Olly hits a hat-trick as Soccer Aid captain confirms Scarborough show next summer

Olly Murs: Hits and new material at Scarborough Open Air Theatre

OLLY Murs will play Scarborough Open Air Theatre on July 10 2021, completing a hat-trick of appearances on the Yorkshire coast .

Venue programmer Peter Taylor, of promoters Cuffe and Taylor, says: “Olly played two brilliant sold-out shows here in 2013 and 2017 and fans are constantly requesting we bring him back, which we are delighted to be able to do.”

The Essex singer, show host and talent-show judge, 36, will perform his biggest hits at Britain’s biggest purpose-built outdoor concert arena on a 25-date tour  from June 5 to August 29 that will take in a further Yorkshire show at Harewood House, near Leeds, on August 11.

“I’ve missed seeing my fans and having that connection with them when I’m on stage,” says Olly, who promises a fun, upbeat, cheeky live show on his return next summer. “There’s nothing better than being on the road and actually being able to see your fans singing and dancing to your music.

“I feed off people’s energy, so going back on the road all around the country, to places I don’t often get to go will be amazing. Also playing live with my band and having them all on stage with me bringing my music to life is the best feeling.”

Reflecting on the pandemic’s impact on the live music industry, Olly says: “It’s been a tough year for everyone, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to for next summer.

“I’m very aware that not only am I looking forward to it as playing live is the best part of my job, but also for all the people I employ to put on the shows – from my band, crew,  sound, lighting, producers, riggers – so many people that rely on live music to make a living. To go around the UK playing at loads of amazing outdoor venues is going to be pretty special.”

In this year’s unwelcome hiatus from performing, Olly’s thoughts turn to choosing his favourite tour memory. “It’s so hard to pick as I’ve been lucky enough to have so many amazing memories on tour but playing at Wembley Stadium with Robbie Williams really stands out for me,” he says.

“I was supporting him on his European tour in 2013, and to have 60,000 people singing back to me and waving their hands in the air to my music was pretty special. I was overwhelmed with the reaction.”

This year, Olly will be looking to retain his crown as winning judge on his third series of The Voice, at present postponed at the semi-final stages.

This year too, Olly captained the England team for Soccer Aid. “It was an honour to do so as we raised a record amount of money – over £9m – in the midst of a global pandemic. I played shocking, to be fair, probably my worst personal performance, but it will still be one of my most memorable Soccer Aids because of the circumstances in which we still managed to put it on.”

During lockdown, Olly underwent a body transformation, working in tandem with personal trainer Rob Solly. To see the results of your hard work is obviously the rewarding part, but for me it was more important in how it made me feel,” he says.

“At the start of lockdown, while still recovering from knee surgery, I was eating anything and everything out of boredom, but that made me feel less productive and more sluggish, so having Soccer Aid as a focus to get me fit again was a real drive.”

As for upcoming recordings, Olly is working on new material for 2021. “It’s been a while since I released my own music, so that’s the plan for next year,” he says. “I’m starting to work on writing now and figure out what the next sound is for me, so watch this space.”

Scarborough tickets for Olly Murs can be booked at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com; Harewood House tickets at AXS.com and ticketmaster.co.uk.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home. List No. 16 for these three-tiered times, courtesy of The Press, York

Forming, by Nick Loaring, on show at the Flourish exhibition at Woodend Gallery, Scarborough

CINEWORLD, York, and City Screen, York are both closed temporarily until further notice after the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, was put back in cold storage until next April, a full year after its original planned release date.

However, despite the rising second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, Charles Hutchinson continues to track and trace signs of artistic life, drive-in events and home entertainment.

Exhibition of the week outside York: Flourish, Woodend Gallery, Scarborough, until January 31 2021

RUN by Huddersfield’s West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Flourish brings together prints made by 13 nationwide artists shortlisted for this year’s Flourish Award.

Those artists are: Paulette Bansal; Suzanne Bethell; Louisa Boyd; Tony Carlton; Louise Garman; Pam Grimmond, from Markington, near Harrogate; Ian Irvine; Nick Loaring; Lucie MacGregor; Flora McLachlan; Lucy May Schofield; Claire Willberg and Susan Wright.

Back in Black: Chris While and Julie Matthews are to play an exclusive online concert for York’s Black Swan Folk Club

Online folk concert of the week: Chris While and Julie Matthews, Black Swan Folk Club, York, October 15, 7.30pm

BLACK Swan favourites Chris While and Julie Matthews will be playing this online concert exclusively for the York folk club and will conclude the night with a live question-and-answer session.

Tickets are on sale at: whileandmatthews.com/virtual-tour. “Once you’ve purchased a ticket, you’ll be able to watch the streamed performance whenever you want,” says organiser Chris Euesden. “Chris and Julie have been guests at the club and played for us in concert at the NCEM many times over the years and it’s always been a great evening.”

Joshua Burnell: One-off online concert presented by East Riding Theatre, Beverley. Picture: Elly Lucas

Folk-fused baroque’n’roll virtual gig of the week ahead: Joshua Burnell & Frances Sladen, Live In Your Living Room, October 17, 7.30pm

THE future of folk, alias York multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Joshua Burnell, will be joined by his partner, vocalist Frances Sladen, for a one-off online concert hosted by the East Riding Theatre, Beverley.

