More Things To Do in York and beyond and on the home front in loosened lockdown. List No. 32, courtesy of The Press, York

Love letters straight to your art from York Theatre Royal’s reopening show, Love Bites

THE Downing Street briefing on Step 3 of the roadmap rollout is just around the tantalising corner. Charles Hutchinson highlights the rising tide of upcoming shows, ongoing festivals and exhibitions and online options.

Love story of the month: The Love Season: Love Bites, York Theatre Royal, May 17 and 18

YORK Theatre Royal reopens with two nights of Love Bites, both a love letter to live performance by York artists and a celebration of the creative talent across the city.

More than 200 artists from a variety of art forms applied for £1,000 love-letter commissions to be staged on May 17 – the first day theatres can reopen under Step 3 of the Government’s lockdown loosening – and May 18. The 22 short pieces will be performed each socially distanced night, introduced by broadcaster Harry Gration.

“We hope Love Bites will turn out to be ‘a many-splendored thing’!” says director Juliet Forster. Prompt booking is advised at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk or on 01904 623568.

Ruth Rogers: Violinist performing at Ryedale Festival’s online Spring Festival on RyeStream

Online festival of the week: Ryedale Festival’s Spring Festival, running until May 8

TOMORROW night will see the fast-rising combo The Immy Churchill Trio toast the arrival of spring with Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year, a late-night session of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook online from Helmsley Arts Centre at 9pm.

Finishing the festival at Castle Howard with The Lark Ascending on May 8 at 3pm, the virtuosic London Mozart Players and violinist Ruth Rogers will perform Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending and Vivaldi’s Spring from The Four Seasons.

The Spring Festival season will be available to view on RyeStream until the end of May.

Are you going for Scarborough air? York artist Malcolm Ludvigsen painting on the bracing seafront at the East Coast resort

Exhibition launch of the week in York: Malcolm Ludvigsen’s Art, Village Gallery, York

PROLIFIC York plein-air artist Malcolm Ludvigsen is the focus of Village Gallery’s first new exhibition of 2021 in Colliergate, York.

Erstwhile maths professor Ludvigsen spends much of his time on the beaches and headlands of Yorkshire, fascinated endlessly by the sea and sky.

The show of Ludvigsen oil paintings will run until Saturday, June 19 with Covid-secure, socially distanced measures in place. Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm.

Not a spoiler alert: Irish humorist Ed Byrne will play York for the first time since his Spoiler Alert tour in 2018

Comedy gig announcement of the week in York: Live At The Theatre Royal Comedy Night, York Theatre Royal, July 1

THIS will be Ed Byrne’s night in York when the observational Southern Irish comedian headlines an all-star bill.

Joining headliner Ed will be Mock The Week’s whip-smart wordsmith Rhys James and Have I Got News For You panellist-in-lockdown Maisie Adam, hosted by “compere-beyond-compare” Arthur Smith, the veteran gloomy weather-faced comedian and presenter from Bermondsey, London.

Tickets are on sale at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk and on 01904 62356.

Cuppa and a couple of gigs at Pocklington Arts Centre for Omid Djalili in July

Comedy gig announcement of the week outside York: Omid Djalili, Pocklington Arts Centre, July 22, at the double

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has confirmed its first live shows since Tom Rosenthal’s Manhood comedy gig on March 14 last year.

British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili will perform twice on Thursday, July 22. Significantly too, those 7pm and 9pm performances will be without social-distancing measures, but full of provocative, intelligent cultural observations.

Djalili, 55, originally had been booked for July’s now-cancelled Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington.

Dancing Dan: Dancing On Ice star Dan Whiston glides into Rawcliffe Country Park in August

Get your skates on: Cinderella On Ice, Rawcliffe Country Park, York, August 17 to 22

DANCING On Ice three-time champion Dan Whiston will lead the company for Cinderella On Ice, a show fuelled by high-speed ice-skating and aerial feats.

“I cannot wait to get back on the ice and for the crowds to witness this amazing show after such a troubled past 12 months of lockdowns,” says Whiston. “We hope to both wow and amaze.”

Fairytale On Ice’s ice-palace production will be performed by “some of the world’s most elite entertainers and skilled skaters after thousands of auditions”. Tickets for the 4.30pm matinees and 7.30pm evening performances are on sale at fairytaleonice.com.

