Nothing happening in these long lockdown days. Everything off. Here are 10 Things To Do on the home front, courtesy of The Press, York. WEEK THREE

Nothing happening full stop. Now, with time on your frequently washed hands, home is where the art is and plenty else besides

EXIT 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether together or in self-isolation, in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these suggestions.

Lockdown Legends Challenge, set by York Theatre Royal

EACH Monday morning, York Theatre Royal will post a theatrical #LockdownLegendsChallenge on its Twitter and Facebook pages for the whole family to take part in, just for fun. Even the participation of pets is “actively encouraged”.

York Theatre Royal: ideas for creating your own theatre magic at home in the Lockdown Legends Challenge

This week’s challenge is to make a one-minute play. “Send us your responses to lockdownlegends@yorktheatreroyal.co.uk and we’ll share these on our social media pages throughout the week,” says the Theatre Royal. “Remember to keep safe – and stay creative.”

Setting up a film reviewers’ club online

ARE you missing discussing the latest hit films at City Screen, Everyman York, Vue York and Cineworld? If so, why not start or join a film reviewers’ club online on WhatsApp, with the group having a name.

One group member chooses a film, old, recent, cult, blockbuster, world, British, American, whatever; gives a brief synopsis and initial thoughts behind the choice; sets a start and finishing date for viewing (whether on DVD, Netflix, etc), and then everyone gathers for a chat online to give their short reviews.

Explore York’s library and archive at York Explore, Museum Street, York

Explore York’s Libraries From Home

THE Explore York library and archive service will be developing online activities such as a Virtual Book Group, while updating regularly as “new things” come on stream and sharing them on social media, using #LibrariesFromHome.

Up and running now: 5,000 Ebooks and audio books for adults and children, free to borrow from exploreyork.org.uk/digital/e-books/; a new York Images site for exploring the city’s history through photographs, illustrations, maps and archival documents at exploreyork.org.uk/digital/york-images/; and the chance to start your family tree using Ancestry and Find My Past, for free, at exploreyork.org.uk/digital/online-reference/.

The Queen show must go on: We Will Rock You will rock you in 2021

Keep trying to find good news

DALBY Forest concerts, chopped. The first four classics of the flat racing season, all non-runners. Wimbledon tennis, out. Harrogate International Festivals summer season, off. York Festival, gone. Scarborough Open Air Theatre, shut. The list of cancellations keeps growing, but against that backdrop, theatres, music venues and festivals are busy re-booking acts and shows for later in the year or next year.

Keep visiting websites for updates, whether York Barbican, York Theatre Royal, the Grand Opera House, The Crescent, wherever. We Will Rock You has just been confirmed for the Grand Opera House for March 22 to 27 next year.

Look out too for the streaming of past hit shows. More and more theatres and arts companies are doing this…

Breath of fresh Eyre: The National Theatre’s innovative Jane Eyre, directed by Sally Cookson. This picture features the 2017 touring cast at the Grand Opera House, York

…For example, National Theatre At Home on YouTube

HULL playwright Richard Bean’s comic romp One Man, Two Guvnors has drawn more than two million viewers since being launched on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel last Thursday.

Next up, available for free from 7pm this evening for a week, will be Sally Cookson’s innovative, dynamic, remarkable stage adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Yorkshire novel, Jane Eyre. You may recall the NT’s touring production from its week-long run at the Grand Opera House, York, in May 2017. Truly worth staying in for…but you will be doing that anyway, won’t you.

Window of opportunity : Cancelled York Open Studios finds a way still to showcase art

Venturing outdoors…to spot #openwindowsyork2020 

AMID the strict Government strictures, when allowed out to walk the dog or take that one burst of mentally and physically beneficial exercise a day, you can discover a new form of “window dressing” and maybe even “window shopping” near you.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shut the doors on York Open Studios 2020, when 144 artists and makers would have been welcoming visitors on April 17 to 19 and 25 and 26. Enterprising as ever, they now say: “We can’t open our doors, but we can show you our work through our windows”, as they launch #openwindowsyork2020. “If you see one, let us know,” they add.

Welcome back Backgammon

Vintage game of the week: Backgammon

LOCKDOWN is the perfect chance to dust off faithful old games consigned to gathering dust on top shelves.

Bring back Backgammon, one of the oldest known board games, whose history can be traced back nearly 5,000 years to archaeological discoveries in Mesopotamia. In this quick-thinking two-player game, each player has 15 pieces that move between 24 triangles, according to the roll of two dice. You gotta roll with it, as Oasis once sang.

