One of York’s most beloved music venues is celebrating a big birthday this week.
The Fulford Arms is celebrating ten years of becoming a grassroots music venue this January, and is marking the occasion this weekend with a trio of special gigs.
YorkMix spoke with The Fulford Arms owner, Chris Tuke, to look back on an amazing 10 years.
It was a decade ago when Chris’ business partner and previous owner of The Fulford Arms, Chris Sherrington, first came across the opportunity to take over the venue. Chris Sherrington left The Fulford Arms two years ago, and has now moved on to work for the Music Venues Trust.
“It was a struggling pub that did food and had some music nights on,” said Chris Tuke.
“Soon into the running of the pub it became clear that the music was one of the main things to bring people to the pub, due to its location slightly outside the city centre.
“Over the years it’s slowly changed from ‘a pub that does live music’ to its current form: a dedicated grassroots music venue.”
Chris shared some of the highs from the past decade which include “watching bands progress from some of their first gigs to going on to bigger and better things.
“One of the biggest that comes to mind is the recent success of Bull. Great music and lovely people!”
Other highlights include “being the venue where The Howl and the Hum played one of their first ever gigs, getting Idles to play just before they got big, and Wayne Hussey (singer of The Mission) making 150 goths all sit cross legged on the floor while he plays.”
Another big highlight was “resurrecting the local Battle of the Bands competition. We’ve held it the last two years and the support for the acts and the quality of the acts playing has been amazing.”
It hasn’t all been highs though, as of course the pandemic and lockdown caused the venue to shut its doors and put a pause on live music events.
“The pandemic saw us shut for nearly two years which has taken its toll on the business like all other hospitality led businesses.”
Chris said that The Fulford Arms post-pandemic is “surviving. I can’t pretend that everything is hunky dory after the pandemic. People’s drinking habits have changed and we saw a big dip in the active bands around the area as many disbanded in lockdown.”
And that’s not all as “the current energy crisis has seen costs soar. It’s made things three times as hard to make any money at this level of live music.”
So much so, that the venue has had to look at other avenues of revenue such as creating their own merchandise and introducing a new food van in the beer garden this summer to offer food options on busy nights and weekends.
However, Chris is hopeful for the future of York’s local music scene.
“There seems to be a nice little eco-system of venues and promoters who all work together and help each other out whenever possible which is really nice.
“As long as people keep showing their support and attending events and supporting the bands, I think York’s music scene will continue to flourish.”
It’s not just the music acts that have made the past ten years at The Fulford Arms a successful and memorable decade, it’s down to the people who work there too.
“One of the best things about The Fulford is the staff, who are professional and dedicated,” said Chris. “I’m proud that we get so many compliments from touring bands about how they are treated when they play.
“The past ten years has been hard work but worth it when I think of all the amazing bands and people who’ve passed through The Fulford Arms’ doors.”
To celebrate their tenth birthday, the venue is hosting a long weekend of special gigs. On the Friday (12th) there is music from local acts Victory Samosa and Rowan & Friends, on Saturday (13th) garage punk artists JUKU will take to the stage alongside Percy, Speedreaders, and No Como Crees.
There will be an afternoon show on the Sunday (14th) to round the celebrations out with the legendary New York Brass Band. Tickets are available for these gigs via The Fulford Arms website.
So what’s next for The Fulford Arms?
“To continue to bring quality bands to York is our primary goal,” said Chris.
“We’ve got our own YouTube channel FATV. I’d like to develop that along with the potential of streaming our gigs on a regular basis to expand our audience base, and to explore what we can do with our big beer garden space.
“It’s amazing we’ve been here so long. It’s been a great ride. I really wouldn’t want to work in any other industry.
“Here’s to another ten years hopefully!”
To find out more and to see the full programme of upcoming events at the venue, visit The Fulford Arms website.