The gigs to see in York this month: August 2017

Playing a new venture at the Barbican – Blackbeard's Tea Party
5 Aug 2017 @ 3.20 pm
| Entertainment

Straight into it this month, because I don’t have a lot of time. I doubt many will miss my usual opening waffle.

To be honest, with it being holiday and festival season, a time when normal people want to sit in a beer garden, sipping drinks in the sun, rather than standing (generally) in a dark room listening to music, there isn’t much on this month, judging (as usual) by the various What’s On listings.

So, I’m going to pick a couple of personal highlights and then cover the rest in date order.

Gypsy and other folk

Along with the Stillhouse gig that I mentioned last month, Newcastle’s Holy Moly and The Crackers are also playing a gig as part of the Yorkshire Fringe. For this gypsy folk rock band the venue is the White Rose Rotunda in Parliament Street, on the 5th and it is a launch party for the band’s new album – Salem.

It is a gig I’m really looking forward to, having seen the band just once before. Their music is great, lively, slightly raucous and thoroughly enjoyable.

It’s akin to the output of Blackbeard’s Tea Party but, to me, slightly less rooted in traditional folk.

There’s an energy and personality from this band that, at that previous gig, had even me (a generally stoic old man, who normally restricts his movement during songs to drumming along with one hand on a leg) engaging in what I like to think was something along the lines of dancing.

I managed to get to Joshua Burnell’s band at the Basement last month and, as expected, really enjoyed it.

Along with his band, Burnell performed an all-to-short set which, along with two of my favourite tracks from Into The Green – one of my favourite albums of last year.

He also played a couple of songs from his Seasons project, which sees him intending to release an arrangement of a tradition folk song every week for a year – he has already covered Winter and Spring and, inevitably, is well into Summer.

I can’t remember which two songs were played but the list of what has already been released includes well known songs such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, alongside tracks I have never heard of yet which, by title alone, can’t help but evoke thoughts of Olde England and traditional tales.

These include the likes of Apples In Winter and Robin Hood and The Pedlar – as well as some that appear to have originated from beyond these shores. There is a chance to hear more of these on the 10th, at the Black Swan when Burnell is joined by an acoustic version of his band in order to focus on songs from the ambitious project.

There is a new venture at the Barbican on the 18th and 19th, when they put on B-Fest, a combination beer festival and blues and folk gig. Mmmmm, music and beer, two of my favourite things, apparently.

There are three sessions across the two days and entry is £6 per session. I cant find anything to confirm which bands are on during each session but the line-up includes bands that I am familiar with – Blackbeard’s Tea Party, Gary Stewart, Mulholland, Union Jill, Lion Papers, Plumhall and King Courgette .

And there are also a few I haven’t come across before – Sam Price, Elsie Franklin, Kelly Ann Boland, The Blackjacks.

Plus there are two bands who tie for the best name this month – Half Hand Hoodoo Band and Mr Dodo Bones & The One Eyed Jacks. I only hope it is easier to hear them above the chatter than it is during the Beer and Cider Festival on the Knavesmire.

In a month that seems to be dominated by folk and blues, I’m going to end this section by mentioning a gig at the Crescent on the 15th, when Hurray For The Riff Raff, a folk-blues and Americana band from Louisiana, fronted by Bronx-born Alyndra Segarra.

They will be promoting their latest album, The Navigator. I hadn’t heard about the band before I was recommended them by another attendee at a gig a couple of month’s ago. Sadly, the gig coincides with a Leeds United home match so I will have to hope they visit York again.

A very mixed bag

There might not be that many gigs on in York this month, but those that are on still cover a wide variety of genres.

There’s another Newcastle band in town when electronic alt-pop trio Twist Helix appear at the Fulford Arms on the 10th. As the genre suggests, this a keyboard, rather than guitar, led stuff.

The bill also includes a wide variety of local acts – the funk of Dr Philosofunk, electronic-alt rock from Borderline and acoustic folk pop from Simplyplustwo. It’s an enticing line-up.

Local indie duo Lion Papers are performing their third headline gig at Fibbers on the 11th.

They are something just a little bit different and, with just an acoustic guitar and a few drums shared between them (at least at the gig I saw them play), they put out an energetic set of catchy tunes.

Helping them bring the evening to life are three more local acts – The Receivers, who describe their sound as indie rock with hints of pop and psychedelia; Fossa, whose genre is intriguingly listed as “reverbarcadia”; and garage/punk rockers Mice On Mars.

Head back to the Fulford Arms on the 12th and you can see Jonah Matranga, whose sound and style is described as a genre-defying somewhere between Prince, Bjork and The Clash.

He is one of those acts that musicians I know speak very highly of, and that’s usually a good recommendation. At least one of those musicians is also on the bill, which is completed by London post-punk trio Witching Waves and local singer/songwriters Boss Caine and Zak Ford.

For punk fans the Basement is the place to be on the 15th, when Louise Distras – the one-woman sound of revolution – takes to the stage. I’m old enough to remember when Kerrang magazine started.

At the time it was dedicated to heavy metal/rock, so it was a bit of a surprise to see that the magazine tipped Distras as one of their Stars of 2017 and hailed her as “the most exciting voice in UK punk-rock right now”. Not one for me, as regular readers will know, but definitely one to consider if you like that sort of thing.

