OMID Djalili’s brace of postponed shows on July 22 at Pocklington Arts Centre has been moved to May 18 and 19 2022.
British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for this month’s cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.
When Pocklington Arts Centre’s festival organisers, director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy, decided not to stage the large-scale indoor festival under the continuing pandemic cloud, award-winning Djalili agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for his festival gig would not miss out.
Significantly too, those 7pm and 9pm performances would have been without social-distancing measures, but after the Government’s delay in Step 4 from June 21 to July 19 left uncertainty in the air, the shows were re-scheduled for next spring.
Tickets for the original event at Platform Festival remain valid and any ticket holder needing further information should contact the box office on 01759 301547. Those who selected the 7pm show on July 19 are now allocated to May 18; 9pm tickets to May 19. Remaining tickets for the new dates cost £25 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
When Djalili’s shows go ahead, third time lucky, expect intelligent, provocative, fast-talking, boundlessly energetic comedic outbursts rooted in cultural observations, wherein he explores the diversity of modern Britain.
BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Trials Of Cato will headline the third Primrose Wood Acoustics session in Pocklington on August 5.
Organised by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC), the outdoor concert series will complete its summer hattrick by popular demand after sold-out sylvan shows on July 1 and 8.
Scunthorpe-born virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson and East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer played the first night; Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft, the second.
The third 7pm event will once again “fuse nature’s soundtrack, background birdsong and transcendent live music under a natural canopy of trees to create a truly enchanting open-air experience for audiences”.
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “Primrose Wood Acoustics is a new concept for Pocklington Arts Centre, with this being the first time we have taken live music not only outdoors but also into a woodland setting.
“Our first two events have proved so popular, selling out on both occasions and attracting such positive, uplifting feedback, that we just had to do another one.
“This time we have The Trials Of Cato headlining, which is a perfect fit for such a charming woodland setting. When nature and live music collide something really wonderful happens and we know this is going to be no exception.”
Hailed by Mark Radcliffe, The Folk Show host on BBC Radio 2, as “one of the real discoveries on the folk circuit in recent times”, The Trials Of Cato won Best Album at the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their debut, Hide And Hair.
Formed in Beirut, when Tomos Williams, Will Addison and Robin Jones were working in Lebanon as English teachers, the trio had returned to Britain in 2016, Here, they set about performing tirelessly up and down the country with their stomping tunes and captivating stories that paid homage to the tradition while twisting old bones into something more febrile and modern.
Hide And Hair’s release in November 2018 was greeted with airplay on BBC 6 Music and Radio 2 and thumbs-up coverage in national publications, while mastering engineer John Davis, who worked with Jimmy Page on the Led Zeppelin remasters, memorably dubbed them “The Sex Pistols of folk”.
After a year of wall-to-wall touring across the UK, Europe and North America, however, the band’s march was halted by the stultifying silence of the global pandemic, but now they are emerging anew from their transformative chrysalis.
“The Trials continue,” they say, but this time, after Addison’s departure, Williams and Jones are joined by Leamington Spa multi-instrumentalist and singer Polly Bolton, from The Magpies, for their hotly anticipated second album.
Set for release later this year (precise date yet to be confirmed), Gog Magog is named both after the mythical giant of Arthurian legend and the Cambridgeshire hilltop, where the new album was birthed over lockdown.
The support act for August 5 will be announced shortly. Tickets cost £14 on 01759 301547 or at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
PRIMROSE Wood Acoustics will return to the Pocklington woodland for a third double bill – yet to be confirmed – on August 5.
This step three announcement follows the long-awaited return of live music for organisers Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after staging sold-out outdoor concerts in Primrose Wood on July 1 and 8.
Scunthorpe-born virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter Martin Simpson and East Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer played the first night; Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft, the second.
Each was performed to a socially distanced audience of 85 at twilight. “Accompanied by bird song and set under a natural canopy of trees, there was a collective sense of being a part of something special, almost 18 months after PAC last staged a live music event,” said PAC director Janet Farmer.
