The gigs to see in York right now – June 2015

Never lost her Yorkshire roots… Chantel McGregor. Photograph © Reg Richardson/ RSR-Photography
27 May 2015 @ 8.04 pm
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It struck me recently that, despite thinking of myself as trying to champion the York music scene, I have fallen into a habit of seeing more touring bands that I know I like and, mostly, that I have seen before than local artists so far this year.

Because of that, not only am I missing out on some great local music, but I am also not coming across as much new music as I was. I also seem to be missing out on some pivotal gigs for local bands.

In the last few days (as I write this), for example, I have failed to catch a gig at which the headliners were compared to Muse by one attendee, not gone to another that was brought to my notice by somebody who has never steered me wrong and missed the final hometown gig of a band that, while I haven’t seen them too many times, I like.

When I first started going to local gigs I would read the What’s On listings and decide who to see based mainly on the event description, rarely hearing anything by a band until they took to the stage.

I think I need to get back into that habit and June seems to be the month to try to do so.

I don’t know whether festival season has started early, or whether it is just a poor month for touring but there is about half the number of gigs on at the venues I cover this month compared to May. The Barbican and Grand Opera House have nothing. Unusually, I don’t know anything about the majority of acts that are playing.

Included in those are two gigs I am definitely going to and one city centre festival I will be trying to attend for at least part of the event.

So, to shake up my format again, I’ll tell you about those and then highlight one gig from each of the venues that takes my fancy. There’s no guarantee that I will attend, but there is a good chance.


The two gigs I will definitely be attending cover both sides of the coin. One is a touring act, the other local. I have seen one many times, the other a few and I do know that I like them both.

First up is Chantel McGregor, who appears at Fibbers on the 19th.

I have been following Chantel since first coming across her playing covers in the Roman Bath, almost seven years to the day before this gig (on June 20, 2008). She is a blues guitarist from Bradford who has never lost her Yorkshire roots and is a regular winner at the British Blues Awards.

Currently working on her second album the covers in her set are now few and far between, although her version of Robin Trower’s Daydream is sublime. It is always a pleasure to see her perform and I rarely miss her appearances in York. This one will, I believe take me into double figures (£13).

The following night, on the 20th, also at Fibbers, York band – and regular buskers in the city – Everlate will be releasing their Vitals EP.

My only disappointment is that it isn’t a full album. I have described this band as York’s answer to Snow Patrol but one of my regular gig-buddies, seeing them for the first time at The Duchess last year decided they were better than the more well-known band.

Support on the night comes from Newcastle’s Lisbon, Hull’s Fronteers and York’s brilliant Unfinished Drawings (£5).

I am also going to try to get to some of the 2015 Folk Weekend at The Black Swan on Peasholme Green. This is a free festival, across the 5th to the 7th, which takes place in the rooms of the pub and a marquee in the back.

The main events are from noon to midnight on the 6th and noon to 11pm on the 7th, when a huge array of acts will be performing. These include The Bronze, Leather’O, David Ward Maclean, Sarah Dean, Dan Webster, Paula Ryan, Over The Yardarm, Pelico, Grand Old Uke of York and many more.

A draft programme can be found here.


In no particular order, these are the gigs that stood out for me, just from reading listings.

On the 30th you can see the month out at the Fulford Arms in the company of Jace Everett and his band.

The singer/songwriter from Nashville has five albums under his belt but might be best known to the general populace for Bad Things, which was used as the theme song for the True Blood TV series. Tickets are £14.

The Basement provided me with my toughest choice this month but I have picked Polly And The Billets Doux, appearing there on the 2nd, simply because they sound like they could be fun.

On their Facebook page, under “genre”, they list 11 styles of music, including six that feature in my music collection (and at least three that almost certainly never will in their own right). Any band than can boast “flawless and energy-filled live performances” must be worth seeing (£7).

I missed local band Hello Earth when they played Fibbers recently but I get a second chance when they appear at The Duchess on the 18th.

Described as “a breath of fresh air” and “something completely different” (if that is possible these days), they are another cross-genre band and I’m especially intrigued by the idea of storytelling melodies.

There is local support in the form of Lost Trends and The Violets, who are from just up the road in Harrogate. The listing also includes Bluemenkind, but I can’t find anything about them (£4 in advance/ £6 on the door).

The Whispering Road at The National Centre For Early Music on the 12th might not be a gig in the truest sense, but it sounds very interesting as it blends Swedish folk music and spoken word to tell a story of hope in the darkness, based on Scandinavian myths.

Unlike many of the gigs in York, this show is suitable for children aged eight and above. More impressively, though, this could be your only chance to see somebody play a Swedish Nychelharpa… (£13).

Away from the Folk Weekend, the Black Swan Folk Club only has two gigs in June. Given that I’ve already picked another taking place on the 18th, I’m going to have to go for Dana and Susan Robinson.

Playing there on the 25th, they are described as “guitar-playing, banjo-frailing, fiddle-sawing, and harmony-singing interpreters of the American rural experience” and who doesn’t like the occasional banjo, especially when it is mixed with laughter and poignant reflection? (£11)

Finally, having already committed to two of the five available gigs at Fibbers and not being a fan of rap or punk/ hardcore, I’m choosing the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on the 12th.

This family affair sees eight horn-playing brothers (and an unrelated drummer) apparently performing an incendiary show and rounds off a selection of gigs that is a world away from what I normally listen to (£15).

…And probably not

If you are a fan of rap, you can catch MC Devvo at Fibbers on the 5th (£6) and if, unlike me, you like punk, D.O.A. are at the same venue on the 27th (£12).

I feel slightly guilty not thinking about going to see Irish indie-rock duo All Tvvins at the Duchess on the 11th, not necessarily because I know anything about them but because the name of one of the supports – electronic act Haxby Swango – makes them sound as though they are about as local to me as they possibly could be (£5 adv/ £7 otd).

There are two more EP launches during June. Post-hardcore band Amongst Thieves celebrate their release, March For The Sun, at The Duchess on the 19th.

Help comes from The King Is Dead, Us Amongst The Rest and On The Ropes (£3 adv/ £4 otd).

Meanwhile young singer/ songwriter Matt Philpott will be launching his debut EP, Changes, at The Basement on the 20th where he will be supported by According To Eve, Jack Haining and Laura Kindelan (£3 adv/ £4 otd).

Speaking of young singer/ songwriters, Beth McCarthy celebrates her 18th birthday with a “Bethtival” at The Duchess on the 26th.

The full line-up has yet to be announced but I’m willing to bet it will include a wealth of local talent (£5 adv/ £6 otd).

At the other end of the age-scale comes folk queen Peggy Seeger who, in her 80th year, will be at the NCEM on the 20th (£18.50).

The award for the furthest-travelled band this month goes to Surf City. The New Zealand psychgazers will be appearing at the Fulford Arms on the 11th, as part of their first ever UK tour (£8).

Not travelling quite as far are Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat, two sisters from Iran who, under Islamic Law are prohibited from performing in their home country. You can see them at the NCEM on the 6th (£13).

A final word

As ever, this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list. There are still a few gigs I haven’t mentioned, as well as the plethora of open mics and free gigs in the pubs and bars around the city.

It might be a quieter month in terms of number of gigs but the diversity is astounding. All the details above are correct at time of writing.

Although I have, in the past, highlighted gigs that end up being cancelled, most of the acts I pick out do turn up. Most of them stay around to perform as well… 🙂