Sax ace Snake Davis and Olympics musical director Robin A Smith team up at NCEM

Snake Davis: Return to York

SAXOPHONIST extraordinaire Snake Davis returns to the National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, on Thursday with a new venture.

Once part of the York band Zoot & The Roots, this time Snake will be teaming up with award-winning arranger, composer and pianist Robin A Smith.

“Snake and Robin have been sparring partners for decades,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin. “Together their recorded work helped spearhead the Classic Chillout movement 20 years ago, but the duo live in concert are something else.”

Snake’s return to York fills him with enthusiasm. “I’m really excited to have a trio of shows booked with Robin,” he says. “We’re really looking forward to our concert at the NCEM. It’s one of our favourite venues as the acoustics and ambience of St Margaret’s Church are so perfect for us. We can’t wait to come back with our new show.”

Snake Davis and Robin A Smith: Sax and piano partnership in concert at NCEM

Saxophonist-to the-stars Snake has contributed soulful solos to Lisa Stansfield’s Change, M People’s hits, Take That’s A Million Love Songs and plenty more besides.

Robin A Smith was musical director for the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony and his versatility has seen him work with Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Kanye West, The 2 Cellos, Rod Stewart and Mike Oldfield.

“Thursday’s unmissable, enthralling and highly accessible show will celebrate the joy and power of music across multiple styles and genres, from classical to folk, pop to jazz,” says Delma.

Tickets for the 7.30pm concert are on sale at, on 01904 658338 and on the door.

OFF: York Festival cancelled. OFF TOO: Scarborough Open Air Theatre season shut

Goodbye, not Hello: Lionel Richie’s York Festival and Scarborough Open Air Theatre concerts have been cancelled

THE inaugural York Festival with Lionel Richie, Madness and Westlife in June is off.  The entire Scarborough Open Air Theatre summer season has been cancelled too.

The “unavoidable” double blow for promoters Cuffe and Taylor was confirmed in a brief statement at high noon, enforced by the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We are sad to announce both York Festival and the 2020 programme at Scarborough Open Air Theatre will not go ahead,” they said. “We did not want to take this step, but it was unavoidable. The health and safety of concertgoers, artists, staff and community will always be our top priority.

Grey Day for Madness: no House Of Fun after all at York Festival on June 19

“We are working with our ticketing partners and they will contact customers very soon to process refunds. Peace, love, kindness and thanks.”

So, alas, this means goodbye to Hello and Lionel Richie at York Sports Club, Clifton Park, Shipton Road, on June 21, when the American soul legend, now 70, would have been supported by Grammy Award winner Macy Gray and Newcastle soul-pop duo Lighthouse Family.

Camden Town nutty boys Madness were to have headlined the opening night, June 19, joined by Ian Broudie’s Lightning SeedsCraig Charles, for a Funk and Soul Club DJ set, Leeds indie rockers Apollo Junction and York band Violet Contours.

Westlife: York and Scarborough shows grounded without wings

Irish matured boy band Westlife were booked to top the June 21 bill, backed up All Saints, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Scouting For Girls and Take That’s Howard Donald for a DJ set.

Over on the East Coast, Cuffe and Taylor had lined up big hitters galore for Scarborough Open Air Theatre’s 2020 season, opening with Lionel Richie on June 9, followed by Westlife on June 17.

Further bookings were: Supergrass, June 20; Alfie Boe, June 27; Snow Patrol, July 4; Mixtape, with Marc Almond, Heaven 17 and Living In A Box featuring Kenny Thomas, July 10; Keane, July 17; Little Mix, July 21; McFly, August 14; Louis Tomlinson, August 15, and Nile Rodgers & Chic, August 21. What’s more, further shows were to have been added. Not any more.

Leopard king: Rod Stewart at York Racecourse last June, promoted by Cuffe and Taylor

Last year, Cuffe and Taylor promoted Rod Stewart’s first ever York concert, erecting a pop-up amphitheatre in the centre of York Racecourse and duly drawing 35,000 people to Knavesmire on June 1. Ah, those were the days.

Earlier this spring, Cuffe and Taylor were given the City of York Council thumbs-up for a licence for their first York Festival, albeit with the proviso that the volume must be turned down. Now, there will only be silence.