York’s dazzling live and recorded music scene shows no sign of flagging, says David Nicholson

Luke Saxton

First up, a 19-year-old for whom a huge future is predicted.

He’s Luke Saxton, and he has been steadily honing his craft for nearly ten years, producing no fewer than 20 – yes 20! – home-recorded albums.

Now, at last, there’s an official album release from the former Manor School pupil and York College student. And it is well worth the wait.

We can thank Jonathan Meager (of Fawn Spots), part of the enterprising team behind the city’s Bad Paintings label, for bringing Luke’s stunning work to a wider audience.

His album, Sunny Sadness, launched at the full-to-bursting Woolpack, is a gem-like distillation of Luke’s main influences, the Beach Boys, the Beatles and Harry Nilsson.

But it is the Nilsson undercurrent that can be heard most clearly. Indeed, he name-checks his hero in the title of his Song For Harry Nilsson.

But, be warned, this music is mesmerising and impossibly catchy, and you may have trouble getting it out of your head. It is a simply stunning official debut.

And here is Luke playing the album title track, and talking about his work.

Luke plays guitar, piano, drums, bass and mandolin throughout the nine tracks of Sunny Sadness, and you can sample all the music on his Soundcloud page.

You can also catch the excellent earlier track City Dreamin’ which is not on the album. So where do the lush string sounds on City Dreamin’ come from, Luke? Surely, you’re not playing the violin as well?

“No, that was my Dad. I got him to play the same part over and over again,” he told YorkMix. Which comes as something of a relief.

With a songwriting and performing talent this strong, it’s good to know there’s something he can’t do.

Mulholland

If you’re a regular at any of York’s city centre open mic nights, there’s a good chance you have already caught Mulholland.

Led by guitarist and singer Stan Smith, this five-piece will appeal to lovers of Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Ryan Adams, as they mix those influences with their own fresh take on bluesy, rootsy Americana with more than a hint of a foot-stomping barn dance band.

Stan shares songwriting credits on their excellent new five-track EP, Ghosts And Shadows, with bass and banjo player John Elliott, and Ann Dunford who adds fabulous depth of tone to the overall sound with her huge contribution on fiddle, accordion and keyboards.

Vic Heard (drums) and Andy Southgate (lead guitar) complete the line up.
You can sample and download all five tracks here. Standout track: Love Actually.

Dan Webster

Now, not so much a “music latest”, more “the one that got away”.

We first heard Dan Webster’s beautiful EP, The Sea And Other Things, at the start of the summer. It is a curtain-raiser for singer-songwriter Dan’s upcoming album Tin Man.

The featured EP track, Frank Dalton, tells the heroic story of Dan’s great grandfather, a Scarborough lifeboatman who died in service during a rescue in 1951.

Frank was awarded a posthumous medal for gallantry by the RNLI for his service to the cargo boat Westkust. He was a volunteer and part of the crew that launched to the 499-tonne Dutch cargo ship on December 9, 1951.

He died from injuries sustained in tumultuous seas 19 miles off Flamborough Head. All 10 crew members of the Westkust were saved.

Dan marked his grandfather’s sacrifice with an appearance in October’s Great North Run. It was Dan’s third RNLI fund-raising appearance in the race, and he plans to complete seven more, a total of ten, to commemorate each of the lives Frank Dalton helped to save.

You can also catch Dan at his regular Thursday open mic night at The Three Legged Mare, High Petergate, which he co-runs with pianist Alistair Lawrence.

Lost Trends

Finally, a very quick mention for high energy indie rockers Lost Trends who are busy in the Fulford studio of The Entertainment Co.

Their Buy The World EP is bursting with attack and attitude and bodes well for what we hope is an upcoming album.

You can hear all the EP tracks here. And producer Tom McCluskie’s remix of the title track is here.

And when we say “high energy”, we mean it. Judge for yourselves in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it action, tearing it up at Fibbers earlier this year in the video above.

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