Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 96

Mid Jan Celebration 2009


  1. FOLK CLUB OF THE YEAR! We have been selected as Folk Club of the Year in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards! The official announcement was made last week, though we had been tipped off about it a week or so earlier. It came out of the blue and I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I’m not dreaming it.
    The BBC’s press release explains that the award is “voted for by professional folk musicians to honour the often-lifelong contribution of those who run the venues which provide folk’s lifeblood”.
    We are delighted that a panel of hard-working and experienced musicians has chosen us above a host of other venues for this prestigious prize. We hope this reflects the efficient organisation, friendly welcome and great atmosphere of our events. In particular, we are very pleased that our small venue, comfortably full with fifty people in the audience, has taken an award which in the past has usually gone to much larger clubs seating upwards of a hundred or more.
    I will be travelling to London for the Awards ceremony on Monday 2nd February, along with three of our longest-serving resident singers, Eddie Affleck, Stan Graham and Phil Cerny, who is flying over especially from USA, where he works in term time. Chris Euesden will also be there, wearing his ‘record label’ hat. If you want to listen in, Radio 2’s Radcliffe & Maconie Show will be broadcast live that night from the awards, followed by extended highlights on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show on Wednesday 4th February. Pictures and video will appear on the Radio 2 Folk website in due course, and hopefully we’ll get some of our own snapshots onto the club website.
    This year marks the tenth anniversary of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which are designed as an annual celebration of folk music and the people who make it. The main awards, such as Singer of the Year, Musician of the Year, Best Band and Best Album are voted for by a team of journalists, festival organisers, agents and promoters, and are announced on the night. There are also two Lifetime Achievement awards this year, going to Judy Collins and James Taylor, who will be performing during the evening. You can read the BBC’s press release and see the finalist shortlists at:

  2. SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO THE BLACK SWAN INN. This latest good news comes hard on the heels of our return to the Black Swan Inn following its brief closure last month. The first two events this year, with guests Grace Notes and Flossie Malavialle, have been very successful, with excellent music, great atmosphere and good-sized audiences – smiles all round, in fact. Long may it continue! The new landlord has been very helpful and you may notice on your next visit that the bulky and unwieldy item of furniture in one corner of the club room has gone, to be replaced by an upright piano gifted to the pub by local celebrity Trevor Rooney.
    Very many of you offered words of support and encouragement during our recent upheavals, and your messages were deeply appreciated. Here are extracts from one which I found particularly moving, coming from an occasional club visitor:
    “This is great news and has restored my belief in Father Christmas. I am pleased for the pub itself ... but especially for you and for the Folk Club, which is one of the treasures of York. I cannot believe the quality of the I live at some distance, I wish I could get to more. We will definitely be there for the Festival, which I enjoy more than any other.”

  3. CONTINUING WITH CRUCIBLE. We have a Singers & Musicians Night this coming Thursday, 22nd, always an enjoyable evening and now hosted by David Swann, not Stan as previously trailed. After that, our next guests are the young(ish) four piece band Crucible on 29th January, making their second visit to the Black Swan. Here is their own self-penned programme note: “Outstanding performers of English traditional music, Crucible combine formidable a cappella harmony vocal talents with all-round instrumental skills on fiddles, melodeon, guitar, cittern and English border pipes. Their music blends the deepest roots of their native tradition with a fresh and contemporary edge to produce emotive performances sparking with raw energy.” I wouldn’t disagree at all with that. It is refreshing to find a band which displays great instrumental talent simultaneously with all-round vocal strength. Think perhaps of Faustus or, in Scotland, of Malinky.
    Crucible comprises Gavin Davenport, Jess Arrowsmith, Helena Reynolds and Richard Arrowsmith, and their MySpace page gives a bit of background: “the current line up congealed over a number of years of friendly playing, singing and drinking together in the vibrant traditional music scene of Sheffield, a place that [music journalist] Colin Irwin recently described as the "Capital of English Folk Music". All four members of Crucible had been playing in other bands, notably dance/ceildih acts Jabadaw and Hekety whilst singing together informally in pubs around the city and at clubs and festivals. Slowly this developed into actually practicing and getting some gigs”. Since 2003 they have released three CDs, most recently Love and Money last year, which you can find reviewed by David Kidman on the Folk Club website. Susie Fox acts as MC for this one and tickets are £ 7 (£ 6 concessions) on the door or via WeGotTickets.

  4. YORK RESIDENTS FESTIVAL SPECIAL. The Folk Club was approached recently about taking part in the York Residents Festival on 31st January and 1st February. This event, formerly Residents First Weekend, is a celebration of York’s many treasures for its local people, rather than for the tourist trade. We have agreed to host a musical afternoon at the Black Swan Inn on Sunday 1st February, showcasing a selection of the best folk singers living within the city boundaries.
    Sunday Afternoon Folk kicks off at 2pm and the provisional running order (approx 25/30 minutes each) is: Eddie Affleck, Susie Fox & Jack Firminger, Stan Graham, Diad (aka Damian Fynes & Frank Pallister), Tim Pheby, Phil Cerny and finishing with Chris Euesden. There will also be a couple of open “floor spots” available. The event is scheduled to run until 6pm but could go on a bit later if required. Entry will be free to York Card holders, or just £ 2.50 (£ 1.50 concessions) to others, with any proceeds earmarked to support the upcoming Folk Weekend. Do drop in for at least part of the afternoon if you are in town that day.

