SELBY Town Hall launches its autumn season of music, comedy, theatre, poetry and more with tonight’s 8pm gig by virtuoso blues rock guitarist Chantel McGregor.
This multiple British Blues Award winner will be performing with her power trio, supported by melodic blues band Blue Nation.
Programmed by Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones, the programme for September through to the new year includes BAFTA, Ivor Novello, Blues Award, BBC Folk Award and Edinburgh Comedy Award winners, Grammy nominees, chart toppers and multi-million selling songwriters.
Highlights include the December 16 return of Squeeze guitarist, singer and lyricist Chris Difford who, alongside musical partner Glenn Tilbrook, has written a cavalcade of timeless songs, from Cool For Cats to Labelled With Love and Up The Junction, turning the mundane into the beautiful and the urbane into the exquisite for over forty years.
“While Squeeze continue to sell out major theatres and concert halls around the world, this is a rare chance to hear those classic hits, and the stories behind them, in a special Christmas show following the band’s big autumn tour [visiting Harrogate Convention Centre on November 2].
Delivering another festive musical feast on December 10 will be Mari Wilson, the Neasden queen of soul and high priestess of hairspray, performing her Eighties hits and tunes of Yuletide yesterdays in A Mari Christmas.
Legendary Irish folk sextet Dervish, who received a Lifetime Achievement accolade at the latest BBC Folk Awards, will perform on November 25. “Fronted by Cathy Jordan, regarded by many as the most distinctive voice in Irish traditional music today, the band have performed across the globe at festivals such as Glastonbury and Rock In Rio and on bills alongside some of the biggest names in music, from James Brown and Neil Young to Sting and even Iron Maiden,” says Chris.
Folk devotees can look forward to further visits from singer-songwriter and session guitarist to the stars John Smith, who will play in a double headliner with Katherine Priddy on November 3, and festive supergroup St Agnes Fountain, promising seasonal sparkle in early December 1.
Look out for a debut visit on September 22 by singer-songwriter Luke Concannon, frontman of folk-pop duo Nizlopi, whose single JCB Song was a platinum-selling number one in December 2005.
Patience has paid for Jones with the December 2 booking of “jaw-droppingly skilful guitar supremo Jon Gomm”. “I’ve wanted to book for aeons,” he says.
The Comedy Network will be coming to Selby for the first time this autumn for a series of four Sunday night shows, each featuring a headliner, support and a compere for an introductory price of £10.
“Over the years, the club has helped nurture the careers of some of comedy’s biggest names with past headliners such as Russell Howard, Bill Bailey, Roisin Conaty and Greg Davies,” says Chris.
“The opening event on Sunday night includes Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Phil Ellis and BBC Radio 4 News Quiz writer Katie Mulgrew, with later shows featuring Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Robert White on October 30 and BBC New Comedy Award winner Steve Bugeja on December 18.”
Full-length comedy shows are on the way from campaigning GP turned comedian and TV mainstay Dr Phil Hammond on September 30; Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Sofie Hagen in Fat Jokes on October 8; TV and radio regular and Taskmaster survivor Mark Watson in This Can’t Be It on November 17 and Phoenix Nights star Justin Moorhouse in Stretch & Think on January 20.
On the theatre front, York Shakespeare Project’s tour of The Tempest, the last play of their remarkable 20-year journey through all of Shakespeare’s plays, visits Selby on September 28.
On her first UK tour, on October 15, Amy Trigg’s extraordinary debut, Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me, tells the Women’s Prize for Playwriting-winning story of a young woman born with spina bifida navigating her twenties amid love, loneliness and street healers.
On November 20, storyteller and Edinburgh Fringe favourite James Rowland is back with his big-hearted story of a remarkable teenage friendship, Learning To Fly.
“This autumn programme is one of the most eclectic we’ve had in a fair few years,” says Chris. “From blues guitar hero Chantel McGregor to Radio 4 favourite and TV producer extraordinaire Henry Normal with his brand-new show of poetry, jokes and stories [Sit Down Poetry, October 22], there’s a proper mix of performances, including award winners, platinum-selling artists, a Grammy nominee, a GP and a pub quiz [The Thinking Drinkers’ Pub Quiz, October 21].
“I’m particularly excited to be welcoming The Comedy Network, our first ever regular comedy club. Run by Avalon, one of the biggest names globally in live and broadcast comedy production, it offers audiences the chance to see acts who may well be filling arenas in years to come, alongside some established circuit favourites.”
One disappointment for Chris: “I was most looking forward to the return of Illinois indie-Americana quintet The Way Down Wanderers on November 10. They’re my favourite band ever to play at the Town Hall (and I’ve seen a lot!).
“Life-affirming, joy-filled music performed with an enthusiasm you wish you could bottle. This show had already been delayed for two years by Covid, and I really couldn’t wait to have them back with us, but they’ve just cancelled their UK tour.”
For tickets, head to selbytownhall.co.uk, call 01757 708449 or visiting Selby Town Hall in person.