Easter egg hunt

EASTER Day celebrations demand an Easter egg hunt, whether indoors or in the garden, if that is possible.

Two customs spring to mind: firstly, wrapping eggs in ribbon for boiling that will then leave a pretty decorative pattern on the eggs.

Secondly, writing poetic ditties as clues for the Easter egg hunter to find the hidden chocolate goodies. Happy hunting, happy Easter, dear readers.

Clap for Carers

YES, we miss the sound of applause bursting through our theatre walls, but for now, save your hand-clapping for showing support every Thursday at 8pm for our NHS doctors, hospital staff, carers, rising tide of volunteers and key workers. God bless them all.

Paul Merton: Welcome back Have I Got News For You for series number 59

And what about…

BOOKS on pandemics and plagues. Cookbooks. The return of BBC One’s Have I Got News For You on Fridays, albeit in compromised social-distancing-from-home form. The shockumentary series Tiger King:  Murder, Mayhem And Madness on Netflix. Writing a 10 Things list like this one.

Reading the regular Tweets from Reece Dinsdale, Emmerdale actor full of nous, and Alan Lane, Slung Low artistic director and man of action around Leeds. Keep drinking hot drinks and gargling regularly, as well as all that hand-washing.

OFF: York Festival cancelled. OFF TOO: Scarborough Open Air Theatre season shut

Goodbye, not Hello: Lionel Richie’s York Festival and Scarborough Open Air Theatre concerts have been cancelled

THE inaugural York Festival with Lionel Richie, Madness and Westlife in June is off.  The entire Scarborough Open Air Theatre summer season has been cancelled too.

The “unavoidable” double blow for promoters Cuffe and Taylor was confirmed in a brief statement at high noon, enforced by the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We are sad to announce both York Festival and the 2020 programme at Scarborough Open Air Theatre will not go ahead,” they said. “We did not want to take this step, but it was unavoidable. The health and safety of concertgoers, artists, staff and community will always be our top priority.

Grey Day for Madness: no House Of Fun after all at York Festival on June 19

“We are working with our ticketing partners and they will contact customers very soon to process refunds. Peace, love, kindness and thanks.”

So, alas, this means goodbye to Hello and Lionel Richie at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, on June 21, when the American soul legend, now 70, would have been supported by Grammy Award winner Macy Gray and Newcastle soul-pop duo Lighthouse Family.

Camden Town nutty boys Madness were to have headlined the opening night, June 19, joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning SeedsCraig Charles, for a Funk and Soul Club DJ set, Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York band Violet Contours.

Westlife: York and Scarborough shows grounded without wings

Irish matured boy band Westlife were booked to top the June 21 bill, backed up All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.

Over on the East Coast, Cuffe and Taylor had lined up big hitters galore for Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 2020 season, opening with Lionel Richie on June 9, followed by Westlife on June 17.

Further bookings were: Supergrass, June 20; Alfie Boe, June 27; Snow Patrol, July 4; Mixtape, with Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box featuring Kenny Thomas, July 10; Keane, July 17; Little Mix, July 21; McFly, August 14; Louis Tomlinson, August 15, and Nile Rodgers & Chic, August 21. What’s more, further shows were to have been added. Not any more.

Leopard king: Rod Stewart at York Racecourse last June, promoted by Cuffe and Taylor

Last year, Cuffe and Taylor promoted Rod Stewart’s first ever York concert, erecting a pop-up amphitheatre in the centre of York Racecourse and duly drawing 35,000 people to Knavesmire on June 1. Ah, those were the days.

Earlier this spring, Cuffe and Taylor were given the City of York Council thumbs-up for a licence for their first York Festival, albeit with the proviso that the volume must be turned down. Now, there will only be silence.

Christmas? Yes, Christmas is on its way as Kate Rusby confirms York Barbican concert

Kate Rusby in her Holly Headwear. Picture: David Lindsay

WHAT a relief to be able to mention another C-word in these Coronavirus-clouded times.  Christmas. Kate Rusby at Christmas, to be precise.

Tickets for the Barnsley nightingale’s now traditional York Barbican Christmas concert on December 20 go on sale tomorrow morning (April 10) at yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Kate’s sparkling Christmas shows draw on merry Christmas versions of carols, once banned from frowning Victorian churches for being too jolly, that instead found their home in the pubs of South Yorkshire (and North Derbyshire and Cornwall). 