“We’ll be playing acoustic versions of songs old and new,” says Joshua, who released his futuristic new album, Flowers Where The Horses Sleep, last month.

What can viewers expect when they head to ERT’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/365072138001228/ for the free concert? “I’m still figuring out exactly how it’ll work!” says Joshua, winner of the Rising Star award in the 2020 Folking Awards. “But we’ll definitely be sharing tales that influenced the songs, as well as reflections on how the lockdown affected our musical process.”

One man on a downer: Simon Slater as Derek Eveleigh in Douglas Post’s thriller Headshot. Picture: Marc Brenner

In search of a thriller this autumn? Head to Bloodshot, in The Round, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, October 21 to 24, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

SIMON Slater, the Scarborough-born actor and composer with West End credits galore to his name, returns home to perform Bloodshot, Douglas Post’s one-man thriller.

In a story of vaudeville, murder, magic and jazz set in London in 1957, Derek Eveleigh is a skilled photographer but very down on his luck.

A mysterious envelope arrives from a stranger, asking him to take secret pictures of an elegant young woman as she walks in Holland Park. The reward is handsome, but the irresistible assignment takes a sudden, shocking turn. Entangled and compelled to understand, Derek is led into a seedy Soho nightlife populated by dubious characters.

Bang on! The poster for Autumn Lights’ drive-in spectacle of light on Guy Fawkes Night

Drive-in fireworks event on Guy Fawkes Night: Autumn Lights, Elvington Airfield, near York, November 5, 5pm to 8.30pm

ELVINGTON Airfield will be the setting for Autumn Lights’ spectacle of light on Guy Fawkes Night in a drive-in event billed as “York’s biggest fireworks extravaganza”.

Look out for a hot air balloon nightglow (albeit with the balloon inflation dependant on the weather), fire shows and street food at this Covid-secure evening with car parking and space to get out and enjoy the show. Find out more at Facebook.com/autmunlightsuk and Instagram @autumnlightsuk.

Arm in arm: Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman reflect on 25 years of making music together

Rearranged concert of the month ahead: Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, National Centre for Early Music, York, November 17, 6pm and 8.30pm

KATHRYN Roberts and Sean Lakeman, partners in life and music, had to postpone their April 22 show at the NCEM. Now, instead, they will play not one, but two, hour-long shows, each featuring the same set list, as they mark 25 years of making folk music together.

To celebrate this milestone, the couple will revisit and reinterpret songs from the early days of folk supergroup Equation through to 2020’s album, On Reflection, with a nod or two along the way to their extracurricular musical adventures, in a whistle-stop tour through their artistic journey to date.

Limited seating will be available, each household/support bubble up to four people to be seated around small tables positioned at a two-metre social distance from others. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (October 9) at be on sale at blackswanfolkclub@yahoo.co.uk.

Visage voyage: Michelle Visage will be “spiralling through time with no way of returning home” from Scarborough Open Air Theatre next summer

Looking ahead to next summer: RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 20 2021

COMBINING music, comedy, sassiness and lavish set-pieces to “create the biggest, brashest, most utterly glorious party night of the year”, the fourth UK and European RuPaul Drag Race tour show will see “an experiment gone wrong that sends Drag Race judge and 2019 Strictly Come Dancing contestant Michelle Visage spiralling through time with no way of returning home”.

Newly crowned Season 12 Drag Race winner Jaida Essence Hall, Asia O’Hara,  Kameron Michaels, Plastique Tiara, Vanessa Vanjie and Yvie Oddly will be joined by stars from the latest latest USA, UK and Canadian seasons to “journey through iconic periods of history in the hope they will find their way back to the present day”.

Tickets for the only RuPaul’s Drag Race British outdoor show next summer, plus Olly Murs on July 10 and Nile Rodgers & Chic on August 20, are on sale via scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Reflections on an autumn day at Holkham Beach in Norfolk. Picture: Celestine Dubruel

And what about?

Taking an autumn break in Norwich, Norfolk and on the Suffolk coast.

CharlesHutchPress is on holiday until October 13, but where will he be going?

“VERY flat, Norfolk,” opined Noel Coward in Private Lives.

Seeking rather more than flatness, CharlesHutchPress will be on vacation Broadly speaking for a week.

Hopefully, the arts world will have been delivered world-beating, but delayed Cultural Recovery Fund grants by then. Over to you, Mr Dowden, before it is too late and the world of live theatre, music and comedy is flatlining.

After talent contest, Rowntree Theatre appoints Hannah as Young Ambassador

Hannah Wakelam: The Joseph Rowntree Theatre’s inaugural Young Ambassador

THE Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, has appointed Hannah Wakelam as its first Young Ambassador.

Musical theatre performer Hannah, 19, was responsible for setting up and running the online Yorkshire’s Got Talent contest reached its final last weekend, won by York performer and composer Ed Atkin.

Through this virtual contest and other online competitions, Hannah raised more than £1,200 for the Haxby Road theatre’s £90,000 Raise Tthe Roof appeal and boosted the theatre’s youth following.