Seven UP: Shed Seven’s Shedcember tour to climax with two nights at Leeds O2 Academy

The return of the York heroes: Shed Seven, Shedcember tour

SHED Seven will close their 2021 Shedcember tour with two nights at Leeds O2 Academy on December 20 and 21.

The York band’s 18-date itinerary will take in further Yorkshire shows at Sheffield O2 Academy on November 30 and Hull City Hall on December 1, but not a home-city gig, alas.

The Sheds’ concerts are billed as Another Night, Another Town – The Greatest Hits Live – a nod of acknowledgement in the direction of last December’s 21-track live double album. Tickets are selling very fast at shedseven.com, gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk.

Senegal and Wales combine in the Pocklington-bound music-making of Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch

On the move: Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita, Pocklington Arts Centre

WELSH harpist Catrin Finch and Sengalese kora player Seckou Keita will now play Pocklington on May 21 2022.

The 7.30pm concert has been rescheduled from June 10 2021 for the usual Covid reasons. All original tickets remain valid; further tickets go on sale from 10am tomorrow (7/5/2021) at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Finch and Keita will be showcasing songs from their next album, as yet untitled and set for release next year. 

Rapper and beatboxer Testament testifying in Orpheus In The Record Shop

And what about?

AS lockdown’s gradual, grinding release continues to make an impact on live performance, Leeds company Opera North will seek to entertain viewers at home. Check out Orpheus In The Record Shop, available for free at: bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000vbtx/lights-up-orpheus-in-the-record-shop.

Inspired by the ancient Greek myth, rapper and playwright Testament fuses spoken word and beatboxing with a cinematic score performed by the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North.

Originally performed during Connecting Voices at Leeds Playhouse, it has been reworked for film by Alex Ramseyer-Bache and Playhouse artistic director James Brining as part of the BBC Lights Up season.

Holy Moly! Here come The Crackers as Pocklington Arts Centre revs up to reopen

Holy Moly & The Crackers: “Always putting on such an energetic, vivacious show”

FIERY gypsy folk’n’rollers Holy Moly & The Crackers will return to Pocklington Arts Centre on October 16 as the East Yorkshire venue “excitedly resumes its live events”.

The North Yorkshire and Newcastle band are noted for sparking up a raucous, feelgood party atmosphere at their blazing live shows, built on soul, rock indie and Balkan folk.

Pocklington Arts Centre director Janet Farmer says: “Holy Moly & The Crackers always put on such an energetic, vivacious show, featuring their unique sound that has our audiences foot stomping and dancing in the aisles, so we can’t wait to welcome them back after their sold-out show back in February 2019.”

The band formed in 2011 almost by mistake, when singer, guitarist and trumpet player Conrad Bird, fellow singer and violinist Ruth Patterson and costume designer and accordion player Rosie Bristow met at a house party in Leamington Spa, of all places, in their late teens.

Enamoured by Rosie’s party-prop accordion, the three decided to start playing music together, mainly stomping Irish, American and Balkan folk and drinking songs at open mics and dive bars, as an alternative to Smack, Leamington’s main student club that provided the only other option for a night out.

After moving north, the founders were joined by jazz/funk bass player Jamie Shields and drummer Tommy Evans in 2015, when they released the single A Punk Called Peter, a “sort of New Orleans funeral march mixed with some fine and highly danceable reggae”.

Holy Moly & The Crackers’ artwork for Take A Bite, their 2019 album

Second album Salem marked the 2017 launch of their own label, Pink Lane Records, and a heightened profile for the band after lead single Cold Comfort Lane was picked up by Hollywood producers to turbo-boost the stick-it-to-the-man comedy crime caper Ocean’s 8 in 2018. 

Classically trained but psychedelic and DIY punk-inspired guitarist Nick Tyler came on board that year to add to The Crackers’ grunt and diesel power.

Reuniting with Salem producer Matt Terry, they recorded swaggering third album Take A Bite in 2019, once again at Vada Studios, built in a 1260 chapel near Alcester on the Warwickshire /Worcestershire border.

“Apparently it’s called Vada Studios because the owner is obsessed with Star Wars’ Darth Vader,” says Conrad, whose band stayed in one of the outhouses.