“Christmas songs were seeping into our brains,” says Kate Rusby, recalling her childhood exposure to South Yorkshire ‘pub sings’. Picture: David Angel

For 200 years, those South Yorkshire communities have congregated on Sunday lunchtimes from late-November to belt out, for example, variations on While Shepherds Watched.

“The Christmas side of things began for me in the ‘pub sings’ around South Yorkshire,” Kate told CharlesHutchPress last winter ahead of her York Barbican concert with her regular folk band and “brass boys” quintet on December 18.

“We were taken along as kids; our parents would be in the main room singing away, while us kids were sat with the other kids in the tap room, colouring [pictures] and drinking pop, unaware that the carols and Christmas songs were seeping into our brains!

“I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’, ” says Kate Rusby, explaining her album title

“They’re mostly songs thrown out of the churches by the Victorians as they were thought to be far too happy! Ha! Those who loved singing them took them to the pubs, where you could combine a good old sing with beer and a natter, and there the songs have remained and been kept alive, being passed down the generations.”

So much so, Kate has released five albums of carols and original winter songs on her own Pure Records label: 2008’s Sweet Bells, 2011’s While Mortals Sleep, 2015’s The Frost Is All Over, 2017’s Angels And Men and last year’s Holly Head

“Well, I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’,” she said, explaining the title. “You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads. I thought it was the perfect title for such people, and I’m a fully paid-up member of the Holly Head club.”

The album artwork for Kate Rusby’s 2019 album, Holly Head

Songs on Holly Head ranged from the Rusby original The Holly King, to a cover of John Rox’s novelty Christmas number Hippo For Christmas, via the carol Salute The Morn, a brace of God’s Own Country variations, Yorkshire Three Ships and Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire) and Kate’s sixth iteration of While Shepherds Watched.

“There’s over 30 different versions of While Shepherds Watched that get sung in the pubs here in South Yorkshire, so I’ve still got a lot to go at,” said Kate last December. “This one is actually to the tune of a different song that I also love, but I wasn’t that keen on the words, then realised it went with the While Shepherds words, so yey, another has now been invented.” 

Picking the song most significant to her on Holly Head, Kate chose her own composition The Holly King. “It celebrates the more pagan side of Christmas. I wrote it after reading about the winter king, The Holly King, and the summer king, The Ivy King,” she said.

Kate Rusby: Writing for her next Christmas record. Picture: David Angel

“Legend has it that the two met twice a year and had almighty battles. Going into winter, the Holly King would win and reign for the winter months. Then the Ivy King would wake and overthrow the Holly King and reign through the summer months, and on they went in a perfect cycle.

“I just loved the images that it conjured up and a song came flowing out. I gave him a wife, The Queen of Frost, who creeps across the land to be with him for his time. In fact, I’m now writing her song, so she will appear on the next Christmas album, I’m sure.”

May The Queen of Frost glide her icy path to York Barbican come December 20.

We Will Rock You will rock you in 2021 with rearranged tour and new York shows

We Will Still Rock You: The Queen and Ben Elton musical will rise again in 2021

THE 2020 tour of We Will Rock You bit the dust with the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, but the show must go on for the Queen and Ben Elton musical.

Not only have many of the original dates been re-scheduled for 2021, but several venues have been added too, not least the Grand Opera House, York, for a run from March 22 to 27.

“The producers did not want to disappoint fans who had bought tickets, so they have been working hard to reschedule as many of the shows as possible, giving people something to look forward to in these unsettling times,” says the official statement.

“We are delighted to announce the good news that the musical extravaganza will once again rock theatres across the UK from January next year, playing many of the original 2020 dates and several additional venues too.”

Kicking off in Cardiff on January 18 2021, the tour will then play Milton Keynes; Southend; Stoke; Bristol; Wimbledon; Bournemouth; Ipswich; Bromley; York; Newcastle; Northampton; Peterborough; Norwich; Reading; Liverpool; Birmingham and Southsea, with more dates to follow. Details of how to exchange tickets will follow in the coming weeks.

Queen guitarist Brian May said: “Happy to say our magnificent UK tour of We Will Rock You, the rock theatrical, will rise again. The Coronavirus has had us all on the run, but live theatre will win in the end. Keep hold of your bookings and the vibe will be yours in 2021.”