Artists and audience alike concurred. Joe and Dave Dunwell said: “After 15 months of playing to a computer screen and doing live streams, to be actually playing live in a woodland was just incredible and the audience were just amazing. We loved it!”
Rachel Croft enthused: “For the first time, I felt totally in my element again. Having had all that time off, you get used to not having an amp or an audience or any interaction, so it’s been really special to be in this amazing spot and I’m just really grateful to have been a part of it.”
Commenting after Thursday’s concert, audience member Sue Bowden said: “Amazing evening! Fantastic live music in a beautiful setting on a fabulous summer’s evening; brilliantly organised too. Well done to all involved.”
Jane Smith agreed: “What a wonderful gig – our first since March 2020. Great performances in a beautiful setting. Very well organised. Thank you all at Pocklington Arts Centre.”
Julie Eeles said: “A fantastic night: amazing performances by Rachel Croft and The Dunwells. Thank you, Pocklington Arts Centre, for organising the event.”
Vital to Thursday’s open-air concert was the contribution of sound engineer Daren Bishop. “It was a fantastic event,” he said afterwards. “What a pleasure to be a part of it. I loved mixing the sound in that setting.”
The Primrose Wood Acoustics series comes on the heels of assorted online events and outdoor exhibitions held by PAC since the start of the pandemic.
“Being able to bring live music back to our audiences has just been incredible,” said the director. “We’d like to thank our customers for their support, as well as Pocklington Cricket Club, Burnby Hall Gardens and Pocklington Town Council for helping to make these events possible.”
Watch this space for the announcement of the August 5 double bill. Meanwhile, to keep up to date with PAC’s future events, head to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Pocklington Arts Centre will reopen formally on July 20, preceded by two sold-out socially distanced warm-ups: work-in-progress gigs by South Shields humorist Sarah Millican on July 14 and 15 at 7.30pm.
“I’ll be trying out loads of new stuff,” says the Geordie joker. “It’ll be rough and ready and very, very fun.”
Next week’s shows are in preparation for her sixth international tour, Bobby Dazzler, whose 2021/2022 itinerary will bring Millican, 46, to York Barbican from November 12 to 14.
“You’ll learn about what happens when your mouth seals shut; how to throw poo over a wall; trying to lose weight but only losing the tip of your finger; a surprisingly funny smear test, and how truly awful a floatation tank can actually be,” says Sarah, who has “spent the past year writing jokes and growing her backside”.
“I can’t wait to get back on the road and make you laugh,” she adds. For ticket details on the 8pm shows, head to yorkbarbican.co.uk
ANDY Fairweather Low, the veteran Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and producer, will play Pocklington Arts Centre on February 11 next year.
Founder and cornerstone of Sixties’ hitmakers Amen Corner, and later part of Fair Weather and The Bleeding Heart Band, he will perform withThe Low Riders: drummer Paul Beavis, bassist Dave Bronze and saxophonist Nick Pentelow.
Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer says: “Andy Fairweather Low’s pedigree is the stuff rock dreams are made of. Throughout his career, he’s worked with some of the greatest musicians in the world, so we’re delighted that he will once again be performing live here next February. He’s an incredible talent and a truly fantastic addition to our programme of live events.”
Fairweather Low rose to fame as vocalist and leader of Amen Corner from 1966, notching up hits with the chart-topping (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice, Hello Suzy and Bend Me Shape Me. On reinventing himself as a solo artist, he reached number six with Wide Eyed And Legless in December 1975.
Over the years, Cardiff-born Fairweather Low, 72, has played with Roger Waters, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Elton John, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings and Sheryl Crow.
Aa a stalwart of Eric Clapton’s band since the early 1990s, playing on tours until 2003, he has recorded the Unplugged, From The Cradle, Pilgrim, Riding With The King, Reptile, One More Car One More Rider, Me & Mr Johnson and Back Home albums with ‘Slowhand’.