  5. FEBRUARY FORECAST. February begins with a very special guest, Steve Tilston on the 5th, accompanied on this occasion by multi-talented bass player Dave Bowie. Steve is of course a superlative songwriter, widely covered by other artists on the folk scene and beyond, and an innovative and influential acoustic guitar player. He has sung for us several times before and never fails to impress. Dave is one of those musicians who glides effortlessly across musical genres. He also works with Maggie Boyle and Gary Boyle in the jazz/folk trio Sketch (see item 13 below), while in May he is at the Early Music Centre’s Jazz Weekend with Snake Davis, Helen Watson and Mark Creswell as The Burden of Paradise.
    We’ve already had some online bookings for this but there are still plenty of tickets left at present, though that could all change in the course of the next fortnight. To be sure of getting in, go to sooner rather than later and buy yours. Eddie Affleck is MC for this one, and we had a real bidding war for floor spots!
    February 12th brings us one of Scotland’s finest folk singers, Sylvia Barnes, accompanied by another fine guitarist, Sandy Stanage. Sylvia, a past winner of the Scottish Traditional Music Awards Singer of the Year gong, is seldom heard in England these days, so this really is one to savour. Stan Graham acts as Master of Ceremonies. There’s another Singers & Musicians Night on 19th February, also hosted by Stan, and then the debut of female trio Zoox on 26th, MC’d by Tony Morris.


  1. WARM THANKS TO DEAN AND THE TALK. Over the last five years local enthusiast Dean St John has developed an excellent free monthly guide to the York area music scene. Beginning as a basic listings sheet, The Talk has grown into a full colour, well designed and (most importantly) well written and thoughtful review of the local scene. Folk music has had good coverage within its pages, on an equal basis with everything else, not shunted into a ghetto or ignored completely. Sadly, Dean has now decided to devote his energies to other projects and The Talk is up for sale, with January the last issue. We hope it finds a sympathetic and folk-friendly buyer.
    One of Dean’s chief contributors for our kind of music has been Oz Hardwick and you can read several of Oz’s perceptive folk club and NCEM concert reports on the reviews page of our own website. Oz tells me that he is now writing for national bi-monthly music magazine Rock ‘n’ Reel ( and indeed he will be at a couple of our forthcoming club nights as a reviewer for that publication.

  2. PUB VENUE WANTS FOLK MUSICIANS. I’ve been approached by another public house which would like to host folk music events. This time it is The Steer Inn, on the A1079 between Wilberfoss and Pocklington. This is a large hotel, with 18 letting rooms as well as a restaurant and bars. The separate function room seats around 90-100, so it is definitely more of a concert than a session or singaround possibility. Apparently there is also an open courtyard area which could be used in summer. If anyone out there is interested, get in touch with the landlady Ruth Pattison on 01759 380600,

  3. PICKERING FOLK FESTIVAL – THE SAGA CONTINUES. The sorry saga of last summer’s washed out Pickering Folk Festival is not over yet. It seems that quite a few punters have still not received their promised refunds and some are getting pretty annoyed. One such is Karen Langtree, who writes “I don't know how many of your people bought tickets for the 2008 Pickering Folk Festival. They are probably out of pocket now. I am intending to write to the watchdog about it but need lots of stories from people who have been 'robbed' by [festival promoters] The Events Office. I have started a thread on the Mudcat website. Please could you spread the word for people to post their stories there or email me direct?” In fact there a couple of relevant strands on the discussion forum at while Karen’s email address is

  4. OK BRANDY BACK IN ACTION. I was pleased to hear recently from Tom Fremlin, former York University student, one-time chair of the university folk society and member of folk band OK Brandy. Tom is back in Britain after his post-graduation year out in New Zealand, and OK Brandy have reformed with original members Tom and Pip Jopling plus newcomers Andy Winter and Steve Brown. They are scattered around England at present but plan to get together to do a spot at our Folk Weekend.

  5. TANGLEFOOT TO DISBAND. Sad news reaches us that after 25 years on the road Canadian favourites Tanglefoot have decided to call it a day at the end of 2009. Their UK tour from mid June to mid July will be their last trip around this country. We could not offer them a concert in York, but if you look at the dates on their website you’ll see several gigs within striking distance of York.

  6. STRIRRINGS STILLED TEMPORARILY. The excellent South Yorkshire folk music quarterly Stirrings failed to appear last month, due to combination of illness and technical problems, but I am assured that the magazine will be back with a Spring issue around the end of February. This is not a title I stock as a matter of course, but David Kidman usually has copies with him when he attends the club. Stirrings is edited by Gavin Davenport of Crucible (see 3 above) and really is a good read.

  7. SOUND CONTROL PETITION. Apparently there are government proposals to make it a condition of granting or renewing public entertainment licences that premises have noise control devices fitted. It sounds like one more bit of bureaucracy to me, to deter venues from putting on music. There are plenty of existing powers to control excessively noisy events. There is a petition on the 10 Downing Street website,, and it has nearly 68,000 signatures. If you feel like adding your name, please do so before the deadline of 23rd January.


Space is running out so I cannot repeat anything from last time. Items 13 to 19 in E-Newsletter 95 still apply, so refer back to that one.

  1. BENEATH THE OAK and SARAH DEAN are at Melton’s Too on Walmgate in York on Wednesday 4th February. It is just £ 1 on the door.

  2. SKETCH, comprising Maggie Boyle, Gary Boyle and the above-mentioned Dave Bowie (item 5) are at Suddaby’s in Malton on Saturday 7th February – tickets £ 8 from Jim Clarke on 01944 738422. “Don’t miss this sublime trio” says Jim.

  3. UNION CENTRAL are also in action on 7th February, at the Victoria Vaults on Nunnery Lane. This modern bluegrass band is justifiably popular and I would advise that you reserve your ticket with Phil Quin on York 783029.

  4. PAULA RYAN and TIM PHEBY share a night of their original songs at The Yorkshire Terrier on Stonegate in York on Sunday 8th February. This one is free!

I’ll be back with a Folk Awards report and other stuff in early/mid February.