With some amazing York talent on show, November’s the time to think local, says Ian Massey
Not so long ago, on my Facebook page, I asked my friends – many of whom are music fans, plenty of whom go to big gigs but few of whom I see around the venues in York – why they didn’t attend local gigs.
There were a few answers, all reasonable, but one of the overriding ones was lack of knowledge of the bands.
Personally, in the internet age, I find that a bit bizarre but one of the aims of this column is to, if not provide a great deal of information on the bands, at least provide links to where that information can be found.
As usual, what follows are the gigs I would recommend, featuring both local, national and international acts. I can’t cover everything (and there are always gigs that I wouldn’t consider attending).
There have already been too many York gigs cancelled this year, usually because of below par tickets sales.
If this column inspires just a handful of people to go out and experience live music that they wouldn’t normally have considered, I would consider it a job well done.
I’m going to start this month by showcasing local acts, of all kinds of genres. York and the surrounding areas have a wealth of musical talent that is well worth supporting but often slips under the radar.
Firstly, I would like to draw metal fans to Fibbers on the 14th, where the first Bohica event will take place.
Set up by members of INSPADES this is an attempt to bring together the area’s Metal bands to support each other and, hopefully, build audiences through regular, quality events.
There is a feeling out there that Rock/Metal is dead in York, although there are plenty of bands trying to keep it alive. Hopefully, this venture will go some way to rebuilding the genre’s reputation in our city.
Speaking of metal, Morpheus Rising, the local proponents of NWOBHM, have been quiet recently but they can be found, admittedly in a support slot, at Fibbers on the 12th.
The headliners are Electric Mary, Australian rockers who have toured with Deep Purple and Whitesnake and are playing York for the first time (£8).
On the 21st, Glass Caves launch their debut album, Alive, at Fibbers.
You may have seen this band busking in St Helen’s Square (I know at least one friend has. He’s commented how good they are.) This is another chance to see them in a proper venue, at a proper volume and to support a local band in a different way to throwing a few coins into a guitar case (£6).
Friday night seems to be local night in York during November. The 14th sees local indie-rockers Lost Trends launch their latest EP, Dark Disco, while headlining an evening of local bands which also includes the excellent Blind Eye, 2014 York University Battle of the Bands winners Common Thread and Lion Papers. (£5).
Across the city at The Duchess on the 28th Everlate, another band that you may have seen busking, launch their latest single, Falling Through Fiction.
Fans of the likes of Snow Patrol will find much to like here (£5 adv/£7td).
The Basement also features local acts heavily this month. My picks here are The Buffalo Skinners, with their brand of country/ folk rock on the 8th (£3), Leo James Conroy’s appearance with a full band, promoting his self-titled EP, on the 21st (£4) and the Americana/Singer-songwriter double bill of Mulholland and Sam Griffiths, not only celebrating Thanksgiving but launching the former’s first self-penned EP, Ghosts and Shadows, on the 27th (£4 adv/ £5 otd).
Further afield, genre-defying band These And The Other Guy, who blend jazz, blues, country, rock and even a little hint of musical theatre, play the Fulford Arms on the 6th.
Not only is their music great but Alex Botham is one of the most expressive and, therefore, watchable frontwomen in York.
Finally for this section (and I may be stretching the word “local” slightly, but I can’t think where else to slot them in), Leeds-based Hope & Social play Fibbers on the 22nd.
One of the most inventive bands out there, if only in the ways in which they interact with their audiences (including setting out their recording studio as a restaurant, providing musical bus trips to the coast and, during their recent hectic gigs to tie in with the Tour de France, inviting anybody who wanted to to play along with them) this is one of the most consistently entertaining bands I know of.
The music, whether full band on stage or just frontman Simon Wainwright unplugged and in the middle of the audience, is superb and the between songs banter and antics are usually hilarious.
Even with a handful of prog-rock gigs in November, this is my choice for gig of the month. (£9)
Prog and blues
Not normally two genres that would be linked together, but they are two of my favourites and November is a good month for both, starting with a trio of modern prog band at The Duchess on the 2nd.
Haken’s latest album, The Mountain, was recently voted number 54 in the 100 Greatest Prog Albums of all time by readers of Prog magazine, while Maschine’s debut Rubidium has received good reviews online.
I’m afraid I know nothing of Norway’s Leprous but, for me, one of the joys of going to gigs is discovering new music and new bands. I suspect this one might cost me a fair amount in CD purchases (£16 adv/ £18 otd)
Moving Waves, the 1971 second album from Dutch veterans Focus also features in that poll, albeit back in 99th place.
Founder and mainstay of the band since 1969, Thijs van Leer is rejoined by drummer Pierre van der Linden, who joined the band in 1970. Expect yodelling at The Duchess on the 25th. (£16 adv/ £18 otd).
If you like the blues you could do much worse than be at The Duchess on the 13th, when Aynsley Lister will be promoting his latest album Home.
The last time I saw him play York, part of the audience had driven up from Bournemouth for the gig, such is Lister’s pull. Drawing on influences from Clapton to Prince, this will be a great night of Blues guitar (£12.50 adv/ £15 otd).
I’m equally looking forward to the slightly more raw Marcus Bonfanti at Fibbers on the 26th, not only because, having seen him before, I know how good he is but also because the bill includes York’s go-to band for supporting blues acts.
Hobo Joe and the Dead Cats’ covers of the likes of Red House and Who Do You Love have generated acclaim from audiences who have been lucky enough to turn up early enough to see them (£9).
Singer-songwriters and folk
I admit that, when it comes to solo artists, I generally (although not exclusively) favour the female voice and songs that sound like they reflect life.
Man-and-guitar acts have to lift themselves well above the average to capture my full attention. This month sees a few acts that sound interesting enough to try out, starting with Canadian-American Devon Sproule at The Basement on the 4th (£10).
There’s even somebody I’ve heard of playing the National Centre for Early Music on the 1st when saxophonist Snake Davis teams up with the Solo Players String Quartet as Snakestrings (£18).
If you are still reading and still looking for acts that you have heard of (and bigger ticket prices), this is the section for you as York’s bigger venues play host to the more famous names.
Dotted among tribute nights to The Eagles, Queen and Abba/ The BeeGees at the Grand Opera House, you can find more past members of Squeeze in the form of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook on the 17th (£28.90 – £42.40).
Former members of the Beautiful South perform songs from their superb back catalogue as The South on the 21st (£23.90).
…And so much more
The Mighty Wah’s Story of the Blues is part of the soundtrack to my school years, but I doubt I’ll get to see Pete Wylie when he plays Fibbers on the 8th (£12.50).
Frisky and Mannish at The Duchess on the 20th sound interesting but, again, I doubt I’ll make that one (£13.50).
Elsewhere, The Fulford Arms has an eclectic line-up that includes Ed Tudor-Pole (as part of a three day celebration of Halloween), The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing and Baby Godzilla, about whom I once wrote a really bad review only to find it featured on their Facebook page.
Include the free gigs and open mics found in York’s pub on most nights of the week and it all adds up to a huge choice of music at all levels.
As I say, I can’t cover (or like) everything and there are bound to be people who disagree with my choices. The good thing is that there really is something for everybody.
Take a chance, go to a gig and support live music.