I’m going to forego the usual waffly, meandering introduction this month, replacing it with a (probably equally waffly and meandering) outro, for reasons that will become apparent to those who stick around long enough to read it.
As the year draws to a close the number of touring bands visiting our city’s venues dips once again, which is no bad thing as it gives the locals freedom to take to the stage in those venues.
This month sees ticket prices ranging from free to just over 20 English pounds (excluding the Grand Opera House, which has the highest price ticket this month for arguably the biggest and definitely the most enduring name to hit the city this month).
The cheap prices are a great opportunity to see and support some local bands, assuming your Festive Season social calendar has available free slots.
For me, the highlights are a mixture of local and more well-known and include one gig I know I won’t be able to get to. That one is the Annual All Star Big Boss Caine Festive Fibbers Fundraiser, on the 22nd.
As usual, Dan Lucas has pulled together a huge line-up of locals acts, this time to raise money for We Shall Overcome, an organisation that helps get the homeless off the streets and into homes.
The bill this year is a snapshot from the Who’s Who of the York Music Scene. (Don’t look for it on Amazon, I just made up the name. On a related note, I once had a dream that I wrote a book about the history of York music and called it Ebor Rock ‘Em – sadly the dream didn’t include any instructions on how to write said book…)
There will be performances from No Scary Bears, whose line-up includes ex-members of We Could Be Astronauts, Idle Jack & The Big Sleep and Hijak Oscar as well as current members of Van Der Neer and The Y Street Band, Van Der Neer themselves and Sewage Farm – in, I think their first appearance at Fibbers.
There’s also the new(ish) band for Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps) and Danny Barton (The Federals), along with Magnificent 7 and a full band version of Boss Caine.
Nineties grunge, bluesy rock, garage pop, ska/punk/hip-hop and Americana all on one kick ass bill.
There’s a big name with a big sound which will, if their last appearance in York is anything to go by, draw a big crowd to Fibbers on the 8th.
I saw Big Country twice back in their heyday – the late great Stuart Adamson even touched my arm at the then Town And Country Club in Leeds, possibly my favourite venue that I have only been to once.
I was also at Fibbers for their 2013 appearance, which featured The Alarm’s Mike Peters on vocals. Peters left the band shortly after that tour and vocals are now provided by English singer Simon Hough, who joins original members Bruce Watson and Mark Brzezicki, along with Watson’s son Jamie and even newer member Scott Whitley.
There has been no new music since 2013, but this will be a set filled with instantly recognisable classics.
My other must-see gig this month is at The Crescent on the 15th, when I will be foregoing a night around the pubs in Leeds with my work colleagues to sway gently along to the exuberant excesses of folk-rockers Blackbeard’s Tea Party, having missed their gig at the same venue earlier this year.
I may also get the opportunity to feed my penchant for rock with two gigs at Fibbers, starting on the 14th when Mason Hill – described as a mixture of Alterbridge, Black Stone Cherry and the Foo Fighters – make the trip down from Glasgow.
They headline a bill that also includes Deever, fronted by former Inglorious (who were simply incredible on the same stage a few weeks ago) guitarist Billy Taylor and, in what is a welcome return to live action, York’s own Morpheus Rising.
Mason Hill formed in 2013. The headliner at Fibbers on the 18th has been in the business since 1970, when he formed Dawn Road, a band that merged with Scorpions when Michael Schenker left to join UFO in 1973.
Since departing Scorpions in 1978, Uli Jon Roth released three albums with Electric Son before reverting to his own name for a career that has seen him write classical music as well as classic and progressive rock.
He is also the inventor of the “Sky guitar”, which allows him to emulate the higher notes of a violin. This appearance is part of the Tokyo Tapes revisited world tour, so expect a slew of songs from that period with Scorpions.
Over at The Fulford Arms on the 12th Flora Greysteel, one of the quirkier of York’s bands, and one of my favourites, are hosting a Peculiar Christmas Gig with the help of Becky Harrison, Waifs and Strays and with poetry from Dave Jarman.
Local bands at local venues
I am going to try to mention every local band that is playing a gig (at least at the major venues). Apologies in advance if I miss anybody.
First up is just the second gig for new York band Gimp Mask, when they support Manchester rap-rockers Dust Junkys at Fibbers on the 9th. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of info about the band out there, all I know is that it is Marck “Marbled” Whiley’s first foray into bass-playing.
I have already mentioned Magnificent 7 but, ahead of their previously mentioned gig, they will be opening for two tone ska legends Bad Manners, also at Fibbers on the 11th.
