AMERICAN duo Native Harrow head down from their Celtic Connections show
in Glasgow to play York the next day, January 18.
Singer-songwriter Devin Tuel and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Harms
will be promoting their wistful folk-rock 2019 album, Happier Now, at The
Basement, City Screen.
Signed to Loose Music, the London home to The Handsome Family, Courtney
Marie Andrews and Israel Nash, Native Harrow will be performing 11 British gigs
in January before returning to North Yorkshire for the Deer Shed Festival at Baldersby
Park, Topcliffe, from July 24 to 26.
Native Harrow is the nom de plume of Tuel, a former ballerina and classically trained singer, from Newburgh, New York, who says of her third album: “This record is about becoming your own advocate. Realising that maybe you are different in several or a myriad of ways and that that is okay. And further, it is about me becoming a grown woman.”
After nearly two decades of rigorous training in ballet, theatre and singing, Tuel needed to break out of the oppressive rules of academia. She had to find her natural voice, write from her heart, and figure out what kind of performer she truly was, rather than the one she was being moulded into from the age of three. “I spent my early twenties playing every venue in Greenwich Village, recording demos in my friend’s kitchen and making lattes,” she says.
“I felt very alive
then. I was on my own living in my own little studio, staying up all night
writing; the dream I had of being a bohemian New York City artist was
unfolding. I wanted to be Patti Smith.
“I was also
heartbroken, poor and had no idea what I was getting myself into. My twenties,
as I think it goes for most, were all about getting up, getting knocked down,
and learning to keep going. I never gave up and I think if I told 20-year-old
me how things looked nine years later she’d be so excited”.
She and Harms recorded Happier Now at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders over three days in March 2018, working with co-producer Alex Hall on nine songs that addressed fear, love, the open road, ill-fated relationships and coping with the state of the world.
“I wanted to share
that I made it out of my own thunderstorm,” says Tuel. “I had experienced the
high peaks and very low valleys of my twenties.
“I saw more of the
world on my own, got through challenges, revelled in true moments of triumph, but
all the while the world around me was growing louder, wilder, and scarier.
Music for me is a place to be soft. This album was my place to feel it
Happier Now’s songs
were written in the duo’s “downtime” during three back-to-back tours across
North America, spanning 108 dates, in support of Native Harrow’s second album,
Tuel approached the
sessions like a musicians’ workshop, each morning beginning with the songwriter
presenting her collaborators with the day’s material.
Tuel, Harms and
Hall rehearsed and documented each song live on the floor, tracking as a band
through each take. No click tracks, scratch tracks, or even headphones; just
three musicians in a small room, captured with Hall’s collection of vintage microphones
and subtle retro production techniques.
Overdubs, including vocal harmonies, B3 organ and the rare lead guitar, were added to decorate these live performances. The creative energy of the tightly knit sessions spilled over into Tuel’s songwriting as well: she skipped lunch on the third and final day of recording to pen the road-weary Hard To Take.
Four days after arriving in Chicago, Native Harrow were back on the road and Happier Now was complete, with its songs oscillating between feeling the sting of uncertainty on Can’t Go On Like This, through the beauty of California on Blue Canyon, to the ache for lavish stability on Way To Light.
Hear them live in York on January 18 in an 8pm show promoted by Please Please You. Tickets cost £10 at ticketing.picturehouses.com.
The Wizard Of Oz, Leeds Playhouse, until January 25 2020. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or at leedsplayhouse.org.uk
AGATHA Meehan is going places. Right now, the blossoming York acting talent
is travelling in a whirling tornado from her Kansas farm to Oz and the Emerald
City in the lead role of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz.
Already she has starred in the West End as Summer Hathaway in School Of
Rock and Annie in Annie, a part she first played for York Musical Theatre
Company in March 2017 while a pupil at St George’s RC Primary School.
After adding Jane in the UK premiere of A Little Princess at the Royal
Festival Hall to her London credits, now she is alternating Dorothy with Lucy
Sherman in the first Christmas family musical in the Quarry Theatre since the Leeds
Playhouse’s £15.8 million redevelopment. All this, and she is only 12 years
old. What a whirlwind rise.
There’s no place that Agatha feels more at home than on stage, and she
gives a remarkably assured performance, from the moment she sings the iconic
Over The Rainbow.
Her Kansas accent is spot on; her Dorothy, in pigtails and farm dungarees and later the ever-evocative blue gingham dress, is a stoical young girl of moral conviction, passion and determination, challenging adult authority and inertia in Baum’s Kansas of the 1900s and Emerald City alike.
