NAVIGATORS Art & Performance will launch the Basement Sessions series of Music, Spoken Word and Comedy – Live, Local and Loud! at City Screen Picturehouse, York, on November 25.
“Following our sold-out Punk/Jazz show at the Basement in October, we’re presenting an adventurous mixed bill of new music (bands and solo), comedy, spoken word and more, with a few surprises up our sleeve,” says Richard Kitchen, the York creative hub’s co-founder.
“All performers are from York or the surrounding area and are chosen for a spirit of experimentality and community – and of course for being excellent.”
In the line-up will be punk/post-punk/alt. rock/indie band What Fresh Hell, playing their last ever gig, and award-winning York pop, soul and acoustic singer-songwriter, actress and 2018 MasterChef quarter-finalist Jess Gardham.
So too will be comedian John Pease, sharing his experiences and observations of the world; performance artist Carrieanne Vivianette, exploring the legacies of radical women through voice, movement and improvisation, and energetic jazz-turned-punk Battle of the Bands finalists Attacker TV.
Tickets cost £8 through TicketSource at https://bit.ly/nav-base-1 or £10 on the door from 7pm. “Please book ahead to avoid disappointment,” advises Richard. “We hope to see you there! Further Basement Sessions are planned for December 9 and January 27.”
NORTH Eastern filum star Dave Johns, 2016 winner of the BIFA for Best Actor for his lead role in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, headlines two comedy bills in York on Saturday.
The 8pm show in The Basement, at City Screen, York, has sold out already, so Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club master of ceremonies and programmer Damion Larkin has added a 5pm gig (doors, 4.30pm). Joining Johns and Larkin on both bills will be Jamie D’Souza, Becky Umbers and Phil Carr.
After more than half a lifetime in theatre and stand-up comedy (since 1989), Johns was picked by political filmmaker Loach to play Daniel Blake, a 59-year-old widowed carpenter, who must rely on welfare after a heart attack. Despite his doctor declaring him unfit to work, he is denied Employment and Support Allowance benefits and told to return to his job.
Johns gave an unforgettable performance but still he pounds the comedy beat, guesting on the comedy panel shows Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC2) and 8 Out Of Ten Cats (Channel 4) too.
Johns has played the major comedy clubs and comedy festivals, from Ireland’s Kilkenny Comedy Festival to Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia. He has worked on stage in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Johannesburg, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam and the Arctic too.
As well as a comedian, he is a scriptwriter whose credits include the stage adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shawshank Redemption, co-written with Owen O’Neill.
He has acted on the West End stage with Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, as well as starring in Twelve Angry Men and The Odd Couple (with Bill Bailey and Alan Davies) at the Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh.
He is producing his own stage adaptation of Paul Laverty’s script for I, Daniel Blake, now on its UK premiere tour, playing the Courtyard Theatre at Leeds Playhouse until Saturday (7.45pm plus 2pm tomorrow and 2.30pm on Saturday; box office 0113 213 7700 or leedsplayhouse.org.uk).
Emerging from a musical background, support act Jamie D’Souza started performing comedy in the summer of 2016, reaching the finals of the So You Think You’re Funny? and Musical Comedy awards, as well as being shortlisted for the BBC New Comedy Award.
Mixing short stories and one-liners, he covers veganism, his mixed-race heritage and coming to terms with entering adulthood. He has appeared on the BBC Asian Network’s Stand Up Show and performs at clubs across the UK, such as the Comedy Store and Up The Creek.
Becky Umbers mixes storytelling and quirky observations in her “unique take on life with the voice to match”. Already a big deal down under in Australia, now she is a medium-size deal in the UK and Europe. Phil Carr favours dark humour in a deadpan delivery.
Tickets for the 5pm show are on sale at £19 (£23 on the door) at lolcomedyclubs.co.uk or in person at The Basement. The next LOL Comedy Club night at The Basement will be on November 4.
THE summer season of festival delights is drawing to a close but the outdoors still beckons Charles Hutchinson, who also looks ahead to big names northwards bound.
Festival of the week: Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, August 25 to 27
THE last big outdoor festival of the Yorkshire summer season kicks off on Friday with headliners Billie Eilish (Main Stage East) and Imagine Dragons (Main Stage West). Look out that day too for Steve Lacy, Declan McKenna, Rina Sawayama, Becky Hill and Little Tjay.
The Saturday bill includes headliners Sam Fender and Foals, Loyle Carner, Wet Leg, Leeds band Yard Act, Bicep Llve and Frank Turner. Among the Sunday acts will be headliners The Killers and The 1975, Central Cee, Nothing But Thieves, Knucks, Case Atlantic and Arlo Parks. Comedy and dance stages are on the menu too. Box office: leedsfestival.com.
Tribute show of the week: Supersonic Queen, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Sunday, 7.30pm
SUPERSONIC Queen return to the JoRo with its “strongest, most talented line-up yet”, guaranteed to blow your mind. Ten years and counting on the tribute act circuit, these musicians “care deeply about delivering the most authentic and entertaining performance”, full of energy, enthusiasm and Queen hits by the dozen. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.
Exhibition of the week: Sean Taylor, Illustrations, City Screen Picturehouse café bar, Coney Street, York, until September 2
COINCIDING with City Screen Picturehouse’s latest Culture Shock season of Bruce Lee films, Sean Taylor is exhibiting paintings and pen and graphic drawing at City Screen Picturehouse. Icons aplenty feature, bold and striking.
Circus show of the week: All Ways Good Company in Swings & Roundabouts, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Sunday, 11am to 1pm
JOIN Jane and Dora, a mum and daughter circus duo, on three trips to the park, where they will share their tales with you and hear yours too before hosting an interactive finale.