She approached the JoRo theatre early on in its campaign to suggest ways she could help in raising funds for the roof appeal for the Art Deco building.  The Yorkshire’s Got Talent online contest quickly attracted entrants and followers and membership of its Facebook group surged to almost 4,000. 

Graham Mitchell, the JoRo’s events and fundraising director, says: “Hannah’s enthusiasm and support for our cause are infectious. She’s achieved huge things in a short space of time and has brought the theatre’s Raise The Roof appeal to the attention of thousands of people.”

In recognition of those achievements, the theatre has decided to name Hannah as its first Young Ambassador. “This new role will see Hannah supported by the board of trustees as she continues to raise awareness of the theatre among younger theatregoers,” says Graham.

A delighted Hannah says: “The support for the Yorkshire’s Got Talent competition and the money it raised blew me away!  I absolutely love this theatre, I’ve performed in it so many times and we need it to survive so that it can exist as a training ground for young people, both on and off stage.”

Although Yorkshire’s Got Talent may be over, Hannah continues to work with the theatre’s fundraising and marketing teams, creating online content for Facebook and Instagram.

Video tours of the JoRo will be available to view soon, seen through Hannah’s eyes and in her words, and soon too she will be launching a huge raffle for the appeal. Already she is on the lookout for prize donations.

Highlighting the opportunities that the JoRo offers to young people, only last week York-born actor David Bradley lent his support to the roof appeal.

“The Joseph Rowntree Theatre has been a vital part of the city for many years,” says the Harry Potter and Game Of Thrones star.  “I know from personal experience that it has provided opportunities for so many young people and I will always be grateful for that. I fully support the Raise The Roof appeal and wish it every success.”

Last Sunday’s Yorkshire’s Got Talent final was decided by a public poll, the contest judges and six other West End and Broadway industry professionals. Ed Atkin emerged as the winner, beating Fladam (silly-song duo Florence Poskitt and Adam Sowter) and Jordan Wright.

The judges were Wakefield performer Laura Pick, who was playing Elphaba in Wicked in the West End until lockdown, West End regular and cruise ship vocal captain Nathan Lodge and Ripon vocal coach Amelia Urukalo.

Industry professionals involved in judging were Rachel Tucker, Kerry Ellis, Natalie Paris, Matthew Croke, Nicholas McClean and Paul Taylor-Mills.

For the Raise The Roof campaign, the JoRo has set up a Just Giving page and is encouraging donations of “even just the amount of a takeaway coffee” at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/Raise-the-Roof

Nile Rodgers & Chic and RuPaul’s Drag Race’s world tour confirmed for 2021 Scarborough OAT summer season

C’est Chic: Nile Rodgers and his band will play Scarborough Open Air Theatre next summer

NILE Rodgers & Chic are the third act to sign up for next summer’s season at Scarborough Open Air Theatre after Olly Murs and RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World.

Disco luminaries Rodgers & Chic will play Britain’s largest purpose-built outdoor concert arena on Friday, August 20 2021 after the Covid-19 pandemic ruled out their Scarborough show this summer.

Chic co-founder Rodgers and his band previously performed at a sold-out Scarborough OAT in 2018 and once more will roll out such favourites as Le Freak, Good Times and Everybody Dance next summer.

When booked in for August 21 2020, Rodgers had said: “As most people know, the UK is my home from home. Myself and Chic had a brilliant time when we played Scarborough OAT in 2018 and we cannot wait to come back again this summer. It’s going to be another amazing night, so bring your dancing shoes!” Those same sentiments now will apply in 2021.

New Yorker Rodgers, 68, is a Grammy Award-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist with more than 200 production credits to his name, for David Bowie, Diana Ross and Madonna et al, as well as inductions into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, an organisation he now chairs. He has been appointed the first chief creative advisor for the Abbey Road Studios, in London, too.

His innovative, trend-setting collaborations with Daft Punk, Avicii, Sigala, Disclosure and Sam Smith reflect his continuing influence on the vanguard of contemporary music.

RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Michelle Visage: “Spiralling through time with no way of returning home”

Next August’s show will be presented by regular Scarborough OAT programmers Cuffe and Taylor. “We were absolutely devastated to cancel this year’s summer season, including Nile Rodgers & Chic’s eagerly awaited return here,” says promoter Peter Taylor.

“Their show in 2018 was just sensational – they never fail to get an entire arena on their feet dancing – and we’ve had so many fans asking us to bring them back. We are delighted to announce Nile and Chic will be returning in 2021. They are global superstars, Nile is behind some of the best known songs ever written and this is going to be a night not to be missed.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq The World, billed as the biggest drag show on the planet, will sashay into Scarborough OAT on Sunday, June 20 for its only outdoor British date in 2021.

Combining music, comedy, sassiness and lavish set-pieces to “create the biggest, brashest, most utterly glorious party night of the year”, the fourth UK and European RuPaul Drag Race tour show will see “an experiment gone wrong that sends Drag Race judge and 2019 Strictly Come Dancing contestant Michelle Visage spiralling through time with no way of returning home”.

