REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Richard Dawson/Gwenifer Raymond, 21/9/2021

Throwing a light on his guitar playing: Richard Dawson at The Crescent on Tuesday night. Pictures: Paul Rhodes

Richard Dawson and Gwenifer Raymonde, The Crescent, York, September 21

MANY were wearing a smile simply to be out enjoying live music again. Thanks to Please Please You, the musical calendar has been quietly hotting up and is now starting to hit its stride.

Support act Gwenifer Raymond is an interesting character, a Brighton-based tech director by day/guitar fiend by night. Sitting barefoot, Raymonde called her style “guitar abuse”. Others have called it “American primitive” or “old time folk”.

Pretty and delicate it wasn’t, nor was it the high and lonesome sound of one of her influences, Roscoe Holcomb. Raymond threw lots of drama into her set, running through compositions (these aren’t really songs) from her 2021 sophomore release Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain.

Barefoot guitar fiend: Gwenifer Raymond in her York debut at The Crescent

Talking afterwards, she describes how she plays from memory. It was certainly impressive, if a little samey, but an auspicious York debut performance nevertheless.

Richard Dawson was the cause of Tuesday’s show being sold out. He’s another unlikely character. His erudition might suggest a permanent chair on Loose Ends while his Bill Bailey airs, hair and comic timing could take him almost anywhere.

He is known as a formidable, uncompromising modern folk performer – like Raymonde, defiantly not pandering to a crowd. He underlined this by starting with a 12-minute a cappella account of the life of a 16th century quilt maker.  Later on, his first-hand telling of seeing a child off to university showed he has lost none of his power to stop his audience dead.

There have been many changes since this reviewer last saw Dawson play at the same venue while touring his Peasant album. Fortunately, the drone instrumentals he produced in lockdown stayed away. With his last long player, Dawson showcased a pronounced shift towards a more conventional rock sound, and the single from his forthcoming LP with Circle suggests more of the same.

Formidable modern folk performer Richard Dawson and polyrhythmic drummer Andy Cheetham performing at The Crescent

Dawson is, however, one of the fortunate few whose audience expects him to lead them on a merry dance, so there were no boos or “Judas” cries. Quite the opposite, despite some of this new material being frankly a bit forgettable, those lovely words muffled in bombast, it was all lapped up by young and old alike. The wonderfully polyrhythmic drumming of Andy Cheetham kept things from metal parody.

While Joe The Quilt Maker would never trouble even the most abstruse singles charts, Black Mark or the superb Jogging could easily find a larger audience, with actual riffs and choruses – all without sacrificing Dawson’s attention to detail and wit. Jogging’s focus on anxiety brought his music squarely up to date.

Dawson was never less than entertaining. At one point, he had a reading lamp brought on as he “couldn’t see his dots” on his guitar. He claimed that he would undercut any momentum in the set, but actually it all hung together well, with a powerful finish, coming full circle to end with the more folk-based Ogre.

The audience’s smiles were broader still as they left.

Review by Paul Rhodes

Support act Gwenifer Raymond called her playing style “guitar abuse” at Tuesday’s gig

More Things To Do in York and beyond as Step 3 gathers pace away from home. List No. 34, courtesy of The Press, York

York Minster, west front, by Susan Brown at Kentmere House Gallery, York

THE Roadmap route to recovery is becoming ever busier, like the roads into York. This has prompted Charles Hutchinson to resume his weekly, rather than fortnightly, eerie to spot what’s happening.

Exhibition launch of the week: Susan Brown, Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, until July 4

HUDDERSFIELD artist Susan Brown has returned to York Minster, one of her favourite locations for her architectural paintings, for her spring and summer show at Kentmere House Galllery, York.

Her artistic focus is on city life and our relationship with our environment, exploring the rhythm and movement within buildings and interiors, along with creating beautiful abstract paintings, inspired by still-life subjects and landscapes, with an emphasis on texture and pattern.

“Susan’s paintings are bold and striking, predominantly worked in watercolour and acrylic,” says gallery owner Ann Petherick. “The gallery is open anytime by prior arrangement or chance: you can ring 01904 656507 or 07801 810825 or email ann.petherick@kentmerehouse.co.uk, or just take pot luck by ringing the bell. Please ring in advance if travelling any distance.”

Kentmere House Gallery’s next open weekend will be on June 5 and 6, 11am to 5pm; the gallery has a weekly late-evening opening on Thursdays to 9pm.

Jonty Ward: Recital organist and director of music at St Lawrence Parish Church, York

Festival of the week: St Lawrence Trinity Festival, St Lawrence Parish Church, Lawrence Street, York, May 29 to June 5

A £410,000 restoration has perked up the 1885 Denman organ transferred from St Michael-le-Belfrey for installation by organ-building firm Nicholson & Co at St Lawrence Parish Church.

A celebratory festival programme will include a demonstration by Nicholson & Co ahead of the inaugural recital by Robert Sharpe, York Minster organist and director of music, on May 29 at 10.30am.

Further organ recitals will be performed by musicians associated with St Lawrence and the City of York: William Campbell, May 31, 4pm; David Norton, June 1, 4pm; St Lawrence director of music Jonty Ward, June 3, 4pm, and Timothy Hone, music and liturgy administrator at York Minster, June 4, 4pm. The Black Sheep Consort will give a 7pm recital on May 31.

Attendance is free, but booking is required for the Inaugural Recital at festival@stlawrenceparishchurch.org.uk.

