The King Is Back, Ben Portsmouth’s tribute show, will be back at York
Barbican on April 9 next year.
Berkshire singer Portsmouth was last in the building with his Elvis Presley act on December 20 2019. Tickets for his return are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk or on 0203 356 5441.
Portsmouth and his band Taking Care Of Elvis have been taking care of
Elvis tribute business for a dozen years in a show built around “a little less
conversation, a lot more action, please”.
“The show I do is pretty much all of Elvis’s eras,” he says. “So, from
the Sun Studio to his movie years. Then I’ll do the 1968 comeback with the
“The first half is more like a story of Elvis’s
life and what he was doing in his career at the time. The second half is
just like an Elvis Seventies’ concert.”
In pursuit of authenticity to the maximum, all of Portsmouth’s
Elvis outfits are flown over from the United States, with the peacock jumpsuit
being his favourite.
In August 2012, Portsmouth made Elvis history when he became
the first act from outside the United States to win the annual Elvis Presley
Enterprises “Worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist”, held in Memphis,
Portsmouth loves the Elvis voice, the look, the stage charisma, his
humour, but more than that. “He was just a people person,” he says. “He was just a simple country boy who liked his cars, his food and all
the rest of it.”
BAGPIPE band Red Hot Chilli Pipers are postponing
their April and May tour under the Coronavirus shutdown, but don’t be too deflated.
The Celtic rock band’s dates are being rearranged for next spring.
The 2020 tour would have opened at the Royal Hall,
Harrogate, on April 24, a show now re-scheduled for April 10 2021.
Tickets remain valid for the new date, but anyone
unable to attend the revised gig – although who can predict anything in their
diary for a year’s time?! – should claim a refund from the original point of
purchase by Friday, April 10.
Formed in Scotland in 2002, Red Hot Chilli Pipers made a cameo appearance at the T In The Park festival with The Darkness in 2004 and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? in 2007.
Bringing together musicians, dancers and singers from Scotland and further afield, many holding world championship
titles, they specialise in “Bagrock”, a groundbreaking fusion of traditional
Scottish music and rock/pop anthems.
In 2014, the Pipers released
the Live At The Lake DVD and CD, recorded at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, their
American spiritual home by the shores of Lake Michigan, when they brought 16
musicians and dancers across the Atlantic.
The set that
night took in Insomnia, Gimme All Your Lovin’, Thunderstruck, Everybody Dance
Now, Amazing Grace, Fix You, Chasing Cars, Wake Me Up, Don’t Stop Believin’ and We Will Rock You.
February 2019, the Pipers and Tom Walker released a new version of his 2018
hit Leave A Light On in aid of Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity. Earlier
Walker and the band performed at Murrayfield before the Scotland versus Italy Six
Nations rugby match.
In a new
departure for the Pipers, last June’s studio album of new songs and covers,
Fresh Air, featured lead vocals on many tracks, such as Walker on Leave The
Light On and Chris Judge on the American band Walk The Moon’s Shut Up And Dance
and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Next on the horizon in Yorkshire for Red Hot Chilli Pipers is a July 11 appearance at Pocklington Arts Centre’s Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington. Watch this space for news of whether the festival will go ahead or not as the Coronavirus pandemic’s progress unfurls.
AFTER her Singing For All choir had everyone singing I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing at A Night To Remember at York Barbican, now Jessa Liversidge wants to reach the world to sing online.
The York singer, entertainer and singing group tutor, leader and inspiration
is going virtual in response to these Coronavirus lockdown days.
“Going from running seven different singing groups a week, plus other sporadic ones, to having to cancel them all, I was faced with a big challenge,” says Jessa. “But I’ve been buzzing with ideas to keep people singing and to keep their spirits up in these strange times and I have a lot planned.”
Not only planned but coming to fruition already too. “I held my first
virtual choir session on March 18, mainly Easingwold folks but some extras,
including some singing leaders from all over, who came along to check out a
session from a singer’s perspective,” says Jessa.
