Looking back at my original brief for this column, I seem to have strayed a little from the idea of a few personal choices of bands to see in York each month to listing more or less every gig I would go to if I had the time and money, with an emphasis on noting the local talent and including some music that falls outside my preferences and tastes. (I like to think I have wide tastes but, in reality, I probably don’t.)
Anyway, I make no apology for that but, even listing as much as I believe I can reasonably fit in, I still manage to miss things.
Two relatively new regular or semi-regular events that I haven’t yet mentioned are The Sundown Sessions at Nevermind and By Candlelight. Unfortunately, neither have any details for May at the time of writing.
The former is a regular Wednesday night slot, hosted by Boss Caine at Nevermind (the bar located where Fibbers used to be on Stonebow) and featuring local and not-so local acts.
Past performers have included Sand Creature, the wonderful Finch and the Moon, Coventry-based David Sanders and Phil Grainger. Entry is free and I believe the fun starts at 8.30pm.
Phil Grainger is also the mastermind behind the latter event, which isn’t quite as regular but aims to present local and national artists in beautiful yet unconventional venues and you only find out where the venue is after you buy your ticket. Like the Facebook page for more information.
Two rock favourites
I also make no apology for highlighting two of my favourite bands playing York this month. Ask what the most successful band to come out of York is and most people will probably say Shed Seven. They would probably be right.
More prolific, though, and celebrating the band’s 20th anniversary and the tenth anniversary of their own record label this year, Mostly Autumn have recorded no fewer than 11 studio albums and released even more live ones, touring the UK and Europe every year.
Yet few people in York have probably heard of them, because their music isn’t particularly mainstream. Taking in Celtic, progressive and classic Seventies rock influences throughout their career, as well as incorporating a sort of “revolving door” membership around founder and core member Bryan Josh, last year they released Dressed In Voices, for me the band’s strongest album for a long time.
Having not played their annual Christmas concert at the Grand Opera House last year, the band played York for the first time since 2013 (although two of its members performed acoustically in support of Steve Hackett at the Barbican last year) at Fibbers on the 2nd.
Welsh-based Panic Room are more progressive than classic rock, but remember that that genre itself has moved on since the likes of Genesis, Pink Floyd, caped keyboard players and the Hobbit-related songs of the Seventies.
Frontwoman and multi-instrumentalist Anne-Marie Helder currently also plays keyboards and flute for Mostly Autumn and drummer Gavin Griffiths used to drum for the York band, so there are links between the two, but Panic Room’s sound is their own.
In fact, over the course of four studio albums, they have managed to produce a sound that changes with each release while still staying true to the band’s overall image.
Having just blasted through a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of an acoustic album, reaching the £8,000 target in just two days and eventually raising nearly double that amount, Panic Room’s gig at Fibbers on the 7th is part of their Wildfire tour which will see them perform songs from all four albums across two sets, the first acoustic and the second full-on electric.
The tour will also be their first gigs with new guitarist Dave Foster (The Steve Rothery Band) (£12).
By far the biggest event of the local music scene occurs at The Fulford Arms on the 24th, when MOR Music are putting on an all-day event to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
The venue might not be as central, large or ambitious as previous festivals put together by the shop but the line-up is just as impressive.
With nothing booked in (so far) for the 31st, the month ends at Fibbers on the 30th, when the third Metal Massacre event brings together Forsaken, Treading Foreign Waters and Pantheon behind the biggest and loudest metal band in the city, RSJ. (£5)
Of course there are also gigs featuring local headliners – indie-rockers King No-One can be found at Fibbers on the 9th (£5), while The Savoy Ballroom will be telling stories, clicking fingers and generally being a bit folk-y at The Basement on the 16th. The latter is a York band I haven’t come across before.
I’m running out of space so, with apologies to the rest, I’m only going to mention my choice of local support acts this time around.
By now you will know I’m a big Boss Caine fan and you have the choice of seeing him (or possibly them, depending on who turns up) at Fibbers on either the 10th, as support for Paper Aeroplanes (£12.50) or the 12th with his good friend and folk singer Beans On Toast (£9).