Commissioned by Hullabaloo Theatre, Swings & Roundabouts is a selection of short stories about everyday moments in the park, told in an extraordinary way as Jane and Dora flip and fly, turning the park into an aerial playground. Then have a go yourself on the aerial equipment, whatever your age. Wear long sleeves but no jewellery or clothes with zips. Box office: atthemill.org.
Last of the summer season: Olly Murs and Scouting For Girls, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, Wednesday, gates open at 6pm
OLLY Murs concludes Cuffe & Taylor’s season of outdoor gigs on the Scarborough coast with support from Scouting For Girl on Wednesday night. After four years off the music radar, focusing on The Voice and Starstruck, Murs released his seventh studio album, Marry Me, last December, the title being prompted by his now fiancée Emelia Tank.
Tonight, at Scarborough OAT, DJ Pete Tong is in action with his Ibiza Classics. The Essential Orchestra and Jules Buckley will be there too. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com.
Outdoor theatre show of the week: Slapstick Picnic in Peter Pan, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Wednesday, 6.30pm
SLAPSTICK Picnic whip up a three-hander version of Peter Pan, inviting imaginations to soar as they dish out J M Barrie’s timeless tale of hapless pirates, feral children and a particularly punctual reptile.
Look out for polished buffoonery and swift silliness as the cast members swap wigs, wings and waistcoats to play all the parts at Slapstick’s characteristic breakneck pace. A percentage of ticket sales will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Box office: atthemill.org.
Folk night of the week: Gary Stewart’s Folk Club, At The Mill, Stillington, near York, Friday, 7.30pm
EASINGWOLD musician Gary Stewart’s Folk Club, a regular feature in At The Mill’s summer seasons, runs in two halves: The first is a traditional folk club, where anyone can come and play and offer up a song, a tune, a poem or a story. “Just turn up and let us know!” says Gary.
The second half is a headline set by a guest artist, in this case budding York singer-songwriter and newly formed producer Kitty VR, who fashions and performs her songs on electric guitar alongside her delicate vocals, with a sense of vulnerability and relatability. Box office: atthemill.org.
As recommended by the late John Peel: Nina Nastasia, The Crescent, York, August 29, 7.30pm
NINA Nastasia, an alt-folk artist of Calabrian-Italian and Irish descent, was born and raised in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Despite studying piano and showing an early talent for writing short stories, she initially had no aspirations of pursuing a career in music. Nevertheless, seven albums have ensued, along with airplay on the late John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show and album collaborations with Jim White.
After a period of relative obscurity, Nastasia returned in July 2022, signing a record deal with Temporary Residence to release Riderless Horse, recorded in upstate New York by Steve Albini and Greg Norman. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Damian Lewis, yes, that Damian Lewis, at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, October 1, doors at 7.30pm
ACTOR and now singer and guitarist Damian Lewis will play Leeds as the only Yorkshire gig of his 11-date tour with his jazz and rock band in support of debut album Mission Creep, released on Decca Records in June.
Lewis wrote all the album’s original songs during the pandemic’s first lockdown, although the origin story began when, after leaving school, he took to the road with his guitar and went busking through continental Europe. This experience has stayed with him ever since and is reflected in the album, produced by his friend, jazz musician Giacomo Smith. Box office: brudenellsocialclub.co.uk or seetickets.com.
Birthday celebration: Eight@Eighty, Joni Mitchell 80th Birthday Party charity concert, at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, November 2, 7.30pm
STAN Smith is organising a celebration of Canadian-American singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell’s 80th birthday this autumn. Taking part will be Edwina Hayes, Emily Lawler, Gracie Falls, Holly Taymar, Jeremy Bradford, Laura Ingram, Sarah Dean and Stan himself. Box office: stansmith.org.
Booking ahead: George Benson, supported by Melissa Errico, Leeds First Direct Arena, July 3 2024, 7.30pm
LEGENDARY American guitarist and singer George Benson, 80, will play Leeds on the closing night of next summer’s five-date British tour.
The ten-time Grammy Award winner will be performing such Gibson soul, jazz and blues favourites as Give Me The Night, Lady Love Me (One More Time), Turn Your Love Around, Inside Love, Never Give Up On A Good Thing and In Your Eyes. He is working on new music too. Box office: ticketline.co.uk.
In Focus: Director Zoe Waterman on reviving Alan Platers’s musical Blonde Bombshells Of 1943 at the SJT
ALAN Plater’s 2004 musical Blonde Bombshells Of 1943 is being revived most warmly and wittily by Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, Bolton’s Octagon Theatre and Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake.
This summer’s glorious co-production finds these northern powerhouse producing theatres collaborating for the third year in a row after Laura Wade’s Home, I’m Darling in 2021 and Emma Rice’s account of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter in 2022.
Zoe Waterman, who directed Jane Eyre at the SJT last year, is at the helm for Hull playwright Plater’s fortifying wartime story of the North’s most glamorous all-girl Forties’ swing band, whose band leader, Betty, needs to find new musicians for an important BBC job after the latest exodus of members in the arms of American GIs.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be directing Blonde Bombshells Of 1943,” says Zoe. “We’ve got a glorious and terribly talented cast; it’s such a privilege to work with performers who are not only stunning actors but also phenomenal musicians.
“It’s always a joy to make work that celebrates women, and this isno exception: full of hilarious, practical, strong characters who make do and mend as the time dictates and manage to pull an all-singing, all-dancing performance out of the jaws of an air raid.”
Zoe also directed Jim Cartwright’s The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice at Theatre by the Lake in 2019, and when the three theatres discussed who should be the director this summer after settling on Blonde Bombshells for the 2023 co-production, Zoe was approached for the task.
