The gigs to see in York right now – July 2016

Heading for the Barbican – Mary Chapin Carpenter. Photograph: Aaron Farrington/ Filament Productions
3 Jul 2016 @ 9.26 pm
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I would have loved to open this month’s column with an analysis of how the (very) recent vote to leave the EU would impact live music, not just in York but across the country.

I can’t, though – even taking into account that my remit is simply to help promote what gigs are being put on in our city, I’m certainly no expert on the mechanism by which they are arranged, locally or internationally. Add to that the fact that it is way too early to tell what will happen and anything I did say would be pointless.

I do, however, hope that it will continue to be financially viable for European acts to come over here. In the course of my gig-going in York I have seen bands from Finland, Sweden and Ireland (I thought there were more, there are probably others that I have missed).

What difference that awful word “Brexit” makes to the chances of them returning remains to be seen. The one possible example I can find is the Canadian model where, back in 2013, fees for foreign musicians playing there were increased dramatically.

Will that happen here? Who knows…

Filling the void

So, anyway, I’m not going to mention that any more. I will, however, mention an ongoing frustration. With the Duchess having now closed, seemingly for good, it would seem that The Fulford Arms and The Crescent have an opportunity to step into the void left by its demise.

But, as far as I can tell, neither venue is advertising any gigs in July – at least not to the general, website-and-Google-using public. There is a gig at the Fulford Arms, but I only found it because I checked promoter Please Please You’s website.

I have been told that the Fulford Arms has posters advertising upcoming gigs on its walls. To me, that would seem to be a bit inclusive – you have to be a customer of the venue to get to know what’s coming up?

I’ve said something similar before but, in a time when we regularly see news and social media stories about venues closing and live music being in trouble, venues themselves need to do all they can to promote their shows. Surely a decent, venue-maintained What’s On list isn’t too much to ask?

Sounds in the suburbs

I generally limit this column to gigs in or near the city centre, mainly because that’s pretty much all there is. Recently, however, I discovered live music pretty much on my doorstep.

Gigs I can walk to and enjoy a decent beer or two at. I’m aware that a lot of local pubs put on live music but, in my opinion, bands in pubs are often akin to background music behind the general chatter, especially late in the evening.

The Black Horse in Wigginton, though, has started putting music on across Sunday teatimes and I wonder if that might be a more sensible time to pop along and see who’s playing.

That’s not the only live music near me, though. Community radio station Vale Radio has started putting folk and blues acts on at The Cottage, but in the function room rather than the main pub, making it more likely that people attending are there for the music than a few pints and a chat.

Gigs take place on the second and fourth Sundays of the month and it has recently been announced that, due to the sound system in place, they are going to invite acoustic or semi-acoustic bands from now on.

July’s events are West Yorkshire based roots/folk band Jon Palmer Acoustic Band, with Mick O’Hara in support on the 10th and a general sing-around on the 24th. All events are free and start, I believe, at 8pm.

Elsewhere, the annual Dunnington Live event takes place on the 24th.

With two stages, featuring a varied line-up of music from the likes of Everlate, Van Der Neer, Mulholland, Katie & The Questions, Suzy Bradley, The Bramble Napskins and more, this family-friendly mini-festival kicks off at midday (the poster says 12am, but I think that’s wrong) and goes on until 8pm.

Entry is £5 and there is a small charge for parking, which goes to charity).

Hot in the city

If I’m honest, while I will be at gigs this month (see below) there’s not much jumping out at me, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything that other people would find appealing.

Fans of The Smiths seem to be well-served, if an oblique way, with London alternative/ garage/ punk band Sisteray citing them, as well as Velvet Underground and The Clash, as influences. They can be seen and heard at Fibbers on the 30th while, over at the Basement on the 14th, you can catch York’s newest up and coming indie rock band Cape Wrath, whose sound is described as a mix of Johnny Marr-eqsue guitar playing and the rawness of The Strokes.

There are chances to see a couple of reasonably big alternative/indie rock bands in the form of Brooklyn’s The Augustines at Fibbers on the 13th and Northern Ireland’s Ash at the same venue on the 26th. If you were quick you could also have seen local boys Shed Seven, also at Fibbers on the 7th. If you weren’t, it’s too late as that gig has already sold out.

If there’s one thing that puts me off seeing a rock/metal band, it’s the word “hardcore” in their description. If there’s another, it’s the promise of “cookie monster” and/or screamed vocals.

While I’m more of a classic rock/metal fan I appreciate that the more brutal side of the genre has an increasingly large fan base and would direct them to Fibbers on the 8th when Arcane Roots (who sound like I might like them) are supported by Brighton quartet Black Peaks, whose progressive label might have tempted me if it wasn’t followed immediately by the “H” word.

Similarly, York’s own Larrakia – described as “melodic hardcore/skate punk/punk rock and playing Fibbers (where else?) on the 22nd along with Feed Them To The Forest, also sound a bit too extreme for my tastes, although I do like A Joker’s Rage, who are also on the bill. Me, I’m just an old fogey. You can tell me by the bands I like. (With apologies to Genesis…)

Also on the 22nd, in the Bier Keller next door to Fibbers, Electric Six frontman Dick Valentine will be leading a drunken acoustic sing-along of one man versions of favourites from his band’s output, as well as trying to sell you his latest acoustic CD, Quiet Time.