Fairweather Low was a regular player with George Harrison, performing on his Live In Japan album. In 2002, he played several of the lead guitar parts for the Harrison tribute, The Concert For George.
One of his longest-running musical relationships has been with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, working together since Waters’ Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking tour of the United States in 1985.
Since then, Fairweather Low has contributed to two of Waters’ albums, 1987’s Radio K.A.O.S and 1992’s Amused To Death, and played guitar and bass on the In The Flesh world tour from 1999 to 2002. He then re-joined Waters for the Dark Side Of The Moon tour.
Tickets for Fairweather Low’s 8pm show cost £25 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will reopen to the public on July 20 and film screenings will re-start on July 23, 491 days since the last performance.
Director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy have chosen this date to ensure the safety of customers and volunteers.
“Over the past few months, our main focus has been planning the safe reopening of the building, ensuring all staff are trained appropriately and making sure the venue has all its new systems, resources and processes in place and working well,” says Janet.
“We have sought feedback from staff, volunteers and customers and this will be vital to the success of this process. Our main aim is to ensure the visitor experience at Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is safe, secure and enjoyable.”
In late-March 2020, the East Yorkshire venue launched a crowdfunding page, raising more than £18,000 in under a month, followed by successful funding applications to the Smile Foundation’s I Am Fund and the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
Janet says: “I would like to thank our customers, in addition to Pocklington Town Council, the Friends of PAC, the Smile Foundation, Arts Council England and the Music Venue Trust for their collective support over the past year.
“It has been a very difficult time for everyone, but their kind words, financial support and continued interest in all things PAC has meant a great deal and helped carry the venue through these extraordinary times.”
Staff have rescheduled forthcoming events for the autumn and winter, transferring more than 4,000 tickets and refunding customers for 20-plus cancelled events.
“Throughout the closure period, we have stated our determination to emerge from the situation more vibrant than ever and our autumn and winter programme is a testament to that,” says Janet.
“2021/22 will see a fantastic range of live events being staged here, alongside our trademark diverse mix of film screenings, live broadcasts, exhibitions, community events and private hires.”
In the diary are Grammy Award winner Loudon Wainwright III, September 24; Northumberland Theatre Company (NTC) in Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people”, The Importance Of Being Earnest, September 30; North Eastern gypsy folk-rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers, October 16; Oxford singer-songwriter Thea Gilmore, October 7, and Irish jazz/blues chanteuse Mary Coughlan, October 19.
Bellowhead alumni and BBC Radio Folk Award winners Spiers & Boden are booked in for October 20; Red Ladder Theatre Company, from Leeds, in Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s My Voice Was Heard But Was Ignored, for November 25; television and radio broadcaster and author Jeremy Vine, November 26; Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph, December 2, and York drag diva deluxe Velma Celli, December 3.
Confirmed for 2022 are An Evening With Julian Norton, from Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, January 18; singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson, January 22;Welsh guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and former Amen Corner cornerstone Andy Fairweather Low, February 11, and Eighties’ pop singer and actress ToyahWillcox, March 3.
PAC’s two open-air acoustic concerts in Primrose Wood, Pocklington, with Martin Simpson and Katie Spencer on July 1 and The Dunwells and Rachel Croft on July 8 will go ahead despite the Government’s Step 4 roadmap delay, but now under social-distancing restrictions. Both 7pm shows have sold out.
Janet says: “We always knew this was a possibility when the shows were first planned and there’s sufficient space for people to enjoy the event safely, while experiencing the atmospheric setting of Primrose Wood.”
PAC increased its online artistic output during the pandemic, staging 18 events to more than 9,000 audience members.
In addition, a series of outdoor exhibitions has been held by PAC across the region. York artists Sue Clayton and Karen Winship have shown work at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, and Sue will be following Karen into Hull Waterside and Marina. Those attending the York Vaccination Centre at Askham Bar can see her Down Syndrome portraits in the Tent of Hope.
