As I started my research for this month’s column, on the day that saw at least three big music-featuring events vying for attention in York, I got involved in a brief discussion on social media.
It was started by a local musician who, I think semi-seriously, suggested having a day-long festival on Knavesmire featuring just local bands, even going so far as to propose a line-up (with the caveat that some bands would need a kick up the proverbial to get them to re-form).
Inevitably, questions were asked about the financial viability/ likelihood of backing without the involvement of a big name – you can probably guess which, given that there aren’t many big names with links to York – whether York has too much free music available and whether people value live music.
The thing is, the proposed line-up was good. Not everything was to my taste and I suggested three bands myself (including the musician’s own band, which he had politely missed off), but it showed how diverse the local bands are.
The problem might be getting your average punter down early enough to see the smaller bands and not just turn up for the headliners.
There are events in York which showcase just local talent, but they tend to be small or medium scale. This idea was for a BIG event. It’s likely just a pipe dream, but some pipe dreams eventually happen.
Anyway, enough dreaming. Who can you see around York this month?
Let’s stay with the theme and start with those local acts, whether headlining or supporting. And I always like to mention charity gigs ahead of others…
Head down to the Basement on the 19th for a gig to raise money for organisations which support sufferers of Pulmonary Fibrosis.
It’s a cause close to alt-country duo Mulholland’s heart and they will be joined this evening by fellow locals Chris Helme (ex-Seahorses), Sam Griffiths and Bradley Blackwell (one half of The Howl and The Hum).
There is also a return gig at Kardomah94 in Hull on the 27th (this is another “Tunes In Two Cities” event), which features the same line-up except with the brilliant country-singer Gracie Falls replacing Chris Helme. Sadly the York gig falls during my on-call week, otherwise I would be there.
Also for charity, the Crescent are hosting an all-day Oxjam gig on the 15th, starting at 1pm. It’s a busy line-up which includes David Breslin, Jonny Gill, Harrison Rimmer, Supermoon, Glass Traps, Violet Contours, Jimbo Doomface and the River Geese, along with many others, some of whom get mentioned for other gigs below.
The local act involved in the proceedings at Fibbers on the 9th is acoustic duo The Bronze (named after the club frequently by Buffy and her slayer-crew in the TV series whose name I forget), who I have seen a number of times now and it’s always a pleasure, from the sometimes self-deprecating humour, to the lovely songs and the occasional quirky covers.
I seem to remember that alternative RnB trio Kymberley Kennedy also had links to York but now list their hometown as Leeds, so I might be wrong, Anyway, they will be opening the evening and I’m looking forward to catching them for the first time.
Headlining the evening are Bristol-based folk-electonica duo Meadowlark, who are promoting their debut album Postcards. For me, this is the gentle filling in a gig sandwich for which the bread is made up of rock/metal – more on that later.
Circulation, York University’s music magazine, are holding their first live event of the new year – I’m assuming that is the academic year and, being quite honest, I didn’t even know they put on live events before I spotted this one – at the Basement on the 12th.
The line-up includes Peach (I can’t find a link for them), Foreign Lives, who are described as “alternative rock from Yorkshire”, so are fairly local, and Bull, who are definitely from York and definitely worth seeing.
Confusingly, Bull include a guitarist/vocalist called Dan Lucas – shouldn’t there be some sort of Equity rule that musicians, like actors, can’t have the same name??
Perennial favourites and professional buskers Glass Caves are another band who seem to have moved – their Facebook page shows their hometown as Pontefract – but they started out in York, so I’m going to mention their gig at Fibbers (“the place where it all began”) on the 14th here, especially as it also includes fellow local indie-rockers Alleyways and Pura Vida.
Also on the bill are Razz, but I haven’t been able to find any info on them.
Celtic/Gypsy/Folk quartet Leather’O are at Fibbers on the 20th, opening the evening for Ferocious Dog, a folk-punk band from Nottinghamshire in what I seem to recall is an exact copy (line-up wise) of a previous gig at the same venue. Fun-fact for this month’s column – Fruitbat, Ferocious Dog’s guitarist once headlined Glastonbury in his other guise of Carter, one of the founders of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.
Joshua Burnell is a favourite local act of mine and could, perhaps, lay claim to being the person who has mostly influenced my still relatively new appreciation of folk music, even if he did so by blending folk with prog rock on his brilliant Into The Green album.
He, accompanied by Frances Sladen, is back at the Basement on the 21st, as part of an evening of folk music which promises three unique acts.
I can’t confirm whether headliners Dapper’s Delight – whose repertoire focuses on 17th and 18th century English tune books and broadside ballads – sound different enough from Burnell to be considered “unique” but, having heard Joska de Langen perform a set including songs in Dutch, Sri Lankan (iirc) and a Pink Floyd cover (again iirc), he is certainly different. The local link this time? He frequently busks on the streets of York.
Joshua Burnell also appears at the NCEM on the 24th, this time as support for Bella Hardy, another contemporary folk artiste who, although from Derbyshire, is a graduate of York St John.
I have said in the past that I don’t like describing Soma Crew’s music as “drone”, despite the band themselves using that description, because to me that makes it sound unpleasant. They aren’t quite space-rock-y enough to be compared to Hawkwind, but their music sometimes brings to mind the kings of that genre and it may be that, if not for Do Not Panic, Soma Crew would be regarded as York’s answer to Hawkwind.
You can make your own mind up at Fibbers on the 25th, when they open for Leeds-based indie Brit-poppers Cud who, in their thirtieth anniversary year, are touring with a set of all nineteen of their single releases.
Long term readers (if any are still about) will know that I highly rate Boss Caine, whether in solo or band form, although the latter is probably best described as “musical collective” given that, it times, the impression can be that Sir Lucas of English Americana seems to convince any musician who was passing at the time to join him on stage.