Newly crowned Season 12 Drag Race winner Jaida Essence Hall, Asia O’Hara,  Kameron Michaels, Plastique Tiara, Vanessa Vanjie and Yvie Oddly will be joined by stars from the latest latest USA, UK and Canadian seasons to “journey through iconic periods of history in the hope they will find their way back to the present day”.

RuPaul’s Drag Race drag queens: Ready to Werq The World

Along with Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on June 18 and Brighton Centre on June 19, Scarborough is one of three British shows being added to the European leg of the world tour, presented on the  East Coast by Cuffe and Taylor and Voss Events.

Programmer Peter Taylor says: “We are delighted to be able to bring RuPaul’s Drag Race’s world tour to Scarborough. The demand for tickets across the UK and Europe has been phenomenal.

“The show is always a huge hit and we are really looking forward to be working with the Voss Events team to present what will be an outrageously entertaining evening on the beautiful Yorkshire coast.

“This is going to be an unmissable party night and arguably the most lavish production we have staged at Scarborough OAT since we welcomed Britney Spears and Kylie [Minogue] to the venue.”

Tickets for Nile Rodgers & Chic, RuPaul’s Drag Race and pop singer Olly Murs’ July 10 show will go on general sale at 9am on Friday, October 9, via www.scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.

Plenty more shows will be added to the Scarborough OAT 2021 season.

No concerts since February, now is perfect time for Heather Findlay’s live album

“With the lack of actually experiencing live music in people’s lives, the timing of this live album might just be right,” says Heather Findlay. Picture: Kennedy

YORK folk/prog singer and songwriter Heather Findlay is to release a live album this autumn, Live White Horses, “to document the whole Wild White Horses experience”.

Signed copies of the “double-disc jewel” can be pre-ordered exclusively from Heather’s official website at www.heatherfindlay.co.uk/shop.

The general release date will be confirmed by Heather once her wait for the final masters is over. Keep an eye on her website and CharlesHutchPress for an update.

“Earlier this year, I was fortunate to have been able to tour Wild White Horses in the UK with an absolutely stellar bunch of hugely talented and wonderful souls,” says the former Mostly Autumn and Mantra Vega vocalist, who toured in a seven-piece line-up. “We recorded some of those shows, from which I’m delighted to be able to offer a new live album.”

Released on Black Sand Records, Live White Horses combines a first disc of a 17-song January concert recording with a complementary disc of live sessions, bootlegs and rare and secret gems from throughout the Wild White Horses ride, beginning in Nashville, Tennessee, in July 2019, travelling onward across Europe, with stops in London and Germany, and then heading back home again.

Making up Disc 2 are Broadway Bootlegs: She Rocks Showcase, recorded live at Tin Roof, Broadway, Nashville, in July 2019; Secret Sari Sessions, Unplugged, Live at Total Rock Radio, London, August 2019; Das Bootlegs, Live at Vinyl Cafe Schwazes Gold, Dorsten, Germany, with guitarist Martin Ledger, August 2019; Live in Session at York St John University Chapel, York, February 2020, and Acoustic Solo Sessions, live at home in York during lockdown, Summer 2020.

Here Heather saddles up her Wild White Horse for a ride through Charles Hutchinson’s questions.

Releasing a live album can only remind you of what you cannot do at the moment. What are you missing most about live performances?

“I miss my band mates and connecting with a live audience! There’s nothing that can replace that collective mood, or vibration if you like, of a live performance. When all elements come together, there’s a certain magic that happens which, once any element is removed, it’s very hard to recreate.”

When and where did you last perform on an indoor stage with your band?

“My last show with the band was the last night of the Wild White Horses tour earlier this year at the Robin 2 in Wolverhampton. That was on January 22. The last time I was on a York stage was at Big Ian’s A Night To Remember charity fundraiser at York Barbican on February 29.” 

Those were the days pre-Covid lockdown: Heather Findlay, left, Jess Steel, Beth McCarthy and Annie Donaghy giving their all to I Feel Like A Woman on A Night To Remember at a sold-out York Barbican in February . Picture: David Harrison

Was a live album always in the pipeline or did lockdown’s enforced blockade of concerts make you think this would be a good time for one?

“During our shows, my friend and support band leader Hughes Taylor announced he’d not only been recording his own band’s performances but, in stealth, he’d managed to capture ours too! We hadn’t planned to record any of the shows, so that was a real surprise!

“Once Hughes got back to the USA, he sent over the files, so I sent them to my engineer to throw up some draft mixes and I was thrilled to find the performances had been really well captured.

“Like most, I really wasn’t sure what on Earth to do at a time like this. I pondered over many things, but in a sudden moment of inspiration I just decided to go for it.

“It was a risk as I had no idea how new music would be received at a time when so many are struggling and suffering, but it really seemed that with the lack of actually experiencing live music in people’s lives, the timing of this might just be right.

“I was then pretty overwhelmed when the Limited Edition sold out so fast, but I was really glad I’d gone with my gut and taken the leap! Music can be such balsam and, seemingly, exactly what people need to help see them through tough times.” 

Capturing the essence of a live concert on an album is always a challenge. What makes you feel that these recordings have captured that essence?

