Spring is here, and there’s music blooming everywhere in York, writes Ian Massey
For me, one of the best things about supporting the local live music scene is discovering new bands, either local or touring.
Over a relatively short period of time, acts that I have been tempted out to see based on a description on the What’s On listings or, perhaps, one song on a web page have turned into favourites (and, in some cases, friends).
It’s not that I’ve given up on bands that other people have already made famous but I recognise that bands with a much smaller, but hopefully growing, fan base can be equally as talented as the stadium-fillers.
And there are many bands in York that not only produce great music but also, because music and charity are notoriously intertwined, do good things for others…
Playing for charity
Ghost by Vesper Walk
If you fancy hearing excellent music while contributing to good causes, you are spoilt for choice this month.
On the 6th, you can experience A Night To Remember at The Grand Opera House, when Ian Donaghy (frontman for party band Huge) brings together an array of acts, including Heather Findlay and Chris Johnson, Boss Caine, Beth McCarthy, Toby Burras, The Y Street Band and many more, for an evening of acoustic classics and, more importantly, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Tickets are £11 and, because the show has been sponsored by Switalskis Solicitors, every penny of the ticket price will go to the charity.
At The Basement on the 9th, three young bands will be raising money for the Samaritans.
I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t come across any of them before (although I suspect I know the parents of a member of one of them). Tickets are just £3.
On the 14th, at the National Centre for Early Music, the superb Vesper Walk will embark on the premier of their full length Fallen Angel show, featuring the quirky, art-pop songs from the EP of the same name.
York poet Stu Freestone will be adding his own narrative to the songs and the night will also include costume, dance and puppetry. Tickets for this show are £10 and all proceeds will be going to York charity Jessie’s Fund.
There’s a very eclectic mix at the Barbican on the 29th, when a host of local talent will be performing to raise money for the Lord Mayor of York’s charities – York Against Cancer and York Teaching Hospital Charity.
The concert will feature a specially commissioned school choir of more than 150 children, The York Civic Orchestra, York Concert Band and Grand Old Uke of York, among others.
Of special note to me, though, are Rachel Croft and Leo James Conroy – you may have seen them busking on the streets of York, but they have also graced the stages at The Basement and The Black Swan – and Two Reasons Why, who have just been announced as, in my opinion, well-deserved winners of a competition to join the bill.
Tickets are £14, £12 for concessions and £48 for a family.
Bring on the locals
Of course, not all gigs can be for charity and there are plenty of others which feature local acts, plenty of which are in headline slots.
The Surf Sluts headline The Fulford Arms on the 6th, where their brand of Surf Punk, featuring songs about surf, zombies and drink, will be supported by the hard and fast Rock ‘n’ Roll of Atomic Raygun. Entry is free.
The following evening, at Fibbers, singer/songwriter Zak Ford will launch his debut album, Young, Eager & Starry Eyed, successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign last year.
Support comes from Chris Helme – one of York’s more famous musical sons – from the guitar and hauntingly beautiful vocals of half-local Finch and The Moon and another singer songwriter from York, Noah Clouds. (£6)
Also on the 7th, but at The Basement, Everlate, York’s answer to Snow Patrol, will be performing acoustically.
Their gig at Fibbers last year was superb and I’m looking forward to hear different versions of familiar songs. Support comes from singer/songwriters Casee Wilson, Naomi Coombes and Ashley James (£5).
During March, Fibbers will also be hosting four more all-York line-ups, starting on the 13th when the indie/ punk/ guitar-pop sounds of …And The Hangnails will headline an evening which will also feature American Indie from Bull, the alternative pop of Junk and groovy, messy rock’n’roll from Broken Skulls (£5).
The 20th will see a debut gig for Hello Earth (formerly Hungry Ghosts), proponents of indie-electro pop.
I don’t actually know just how many metal bands there are in York but, on the 23rd, Metal Massacre#2 will see four more take to the Fibbers stage in the form of When In Rome, Treading Foreign Waters, Forsaken and Mooseknuckle (£5).
There is potentially some even louder metal to be heard on the 28th, also at Fibbers, when RSJ headline a gig which also features Londoners Cypher16, young alternative pop-punkers from York One Way Street and even younger local rockers Minster Conspiracy (£8).
Finally for the headliners you can hear the acoustic indie rock of Lion Papers when they launch their single, Beautiful Disaster, at Fibbers on the 30th.
Some of the headliners, along with lots of other local bands, also feature in support slots for touring bands.
My pick of these happens at Fibbers on the 10th when Unfinished Drawings – another act you may have seen busking, knocking out laid back acoustic versions of songs from the likes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Daft Punk – will be opening for one his own musical heroes and true guitar magician, Jon Gomm.
Jon’s acoustic guitar-playing blew me away when I saw him back in 2013 and I can’t wait to see him again.
As to the rest, briefly…
Junk and Grolar Bear will be warming up the Fibbers crowd before Texans Purple take to the stage (£5).
The best of the rest
Time and, I assume, column inches are getting the better of me and I’ve barely mentioned any touring bands. There are a few more that have caught my eye.
Irish rockers The Answer have been recommended to me a few times but their gig at Fibbers on the 11th will be the first chance I have had to catch them live (£15).
The Duchess hardly has any gigs lined up for March but I’ve seen Steve Rodgers (son of Paul Rodgers) before and would quite happily do so again.
He’s there on the 12th, and his support, Elaine Palmer, sounds interesting as well (£6 adv/ £8 otd).
Of course, there are acts that I know nothing about. And there are lots of them. The Basement hosts Arthur Brown on the 12th (£14).
The Black Swan’s regular folk club nights includes The Gren Bartley Band on the 12th (£9) and Roger Davies on the 19th (£8), as well as all female band The Poozies, over at the National Centre For Early Music on the 24th (£16).
A final word
As ever, the above is just a sample. There are many other gigs I haven’t mentioned, at the paid venues and free at pubs, bars and open mic nights throughout the city.
Look around and, if I haven’t mentioned anything that takes your fancy, there may well be something elsewhere that does.
If not, try taking a trip out of your comfort zone for once. Try something new.
You might just find something you didn’t know you liked. Most importantly, support live music. Preferably in York.