The gigs to see in York right now – June 2017

31 May 2017 @ 10.17 pm
| Entertainment

OK, I’ve put off writing this month’s column for as long as I can. While I don’t have a deadline (that I know of, anyway) putting it together two days before the start of the month is cutting it a bit fine, so apologies if it seems a little more rushed than usual.

The thing is, it hasn’t felt right for me to be encouraging people to go and experience live music, given what happened in Manchester just a few days ago.

“Yeah, but life goes on” somehow sounds too flippant, knowing that for the 22 bright lights that were snuffed out it doesn’t and that life is irrevocably changed for the huge number of people who knew them.

And it’s OK to tell people “don’t let fear win” but, for some anyway, it inevitably will. I’ve already heard people saying that they won’t be going to concerts any more, at least for the near future.

Personally, I’m going to carry on seeing as many gigs as I can – but that’s easy for me to say as I rarely go to big ticket, arena gigs – and I hope that people reading this (who must, by definition, have an interest in live music) continue to do so as well.

Folk fest

Two gigs and a festival jump out at me from this month’s listings but, sadly, I won’t be able to make the festival.

It’s a shame as I really like the Black Swan Folk Weekend which will be taking place from the 2nd to the 4th.

If you haven’t been before, I urge you to try it out. Not only is it free but it takes place in the grounds of a great pub, with some superb real ales and is always well organised.

Don’t be put off by the word “folk” – in no way is the music or the acts stereotypical. In fact, this year’s line-up is possibly the best I have seen, including some very varied acts.

Highlights for me would be the Gypsy-folk of Leather-O and The Bramble Napskins, the folk-rock of Blackbeard’s Tea Party, the progressiveness of Joshua Burnell and Stillhouse and singer-songwriters David Ward Mclean and Dan Webster, all of whom I have seen before and would happily pay to see.

But they are just a sample of the more than 40 acts who you can see across the main two days of the weekend (the Friday evening is reserved for ceilidh, an Irish night and a fringe event at The Three Legged Mare).

I really can’t recommend this event highly enough – it’s family-friendly, close enough to the centre of town that you can pop in and out while doing other things (but, really, why would you want to leave once you are there?) and a showcase for some fantastic local and not-so-local acts.

A full programme can be found here.

Pop, country and prog

A few years ago, before I rediscovered prog-rock (more on that in the next paragraph) I went through a phase of buying a lot of CDs by Canadian female singer-songwriters and associated acts such as Chantal Kreviazuk, Tara MacLean and Shaye, all of whom I discovered by following links from Sarah McLachlan’s website.

I can’t remember how I came across Sarah McLachlan in the first place but, for a while, she was the centre of my music buying.

It only seems reasonable, then, that I’m going to be drawn to The Basement on the 6th, when Callaghan plays there.

Originally from Lincolnshire, but now based in the US, Callaghan has been compared both to McLachlan and Emmy-Lou Harris, blurs the edges between pop and country and, from the few songs I have heard on her website, has a stunning voice and a sound that also reminds me of Emma Stevens, another favourite of mine.

For a while, not so long ago, it seemed that there was a prog-rock band playing in York every month, some locally-grown, others as part of tours or simply one-off trips to the city.

That time seems to have past, partly because most of the local acts seem to be on hiatus and while touring bands such as Gong can still draw a large crowd to our venues, others don’t and have, therefore, dropped York from their schedules.

It’s a shame – bands such as Panic Room and Lifesigns fill venues elsewhere and are well worth seeing but don’t seem to get the recognition around these parts.

So, it will be interesting to see how many turn out to Fibbers on the 15th for Goldray’s first tour, promoting their début album, Rising.

Brazen enough to take out full page ads in Prog magazine, the band are described as psych-rock and compared to Jefferson Airplane and The Doors, as well as more up-to-date Tame Impala.

Perhaps the biggest draw for this band is that they are formed around original Reef guitarist Kenwyn House, who left the band after 20 years back in 2014 to concentrate on this new project. Will Reef fans be tempted along to see his new(ish) project?

Local line-ups

There are artistes that I keep seeing on the local listings that I know I want to see but, for whatever reason, have never managed to do so.

Beth McCarthy is one, Amy MacDonald another (when I waxed lyrical about her a couple of months ago, I wasn’t aware that her Barbican gig had already sold out – mainly because it didn’t say so on the Barbican website – that’s three times I’ve managed not to see her in York now.)

Somewhere between the two in terms of locality is Edwina Hayes and this month I have no excuse as she is playing York twice.

Her first appearance is at the Basement on the 21st, headlining a York Music For Refugees gig which also includes David Ward Maclean, Tom Gill and Evie Rapson.

Then she heads over to the Fulford Arms on the 30th for David Ward Maclean’s birthday gig, which also features Steve Kendra.

With festival season starting this month, meaning that there seems to be less touring bands about, local bands are popping up more prominently and multiple times in the listings.

I have already mentioned DWM’s three appearances and Dan Webster also has a couple of gig this month, with his second appearance being in support of Brooklyn-based Americana-rock singer Annie Keating (for the second time, if memory serves) at the Basement on the 25th.

There is a fully local bill at Fibbers on the 30th when Aloe Veras, fully warmed up after supporting Goldray earlier in the month, headline with their brand of psychedelic rock, influenced by The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix and, like Goldray, The Doors.

