THE City Of York Folk Weekend promises three nights and two days of live music, all for free, from May 31 to June 2 at the Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York.

"Our annual event goes ahead again this year over the customary weekend, and in the end I've again done a lot of the organisation, with advice and assistance from Stan Graham and Chris Euesden," says lead organiser Roland Walls, who has Motor Neurone Disease. "Stan will be in overall charge on the weekend itself but I hope to put in an appearance each day myself, health permitting."

Roland's condition is, in his words, "getting remorselessly worse", nevertheless he is overseeing York's premier folk gathering of the year. "Once again we've had magnificent support from the many singers, players and bands who make up York’s vibrant and diverse folk, roots and acoustic music scene," he says.

"Around 45 named acts are featured, all of them either from the York area, or with strong links to what goes on in the city. There'll be shows in a marquee in the car park on Friday evening and then all day Saturday and Sunday. The upstairs Wolfe Room will host a series of concerts and other events; the small downstairs front bar, the Oak Room, will accommodate intimate acoustic singarounds and such like, and the Bowes Room dining room will be available for more spontaneous musician sessions or informal sings."

The full programme for the Marquee concert stage, Rolling Folk Club, musicians' sessions, singarounds, Japanese drumming, indoor concerts, poems and pints hour and workshops can be found at

On May 31, Jake Thackray Meets The Irish, when Poppleton musician John Watterson, noted interpreter of the late Thackray's wordsmithery, presents An Evening Without Jake Thackray in the marquee. Meanwhile, the York Irish Association's customary free-and-easy session takes place until late in the upstairs club room. Across town, in High Petergate, the Three Legged Mare's usual Friday night songs-and-tunes session will be in full flow.

On June 1, live music kicks off at 1pm in the marquee, where the running order for the day will be Union Jill; The Duncan McFarlane Band; Kaminari Taiko Drumming Duo; Ramshackle; Chechelele; David Ward Maclean; Two Black Sheep & A Stallion; The Bronze; Moonshine Creek; Edwina Hayes and Root 64.

Indoors, afternoon and evening events will be held in the upstairs room. Les Rustiques, Phil Pipe, Simon Alexander, Martin Heaton, Matthew Mason, Toni Bunnell and That Mitchell & Wife Sound will be followed, after a short break, by Tommy Coyle, Colin Cutler, Mikkelsson, The Lennanshees, David Swann, Judith Haswell, John Storey and Paula Ryan.

June 2's marquee music opens up at 1pm when the line-up will be The Dan Webster Band;Leather’o;Blonde On Bob; Soundsphere; Tengu Taiko Drummers; The Ale Marys; White Sail; King Courgette, Fawn and headliner Boss Caine.

Wolfe Room events begin at 11am on June 2 with the singing workshop hosted by Soundsphere, before the York Songwriters Circle showcase their members' work for a couple of hours from 2pm. A late-afternoon concert features Alex O’Neil, Caramba and Pen & Stu; the main evening event comprises Eddie Affleck, Tom McKenzie, Bella Gaffney, Phil Cerny, Sarah Dean and, to wrap up the weekend, Stan Graham.

Oak Room events on June 2 include Joshua Burnell's workshop on arranging traditional folk songs and a Poems & Pints spoken-word session hosted by John Gilham.

The folk weekend times will be 8pm to 11.30pm, May 31; noon to midnight, June 1; noon to 11pm, June 2.

Charles Hutchinson