York’s annual acoustic music jamboree, the City of York Folk Weekend, is getting ready to roll again!
1st – 3rd June – Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green.
There will be live entertainment in almost every corner of the historic Black Swan Inn in Peasholme Green. There is a marquee stage with a full PA in the carpark, plus three rooms of music-making indoors. With concerts, a ceilidh, musicians’ sessions, singarounds, themed events and more, there should be something to suit all tastes.
This unique event in York’s cultural calendar began as a one-day festival in 2003 but soon expanded to a full weekend and has never missed a year, despite relying entirely on volunteers. During this the sixteenth folk weekend, around forty-five billed singers and bands will be performing, alongside dozens of informal participants. All the billed acts come from the York area or have strong local connections and the weekend is designed to showcase and celebrate our flourishing local folk, roots and acoustic music scene.
The main concerts take place under canvas on Saturday and Sunday, with favourites such as The Duncan McFarlane Band, Leather’o, Graham Hodge, Joshua Burnell, and The Dan Webster Band on Saturday from 1pm to 10.30pm, followed by The Ale Marys, Union Jill and White Sail, amongst others, on Sunday from 1pm to 10pm.
Also in the marquee, there will be dashes of world vocal music from Chechelele and Soundsphere and mainly unaccompanied British folk singing by Two Black Sheep & A Stallion. We will also enjoy American folk, bluegrass and roots sounds from Phil Cerny, King Courgette and Stillhouse, whilst main stage singer-songwriter acts will include Stan Graham, Holly Taymar (with The Bronze), David Ward Maclean and Edwina Hayes. Making their Folk Weekend debuts this year are York and Stamford Bridge folk trio Alterego and the exciting new duo of Bella Gaffney & Polly Bolton.
Parallel concerts in the upstairs function room, home of the regular folk club, showcase a wide range of acts, from solo folk favourites such as Eddie Affleck, Paula Ryan and Sarah Dean to eclectic bands The Fine Companions, Caramba, and That Mitchell & Wife Sound.
Singer-songwriters are particularly well represented this year, with student acts such as Crispin Halcrow, Tilly Moses and Tom McKenzie joining the older generation of David Swann, Martin Heaton, Simon Alexander, David Stevenson and John Storey. Original material is also showcased in a special Sunday afternoon concert by members of the lively York Songwriters’ Circle.
Upstairs on Friday it is Irish Night, with a friendly open house session hosted by York’s flourishing Irish Association, while for those who would like to dance there is a Friday night “ceilidh under canvas” in the marquee with Fiddlers Wreck.
Participation is just as important as concert performance at any folk festival and there will be multiple opportunities for anyone to have a go at singing or playing themselves. The pub dining room will be available all day Saturday and Sunday for informal musicians’ sessions, while the Oak Room hosts a variety of singarounds and “free & easy” jams.
Participants are also invited for two workshop events on Sunday morning. Vocal harmonisers Soundsphere will repeat their popular singing workshop, while Polly Bolton & Bella Gaffney will offer a hands-on introduction to Old Time Music.
Also on Sunday children aged between 5 and 10 are catered for by songwriter and children’s novelist Toni Bunnell with her show Enter the World of Story. Meanwhile, poets and storytellers are in focus on Saturday, with a lunchtime “poems and pints” open reading, hosted by local writer John Gilham.
Constituting an off-site Festival Fringe are two regular weekly events, the Friday night singers’ and players’ session at the Three Legged Mare on High Petergate and the Sunday night American Old Time music gathering at The Golden Ball, Bishophill.
Thanks to the generosity of the performers, all these events are entirely free of charge, although there will be donation tins around, due to unavoidable costs.
The pub will have plenty of good food on sale, which you can enjoy in the beer gardens, offering a fine choice of real ales and other drinks. For safety reasons the car park will be closed to vehicles, but there are alternative city centre parking or park-and-ride options, and don’t forget that the Black Swan Inn sits on several main bus routes.
Everyone is invited to come along and join in the festivities, whether for an hour or two or for all three days. Go to www.blackswanfolkclub.org.uk for the full programme and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YorkFolkWeekend.