Big names, fab festivals and some wonderful local talent make September music to the ears of Ian Massey
Summer is ebbing away and the accompanying lull in live music in York will soon be a faded memory.
September may be the first month of the year without music at The Woolpack but Fibbers is back in full swing at its new location, The Duchess has more gigs booked than in recent memory and I even managed to find a what’s on listing of sorts for The Fulford Arms.
There are even a couple of city-based, wallet-friendly festivals featuring brilliant local acts.
Confession time, though… A couple of weeks away with the family (taking advantage of that lull, honestly) has left me with little time to research the unfamiliar names who will be playing our venues this month.
When I first started going to local gigs I chose to attend those by artists I knew or those that came across as interesting, rarely listening to their output beforehand.
So, hopefully for one month only, that’s how I’ve picked September’s highlights.
On Saturday the 6th MOR Music and The National Railway Museum come together for the Music On Rails Festival, with more than eight hours of music, across two locations, between 3pm and midnight.
In total, 22 acts will be playing and entry is free, although you do need to pre-book for the carriage performances.
At the other end of the month, across the weekend of the 27th and 28th, York’s Little Festival Of Live Music bring us the latest in their ventures, Unplugged.
Tickets are £4 for each evening and, in the grand tradition of the Little Festival, all proceeds will be donated to charity. This time they are supporting IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services).
Rock and metal
My pick of this month’s gigs has to be Kobra And The Lotus at The Duchess. I saw these Canadian heavy-metallers, a sort of cross between Iron Maiden and Evanescence, at Fibbers last November when they wowed a small crowd with a stadium-sized performance.
I didn’t expect them to be back at all, let alone so soon, but they return to promote their second album on the 25th. Tickets are £7 in advance or £9 on the door.
Heavyweight goth-rockers Spear of Destiny, now 31 years old, promote their latest album, the appropriately titled 31 (Thirty One) at Fibbers on the 26th (£14).
Meanwhile the very talented local band We Could Be Astronauts, fronted by the flamboyant, Robert Plant-inspired Robert Loxley Hughes, bring their old style rock mixed with modern sensibilities to the same venue the day after (£5).
And Leeds band Black Moth play the same venue on the 28th (£7 adv/ £9 otd).
At the lighter end of the scale The Dunwells, another Leeds band, bring their anthemic pop-rock sound to Fibbers on the 6th (£10) while there is the Biffy-Clyro/Muse-inspired sound of Blind Eye, headlining a four-band line-up that includes fellow York bands 34 Down and Stonewater, on the 20th (£5)
Singer songwriter and folk
For those preferring a quieter style of music, The Basement seems to be the place to be in September.
Guy Jones opens proceedings on the 1st (£5), with Steven James Adams of The Broken Family Band appearing on the 13th (£8 adv/ £10 otd), supported by Boss Caine. Tom Hickox rounds things of as he promotes his debut album, War, Peace and Diplomacy on the 25th (£7.50 adv/ £9.50 otd).
A couple of folk-based bands also play the venue this month. Tim Wood & The Reunion cover most bases with their folk/ rock/ blues/ country label on the 10th (£5).
And The Buffalo Skinners, who can sometimes be seen busking on the streets of York, play their mix of folk and 60s rock and roll on the 26th (ticket price tbc).
Over at the Black Swan there is the usual eclectic mix of artists, only one of whom could, perhaps, truly labelled as “folk”. Yorkshire’s singer/songwriter Edwina Hayes can be found there on the 11th (£9), while Dutchman Hans Theessink, whose description sounds more blues than folk, performs on the 18th (£12).
Seventy-five yearold guitarist Wizz Jones can be found there on the 25th (£10).
Something a bit different
As usual, there are gigs by acts which don’t fit into other genres. Grinny Grandad’s songs have featured in TV shows, a beer advert and the Grand Theft Auto video game.
They can also be heard at Fibbers on the 12th (£5) as can the Gypsy Blues of The Urban Voodoo Machine, on the 19th (£13).
I don’t know much about Dan Webster, who plays The Basement on the 17th, but I was recently blown away by Vesper Walk who are supporting him – seemingly inspired by the likes of the Dresden dolls, these keyboard-playing, puppet-waving sisters produce dark, quirky music unlike anybody else around these parts (£4 otd/£5 adv).
The Fulford Arms
I’ve mentioned the venue already, so I’d best tell you who is playing there… The 7th sees the Blueflies playing classic rock, soul and R&B inspired music that is, apparently, guaranteed to get audiences on their feet. Take your dancing shoes if you are going to this one.
The Franceens play garage rock on the 17th. I believe both those gigs are free (but don’t quote me on that if the doorman tries to charge you…).
But you will have to pay to see David R Black – a band, not a solo artist – on the 19th. I saw them supporting Panic Room back in 2011 and really liked them.
The Barbican once again plays host to some more well-known acts this month. Crooner Tony Bennett plays there on the 7th (£45 – £75) and the current incarnation of The Drifters take to the stage on the 14th.
There’s a blast from my past there on the 12th when Lisa Stansfield promotes her new album, Seven (£27.50) on a stage that I saw her play on more years ago than I care to remember.
Back then her tour (if I recall correctly) consisted of the Barbican, the Glasgow SECC, Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena. I never could work out how York managed to get itself in on the act.
A final word
There are many more gigs in York this month, from acts such as Speaking In Shadows, Kate Tempest, Cate le Bon, The Burning Hell, Mazes, Magik Markers (50 release in fourteen years!!).
There are a few tribute bands – Toast bring you Oasis hits, while Pearl Jem, The Guns ‘n’ Roses Experience and The Bon Jovi Experience are easier to work out.
As usual, many of our pubs and bars have free gigs and open mic nights where you can hear local musicians playing songs you will know and some you may not.
If my picks aren’t to your tastes, that doesn’t mean there won’t be something out there that is. Check the listings, venture out and help keep music live in York.
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