Beatboxing isn’t something I’m overly familiar with. Building tracks up on stage by using loops, however, I have seen done before and been amazed by. That’s probably not enough to entice me down to Fibbers on the 12th, when Radio One’s 2005 beatbox champion THePETEBOX will be on stage, supported by Belgian equivalent Penkyx (catch him while you can…) along with York’s own Vox Cornelious and Lincolnshire’s Loop Cycle.

Away from Fibbers there an array of genres and, presumably, some lower-volume gigs, starting with guitarist John Etheridge and vocalist Vimala Rowe performing music from their new CD Out Of The Sky, at the NCEM on the 1st.

On the 7th Lancashire roots/acoustic duo Howdenjones – Kate Howden and Paul Jones – return to The Black Swan after a seven year absence for an evening of original material, powerful harmonies and beautiful arrangements played on an array of stringed instruments from guitar to fiddle.

Fans of grunge can find Bloody Mango at The Basement on the 8th when they perform alongside two side-projects, Numb Nuts and Rowdy Fellas. And that is pretty much all the information I can find about this gig.

On the 14th you have a choice of local singer/songwriter Graham Hodge at The Black Swan or Sheffield’s Blood Sport at The Fulford Arms. With the former you can expect “a sublime choice of modern folk and pop covers, mingling with some well-crafted originals, and all accompanied by subtle and supple guitar-playing” while the latter are described as “blistering guitar dynamics and pointed-yet-pointillist lyrics meshing into rough-house, techno-gilded polyrhythms, with an untrammelled urgency pervading their tightly wound sound and all that surrounds and informs it”.

The Telegraph has chosen Amelia White’s new album – Home Sweet Hotel – as one of the top country albums of 2016. You can judge for yourself by picking up a copy (assuming she has a merchandise table) after the Nashville singer’s gig at The Basement on the 17th. There’s more Americana at the same venue on the 21st when Gill Landry, a former member of Old Crow Medicine Show, performs in support of his third, self-titled, solo album.

If it’s bigger names and bigger venues that you are looking for to get your fix of Americana, Mary Chapin Carpenter will be at The Barbican on the 22nd, performing songs from her fourteen album back catalog as well as new tracks from the recently released fifteenth, The Things That We Are Made Of.

Finally, you can see supreme folk club entertainer Bram Taylor at The Black Swan on the 28th.

Saving the best till last

I’m not ruling out attending some of the gigs above. In some cases it very much depends on whether a friend gets in touch to ask, “Do you fancy…?”

But it would be a strange month if there was nothing that I will be making an effort to get to and, to redress the balance of me normally putting my choices at the top of the pile, this time I have left them until last. I only hope you are still reading…

The 1st sees The Basement playing host to a night promoted by Indie Noir. I know nothing about Brighton’s Mishkin Fitzgerald, but the rest of the line-up could drag me away from Wales’ European Cup quarter final.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Vesper Walk and it has been too long since I have last seen them perform.

Also on the bill is duo Flora Greysteel – an act I have yet to see but desperately want to based simply on how much I was impressed by the one short set I saw by Emily Rowan’s previous band What The Cat Dragged In.

Then it’s over to Fibbers on the 9th and a chance to catch another local act that I’ve been hearing good things about when The Bramble Napskins appear alongside David Ward McLean and headliners The Y Street Band as they debut tracks from their upcoming album.

I may well also take the opportunity to increase my education in the blues by heading along to Fibbers on the 14th to see the co-headline gig from Glasgow’s alt.blues artist Dave Arcari and American roots duo Swampcandy.

The best of the rest

Well, actually, that’s pretty much it. There’s a couple of tribute acts at Fibbers – The Springsteen Sessions on the 2nd and Them Lewis Boys on the 16th – and the late David Gest’s Soul Tour is going ahead at The Barbican on the 1st as a tribute to him, but I think I’ve covered pretty much everything I could find elsewhere.

If I’ve missed anything and you think it’s worth mentioning, use the comments section below. Above all, though, get out, support and enjoy live music.


Below is a 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.

Date Act Venue Price           
1st Vesper Walk The Basement £6
David Gest’s Soul Tour The Barbican £38.08 upwards
John Etheridge & Vimalla Rowe NCEM £16
2nd The Springsteen Sessions Fibbers £12
7th Shed Seven Fibbers Sold Out
Howdenjones The Black Swan £9
8th Arcane Roots Fibbers £10
Bloody Mango The Basement £4 adv / £6 otd
9th The Y Street Band Fibbers £5
10th Jon Palmer Acoustic Band The Cottage Free
12th THePETEBOX Fibbers £10
13th The Augustines Fibbers £14
14th Dave Arcari/Swampcandy Fibbers £8
Cape Wrath The Basement £5 adv / £6 otd
Graham Hodge The Black Swan £8
Blood Sport The Fulford Arms £4 adv / £5 otd
16th Them Lewis Boys Fibbers £12
17th Amelia White The Basement £7 adv / £9 otd
21st Gill Landry The Basement £8 adv / £10 otd
22nd Larrakia Fibbers £5
Dick Valentine The Bier Keller Free
Mary Chapin Carpenter The Barbican £30.80
24th Dunnington Live Dunnington £5
26th Ash Fibbers £15
28th Bram Taylor The Black Swan £8
30th Sisteray Fibbers £5