More Things To Do in York and beyond. Advice? Ignore the rain. Consult Hutch’s List No. 30 for 2023, from The Press, York

Finley Butler’s Danny Zuko and Maia Beatrice’s Sandy Dumbrowski in NETheatre York’s Grease at the JoRo Theatre

GREASE is not the only word as Charles Hutchinson picks highlights aplenty for the weeks ahead, from comedy to puppetry, workshops to festivals, burlesque to blues.

Musical of the week: NETheatre York in Grease, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

STEVE Tearle directs University of Hull theatre student Finn Butler and Cleethorpes pantomime star Maia Beatrice in the lead roles in this celebration of the 1950s in its duck-tailed, bobby-soxed, gum-snapping glory.

The American high school dream is about to explode in this coming-of-age musical with its story of hot-rodding T-Bird Danny Zuko and the sweet new girl in town, Sandy Dumbrowski, whose secret summer romance resurfaces as they unexpectedly discover they are now at the same school. Tickets update: limited availability, so prompt booking is advised on 01904 501935 or

Russell Howard: Two problem-solving shows in a day at Grand Opera House, York

Comedy gig(s) of the week: Russell Howard, Grand Opera House, York, today, 3pm and 7.30pm

COMEDIAN Russell Howard plays two shows in a day in York on his 2023 tour, the afternoon gig having sold out already. As we reel from one global crisis to the next, the host of Russell Howard’s Good News and The Russell Howard Hour will be putting the world to rights. Box office:  

The poster for this week’s Connect Festival, hosted by Four Wheel Drive

Children’s activity of the weekend: Play In A Day with Four Wheel Drive, Connect Festival, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 10am

AIMED at ten to 14-year-olds, this action-packed, fast-paced, fun session will create a play based on a classic text in only four hours, guided ​​by Connect Festival organisers Four Wheel Drive’s Educate creative team.Participants will showcase their work in the black-box theatre in front of an audience of family and friends at 4pm. Tickets:

The Outside In plant studio owner Alice Maynard, who will lead tomorrow’s workshop at the Connect Festival

Workshop of the week: Build A Mini Terrarium With The Outside In, Connect Festival, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 12.30pm

YORK plant studio The Outside In hosts a step-by-step guide to creating a sustainable miniature garden world, using tropical plants, mosses and decorative stones to bring the landscape to life.

The key words to describe Alice Maynard’s Sunday session are sustainability, mindfulness, creativity, relaxation and insightfulness as adults and children aged seven and over learn the history of terrariums. Each participant will be provided with a mystery mini-figure to help tell a story. Tickets:

Lempen Puppet Theatre Company in Flotsam & Jetsam, on tour in Pocklington

Family show of the week: Lempen Puppet Theatre Company in Flotsam & Jetsam, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 2.30pm

FLOTSAM is soft, flexible, laid back. She slides and glides through life on the ice. Jetsam is the opposite, his insectile body is stiff and nervy, alert and watchful, suspicious of all in his forest home. Both are cast adrift in a world that is strange to them and full of danger.

Finally washed up on the same island beach, these two very different creatures must discover the other and work together in a hope-filled adventure story, told with original music and puppetry, for four-year-olds upwards. Box office: 01759 301547 or

Public Service Broadcasting: Saturday headliners at next week’s Deer Shed Festival

Festival of the week: Deer Shed Festival, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, July 28 to 31

THE Comet Is Coming, Public Service Broadcasting and The Delgados take the music headline slots at Deer Shed 2023. Keep an eye out for Gaz Coombes, The Big Moon, This Is The Kit, Dream Wife, Gwenno, James Yorkston & Nina Persson, Rozi Plain, Elanor Moss and a DJ set by snooker legend Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi.

A science tent with AI album covers, comedy, sports, spoken word and literary events, workshops, theatre, cinema and well being all play their part in the four days too. For ticket availability, head to:

Lily Monarch rules in the poster artwork for A Little Bit Of Everything at The Crescent

Could we interest you in…A Little Bit Of Everything? On show at The Crescent, York, next Saturday, 7.45pm to 11pm

IN a night of drag, cabaret, burlesque and comedy, Lily Monarch is joined by The Family Shambles and the crown jewels of York’s drag scene. Look out for Bodie Snatcher, Bailey Bubbles, Lois Carmen, Denominator, Wilhelmina Rose, Robynne Ryske, Luna Hex, Dick Fran Dyke, MX Fish Fingers, Tommy Boi, Reese Wetherspoon and York’s drag king boy band Boyz 2 Kings. Box office:

The poster for Cafe Mambo Ibiza Classics In The City at York Barbican

House moves: Cafe Mambo Ibiza Classics In The City: A Night Of Timeless House Music, York Barbican, August 5, 8pm

AFTER two sell-out shows, iconic house music brand Cafe Mambo Ibiza completes a hattrick of York Barbican nights with Classics In The City, showcasing influential floor fillers from three decades, from CeCe Peniston’s Finally to Derrick May’s Strings Of Life.