Combining Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg’s songs
from the more innocent 1939 MGM film with John Kane’s witty, somewhat knowing 1987
script for the Royal Shakespeare Company, artistic director James Brining’s
production delivers on an epic, filmic scale, full of heart and humour, joy and
jeopardy, Munchkins and monkeys, mystery and magic.
Meehan’s Dorothy is surrounded by a combination of
hi-tech and lo-tech, and likewise the familiar and the freshened up, with
Jitterbug re-introduced as one of two premier league showstoppers alongside The
Merry Old Land Of Oz, choreographed to dazzling effect by Lucy Cullingford.
Phil Cole’s Uncle Henry and Angela Wynter’s Aunt Em are a mixed-race couple; Eleanor Sutton is a female Scarecrow; Sam Harrison’s Tinman is gay and the outstanding Marcus Ayton is a black timorous Lion, with boxing moves and a knock-out singing voice to boot for If I Were King Of The Forest.
Simon Wainwright, from innovative Leeds company Imitating The Dog,
provides the video projections for the twister scene that combine with the
time-honoured skills of spinning aerialists. Toto the dog is played by a real
dog before the storm, then by a puppet animated so expressively by Ailsa
Dalling in Oz. Look out too for the crow puppets, and be sure to duck when the
Wicked Witch of the West and her dive-bombing monkeys are flying overhead.
Polly Lister is terrifically terrifying as the mean, twisted neighbour Miss
Gulch and the cackling, droll Wicked Witch, whose vamp camp air never quite ventures
into pantomime villainy.
As you would expect of a major-city Christmas show, this is a big, big production:
a cast of 20, supported by a young Leeds
community company as the Munchkins; a band of 11 directed with panache by Tamara
Saringer; and wonderful set and costume designs by Simon Higlett, whose palette
progresses from parched, dustbowl Kansas with its plain farmhouse and water
tower, to the spectacular greens and yellows of a futuristic Emerald City.
Click your ruby red heels, make a wish and find yourself having a wizard
time on the Yellow Brick Road at Leeds Playhouse this winter.
YORK Guildhall Orchestra will open 2020 with a
family-orientated, mid-afternoon concert on January 4 at York Barbican.
“This is a great way to finish off the festive
break by introducing the younger members of the family to the fantastic and
entertaining world of live orchestral music,” says publicist Geoff Eggington.
Joining Simon Wright’s orchestral forces will be
the YGO’s president, Tollerton soprano Lynne Dawson, in her role as narrator for
a couple of pieces.
These will include Kleinsinger’s Tubby The Tuba, the
heart-warming story of Tubby, the butt of all the jokes in the orchestra, who nevertheless
finds a wonderful tune and persuades the whole orchestra to play it. The tuba
soloist will be Brian Kingsley, from the Orchestra of Opera North.
Other family favourites in the 3.30pm programme
will be Viennese waltzes and polkas by Johanne Strauss, the Elder and the Younger,
such as Thunder & Lightning, Champagne, Gold & Silver and The Blue
Extracts from The Sound Of Music and Les Miserables
will feature York Stage Musicals members in the singing roles.
Looking ahead to 2020, this will be YGO’s
40th anniversary year, when the main celebratory concert will be
held on February 15, almost to the day when the orchestra’s debut concert was
performed in the York Guildhall, hence the name.
On that first programme were Ravel’s
Mother Goose Suite and a Brahms Symphony. This time, the orchestra will be
joined by Jamie Walton in Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto.
“As always, we’re delighted we’ll be working
with the City of York Council and the York Music Hub in 2020 by providing free
places at our May concert for children from York primary schools and members of
Further information on the year ahead can be found at yorkguildhallorchestra.com. Tickets for the New Year’s Family Concert are on sale on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office.
Robbie Williams, The Christmas Present (Columbia) *****
Wrapping: Robbie is one of the very few contemporary artists who truly embraces
album artwork: pleasing to the eye, telling a story and setting the scene for a
multitude of surprises. A Dickensian-clad Rob goes shopping on a street not
dissimilar to York’s Shambles.
Gifts inside: Double disc features a cocktail of new and evergreen classics. Rod
Stewart, Bryan Adams, boxer Tyson Fury, Jamie Cullum, Helene Fisher and Mr
Williams Senior, alias Poppa Pete, are guests across the 28 tracks. Tyson Fury?
Really? Yes, on Bad Sharon. It’s a big hit. Of course.
Style: Mostly upbeat and certainly very jolly. A very content Robbie Williams
is on top form.
’Tis the season to be jolly: Embrace this genuinely enjoyable
album of good cheer, curated with love and affection.