Drummer Roger Taylor added: “This is great news, I’m so pleased to see the show on the road again.”

Writer Ben Elton agreed: “I was so pleased to get the great news that We Will Rock You is to be remounted next year, after being forced to close mid-tour, and I hope Queen’s incredible music can help to make us feel like champions again.”

Tickets for the York run are on sale at atgtickets.com/york.

Pocklington Arts Centre crowdfunding appeal passes halfway mark

“During this period, it is critical that we continue to support our staff, artists and creative partners,” says Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre’s crowdfunding appeal has raised more than half its target already.

Launched in the immediate aftermath of the Market Place venue closing its doors to the public on March 17, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the crowdfunding page has accrued donations of £3,060 towards the £5,000 goal.

What’s more, Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) has received £2,000 in ticket refund donations from customers for cancelled events.

Now PAC has thanked everyone for their support in helping the venue ride out the tempest and come back stronger than ever, with the hope of a good majority of shows being re-scheduled for the autumn and winter.

Director Janet Farmer said: “With the health and safety of our staff, visitors, artists and volunteers being of the utmost importance to us, Pocklington Arts Centre has temporarily closed its doors to the public while we weather this storm.

“During this period, it is critical that we continue to support our staff, artists and creative partners. We are working closely with our peers across the region, and indeed the country, and are determined that PAC will emerge from this challenge stronger and more vibrant than ever.”

Janet continued: “The crowdfunding appeal will play an important part in this re-emergence, so we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has donated so far. Your support is greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing you all again when we re-open.”
To make a donation, visit: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/pac.

RIP Bill Withers….

ALAS, Bill Withers has withered on the vine of time at 81. Truly, there Ain’t No Sunshine anymore when he’s gone.

Thank you, Bill, that was THE song for days of darkness. I know. I know. I know, I know. I know. I know.

Seriously Seventies’ sideburns too.

Your baritone-blue soul music always made for a lovelier day. RIP.

OFF. Kaiser Chiefs and Will Young/James Morrison gigs at Dalby Forest cancelled

I predict a quiet night: Kaiser Chiefs will not play Dalby Forest after all on June 26

DALBY Forest’s summer concerts, featuring Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs on June 26 and a double bill of Will Young and James Morrison the next night, are off.

Indeed, the entire Forest Live series presented by Forestry England nationwide, has been cancelled, yet another summer calendar regular chalked off by the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Ticket holders will be refunded automatically.

A Forestry England statement released today explains: “We are sorry to disappoint the Forest Live fans who were hoping to see bands in the nation’s forests this summer, but we have cancelled Forest Live 2020 to keep everyone safe, in line with recent Government guidance on the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. 

“We really hope that everyone’s support to fight COVID-19 means the situation will have improved by the summer. However, as well as our valued customers, we work with a large number of volunteers, artists and contractors, to make these concerts happen and have taken this decision in the interest of safety for everyone involved.” 

Will Young: double bill with James Morrison

 The statement continues: “Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to reschedule our concerts. Ticket holders will be contacted by their point of purchase and will be automatically refunded. We ask for your patience and understanding at this busy time.

“We would like to send our deepest apologies to everyone who was hoping to see a Forest Live 2020 show. We were very excited to welcome you into forests across England to see some incredible live music.

 “Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you back to Forest Live in 2021.”   

Nationwide,Forest Live 2020 would have featured headline performances by Madness, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Keane, Jack Savoretti and Rag’n’Bone Man, as well as Kaiser Chiefs, Morrison and Young.

James Morrison: No Forest Live return after June 27 cancellation

These June concerts would have been spread between Dalby Forest, near Pickering; Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent; Cannock Chase Forest, Staffordshire; Sherwood Pines Forest, Nottinghamshire; Thetford Forest, Suffolk, and Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire.

Income from Forest Live concerts helps to sustain Forestry England’s woodland for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and trees to grow.

Forestry England, an agency of the Forestry Commission, manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, welcoming 230 million visits every year and shaping landscapes as England’s largest land manager. For more information, visit forestryengland.uk; for further Forest Live details, go to forestryengland.uk/music.

Did you know?

KAISER Chiefs previously played Dalby Forest in 2016; Will Young in 2012 and James Morrison in 2007.

Byrne and Nordberg’s Early Music Day concert at NCEM goes online on Saturday

Swedish lutenist Jonas Nordberg and Irish viol player Liam Byrne in concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, in 2019

LIAM Byrne and Jonas Nordberg’s 2019 concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, will be streamed online on Saturday at 1pm.