“That’s very true! Well, in this case, the whole band had worked really hard in rehearsals and the musicians I was blessed to have with me throughout the tour really are world class and super-reliable. The chemistry between us from the get-go was fantastic too.

“Lots of laughter and a sense that everyone was really giving it their all and truly enjoying being there, with the common goal of lifting hearts and roofs! Then, of course, there’s the audience who were just amazing. So generous and the icing on the cake!”

The artwork for Heather Findlay’s autumn album, Live White Horses

Did you have loads of recordings from which to choose the live sessions, bootlegs and rare, secret gems from your Wild White Horses travels for Disc 2?

“I didn’t have a vast amount to choose from, to be honest, and it’s not something I consciously planned either. Getting Wild White Horses off the ground and into production was all consuming. I kind of wear all the hats, so there’s often very little headspace to forward-plan alongside that.

“In some ways, it’s quite mysterious how it all came together for this live album really, but I was fortunate that the whole journey had been documented in some way or other from that first show in Nashville. 

“For someone who finds it quite hard to stop doing and just be, lockdown in some ways provided the permission to do just that. Once my schedule allowed me to actually slow down and get in the flow, I found that I was able to let go of worrying about how things would unfold and this is when the inspirations and, in turn, solutions appeared.”

What made you decide to add the second disc?

“I liked the idea of offering up rare stuff from the archives that doesn’t normally get released, but as I’m quite a perfectionist in my work, I’m usually way too self-critical for anything like that to be released!

“This time though, I liked the challenge of forcing myself to get over that, because what I realised I was missing was that many fans really love experiencing some of those things they’d have ordinarily missed out on. The unpolished, fly-on-the-wall stuff, if you like.

“The bootlegs on Disc 2 really are just that! Bootleg recordings captured by loving fans, so by no means the polished, multi-track experience Disc 1 offers. The Secret Sari Sessions are great and showcase some of the Wild White Horses album tunes in a different, more unplugged format, whereas the recording of Firefly is a beautifully intimate recording of just Emily Lynn and me around the grand piano at the York St John University Chapel.

“After the tour, it was suggested that we make a live recording of that song as it was such a special moment in the set. I got talking to Chris Johnson about it and that’s when he offered to record us there. The secret part about that track is that we filmed it for a video too, but now it’s no longer a secret! Oops!.More on that soon.”

“Naturally, people are very scared at such uncertain times as these, but I felt strongly that I wanted to promote hope and an optimism that we would get through this,” says Heather

What have you been up to in lockdown and beyond? Recording at home, for example.

“Recording Here’s To You, Already Free and a new song, Solitaire, with just me and an acoustic guitar at home felt like an authentic 2020 snapshot, or time stamp if you like. I was really back home again, like everyone else, but as I’d never released anything that featured just me and my guitar before, I felt I wanted to capture that and offer it as a full circle moment in the Wild White Horses story, as that’s really how all of my songs actually begin.

“Solitaire was written around the same time as some of the Wild White Horses material, but being a different flavour didn’t quite fit with the rest of the album.

“It’s a song inspired by Solitaire, the mystical seer and tarot woman played by Jane Seymour in Live And Let Die. My kids and I went through a Roger Moore Bond phase around that time and Live And Let Die ended up being our favourite. I liked how the last song on the album, recorded in an unforeseeable, solo lockdown situation is actually called Solitaire!”

What else have you done?

“A bit before I got the idea to release Live White Horses, I’d been brainstorming, trying to come up with a way that I could help people while still staying at home. As a lone parent, I had to put caring for my two kids first – home-schooling and all! – so volunteering was out of the question.

“The idea then came to launch a campaign calledLove For Salewhereby I would send out free, signed ‘care package’ albums to fans who ordered them as cheer-up gifts for their friends and loved ones during lockdown. I offered ‘PS I Love You’s’ too, which were specially handwritten notes offered to someone’s loved one on their behalf.

“The campaign ran throughout the lockdown period and to my surprise I was totally inundated with orders. I loved that old-school connection with people that this brought. Actually writing in pen and ink! I think this is really what reinvigorated my faith in the power that music has to uplift and connect people.”

“There’s nothing that can replace that collective mood, or vibration if you like, of a live performance,” says Heather. Picture: David Harrison

What did you learn in lockdown?

“Despite the current restrictions imposed across music worldwide, I was just really grateful I was still in a position to both help in some way and to remain connected with the outside world in a way that avoided the darkness and drama that seemed to be taking hold of people.

“Naturally, people are very scared at such uncertain times as these, but I felt strongly that I wanted to promote hope and an optimism that we would get through this. This is also what gave me the idea to create something a bit more special and personalised for Live White Horses by offering dedications with the limited-edition version of the album. 

“Other than this, I also enjoyed gardening with the kids, planting veggies and cat mumming. I also revisited creating art here and there. I’ve always been intrigued by astrology too, so I also began studying Vedic astrology, which has been fascinating, and along with my yoga practice, another way to connect with India.” 

 What were your plans for 2020 before Covid-19 changed all that?