Scrooge moan? Rob’s fabulous update of Let Me Entertain You, for Aldi’s Christmas
campaign, and the rumoured cover of Fairytale Of New York with Britney Spears
didn’t make the final cut. Maybe next year?
White Christmas? Not on this set, although you do get fabulous covers
of I Believe In Father Christmas and a jazzed-up Merry Xmas Everybody with
Blue Christmas? Absolutely not. Robbie’s gift is one of happiness!
Stocking or shocking? This is destined to become one of the greatest and most cherished Christmas albums of all time.
Chris Kamara, Here’s To Christmas (So What/Silva Screen
Wrapping: – At 62, Chris Kamara is a very
handsome fellow. The chromosome photograph is very becoming, yet not at all
Gifts inside: The consummate Renaissance Man, this ex-Leeds United footballer is now a regular television presenter on Sky Sports. Who knew the former sailor and Bake Off finalist could also sing? Unbelievable, Jeff. The very talented crooner tackles ten glorious upbeat evergreen classics.
Style: Big Band, all day and night long.
’Tis the season to be jolly: …and singalonga with Mr Kamara to
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman and It’s Beginning To Look A
Lot Like Christmas.
Scrooge moan? Don’t be so silly. This is a
joyful swinging affair.
White Christmas? Absolutely not. We are, however, treated to Winter
Wonderland and Let It Snow!
Blue Christmas? Christmas with Mr Karama is a very jolly event.
Stocking or shocking? Chris Kamara is number one on the Jazz chart. Good for him. This is a very happy album.
Bing Crosby with the London Symphony Orchestra, At Christmas (Decca
Wrapping: Decca have done their best with a selection of period family
photographs. The set is boxed in a handsome, rather snazzy, gold-embossed
Gifts inside: Fourteen of Mr Crosby’s classic Christmas songs given a modern
orchestral makeover, with special guests The Puppini Sisters, Pentatonix The
Tenors and, from the archives, The Andrew Sisters and David Bowie.
Style: Bing Crosby invented the Christmas album. This album is Bing’s original
iconic tones with a complementary lush orchestra.
’Tis the reason to be jolly: The chance to rediscover why we love
secular Christmas music so much in the first place.
Scrooge moan? There’s no reason to be a Grinch when Bing sings.
White Christmas? Well, the best-selling Christmas single of all
time had to be included. It’s the law.
Blue Christmas? No, this is an upbeat Easy Listening classic.
Stocking or shocking? If you’re tired of Bing, you’re tired of Christmas! Every stocking should have one.
Ian Sime’s top five Christmas albums of all time
Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas (Columbia, 1994)
Donna Summer, Christmas Spirit (Mercury, 1994)
Whitney Houston, One Wish – The Holiday Album (Columbia, 2003)
Rob Halford with Family & Friends, Celestial (Sony) **
Wrapping: Halford, the metal god from
Judas Priest, giving off some attitude as he is pasted on to wrapping paper.
Inside we see his family and friends (his brother Nigel and his band Voodoo
Sioux) smiling and giving the devil horns metal salute. Worth a second
Gifts inside: Heavy metal, from a much
outdated style, set awkwardly against the simple melodies of the eight
Christmas chestnuts, with four new songs cleverly woven in.
Style: Imagine if buzz and noise music never
happened. Imagine if the musical time clock was stuck in 1985. It’s old-school
metal, full of tight-trousered screams and flashy guitar solos, with some great
drumming too. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are ballads and a choir-like
‘Tis the reason to be jolly: Deck The Halls and Hark The Herald
Angels Sing rise above the rest, with a powerful punk-like attitude and some
searing musicianship. Halford’s voice remains formidable. Lead track Donner And
Blitzen should be big in Scandinavia and the Black Forest.
Scrooge moan: If you look for merry metal Christmas albums in the shops, you will probably only find this (although, perhaps for the most persistent, also Halford III: Winter Songs from 2009). There’s a good reason for that; putting the two styles together does neither any favours. It makes the tough looking and talented musicians sound daft, and would anyone into this type of music admit to owning a copy?
White Christmas? The only snow, in blue, is printed on the CD.
Blue Christmas? The mood is more defiant, but A
Winter’s Tale is more sombre.
Stocking or shocking? Shocking, for the
unreconstructed rocker in your life. who will enjoy it, just to be rebellious.