“I’d been called by Paul [SJT artistic director Paul Robinson], who I knew from the SJT, and I’d worked a lot at Theatre by the Lake, where I’d really cut my theatre teeth, first doing a one-person show, then a three-hander in the studio and then graduating to a main theatre show,” she says. “I’d spoken with Lotte [artistic director Lotte Wakeham] at the Bolton Octagon too.”
Crucially too, Zoe had experience of mounting actor-musician productions: “I did The Borrowers that way at Theatre by the Lake and Jane Eyre was in that format at the SJT, and I’ve done actor-musician pantomimes at Theatr Clwyd,” she says.
“I absolutely love this way of working, though I wouldn’t want to do only this one form of theatre, but I love that thing of weaving the music into the story and really thinking of them as one in this piece, whereas in some actor-musician shows you think, ‘if they could have afforded a band and actors, that would have been better’.
“But to have actor-musicians front and centre in this show is fantastic and it works wonderfully.”
Step forward Verity Bajoria, Lauren Chinery, Georgina Field, Stacey Ghent, Rory Gradon, Alice McKenna, Gleanne Purcell-Brown and Sarah Groarke, who appeared in the 2004 premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.
Four weeks of rehearsals in Bolton – where Zoe was working for the first time – has led to a June run at the Octagon, followed by a July stretch in Keswick and now the August finale in Scarborough.
“So often in regional subsidised theatres, in-house productions run for only three weeks, so it’s gone in a blur and you’ve missed it, but co-productions give both audiences and actors a longer run at it,” she says.
“From starting in Bolton, it was wonderful to see how the show had developed by the show’s 50th performance, at Theatre by the Lake.”
Blonde Bombshells Of 1943 runs at Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until August 26. Box office: 01723 370541 or sjt.uk.com .
YORK community collective Navigators Art & Performance is inviting York artists to submit work for its next show, Punk/Jazz.
“We’ll select the pieces we think work best and they’ll be exhibited in two bar venues in York – one small, the other, average size –from August 16 until October 17, with an official launch night on August 18,” says co-founder Richard Kitchen.
Submissions must be made by 9am on Monday, July 17. Full details can be found on Navigators Art’s Facebook and Instagram pages, @navigatorsart, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Explaining the exhibition theme, Richard says: “Positive vibes or no future? Are Punk and Jazz at odds or two sides of a coin? Both can be controversial, uncompromising, confrontational. Both can be healing.
“The best of each is groundbreaking, seeking to push the limits of what’s possible. The differences are interesting too! How does the music channel your own feelings? Can your art reflect all or some of this?
“The show will be a creative exploration of the two genres, so be imaginative with your response. Whatever your experience in making art, we encourage submissions from all areas of society. No sculptures, installations or screen-based work this time, sorry.”
A related themed live event at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, on October 14 will complement the exhibition. “We’d like to hear from interested musicians, as well as visual artists for the exhibition, with the same deadline for submissions of 9am next Monday,” says Richard.
Updating on Navigators Art & Performance’s projects in 2023, Richard says: “At present we’re stripping down the Navigators engine and doing a bit of retuning. Our Hidden Treasures exhibition, which ran at York Explore library until July 6 as part of the York Festival of Ideas, has now expanded and will extend its run there to early September.
“The Living Treasures performance event, featuring writers, musicians and performers in an evening of original music and words at The Basement on June 10, was a big success, leading to us being offered a regular slot there. We’ll be able to do all kinds of music, spoken word and art events there and we’ll soon have some ideas in place.”
For this Basement project, Navigators Art & Performance is issuing a call-out to “team-spirited creatives”: musicians (bands, solo, indie, jazz, punk, folk, world, hip-hop, electronica and more), plus poets/spoken-word performers, dancers and comedians.
“We’ll be organising a series of live events between now and December at The Basement,” says Richard. “We often link themed live events to our art exhibitions, but this is an additional showcase for emerging acts as well as for experienced artists who may want to try out some new material. Of course, you may just love an opportunity to play somewhere!”
Richard continues: “We’ve built a friendly, talented, enterprising team, and there’ll be opportunities for creative collaborations and other activities in the future.
“These events are like an open mic but with a prearranged line-up and costs to cover. Because of the nature of the occasion and our ethos, we try to keep prices down and affordable to all.
“We aren’t funded so we aren’t employers. We have to ticket events to pay for venue hire and a sound engineer’s fee. Anything over gets split between performers and group funds to subsidise future occasions.”
Outlining the performance strategy for these live events, Richard says: “We want to present original music rather than cover versions or tribute acts, plus new poetry, dance, etc. We’d like the audience to feel they’ve discovered something new and exciting.
“If interested in taking part, please give us a follow and message us @navigatorsart (Facebook and Instagram) or email email@example.com. Tell us what you do and include a link to a performance of some kind, especially if we don’t know you already. And be sure to list your available Saturdays. We aim to kick things off in late-July and we’ve already had some interest, so don’t delay.”
Looking ahead, Richard says: “We’re planning a live show for the Christmas festive season, inspired by ancient traditions and folklore. Then, looking into 2024, we’ll be taking over York Barbican for an all-day festival, expanding on the Living Treasures show we did for York Festival of Ideas.
“This will feature musicians of all kinds, along with spoken-word artists, comedians and York stallholders, all celebrating aspects of York life and culture in fresh and creative ways.”
Navigators Art & Performance: the back story
THIS York collective of artists, writers and performers engages in community activities.
A three-month residency at the StreetLife hub in Coney Street featured an exhibition and a live event.
This summer, the collective programmed three events – an exhibition, a live performance and a film screening – for the 2023 York Festival of Ideas.
The collective is keen to mentor young and emerging artists and offers a platform to those who are underrepresented for reasons of social and cultural background or health issues.
What artists need to do to apply to exhibit in the Punk/Jazz exhibition
SEND high-res images or scans of up to three original works to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject heading: your name, then ‘Punk’ or ‘Jazz’ or ‘Both’.