Teaming up with Terry for a second time proved fruitful. “He’s worked with bands like The Prodigy and The Enemy and he has really good ideas for pop sensibilities,” says Conrad. “I was always against ‘pop’, but there’s a real skill to it. There was a chance for us to go with another producer, but we felt we could do more with Matt to develop our sound.”

Whereupon The Crackers hit the road in full throttle, joining shanty punks Skinny Lister on tour around Europe, before appearing at more than 30 festivals and undertaking a victorious headline lap of the UK, culminating in selling out their biggest show to date at Sage Gateshead on the banks of the Tyne. Ruth and Conrad tied the knot that busy year too.

2020 saw the band blasting out of the blocks with the single Road To You, “a shot of espresso that comes loaded and ready to work in a short, sharp shock”. Twenty-seven dates across ten countries should have added up to their biggest European tour to date, to go with support slots for fan Frank Turner across France and Germany and a return to Glastonbury for its 50th anniversary, but we all know what happened next.

Tickets for Holy Moly & The Crackers’ 8pm gig cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Tom Rosenthal: The last show at Pocklington Arts Centre before the first lockdown last March

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre (PAC) has been closed to the public since March 17 2020, curtailing that year’s 20th anniversary celebrations after comedian Tom Rosenthal’s Manhood show on March 14, but the venue will hopefully be re-opening our doors this summer”.

Watch this space for further updates, but already director Janet Farmer and venue manager James Duffy have confirmed that the PAC-programmed Platform Festival at the Old Station, Pocklington, has been called off for a second successive summer.

Festival shows by the likes of comedian Omid Djalili, Richard Thompson and Shed Seven duo Rick Witter and Paul Banks in acoustic mode initially had been moved from 2020 to 2021, although former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant’s Saving Grace acoustic gig with fellow vocalist Suzi Dian never had a new Platform date set in place.

“Robert hasn’t rescheduled any of his 2020 shows, originally because he was recording with Alison Krauss in Nashville,” says James.

“We looked into moving Richard Thompson’s date too, but he’s cancelled his plans because amid the continuing uncertainty over Covid, he’s not sure where he would stand, what with being based in the United States.”

More details are yet to be confirmed, but Pocklington Arts Centre is contemplating reopening with a film programme from July 2, followed by the full reopening in September, with greater clarity once the Government roadmap is rubber-stamped.

Velma Celli: Drag diva to play Pocklington Arts Centre in December

“It will be a slow re-start at first to restore audience confidence in coming to PAC, and film is a good way of doing that,” says Janet. “With films, you naturally socially distance to get the best view.

“But that’s why we couldn’t go ahead with the Platform Festival, because there are still uncertainties and it made sense to call it off.”

Plans are afoot instead for Primrose Wood Acoustic, a short series of outdoor shows in a 60 to 70-capacity woodland setting at Primrose Wood, Pocklington, in early July. Two shows are pencilled in for PAC in July too, subject to the Government’s Covid statements. Again, watch this space for more info as and when.

Within PAC, the lavatories have been refurbished and upgraded; air-purifying units to increase air flow are being installed around the building; a Covid-secure screen is in place at the box office, and such Covid measures as an app for ordering drinks, anti-bacteria spray “foggers” and hand-sanitising stations will be the way forward.

The frustrating year of lockdown x 3 has kept Janet and James busy rearranging concerts by, for example, The Felice Brothers and Courtney Marie Andrews three times and New Yorker Jesse Malin twice.

The management duo have been working their way through 20 years of paper work in the attics and have set up a beehive on the flat roof as part of a PAC environmentally friendly package.

So, now there is a buzz about the place in more ways than one, and on the Pocklington horizon is a theatrical ghost-walk promenade, commissioned from Magic Carpet Theatre founder Jon Marshall for the dark nights of November before the December dazzle of glam cabaret supreme in the company of York drag diva deluxe Velma Celli (date TBC).

Shed Seven to play Leeds, Sheffield and Hull on Shedcember tour but not York

SHED Seven will close their 2021 Shedcember tour with two nights at Leeds O2 Academy on December 20 and 21.