Rick Wakeman, Christmas Portraits
Wrapping: A grand piano perched in front
of a starlit Christmas tree in a wintry wood. A strange star is rising in the
sky. The booklet has a few portraits of the great man, the credits and a simple
Gifts inside: 14 traditional
tracks, including seven medleys, from the purveyor of The Grumpy Old Christmas
Show Tour that visited Harrogate Royal Hall on December 10.
Style: This is the sound of one man and his
piano (a Granary Steinway Model D), from .
‘Tis the reason to be jolly: The album is beautifully recorded, and
the piano settings really suit the monochromatic winter world in the songs.
Like Jan Johannson’s Jazz På Svenska, which timelessly dances
with folk tunes, Wakeman’s variations on these age-old melodies are both
graceful and fitting.
Scrooge moan: This is certainly more BBC Radio 3 than
prog, so won’t please all of Wakeman’s admirers, and enjoyable while it is, it
does all blur together.
White Christmas? No, this is a more
traditional set aimed towards the classical fan rather than frequenter of
supper clubs (you know who you are).
Blue Christmas? There is certainly melancholy,
and a sense of bitter cold, but the melodies should cast sunlight into the
gloomiest of moods.
Stocking or shocking? Stocking, for anyone who gets
lost in their thoughts while pondering the frost through the kitchen window.
Paul Rhodes’s top five Christmas
albums of all time
The Staple Singers, The 25th Day Of December
Carols from Kings
Aimee Mann, One More Drifter In The
The Louvin Brothers, Christmas With
The Louvin Brothers
Christmas Greetings From Nashville –
featuring Skeeter Davis
Kate Rusby, Holly Head (Pure Records)
Wrapping: Barnsley nightingale Kate in snowy white with her very own Holly Head, a Christmas garland of wintry flowers, foliage, twigs and leaves atop her curls. A “Holly Head” loves Christmas music like a petrol head loves cars, she says.
Gifts inside: South Yorkshire pub carols, Yorkshire
winter songs, one new Rusby composition and a couple of novelty numbers (John Rox’s
Hippo For Christmas, from 1953, and a third rescue mission for Kate’s Yorkshire
Tea-powered Barnsley superhero, Big Brave Bill).
Style: Kate and her touring folk players, augmented as ever by the “Brass Boys”, on her fifth Christmas collection in 11 years. Songs merry, melancholic and daft, all to be found here.
’Tis the reason to be jolly: Kate’s sixth version of While Shepherds
Watched (only another 24 still to go, apparently!); the titles Yorkshire Three
Ships and Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire); and Kate branching out into folk prog
via Clannad with the beautifully frosty The Holly King.
Scrooge moan: Hip, hippo, but not hurray for The
Hippo Song, despite Mike Levis’s pomp-pomp tuba. Bah Humbug to such
White Christmas? No, but Lu Lay (The Coventry Carol) is chillier than a Yorkshire moor in winter.
Blue Christmas? Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire); that
title says it all.
Stocking or shocking? Christmas Is Merry, sings Kate, and
Holly Heads and hippo devotees everywhere will love it.
Josh Rouse, The Holiday Sounds Of
Josh Rouse (Yep Roc) ****
Wrapping: No hint of winter in a painting with warm red, pink and yellow hues. The opening song title, Mediterranean X-mas, explains it, as American singer-songwriter Rouse has only latterly moved to Nashville from Valencia after ten winters in Spain.
Gifts inside: Rouse’s first“ holiday concept album”, his 13th in all, contains nine originals, complemented by a bonus disc bearing the gifts of three demos and Rousing versions of trad holiday songs All I Want For Christmas, Up On The Housetop and Let It Snow.
Style: Breezy, warm, vintage folk, pop, country blues and jauntily jazzy rock, not too far removed from Nick Lowe’s 2013 seasonal selection, Quality Street. Indeed Basher urged him to make this record when touring together in 2015.
’Tis the reason to be jolly: Lush, warmly reflective songs of childhood nostalgia and holidays spent away from home are the perfect accompaniment to the year’s glowing embers. Red Suit, New York Holiday, Lights Of Town and Christmas Songs are the pick.
Scrooge moan: None, unless you crave the absent sleigh
bells, children’s choirs and Yuletide standards you won’t find in the Rouse
White Christmas? No. Presumably gone on holiday to
Blue Christmas? Sadness seeps through Letters In The
Mailbox and Heartbreak Holiday.
Stocking or shocking? Rouse should be in your house come Christmas Day.
Merry Luxmas, It’s Christmas In Crampsville!, Season’s
Gratings From The Cramps’ Vinyl Basement (Righteous/Cherry Red) *****
Wrapping: Family album photo from the Fifties, one
woman, her glasses, her pearls, her dog and her overladen Christmas tree. What
a swell party that looks.