“We felt it was vitally important to have continued customer engagement throughout the prolonged closure period and the public response to these events and exhibitions has been very positive,” says Janet.
“We’re also very much aware there’s no substitute to watching a live performance, in person, and sharing this experience with fellow audience members.
“Everyone at PAC is now counting down the days until the doors can reopen and we can welcome customers back. It’s been a very long interval and we can’t wait for the second half to begin.”
For full event listings and ticket details, go to: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
HAPPY49th birthday today to Julian Norton, star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet, who has a booking in the diary for January 18 2022 at Pocklington Arts Centre.
In An Evening With…show at 7.30pm, the Castleford-born author and veterinary surgeon will share amusing anecdotes from his work with animals in North Yorkshire, true stories that bring to life all the drama and humour in the daily routine of a rural vet.
Following in the footsteps of James Herriot author Alf Wight, Norton spent most of his working life at the Skeldale practice in Thirsk, before working in Boroughbridge and opening an independent vet practice in Wetherby.
This spring, he has returned to the North Yorkshire market town to open the Thirsk Veterinary Practice with his wife, fellow vet Anne, as a sister practice to Wetherby.
Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer says: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Julian Norton to PAC for what will be a fun and fascinating evening for fans of the hit TV series The Yorkshire Vet, animal lovers looking to be inspired, or simply those who want to share in Julian’s passion and commitment to his work.
“An Evening With Julian Norton follows two previous, highly popular shows at PAC by Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, so we know ticket are likely to sell fast.”
Norton has featured prominently in The Yorkshire Vet on Channel 5, now in its 12th series of recording the day-to-day work of vets in rural North Yorkshire.
Norton has written six books about his life as a vet. His latest, All Creatures: Heart-warming Tales From A Yorkshire Vet, was published by Hodder & Stoughton in March.
Tickets for An Evening With Julian Norton go on sale at £18.50 tomorrow (4/6/2021) at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
WHAT’S the buzz? Tell me what’s-a-happening at Pocklington Arts Centre?
On World Bee Day (20/5/2021), director Janet Farmer was stung into action to say: “We thought there’s no better time to unveil the beehive we’ve installed on the roof.
“We’re a hive of activity, and not just because we’re preparing to re-open our doors to the public. It’s because we now have a rooftop beehive, along with solar panels and the beginnings of a rooftop garden, in the hope of playing a part in helping to save the bees.”
Explaining the decision, Janet says: “Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) is committed to seeking ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint, while doing what we can to support the environment, so when one of our team mentioned he kept bees, we thought a hive would be the perfect addition to our flat roof, alongside our solar panels.
“We’re really excited to have installed the hive and are looking forward to seeing how it becomes established over the spring and summer months. Hopefully, we may even be in a position to produce our very own PAC honey soon!”
The avid amateur beekeeper in question is Paul Jennings, chair of PAC’s management team, who has gifted a hive from his Pocklington home to the Market Place venue.
“With every hive that is set up, you are giving bees a home, which is the important thing,” says Paul, who will be keeping an eye on the rooftop hive as it becomes established potentially with up to 10,000 bees.
“Every home you set up for bees to occupy is something that helps the environment, hence the decision to put a hive on the arts centre roof. Hopefully, we’ll get a resident hive of bees in there soon.”
World Bee Day, abuzz with activity yesterday, has been created by the United Nations with the aim of raising global public awareness around the importance of protecting and preserving bees and other pollinators.
Thirteen bee species have been lost since 1900 and as many as another 35 are on the threatened species list. The changes in seasonal weather are causing problems for bees in finding food and places to nest. What’s more, in the past 60 years, 97 per cent of our vital grasslands have been lost, meaning bees have lost some of their most precious habitats.
YORK artist Karen Winship’s poignant tribute to the selfless work of front-line NHS workers during the Covid-19 pandemic is on display at Hull Waterside & Marina until June 20.
