Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 91

Late Oct 2008

Hello again. As usual there’s lots of good stuff coming up, so here goes...

  1. DAVID FRANCEY UPDATE. At the time of writing (27th) there are still plenty of tickets left for our special Canadian guest this Thursday, David Francey, but that could all change over the next few days, so do go online at and make a booking if you fully intend to come along. David is accompanied by a very talented guitarist, Craig Werth, and he has asked that Craig be given the chance to do a short solo spot as well. We have re-arranged our floor spots accordingly. I won’t repeat what I said last time about David, but if you want to know more, please visit

  2. CHRIS WOOD SOLD OUT. Very definitely Sold Out is Chris Wood’s debut performance at the Black Swan on 6th November. If you haven’t bought or reserved a ticket by now then I’m afraid you are too late. Glancing at Chris’ autumn tour schedule we are just about the smallest venue listed and so it should come as little surprise!

  3. TOMMY ON SONG. Looking through the club guest list archives (which stretch back to 1979) the name Tom McConville occurs at least sixteen times. And justifiably so! I’ve just received Tom’s latest CD, Tommy On Song, and what strikes me most, alongside the outstanding fiddle playing for which he has long been famed, is the strength and expression in his vocal work. The album includes numbers by writers as diverse as Mark Knopfler and Phil Ochs, Archie Fisher and Jez Lowe, good friend Allan Taylor and old sparring partner Kieran Halpin. No doubt many of these will be aired when Tom revisits the Black Swan on Thursday 13th November – and I hope he’ll do his classic rendition of Richard Thompson’s Beeswing as well, for my money the best version by a good head in a very crowded field!
    Tom has worked with many notable musical partners over the years. There was the early duo with Kieran Halpin, then the group Dab Hand with Tom Napper, Jez Lowe and (later) Gordon Tyrrall, and more recently a long-running collaboration with Northumbrian piper Pauline Cato. He has also been very good at identifying and encouraging talented youngsters. I still remember a club gig in 1994 when he was accompanied by a young guitarist called Sean Lakeman (whose brother Seth quotes Tom as a major teacher and influence).
    These days Tom works primarily with Dave Wood (formerly of Cross Current) but since he is otherwise engaged with his current band Malinky in November, Tom brings along another young protégé to the Black Swan, David Newey. This guitarist, songwriter and singer released a solo CD last year and is now working with Emily Portman and others in the group Rubus, whose debut release is picking up excellent reviews. Find out more at, or about Tom at
    This event costs £ 7 (£ 6 concessions) and as usual tickets can be booked online at

  4. TIM O’BRIEN AT NCEM. Tickets are selling steadily for the Tim O’Brien show on Saturday 15th November at the National Centre for Early Music, with about 50 left as I write. Tim is one of the great names in modern American “roots” music and it is both a privilege and a treat to be able to bring him to York at last. His background is in bluegrass, but Tim’s music nowadays defies easy categorisation, winning him friends and admirers across the country / folk / bluegrass / Americana spectrum. He is highly regarded by many other top musicians and has collaborated with lots of them, for example with Kate Rusby and John McCusker here in Britain.
    Tim performs solo on this tour, armed only with his instruments (guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and fiddle) and a great clutch of songs and tunes. Chris Euesden is our MC and will be doing the half hour support slot when the show kicks off at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £ 14 (£ 12 concessions) from or on 01904 658338, or from myself on Thursday evenings.

  5. EMILY SMITH AT NCEM. Young Scottish singer Emily Smith makes her second concert appearance at the Early Music Centre on Tuesday 25th November – and for the second time the NCEM’s publicist chose her striking image for the cover of their glossy brochure! After a period out of the limelight, Emily re-emerged earlier this year with an excellent set of new songs, called appropriately enough Too Long Away, which showcases her beautifully expressive voice and her ability to write modern day folk songs of the highest calibre. “Smith could become to Scottish folk what Joni Mitchell is to its Californian cousin” said Q Magazine, while The Guardian thought that she “deserves to become yet another new folk celebrity”.
    Emily is currently on a UK tour with her good friend Julie Fowlis and then she does a few Scottish dates with Beth Nielsen Chapman. In fact, she and her band interrupt that tour to dash down to York for us. The band in question is her long-term partner Jamie McClennan on fiddle, plus Ross Milligan on guitar and Kevin McGuire on bass (the latter stepping in for Duncan Lyall who was originally advertised). Tickets for this one are £ 12 or £ 10, available as above.
    Naturally, our tame Scotsman Eddie Affleck acts as MC for this one, and as it happens I’ve just had the great news that Eddie’s injured finger (E-News 87) is now better and he is able to play guitar again, so expect to see him in action soon on a club floor spot.

