Not a lot to choose from in the holidays, but still something for all tastes finds Ian Massey
August – long, hot days leading into warm evenings when you just want to sit in a beer garden. Or, alternatively, the month when a lot of us head overseas for sun, sea, sand and sangria (other beverages are available).
Whatever the case, there is little appetite for live music in what is generally the quietest month of the year for gigs in York.
That doesn’t stop the venues putting on some well-worth-seeing shows, though. After all, you can’t spend every evening in a beer garden.
The people behind Fibbers are taking advantage of the lull and have closed the recently relocated venue for most of the month so that a refurbishment can take place, hopefully turning the venue, which is already being praised, into an even better one.
The only gig there this month sees York punk band The Fear (previously Death Defying Life) play their farewell gig on the 29th, at the end of a short final tour. Tickets are just £4.
Fibbers’ ex-neighbours, The Duchess, have a small but diverse range of shows which starts with Oliver Pinder, a young singer/songwriter from Halifax, on the 15th.
Influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Don McLean and Gabrielle Aplin, expect an upbeat folky feel to his music. Support comes from local lads The Valmores and the incredibly talented Toby Burras (£4 adv/ £6 otd).
California heavy rockers My Ruin have moved their gig on the 22nd from Fibbers to The Duchess as they promote their new album The Sacred Mood.
Expect Black Sabbath inspired riffs and opinion-dividing “cookie monster” vocals. For my money, those of vocalist Tairrie B Murphy aren’t as extreme and, therefore, nowhere near as off-putting as some out there (£12.50 adv/ £15 otd).
Finally, Glaswegians Holy Esque play here on the 29th. I’m not quite sure how to describe their style and certainly can’t pigeon-hole them.
Electronica mixed with indie riffs that are both sharp and atmospheric and the whole thing fronted by vocals reminiscent of The Temperance Movement’s Phil Campbell doesn’t even begin to cover it. In a nutshell, exciting and inventive. I’m looking forward to this one (£5 adv/ £7 otd).
There’s more diversity at the Basement, kicking off with pop-rocker Jen Armstrong on the 4th.
There’s a little bit of Katy Perry (but don’t let that put you off) in some of the output of 2012’s winner of Rock The House, while other sources have likened her to Cyndi Lauper.
Jen has previously supported the likes of Jools Holland and Nerina Pallot (£4 adv/ £5 otd).
Swirling guitars mixed with laid-back but still strong vocals, all underpinned by powerful drums will evoke memories of the likes of Joy Division when Pusher take to the stage on the 8th. (£5)
Mick Turner, former guitarist with Australian instrumentalists Dirty Three, will be appearing on the 12th as part of a two-month European tour.
His latest album, Don’t Tell The Driver, is billed as a “post-rock opera” and described as “earthy and spare, yet vibrant and enticing”. This is a stripped-back show with Mick joined by Mike Noga, drummer for The Drones (£10 adv/ £12 otd).
The music of Birmingham-based Matt Sheehan ebbs and flows behind vocals that switch between raw and powerful and light and laid back.
Don’t take my word for it, though. You can hear him for yourself on the 12th (£4 adv/ £5 otd).
Memory Drawings are an instrumental, truly international collective, featuring members of Hood and Lanterns On The Lake, alongside Morocco-based American Joel Hanson on hammered dulcimer.
Their new album There Is No Perfect Place was partly recorded in York and you will be able to hear tracks from it on the 18th. If it’s anything like Music For Another Loss, expect haunting, atmospheric beauty (£5).
An acoustic guitar and a loop pedal means that Josh Kemp will produce a big sound on the 19th, layering the guitar to create something akin to a band sound.
Happy, upbeat songs, silky vocals and, I believe audience participation will be the order of the evening (£4 adv/£5 otd).
Finally at The Basement you might remember the country stylings of Doncaster lass Emma Jade from the last season of The Voice on the BBC, when she was taken under the wing of Sir Tom Jones. She can be seen performing on the 25th (£4 adv/£5 otd).
The Black Swan Folk Club
The Black swan are putting on three gigs on their regular Thursday evening slots, starting on the 14th with Jon Brindley who will be accompanying his skills as a musical storyteller with guitar, accordion and fiddle. (£8)
Former Waking The Witch member and Spiral Earth’s “female vocalist of the year” Patsy Matheson will be performing on the 21st (£8).
Multi-instrumentalists and folk award winners Greg Russell and Ciaran Algar have been combining their time between music and education and can be seen promoting their second album, The Call, on the 28th (£8).
The big boys
York’s bigger venues have a couple of more well-known names appearing in August.
The old joke about The Waterboys’ “Best of” album being a single is particularly apt for me as I’m afraid I don’t think I know anything by them except The Whole Of The Moon (something I must rectify at some point).
However, I’m told be a reliable source that their gig at The Barbican last year was superb and they return to the same venue on the 6th (£29.50).
Meanwhile, the Grand Opera House plays host to songwriter, guitarist and ex-member of Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson OBE on the 28th (£28.90).
A final word
Normally, the above would be my personal picks. However, in this case, these are pretty much the only paid gigs in York in August.
As usual, there are plenty more chances to catch some of York’s brilliant local talent for free at various gigs and open mic nights in the city’s pubs.
Take a chance and don’t limit yourself to bands that other people have already made famous.