“We did it again last night, building an online community choir with people
from Easingwold, Helmsley, York, and even other parts of the country – people who
knew me from elsewhere.”
How does it feel, performing together across the ether in our new social-distancing,
stay-at-home world? “It is, of course, very different to a real in-person
choir, but very uplifting and great fun,” says Jessa. “The good news is that
everything is on screen, so you don’t need to provide the lyrics!
“I’ve had some fantastic feedback from people too; the best quotes being
‘A wonderfully positive hour’ and ‘On a challenging day, when it felt hard to
be bright and cheerful, this was just a perfect end to the day. It was great to
let someone with a really joyful personality take you on a different type of
musical journey, a real sharing of community spirit’”
Jessa intends to run these sessions weekly on Wednesday evenings at 7pm. “People will need to contact me on 07740 596869 or email me at email@example.com to find out how to join,” she advises.
She has started up York Military Wives Choir sessions too online, the
first one being held on March 19 for one of 70 such choirs across the country.
“I’m also setting up some free open-to-anyone sessions, starting with a live stream Singing For All session on YouTube that I held on Monday morning this week at 11am: the time the Easingwold Singing For All usually meets,” Jessa says.
“I’m so worried about some of the group as Singing For All has been a
lifeline to so many, and lots of them are now isolated in more than one way, so
this is important for them.”
Not only Easingwold Singing For All took part this Monday morning. “We had people joining in from their living rooms, again from across the country, and that singing session is now available on You Tube,” says Jessa. “Hundreds of people have watched it already, and we had people joining in as families and even with three generations. Hopefully these sessions will now happen every Monday morning.”
A further Singing For All virtual session will be running on Tuesday mornings at 11am, this one on Zoom, set in motion last Tuesday. To take part in these interactive sessions, you will need to ring or email Jessa.
She hatched one other project, abruptly halted by the Covid-19 lockdown’s
dictum on social distancing, banning gatherings of more than two people. “I was
going to try out some very spread-out, non-contact park sings,” says Jessa.
“Inspired by the Italians singing from their balconies, I thought this
was the nearest we could get to it, but that has had to fall by the wayside.
Instead I’m going to record myself singing outdoors, put that on social media
and then people can sing along to that.”
Anything else still to come, Jessa? “Yes, youth choirs.” Watch this space…and keep watching your space too, two metres apart; you know the drill by now.
EXIT 10 Things To See Next Week in York and beyond for the unforeseeable future. Enter home entertainment, wherever you may be, whether still together or in isolation, in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic. From behind his closed door, CHARLES HUTCHINSON makes these further suggestions.
Compiling lists of best songs by favourite artists
THE Beatles, The Rolling Stones, solo Beatles, Van Morrison, Velvet Underground, solo Velvets, Bob Dylan, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, The Smiths, The Fall, whoever. Make a Top Ten or even Top 20, then send to friends to ask for their suggestions for the list and why they disagree with you.
You could also set up arguments: Kylie’s Top Ten versus Madonna; The Specials versus Madness; Holland Dozier Holland versus Bacharach and David; Rod Stewart versus Elton John; Abba versus Queen; U2 versus Coldplay. Any others?
Desert Island Slipped Discs
IF past editions of the BBC Radio 4 Sunday morning staple have slipped your attention, it is never too late to discover the back catalogue at the Beeb online. You could pick a running theme, such as artists, musicians, poets, scientists, entrepreneurs, comedians, sportsmen, film stars, pioneers and church leaders.
Or, given the very necessary daily Covid-19 briefings from Number 10, how about politicians? Margaret Thatcher (1978); Edward Heath (1988); Enoch Powell (1989); Alan Clark (1995); Tony Blair (1996); Gordon Brown (1996); David Cameron (2006)…or, for a satirical variation, Spitting Image’s Peter Fluck and Roger Law (1987)?
Follow the advice of Stephen Fry
FOLLOWING up last Thursday’s 10 Things advice to make a timetable for the day, Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning interview on the Beeb with national treasure and former Cundall Manor prep school teacher Stephen Fry elicited one gem of a suggestion. Take time, take longer, to do things, whether cooking a dish from a recipe book, or even when brushing your teeth.