Gifts inside: In the ghostly spirit of Christmas
past, an original cassette compilation by the late Lux Interior of Sacramento psychobilly
punks The Cramps, lovingly entitled Jeezus ****, It’s Christmas, is re-activated
and re-mastered. Lux and Poison’s Ivy raves from the Christmas crypt add up to
31 of the “strangest Yuletide 45s ever”, now accompanied with ace sleeve notes
by Mojo magazine’s Dave Henderson.
Style: Wild and weird rock’n’roll music and jumpin’
jive for beatniks, hipsters and swinging hep cats. Doo-wop ballads, novelty oddities,
jailbird laments, mighty bluesmen, even skewed country (George Jones’s Eskimo
Pie), are all Cramped in.
’Tis the season to be jolly: So many.Especially
Tony Rodelle Larson’s impossibly cool Cool Yule; Louis Armstrong’s joyous Zat
You, Santa Claus; Joan Shaw’s insistent I Want A Man For Christmas and Jimmy
Butler’s innuendo-laden Trim Your Tree, culminating in the Reverend J M Gates’s
fire-and-brimstone sermon, Did You Spend Christmas Day In Jail.
Scrooge moan: Spike Jones and His City Slickers’ dogs
launching a barking-mad assault on O Christmas Tree. Doggerel.
White Christmas? Anything but. Make way for The
Marquees’ Christmas In The Congo, more like.
Blue Christmas? Too many to mention, but these will
do for starters: Floyd Dixon’s Empty Stocking Blues, Little Esther & Mel
Walker’s Far Away Christmas Blues; Julia Lee And Her Boy Friends’ Christmas
Spirit, T-Bone Walker’s Cold, Cold Feeling and Washboard Pete’s Christmas
Stocking or shocking? Do you know someone who hates
Christmas? Present incoming.
Charles Hutchinson’s top five
Christmas albums of all time to discover
Bruce Cockburn, Christmas (Columbia,
Glasvegas, A Snowflake Fell (And It
Felt Like A Kiss) (SonyBMG, 2008)
Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler Present…This Is Christmas (Infectious Music, 2011)
Smith & Burrows, Funny Looking
Angels (Kitchenware/Play It Again Sam, 2011)
YORK Festival, next summer’s three-day music event headlined by Madness,
Westlife and Lionel Richie, wants to raise thousands of pounds for good causes
by supporting York charities.
concert promoters Cuffe and Taylor, are seeking three charity partners, who
will benefit from the June 19 to 21 concerts at York Sports Club, in Clifton
Park, Shipton Road.
Charities in and
around York are asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to “find out how
York Festival can help you” and register their interest in becoming a partner.
Cuffe and Taylor director Peter Taylor said: “We are incredibly excited
about York Festival. This is going to be three amazing days of live music in
this wonderful and historic city, headlined by a host of global stars.
“We want to help raise funds and exposure for local good causes. Over the past
decade, we have worked with a number of fantastic charity partners at our
events right across the UK. Through these partnerships we have helped raise
more than £100,000 and we are now looking for charities based in and around
York who we can work with.
“York Festival is going to be something really special. What will make it extra
special is if we can help good causes in the city.”
Cuffe and Taylor promote the summer concert seasons at Scarborough Open Air Theatre,
bringing Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Lionel Richie to the Yorkshire coast.
They also staged Rod Stewart’s sold-out York Racecourse concert this year,
drawing 35,000 people to a specially constructed pop-up amphitheatre in the
centre of the Knavesmire course on June 1.
Cuffe and Taylor previously set up Lytham Festival, a Lancashire event
that has worked with various charities over the past decade.
Trinity Hospice and Brian House Children’s Hospice in Blackpool, for
example, have benefited to the tune of £50,000.
Trinity Hospice Community fundraising manager Michelle Lonican
said: “We feel very honoured to have worked with Cuffe and Taylor on a
number of their high-profile events.
“Their support for both Trinity Hospice and Brian House has been
phenomenal, and not only have we been able to raise thousands of pounds, but
also every event has always been a fantastic opportunity for us to increase our
profile and attract new supporters.
“It is great to see Cuffe and Taylor launching a new festival in York
and we would urge charities there to apply to become a partner and get involved
in what will no doubt be a very successful event.”
York Festival’s debut line-up brings together headliners Madness, those Nutty
Boys from Camden Town, Lightning Seeds,funk and soul DJ Craig Charles, Leeds
indie rockers Apollo Junction and York’s Violet Contours on June 19.