“In February, I had no idea how the rest of the year would pan out. The plans at that point were to film one more video in April with my friends Danny and Luke from Thunder and, come November, to go back out on tour.

“Of course, both of those plans were halted due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Like everyone, I’ve had to think outside of the box as to how to move forward at this time.

“Especially as in music many avenues remain blocked, so I’m even more grateful that the Universe appears to have delivered me a clear pathway forwards and lined it with a very supportive audience who are excited to hear what is on offer!”

What are your plans for the rest of the year or is everything up in the air?

“Well, as up in the air as much of life still is, with further touring being halted, Angela Gordon and I have decided it’s time to finally begin recording the long awaited, second Odin Dragonfly album, Sirens!

“We’ve been writing for it over the past few years on the back burner and alongside our other projects. Recording proper has kept being put off until we both have more time to give it its due.

“For me, now the Wild White Horses chapter is drawing to a close, it feels like that time is here. It’s a beautiful and mystical collection of songs, which strangely I’ve always envisioned getting stuck into the recording of once the leaves are turning and days are crispy, cold and witchy faery again… 

… “Somewhere between Faeryland and Jiffy Bag mountain is where you’ll find me!”

Soon to fly again: Heather Findlay and Angela Gordon are to record their second Odin Dragonfly album, Sirens

York Musical Theatre Company serve up Best Of British in Sunday’s online concert

Eleanor Leaper: After taking to the Rowntree Park Amphitheatre stage for York Stage Musicals’ Jukebox Divas concerts last month, she performs Wait A Bit for York Musical Theatre’s online concert on Sunday. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

YORK Musical Theatre Company celebrate The Best Of British in Sunday night’s online concert.

“Expect lots of British musicals and composers. Lots of Lloyd Webber, Lionel Bart, Tim Minchin, a bit of Noel Coward and lots more,” says company publicist and regular cast member Anna Mitchelson.

Before you quibble, “but isn’t Tim Minchin Australian?”, the comedian, actor, writer, musician and songwriter was born in Northampton, England, to Australian parents, who then raised him in Perth, Australia. Happy 45th birthday to Tim next Wednesday, by the way.

Recorded remotely, Sunday’s 7.30pm programme opens with a group rendition of Who Will Buy?, from Oliver!, followed by Matthew Clare performing Cronos’ Plea, from Prometheus Bound, and Marlena Kelli and David Martin’s duet, Could We Start Again, Please?, from Jesus Christ Superstar,

Martin Harvey sings the title song from Tell Me On A Sunday; Eleanor Leaper, Wait A Bit, from Just So; Chris Jay, Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven; Chris Gibson, Leaning On A Lamp Post, from Me And My Girl, and Marlena Kelli, Sleepsong, from Secret Garden.

Mick Liversidge contributes Gonna Build A Mountain, from Stop The World I Want To Get Off; David Martin, Music Of The Night, from The Phantom Of The Opera; Peter Wookie, The Song That Goes Like This, from Monty Python’s Spamalot, and Mick and Jessa Liversidge, You And I, from Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Moizie Murphy performs Noel Coward’s Epitaph For An Elderly Actress; Jessa Liversidge, My House, from Matilda The Musical, and Sam Coulson, the title song from Sunset Boulevard.

Musical director Paul Laidlaw, who has put Sunday’s programme together, closes the concert at the piano with an Ivor Novello tribute to Joan Welsman, who died last month. Her husband, Jim Welsman, is a former chairman of YMTC.

The Best Of British will be streamed on YMTC’s YouTube channel at:  

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiTrGyeP93_to9uYOsvoS4w?view_as=subscriber

Olly Murs to play Scarborough Open Air Theatre and Harewood House next summer

Olly Murs: Completing a hat-trick of shows at Scarborough Open Air Theatre next summer

OLLY Murs is the first booking for next summer’s Scarborough Open Air Theatre season after Covid-19 ruled out the entire 2020 programme.

Tickets go on sale at 9am on October 9 for Murs’ July 10 2021 concert, when he will complete a hat-trick of shows on the North Yorkshire coast after playing Scarborough OAT in 2013 and 2017.

The Essex singer, show host and talent-show judge, 36, will perform his biggest hits at Britain’s biggest outdoor concert arena.

Scarborough OAT venue programmer Peter Taylor says: “We are really excited to reveal Olly Murs as our first headline announcement for the 2021 season.

“Olly played two brilliant sold-out shows here in 2013 and 2017 and fans are constantly requesting we bring him back, which we are delighted to be able to do.

“It goes without saying we cannot wait for live music to return to Scarborough OAT in 2021, so it’s fantastic to be able to kick off the announcements for our new season by revealing Olly Murs is returning.

“We have a brilliant summer of live music to reveal, so watch this space for many more headliners being announced very soon!”

This year, Murs has captained England in this year’s Soccer Aid and he is looking to retain his crown as winning judge on his third series of The Voice, at present postponed at the semi-final stages.

In lockdown, Murs “managed an impressive body transformation” in tandem with personal trainer Rob Solly. As for music, he is working on new material for release in 2021.