Eleven of Karen’s NHS Heroes portraits were first shown at York Art Gallery in the Our Heroes Welcome thank-you to essential workers from August 1 when Lockdown 1 eased last summer.
Last August too, 13 more made their debut at City Screen, York, where the exhibition included a montage of all 24 that is being gifted to York Hospital by Karen, whose self-portrait of herself painting one of the NHS Heroes completes the collection.
The original paintings have been presented to the sitters, but the 24 portraits have been given a new life, reproduced on biodegradable boards for outdoor display by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) at a larger size than the originals.
First shown side by side on the railings at All Saints’ Church, Pocklington, from late-November to January, the portrait prints have headed further east to Hull, where they can be viewed for free, thanks to PAC joining forces with the marina managers, Aquavista.
“I’ve had a great response to the portraits so far, so it’s incredible that Pocklington Arts Centre is now taking the exhibition on tour into the wider community,” says Karen, whose work also features in Portraits For NHS Heroes, a fund-raising book for NHS charities.
“It’s been such a challenging time for everyone, especially our NHS front-line workers, and this was my way of recognising everything they do for us, so it’s fantastic that this recognition can be expanded even further. Art doesn’t get much more accessible than an open-air exhibition.
“I’m delighted to see my portraits lining the railings along Hull Marina, which is a landmark in itself, and I hope the public enjoy them too.”
NHS Heroes is one of two pop-up touring exhibitions being taken into communities across the region by PAC. York artist Sue Clayton’s collection of 21 portraits celebrating children and young adults with Down Syndrome was unveiled last Tuesday at the NHS York Vaccination Centre, at Askham Bar, for browsing by those attending jab appointments in the “Tent of Hope” until June 13. Plans are being put in place for the “21” show to transfer to Hull Marina after Karen’s show closes.
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “Making our exhibitions accessible to the public despite the pandemic has been really important for us, and the feedback has been really positive, so we’re very much looking forward to enabling even more people to see these incredibly poignant portraits created by the talented Karen Winship.
“We think they will make for a striking display along the marina. Our thanks to Aquavista for helping to make this possible.”
Aquavista took over ownership of Hull Waterside & Marina last year and were only too keen to support PAC’s pop-up exhibition plans. Manager Graham Richardson says: “We’re delighted to support this fantastic initiative. The marina is a popular visitor destination, so we hope to see lots of people coming to view the portraits over the next few weeks.”
Karen, artist and educator, had begun her career as a graphic designer, later gaining a teaching degree and subsequently working for 15 years at a maximum-security prison as head of art.
Embarking on her journey as a professional artist in 2012, she is “living the dream” in her words, not least as a community-minded artist who enjoys “giving back” through her involvement in community art projects.
NHS Heroes is her latest public-spirited endeavour, this one inspired by Tom Croft’s #portraitsfornhsheroes project for artists to complete a free portrait in appreciation of the NHS for gifting to the worker depicted.
“There was a shout-out on Facebook across the country from Tom Croft, calling for artists to take part, and I was inundated with ten requests. Then I appeared on Look North and got even more,” says Karen.
“Tom Croft has now put together a book of 300 of the portraits, including one of mine, the one of Samantha, when she hasn’t got a mask on, but you can see all the creases on her face from the mask.
“Portraits For NHS Heroes is available in hardback on Amazon with all proceeds going to NHS charities.”
Among Karen’s portraits is one of her daughter, Kelly, who works for the NHS as an occupational therapist, bringing home the challenges faced by frontline workers in the pandemic. “I even had to do her portrait from photographs,” says Karen, to whom most of her subjects were unknown.
“They were a few people I know from York, but the photographs came from all over. Newcastle, Northern Ireland, Scotland. At first, I thought it might be difficult to work just from a photo, because I’m used to doing portraits from people sitting for me, but because these photographs were taken as they were working, looking into their eyes, you can see the trauma, the sadness, the exhaustion.