Give details of:
1. The medium and size of each piece plus its title and price (this doesn’t need to be exact).
2. A bit about yourself as a person and your experiences/achievements in making art.
3. How you relate to the exhibition theme and why Punk or why Jazz? If there is a crossover, explain how and why.
If selected, you must:
1. Transport your own work and instal and take down on the specified dates (times TBC) or arrange an alternative.
2. Commit to sharing promotional activities and responsibilities, such as online posts and physical flyer distribution.
3. Agree to share promo costs and necessary expenses: this should not be more than the price of a few pints each.
No submission fee applies. No commission will be charged on sales.
The venue will take 25 per cent commission, so factor that in when deciding prices.
Navigators Art & Performance will decide on selections by August 1. “If you’re in, we’ll tell you which of your submissions we’ve chosen,” says co-founder Richard Kitchen.
WHICH shows will draw the crowds? Charles Hutchinson prepares to join the merry throng across the summer beyond the Bank Holiday sunshine.
Crowd pleaser: Rob Auton, The Crowd Show, Pocklington Arts Centre, tonight, 8pm; Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds, June 5, 7.30pm
CHARMINGLY offbeat Pocklington-raised poet, stand-up comedian, actor, author, artist and podcaster Rob Auton heads back north from his London abode on his 2023 leg of The Crowd Show tour to play Pock and Leeds.
After his philosophical observations on the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking and time, now he discusses crowds, people and connection in a night of comedy and theatre “suitable for anyone who wants to be in the crowd for this show”. Box office: Pocklington, 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk; Leeds, hydeparkbookclub.co.uk.
“Witness the stupidity” comedy gig of the week: Tim Vine: Breeeep!, Grand Opera House, York, tonight, 7.30pm
EXPECT a mountain of nonsense, one-liners, stupid things, crazy songs and wobbly props, plus utter drivel, advises punslinger Tim Vine.
“Tim’s like the manager of a sweet shop where all the sweets are replaced by jokes, and he serves them in a random order,” says the show blurb. “So it’s like a sweet shop where the manager just throws sweets at you. Enjoy the foolishness and laugh your slip-ons off.” Sold out; for returns only, check atgtickets.com/york.
Homecoming of the week: Amy May Ellis, The Crescent, York, tomorrow, 8pm
NOW moved to Bristol, singer-songwriter Amy May Ellis was raised on a remote dale on the North York Moors, playing her early gigs at The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale.
Steeped in the culture, scenery, folklore and wildlife of the countryside that surrounded and shaped her as a child, she wrote her debut album Over Ling And Bell – named after two types of heather – in a secluded moorland farmhouse, mostly alone but sometimes with friends. Released on Lost Map Records on May 12, it is available on digital platforms and limited-edition vinyl. She will be joined by her new band for tomorrow’s gig, when North Yorkshire-London combo Wanderland support. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Musical of the week:York Stage inEverybody’s Talking About Jamie, Teen Edition, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
JAMIE New lives on a council estate in Sheffield with his loving mum. At 16, he doesn’t quite fit in. He may be terrified about the future, but Jamie is going to be a sensation.
The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae’s coming-of-age musical follows the true-life story of Sheffield schoolboy Jamie Campbell as he overcomes prejudice and bullying to step out of the darkness to become a drag queen. York Stage artistic director Nik Briggs directs. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.
City of York Roland Walls Folk Weekend, Black Swan Folk Club, Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, June 2 to 4
TOM Bliss and The Burning Bridges open the three-day folk fiesta at the Black Swan on Friday night, to be followed by afternoon and evening sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
Among the weekend’s acts will be: Stan Graham; Eddie Affleck; The Barbarellas; Blonde On Bob; Clurachan; Union Jill; White Sail; Edwina Hayes; Minster Stray Morris; Caramba; The Old Humpy Band; Tommy Coyle; Paula Ryan; Judith Haswell; Sarah Dean; Chris Euesden and Ramshackle. Full details at: blackswanfolkclub.org.uk/programme.cfm.
Purgatory awaits: University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra, Elgar’s Dream Of Gerontius, York Minster, June 14, 7.30pm
THE University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra perform Edward Elgar’s Dream Of Gerontius with soloists Joshua Ellicott (Gerontius), Kitty Whately and Alexander Ashworth, conducted by John Stringer.
Elgar dramatically sets to music Cardinal Newman’s poem depicting the journey of Gerontius’s soul from his deathbed to judgement before God. On his way, he encounters angels and demons, colourfully portrayed by the chorus, before settling finally in purgatory. Box office: 01904 322439 or yorkconcerts.co.uk.
Outdoor cinema: City Screen Picturehouse presents Movies In The Moonlight, York Museum Gardens, Museum Street, York, July 14 to 16, from 7.30pm
MUSEUM Gardens play host to City Screen Picturehouse for three nights of summertime open-air film action, opening with The Super Mario Bros. Movie, starring Chris Pratt and Anya Taylor-Joy on July 14. Next come Mamma Mia!, featuring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried, on July 15 and Steven Spielberg’s 1975 shark attack classic Jaws on July 16.
All these outdoor cinema events start at 7.30pm. Films will be shown at sundown; drinks and snacks will be on offer but guests can bring picnics. Box office: picturehouses.com/outdoor.
Looking ahead: Ruby Wax: I’m Not As Well As I Thought, Grand Opera House, York, September 28, 7.30pm
AFTER four years, American-British actress, comedian, writer, television personality and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, 70, follows up her How To Be Human show with a stage adaptation of her May 11 book, I’m Not As Well As I Thought, promising her rawest, darkest, funniest show yet.