  6. PHIL’S PHOTO OPPORTUNITY. Many of you will know our club’s resident photographer, Phil Myers, who has provided most of the pictures on the website and on our MySpace page. Phil has reached the final of a “Gardens in Bloom” photograph competition run by Holiday Inn and is getting excited at the chance of winning a £ 1000 camera! He asks us all to go to and consider voting for his entry “The Lost Gardens of Heligan” (second from left in the middle row). “Tell your friends and colleagues to get involved and vote too” it says, so that’s what I’m happy to do. Closing date for voting is 12th November.

  7. TONY’S BLOG. One of our other club stalwarts, Tony Morris (“a one-off, an original”) draws attention to his blog, “if you would like to keep up to date with folk news and ghost stories” and his many and various other activities and musings. Go to and click on the blog link.

  8. ALLAN’S TWANGFEST. If you used to listen to the much missed North Yorkshire Folk show presented by Michael Brothwell on Radio York, you will remember the weekly Twangfest feature in which Allan Nelson played a selection of American album tracks. Talking to Allan at our recent Katy Moffatt concert he reminded me that he still broadcasts every week on University Radio York. Allan is great fan of American roots music in all its forms – bluegrass and old-time music in particular - and was motivated to start a radio show after a trip to Texas and a meeting with musician and broadcaster Tom Pittman of the Austin Lounge Lizards. Drawing on his huge record collection, Allan presents two hours each week of bluegrass, blues, country, folk and much else. Twangfest goes out from 11am until 1pm on Sundays on 1350 AM (accessible around York, not just on campus) and worldwide at Allan can be contacted on

  9. THREE HARES UP AND RUNNING. The inaugural folk night at The Three Hares in Bilbrough (E-News 90) was a great success. “We had 11 performers” says Ron Whisker, including “a contingent from the Flaxton Folk Club, who were great fun. To say the music was diverse is an understatement. We finished at a quarter to midnight! David and Valerie [landlords] were truly amazed at the turn out and talent on display”. Needless to say they are looking forward to the next “Second Tuesday” folk night which will take place on 11th November from 8pm. The pub’s contact number is 01937 832128 or you can get in touch with Ron on

  10. OPEN ACOUSTIC EVENING IN HELPERBY. Another rural pub hosting a free monthly acoustic music event is The Oak Tree in Helperby, between Easingwold and York (YO61 2PH for SatNav users). This one is on the first Sunday of each month, so is next due on 2nd November, and it runs in the earlier part of the evening, from around 6.30pm. It is being hosted by local blues duo Karl & Jerry, who have been to the last two Black Swan Singers Nights, but all styles of acoustic music will be made very welcome: singers, musicians and poets - folk, blues, jazz, rock and pop. For more information, contact the landlords Lee and Kate on 01423 360325.

  11. LAUREL, CHARLIE & KATE. Musician and theatre person Kate Bramley has been at it again! She writes and directs Laurel & Charlie, a new comedy about the early days of Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin, with original music by Kate’s partner Jez Lowe. The show is on tour at present, with local dates including Whitby Coliseum (1st November), Leven Recreation Hall, near Beverley (2nd November), Halifax Square Chapel (5th November), Suddabys Crown Hotel, Malton (6th November), Thirsk Old Courthouse (8th November) and Markington Village Hall (12th November). Find out more at

  12. LEEDS GATHERING. The annual celebration of Irish culture, The Leeds Gathering, takes place next month, 6th to 17th November. Music being pretty central to Irish culture, there are numerous sessions, singarounds and concerts lined up. For example, that supremely talented young band Grada, fronted by Nicola Joyce, appear on 14th November at The Queen’s Hall (294 Harrogate Road, LS17 6LE). Legendary fiddle and flute player Frankie Gavin is at Otley Courthouse on 8th November, with Mike Galvin on guitar, while Dick Gaughan explores his personal Irish ancestry and the musical links between Scotland and Ireland at the Seven Arts Centre in Chapel Allerton on 7th November. For the full festival programme, go to

  13. WOODY GUTHRIE LECTURE. There is an interesting public lecture coming up at Leeds Metropolitan University on 14th November. “Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travellin’: A Musical History” is sung and spoken by Dr Will Kaufman of the University of Central Lancashire. Admission is free and the time is 7.30pm, at the LMU Studio Theatre in the Civic Quarter (LS1 3HE). Further details can be found at

  14. PICKERING FESTIVAL REFUNDS. Recently, a couple of you have asked me if I had heard anything about refunds from this summer’s washed out Pickering Folk Festival. Coincidentally, there was a news story in our local paper The Press last Friday (24th October). In it, Simon Boak of organisers The Events Office is quoted as saying “our reputation as show and event organisers is paramount and we shall ensure everyone gets paid out as soon as possible”. He estimated that around 140 people still have to receive refunds. The festival has been rescheduled for the Bank Holiday weekend, 22nd-24th May 2009, and their website says that full details will be announced on 1st November (

And finally a gallop through some of the numerous other folk, roots and acoustic music events taking place around the York region. The scene really is a healthy one!