“Normally, you can see a sitter’s mouth, but invariably in these photographs the mouth had to be covered with a mask, so the eyes become even more important.”
Karen’s portraits were first “exhibited” informally. “My neighbours in my cul-de-sac [St Thomas Close in Osbaldwick] put them in their windows,” she recalls. “People even came from Beverley and Newcastle to walk down the street, and one told me their back story…and you then carry those stories with you.”
She found creating the NHS Heroes portraits “so intense”, she eventually had to stop. “I tend to work quickly because I like spontaneity,” says Karen. “Normally with portraits, I work from one sitting and then photos, but what was different with these portraits was that I was totally absorbed just in painting. Normally, we would be chatting at a sitting.
“I was exhausted, doing one after another from photographs. I just kept going until they were done. Afterwards, I immediately went on to do something that was colourful: a couple of autumn paintings, still lifes. I had to do something that was completely contrasting.
“And I’ve also been lucky that since the NHS project, I’ve had various commissions as I had to cut back on my teaching during the lockdowns.”
For more information on PAC’s forthcoming exhibitions, visit: pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre will go down in the woods on July 1 and 8 to present Primrose Wood Acoustics, two outdoor concerts at twilight in a beautiful Pocklington sylvian setting.
Virtuoso Scunthorpe-born guitarist and singer-songwriter Martin Simpson will headline the first 7pm event at Primrose Wood, supported by Yorkshire singer-songwriter Katie Spencer.
A week later, the second twilight session will feature Leeds indie-folk/Americana band The Dunwells and opening act Rachel Croft, the York singer-songwriter.
The acoustic concerts are being staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) after a series of online events and outdoor exhibitions by York artists Karen Winship and Sue Clayton held during the pandemic.
Primrose Wood Acoustics not only will mark the first time PAC has taken concerts into the outdoors – giving audiences a chance to experience live music within a unique and Covid-secure setting – but also will be the first concerts to be hosted by the East Yorkshire venue since the first lockdown last March.
PAC director Janet Farmer says: “During the pandemic, we’ve been doing a lot of walking in the Pocklington area including Primrose Wood. With its natural clearings and proximity to the town centre, we immediately thought it would provide the perfect outdoor stage with a difference, so the idea of Primrose Wood Acoustics was born.
“As we prepare to re-open the venue, we’re very much looking forward to being able to bring some truly unique events to our audiences. This is going to be something quite special.”
Martin Simpson travels the length and breadth of Britain and beyond to give intimate solo performances full of passion, sorrow, love, beauty, tragedy and majestic fingerstyle guitar playing.
Simpson, 68, who recorded his first album, Golden Vanity, in 1976, is equally at home playing English traditional folk, American folk and blues and his own compositions on acoustic and slide guitar and banjo to boot.
Support act Katie Spencer writes songs imbued with the northern landscapes of her Yorkshire home and the warmth and idealism of the early 1970s’ folk and songwriter movements. Originally from Hull, she draws on the grainy imagery of the industrial docks and sea-fronts in her deeply personal songs of nostalgia, loss and love.
The Dunwells, formed by brothers Joseph and David Dunwell in Leeds in 2009, combine heartfelt lyrics with American-influenced indie-folk song structures, as heard on their 2012 debut album, Blind Sighted Faith, and six subsequent albums and EPs.
The Dunwells have performed at both PAC and Platform Festival, at Pocklington’s Old Station, and have toured the United States extensively, not least appearing at SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. They last released a studio album, Something In The Water, in September 2019, followed by the live recording Live At Aire Street last December.
Support act Rachel Croft’s song-writing is cinematic, moody and classic, wherein atmospheric backdrops frame her vocals as she blends folk, rock and soul styles.
Rachel’s new EP, Reap What You Sow, will drop this summer, exploring a more potent, bluesy style.
