John Pilgrim and Folk Horror Revival proudly present ‘Swansongs’, an evening of haunting music at the Black Swan Inn, York featuring Sharron Krauss, Hawthonn and Sarah Dean.
Sharron Kraus is a singer of folk songs, a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose solo work and collaborations offer a dark and subversive take on traditional music. As well as drawing on the folk traditions of England and Appalachia, her music is influenced by gothic literature, surrealism, myth and magick. Her songs tell intricate tales of rootless souls, dark secrets and earthly joys, the lyrics plucked as sonorously as her acoustic guitar.
She has released six solo albums, the first of which, ‘Beautiful Twisted’, was named by Rolling Stone in their Critics’ Top Albums of 2002. As well as her solo work, Sharron has recorded an album of traditional songs – ‘Leaves From Off The Tree’ – with Meg Baird and Helena Espvall of Espers, written an album of songs to celebrate the seasons of the year – ‘Right Wantonly A-Mumming’ – which was recorded with some of England’s finest traditional folk singers including Jon Boden, Fay Hield and Ian Giles – as well as recording and performing as a duo – Rusalnaia – with Ex Reverie’s Gillian Chadwick, with Tara Burke (Fursaxa) as Tau Emerald and with Irish free-folk collective United Bible Studies.
Hawthonn are Mugwort-smoking suburban witches. Sinister wailing from abandoned cooling towers. New observatories for atomic occultism. Synth-haloed chanting from the caverns of the blood moon. Gnostic pentagrams and underground spectralism.
Sarah Dean aka The Incredible String Blonde, has been writing her own music and ‘noodling’ for years on various instruments, but only since 2007 has Sarah finally pulled all the years of performance as a singer and hours of practice together, to go solo and write and perform her own songs.
It is the Celtic Harp that allows Sarah to create rich textures and atmospheres to the words and meaning of a song, taking listeners to another place with its magical and mesmeric soundscapes. Peppered amongst her own self-penned songs are some surprising contemporary covers (the bluesy Man In The Long Black Coat, Pink Floyds’ atmospheric Grantchester Meadows, Walking On The Moon by The Police etc) and beautifully arranged traditional folk songs. 20 years of performing have given Sarah a relaxed and easy stage presence and audiences are treated to amusing anecdotes.
Dating from the 15th century, The Black Swan Inn is a half-timbered pub with rooms is a block from the River Foss, a 10 minute walk from York Castle and a 5-10 minute walk from Jorvik Viking Centre.
Its traditional rooms all include en suite bathrooms and antique, 4-poster beds with rich draperies. Parking and breakfast are complimentary.
They boast a wood panelled restaurant with coffered ceilings and an open fireplace where we serve food daily, and two beer gardens where you can relax with a drink when the sun comes out.
Within this early 15th century merchant’s mansion various ghostly sightings have occurred.
There is a ghost of the gentleman in a bowler hat who appears to be impatiently waiting for someone at the bar – eventually his apparition slowly fades away.
Another ghost can be seen sitting staring into the fire in the bar. It is the ghost of a particularly beautiful young woman thought to be a jilted bride. It is said that should a man stare into her face he will die in ecstasy.
There are several other ghosts who appear regularly. A small boy, known affectionately to the staff as Matthew, is frequently seen in the bar and passageway. He is dressed in Victorian style clothes and is reportedly a pickpocket, which might explain the disappearance of various items kept behind the bar.
A rumoured highwayman, who we know as Jack, appears regularly in the kitchen, dressed in riding boots and a long black cloak. Interestingly, the kitchen was built over the original stable yard. He can also be heard singing along to Irish folk songs in the corner of the bar late at night.
A less frequent ghostly visitor is a large black cat wandering around the pub. This ghost causes confusion among staff and frequent customers alike as it bears a strong resemblance to Salem, the pubs resident feline.
The chair by the fire is reputedly cursed and it is said that should anyone sit in it a curse will fall upon them. We recommend standing.
There have been regular sightings of a pair of legs disappearing up the stairs leading to the landlord’s flat. We believe the landlord may have to be legless himself to dare to sleep there!
In the main bar area there is a clay pipe mounted on the wall. This pipe was found during restoration work. It is said that the workmen threw it out and at that very moment a chill descended upon them. There was a moment of frozen fear until one of them went to retrieve the pipe, after which the chill lifted. The pipe will always remain in the pub for fear of high electricity bills.
The Black Swan Inn – 23 Peasholme Green, York YO1 7PR
Tickets for Swansongs are available now £10 + small booking fee from –
Event is likely to sell out so please book soon to avoid disappointment.