Mid Feb 2009
BBC FOLK AWARDS REPORT
- LONDON IN THE SNOW. Despite some of the worst winter weather in London for a generation, the BBC Folk Awards 2009 went ahead on Monday 2nd February. Several celebrity guests, some of the shortlisted musicians and a fair number of the invited audience failed to make it, but your intrepid Black Swan Folk Club quintet were not to be deterred so easily! Eddie Affleck, Phil Cerny, Stan Graham, Chris Euesden and myself arrived safely at King’s Cross, trudged through snow filled streets (no tube, no buses, few taxis) to our hotel and soon began to party.
The Awards were held at The Brewery, near the Barbican, and began with a champagne reception at which we met up with lots of old friends, such as Nic Jones, Vin Garbutt and Wizz Jones. The main event was strictly timed from 8pm to 10pm, even though the live outside broadcast had fallen victim to the bad weather. Our award came up a third of the way into proceedings and was presented to us by musician Phil Beer. We all trooped on stage and I managed a few mumbled words of thanks – apparently with my eyes closed, if the photos are to be believed!
Amongst the other awards, we were particularly pleased to see Tom McConville named as Musician of the Year and Chris While & Julie Matthews finally carry off the Best Duo prize. Chris Wood, who gave us such a magical performance last autumn, took both Best Album and Singer of the Year. Someone else who is no stranger to the Black Swan, Damien Barber, saw his band The Demon Barbers voted Best Live Act, and a personal favourite of mine, Jackie Oates, received two awards, Best Traditional Track and the Horizon Award. You can find a full list of winners and other nominees at www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/event/folkawards2009.
There was more socialising after the ceremony, first at The Brewery then back at the Hotel. Stan discussed the finer points of songwriting with Ralph McTell and both he and Eddie managed to get their photos taken with Lifetime Achievement award winner James Taylor.
- WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE. Disappointingly but not surprisingly, our little segment was edited out when they selected 87 minutes of audio highlights to broadcast on the following Wednesday evening and over the internet. Nor are we on any of the photos on the BBC website, but if you scroll through the main 16-minute Highlights video and pause it at 2:15 you’ll snatch a brief shot of Eddie, Phil, Stan and myself as the camera pans the audience, just after celebrity presenter Ade Edmondson makes reference to “the lower classes in society”. Stan reappears at 3:58 with actor Charles Dance apparently looking over his shoulder!
Eddie took photos of his own and some of these have now been posted on the folk club website. I particularly like the one of Stan and Phil with piper Troy Donockley and a rather-the-worse-for-wear looking Mike Harding! The Black Swan landlord has said he wants a photo display in the pub, so we’ll run off some prints at some point. The trophy itself is on display every Thursday evening and eventually it too may go up permanently in the pub.
- THANKS ALL ROUND. I was very touched by the large number of congratulatory emails, cards and greetings received after our award became public knowledge. In turn, there are a raft of people I ought to thank, on behalf of myself and the other club residents:
- Above all yourselves, our audience, for supporting live folk music over the years
- All those performers who make music for us, from top professionals down to raw amateurs
- Landlords past and present for making us welcome at the Black Swan
- Hardworking bar staff who keep us from going thirsty
- Delma Tomlin and her team for making folk music an integral part of the NCEM programme
- Michael Jary for maintaining the club website so well
- All those local businesses and premises which display our posters and leaflets
- Our friends in the mainstream radio and print media who help spread the word
- The enthusiastic volunteers who produce local and regional music magazines
- The helpful staff at our bank (Northern Rock) and our printers (Focus4Print) Heartfelt thanks to you all
CLUB EVENTS & OTHER NEWS
- MUSICAL BUSINESS AS USUAL. We have a Singers & Musicians Night this coming Thursday, 19th, always an enjoyable evening and hosted this month by Stan. After that, our next guests are the superb female trio Zoox on 26th February. They gave us a very impressive floor spot last year and seem to have gone down equally well with other clubs, to judge from the number of full bookings they have on this return trip “up north”.
Zoox comprise Linda Game, Jo May and Becky Menday, whose various backgrounds range from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to Token Women to the English Contra Dance Band. With influences including Celtic, Appalachian, Klezmer, African, Cuban, rock, and classical, they serve up a cocktail of new melodies and traditional tunes with a delicate balance of strings, wind, voices and percussion. They muster a fabulous array of instruments from congas to the highly unusual contrabassoon! “Exciting arrangements, great musicianship and infectious energy typify the performances of Zoox”, says their website www.zoox.co.uk, “in a show which is guaranteed to entertain and enchant.” All that for just £ 6 (£ 5 concessions), payable on the door or bookable in advance through WeGotTickets. Fresh from his winter holiday, Tony Morris hosts this one.