Irish boy band Westlife top the Saturday bill – next year’s Summer
Solstice night – as part of their Stadiums In The Summer Tour, joined by All
Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting for Girls and Take That’s Howard
Donald for a DJ set.
The Sunday night focus falls on American soul and funk legend Lionel
Richie for a set of Commodores and solo hits.
For more York Festival information and tickets, go to York-festival.com.
CATS and dogs will be in
harmony on December 29 when City Screen, York, plays host to a dog-friendly screening
of the new musical fantasy film.
“We’re offering dog-lovers the chance to bring their canine friends to the cinema that morning at 11am,” says marketing manager Dave Taylor.
“A dog is not just for Christmas, but it’s Christmas for dogs too, so
this is a special treat for dog-owners and their pets.
“They’ll be issued with a fleece blanket to cover the seat used by the
dog or to use as a rug if the dog sits on the floor. During the screening, we’ll
provide bowls of water around the screen, and we’ll also leave lighting levels
a little higher than usual during the screening and lower the volume of the
“Please be aware that we reduce capacity for such screenings, so there may be fewer tickets than usual. We also have a limit of one dog per adult so that people can keep control of their dog.”
City Screen has arranged dog-friendly screenings in the past. “They’ve been well received by dog-owners and have gone off without incident, though cinema staff undertake a thorough ‘deep-clean’ of the auditorium before the next film is shown,” says Dave.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, one of the most successful stage musicals of all time, has been adapted for the big screen by director Tom Hooper, who directed The Damned United in 2009, The King’s Speech in 2010, Les Misérables in 2012 and The Danish Girl in 2015.
Now he “reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular
production design, state-of-the-art technology and dance ranging from classical
ballet to contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, street dance and tap”.
Released this Friday, its cast of star actors and dancers includes Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy; Idris Elba stars as Macavity, the mystery cat; Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots; Ray Winston, Growltiger; James Corden, Bustopher Jones; Jennifer Hudson, Grizabella; cat lover Taylor Swift, Bombalurina; Jason Derulo, Rum Tum Tigger, and Sir Ian McKellen, Gus the Theatre Cat.
Oscar winner Hooper wrote the script with Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, based on T.S. Elliot’s whimsical Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats.
Tickets for Cats (U) on December 29 are on sale on 0871 902 5747, at picturehouses.com or in person from the City Screen box office. “You’re also welcome without a dog,” says Dave.
THE York Waits celebrate Christmas in tomorrow’s concert at the National Centre for Early Music, York, when they will be joined by singer Deborah Catterall.
The start of Christmas was traditionally announced at the entrances to York on December 21, St Thomas’s Day, with the reading by the Sheriffs of the Yoole-girthol, with the Waits’ shawm band in attendance.
This proclamation declared “an amnesty to all nere-do-wells and unthrifty folk” and invited 12 days of merriment in the city.
The York Waits recreate this atmosphere with festive songs, carols and celebratory music from across mediaeval and Renaissance England and Europe, performed on loud and quiet wind consorts, bowed and plucked strings, the rustic bagpipes and vielle.
The York Waits will be in conversation at the NCEM at 7pm before their 7.30pm concert programme. Tickets cost £23, concessions £21, on 01904 658338 or at tickets.ncem.co.uk.
EVERYTHING has aligned for Supergrass on the “improbable comeback”
The Oxford four-piece of Gaz Coombes, Danny Goffey, Rob Coombes and Mick Quinn will head to Scarborough Open Air Theatre on June 20 next summer, with tickets going on sale at 9am on Friday.
Coming first will be Supergrass: The Strange Ones 1994-2008, released on
BMG on January 24 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of their chart-topping
debut album I Should Coco.
This box set stacks up their six albums on picture-disc LP and CD; bonus CDs of unreleased live material; B-sides; remixes; rarities; studio out-takes; demos; acoustic versions; oddities, new mixes; a deluxe book, posters and button badges.
Supergrass made their comeback in September in a bold manner, taking to the stage unannounced at Glastonbury Pilton Party to rip through a greatest hits set, embracing Richard III, Moving, Alright, Lenny, Going Out, Caught By The Fuzz, Sun Hits The Sky, Pumping On Your Stereo and Grace.
“Everything aligned for us to make this happen for 2020,” says drummer
Goffey, recalling September’s re-launch. “It was the first time that we
collectively felt the buzz to get back in a room together and play the songs.
We’re extremely excited to get out there and bring a bit of Supergrass joy
to all our fans… and their extended families.”
