso music making with two acts who are deeply rooted in traditional music but believe in taking it forward in interesting new ways. “Super-trio” Kerr Fagan Harbron brings together one of our favourite duos, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, with multi-instrumentalist Robert Harbron (Dr Faustus, Tim Van Eyken’s Band and many other projects) and is rapidly being recognised as a top live act. Using fiddle, bouzouki, guitars and concertina, and with three fine voices, they present songs and tunes from Britain, Ireland, Australia and America.
Methera use the rich textures of the classic string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) to explore English folk tunes both old and new, creating music which respects tradition yet defies convention. The line-up includes John Dipper (English Acoustic Collective, Martyn Wyndham Read’s No Mans Band) and Emma Reid (seen at the Black Swan earlier this year with Roger Wilson) as well as Lucy Deakin and Miranda Rutter. “A marvel of musicality: sublime, beautiful, intense and passionate” says Karen Tweed.
For this special Double Bill tour, these two exciting young bands will be performing both individually and in various combinations. Also, they have opted to take full advantage of the NCEM’s natural acoustics and will be playing in unamplified mode, without PA! We tried this approach vocally with The Young Coppers last spring and it worked well. The concert begins at 7.30 prompt (with no support) and tickets at £ 12 (£ 10 concessions) are still available from myself or through the NCEM Box Office at www.ncem.co.uk, 01904 658338. Note that we are NOT using WeGotTickets for NCEM events.
- MORE GOOD THINGS TO COME. Nationwide Mercury Music Prize nominees Rachel Unthank & The Winterset appear at NCEM on Monday 20th October and not surprisingly this one is selling very fast, with only a few tickets left – from either myself or the venue box office (as above).
Also selling well is the York debut of American folk/roots star Tim O’Brien on Saturday 15th November. Excellent young Scottish singer Emily Smith returns on Tuesday 25th November with her band (and graces the front cover of the NCEM’s colourful autumn brochure). Finally, the Centre themselves have booked Jo Freya’s Lal Waterson Project for a concert on Tuesday 2nd December celebrating the evocative and enigmatic songs of this late and lamented writer.
And now a long run through other folk, roots and acoustic music events taking place in and around York in coming weeks (in no particular order!)
- DON’S BOOK LAUNCH. Much loved and admired local poet Don Walls (no relation) will be well known to most of you. He reads some of his work virtually every Thursday at the Black Swan and always gets a great reception. Earlier this year he published his third book of verse, Down The Lane, and this coming Friday (26th) there is an informal launch event at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane in York. Don will of course be reading some poems, interspersed with tunes and songs from some of his many musical friends and admirers. Free entry, from 8.30-ish!
- POCKLINGTON, LEEDS, OTLEY & GOOLE. Regional arts venues have now announced their autumn seasons and I have had brochures through from four of them. Each has some fine concerts lined up and I am happy to see no direct clashes with Black Swan events.
Pocklington Arts Centre (www.pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk) has some particularly adventurous programming. John McCusker is there twice this autumn: with Heidi Talbot, Kris Drever and Boo Hewerdine in October, and later with his “Under One Sky” project in December, joined for the latter by Julie Fowlis, Roddy Woomble and an all-star cast. There is also the annual Acoustic Blues Weekend and concerts by Michelle Shocked, Tom Russell and others.
The McCusker, Drever et al Roadshow also stops off at Leeds City Varieties (www.cityvarieties.co.uk), and there are Gaelic nights with Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie) and Julie Fowlis, plus the Roy Bailey/Tony Benn show The Writing On The Wall. After this season City Varieties closes for about 18 months for refurbishment.
Otley Courthouse (www.courthouseproject.org.uk) has concerts by Uiscedwr (now with Karen Tweed in the line-up) and by Bodega, plus monthly Court In Session shows.
The Gate at Goole (www.thegategoole.com) has less folk than usual but there is a date for Peggy and PJ (aka Dave Pegg & PJ Wright) and a Yorkshire songwriters event with the very excellent David Ward Maclean plus Holly Taymar and Joe Solo.
- WORLD MUSIC AT NCEM. Don’t forget that the Early Music Centre in York hosts a world music series in parallel with our own folk programme. World Sound concerts this autumn include music from Congo and Japan, South India and Rajasthan, plus the bands Terrafolk and Tango Siempre. Watch out in particular for the end-of-season event “Russian Winter & Gypsy Fire” with Anglo-Russian trio Koshka. Find full details at www.ncem.co.uk.
- COOL KULA IN KNARESBOROUGH. New promoters Kula Productions are running exciting folk and roots concerts at the Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough. Things got under way with Martin Simpson last week and continue with Eliza Carthy on Wednesday 29th October. Find out more at www.kula-productions.com.
- BATTLING ON IN REETH. John Little keeps up the good work at Reeth Memorial Hall in Swaledale. He tells us there are only a handful of tickets left for The Battlefield Band on Friday 10th October. John Tams & Barry Coope follow on 24th October (with Kate Bramley as support) and then Ira Bernstein & Riley Baugus present “Appalachian Roots” on Saturday 8th November. See www.reethmemorialhall.co.uk.
- ACOUSTIC GIGS AT THE BLACK SWAN. Here in York, our own esteemed venue plays host to other acoustic gigs from time to time. For example on Saturday 11th October there is a female songwriters night with Gina Dootson, Jess Morgan and TWO (aka Helen Turner & Sharon Winfield). It’s an 8pm start, £ 5 on the door.
The following weekend, on Sunday 19th October, York Songwriters Circle present another “New Singers, New Songs” event at the same venue, with a selection of their members each doing a short set. Things get under way at 8pm and this one is Free!
- MUSIC PLUS AT MELTONS TOO. As noted in E-News 87, the Loft at Melton’s Too cafe bistro on Walmgate in York is proving a sympathetic acoustic music venue. Next Wednesday (1st October) they have a Music & Poetry Evening with Miles Cain and the very excellent Allan & Liam Wilkinson, plus poets Oz Hardwick, Dave Gough and once again Don Walls. Doors open at 7.30 and entry is just £ 1.
Melton’s Too is also the venue for three other local singer-songwriters on Wednesday 15th October. Belle Union, Ian Simpson and Paula Ryan join forces for “The Cutting Edge”. Admission is just £ 1 and the music, which ranges from “funky gaelic to melodic acoustic”, gets underway at 8.30pm
- ROOTS NORTH(ALLERTON). There’s a festival of “Folk Roots and Blues” taking place this coming weekend in Northallerton. On the folk side, artists taking part include Brother Crow, Blind Summat, Richard Grainger & Chris Parkinson, Gordon Tyrrall, Landermason and the Mick West Trio. Find out more at www.rootsnorth.co.uk.
- WETHERBY (FOLK) FESTIVAL. This year the annual arts festival in Wetherby is entirely devoted to Folk Music. Spot the influence of Festival organiser and Living Tradition assistant editor Debbie Koritsas! Artists appearing at “Folk In The Fall” over the weekend of 31st October to 2nd November include Edwina Hayes, Ruth Notman, Karine Polwart, Bella Hardy & Chris Sherburn and Bellevue Rendezvous. Find out full details at www.wetherbyfestival.co.uk.
- INNUENDOS AT THE JUNCTION. Lastly, Paul Young, asks me tell you that his rather fine band Magic P and the Innuendos are headlining at The Junction on Leeman Road in York on Friday 25th October. As anyone who saw them at the Folk Weekend will testify, this is an interesting and unusual young band. Find out more at www.myspace.com/magicpandtheinnuendos.
Apologies if I have overlooked anything but it is approaching midnight and I need to wrap it up. Do keep on supporting live music.