Fry, the president of MIND, also advocated taking up a new hobby, or re-discovering a craft, in his case, calligraphy. Further suggestions: learn a language; learn sign language; test yourself on road signs (when did you last do that?).
Meanwhile, Fry’s partner in comedy since Cambridge Footlights days, House doctor Hugh Laurie, says of Coronavirus: “We solve it together by staying apart.” Couldn’t have put it better.
Administer a spring clean
STUCK at home, as you really should be by now, key workers excepted, this is the chance to gut rooms; to go through files, drawers, cupboards; to work out what clothes to keep and which to donate to charity shops. Likewise, games; books; kitchen utensils. Update Christmas card lists and address books.
Make time for nostalgia
DIG out old scrapbooks (Leeds United, League Champions, 1973-1974; the Cardiff Candlewits revue show, The Rantings Of A Raw Prawn, at the 1982 Edinburgh Fringe; cookery crush Nigella Lawson’s recipes – more pictures than recipes, to be truthful – to give three Hutch examples). Ah, those were the days.
Likewise, take a look through old photo albums, sure to trigger memories and promote family discussions… and maybe even lead you to research your family ancestry in the manner of BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are?.
Try to find good news
GREAT Yorkshire Show off. Ryedale Festival off. York Pride off. The Olympic Games off. The list of cancellations keeps growing. Against that backdrop, however, 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, wherever.
Look out too for the streaming of past shows. More and more theatres and arts companies are doing this.
GALLERIES in York are going online to keep the art (and hopefully sales) going. Step forward Pyramid Gallery, in Stonegate, where owner Terry Brett has launched Strange Days.
This service is not only a website portal for works from this season’s Full Sunlight show, featuring Askrigg artist Piers Browne and Holtby sculptor Hannah Arnup, but Terry also is inviting the 144 artists from next month’s cancelled York Open Studios to show their work on there too.
LOTTE Inch Gallery, at Fourteen Bootham, will host its first online-only exhibition, Yorkshire artist Tom Wood’s The Abstract Crow, from April 17 to May 16.
“Known for his imaginative and allusive abstract approach to painting, Tom will pay homage to his love for the natural world in his new paintings,” says Lotte.
AMID the stricter Government strictures, aside from walking the dog and one burst of exercise a day, gardening looks the most fruitful way to spend time outdoors. The first mow of the season; buds coming through; plants to plant; garden furniture to varnish: ready, steady, grow.
And what about…
Podcasts. Books. More podcasts. More books. Season two of Liar on Monday nights on ITV. Noughts + Crosses on BBC One on Thursdays. Writing a 10 Things like this one. Reading the regular Tweets from Matt Haig, the Reasons To Stay Alive author with the York past. Drinking hot drinks, gargling regularly, and building up your zinc levels, as well as all that hand-washing.
FRIENDS! The Musical Parody has been
rescheduled for March 3 2021 at York Barbican after the March 20 show was postponed
under the Coronavirus strictures.
The lampooning show both celebrates and pokes fun at the misadventures of Manhattan 20-somethings Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey and Rachel from the cherished 1990s’ American TV sitcom as they navigate the pitfalls of work, life and love.
The Musical Parody is a “good-hearted romp through our favourite moments in an
uncensored, hilarious, fast-paced, music-filled show” that opens on a typical
day at New York coffee shop Central Perk. When an unexpected runaway bride
enters the picture, it kicks the whole gang out of second gear.
will play York Barbican as part of the off-Broadway and Las Vegas musical’s now
extended first UK and Irish tour. Tickets for the revised date are on sale at
YORK Stage School will celebrate its second birthday from behind closed doors but with the launch of on-screen activities.
“Wherever you have a
camera, we have a class,” will be the new school rule, prompted by Government
strictures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nik Briggs says: “After a brilliant two years, where we have worked
with hundreds of students and seen them flourish in our classrooms, we now
face the possibility of not being able to work with them under the current
Government guidance for some time and the necessary social distancing
and self-isolation policies that come with that.
we are fully committed to ensuring our students are always kept safe and
well and will not be running classes while schools are closed to students.”