In 2022, Wax began a search to find meaning, booking a series of potentially life-changing journeys: swimming with humpback whales in the Dominican Republic; joining a Christian monastery; working in a Greek refugee camp; undertaking a silent 30-day mindfulness retreat in California. Even greater change marked her inner journey. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Recommended but too late for tickets
ACERBIC comedian Tom Allen’s Completely gig at York Barbican on Sunday at 8pm has sold out. Completely.
Under discussion will be Allen’s life updates, his vegetable patch and the protocol for inviting friends with children for dinner.
THE return of Buddy, Stewart Lee and English Touring Opera, a dream of an exhibition and a vintage DJ night of song top Charles Hutchinson’s diary highlights for the week ahead.
Musical of the week: Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
HOLLYLUJAH! Rock’n’roll musical Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story returns to York for the first time since 2017 with “The day the music died” tale of the bespectacled young man from Lubbock, Texas, whose meteoric rise from Southern rockabilly beginnings to international stardom ended in his death in a plane crash at only 22.
Christopher Weeks’s Buddy leads the cast of actor-musicians through two hours of music and drama, romance and tragedy, driven by all those hits, from That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue and Rave On to Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace and Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba.Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Folk gig of the week: Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm
THE Black Swan Folk Club and Please Please You present the powerhouse triumvirate of musical magpies McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle in a Sunday session of traditional, contemporary and original jigs, reels and ballads, as heard on their two albums, 2018’s The Wishing Tree and 2020’s The Reed That Bends In The Storm.
Their paths first crossing as teenagers before they joined separate bands (Lunasa, The Battlefield Band and Solas respectively), they line up with Mancunian McGoldrick on flute, whistles, Uileann pipes, bodhran, clarinet and congas; Glaswegian McCusker on fiddle, whistles and harmonium; Dubliner Doyle on vocals, guitar, bouzouki and mandola.
“The whole thing’s great fun,” says McCusker. “We have no agenda other than having a nice time and playing music. That’s the way we tour as well – we throw ourselves in a little car, instruments on our laps, and off we go. And the records? Well, I hope it’s the sound of three old friends, having a great time, making music together.” Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Comedy at the treble: Stewart Lee: Basic Lee, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm
AFTER recording last May’s brace of Snowflake and Tornado gigs at York Theatre Royal for broadcast on the BBC, Stewart Lee returns for three nights of his Basic Lee show.
Following a decade of high-concept shows involving overarched, interlinked narratives, Lee enters the post-pandemic era in streamlined stand-up mode. One man, one microphone, and one microphone in the wings in case the one on stage breaks. Pure. Simple. Classic. Basic Lee – but sold out, alas.
Exhibition launch of the week: Navigators Art, Dream Time, City Screen Picturehouse, York, on show until April 21
YORK collective Navigators Art’s Dream Time exhibition takes inspiration from dreams, visions, surrealism and the mysteries and fantasies of the subconscious mind. The official launch event will be held tomorrow (19/3/2023) in the café bar from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
This mixed-media show features painting by Steve Beadle and Peter Roman; collage, prints and drawing by Richard Kitchen; photography and painting by Nick Walters and textiles by Katie Lewis.
Nostalgic show of the week: Tony Blackburn: Sound Of The 60s Live, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
BBC Radio 2 disc jockey Tony Blackburn hosts an evening of 1960s’ classics, performed live by the Sound Of The 60s All Star Band and Singers.
Listen out for the hits of The Everly Brothers, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Otis Redding, The Beatles, The Who and many more. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Liverpool lip of the week: Paul Smith: Joker, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm
JOKER is Paul Smith’s biggest and funniest tour show to date, wherein the Scouse humorist mixes his trademark audience interaction with true stories from his everyday life.
Resident compere at Liverpool’s Hot Water Club, Smith has made his mark online as well as on the gig circuit with his affable nature and savvy wit. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Indie gig of the week: Roddy Woomble, Selby Town Hall, Thursday, 8pm
RODDY Woomble, Scottish indie band Idlewild’s lead singer, is now a leading voice in the British contemporary indie folk scene. In Selby, he is joined by Idlewild band mate Andrew Wasylyk for a duo show of Idlewild favourites and solo works.
“This is a tour in between records, so a tour for exploring all the songs,” says Woomble. “Lo! Soul is going on two years old now, and although the songs still sound fresh to me when I play them, it’s time for something new – which there is. We’ll definitely be including some new material in the set.” Box office: selbytownhall.co.uk.
Two nights at the opera: English Touring Opera, York Theatre Royal, in Lucrezia Borgia, March 24, and Il Viaggio a Reims, March 25, both 7.30pm
LUCREZIA Borgia, Donizetti’s tragedy of a complex woman in a dangerous situation, is making its debut in the English Touring Opera repertoire in Eloise Lally’s ETO directorial debut production of this thrilling and moving meditation on power and motherhood.
Valentina Ceschi directs a cast of 27 in Il Viaggio a Reims, Rossini’s last Italian opera, in which intrigue, politics, romance and lost luggage all play their part as a group of entitled guests from all over Europe is stranded in a provincial hotel on the way to a great coronation. Period-instrument specialists The Old Street Band play for both operas. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week: Steve Earle, The Alone Again Tour, Grand Opera House, York, June 9
AS his tour title suggests, legendary Americana singer, songwriter, producer, actor, playwright, novelist, short story writer and radio presenter Steve Earle will be performing solo and acoustic in York: the only Yorkshire gig of a ten-date itinerary without his band The Dukes that will take in the other Barbican, in London, and Glastonbury.
Born in Fort Monroae National Monument, Hampton, Virginia, Earle grew up in Texas and began his songwriting career in Nashville, releasing his first EP in 1982 and debut album Guitar Town in 1986, since when he has branched out from country music into rock, bluegrass, folk music and blues.