This follows the NCEM’s live stream of two Early Music Day 2020 concerts, performed behind closed doors at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, by harpsichordist Steven Devine, playing Bach Preludes and Fugues, and later by The Brabant Ensemble in an evening programme of A Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.

Those concerts drew more than 63,000 views from across the world. “Messages arrived from Japan, Indonesia, South Africa, from people in lockdown in Italy and others waking up to wonderful music in the United States,” says NCEM director Dr Delma Tomlin.

Liam Byrne: viol player with the hipster look

This Saturday’s streaming will feature the 2019 Early Music Day concert by virtuoso Irish viol player Liam Byrne and Swedish lutenist Jonas Nordberg. “The delicious sonic combination of viol and lute from 17th century France made for an incredible evening last year and was also broadcast by BBC Radio 3,” says Delma.

“Now, music lovers can join us again for this fabulous feast by simply logging on to our Facebook page @yorkearlymusic.”

Described by the New York Times as “defying expectations with an obscure instrument and a hipster look”, Byrne is no stranger to the NCEM, where last year he collaborated with the Walmgate venue on the NCEM Young Composers Award 2019, working with the finalists and later performing their work at a concert in Bristol.

Delma Tomlin: National Centre for Early Music director

Byrne, professor of viola da gamba at the Guildhall School in London, is regarded by many as the leading viol player of his generation; lutenist and guitarist Nordberg has performed all over the world, with many recordings to his name.

“Last year’s concert at the NCEM was one of the highlights of York’s cultural calendar, with electrifying performances by both musicians,” says Delma.

“Now, in these strange times, we are discovering more and more how the power of music is bringing us together and lifting our spirits. We hope you can join us for this wonderful concert by these two extraordinary musicians. Our doors may be temporarily closed but we will continue to bring a selection of fabulous music over the coming weeks.”

Twinnie turns into the North Country Girl as York singer travels the road to Nashville

Twinnie: the northerner takes the road to the American South

YORK country singer-songwriter Twinnie will go ahead with the April 17 launch of her debut album, Hollywood Gypsy, even amid the Coronavirus lockdown.

After all, it took the West End musical leading light, model, Hollyoaks soap star and film actress ten years to land a record contract with big hitters BMG.

“I feel very excited and it’s come around really quickly since I released my first EP [Better When I’m Drunk] last March,” says Twinnie, 32, who first took to the York stage as Twinnie-Lee Moore at the age of four.

“Given the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a weird time, but I’m a new artist, I’ve waited so long to make an album, and right now, more than ever, I feel I need music, we need music.

“It would be easy to panic, but I’ve found I’ve connected more than ever with my fans on Instagram Live.”

Making country inroads: the artwork for Twinnie’s debut album, Hollywood Gypsy

Twinnie was to have played a sold-out home-city gig at The Crescent on March 22 to showcase Hollywood Gypsy, but the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to her debut headline tour, now re-arranged for the autumn. Glasgow, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol await, before a Crescent crescendo on November 29, with tickets remaining valid.

Twinnie did perform, however, at the prestigious Country2Country (C2C) Festival in Berlin on March 7 and 8, and coming next was a C2C show at the O2 Arena, London, on March 14. “That would have been a really big deal for me, being able to promote my album and tour, so it’s a real downer, but I’m just really grateful that there’s still light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s good that we’ve managed to re-schedule the tour,” she says.

As chance would have it, the C2C cancellation led to a prompt invitation to fill the void in Twinnie’s diary with a live set on BBC Radio 2’s The Country Show with Bob Harris on March 12. “Bob has been a really big supporter of mine,” she says. “He was the first DJ to support me on the radio, even before I had a recording contract. I just sent him a track and he played it!”

Bob Harris: supportive host of BBC Radio 2’s The Country Show

Twinnie first trod the boards in York when attending the late Miss Isobel Dunn’s dance school, started playing a keyboard at seven and then performed in the Grand Opera House pantomime dance ensemble. She progressed from roles as Bet in Oliver! in 2001 and Lilly in Annie in 2002 in the Grand Opera House Summer Youth Project to playing Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz in 2003.

“I was 16 and I thought I might have been too tall for Dorothy but the director, Simon Barry, said I was the right choice,” she recalls.