Earlier in the month, on the 4th at the Basement, folk duo Union Jill will be supporting Canadian singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson (£9) while gypsy-folkers Leather’O will be opening for The Ukrainians at Fibbers on the 26th. (£12).
The picture I have in my head is that the headliners will be a sort of Eastern Bloc version of Hayseed Dixie… even if they all from the UK.
The most likely support act I’ll be seeing, though, is Muttley Crew (yet another local act I haven’t come across before – does anybody know just how many bands our city has?) when they support psychedelic-rockers Knifeworld at Fibbers on the 28th (£9).
As usual there are plenty of acts, up-and-coming to established and across a wide variety of genres, visiting York to provide entertainment for your ears.
The last time I saw Misty Miller she was a 16-year-old ukulele player. Now she’s in her twenties and seems to have ditched the ukulele for an electric guitar, fronting a band and basing her image, at least in part, on one of her musical heroes, Joan Jett.
Intrigued? Find out more at The Basement on the 3rd. (£5 adv/ £7 otd)
Also on the 3rd you can see 4 Parts Guitar at the NCEM. I only recognise two of the four, but if Clive Carroll and Raymond Burley are as impressive as Gordon Giltrap and John Etheridge, it will be well worth the ticket money (£15).
There is a York debut for Illinois-born Ben Bedford, who will be singing songs about ordinary Americans in the Woody Guthrie style at The Black Swan on the 7th (£9).
I’ve mentioned folk a fair bit already but there’s a lot of it about this month, including at The Barbican on the 12th, when Scotland’s Eddi Reader puts in an appearance.
You might not know her solo output but I bet you know Perfect from Fairground Attraction. (£22.50)
Probably the biggest gig at The Duchess this month will be when Welsh post-hardcorers Funeral For A Friend appear on the 15th (£12 adv/ £15 otd).
For me, though, the Fip Fok (a mix of folk, pop and hip hop) of CoCo and the Butterfields sounds a lot more interesting. They’ll be there on the 20th (£7 adv/£9 otd).
My pick of The Barbican gigs is American singer-songwriter Don Mclean on the 15th. I think it will be a safe bet that he will provide a slice of pie for his encore (£28.50, £34.50).
If you fancy somebody a bit more controversial, ex-Teardrop Explodes frontman, author and political activist Julian Cope will be at Fibbers on the 20th, probably telling the world to shut its mouth (£22.50).
Oxford-based indie shoe-gazers Swervedriver will be providing the entertainment at Fibbers on the 21st (£15).
A final word
Just like every month, there is much, much more and I doubt I have mentioned everybody’s favourites. If you are a fan of the established names, you might prefer Lulu or John Barrowman, both of whom play The Barbican.
At the other end of the scale, if you prefer your music more punky than I do, you’ll probably wish I’d mentioned Louise Distras at The Basement (or probably anybody playing The Fulford Arms).
There’s a lot of folk above but I still only managed to fit in one gig at The Black Swan – they have two others this month, as well as putting on another two at the NCEM. By my count there are over fifty gigs, with over a hundred acts listed, across the eight venues I usually cover.
Add to that the free gigs in various pubs and bars and, as I’ve said more than once, there really is something for everybody. If there is an act you want to draw attention to, add it to the comments below.
Before anybody mentions it, though, I know I haven’t mentioned the Fake Festival being held on the Knavesmire on the 23rd.
There might be some decent York bands on the bill, in the form of Blind Eye, RSJ, A Joker’s Rage, Beth McCarthy and Minster Conspiracy but, being completely honest, I don’t fancy paying money to see bands pretending to be other bands.
The days are getting warmer (hopefully). The nights are definitely getting lighter and there’s more to life than sitting on the sofa. Take a night off from the TV, venture out to a small venue and support the lifebloodA final word of the music industry.
Personally, I don’t think you can call yourself a music fan until you do.