On the decks will be Paul Oakenfold, Judge Jules, Danny Rampling and Erik Hagleton, complemented by live performances from Julie McKnight and Shingai. Box office:

Star Stone: Starring in #MeToo, her one-woman comedy show, at Theatre@41, Monkgate

Fringe politics: Star Stone in #MeToo, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, August 3, 7.30pm

AMERICAN writer, actress, producer and playwright Star Stone presents her one-woman educational comedy #MeToo in York ahead of her Edinburgh Fringe debut next month.

“Sex cults with fake feminism, Pretend Shamans, Burning Man and Lower East Side nightclub ‘photographers’” all make an appearance in a hour-long show with 20-plus characters. Box office:

On the road to the patio: Jess Gardham heads for York Theatre Royal

Moody blues: Jess Gardham, York Theatre Royal patio, August 4, 6pm

YORK singer, songwriter and musical theatre actress Jess Gardham plays outdoors in an evening performance on the revamped Theatre Royal patio.

Jess has played on BBC Introducing, supported Paul Carrack, KT Tunstall, The Shires and Martin Simpson and starred in principal roles in Hairspray The Musical, Ghost The Musical and Rock Of Ages. Box office: 01904 623568 or

Latest score: Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcast hits Episode 100. Listen here

Kristy Matheson: Creative director of Edinburgh International Festival 2022

TWO Big Egos In A Small Car culture-vulture podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson celebrate clocking up their 100th episode with an Edinburgh International Film Festival special as the loquacious, if argumentative, duo head to Scotland, squeezed into Hutch’s compact mobile.

Under discussion too are two festivals, Deer Shed 12 and Doncaster’s ArtBomb 22. To listen, head to:

REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Steve Mason and Wolf Solent, Stockton on the Forest Village Hall, near York, December 14

Fairy lights and a lamp for Steve Mason’s Christmas-season solo show at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall. All pictures: Paul Rhodes

THIS seemingly incongruous venue turned out to be a smart choice. “I have no idea where I am,” Mason joked.

Yet this North Yorkshire village hall clearly put the Scotsman at ease. The former chief of the Beta Band has been enjoying a long solo revival since Boys Outside was released in 2010. His last album, 2019’s About The Light, was a wonderfully accessible collection of pop rock songs, while 2013’s Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time fulfilled all The Beta Band’s unspent promise.

Seated alone by a lamp, amid twinkling fairy lights and a Christmas tree to the side in this beautifully maintained hall, Mason would be an unlikely choice for a Christmas party. It turns out that while his songs can be downbeat and deal with serious themes, he is great company, full of stories and funny lines. He also commands your attention on stage.

Tuesday’s audience and a village-hall Christmas tree at Steve Mason’s gig

Hopefully support act Wolf Solent (Yor- based Danny Trew Barton) was taking notes, as he was the opposite. He’s in good company – think Nick Drake’s disastrous tour of working men’s clubs.

Solent’s material feels steeped in lo-fi bands such as Acetone and Sparklehorse, which is a tough act to take to a live audience, but in the mix there were songs of quiet beauty.

Even his most ardent admirers might admit that Mason’s songs tend to sound alike, but he has an unerring knack of finding a way to bring both depth and melody. A new number, accompanied by stomping and clapping, was a prime example – with a timely message about needing light.

“I have no idea where I am,” admitted Scotsman Steve Mason at his Stockton on the Forest concert

In lockdown, Mason has become, in his words and at least partly tongue in cheek, a rampant capitalist – and he was looking fetching in one of his sweatshirts. This side of him must sit uneasily with the part that “won’t follow fools”, which was a biting line in another new composition.