Concertgoers can access the location from both main entrances to Primrose Wood via Burnby Lane and The Balk, with the concerts being staged close to the Burnby Lane (YO42 2QB) entrance.
Tickets cost £15 for July 1 and £12.50 for July 8 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
CharlesHutchPress puts questions to York singer-songwriter Rachel Croft as she prepares for the twilight hour in Primrose Wood.
Where and when did you last play a gig?
“The last real gig was at Highfield House in Driffield, back in October 2020 – a lone event I was lucky enough to share with Blair Dunlop and Gary Stewart. Before that, I think it was last March, sharing the night with Joe Shepard at the NCEM in York.”
Have you played in woodland previously?
“I haven’t played a gig as such in a woodland but I’ve recorded and performed in a few woodlands for music videos. Really atmospheric!
“Only Dreams had woodland in it, and the new video for Reap What You Sow, directed by James Buck, will have a part shot in woodland too.”
What do you feel about playing at the twilight hour: a magical time of day or a harbinger of the dark night to come?!
“Playing outdoors in the twilight hour sounds just right for some of my songs. I like to write atmospheric music, and I think this will be the perfect setting to finally share them with people!
“I think sunset can be a nostalgic time in a way, thinking about the day that’s done and the start of night. Certainly, it could add to the moodiness of some of my songs too.”
You have a new EP on the way, Reap What You Sow. When and how will you release it?
“The EP is due this summer. I’ll stagger a single and then the rest of the songs later on in the season, along with videos and live performances hopefully. We’re still finishing them, so once we have them completed, I can set a date and get cracking. I’m really excited to share these songs; they’re my best work so far. Stay tuned!”
Where and when was the EP recorded?
“It was recorded here in York, at Young Thugs Studios [in South Bank Social Club, Ovington Terrace], and has been ongoing for probably six months now, what with so much uncertainty and all my usual funding methods gone, which made things interesting!
“All the musicians on the tracks are from around here and I’m really lucky to know so many talented people.”
What are the song titles and themes and were any influenced by pandemic times?
“I’m keeping the song titles on the down-low for now, except Reap What You Sow, the title track and first single. There are five songs, though, and as a collection they represent a storm, sort of. The build-up, the energy, the wreckage left behind, and then the rebuild, leaving it behind.
“All the songs are from the lockdown, and I think they helped me to release a lot of pent-up frustration and emotion. I’ve never felt that, until this point, I’ve really released anything that shows the most of me, not just one side.
“It feels really liberating; I’ve always loved music like this but never before felt like I could be that artist. And then, well, it was the pandemic, so I thought I might as well have a go.”
The EP will “explore a more potent, bluesy style”: how will that manifest itself and what has drawn you to the blues?
“The bluesy style is mainly in two of the songs, where I was playing with some different chord variations and was influenced a lot by cinema, film music, and the jazz music I play with the Croft Mullen Band here in York [in a residency at The Phoenix Inn, George Street], alongside writing my own music.
“It’s been really nice to bridge that gap between styles. It’s got a lot of electric sounds in it too, but I love the vintage Nancy Sinatra feel of parts of the songs, how that weirdly works with quite fierce guitars at points.
“I’ve also started using my lower voice more in the songs, which I think really suits this change of sound. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
What have you discovered about yourself in lockdown?
“I have learned that by having all the joyful distraction taken away, I can be more productive with song-writing. I can choose to sit down, and write, if I try. I never thought I could do that before lockdown. It’s been a great time for my music; I’ve never written so much, but maybe that’s because music seems to come easiest when you’re not totally happy.”
What else is in the diary for you for 2021? Hopefully more shows?
“I’ll be playing at Wickham Festival [Hampshire], Lindisfarne Festival [Northumberland], Northern Kin Festival [Stanhope, Bishop Auckland] and Beverley Fringe, all going well, and I’ve got a few concerts booked here in York and further afield that I’m looking forward to announcing to my socials soon! I’m just happy to get to play to real actual humans again!”