Next summer, his 25-date tour from June 5 to August 29 will take in a further Yorkshire show at Harewood House, near Leeds, on August 11. Scarborough tickets can be booked at scarboroughopenairtheatre.com; Harewood House, AXS.com and ticketmaster.co.uk, again from 9am next Friday.

Photographer Duncan Lomax makes snap decision to open Holgate Gallery at home

York Minster: An abstract work from Duncan Lomax’s photographic portfolio

“IT’S a strange and challenging time to be opening a business,” admits York commercial photographer Duncan Lomax after turning his front room into Holgate Gallery.

“Why now? I think people are looking for some good news,” reasons Duncan. “People are stimulated by visual art, perhaps now more than ever.They’ve been stuck at home in lockdown, observing their walls on Zoom, and they’re now more aware of their homes, so in that sense maybe it’s a good time to set up a gallery.

“People are looking for a connection with what they put on their walls or in their rooms, so why would you buy three stones with a white stripe for your mantelpiece?

“That’s why, at Holgate Gallery, it’s not just pretty pictures of York, though there’ll always be a demand for that, but I’d like to think that we can challenge people more. With the creative photography I do, it’s deliberately imperfect and more abstract than the commercial work, which has to be perfect and generally done to someone else’s brief.”

A member of staff in PPE at St Leonard’s Hospice, by Duncan Lomax

The gallery address is 53, Holgate Road, a Grade 2-listed building that previously housed Bridge Pianos before Duncan and his wife Tracy moved in, turning the frontage from white to a deeply satisfying blue.

Holgate Gallery becomes only the second contemporary photographic art-space to be set up in York since the much-missed, pioneering Impressions Gallery deserted Castlegate for Bradford’s Centenary Square in 2007.

Since July 2013, fellow commercial photographer Chris Ceaser has run Chris Ceaser Photography in early 15th century, Grade 2-listed, timber-framed premises at 89 Micklegate, focusing on his own landscape photographs of York, Yorkshire and beyond.

By comparison, Duncan will complement his commercial and abstract photographs and humorous faux Penguin Book cover prints with a regularly changing stock of work by other artists “who might not otherwise have the space to exhibit”.

United We Stand, by Duncan Lomax

Mostly they will be local, but in the first instance, the spotlight falls on Cold War Steve, the alias of Birmingham digital-collage political satirist Christopher Spencer, with his 250,000 followers on Twitter for his classical painting pastiches and predilection for incorporating EastEnders’ Steve “Phil Mitchell” McFadden alongside the Westminster double act of Johnson and Cummings at every opportunity.

“You don’t have to look too far to see which side he’s on,” says Duncan. “It’s putting two fingers up to the Establishment, and not everyone will like it, but he’s just been awarded a Doctor of Arts honorary degree at Wolverhampton University, so he’s now Dr Cold War Steve!”

You can sense Duncan’s enthusiasm for stretching his wings beyond running Ravage Productions Photography. “Doing commercial photography, you spend three hours ‘in the field’ and then just as much time doing the editing, marketing and updating the website. I’ve always thought that feels like time wasted, though it’s not, because it’s part of the job, but I most enjoy being behind a camera.

“So, I thought, is there a way of being creative while also doing the [commercial] job? When we bought the piano shop, it needed everything doing to it, but I could see it being a gallery, shop and editing facility for me as well as a home, so rather than being on my own when I’m working, it becomes a more social experience and another string to the bow related to the commercial photography, while it keeps pushing me on the creative side.

In the red corner: York Central MP Rachael Maskell, whose Labour Party office is nearby, conducts the opening ceremony at Holgate Gallery. Photographer, owner and curator Duncan Lomax keeps his social distance

“I might find there’s no interest in photography in York, but I’m pretty certain there is, and not just for my work, so this gallery is not an ego trip.”

Duncan has been the official photographer for York Minster for several years, notably for the 2016 York Mystery Plays, and has shot portraits, marketing images and PR material for all manner of businesses both in the city and at large.

He also has taught photography to degree level and his pictures have appeared many times in the local and national press, from The Press and YorkMix to the Yorkshire Post, the BBC and The Times.

Born on the Wirral and brought up in Warrington, Duncan played guitar in early Nineties’ Widnes “baggy wannabees” and two-time John Peel Session band 35 Summers, but he was just as likely to be holding a camera as a guitar.

Conference speaker Ian Donaghy: a business portrait by Duncan Lomax

“I’ve always had a camera; I’ve always been interested in photography,” says Duncan, who gives talks to camera clubs to give a different slant on taking pictures beyond landscapes and wildlife.

“I went to see Echo & The Bunnymen in 1982, when they were playing this secret gig where no-one knew where it would be when they bought a ticket. I got right to the front with my mum’s thin Instamatic camera, and there were no press photographers, but there I was, leaning on the stage, with all this dry ice everywhere, hiding the camera away because you weren’t supposed to be taking pictures. The next day I sold the photos at school, so that lit the spark for me.”

Duncan went on to work in PR, but as a writer. “I was always jealous of the photographers,” he recalls. So jealous that the camera would eventually win out because he thinks like a photographer at all times.

“You are constantly looking at the light, checking it, looking outside, and then you see this mackerel sky, and you know you have to stop and go and get the camera,” he says.