The 18-date itinerary will take in further Yorkshire shows at Sheffield O2 Academy on November 30 and Hull City Hall on December 1, but not a home-city gig for the York Britpop heroes, alas.

The Sheds’ concerts are billed as Another Night, Another Town – The Greatest Hits Live, in a nod of acknowledgement in the direction of last December’s 21-track live double album, and will start as ever in Scotland, on November 25 in Aberdeen.

“After what has been going in the world, we can’t wait to get out there and play what has become a biennial Christmas tradition in ‘Shedcember’,” says frontman Rick Witter. “You can expect the usual set, full of our hits, with a few surprises thrown in, and we can’t wait to hit the road. See you down the front.”

Chris Helme: New group project with Mark Morriss and Nigel Clark

Make sure to arrive in good time to catch the support act, very special guests MCH: a new venture for York singer-songwriter Chris Helme, once of The Seashorses, who is joined in this new acronym “supergroup” by Mark Morriss, from The Bluetones, and Nigel Clark, from Dodgy.

“For those enquiring, we’ll be playing a set consisting of new material as well as old favourites,” tweeted the trio today. “Easing you in gently, as it were. Not wishing to blow your minds too hard before the headline act do their thang.”

Tickets go on sale at 9am on April 29 at shedseven.com, gigsandtours.com and ticketmaster.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond in the months ahead and at home now. List No. 29, courtesy of The Press, York

Becky Gee, curator of Fine Art at York Art Gallery, with Michael Lyons’ 1993 sculpture Amphitrite in the Artists Garden in May 2019. Picture: Charlotte Graham

ONLINE entertainment is still ruling the Stay Home world, but more promoters are announcing shows for the summer as the recovery roadmap begins to twitch our cultural satnav. Charles Hutchinson reaches for his diary.

Last chance to see: Michael Lyons’ Ancient And Modern sculptures, York Art Gallery Artists Garden and Edible Wood

THE free display of large-scale works by late Cawood sculptor Michael Lyons behind York Art Gallery will close on April 11.

On show in his biggest ever exhibition on York soil are nine sculptures created between 1982 and 2000, inspired by nature, myth and ancient cultures, with the central space dominated by Amphitrite, a large painted steel structure evoking the sea that he fashioned in 1993.

Opened in late-May 2019, Ancient And Modern originally was booked to run until May 2020, but has remained in place through these pandemic times.

Caroline Gruber as Vashti in E M Forster’s The Machine Stops, now starting up again in a York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre webcast. Picture: Ben Bentley

Recommended resonant webcast of the week and beyond: The Machine Stops online

YORK Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre’s 2016 co-production of The Machine Stops can be watched at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/the-machine-stops-webcast/ until April 5.

Adapted for the stage by Neil Duffield, E M Forster’s 1909 short story is set in a futuristic, dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground and individuals live in isolation in “cells”, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. 

Director Juliet Forster says: “It’s even more striking today than it was at the time we staged it: things like human contact and human touch becoming something that’s almost taboo, things that didn’t seem relevant back in 2016 but are really, really striking and even more relevant now.”

Ensemble Augelletti: Recording for the Awaken online weekend at the National Centre for Early Music, York

Springtime celebration of music online: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music, York, Saturday and Sunday

THE NCEM’s Awaken weekend will present York countertenor Iestyn Davies and Fretwork, the all-male vocal group The Gesualdo Six, I Fagiolini and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Ensemble Augelletti and The Consone Quartet.

The six-pack of online festivities will celebrate the sublime sounds of spring, recorded in a range of historic venues to mark “the unique association between the City of York and the exquisite beauty of the music of the past”.

Among the architectural gems will be Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the NCEM. Full details can be found at ncem.co.uk/awaken.

Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham: Ready to host Thunk-It Theatre’s online youth theatre sessions

Online youth theatre opportunity: Thunk-It Theatre sessions with Pocklington Arts Centre

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre’s youth theatre partnership with York company Thunk-It Theatre is to continue for a second series of online drama classes.

Becky Lennon and Jules Risingham’s all-levels drama sessions for children aged six to 11 will be held on Zoom every Sunday during term-time from April 25 to May 30.

