Girl Power Mini-fest at The Black Swan Inn

On Saturday, The Black Swan Inn played host to York’s very first Girl Power festival, celebrating women in music as part of York’s International Women’s Day festivities. The event was put on by York’s Little Festival of Live Music organiser, Ellen Cole, and was a fundraiser for Kyra, a local women’s charity.

Review and photos by Graeme Smith

With a  line-up that featured some of York’s most prominent musicians, it was hardly a surprise that crowds had gathered to find a seat in The Black Swan Inn’s intimate upstairs room.

Starting the day was singer and harpist Sarah Dean who set a relaxed tone for the afternoon with her opening number Cloud Streets, a dreamy tune about cloud watching. Sarah’s voice and delicate harp lent themselves to Sarah’s natural set, featuring environmental messages and unlikely covers of Bob Dylan and Wishbone Ash.

Shifting the tempo were traditional folk musicians Leather’o who, in celebration of the women-only event, had replaced their usual guitarist with the insanely-talented Scarlett Jordan. The four-piece took the audience on a journey through Celtic and gypsy history, a highlight being their version of Russian gypsy ditty Dark Eyes.

The afternoon was rounded off by folk singer/songwriter Rachel Croft. Rachel played a set of originals mixed in with covers. During her set, she lamented her lack of songs, but what she lacked in quantity she made up for in quality, particularly her London Grammar-esque Only Dreams and her goose bump-inducing cover of Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You.

Gracie Falls has recently won an award for being the UK’s best unsigned singer/songwriter and with good reason. Her set featured a barnstorming array of country-pop akin to Taylor Swift. This was her first gig back in York for a couple of years, and it was triumphant return. The set highlight was Making Me Easy, it’s first live outing.

Heather Findlay kept the tempo up with her own brand of classic prog-folk. Heather is perhaps best known as the front-woman of Mostly Autumn, but has forged a reputable solo career. A multi-instrumentalist, Heather played originals and folk songs on guitar and flute and closed her set beautifully with prog odyssey Evergreen.

The night was finished by Holly Taymar, who usually plays in duo The Bronze. As a solo act, Holly played delicate, engaging song of everyday life, with a focus on her relationship with her hometown of York. In December, Holly raised over £500 for York Mind by committing to learning and playing a cover every 48 hours. To celebrate she included in her set her version of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love which was well-received.

It hasn’t yet been announced how much was raised for Kyra during the day, but the benefit for live music in York needs no quantifying.

York’s Little Festival of Live Music Girl Power Mini-fest took place at The Black Swan Inn on Saturday 4 March 2017.