Formed in 1993, the Oxford band released the Mercury Prize-nominated I
Should Coco in 1995; In It For The Money in 1997; Supergrass, 1999; Life On
Other Planets, 2002; Road To Rouen, 2005, and Diamond Hoo Ha, 2008, plus the 2004
compilation Supergrass Is 10.
After the BRIT, NME, Ivor Novello and Q award-winning band split in
2010, Gaz Coombes released his solo albums Here Come The Bombs in
2012, Matador in 2015 and World’s Strongest Man last year.
Quinn has been playing with his own group, DB Band, and has been a
member of Swervedriver since 2015; Goffey’s album Schtick came out in 2018.
From Friday (December 20), tickets can be booked on 01723 818111 or 01723 383636; at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com or in person from Scarborough OAT, in Burniston Road, or the Discover Yorkshire Coast Tourism Bureau, Scarborough Town Hall, St Nicholas Street.
Did you know?
Supergrass’s I Should Coco in 1995 was the Parlophone label’s biggest-selling debut since The Beatles’ Please Please Me in March 1963.
HEATHER Findlay will play York concerts on successive nights
this week, the first with Friends in her Christmas Show at the National Centre
for Early Music on Friday.
The next night, the York singer joins fellow composer Simon
Snaize for a “pre-Christmas
solstice spectacular” in the last of four concerts in the inaugural Live In
Libraries York season in York Explore’s wood-panelled Marriot Room.
“I love making my Christmas show really magical, nostalgic and
unique,” says Heather. “So, there’s a slightly different line-up, with Sarah
Dean joining us on harp and special guest Annie Donaghy on vocals, and a couple
of unannounced guests too.”
On Saturday, Findlay accompanies Snaize as he showcases his new
album, A Song Of Bones, and his 2012 recording The Structure Of Recollection, in
an intimate performance to a capacity audience of 50. CDs of the new record
will be on sale on the night before the official release in January.
Heather Findlay and Friends’ Christmas Show, plus
Annie Donaghy, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, Friday, 8pm; Heather
Findlay and Simon Snaize, Live In Libraries York, York Explore, Saturday, doors
7pm. Box office: NCEM, 01904 658338 or at
ncem.co.uk; Live in Libraries, exploreyork.eventbrite.co.uk
WHISPER it abroad, the inaugural Live In Libraries York season of intimate concerts in York Explore Library and Archive’s Marriott Room, in Library Square, concludes this weekend.
East Yorkshire folk-Americana
singer-songwriter Edwina Hayes was first up in September, followed by hotly
tipped York band Bonneville And The Bailers on October 25; Bradford songwriter
Bella Gaffney on November 21, and Heather Findlay and Simon Snaize in a rare
duo gig on Saturday.
The season has been curated by York
busker David Ward Maclean in tandem with Dave Fleming, Explore York’s inclusive
arts and media co-ordinator.
Here Charles Hutchinson puts questions to David and Dave.
prompted you to set up this series of concerts and how long has it taken to arrange
the season, David?
from a chat with York Explore manager Barbara Swinn and Explore York’s Dave
Fleming about the feasibility of the Marriott Room as a regular venue. Although
we settled on a short series of just four concerts, it’s still taken a while to
work out the logistics of both the requirements for staging the events and York
Explore’s very busy timetable as a working library.”
did Live In Libraries York come to fruition, Dave?
“Barbara and I thought it was a great idea to approach David to help
curate, advise and develop the concept and the season of concerts.
“I’ve known Dave for
years, both on the music scene and working together many years ago when I
worked for City of York Council’s Arts & Culture service as community arts
officer and working as part of the Illuminating York team.
“I coordinated a series of live short cultural performances in
some of the city-centre churches called Inspire York and Dave created a
soundscape in one of the churches. Barbara came across Dave performing in York
and was captivated by him, so I suggested a chat and for Dave to check out the
space and see what he thought.It’s fair to say he was blown away by its potential for live intimate
attracted you the Marriott Room, David?
thing that struck me was the sound: astonishingly clear acoustics, requiring no
more than the minimum amplification, if any. That’s probably down to the wood
panelling and the wooden floor, combined with a fairly high ceiling.
to its location at the rear of the library, it’s a very quiet location,
making it the perfect small listening venue. We’ve limited seating to about 50,
so that there’s plenty of room, and that also makes for a great intimate
atmosphere. It looks gorgeous too.
very good Green Room facilities behind the Marriott Room, and the performer accesses
the venue from a different door, which I always think enhances an event.
Everything I’ve ever looked for in a small venue. I’m hoping to book in myself
next year sometime.”
the Marriott Room’s attributes as a concert setting, Dave?