A month later, the former Joseph Rowntree School pupil was leaving behind her Haxby Road home for three years of dance and musical theatre studies at Phil Winston’s Theatre Works in Blackpool.

West End roles ensued in We Will Rock You and the short-lived Desperately Seeking Susan, and in April 2009,  now 21, she returned home to the Grand Opera House as 1920s’ Chicago double murderess and aloof nightclub singer Velma Kelly in the national tour of Chicago.

Twinnie-Lee Moore in her role as double murderess Velma Kelly in Chicago, on tour at the Grand Opera House, York, in April 2009

Her face greeted the London Underground throng on Chicago’s trademark black-and-white posters too and she had a year as the Latino character Jazmin in Flashdance in the original London cast at the Shaftsbury Theatre from autumn 2010.

Twinnie sang Miley Cyrus’s The Climb when competing on BBC One talent show The Voice in March 2012, failing to hit the heights alas with an early exit. After film roles in Iron Clad 2 and Strangelove in 2014, she made her soap debut as racy Porsche McQueen in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks in November that year, playing her for a year.

A further screen role followed in The Wife, the Oscar-nominated Glenn Close film, but all the while, Twinnie was drawn to making music. “To be honest, music was probably the first thing I started out wanting to do, which people don’t know about. But people pay their dues to pay their mortgage,” she says.

“Even when I was doing We Will Rock You at 19 with Brian May, performing eight shows a week, I was playing country songs in dive bars too at the weekend.”

Twinnie-Lee Moore in her soap-opera days as Porsche McQueen in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks

Now dividing her time between London and Nashville, Twinnie is living out that wish to put her song-writing to the fore. “I’ve been on stage since I was four years old, and my dad introduced me to the music of some of the best songwriters. Like my first gig was Gilbert O’Sullivan,” she says.

“And I always loved musicals too. I grew up watching Hollywood movie musicals, especially Judy Garland, which is one of the reasons I’ve called the album Hollywood Gypsy.”

Determination to succeed marked out Twinnie from a young age. “Even at eight, I wrote down the addresses of the Sony Music and Universal record company labels. Then one of my poems got published at school. I always wanted to tell stories,” she says.

“I got told you have to do everything for what you do to work. You can’t just stand there and sing. I always want people to feel entertained when I do a show.

“Coming from the North, I’m always looking to make a real connection,” says Twinnie. “That’s why I write so honestly, talking about all my faults”. Picture: Alex Berger

“I don’t think there are many ‘triple threat’ performers like me, so I want to tell the story, not just in the song, but in the performance too.”

Country music might not have been an obvious outlet for a York singer and songwriter, but Twinnie says: “For me, country music was always big. Johnny Cash; Dolly Parton, one of the great songwriters; Shania Twain and now Taylor Swift,” she says.”

Twinnie has been travelling to Nashville, Tennessee, for the past six or seven years, leading to her co-writing in the capital of country with Grammy Award-winning writers Nathan Chapman, Liz Rose and Dave Barns.

“I also wrote with Ben Earle, before he formed The Shires with Crissie Rhodes, and two of my songs with him, Black And White and First Flight Out, ended up on their first album, Brave,” she says.

Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle of The Shires. Twinnie co-wrote two songs on their debut album with Earle

Now, after winning Best Breakthrough Act at the 2019 British Country Music Association awards and a support slot on Kiefer Sutherland’s tour, everything comes to fruition for Twinnie on Hollywood Gypsy.

This is a thoroughly modern country album, made with the likes of Little Mix, One Direction and Britney Spears producer Peter Hammerton, and recorded in Nashville, London and Sweden,with such song titles as Better When I’m Drunk, Type Of Girl, Whiplash, Lie To Me and I Love You Now Change.

“Every genre changes and country music is now so diverse, but everyone appreciates a good melody, strong lyrics, and that’s why people really respect country music,” says Twinnie, who loves the candour of country songs.

“Coming from the North, I’m always looking to make a real connection. That’s why I write so honestly, talking about all my faults,” she says.

“When you feel you’re getting out of your depth, that’s when the magic happens,” says Twinnie . Picture: Maximilian Hetherington

“I have no shame in highlighting my flaws and being vulnerable: there’s a strength in vulnerability when we can all connect with it. Each song shows a different side of my personality: I either want to break someone’s heart or make them dance.”

Returning to the album title, Twinnie says: “It pretty much sums me up. As well as my love of Hollywood musicals, I’m a traveller by nature and by heritage, so I’m  quite free. Hollywood Gypsy is about me, my life, my artistry.