Cue York Stage School’s new “homework” instead. “It is with this in mind that we have been busy working on this new project, which will see us joining up with lots of our teachers’ contacts from the theatre, TV and film industry to introduce our exciting new programme, York Stage School…On Screen, over the coming weeks and months.”
Are you ready to watch, explore, react and create, asks Nik.“If so, then sign up, stop waiting in the wings…and join us on screen for a programme where we’ll be sending out weekly briefs, scripts and stimuli to children via email and through videos from both our regular teachers and special weekly industry-professional guest tutors,” he says.
will have six days to watch the videos, explore the stimuli given and then
react and create their own videos at home. “These will then be sent back
to us at York Stage School HQ,” says Nik.
will receive feedback on their creations via email and video calls from our
staff; each week we will celebrate their work across our social channels with
weekly industry recognition from our guest tutors.”
To take part, students will need either a mobile phone, tablet or PC with a built-in camera and microphone, plus an internet connection and an email address. “This can be either their own or a parent’s,” says Nik.
we will be using the York Stage School social media channels to celebrate
students’ work – if parents are happy for their child’s image to be broadcast –
access to these is not needed to take part in the project.”
The first “issue” of York Stage School…On Screen is being given away free of charge. “This is in order for you to decide if this programme is something your child will enjoy and genuinely benefit from,” reasons Nik. “After the initial week, there’ll be a weekly charge of £10 to take part. To receive the first issue, please sign up by clicking Register Now on the website, yorkstageschool.com.”
Putting on his other cap as artistic director of York Stage Musicals, Nik says: “At the moment we are very much all up in the air with regards to shows.
“We were scheduled to be performing Bugsy
Malone at the Grand Opera House from April 23 to 26, but that has now been
cancelled, now that theatres have been closed in response to the Coronavirus
epidemic. However, we do hope for the children’s sake to remount this at a
York Stage Musicals had a trio of premieres in the pipeline too: Sondheim On Sondheim, Kinky Boots and Soho Cinders. “We had just auditioned for the UK premiere of Sondheim On Sondheim’s run at the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, from May 20 to 23, but casting has had to be put on hold,” says Nik.
“This will mean the production will now have to
take place at a later date, hopefully in the autumn.
“Our big September show is the York premiere of
Kinky Boots at the Grand Opera House from September 10 to 19, and at the moment
no changes have been made on this production’s scheduling.”
Nik is still hopeful too of bringing another
alternative Christmas show to the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate in the wake
of 2019’s gleeful production of Tim Firth’s The Flint Street Nativity.
“After that success, we’ve now secured the rights to bring George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Soho Cinders to the city for the first time ever,” says Nik.
“This musical romp transports the classic Cinderella story to the streets of Soho, where the action is definitely more suitable for an adult audience and the ugly sisters are more Gemma Collins than Berwick Kaler!”
A GOOD journalist may never reveal his saucers, but the secret is out: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets are moving their postponed-by-Coronavirus May 1 gig at York Barbican to October 4.
Floyd drummer and percussionist Mason, 76, is joined in his Secrets operative
by lead guitarist Gary Kemp, yes, that Gary Kemp, from New Romantic Islington
pop dandies Spandau Ballet, now 60.
In the line-up too for The Echoes Tour are Pink Floyd touring and recording bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris, from The Blockheads, and The Orb’s Dom Beken on keyboards.
they celebrate Pink Floyd’s earliest work “in all its psychedelic, freaked-out
glory”, and the re-arranged 2020 tour will see the band further
expand their repertoire to encompass songs from the early catalogue up to Floyd’s
1972 album Obscured By Clouds.
Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets made their debut at four intimate London shows at Dingwalls on May 20 2018 and The Half Moon in Putney on May 21, 23 and 24. The Dingwalls date was his first show since Pink Floyd played at the 2005 Live 8 concert in London and the run of London gigs was his first since Floyd’s Division Bell Tour in 1994.
band subsequently sold out theatres around the world, and memories came
flooding back at three nights at London’s Roundhouse, where Pink Floyd had played
some of their most revered early shows in the 1960s.
Last September, Mason was named Prog Magazine’s Prog God at the Progressive Music Awards at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, following in the footsteps of Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Ian Anderson, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe.
Tickets remain valid for the new Barbican date. For bookings, go to yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Did you know?
BORN on January 27 1944, in Hampstead, London, drummer
Nicholas Berkeley Mason CBE
is a founder member of the progressive rock band Pink
He is the only Pink
Floyd musician to have played on all of their
studio albums and their only constant member since their formation in London in
ALL shows at the Black Swan Folk Club,
Peasholme Green, York, are postponed until the end of August in response to the
Most prominent among them is the Roland
Walls Weekend from June 5 to 7. Formerly known as the City of York Folk Weekend,
it has been re-named this year after the driving force behind both the folk
club and the weekend, who died last June.
This postponement policy also applies to
the club’s concerts at the National Centre for Early Music and The Crescent.
In the club’s latest newsletter, organiser
Chris Euesden says: “We’re going to review things at the end of May to see
where we stand. This includes the Roland Walls Weekend, which was to
have taken place in June.
“If you’ve already bought tickets for any
of our events that have had to be postponed, you can get a refund from the internet
ticket provider or you can hang on to your tickets, as they will be valid for
the new date.
“This applies to all events except The
The Crescent on April 5, which is cancelled. If you have already bought tickets,
you’ll be able to get a refund from seetickets.com. Go to their support
section for further details.”
One Black Swan concert during the folk
furlow is yet to be postponed: Chris Cleverley, presented by Broken Record on
June 25. At the time of writing, it is “still hoped” that this night of songs
on the theme of deteriorating anxious minds, damaging gender constructs and
mystical tales of the occult will go ahead. Watch this space; ticket
information is yet to be announced.
Reflecting on the present state of no-play, Chris says: “Well, we’ve never issued a newsletter quite like this
one before. As the current situation has changed from day to day, so has the
“With the [Government] announcement of the closure of pubs and other music venues and
the uncertainty surrounding the amount of time this is going to go on for, it
seems like a good point to let you all know what’s in place at the moment.
“It’s highly likely there will be more
changes, but we’ll do our best to keep you all informed on our website, blackswanfolkclub.org.uk,
via Facebook, Twitter and with additional newsletters.”
Wheels are in motion already, however, for re-arranging postponed concerts.
Maz O’Connor, a Lake District singer-songwriter
of Irish roots, now living in East London, is transferring her March 26 Black
Swan gig to The Basement, City Screen, on September 9 with tickets on sale at
O’Connor, who studied literature at Cambridge
University, has been commissioned to write songs for the British Parliament and the
Royal Shakespeare Company and is devising a piece of music theatre.
Eliza Carthy Restitute Live/Through That Sound concert at The Crescent on April
10 is re-scheduled for January 24 2021, with tickets on sale at seetickets.com.
the Robin Hood’s Bay singer, songwriter, fiddler and self-styled “modern
English musician”, released Restitute as her first “solo” album of traditional music
last May, recorded at her North Yorkshire home on the coast.
Carthy at The Crescent will be the Restitute band of Ben
Seal, Ben Somers, Willy Molleson and David Delarre, complemented by a support
slot and special guest appearance from Saul Rose.
well as the Restitute material, Carthy and co will perform selections from Through
That Sound (My Secret Was Made Known), her upcoming April 1 album of original songs
recorded with Fife producer, arranger and band member Ben Seal.