His faithful cover of Roger Waters’ Mother (from The Wall) felt like a natural choice, better than his expected finale of Dry The Rain, which never quite took off. The Beta Band’s signature song works better with a band, as evidenced from his Crescent show in 2019 or his star turn on the Deer Shed Festival main stage at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, that same year.

At his best, Mason is a bona-fide member of music’s business class and he certainly lit up a pitch-black December night.

Review by Paul Rhodes

Chatty art podcast duo Chalmers & Hutch hit Two Big Egos In A Small Car episode 40

Film director Oliver Stone, snazzy blue glasses and all, discusses his film JFK, politics, more politics, his upcoming documentary and yet more politics in an online interview for Harrogate Film Festival

NO Stone unturned as Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcasters Chalmers and Hutch hit Episode 40 with thoughts on Harrogate Film Festival, Oliver Stone & JFK; Jagger & Grohl’s Slade-meets-Sham 69 lockdown knockdown single Eazy Sleazy; bye-bye Bay City Roller Les McKeown & Jim Steinman RIP; jazz & happiness; no Covid insurance government support, no Deer Shed Festival in 2021 & what next for the summer festival season? Oh, and the return of pub theatre…outdoors in York.

Here’s the link:

Deer Shed Festival is off, blaming lack of Government support for event insurance

No Deer Shed 11, no James, no Tim Booth dance moves, as the 2021 festival is postponed

DEER Shed Festival has been postponed for the second successive summer under the pandemic cloud, this time the lack of viable Covid cancellation insurance being a hurdle too far.

Initially, encouraged by the Government roadmap to unlocking set in place on February 22, organisers Oliver and Katie Jones decided to go “full steam ahead” from July 30 to August 1 at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Thirsk.

They vowed to “work flat out” to deliver “what looks like a full fat Deer Shed 11”. Now, however, they have announced the postponement of the “three-day wonderland of music, arts, science and sport for all ages”, headlined by Stereolab, James and Baxter Dury.

New dates are in place for Deer Shed 12 from July 29 to July 31 2022, and the back-up plan of “exciting” new Base Camp Plus is in place for this summer.

In a website statement to Deer Shedders under the title “The bad news”, Oliver and Kate say: “We have made the decision to postpone Deer Shed until 2022. Many things remain uncertain for festivals this summer, but the lack of Covid cancellation insurance is the one hurdle we have been unable to clear.

“Earlier in the year, we were hopeful a Government-backed Covid insurance scheme would be in place, but we now have no reason to believe it will be despite frantic industry lobbying.”

The statement continues: “Deer Shed is still a 100 per cent independent family owned and run festival, and the risks of running without insurance leave Kate and myself financially exposed well beyond our comfort zone.

“We will, of course, offer ticket refunds for Deer Shed 11 or rollovers to Deer Shed 12. We really appreciate those of you who will again be able to support us by rolling over your tickets to 2022.”

Full details on the postponement can be found at:, where all manner of questions are answered too. Any further questions should be emailed to

Refunds applications should be made by April 29. Alternatively, Deer Shed can provide a voucher to the 2023 event if you cannot make the 2022 dates.

Under the headline “The good news”, Oliver and Kate confirm they instead will run a smaller event within their comfort zone: Base Camp Plus, an upgrade on last summer’s “hugely successful” Base Camp, with extra bits, on the July 30 to August 1 weekend.

This will take the form of “a safe camping weekend in Baldersby Park, with plenty of space, loads of camping options, including your own loo,” says the organisers. “Park next to your pitch, book next to your mates, bring the dog…

Oh deer: Deer Shed Festival’s announcement of this summer’s postponement

Plus live music and comedy performances (at last!), food, drink, partying, campfires, workshops, theatre, well-being, swingballs and anything else we dream up.

“Of course, the plus does rely on continued progress in the unlocking roadmap. We will have more details in the coming weeks, space is limited, so register your interest and be first in line when we release tickets.” To express that interest, visit the website.

Looking ahead, the line-up for Deer Shed 10 last summer had rolled over to Deer Shed 11, but this will not be the case for 2022.

“After carrying the line-up over once before, we feel a fresh start for 2022 is necessary, particularly with some fantastic recent additions to the Deer Shed music and arts booking team,” say Oliver and Kate.

We know many of you were looking forward to seeing the acts billed at Deer Shed Festival 11, but we strongly believe this is the best option for facilitating the most exciting line-up possible next year.”