“I’m representing my dad’s heritage, my mum’s heritage, and I’m very proud of that heritage. It’s who I am and why I’m free spirited.

“All of it, whether I’m acting, dancing, modelling or singing, I’m just not afraid to push my boundaries because, when you feel you’re getting out of your depth, that’s when the magic happens.”

Recording in Nashville, London and Sweden adds to Twinnie being a Hollywood Gypsy, she suggests. “I feel I’m a bit of a musical gypsy, taking from different genres, growing up listening to Tupac, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Joel, Shania Twain,” she says. “Obviously Queen too: I’m always so grateful to Brian May for when I did We Will Rock You.”

Dave Stewart: co-writing with Twinnie via the medium of FaceTime

In the Coronavirus lockdown, Twinnie has set herself a three-week challenge that began a week ago to listen to an album a day and then pick her favourite song from each one to learn how to play it. “I never have time to do things like this, so I’m using this time to grow and get inspired,” she says. “I’m also trying to learn Spanish.”

Along with many musicians, she is “trying to find new ways to do things at the moment”. Such as? “I’ve written a song on FaceTime with Dave Stewart, from the Eurythmics,” Twinnie reveals. “I’d never met him before, but he’s from Sunderland, I’m from York, so we had that banter of being northerners together!”

Still in the diary for July 11 is Twinnie’s appearance at Pocklington Arts Centre’s Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington (an event subject to further Coronavirus updates), but what’s coming next for Twinnie? “I was meant to be going to America to make an EP in Nashville, and that recording will still happen, but I may now have to find a way of doing it remotely,” she says.

Looking further ahead, she says: “Hollywood Gypsy is the first chapter. Next year will be the next half of the story. So it’ll be like a double album.”

Twinnie’s new video for I Love You Now Change

Did you know?

IN Twinnie’s new video for I Love You Now Change, she is seen signing divorce papers.

“I put my ex’s name on the papers when we shot the video for a laugh, but some people actually thought it was real,” she says. “Just to clarify, I have never been married and Boris killed off the socialising and dating scene, so looks like I won’t be in a white dress anytime soon.”

The husband in the video is played by Gustav Wood. Watch it at twinnieofficial.com.

How did The Press reviewer judge 16-year-old Twinnie-Lee Moore’s lead performance as Dorothy in the Grand Opera House Summer Youth Project’s The Wizard Of Oz in York in August 2003?

“Twinnie-Lee displays supremely confident skills in stage movement; her Kansas accent is spot-on too, and once her voice fully warms up after Over The Rainbow, she sings with expression, albeit in the modern pop style that might better suit The Wiz.”

Copyright of The Press, York

Everyone is welcome at Velma Celli’s Drag Party as York cabaret queen streams show

Velma Celli: drag queen supreme on stream

YORK drag queen supreme Velma Cella is to appear in thousands of living rooms across the country – and around the world – in an uplifting live concert, streamed tomorrow evening.

Velma’s Drag Party will be on screen at 6.30pm as part of the Leave A Light On concert series promoted by Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café, St Martin’s Lane, London, to provide financial support for the performers involved and entertainment for people in self-isolation.

“This is a tough time for many people, particularly those who regularly attend live concerts, shows and gigs who are missing the unedited nature of live performance,” says Ian Stroughair, the West End actor and singer behind Velma Celli’s spectacular make-up and even more spectacular singing.

“I’m incredibly proud to be taking part,” says Ian Stroughair, alias Velma Celli

“So, it’s fantastic that Lambert Jackson and The Theatre Café have produced such a superb series of concerts that can be watched live at home from some of the finest West End performers. I’m incredibly proud to be taking part.”

Velma Celli’s monthly show at The Basement, City Screen, York, is in abeyance during the Coronavirus lock-down, but devotees and first-timers alike tuning in tomorrow evening can expect “some belted classics and plenty of laughs along the way as we leave reality behind for an hour of camp fun”.

Leave The Light On pays homage to the theatre tradition of leaving a single light burning on the stage of an empty theatre,  supposedly to appease the ghosts who reside there.

Tickets for the live stream cost £7.50 and can be bought up to an hour before the broadcast.  Viewers will be sent a link via email that enables them to watch the performance live.  To buy, go to thetheatrecafe.co.uk/event/leave-a-light-on-velma-celli-live