I ended up not doing very well in November. Of the seven gigs that I expected to get to (at time of writing), I ended up not making two and seeing another two cancelled.
Add to that the disappointment of not being able to get to the Hope & Social gig, always a highlight of my year, and reading a review of KT Tunstall’s Barbican show that made me question whether curry and fireworks with the family was the correct choice and November, with it’s diverse programme of gigs, ended up being a personal “disaster”.
December isn’t going to be much better for me, either. Traditionally, it seems to be a month when the touring bands dry up a bit and local talent gets a chance to take over some of the venues – sometimes for charity, sometimes just for annual, seasonal get-togethers and sometimes for both.
As ever, there are gigs I will be trying to get to but, with a packed programme of pantomime, a milestone birthday and being on-call, chances will be few and far between.
Staying local for Christmas
In nothing but chronological order (mostly), here are the local bands you can see around the city this month.
With the closure of The Duchess another of my annual highlights has had to move venue this year and it will be The Crescent that hosts the folk-rock of Blackbeard’s Tea Party on the 9th. Given the crowds at previous gigs, I expect the venue to be rammed. I also expect strange hats, reprobates and, possibly, a chicken on a raft…
As if the headliners weren’t good enough, I’m fairly certain that I have seen that Joshua Burnell and his band will be providing a set of prog-folk as the support act. It all promises to be a brilliant night… and I won’t be able to make it.
It’s so bizarre that it might just work. On the same night, at Fibbers, members of Us Amongst The Rest and Bastrad combine for Permission To Tap – A Tribute to The Darkness. I don’t think there is much I can add to that. Support comes from the talented teens of Minster Conspiracy.
Also on the 9th, if spandex and high-pitched vocals aren’t your thing, over at The Basement you can experience A Cosy Christmas with York soul and gospel singer Libby Redman.
I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve come across Libby, a nominee for Best Female at the Premier Gospel Awards and Best UK Act by Pure M Awards.
She is described as having an “ability to create music and lyrics that entertain, uplift and stir the spirit”: £1 from each ticket sold for this gig will go to Candlelighters, the children’s cancer charity.
Again at The Basement, on the 14th, On The Ropes, Pray For Hayden and One Way Street come together for a pop-punk festive experience of original songs, Christmas covers (and probably jumpers) and silly hats.
The bar staff at The Crescent are being kept busy this month and will be back on duty on the 16th when The Bramble Napskins, The Dan Webster Band, Stillhouse and Rachel Croft will perform to raise money for Refugee Action York and Medecins San Frontieres during the Music For Refugees event.
Over at Fibbers, also on the 16th, you get another chance to see one of the UK’s “must see” live acts, when indie-rockers King No-One end their Winter tour with a hometown show.
On the 17th, there will be something probably a lot rowdier on the same stage when The Bastard Sons and River City Ransom perform alongside Barnsley’s Cavorts and Mercury Killed Newton from Leeds for a night of metal and punk.
After a couple of days break for the bar staff, head back to the Crescent on the 20th and you will be able to see David Ward Maclean’s celebration of the Winter solstice. David will, as I believe is usual, be joined by a group of musical friends, along with special guest Edwina Hayes.
There are actually two Winter Solstice events listed. Thankfully, you can see both if you want to because they are on different days.
The second is at The Basement on the 21st (the actual solstice) when Discomister – you might remember their World Cup song, Bring It Home, re-released this year for the European Championships when the England squad must have mis-heard it as “come on home” for the second time – promise an evening of carols, candles and costumes and the launch of their debut album, Cool Is Dead.
Also on the bill are singer/songwriters Tom Shillito and Elena Whitely.
I assume that the reason David’s solstice show is a day early is because Heather Findlay managed to book The The Crescent first for the 21st. There you will be able to see the the former Mostly Autumn vocalist perform with two of her projects.
Headlining is the eponymous Heather Findlay Band, with a promise of playing tracks from her new release, I Am Snow.
In support, Heather teams up once again with Angela Gordon as Odin Dragonfly. With no Mostly Autumn Winter tour or hometown Christmas show this year, and with Heather’s earlier tour being postponed due to illness, I expect a fair few of the regular MA fans will travel to York for this gig. It’s definitely an event I will be at.
There are two more gigs at Fibbers before Christmas. Firstly incredibly popular newcomers Faux Pas will be launching their latest EP on the 22nd, at what promises to be a high-energy show. Then there is one of the events of the year, when Boss Caine brings together musical talent from across the city for his annual Festive Fundraiser.