The former Terry’s chocolate factory, by Duncan Lomax

“Sometimes, with a photograph, it’s about pre-visualising…but then accidents can happen. That’s serendipity, but more normally, nine times out of ten those circumstances don’t come together.

“You almost know the shot before you take it, but whether you’re able to get it is another thing; whether you can manipulate it and be in control of the camera. Everything has to come together, not only technically but also emotionally. That’s where you get the story.”

He highlights a distinction between the amateur and the professional. “When I was giving a club talk, I remember asking, ‘Who’s shot a landscape photo of Robin Hood’s Bay?’. All the hands went up, but then I said: ‘Hands up, who’s shot a portrait one?’ and no hands stayed up…whereas I’m always thinking of where the headline can go on the picture,” says Duncan.

The photographer’s eye enables him to “show something that you can see that someone else can’t in that situation”, by using such a technique as underexposure.

Light and shade and grand ceremony at York Minster, by Duncan Lomax

“But what you don’t do in either commercial or press photography is let the camera lie,” Duncan says. “Though if you’re doing a commercial shot and you notice there’s a fag end on the floor, you do take it out of the picture.”

Among Duncan’s most memorable photographic work is his remarkable portfolio for the 2016 York Mystery Plays, especially those capturing actors in character, but neither on stage nor posed. “I did those 15 seconds after they came off stage. They weren’t meant to be ‘nice’ pictures, but pictures while they were still in the moment, which is different from portraiture,” he says.

The relationship between photographer and subject is one of trust, requiring skills of communication and connection. “What puts them at ease, I think – and I say this to everyone – is that I tell them, ‘I’m not trying to catch you out’, which is different from some press photographers, whose job is to do exactly that,” says Duncan.

“I’ll ask them, ‘what are you looking for from this photograph?’, as it’s about gaining their trust. That’s the bit I really enjoy; getting that interaction, even if I’m there to photograph a building, I’ll interact with the site manager.”

Toby Gordon as Lucifer, on stage in the 2016 York Mystery Plays at York Minster, by Duncan Lomax

Duncan’s work spans commercial, portrait, event, PR, creative, architectural and travel photography. Can he ever switch off? “If you come across me on a rare day off, I’ll still have my camera with me, so when we go on a walk, my wife hates it as we’ll take three times as long as we otherwise would!” he says.

“Like when we went to Cuba earlier this year, I just had to film the textures of the walls as they tell a story in their amazing colours: they give such a sense of place to Cuba.”

Those Cuban colours are now framed in Pantone style and for sale at Holgate Gallery, the new calling card for Nineties’ guitarist, ace photographer and now gallery owner and curator Duncan Lomax.

More good news has just come his way too: he has been selected to participate for the first time in York Open Studios next April.

Holgate Gallery’s opening times will vary but will be updated regularly at www.holgategallery.co.uk and on Facebook. Visits also can be arranged by appointment via duncan@ravageproductions.co.uk

Cuban Colours, by Duncan Lomax

Black Swan Folk Club presents Chris While & Julie Matthews online and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman at NCEM

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman: Celebrating 25 years together…with an arm wrestle

THE Black Swan Folk Club is still closed under Covid restrictions, but the York club is mounting two concert evenings this autumn, one online, the other at the NCEM.

“We are starting to put a few things together that are the start of our journey back to regular live music,” says club organiser Chris Euesden after booking Chris While and Julie Matthews for October 15 and Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman for two hour-long shows on November 17.

While and Matthews will be playing their 7.30pm online concert exclusively for the club and will conclude the night with a live question-and-answer session.

Tickets are on sale at: whileandmatthews.com/virtual-tour. “Once you’ve purchased a ticket, you’ll be able to watch the streamed performance whenever you want,” says Euesden. “Chris and Julie have been guests at the club and played for us in concert at the NCEM many times over the years and it’s always been a great evening.”

While and Matthews have been performing together for more than 25 years, clocking up 2,600 gigs, appearing on 100-plus albums and writing hundreds of original songs. Last year, they released their 11th studio album, Revolution Calls.

Sponsored by the Black Swan Folk Club, Roberts and Lakeman’s concerts at the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, will start at 6pm and 8.30pm, each featuring the same setlist.

“2020 marks 25 years of making music together for this wife and husband duo,” says Euesden. “Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman have long established themselves as one of the UK folk scene’s most rewardingly enduring partnerships.

“To celebrate and acknowledge this milestone, the couple will revisit and reinterpret songs that span their career. From the early days of folk supergroup Equation through to 2020’s On Reflection, with a nod or two along the way to their extracurricular musical adventures, the evening promises a whistle-stop tour through their artistic journey to date.”

Limited seating will be available for the November 17 shows. Each household/support bubble will be seated around small tables positioned at a two-metre social distance from others. Tables can accommodate up to four people in the same group. Check out the guidelines for these concerts via: ncem.co.uk/events/kathryn-roberts-sean-lakeman/ 

Tickets for Roberts and Lakeman will be on sale at blackswanfolkclub@yahoo.co.uk from October 9. If you bought a ticket for the duo’s postponed April 22 gig, the NCEM team will be in touch soon to discuss your options.