The 10am to 11am sessions for Years 2 to 6 children will include fun games, exercises and storytelling, aiming to encourage confidence building, life and social skills, creativity and positivity. Participants will work collaboratively to create a short performance that will explore storytelling. To book, go to pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Abba Mania: Booked for Sounds In The Grounds at York Racecourse

Live music returns to Knavesmire: Sounds In The Grounds at Clocktower Enclosure, York Racecourse, June 25 to 27

NORTH Yorkshire impresario James Cundall’s Sounds In The Grounds is adding a new location to its picnic-concert portfolio for summer 2021.

Complying with Covid-19 guidelines, the Clocktower Enclosure of York Racecourse will play host to the Beyond The Barricade celebration of musicals on June 25, Abba Mania on June 26 and A Country Night In Nashville on June 27.

The capacity will be capped at 1,400 for the fully staged productions with LED screens on either side of the stage. Tickets are on sale at: soundsinthegrounds.seetickets.com.

Paul Winn: Co-organiser of the 2nd York Blues Festival in July

Here comes a dose of the blues: York Blues Festival, July 24, 12.30pm to 11pm

THE 2nd York Blues Festival will be held on Saturday, July 24 at The Crescent Community Venue, York, organised by Paul Winn and Ben Darwin.

No strangers to the British Blues scene, they present Blues From The Ouse on Jorvik Radio and are members of York band DC Blues.

Winn and Darwin have booked a bill of Robbie Reay; The Swamp Hoppers; Dori & The Outlaws; John Carroll; Dr Bob & The Bluesmakers; DC Blues and Nick Steed Five. Tickets are on sale at yorkbluesfestival.co.uk, thecrescentyork.com and earwormrecords.co.uk.

Racing cert: Shed Seven will ride out at Doncaster Racecourse next May after moving post-racing gig…again

Sheds on the move…again: Shed Seven, Live After Racing, Doncaster Racecourse, May 14 2022

YORK heroes Shed Seven’s twice-postponed post-racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders on May 14 202.

First diarised for August 15 2020, then May 15 this spring, each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

Let Donny Races wax lyrical: “So don’t have your friends asking ‘where have you been tonight?’ We have ‘high hopes’ that ‘the heroes’ Shed Seven will deliver an outstanding night of music. ‘It’s not easy’ but you’d be stuck to find a ‘better days’ entertainment in Doncaster next summer.” To book raceday tickets, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/

Graham Gouldman, second from left, will be returning to York Barbican with 10cc

Gig announcement of the week: 10cc, York Barbican, March 26 2022

10cc will play York Barbican next spring in the only Yorkshire show of their 13-date Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour.

“It’s difficult to express just how much we have missed playing live and how much we want to be back playing concerts for you,” says Graham Gouldman, the one group founder still in the touring line-up. “We look forward to seeing you all again in 2022.”

Tickets are on sale at yorkbarbican.co.uk and ticketline.co.uk.

Change of day at the races for Shed Seven. Doncaster Racecourse gig moves to 2022

Shed Seven: New day at the races confirmed for Doncaster show

SHED Seven’s Live After Racing gig at Doncaster Racecourse will come under starter’s orders for a third time on May 14 2022 after two false starts.

The York band’s outdoor Donny debut had to be scrapped twice, first booked for August 15 2020, then May 15 this spring, but each show was declared a non-runner under the Government’s pandemic lockdown restrictions.

The Sheds will now be chasing winners as well as Chasing Rainbows in the first post-racing Music Live event of the 2022 Doncaster Racecourse season.

Let Donny Races wax lyrical: “Enjoy a day out at the races, soaking up the British summertime [albeit in May] with a glass of something refreshing watching the horses race by, before the night sweeps in and the music kicks off.

“Finding fame within the Britpop scene in the ’90s, Shed Seven hit dizzying heights with their single Chasing Rainbows and their debut album Change Giver. They have released several albums since then, with Going for Gold – The Greatest Hits the latest release. [Not true, fact pedants. Live album Another Night, Another Night came out on December 18 2020. Going For Gold’s reissue on gold vinyl glistened on May 31 1999].”

Shed Seven’s latest album: Another Night, Another Town

Anyway, you were saying, Donny? “So don’t have your friends asking ‘where have you been tonight?’ We have ‘high hopes’ that ‘the heroes’ Shed Seven will deliver an outstanding night of music. ‘It’s not easy’ but you’d be stuck to find a ‘better days’ entertainment in Doncaster this summer.”