This year, he (and the legion of musicians that form the Boss Caine collective) will be joined by The Howl & The Hum, Naked Six and Bull as they aim to make as much money as possible (including all the ticket money) for York Mind.
And then, between Christmas and New Year, Bogus Brothers will be celebrating thirty years in the music business.
York’s party band have averaged over 120 gigs a year, played around the world and for celebrities such as Andrea Corr and Eddie Jordan. On the 29th, as part of a three day warm-up before a European tour in 2017, you can catch them at the Acomb WMC. (Not a venue I ever thought I’d mention…)
As ever, along side all these, the ever-busy Boss Caine presents a variety of talent at The Fulford Arms, with his Sundown Sessions. This month you can see Mark Wynn on the 12th and Zak Ford and Joe Tilston on the 21st. Both these are free entry.
Bigger names and other tourers
Of course, it’s not all local acts. The biggest name to play York this month is Motown legend Martha Reeves who, once more alongside The Vandellas, will be returning to York to grace the Fibbers stage on the 13th, although fans of Sheffield new wave band The Human League, at The Barbican on the 15th might dare to argue as to who is the more famous. (Do you see what I did there?)
Also at The Barbican you can see English country-pop duo The Shires, who headlined the acoustic stage at Glastonbury earlier this year.
They appear on the 8th, while Barnsley folk singer Kate Rusby and her band return as part of their regular Christmas tour on the 18th.
Their are three very different gigs at Fibbers at the beginning of the month, starting with Emmy The Great on the 1st. Born in Hong Kong but now based in London, Emmy is an “anti-folk” singer/songwriter and has been described, by Clash Magazine, as a female Bon Iver.
The next day Kirk Brandon (Spear Of Destiny) returns to punk supergroup Dead Men Walking, alongside Segs and Ruffy (from The Ruts) and Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) for an acoustic evening of tracks from the respective bands’ albums.
Are you a fan of the Harry Potter films or the Game Of Thrones TV series? Do you want to see Nymphadora Tonks or the wildling Osha up close?
Well, actress Natalia Tena, who plays both characters, is also the singer and accordion player with Molotov Jukebox, whose unique Tropical-Gypsy-Dance sound has been nicknamed “Gyp-step” by their fans. They are at Fibbers on the 7th.
The Black Swan has a slightly slimmed down programme this month, with UK-based American acoustic guitarist Brooks Williams returning for his third solo visit to the Folk Club on the 8th and singer/fiddle-player Jackie Oates also returning on the 15th, this time accompanied by Mike Cosgrave.
The club also have a show at the NCEM on the 21st when the harp and vocals of Máire ni Chathasaigh will combine with the guitar of Chris Newman for a mixed evening of Irish music, swing jazz and bluegrass alonsgide some festive favourites.
So, there’s plenty of music around the city in December and I haven’t included everything I found, let alone the various open mic nights and free gigs around the pubs and bars.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who read, comment, like and share this column and to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I’m already planning gigs for 2017 and have just this week bought my most expensive ticket ever – sadly it’s not for a York gig – and have noticed a “bucket list” appearance 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 at Fibbers will cost a pound or two more.
On a smartphone? scroll horizontally to see all the info.
|1st||Emmy The Great||Fibbers||£14|
|2nd||Dead Men Walking||Fibbers||£18|
|8th||Brooks Williams||The Black Swan||£12|
|The Shires||The Barbican||£25.20, £28, £30.80|
|9th||Permission To Tap||Fibbers||£5|
|Libby Redman||The Basement||£6|
|Blackbeard’s Tea Party||The Crescent||£5.50|
|13th||Martha Reeves and the Vandellas||Fibbers||£20|
|14th||On The Ropes||The Basement||£4 adv / £5 otd|
|15th||Jackie Oates & Mike Cosgrave||The Black Swan||£12|
|The Human League||The Barbican||£40.32, £47.60|
|Music For Refugees||The Crescent||£6 adv / £8 otd|
|17th||The Bastard Sons||Fibbers||£6|
|18th||Kate Rusby||The Barbican||£20.16, £28|
|20th||David Ward Maclean||The Crescent||£8|
|Máire ni Chathasaigh & Chris Newman||NCEM||£14|
|The Heather Findlay Band||The Crescent||£12|
|23rd||Boss Caine Festive Fundraiser||Fibbers||£5|
|29th||Bogus Brothers||Acomb WMC||£10|