The Black Swan Folk Club continues its regular Thursday night gig nights with Alice Jones on the 17th.

Alice hails from Ripponden and sings mostly traditional songs accompanied by piano or harmonium. It’s her début at the club and an evening that promises a modern perspective and new life being brought to old songs.

For some reason the 19th is the busiest night of the month, with four other gigs for music fans to choose from. In no particular order you can see… Stockport-based indie four-piece Kashmere at the Basement.

Their write-up is brief, simply stating that the have become known as one of the most energetic bands on the circuit. Perhaps somebody should mention the venue’s low ceiling, just in case that energy involves lots of jumping about.

Also on the bill are Pura Vida and Televangelists, two bands who seem to be popping up everywhere over the last few months.

Cover Force Five are a pop/rock covers band who play songs from the likes of Robbie Williams and Elton John through Celo Green to Sum 41 and Bowling For Soup.

I wouldn’t normally mention cover bands but I don’t want to miss noting a Fulford Arms gig and that’s where they are playing.

At the Crescent you can see a co-headliner with two multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriters in the forms of the prolific (40-plus records in 20 years, many self-released) Karl Blau, from Anacortes, Washington and Oregon’s Laura Gibson.

This is a Please Please You gig, which means I’m expecting my usual gig-buddy to be in touch, assuming he’s free, as he really likes supporting this promoter.

Finally, there is probably the biggest gig of the night when the ever-popular King No-One warm up for appearances at Reading and Leeds with a gig at Fibbers.

My only previous experience with BMX Bandits was the film featuring a very young Nicole Kidman.

On the 20th, the Crescent aren’t showing a screening of this 1983 “classic” but are hosting the band of the same name, described by the Guardian as “Britain’s ultimate cult group”.

It’s another Please Please You gig and the write-up of the band on the PPY website is brilliant, I’m just not sure whether it is totally serious or slightly tongue-in-cheek in places. Head here to give it a read and make you own mind up, or even correct me.

Ska is another of those genres that I have never really been into. I can listen to it (unlike some other genres) but I doubt I would ever buy any albums or head to any gigs.

So, I probably won’t be at Fibbers on the 22nd, when The Skatalites pop in as part of their UK tour. From Jamaica and originally active in the mid-sixties, their most famous song is Guns of Navarone (this column is all folk/blues and film references…) and recorded with the likes of Prince Buster.

After a series of reunions, the band – who have nearly four times as many past and additional members as they have current, but who still boast two founding members – have been performing together since 1983.

Over at the Crescent, also on the 22nd, there’s another PPY gig. This time they welcome genre-pushing Philadelphian Chris Forsyth to the stage.

He will be joined by his Solar Motel Band, a live act who have drawn comparisons to such visionary artists as The Grateful Dead, Neil Young & Crazy Horse and Richard Thompson and who perform guitar rock with a hint of psychedelia.

The Trials of Cato toured open mics and singers nights last Winter and impressed those folk-y people at the Black Swan that they invited them along for a paid booking on the 24th.

This trio formed in Beirut and performed on the Lebanese music scene during 2015. The implication on their website is that they are British as it says they returned to the UK and have been active at folk clubs and festivals ever since, thanks to a formidable live reputation.

As seems usual at the Black Swan their set mixes original and traditional material, using fretted instruments (mandolin, banjo, guitar and Irish bouzouki) and vocal harmonies.

I remember mentioning Juffage in a previous column, but never saw him play. Now the Leeds-based Chicagoan Jeff T. Smith is back, with a host of collaborators, in new project Living Body, a band which describes its music as post-brexitcore, expanding on the need for music to bring joy into the lives of others.

Their appearance at the Basement on the 24th is part of a 14-date tour of the UK, which comes hot on the heels of an equally large venture across the pond to the USA and Canada.

PPY draw this month to a close with another gig at the Crescent on the 26th. This time it’s GospelbeacH, the new band from Brent Rademaker (Beachwood Sparks) who are in the UK for the first time to play their brand of dreamy American roots music from album Another Summer Of Love.

There’s bound to be more. There always is, especially at other venues. As usual, the comments section is where to note things that I have missed, that you think should get a shout-out.


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 will cost a pound or two more.

Date Act Venue Price
5th Holy Moly & The Crackers White Rose Rotunda £10
10th Twist Helix Fulford Arms Free
Joshua Burnell Black Swan £8 adv / £9 otd
11th Lion Papers Fibbers £5
12th Jonah Matranga Fulford Arms £8 adv / £10 otd
15th Louise Distras Basement £6
Hurray For The Riff Raff Crescent £13
17th Alice Jones Black Swan £8 adv / £9 otd
18th – 19th B-Fest Barbican £6 per session
19th King No-One Fibbers £8.50
Kashmere Basement £5 adv / £7 otd
Cover Force Five Fulford Arms £3
Karl Blau & Laura Gibson Crescent £9
20th BMX Bandits Crescent £15
22nd The Skalatites Fibbers £20
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band Crescent £8
24th Living Body Basement £6 adv / £8 otd
The Trials of Cato Black Swan £8 adv / £9 otd
26th GospelbeacH Crescent £8