After that glut of Sheds’ song titles, here comes the tickets advice: “Secure your ticket early to guarantee entry as we are expecting huge sales for this massive band!” To book, go to: doncaster-racecourse.co.uk/whats-on/music-live-featuring-shed-seven.

Oh, and should Sheds fans be wondering what to wear, this is the official Donny Dress Code: “Most racegoers choose a smart casual outfit when attending the races and we discourage sportswear and ripped jeans. There are more formal dress codes in place for some of our premier ticket options as well as hospitality and restaurant packages.” Going for gold, maybe?

Shed Seven Live After Racing is the second Sheds’ open-air gig in Yorkshire to have a new date confirmed. Their all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, has moved from June 26 to August 28 this summer.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs. Tickets for this Futuresounds Events concert are on sale at £42.50, premium seats £55, at lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond in the months ahead and while staying home, List No. 28, courtesy of The Press, York

Bethany, from York artist Sue Clayton’s exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day, on show outside All Saints Church, Pocklington

THE diary is beginning to turn from blank to much more promising, even if online and home entertainment is still the order of the day, but Charles Hutchinson is feeling positive and so are event organisers.

Outdoor exhibition for World Down Syndrome Day: Sue Clayton, 21, All Saints Church, Pocklington, March 19 to April 19

YORK portrait artist Sue Clayton will celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on March 21 with a month-long open-air exhibition on the railings of All Saints Church in Pocklington.

Self Portrait, by York artist Sue Clayton

Her collection of 21 portraits is inspired by children and adults with Down Syndrome, especially Sue’s energetic son James. She has chosen the theme of 21 both to mark the date of WDSD and to symbolise the extra 21st chromosome that people with Down Syndrome have.

This is the second outdoor display to be staged by Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) in lockdown at this location after fellow York artist Karen Winship’s NHS Heroes exhibition from late November to early January.

Iestyn Davies: York countertenor will perform at the NCEM’s Awaken online concert series

Springtime celebration of music online: Awaken, National Centre for Early Music, York, March 27 and 28

THE NCEM’s Awaken weekend will feature York countertenor Iestyn Davies and Fretwork, the all-male vocal group The Gesualdo Six, I Fagiolini and the English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Ensemble Augelletti and The Consone Quartet.

The online festivities will celebrate the sublime sounds of spring in a range of historic venues to mark “the unique association between the City of York and the exquisite beauty of the music of the past”. Among the architectural gems will be Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the NCEM. Full details can be found at ncem.co.uk/awaken.

The Minster men: The Howl & The Hum promote their livestreamed concert at York Minster in the ultimate publicity shot for any York band

“Unique” livestreamed concert: The Howl & The Hum, York Minster, May 25

YORK alternative rock band The Howl & The Hum will perform a “unique set to compliment the unique venue” of the Nave of York Minster in a one-off 8.15pm concert livestreamed via ticket.co.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Sam Griffiths, bassist Brad Blackwell, guitarist Conor Hirons and drummer Jack Williams will combine selections from last May’s prescient album Human Contact with fan favourites and new material recorded in lockdown.

The Howl & The Hum will be the first rock act to play York Minster since York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich on March 29 2019. Tickets are on sale via thehowlandthehum.com/.

Wynne win situation: Castle Howard Proms will go ahead this summer with tenor soloist Wynne Evans

Confirmed for the summertime: Castle Howard Concerts Weekend, August 20 to 22

CASTLE Howard has announced this summer’s concerts weekend will go ahead, in light of the Government’s roadmap rollout.

First up, in the open air at the North Yorkshire country house, will be house music brand Café Mambo Ibiza on August 20, presenting Roger Sanchez, Judge Jules, Julie McKnight (live PA), Ridney and Robin S (live PA), with more big names still to be announced for the Ibiza Classics at the Castle celebration.

Welsh tenor Wynne Evans, from the Go Compare adverts, will be joined by soprano Victoria Joyce and the London Gala Orchestra for the al fresco Castle Howard Proms on August 21.

Four vocalists from We Will Rock You, a five-piece rock band and The Elysium Orchestra will combine for Queen Symphonic on August 22. Box office: castlehoward.co.uk.