Still at Fibbers, on the 16th “brass funk and soul party behemoth” Flatcap Carnival, fresh from supporting Too Many Zooz last month, have put together a Festival Fiesta with the help of Ian Kay’s Soul Dream and ghetto funk/pop/big beat/shit-hop collective Grinny Grandad.
If that doesn’t tickle you fancy, maybe Halfway 2 Nowhere’s (a promoter I haven’t come across before) Christmas Party at the Basement on the 16th will.
Fancy dress is recommended and there is a promise of Christmas prizes to be won during the night.
There’s a second party from the same promoter at the same venue two nights later. This time the bill includes Beth Bedford, Asphodels, In Your Prime and The Receivers, who impressed during their support slot for Syd Arthur a couple of weeks ago.
Sandwiched between the two on the 17th, also at the Basement, is JAMNESTY, a night of music an merriment to raise money for Amnesty International.
This gig is billed as showcasing “some of York’s best emerging artists” and includes a début performance from Neon Salmon, along with Eve Battersby and Elena Whitley.
I saw, and enjoyed, the good time, old-school rock and roll of Cowgirl at the Basement earlier this year and was told some of the history of the band members.
For the life of me I can’t remember any of it and can’t find them on t’internet. Anyway, they support garage rock supergroup The Surfing Magazines, comprising one half of Slow Club and two thirds of The Wave Pictures, at the Crescent on the 17th.
For fans of one of the many spin-off sub-genres, Sellsword’s brand of mercenary metal can be heard at the Fulford Arms on the 19th when they support doom ‘n’ rollers Skandal (born in Greece, nurtured in the UK).
Skipping back to Fibbers and Zach Lount, frontman of King No-One returns for another of his intimate solo shows on the 20th.
Meanwhile, at Fibbers on the same and following evenings you can catch two of those fully-local bills.
Back at the Fulford Arms and the 22nd sees a promise of festive sets from three killer bands, one and a half of which are from York (or nearby).
The best of the rest
Barry Hyde, former frontman of post-punk band The Futureheads is touring an solo acoustic set of songs from all five of the band’s albums, along with a selection from his solo work. He stops off at the Crescent on the 8th.
For folk fans the Black Swan is, as ever, the place to be on a Thursday evening, with appearances this month from Harp and A Monkey on the 7th and Real Time on the 14th.
The club has their annual Christmas party, open to all singers, players and listeners, with free entry (and a bring-and-share supper) on the 21st, and music then restarts in the new year.
And I think that’s just about everything. If I haven’t mentioned a gig, it’s probably through lack of knowledge (of the gig or the players) or the fact that it’s already sold out. As usual feel free to recommend anything you think should be recommended.
All good things…
…must come to an end and this column, at least in it’s current form, is one of them.
After over three and a half years of writing for YorkMix, I have decided to call it a day. (Stop cheering at the back…!)
My reasons are my own and nothing at all to do with falling out of love with live music – I am already planning which gigs to see in 2018.
It is a nearly impossible task to put something like this together and please everybody but I have thoroughly enjoyed writing these pieces, sharing recommendations and anecdotes and welcomed the comments (both good and bad).
I believe that York’s music scene needs a voice (probably multiple voices) but think that it is time for somebody else to take up the mantle, at least from a YorkMix point of view.
There are plenty of other sites, pages, and people who do wonderful work promoting live music in York but there can never be too many. I will still be scouring the listings but, from now on, will be going back to just being a punter, standing quietly at the back (sometimes swaying in time to the music) and enjoying it as a fan, not a pretend writer.
Thanks for your time. Keep enjoying the music.
Here is the usual chronological list of the main gigs I covered above. All details are correct at time of putting this column together and ticket prices are as advertised. Paying on the door will cost a pound or two more.
On a phone? Swipe left to see all the details
|The Howl and The Hum||Crescent||£7|
|4th||Elkie Brooks||Grand Opera House||£27.90 – £39.90|
|6th||Joe Longthorne||Grand Opera House||£21.25 – £23.75|
|7th||Harp and A Monkey||Black Swan||£10 / £11|
|12th||Flora Greysteel||Fulford Arms||£4 / £5|
|Real Time||Black Swan||£10 / £11|
|15th||Blackbeard’s Tea Party||Crescent||£5|
|Honey Smugglers||Basement||£8 / £10|
|The Surfing Magazines||Crescent||£9|
|18th||Uli Jon Roth Band||Fibbers||£20|
|The Receivers||Basement||£8 / £10|
|22nd||Boss Caine Festive Fundraiser||Fibbers||£5|
|Lyon Estates||Fulford Arms||Free?|
|23rd||One Way Street||Fibbers||£5|