York Folk Weekend at The Black Swan

York’s acoustic music jamboree, the City of York Folk Weekend, is ready to roll! This year’s free festival takes place from 5 to 7 June across an outdoor marquee stage and three rooms of music-making indoors. With concerts, a ceilidh, sessions, singarounds, workshops, themed events and more, there should be something to suit all tastes.

For this thirteenth annual event, 50 singers and bands will be giving their time and talent, alongside dozens of informal participants. All the billed performers come from York or nearby and the weekend is designed to unite, showcase and celebrate the flourishing local folk, roots and acoustic scene.
The main concerts take place under canvas on Saturday and Sunday, with favourites such as Duncan McFarlane, Leather’o and The A-Rhythmics appearing on Saturday between 1pm and 10.30pm, followed by Rakish, The Gerry McNeice Band, Soundsphere and Root 64 on Sunday between 1pm and 10pm.
Folk Weekend debuts this year include Yorkshire Irish band Roisin Ban, Leeds outfit The Durbervilles, York’s own pop-folksters Pelico, and the number one local ukulele orchestra, The Grand Old Uke of York.
There will be dashes of world music from Chechelele and the thrilling Japanese drummers of Kaminari Taiko, American traditional folk from Phil Cerny and modern bluegrass from Union Central.
Singer-songwriters appearing include Stan Graham, Sarah Dean, Dan Webster, David Ward Maclean, David Swann and The Bronze.
Morris Dance interludes will come from local sides Acorn, Ebor and Minster Strays, while for those who want to dance themselves there is a Friday night “ceilidh under canvas” with Fiddlers Wreck.


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Concerts in the upstairs function room, home of the weekly folk club, showcase acts ranging from acapella vocalists The Lennanshees and Two Black Sheep & A Stallion, to instrumental trio Over The Yardarm and old style country music duo Rio Bravo.  There is Welsh music from new group Bendigedig, global folk sounds from Melthem and Caramba!, humour with Phil Pipe, and original songwriting from the likes of John Storey, Paula Ryan, Martin Heaton and Fred Ring.
Participation is just as important as concert performance at a folk festival and there will be multiple opportunities for anyone to have a go at singing or playing.  These include all-day musicians’ sessions in the dining room, “open mic” club events, singarounds and “free & easy” jams. New this year is an Irish Night, held in the function room on Friday evening, hosted by York’s lively new Irish Association, and open to anyone wanting to share some Irish songs, music and craic.
Participants are also invited for three workshop sessions on Sunday: singing (with vocal harmonisers Soundsphere); ukulele (with Steve Morrison of Red Cow Music) and Musical Saw (with Harrogate’s Charles Hindmarsh, the “Yorkshire Musical Saw Man”, and special toothless saws provided!).  Even poets and storytellers get a look-in, with a Saturday lunchtime “poems and pints” open reading, hosted by local writer John Gilham.


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David Ward Maclean – photo by Jim and Sarah Harper

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Leather’o – photo by Chris Mackins

Constituting an off-site Festival Fringe are two regular weekly gatherings, the Friday night open house session at the Victoria Vaults and the Sunday night Old Time Music Session at The Golden Ball.
Thanks to the generosity of the performers, all these events are entirely free of charge (although there are of course some unavoidable costs in staging any festival and there will be rattling of collection tins from time to time).
We at York Calling at very excited to see so many local acts performing such a wide range of styles under one roof. Events like this are what make the Black Swan Inn an integral part of the York music scene.

The City of York Folk Festival will take place at The Black Swan Inn from Friday 5 June to Sunday 7 June 2015.