Deer Shed Festival joins early June’s Download Festival, at Donington Park, Leicestershire, and August’s five-day Boomtown, at Mattersley Estate, Hampshire, in announcing their cancellation this week in light of the Government still refusing to offer festival insurance against Coronavirus to such outdoor events.  

All eyes now will be on Yorkshire’s biggest open-air event of the summer, Leeds Festival, set to play to full crowds with Covid-secure protocols in place from August 27 to 29 at Bramham Park, near Wetherby.

Festival organiser Melvin Benn, of Festival Republic, has been prominent in asking the Government to provide festival insurance, but Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has resisted such calls again this week.

In a nutshell, independent festivals are reluctant to throw money at non-refundable costs without the assurance of insurance being in place.

As for bigger events, such as Leeds Festival, Mr Benn says: “The worry about insurance is not confined to the smaller festivals, I have that worry too. We’re all working really tightly together on all of this – the big festivals and small festivals are being very collaborative.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister, 42 Conservative MPs are asking the Government to support a £250 million insurance scheme to enable event organisers to “ensure that live music festivals can proceed with their plans to go ahead after 21 June”.

Watch this space for what will happen next as Roadmap Step 3 and Step 4 unfold, with the tantalising prospect of freedom from lockdown measures on Summer Solstice Day.

James to complete hattrick of Scarborough Open Air Theatre gigs on September 9

The poster for James’s return to Scarborough Open Air Theatre in September

WHERE better for James to announce a summer show on the day they release new single Beautiful Beaches than at Scarborough Open Air Theatre?

The Manchester legends will play on the East Coast on Thursday, September 9 in the wake of launching their new album, All The Colours Of You, on June 4. Tickets will go on sale on Friday (23/4/2021) at 9am at

This will be the third that James, led by Clifford-born Tim Booth, have played Scarborough OAT after shows on May 22 2015 in the venue’s hindersome moat days and post-moat redesign on August 18 2018.

Bassist Jim Glennie says: “We always have a great night there – even back in the days when you had to cross the old moat to get to the audience! We’re looking forward to another very special night on the Yorkshire coast.”

“After all these years, we are still challenging ourselves and our fans,” says bassist Jim Glennie of James’s new album. “Enjoy.”

Peter Taylor, venue programmer for Scarborough OAT promoters Cuffe and Taylor, says: “We are absolutely delighted James are returning here this summer. They continue to be one of the UK’s most relevant and influential bands – pioneers of the Manchester music scene since the 1980s – and a must-see live act. Roll on September 9. It’s going to be an amazing night.”            

New single Beautiful Beaches was written by Tim Booth in response to climate change migrations and the subsequent increasingly regular Californian fires bringing devastation to the community where he lived before moving to Costa Rica.

All The Colours Of You, James’ “sweet 16th” studio album, follows last December’s release of Live In Extraordinary Times, a double-CD and DVD concert recording built around their last studio album, 2018’s Living In Extraordinary Times.

Recorded in part before the Covid pandemic struck, All The Colours Of You was produced by Booth’s neighbour in Topanga Canyon, the Grammy award-winning Jacknife Lee, who has worked previously with U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol and The Killers.

Surfing in Scarborough? How can Tim Booth resist on September 9?

On production duties with James for the first time, Lee has bought a fresh approach to their sound, working remotely from his studio as he liaised with Booth and Glennie, reimagining, deconstructing and reassembling their demos and capturing a band in all their virtual glory.

Reflecting on the album’s creation, Booth says: “With all the s**t that went down in 2020, this was a miraculous conception and another big jump forward for us on the back of the last three albums. I hope it reflects the colours of these crazy times. Sweet sixteen is a proper album, no fillers and is up there with our best. With love, Tim.”

Glennie is pleased, proud and surprised by the record in equal measure. “Jacknife has pushed us and the songs somewhere new and it’s very exciting,” he says. “After all these years, we are still challenging ourselves and our fans. Enjoy.”

The track listing on James’s first album on Virgin Music will be: ZERO; All The Colours Of You; Recover; Beautiful Beaches; Wherever It Takes Us; Hush; Miss America; Getting Myself Into; Magic Bus; Isabella and XYST.