“There’s nowhere else like it in York! Everyone who has popped down to
check out the space wants to perform in the space. The interest has taken us by
“We did a test concert
a few months back with two internationally renowned harpists. It was sold out and
both the performers and audience were captivated by the experience and were so
impressed with the space.
“We dress the space
beautifully and it will make you re-imagine what libraries can
a library setting bring to live music, David? After
all, libraries are associated with hush, contemplation, study and
definitely think that when you walk in, the beautiful main entrance to
the library instils a certain focus, ideal for listening events. I
think we’re going for communication and attentiveness, rather than heads bowed
When curating the acts for these performances, how and why did you choose
each one and what have they each brought to Live In Libraries York,
“When I was
first asked for acts, Edwina Hayes was an instant choice.
She’s incredible, a world-class act and a big favourite in York, and I’m
so pleased she started the series.
wanted to get two local organisations involved – Dan Webster of Green Chili
Promotions and Dave Greenbrown from Young Thugs Records – and they put forward
two fantastic up-and-coming York artists, Bella Gaffney and Bonneville And The
always wanted to hear Heather Findlay and Simon Snaize as a duo again after
they bowled me over with a set some years back. It’s an extraordinary sound,
they truly complement each other and I’m so happy to finish the season on a
high with them, on Winter Solstice no less!”
musician yourself, David, what makes for your perfect gig setting?
of contrasting places have you played in your long career?
much everything, from Sheffield City Hall to playing for a couple in their home
while they had dinner. Probably the strangest was back in 1984, hitchhiking to
Bremen, playing for some German policemen in a motorway service station to
prove I was on my way to play some concerts. I passed the audition.”
like to see a further season of such shows taking place in the Marrott Room,
David? Or is this a special one-off?
love to see more concerts here in the future.”
What would be your ideal song for a library setting, David?
Wonderful World by Sam Cooke.”
“My word, this is a tricky one to answer! Struggling to think of one because there are so many. So, I’m going to say one of David Ward Maclean’s original songs as he is such a brilliant songwriter and local legend. Oh, and he sounds incredible in the Marriott Room!”
Ebor Singers, Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, National Centre for Early Music, York, December 15
THIS was the Ebors’ now traditional performance of Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, spiced with a selection of contemporary American carols and seasonal songs.
The Britten, given in the original all-female version, was accompanied by the harp of Rachel Dent, even to the extent of some optional improvising during the processional plainsongs. Her Interlude was a touch halting, but elsewhere she sustained a pleasing pulse.
The singing had its moments, though few were provided in the solo work where intonation was wayward. As a choir, the ladies made plentiful amends. There was a lovely legato in There Is No Rose and a direct, confident approach to This Little Babe. In contrast, the reverential ending to In Freezing Winter Night reflected the manger’s “humble pomp”.
The pair of soloists in Spring Carol chirped merrily. Deo Gracias was a little too rushed for its cross-currents to have maximum impact. Though it was good to have this music made available again, its overall effect was not as strong as it was last year.
In The Moon Of Wintertime, the evening’s subtitle, taken from the Canadian Huron carol, was also used by American composer Stephen Paulus. In the event, his modal tune was less attractive than the original (Jesous Ahatonhia), and he used a bowdlerized paraphrase of Edgar Middleton’s translation, which is much less down-to-earth than the native Indian version. Its last verse, however, was a model of choral control here.
The same composer’s Three Nativity Carols, surprisingly enjoying their UK premiere – Paulus died in 2104 – brought an engaging post-Britten style to some ancient texts. They were accompanied by oboe (Jane Wright) and harp (Dent). Syncopation jollied up The Holly & The Ivy, florid oboe counterpointed the slow rocking of This Endris Night, and Wonder Tidings used a proper refrain to add colour to the mediaeval text, with the instruments dancing attendance.
Much of the rest was slow-moving and diction went to the wall. American audiences may love it, but Craig Hella Johnson’s pairing of Lo, How A Rose with Amanda McBroom’s The Rose (written for Bette Midler and covered by Westlife) did the lovely Praetorius tune no favours at all.
Hackneyed favourites by Lauridsen and Whitacre came and went and a Jake Runestad lullaby just picked itself in time to avoid a similar fate. It was left to Nico Muhly’s setting of Longfellow’s Snowflakes, with piano backing, to offer some true atmosphere, albeit out of a corner of the minimalist playbook. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas makes for a tacky ending – it should be dropped.
I know this was a Christmas concert, with all the festive sentimentality that implies, but overall I left feeling that this choir is coasting: it is capable of tackling something a lot less anodyne and a lot more challenging.