NEWS JUST IN: 14/5/2021
RACHEL Croft will open series two of the acoustic Songs Under Skies concerts in a double bill with Wounded Bear in the National Centre for Early Music gardens at St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, York, on June 1. Gates, 6.30pm; socially distanced concert, 7pm to 8.30pm. Box office: tickets.ncem.co.uk.
POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has confirmed its first live shows since Tom Rosenthal’s Manhood comedy gig on March 14 last year.
The East Yorkshire venue, in Market Place, Pocklington, has been closed to the public since March 17 2020 but comedian Omid Djalili is to perform twice on Thursday, July 22.
Significantly too, those 7pm and 9pm performances will be without social-distancing measures.
British-Iranian comedian, actor, television producer, presenter, voice actor and writer Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for July’s now-cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.
When Pocklington Arts Centre’s festival organisers, director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy, decided not to stage the large-scale indoor festival under the continuing pandemic cloud, award-winning Djalili agreed to do two shows in one night at PAC to ensure all those who had purchased tickets for the festival gig would not miss out.
Janet says: “We’re over the moon that despite having to change our plans for putting on a full-scale Platform Festival this year, Omid Djalili will perform at PAC twice in one night, and those performances will be non-socially distanced.
“In the event of Covid restrictions being reintroduced, we will let customers know in advance.”
Djalili’s comedy is at once intelligent, provocative, boundlessly energetic and rooted in cultural observations, wherein he explores the diversity of modern Britain.
Tickets for the original event at Platform Festival remain valid and any ticket holder needing further information should contact the box office. Remaining tickets for the new shows cost £25 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.
Looking ahead, Janet says: “We have some outstanding live comedy lined up as part of our forthcoming live events programme, and Omid is the perfect addition to this.
“We have more exciting announcement coming up and we cannot wait to be able to bring our audiences some incredible live shows once again.”
Newly in the PAC diary for 2022 are two more comedy shows: Mark Watson on February 12 and Gary Delaney on May 26 on his newly extended Gary In Punderland tour.
Bristol stand-up comedian, novelist and sports pundit Watson, 41, will be completing a hattrick of Pock appearances, prompting Janet to say: “It will be an absolute joy to welcome Mark Watson back to the venue, having had him perform live here in 2016 and again in 2019.
“After the year we’ve just had, I think we could all do with some laughter, so Mark is the perfect addition to our forthcoming programme of live comedy.”
In the ever-innovative Watson’s latest show, spiritual enquiry will meet high-octane observational comedy as the Taskmaster survivor and No More Jockeys cult leader attempts to cram a couple of years of pathological overthinking into an evening of stand-up.
Watson has made his Mark not only on Taskmaster but also on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You and emerged safely from his Celebrity Island experience with Bear Grylls.
During the first lockdown last year, Watson was part of the first double bill for Your Place Comedy, the virtual comedy club set up to support independent venues across the Yorkshire and Humber region, including PAC.
On April 19 2020, a pyjama-clad Watson and Hull humorist Lucy Beaumont performed live online from their homes, in his case, in the living room, in hers, down the pub, The Dog And B**tard, that she and fellow comedian husband Jon Richardson have set up in their Hebden Bridge garden.
In Gary In Punterland, longstanding Mock The Week guest Gary Delaney will “dive into a rabbit hole of the best jokes in the world”.
Delaney’s last tour was extended four times, eventually playing more than 200 venues. For the follow-up, apparently Delaney has been through the laughing glass, re-emerging to deliver a new show tooled with punch after punch of knock-out one-liners.
Janet says: “We’re delighted to announce that Gary Delaney will be bringing his new show to our stage next year as part of our live events programme that we can’t wait to resume, welcoming everyone back and having our auditorium filled with laughter once again.”
Tickets for Watson and Delaney’s 8pm shows each cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk; seetickets.co.uk are selling Watson tickets too.