His colourful life prompted Lauren St John’s 2003 biography Hardcore Troubadour: The Life And Near Death Of Steve Earle, written with the rebel rocker’s exclusive and unfettered cooperation. “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself,” he once said.
Earle, 68, has been married seven times (including twice to the same woman) and been through drug addiction and run-ins with the law, serving a month in prison in 1994 for heroin possession. “Going to jail is what saved my life,” he said, after he was sent to rehab.
A protege of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Earle is a masterful storytelling songwriter in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, The Proclaimers and The Pretenders, among others.
Since the Millennium, he has released such albums as the Grammy-awarded The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007) and Townes (2009).
Restlessly creative across artistic disciplines, Earle has published a collection of short stories, Doghouse Roses (2002) ; a novel, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (2011), and a memoir, I Can’t Remember If We said Goodbye (2015).
He has produced albums for Joan Baez and Lucinda Williams, acted in films and on television, notably in David Simon’s The Wire, and hosts a radio show for Sirius XM.
In 2009, Earle made his off-Broadway theatre debut in the play Samara, contributing the score too. In 2010, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics in the drama series Treme.
In 2020, he wrote music for and appeared in Coal Country, a docu-play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that shines a light on the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion, the most deadly mining disaster in United States history. A nomination for a Drama Desk Award came his way.
In 2020 too, Earle released the album Ghosts Of West Virginia and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His 21st studio album, J.T. in January 2021, was an homage to his late son, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who had died from an accidental drug overdose in August 2020. In May 2022 came Jerry Jeff, Earle’s tribute to cowboy troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday morning (23/3/2023) at atgtickets.com/york.
YORK collective Navigators Art’s Dream Time exhibition at City Screen Picturehouse, York, takes inspiration from dreams, visions, surrealism and the mysteries and fantasies of the subconscious mind.
Part One is on show in the upstairs gallery from this week, joined by Part Two from March 19 in the café bar, where the official opening event with drinks will be held from 7.30pm to 9.30pm that night.
Dream Time’s mixed-media show features painting by Steve Beadle and Peter Roman; collage, prints and drawing by Richard Kitchen; photography and painting by Nick Walters and textiles by Katie Lewis.
Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen says: “We’re pleased to return to City Screen after our Moving Pictures show there this time last year.
“Since then, the group has quadrupled in number to cover our three-month residency at the StreetLife Hub, in Coney Street, and now includes musicians and other performers.”
Richard adds: “Not all of us are involved in this show as we have several other events to look forward to this year. A couple of us have individual exhibitions coming up too. There’s a limit to how much work anyone can make!
“All the artists taking part have interpreted the Dream Time theme in different ways and through different media.”
Navigators Art & Performance is a 16-piece collective of York artists, writers, musicians and performers with a wide range of age, experience and practice. Founded in 2019, the collective’s mission is to work with community groups and projects, to enhance and creatively interpret their activities for as wide an audience as possible.
In 2022, Navigators Art curated the art for York Theatre Royal’s Takeover Festival, then took over the basement of the government-funded StreetLife Hub project for the Coney Street Jam exhibition from October 2022 to January 2023.
“We’ve just finished exhibiting our Moving Pictures 2 show at Helmsley Arts Centre, and we’ll be part of York Festival of Ideas in June, presenting art and performance events at York Explore Library and other venues,” says Richard.
“We’re always seeking interesting venues in which to show and sell work by our members to the public. Our shows feature drawing, painting, collage, projection, sculpture, 3D constructions, photography, prints, textiles and sound installations, as well as words by our writers and music by our resident composer, Dylan Thompson.
“Our artists have had work featured in exhibitions and publications both online and actual, and several have been selected for York Open Studios.”
Navigators Art has mentored several emerging young artists too. “We encourage enquiries from potential collaborators, particularly those who are less established or underrepresented, and who have no regular platform for displaying work,” says Richard, who can be contacted via email@example.com.
Navigators Art presents Dream Time at City Screen Picturehouse, St Martin’s Courtyard, Coney Street, York, until April 21. The exhibition is open daily from approximately 11am until the end of the day’s last film screening.
YORK collective Navigators Art will conclude the extended run of their mixed-media exhibition at StreetLife’s project hub in Coney Street, York, on Sunday.
The 13 artists taking part in Coney St Jam: An Art Intervention will hold a sale of works on Saturday, when artists will be on site to meet visitors from 11am to 5pm.
Meanwhile, seven Navigators Art artists are exhibiting at Helmsley Arts Centre from this week to March 4 in a follow-up to last spring’s City Screen Picturehouse exhibition, Moving Pictures, and a further exhibition is to be held at City Screen from March 19 to April 22.
Drawing inspiration from the city’s rich heritage and vibrant creative communities, the StreetLife project explores new ways to revitalise and diversify Coney Street, York’s premium shopping street but one blighted with multiple empty premises.
In a creative response to Coney Street’s past, present and future, Navigators Art have made new work designed to enhance and interpret StreetLife’s research for a project involving the University of York, City of York Council, Make It York, My City Centre, York Civic Trust, York Music Venues Network and Thin Ice Press.
On show are paintings, drawings, collages, photography, textiles, projections, music, poetry and 3D work. Entry to the exhibition space is accessible by one set of stairs.
Taking part are Steve Beadle, figurative painting and drawing; Michael Dawson, mixed-media painting; Alfie Fox, creative photography; Alan Gillott, architectural and scenic photography; Oz Hardwick, creative photography, and Richard Kitchen, collage, abstract drawing, prints and poetry.
So too are Katie Lewis, textiles; Tim Morrison, painting and constructions; Peter Roman, figurative painting; Amy Elena Thompson, prints and tattoos; Dylan Thompson, composer; Simon AG Ellwood, sculptures, and Nick Walters, painting, video and sculpture.