It used to be that a week wouldn’t go by when you couldn’t see him/them on the Fibbers stage – something that other, more vocal, people than me have decried in the past. These days, his appearances there are fewer, but he is back on the 27th, this time supporting Alabama 3 Acoustic, a four piece spin-off bringing a new dimension to the music of the parent band – country/gospel/delta-blues with a rhythm you can dance to.
I don’t know much at all about beat-boxing, so I’m afraid it’s just a brief “make you aware” type mention for Vox Cornelious, a local proponent of the genre and looper, who is supporting Manchester’s hip-hop production team and, quite obviously, live band The Mouse Outfit at Fibbers on the 28th.
Finally, although advertised on the Fibbers website, Itch of The King Blues, purveyor of rebel street music and a fusion of punk, ska, hip-hop and the spoken word, has an intimate, unplugged show at the Basement on the 31st. It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing at all, which is a shame as the local link for this gig is Marbled, another artist I rate highly.
Near the end of the month King Courgette take to the stage as part of an Atlantic crossing bill. Joining the York band at the Post Office Club on the 27th are multi-instrumentalist and singer Billy Kemp from Nashville, and folk-pop from Karla Kane and The Corner Laughers from California.
I think that’s it for the local stuff. If I have missed anybody it is through my own ignorance (or perhaps a lack of listings). As usual, please feel free to correct me in the comments below.
The best of the rest
I’m already three pages into writing this and there are so many gigs that I haven’t mentioned. I’m going to limit myself to what I consider the best of those that remain and it is worth pointing out that, on the two days I have worked on this column, the Black Swan Folk Club website has been unavailable, so it is no slight on them that I haven’t mentioned any of their gigs.
In an unusual turn of events, I already have tickets for three gigs this month. Usually, I am the promoters’ nightmare and just rock up on the night (or at least only buy tickets a gig in advance) which has led to me missing out on gigs that I hadn’t realise would sell out, or nearly turning up to gigs that had been cancelled due to not enough pre-sales.
If rock is your thing there are two huge gigs at Fibbers this month (although one is already sold out and, the last I heard, the other was close to doing so). If, like me, you have a ticket for Dragonforce at Fibbers on the 6th, you are lucky. Their latest album – Reaching Into Infinity – is the only one I have heard but it is a belter (apart from a couple of songs with those growled vocals, which do nothing for me…)
This is power-metal at its best although, being honest, I didn’t detect any of the video game sounds that have caused the band to be labelled as “Ninendo metal”. Maybe that’s just because I’m not much of a gamer.
I believe there are still a few tickets left for Inglorious, also at Fibbers on the 11th. Pomped as a “young Deep Purple” with a love of the 70s classics, their second album – named simply II, another nod to days gone by – reminds me a lot of Whitesnake, with just a few hints of Iron Maiden thrown in for good measure.
It’s blue-based rock at its finest and I can’t wait to see them live. Support this evening comes from Wayward Sons, whose debut album Ghosts Of Yet To Come I have yet to hear but who are the new band for former Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson, so there is good pedigree there.
I will also be at the Grand Opera House on the 31st for the British blues legend John Mayall, whose career spans more than half a century. This will be the third time I have seen him in York, at three different venues and each time I think it will be my last chance. He will be eighty-four in a couple of months and yet, the last time he was in York, was still spryly moving around stage, let alone playing like a man half his age.
I don’t have a ticket for, but quite fancy, the brilliantly named Acid Mother’s Temple & the Melting Paraiso UFO, who appear at the Crescent on the 24th. This is a Japanese psychedelic rock band who have been around since 1995 and it’s not just that the genre interests me, but the fact that I can possibly cross Japan of the list of countries I have seen bands from.
Two more Crescent gigs sound interesting, for very different reasons. I’m aware of The Tom Robinson Band only through their 2-4-6-8 Motorway hit. Whether I would like any of their other output is cause for discussion.
They are there on the 18th, while Lucy Spraggan, the only artist I can think of to be successful via X-Factor without actually appearing on the live shows (apparently, it’s not like I watch it…) can be seen on the 3rd.
Finally, having seen and enjoyed Holy Moly and The Crackers a couple of times now, I am gutted that I can’t get down to the Basement on the 11th when The Martha Hill Young Team will be performing, with support from The Buffalo Skinners’ Robbie Thompson.
A final word
As usual there are many gigs I have missed and things that I regard as highlights won’t be to everybody’s taste (and vice versa). If I’ve missed something you think I should have mentioned, shout about it, try to get people interested and out to experience live music.
There is so much diversity out there – from the punk sensibilities of Louise Distras (Basement, 10th) to the old-style flamboyant rock and roll of Showaddywaddy (Barbican, 13th) via the soul music of Michael Kiwanuka (Barbican, 20th), the pop-rock (or, according to Wikipedia, punk) of Norway’s Sløtface (Basement 3rd) and death metal of Abhorrent Decimation (Fulford Arms, 31st). Live music is alive and well in York.
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
|Martha Hill Young Team||Basement||£5|
|12th||Bull||Basement||£3 adv / £5 otd|
|Tom Robinson Band||Crescent||£20|
|19th||Mulholland||Basement||£8 adv / £10 otd|
|Michael Kiwanuka||Barbican||£19.60, £28|
|21st||Dapper’s Delight||Basement||£5 adv / £8 otd|
|Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO||Crescent||£10|
|27th||Alabama 3 Acoustic||Fibbers||£17.50|
|28th||The Mouse Outfit||Fibbers||£12|
|31st||Itch unplugged||The Basement||£10|
|Abhorrent Decimation||Fulford Arms||?|
|John Mayall||Grand Opera House||£32.65, £35.65|