A T-shirt to mark the Super Cool Drawing Machine exhibition at The Crescent, York

Hippest exhibition of the week in York: Yuppies Music presents Super Cool Drawing Machine, The Crescent, York, today (26/5/2021) until Sunday

YUPPIES Music’s touring exhibition of musicians’ “other” work, will run at The Crescent community venue for four days from today. This celebration of art created by international touring independent musicians is billed as a “much-needed exploration of fun stuff”, on show each day from 11am to 9pm with Covid-secure measures in place.

Under social distancing restrictions, attendees will have to book in advance, choosing a specific time slot to view the exhibition. Consequently, only a small number of tickets are available at £5 for each time slot at seetickets.com.

Among the artists will be will be trailblazing jazz saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings; Welsh singer/producer Cate Le Bon; experimental folk musician Richard Dawson; African-American experimentalist Lonnie Holley and drummer/composer Seb Rochford, plus members of This Is The Kit, Mammal Hands, Haiku Salut, Snapped Ankles and more besides.

Ben Caplan: Singer-songwriter, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, playing Pocklington Arts Centre in November. Picture: Jamie Kronick

Gig announcement of the week outside York: Ben Caplan, Pocklington Arts Centre, November 11, 8pm

CANADIAN folk-rock singer-songwriter Ben Caplan will play Pocklington on his European autumn tour. 

His extensive itinerary will mark the tenth anniversary of his October 2011 debut, In The Time Of The Great Remembering, and will follow hot on the heels of Recollection, a retrospective collection of stripped back re-interpretations of songs from his back catalogue, out in October. 

Venue manager James Duffy says: “I saw Ben perform at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2019 and was blown away. He has a fantastic stage presence and mixes a wonderful blend of musical styles from folk to gypsy through to rock. Imagine the love child of Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello and you’re getting somewhere close.”

Caplan’s support act will be fellow Canadian Gabrielle Papillon. Tickets are on sale at pocklingtonartscenytre.co.uk.

The girl next door in The Girl Next Door: Naomi Petersen in rehearsal for Alan Ayckbourn’s 85th premiere. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Premiere of the week ahead: Alan Ayckbourn’s 85th play, The Girl Next Door, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, June 4 to July 3

THE SJT’s first in-house production of 2021 will be director emeritus Alan Ayckbourn’s The Girl Next Door, a lockdown love story.

Veteran actor Rob Hathaway is stuck at home during the summer of 2020 with only his sensible older sister for company. Rob has little to do but relive his glory days as fire-fighting wartime hero George “Tiger” Jennings in the nation’s favourite TV period drama, National Fire Service. 

Then, one day, Rob spots a stranger hanging out the washing in the adjoining garden, when the neighbours have not been around for months. Who is the mysterious girl next door? And why is she wearing 1940s’ clothing?

“The Girl Next Door is an affirmation of love across the generations,” says Ayckbourn. “I hope it’s positive and hopeful for those today crawling out of their metaphorical Anderson shelters blinking into the light.”

Benjamin Francis Leftwich: Playing The Citadel in his home city next February

Gig announcement for next year: Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Citadel, Gillygate, York, February 25 2022

YORK singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich, now resident in Tottenham, London, will return to his home city to play The Citadel on his 26-date British and Irish tour next year. 

The tour will follow the June 18 release of his fourth album, To Carry A Whale, on June 18 on the Dirty Hit label.

His first to be written and recorded entirely sober, it was made over four months last year at home, at Urchin Studios in Hackney, in a hotel room in Niagara and at a Southend studio owned by Sam Duckworth, of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Tickets are on sale at benjaminfrancisleftwich.com.

Musicians’ art show Super Cool Drawing Machine heads to The Crescent

The Super Cool Drawing Machine T-shirt on sale in the exhibition gift shop

SUPER Cool Drawing Machine, Yuppies Music’s touring exhibition of musicians’ “other” work, will run at The Crescent community venue, York, from Thursday to Sunday.

This celebration of art created by international touring independent musicians is billed as a “much-needed exploration of FUN stuff”, on show each day from 11am to 9pm with Covid-secure measures in place.

Under social distancing restrictions, attendees will have to book in advance, choosing a specific time slot to view the exhibition. Consequently, only a small number of tickets are available at £5 for each time slot at seetickets.com.

“Over the moon” to be supported by Arts Council England, Yuppies Music and York music promoters Please Please You will present works by renowned musicians from alternative, experimental, jazz, folk, rock, soul, ambient, indie backgrounds.

Among them will be trailblazing saxophonist and figurehead of the British jazz scene Shabaka Hutchings; Mercury-nominated Welsh singer/producer Cate Le Bon; experimental folk musician Richard Dawson; African-American experimentalist Lonnie Holley and drummer/composer Seb Rochford, plus members of This Is The Kit, Mammal Hands, Haiku Salut, Snapped Ankles and more besides.

On display from May 27 to 30 will be paintings, photography, drawings, ceramics, digital instillations, recycled arts, sculpture and furniture, adding up to “colourful and interactive arts for the open-minded and curious”, complemented by a gift shop.

The full listing of artists is: Bex Burch, of Vula Viel; Bryony Jarman-Pinto; night flight: Cate Le Bon; H. Hawkline; Tim Presley; Cloudshoes; Daisuke Tanabe; Ed Dowie; Francois & The Atlas Mountains; Haiku Salut; Holysseus Fly; Ichi; Jeffrey Lewis…

…Leafcutter John; Lonnie Holley; Mammal Hands; Peter Broderick; Poppy Ackroyd; Rachael Dadd; Richard Dawson; Rhodri Davies; Rozi Plain; Seb Rochford; Shabaka Hutchings; Snapped Ankles; Tara Clerkin; This Is The Kit; Yama Warashi and Yumi And The Weather.