The artwork for James’s “sweet 16th” studio album, All The Colours Of You, out on June 4

Looking ahead, James will open their seven-date 2021 tour at Leeds First Direct Arena on November 25, supported by fellow Manchester maverick institution Happy Mondays. “Soo looking forward to seeing you,” said Booth, when announcing the gigs last November on Twitter and at

“We’re playing with the brilliant Happy Mondays. Last played with them in 1988, hopefully this time they won’t steal our rider or try and spike my drink…”

The tour has sold faster than any previous James tour, chalking up 60,000 ticket sales for shows in Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Dublin, Manchester and London. Remaining tickets are available at:

In the summer, James will play a second North Yorkshire outdoor gig, headlining the Saturday bill at Deer Shed Festival 11, confirmed to run from July 30 to August 1 at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, near Thirsk.

Destiny calling! James to headline Deer Shed Festival’s Saturday line-up on July 25

James, fronted by Tim Booth, centre, will play Deer Shed Festival this summer

JAMES will be the Saturday night headliners at July’s Deer Shed Festival at Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, near Thirsk.

The Manchester band, led by Boston Spa singer Tim Booth, will top the July 25 bill, following in the footsteps of Johnny Marr, Goldfrapp, John Grant and Richard Hawley.

Deer Shed Festival’s delighted director, Oliver Jones, says: “There’s no doubt James are one of the biggest bands we’ve ever booked for Deer Shed.

“Their back catalogue is astonishing, with track after track of excellent guitar anthems, and their most recent album [August 2018’s Living In Extraordinary Times] confirmed that they’re still at the absolute top of their game. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a band that can pack out Leeds First Direct Arena before.

“Curating a line-up of artists that we personally love every year is always a source of much pride for our team, and James now sit on top of what we think is both the best and most star-studded music bill we’ve ever put together.” 

Formed in 1982, James have charted with such singles as Sit Down, Destiny Calling, Laid, Sound, Born Of Frustration, Sometimes, Come Home, Tomorrow, She’s A Star, Just Like Fred Astaire and Getting Away With It (All Messed Up), as well as releasing 15 studio albums.

James, who headlined Scarborough Open Air Theatre in 2015 and 2018, join Stereolab, on July 24, and Baxter Dury, on July 26, to complete Deer Shed 11’s trio of main-stage headliners.

Meanwhile, the family-friendly festival’s latest additions, announced today, are The Soft Cavalry, the new project from Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and her husband, Steve Clarke, on the Lodge Stage on July 25, before DIY supergroup Shopping take up the late-night party slot on the same stage.

French-Caribbean act Dowdelin, indie-rock band Marthagunn and Hullensian post-punk outfit Low Hummer all join Deer Shed’s In The Dock stage bill.  Elsewhere, David Thomas Broughton and Andrew Cushin strengthen the festival’s north eastern contingent, alongside Marsicans, Life and Ruthie. 

Manchester club night DJs Across The Tracks and Leeds DJ and production duo Baba&Ganoush join Happy Mondays’ Bez on the late-night silent disco line-up. 

Deer Shed’s tenth anniversary event last summer sold out with record audience numbers. Tickets for Deer Shed 11 are on sale at, where further festival information can be found too.

Kate Tempest: playing Deer Shed 11 on July 26

Deer Shed Festival 11’s confirmed acts:

James; Stereolab; Baxter Dury; Ghostpoet; Cate Le Bon; Kate Tempest (Telling Poems); Tim Burgess; The Twilight Sad; Warmduscher; Boy Azooga; Sinkane; Dream Wife; Roddy Woomble; Jesca Hoop; The Soft Cavalry; Snapped Ankles; Melt Yourself Down.

Liz Lawrence; LIFE; Marsicans; Erland Cooper; Dry Cleaning; Admiral Fallow; W.H. Lung; Ren Harvieu; Shopping; International Teachers of Pop; Avalanche Party; I See Rivers; Kitt Philippa; Rachael Dadd; Native Harrow; Kate Davis; Big Joanie; Do Nothing; Egyptian Blue; Rina Mushonga; Dowdelin; Friedberg; Heidi Talbot & Boo Hewerdine; Ruthie.

Serious Sam Barrett; Eve Owen; Low Hummer; Irish Mythen; Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band; Tom Joshua; Brigid Mae Power; David Thomas Broughton; Conchur White; Gary Stewart; Beccy Owen; Morrissey & Marshall present Dublin Calling; Steo Wall; The Magpies; Padraig Jack; Andrew Cushin; Bez (DJ); Rory Hoy (DJ); Meg Ward (DJ); Across The Tracks (DJ); Baba&Ganoush (DJ).