  1. RICK BOCKNER. Described as one of Canada’s greatest guitar players – crossing styles such as blues, ragtime and Celtic folk – Rick is touring Britain and has dates at the Robinson Institute in Glaisdale (Saturday 1st November, preceded by a guitar workshop) and at the Tithe Bar in Northallerton (Sunday 2nd November). Local contact for both shows is Richard Grainger 01287 660060.

  2. SOUNDSPHERE WORKSHOP & CONCERT. Also on Saturday 1st November and just back from a short German tour, Soundsphere run two fundraising events for the chapel at Melbourne near York. There’s an afternoon singing workshop (3pm, for all ages and abilities) and an evening concert (7.30pm) in Melbourne Village Hall (YO42 4RB). Bookings and information on 01904 345458,

  3. GOODWIN & ETTERLY. Two former members of York jazz/funk band Mr Parker turn their hand to acoustic music at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 2nd November, with support from Pete Armitage & Ron Whisker playing acoustic folk and blues. £ 2.50 on the door at 8pm. “An eclectic evening of music for all”, they say!

  4. UPCOMING AT MELTON’S TOO. Forthcoming acoustic gigs in The Loft at Melton’s Too bistro on Walmgate include David Ward Maclean (5th November), TWO (Sharon Winfield & Helen Turner, 19th November) and a trio of songwriters well known to Black Swan audiences: David Swann, Maggie Allred and John Storey (26th November). The aforementioned Goodwin & Etterly with Armitage & Whisker are there on 3rd December. See

  5. RYEDALE LIVE AGAIN. The next Ryedale Live event is at Hutton le Hole Village Hall on Friday 7th November, with David Ward Maclean (again!), Sharon Lewis, Jont and others. See or phone 01653 690503.

  6. RANDY MONKS IN FLAXTON. Locally-based Irish band The Randy Monks are playing at The Thompsons Arms in Flaxton on Friday 7th November. It’s free but there will be a hat passed round to collect for Macmillan Nurses. “There is often a sing-along and the local fiddlers join in too” says my informant Jenny Quigley.

  7. OXJAM CHARITY GIG. There’s more musical fundraising on Saturday 8th November at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road in York (YO23 1NZ). It ‘s been organised by York’s own World Music choir Chechelele. Appearing with them are percussion group Akimbo and Celtic singer/songwriter Paula Ryan, with poet and storyteller Adrian Spendlow acting as Master of Ceremonies. Doors open at 8pm and entry is a minimum donation to Oxfam of £ 5 (£ 3 concessions). For reservations and more information ring 01904 345458.

  8. PETE MITCHELL AT THE SWAN. Also on Saturday 8th November, Los Yobos front man Pete Mitchell gets to air some of his own songs at the Black Swan Inn. Also there will be fellow Yobos singer Mysia Kok, plus Malcolm Wignall and Hannah Ellison.

  9. LOS YOBOS GO POSTAL. A few days later, Friday 14th November, the full Los Yobos outfit take their foot-tapping blend of good-time Western Swing to the Post Office Social Club on Marygate in York. There’s old time American folk from support act Moonshine Creek and things get under way at 8pm, admission £ 6 at the door.

  10. CHRIS WHILE & JULIE MATTHEWS. On tour this autumn to promote their new CD Together Alone, Chris & Julie have only one date in our immediate area. Cottingham Live present them in a Sunday Special on 9th November at The Back Room, Hallgate, Cottingham. Tickets are £ 10 and can be booked on 07748 258481.

  11. IS CARA LUFT IN THE HOUSE? Up-coming guest at House Concerts York is the highly-rated former Wailin’ Jenny singer, songwriter and guitarist Cara Luft. The date is Monday 17th November. Find out more at

  12. HANNAH, SAM & DEAN. Andy Bell asks me to mention that Hannah James & Sam Sweeney of young band Kerfuffle (and also involved with Bellowhead and The Demon Barbers) have a new duo project featuring accordion, fiddle, singing and clog dancing. They have an early outing at Dean Clough arts venue in Halifax on Wednesday 19th November. Full details at

  13. RUBY’S FORBIDDEN FRUIT. Also on 19th November, York songwriter Ruby Paul lunches her new album Forbidden Fruit at the City Screen Basement Bar. The record has grown out of her association with acoustic guitarist Richard Lower and “explores classic territory ranging through jazz, folk and boss nova”. The show begins at 8.15, costs just £ 4 and can be booked through the City Screen box office.

I’ve exceeded my self-imposed limit of 4 pages (in the printed version) and there are many more events later in November and beyond which I could have mentioned. Hopefully, I’ll get another bulletin out in time for them.