- RUTH NOTMAN CLOSE TO SELLING OUT. Please be advised that tickets are selling fast for the local debut of much-talked-about teenage folk singer Ruth Notman. Ruth visits us on 5th March, when she is due to be accompanied by Saul Rose, and as I write there are only a ten or so tickets left at www.wegottickets.com. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
- RUNNING ORDERS ON CLUB NIGHTS. At the request of the Black Swan’s new landlord, we’ve been experimenting with a slightly different format, in order to create two drinks-buying intervals rather than just one. This involves starting a bit earlier, around 8.20, and having the floor performers in one 30-minute section. There is then an interval before the guest’s first set and another after it. The MC does a short spot to settle things down after the second break and then the guest does his final set. This seemed to work quite well on the Crucible and Steve Tilston nights, but failed to happen last week due to low numbers and later arrivals in the bad weather. If you were at either Crucible or Steve Tilston and have comments we’ll be glad to hear them.
- SPRING NCEM CONCERTS NOW BOOKING. The Box Office at the National Centre for Early Music is now open for business and happy to take your pennies in exchange for tickets for any (or all) of our tasty Spring Season concerts. These begin on Tuesday 10th March with the mighty Norma Waterson, the sublime Martin Carthy and the indecently versatile Chris Parkinson. Later visitors include Spiers & Boden (30th March), John Renbourn & Robin Williamson (15th April) and John Tams & Barry Coope (13th May). Book online at www.ncem.co.uk or ring them on 01904 658338, Monday to Friday office hours. By this coming Thursday I should also have a few tickets I can sell to you direct at club functions.
- COME IN NUMBER 750. Congratulations to Margaret Hodgson who recently became the 750th person to sign up to this e-list. She has been rewarded with a ‘Free Entry for Two’ voucher.
- ANNUAL REPORT & ACCOUNTS. The club’s financial year runs 1st February to 31st January, so we’ve now survived another year. Quite successfully too, even without the Folk Award. We made a small annual surplus of £ 260, on a total turnover of around £ 24,700. This comes after two bits of “exceptional” expenditure (£ 550 for a new computer, £ 170 for additional bits of PA kit), but to put things in perspective, £ 260 is less than 10p per ticket sold, not a very wide margin! We held total funds at the end of the financial year of £ 4566.
A total of 1509 “paying customers” attended 49 paid-for events at the Black Swan Inn and 1211 people bought tickets for 8 concerts at the Early Music Centre. The average for the latter (151) was almost our best ever, while for club guest nights we averaged 34, slightly behind 2007/8 but the same as 2006/7. Add on the floor singers, complimentaries, latecomers and such, and that means an average audience of at least 40 per week. As for Singers Nights, there was an average of 22 non-performing paying audience members per session, the best for at least a decade.
If you’d like to see the financial summary, catch me on Thursday evenings or send an e-mail.
- FOLK AT THE MITRE. Edna Barker has been in touch to tell us that the monthly Knaresborough folk night has changed venue. They are leaving Mother Shipton’s and moving across town to the recently refurbished, real ale selling Mitre Inn, which is next to the railway station and near the parish church. They continue to meet for a free singers and musicians night on the third Friday of each month, so their first night at The Mitre is 20th February.
- YORKSHIRE GARLAND NEWS. Black Swan regular supporter and University of York lecturer Mary Garrison tells us that she has just taken over as secretary of the Yorkshire Garland project, which is creating an online database of Yorkshire folk songs. They have secured Awards For All funding to continue their work, with projects including one on mining and industrial songs lead by Ray Padgett. The earlier material they collected will be deposited in the Borthwick Institute here in York. See www.yorkshirefolksong.net.
- SHEFFIELD RADIO FOLK. Dave Eyre asks me to tell you that he broadcasts a 2-hour folk music show on Sheffield’s community radio station, Sheffield Live! (93.2 FM). Thank Goodness It’s Folk goes out at 10.00am on Fridays and can be heard live at www.sheffieldlive.org, or a podcast can be downloaded at www.canstream.co.uk/sheffieldlive/.