Roberts and Sean Lakeman’s 25th anniversary concert on April 22 at the
National Centre for Early Music has a new date of November 17 (box office, ncem.co.uk).
husband-and-wife duo will mark this milestone by revisiting and reinterpret
songs spanning their career, from the early days of folk supergroup Equation to
2018’s album, Personae, plus a nod or two to their extracurricular musical
club is in the process of re-scheduling Grace Petrie’s May 18 show at The
Crescent. Drever, McCusker, Woomble, alias three of Scotland’s busiest
musicians, Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble, are booked for The
Crescent on August 24 (box office ents24.com), so keep an eye open for what may
change or not.
ahead, Black Swan gigs are in the diary for Anthony John Clarke on September 10;
Christine Collister and Michael Fix, September 18; Maria Dunn, September 24;
Sam Kelly & Jamie Francis, October 8; Lucy Farrell, October 15; Sam Carter,
October 22; Charlie Dore & Julian Litmann, November 19, and Martin Carthy,
Eliza’s father, on December 3.
Across the wider folk scene in York, hurdy-gurdy musician, wildlife biologist, broadcaster, song and story writer and York Hedgehog Rescue founder Toni Bunnell’s Tracking The Changes show on March 29 at The Basement, City Screen, has been postponed.
Music sessions are suspended at:
The Maltings, Tanner’s Moat, on Tuesdays;
The Golden Ball, Bishophill, on Sunday evenings;
The Three Legged Mare, High Petergate, on Friday evenings;
Havin’ the Craic at The Fox, Holgate, first Wednesday of each
French & Breton, Eagle & Child, High Petergate, second
OPERA North is cancelling or
postponing all “public-facing activity” until at least the end of April, in response
to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Leeds company also confirmed the postponement of this season’s co-production of Stephen Sondheim’s acerbic musical A Little Night Music with Leeds Playhouse. Rehearsals had been due to start this morning for the May 9 opening to mark the year when the New York composer turned 90 yesterday.
“Our immediate priority is the health and
safety of our audiences, artists and staff, and we hope to be able to mount the
production in a future season,” said Opera North general director Richard
“This is undoubtedly a time of great challenge
for Opera North and our peers but we are determined to respond with creativity
“We will honour the contracts of all guest
artists to the end of our current main stage opera season and those of guest
orchestral players until the end of April.”
Mr Mantle continued: “We are working with our
many education and community partners to ascertain what work can still be
delivered in those settings, and will focus our creativity and core resources
on finding new ways of using music and opera to enhance people’s lives. In
these uncertain times, it feels more important than ever that we use music to
connect with each other.”
Opera North remains hopeful that the 2020-2021 season will go
ahead as planned in September. In the meantime, the company is working on
finding other ways to share its art form with audiences, including online
EARLY Music Day will go ahead at the National Centre for Early Music, York, tomorrow but behind closed doors.
“Our doors may be temporarily closed, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll still be celebrating Early Music Day and streaming our concerts all around Europe, so join us for two wonderful concerts this Saturday (March 21),” says director Delma Tomlin. “There will also be a selection of concerts available to enjoy online over the coming weeks.”
Tomorrow’s programme at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, begins with a 1pm concert by harpsichordist Steven Devine, performing the first in a series of Bach Preludes and Fugues, and ends with The Brabant Ensemble’s 6pm programme ofA Monk’s Life: Music From The Cloisters, 1550-1620.
“Sublime choral music from the Renaissance performed by this Oxford ensemble
offers the perfect end to a fabulous day of music,” says Delma.
“I am so grateful to our talented array of musicians who are determined
that Early Music Day will still happen somehow and have agreed to perform
behind closed doors.
“Even if you can’t be with us in person, we hope that you will join us
for this day of music, a joyful celebration which normally takes place with our
European partners and friends in beautiful venues.”
Looking ahead, Delma says: “We are pausing our
operations until the end of April and will be in contact with everyone who
has booked to attend concerts that are due to take place within this period.
“We ask that you are patient with us during this difficult time and wait for us to contact you. Regular updates about future concerts and more concert footage will be posted on our website, ncem.co.uk, and via social media, so please keep checking.”
“Music has the power
to uplift and inspire us all and although our building may be closed, we will
be sharing a selection of concerts from our archives online for us all to enjoy,”
says Delma, on an upbeat final note.