Also on the bill are The Mallrats, Dusk and Televangelists.

The latter can also be seen supporting fellow indie rockers, Leeds based Lunablind, along with the hard-pop of Young Urban Parasites, at the Basement on the 9th.

It used to be that you couldn’t go a week without seeing Boss Caine at one of York’s many venues.

These days his appearances are fewer and he only has one that I could find this month. Perhaps that means he is hard at work on the much anticipated third album. I hope so.

Anyway, you can catch him – and, presumably, some of his musical friends – supporting prolific American folk singer Joe Purdy at Fibbers on the 13th.

Joe has released 14 albums in sixteen years and, if you are a fan of TV medical dramas you might recognise his songs from episodes of House MD and Grey’s Anatomy.

Upping the tempo a bit are all-girl garage band The Franklys, at Fibbers on the 9th.

Album launch

Half Swedish, half British, this quartet are described as on of the most exciting new live acts on the UK circuit, have recently supported Airbourne and, on the Fibbers website, are compared to a mix of Led Zeppelin, Blondie and QOTSA.

The two songs available on Soundcloud remind me a bit of Tequila Mockingbyrd, who really impressed when I saw them a couple of months ago. What’s not to like?

Especially given that the bill also includes local acts Cry Baby, Naked Six and Young Bulls.

I don’t normally include tribute bands, but York-based Hawkwind tribute Do Not Panic are well worth seeing and you can do so at The Fulford Arms when they play their annual Summer Solstice gig on the 23rd.

Not easy to pick out given that the event doesn’t include the band’s name, but York’s indie/ punk/ psych duet …And The Hangnails are launching their new album – Dog – at The Crescent on the 3rd.

Best of the rest

Promoters Northern Extremity have moved venues for their 14th instalment of all things metal. Greek thrash metal band Domination, along with Leeds sci-fi prog-metallers Cryptic Shift, Londoners Bangover and York Viking thrashers Pariah, can be found at The Crescent on the 4th.

Co-founder and former lead guitarist of The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones now pursues a solo career as a folk-rock and/or indie-rock performer. You can see him at The Crescent on the 6th.

As usual, The Fulford Arms plays host to a number of bands whose music is outside my comfort zone. One gig there that I would feel comfortable recommending is on the 1st, when the excellent The Black Lagoons and Bull, along with Fat Spatula, support Sewage Farm.

I haven’t seen the headliners yet but the band is Sam Forrest’s latest venture and I have yet to be disappointed with anything he has been involved in.

Also sounding interesting is alternative rock band Esper Scout, who come over from Leeds to headline a bill which also includes Mayshe Mayshe and Wolf Solent.

Finishing off where I started, with folk at the Black Swan, multi-award winning Reg Meuross has played every size venue from village halls to The Royal Albert Hall in his career of over 30 years and his first appearance at the Black Swan will be on the 8th.

Thirty years, though, is nothing compared to Dave Kelly, who has been performing for 50, latterly alongside Paul Jones in The Blues Band. Making one of his occasional forays back to his roots in small folk and blues clubs,

Dave is back at The Black Swan after an absence of over twenty years, for a gig on the 15th.

…And some of the remainder

I am aware that I have missed out some big names – Jack Savoretti’s gig at Fibbers on the 2nd has been sold out for some time. (I was offered a guest list entry but couldn’t make it – flipping on-call!!)

Nineties purveyors of indie dance Jesus Jones are also at Fibbers, on the 17th, but they really aren’t my bag at all.

I have seen Status Quo a number of times, starting with what was billed at the time as their final tour.

But I won’t be heading to the Barbican on the 21st – my opinion is, with the death of Rick Parfitt, it’s probably time for the rest of them to give it up. Others might say they should have done so a long time ago.

People keep recommending the Hot 8 Brass Band to me and I will give them a try one day, but it’s unlikely to be at Fibbers on the 25th.

Also, you couldn’t drag me along to see an Elvis-fronted Nirvana tribute but if it appeals to you, Elvana are also at Fibbers on the 16th.

There’s bound to be more. There always is, at all the 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.

On a smartphone? Scroll horizontally to see all the info

Date Act Venue Price
1st Sewage Farm Fulford Arms £5
2nd – 4th The Black Swan Fold Weekend The Black Swan Free
2nd Jack Savorettie Fibbers Sold Out
3rd …And The Hangnails The Crescent £5
4th Domination The Crescent £6
6th Callaghan Basement £11
  Bill Ryder-Jones The Crescent £10
8th Reg Meuross The Black Swan £9 adv / £10 otd
9th The Franklys Fibbers £5
  Lunablind Basement £3
13th Joe Purdy Fibbers £7.50
14th Esper Scout Fulford Arms £4 adv / £5 otd
15th Goldray Fibbers £7
  Dave Kelly The Black Swan £13 adv / £15 otd
16th Elvana Fibbers ?
17th Jesus Jones Fibbers £15
21st Status Quo The Barbican £16.60 – £50.40
23rd Do Not Panic Fulford Arms ?
25th The Hot 8 Brass Band Fibbers £17.50
  Annie Keating Basement £6 otd / £8 adv
30th Aloe Veras Fibbers £5
  David Ward Maclean birthday gig Fulford Arms £8 adv / £10 otd