“The arts are essential to public, cultural and personal wellbeing, despite efforts to ignore, undermine, underfund and generally devalue them to a shocking and highly unintelligent extent,” says Navigators Art co-founder Richard Kitchen.
“The arts should be central to every decision-making process in government and to education at every level.
“In the times we’re living through, we need creative solutions on a gigantic scale, and we need the sheer energy of the arts to help us survive and adapt. Those things aren’t going to be provided by bureaucracy or petty squabbling between political parties.
“I’d say give artists the kudos they deserve and let us help to turn things around. Pay us. Give us space to work in: let us use those empty buildings! Art isn’t just about old monuments. There are many living artists in York who could successfully take on social responsibilities because of the nature of what they do. We’re an asset to the city and should be valued and promoted as such.”
Richard continues: “Make Coney Street a flagship enclave for creatives and independent small retailers and an affordable, inspiring resource for the public to enjoy.
“That’s something we provided when we were based at Piccadilly [Piccadilly Pop Up] and we came to realise more and more how much that environment meant to people and benefited them. Offer that on a much wider scale and we’ll see real change for the better in society.”
Mixed-media artist Michael Dawson’s work is an homage to “all the words that poured out of Coney Street”, conjured since his move from Edinburgh to York last January. “I generally make dense, vibrant paintings and images on paper, wood, and canvas with mixed media, mainly acrylic and oil paint sticks,” he says.
“They often combine expressionistic, graphic and romantic elements that may be considered ‘outsider’ in style. Some are simple in layout, and some are busy and complex, but all have an air of the confessional; they are deeply personal.
“However raw the composition, I do always strive to bring poetry and aesthetics to the mix. My connection to the theme of ‘printing’ is ‘words’; words that once sprang from the Yorkshire Herald newspaper and words that continue to help define a new era for the area.”
Peter Roman likes to “use everything” in his works, not only oils, acrylics, pastels and charcoal, but even a repurposed cupboard door and a chipboard for his painting of Big Issue seller Ana Alisia.
“It features the issue I bought from her that day, using paper from that edition, the one with Alan Ayckbourn on the front,” says Peter.
“Ana is always on the corner of Coney Street and Market Street, and she’s there pretty much every day. I moved out to Elvington three years ago, but when I come into York, she’s still there, and she’s always smiling.
“When I talked to her, she told me she’s originally from Rumania and now lives in Leeds.”
Amy Elena Thompson, who studied illustration at York St John University, is presenting prints and tattoo designs rooted in the history of the now-demolished George Inn at Number 19, Coney Street, where Charlotte and Anne Bronte once stayed.
“I was interested in seeing how I could use designs from there in my own practice, given how decorative they were and how similar they were to tattoos, which I’m hoping to get into as a career, starting with an apprenticeship, working with a tattooist as my mentor to pass on the necessary knowledge.”
Amy’s research led her to learning about an artist who provided illustrations for coaching inns, depicting both the buildings and the life on the street.
Favouring 3D designs in her work, Amy uses calligraphy pens. “You have to think about the pressure you apply with them, like you do with a tattoo, but it gives a natural flow to each work.”
Participating in the Moving Pictures II show at Helmsley Arts Centre are Kai Amafé, prints and 3D work; Steve Beadle, paintings and drawings; Michael Dawson, paintings; Richard Kitchen, prints and collages; Katie Lewis, textiles and paintings; Timothy Morrison, constructions, and Peter Roman, paintings.
“The title Moving Pictures is deliberately open to interpretation by the audience as well as the artists,” says Richard.
“Looking ahead, we hope to be working with York Archaeology in 2023 and are planning a series of themed events in and around the city.”
Coney St Jam: An Art Intervention by Navigators Art, at StreetLife Project Hub, 29-31 Coney Street, York, is open 10am to 5pm, Thursday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm, Sunday. Free entry.
Navigators Art’s Moving Pictures II exhibition runs at Helmsley Arts Centre until March 3; open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10am to 3pm; Thursdays, 11am to 3pm, as well as during event opening times. Artist Richard Kitchen will be stewarding an 11am to 3pm opening on Sunday, January 15. Admission is free.
IT’S beginning to look a lot like Christmas will be the be all and end all of Charles Hutchinson’s list. Except for a bite of comedy, a Scotsman and hidden digital artworks, that is.
Exhibition launch of the week: Adele Karmazyn, Hidden Spaces, City Screen Picturehouse café, York, from Monday to January 14 2023
INSPIRED by this year’s York Unlocked event, York Open Studios regular Adele Karmazyn has embraced the opportunity to visit this historic city’s hidden spaces, taking photographs on the way.
These photos create the backdrop for her new body of work, each piece evolving into an individual story when she brings in her 19th century characters, taken from old cabinet photographs, and combines these with other photographs of objects, landscapes and creatures in her digital photomontages. By merging multiple layers and concentrating on light and depth, Adele creates “realistic, believable scenarios, which at the same time could never possibly be”.
Promenade event of the week: Be Amazing Arts in A Christmas Carol, Malton Market Place, until December 24, 7pm nightly (except December 16 and 22); 5pm on Christmas Eve
AFTER a sell-out debut run in 2021, Be Amazing Arts return to Malton Market Place with Rozanna Klimaszewska’s promenade adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol in the market town where Dickens himself performed at the long-gone theatre.
Starting out at Kemps General Store, this immersive theatre and dining experience invites you to follow Dickens (Quinn Richards, who also plays Ebenezer Scrooge) as he tells the story and brings to life Dickens’s characters alongside fellow professionals James Rotchell and Kirsty Wolff and Be Amazing’s Young Company. Festive canapes and a warming winter drink are provided by The Cook’s Place. Box office: 01653 917271 or beamazingarts.co.uk.