- LES THE LAUREATE. Here’s another story involving the Downing Street on-line petitions website, this time a light-hearted one. An enthusiastic Les Barker fan has launched a petition promoting the folk scene’s favourite poet for the soon-to-be-vacant post of Poet Laureate. Maybe in these gloomy times of crisis the nation could do with a large dose of Les’s wacky wordplay, and as we know from the many songs he has written for other people, Les can also turn out “serious” verse of real class when the need arises. “Les has held audiences in fits of laughter for years” says the petitioner, “his work is just what a depressed nation needs.” If you agree, go to http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/LesBarkerPoet/ and sign on before the 9th April deadline. Staying with Downing Street petitions, it seems the widely circulated concerns regarding noise control devices which I reported in good faith last time (E-News 96, item 12) may have been based on mistaken information, or as a knowledgeable correspondent puts it, “a panic response to a dodgy rumour”. At least the very fact of it attracting so many signatures shows the powers that be the depth of feeling in the live music community.
- BEOWULF COMES TO LIFE. It is Jorvik Viking Festival week in York, and on Friday night (20th) at the National Centre for Early Music, master storyteller Hugh Lupton relates the oldest story in the English language. “Thrill to this acclaimed and atmospheric retelling: the hair-raising battles of the hero Beowulf against a succession of terrifying foes”. Hugh Lupton is well known on the folk scene for his work with Chris Wood; for this show he is joined by leading percussionist Rick Wilson. “Suitable for adults and children over 12” says the publicity. It’s an 8pm start and tickets are £ 9.50 (£ 7.50 concessions) at www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk or on 01904 615505.
- KFFC WINTER WARMER. There are still a few tickets available for Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club’s “Winter Warmer” festival this coming weekend (20th-22nd). With a line-up including (amongst others) the delectable Edwina Hayes, the delightful Sara Grey & Kieron Means, the impressive Sarah McQuaid and York’s finest Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, plus a preview for our upcoming guests Zoox, this should be a enjoyable way to spend a winter weekend. Tickets are £ 20 for the weekend, or £ 9 Friday, £ 12 Saturday, £ 5 Sunday. Find out more and book online at www.kirkbyfleethamfolkclub.co.uk or contact organiser Paul Arrowsmith on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DEBBY’S APPALACHIAN MAGIC. American folk singer, step dancer and old-timey banjo player Debby McClatchy has been a favourite visitor at the Black Swan over many years. She is back in Britain at the moment with a special show called Appalachian Magic, in which she is joined by Pete Vigour, Dick Harrington and Arnie Naiman. You can expect Country and Old Time harmonies, with a dash of moonshine and fiddle hoedowns, from this combination of banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, vocals and clog. “McClatchy has no difficulty turning back the clock and turning on the charm of old-timey music” says the Washington Post. Debby and her friends are at Selby Town Hall www.selbytownhall.co.uk this Friday (20th) and at Reeth Memorial Hall the following Friday (27th – tickets on 01748 884759).
- LOCAL FAVOURITES LOS YOBOS take their infectious blend of Western Swing to City Screen Basement Bar in York next Saturday (21st) – tickets from the cinema Box Office.
- EDWINA HAYES AT THE DUCHESS. Edwina returns from that Winter Warmer in time to appear at The Duchess in York next Sunday (22nd) “in the round” with fellow singer-songwriters Holly Taymar and Aimie J Ryan. Find out more at www.theduchessyork.co.uk. Edwina is a busy woman these days – in a couple of weeks (4th March) she guests at a favourite old haunt of hers, Cottingham Live, www.cottingham-live.co.uk.
- SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK YORKSHIRE BLUES. “This is a unique celebration of the life and works of Bob Dylan” says the programme note. “Combining poetry, live music and humour, five York-based writers and musicians, Helen Burke, Miles Cain, Oz Hardwick, Paul Coleman and Dave Gough, celebrate one of the great figures of modern culture. A witty, moving tribute to a true original.” They are at York Theatre Royal Studio on 6th and 7th March, booking at www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk. The same show goes to Pocklington Arts Centre on 14th June.
- QUEENSBURY FOLK DAY. Saturday 7th March is Folk Day at Queensbury near Bradford. There are afternoon and evening concerts at two venues with guests including Coope Boyes & Simpson, Tom Napper & Tom Bliss, Skyhook, John Tams, The Duncan McFarlane Band, Roger Davies and the excellent Crucible. Find out more at www.myspace.com/queensburymusic.
That had better be all for now. I’ll try to be back in early March. Keep on supporting live music.