Have yourself a Mari little Christmas: Mari Wilson, Selby Town Hall, tonight, 8pm
JUST what you always wanted: A Mari Christmas from Neasden’s “Nymphette of Nail Varnish and High Priestess of Hair Spray”, Miss Beehive, songstress Mari Wilson, who will be combining her Eighties’ hits with tunes of Yuletide yesterdays, a Singalong-a-Christmas and seasonal surprises. Dressing up is a must for the complete Wilsational night. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.
Fresh from Squeeze’s Food For Thought autumn tour, Chris Difford is doing the solo rounds, returning to Selby on Friday. Sold out, alas.
Entirely winter from… Mostly Autumn Christmas Show!, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm (doors 7pm)
YORK prog-rockers Mostly Autumn celebrate Christmas with a standing show at The Crescent, sure to feature For Everyone At Christmastime. Expect hard rock, Celtic themes, traces of trad folk and more contemporary influences too in a set of festive fireworks from Bryan Josh, Olivia Sparnenn-Josh, Angela Gordon and co for devotes of Seventies’ Genesis, Pink Floyd, Camel, Renaissance and Jethro Tull, before they head off to Belgium next week. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Christmas institution of the week: York Community Carol Concert, York Barbican, Sunday, 2pm
AFTER 64 years, York’s community carol concert draws in all ages and still plays to full houses. Taking part this time will be York Railway Institute Band; Osbaldwick Primary Academy Choir; St Oswald’s CE Primary School; Stamford Bridge Community Choir and York singer, songwriter and guitarist Steve Cassidy.
Mike Pratt is the musical director, with the Reverend Andrew Foster and BBC Radio York presenter Adam Tomlinson as the co-hosts, for an afternoon of Christmas carols and songs in aid of the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York’s Christmas Cheer Fund and Martin House Children’s Hospice. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
More Christmas events at York Barbican: Disney’s The Muppet Christmas Carol: Live In Concert, Monday, 7pm; Rick Wakeman’s Grumpy Christmas Stocking, Tuesday, 7.30pm; Emma Bunton: The Christmas Show 2022, December 16, 8pm
DISNEY’S The Muppet Christmas Carol, the one with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Michael Caine as stingy Ebenezer Scrooge, Gonzo as Charles Dickens and Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchit, will be accompanied by a live performance of the musical score.
Yes organist Rick Wakeman gives a Yuletide twist to his grand piano and electric keyboard arrangements of songs from his own career and others, plus a few surprises, punctuated by stories.
Emma Bunton spices up her Christmas Party with solo career hits, Spice Girls staples and festive favourites. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Most welcome Scottish visitor of the week: Steve Mason, No More Tour, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm
SCOTSMAN Steve Mason is joined by keyboardist Darren Morris on his No More Tour, named after his new single. Melodious material from his Beta Band days and solo catalogue are promised, along with a showcase of songs from Brothers And Sisters, his first album since January 2019’s About The Light, ready for release in 2023. Cobain Jones is the support act. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Comedy gigs of the week: Russell Kane Live!: The Essex Variant, York Barbican, Wednesday, 8pm; Dara OBriain: So…Where Were We?, York Barbican, Thursday, 8pm
MAN Baggage and Evil Genius podcaster, comedian, actor, writer and presenter Russell Kane discusses “the two years we’ve just gone through” in his Essex variant of Covid comedy.
By way of contrast, in his sold-out return, Irishman Dara OBriain will “hardly mention the last year and a half, because, Jesus, who wants to hear about that but will instead fire out the usual mix of stories, one-liners and audience messing”. Box office: for Kane tickets only, yorkbarbican.co.uk.
CITY Screen Picturehouse is celebrating the Christmas season in York with a series of festive films ranging from modern animations to returning classics.
Festive cinema-goers can look forward to the likes of Elf, Frozen, Die Hard and It’s A Wonderful Life, complemented by many more.
Marketing manager Tiffany Winterburn says: “We have a fantastic selection of films this season to get you in the Christmas spirit and invoke that feeling of festive nostalgia.”
Parents will have plenty of options to entertain their little ones every Saturday morning this month at 11am at Picturehouse’s Kids’ Club, beginning today with The Grinch (2018), followed by Frozen on December 10, The Muppets Christmas Carol on December 17 and Polar Express on December 24. Tickets cost £3.
In keeping with tradition, Frank Capra’s 1946 fantasy It’s A Wonderful Life (U) returns to City Screen this month, marked by a dementia-friendly screening on December 19.
An elderly angel is sent from heaven to help desperately frustrated businessman George Bailey (James Stewart) as he contemplates suicide. Taking George back through his life to point out what good he has done, the angel shows him what life would have been like if he had never existed.
The December 19 screening is open to all, but specifically for people with dementia and their family, friends and carers, who are welcome to join for free tea, coffee and mince pies and a chance to socialise for 30 minutes before the film starts at 12.45pm.
A full list of upcoming films and times can be found on the Picturehouse Christmas 2022 blog at picturehouses.com/blog/christmas-at-picturehouse-2022. Tickets are available from the Coney Street box office or at picturehouses.co.uk.
CITY Screen York is selling a selection of Christmas gifts, notably City Screen Christmas Crackers, available exclusively in the cinema.
Each cracker contains:
● One voucher for a free cinema ticket
● One voucher for a free drink (house wine, draught beer, soft drink or hot drink)
● A bag of chocolate coins
● A joke and a paper hat
These crackers are 100 per cent plastic-free, printed using vegetable inks and produced in the UK, making for both a minimalist and environmentally friendly gift. £1 from every cracker sold is donated to Picturehouse’s partner charity, Refuge, for the provision of specialist support for women and children experiencing domestic violence.
Crackers are available in singles at £16 or in a pack of six (£96). For more details, go to: picturehouses.com/blog/have-a-cracking-christmas-with-picturehouse-christmas-gifting