Piece in our time at last: Shed Seven move all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall yet again, now in the diary for August 28

Sheds on the move: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, August 28

YORK heroes Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a third time, now booked in for August 28.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

August 28? Doesn’t that clash with Leeds Festival, co-headlined that day by Stormzy and Catfish And The Bottlemen? Indeed so, but “let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” quips lead singer Rick Witter.

Shoe-in: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, playing the SJT this spring

The Greatest News In The History Of The World…The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…tour to open in Scarborough from May 18 to 22

THE Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Covid-safe reopening show will be the first tour dates of The Greatest Play In The History Of The World…, the hit one-woman play that Ian Kershaw wrote for his wife, Coronation Street alumnus Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Directed by Raz Shaw, it heads out on a heartfelt journey that starts and ends in a small, unassuming house on a quiet suburban road, as Hesmondhalgh narrates the story of two neighbours and the people on their street, navigating the audience through the nuances of life, the possibilities of science and the meaning of love. 

Hesmondhalgh says: “It’s a beautiful play, a love story, but a universal one about learning in time what matters in the end, about leaving a mark on the world – and maybe beyond – that shows us, the human race, in all its glorious messiness, confusion and joy.”

The Shires: Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle move York Barbican gig from 2021 to 2022

York-Shires: The Shires, York Barbican, put back by 12 months

BRITAIN’S biggest-selling country act, The Shires, are rescheduling their May 23 show at York Barbican for May 6 2022.

York is the only Yorkshire venue of their rearranged 25-date tour, when Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle are billed to be joined by Texan country singer and songwriter Eric Paslay. 

“The songs mean so much to us personally, but there really is nothing like looking out at our fans in the crowd and seeing how much of an impact they can have in someone else’s life,” say The Shires. “It’s truly a very special thing”.

And what about?

STILL stuck at home, check out Mindhunter on Netflix, Unforgotten on ITV and Sophia Loren’s Desert Island Discs on BBC Sounds. Seek out Nick Cave & Warren Ellis’s new lockdown album, Carnage.

Cave in: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis create Carnage, available digitally now and on CD and vinyl from May 28

Shed Seven move their all Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall for third time to August 28

Shed Seven: Yorkshire day out at The Piece Hall, Halifax, on the move again

YORK band Shed Seven’s all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, is being rescheduled for a third time.

The Coronavirus lockdown put paid to the original date of June 26 2020, first moved to September 19 2020, then to June 26 this summer.

Now, fourth time lucky, the Sheds’ show will take place on August 28. All the support acts first signed up for last June have confirmed their participation on the new date.

Joining the Sheds that West Yorkshire day will be Leeds bands The Pigeon Detectives and The Wedding Present and Leeds United-supporting York group Skylights, plus the Brighton Beach DJs.

Tickets for this Futuresounds Events open-air concert are on sale at £42.50, premium seats £55, at lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

August 28? Doesn’t that clash with Leeds Festival, co-headlined that day by Stormzy and Catfish And The Bottlemen? Indeed so, but “let’s just say our fans are not their demographic,” quips lead singer Rick Witter, aware of the predominance of teens at the post-exam-results gathering at Bramham Park.

This is the second outdoor Shed Seven show in 2021 to be in need of a new date. They should have been chasing winners as well as Chasing Rainbows at Doncaster Racecourse on May 15, but that Don 2021 Music Live debut is now a non-runner under the Government’s lockdown restrictions.

Witter confirms an announcement on when the Sheds’ show will finally come under  starter’s orders will be made tomorrow. Expect a delay until 2022.

When first setting up the Halifax headline gig, Witter said: “We’re doing this Piece Hall show partly because our 2018 gig at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl went so well.”

The revived Britpoppers drew 8,000 that June day; the maximum capacity is 5,500 for the Piece Hall, a renovated 18th-century Halifax cloth hall that now houses history exhibits and independent shops, bars and restaurants.

Skylights: York band will support Shed Seven on August 28 at The Piece Hall

In 2019, the Sheds mounted their biggest ever Shedcember winter tour, chalking up their record run of 23 shows between November 21 and December 21, with Leeds First Direct Arena on December 7 at the epicentre.

“After we did those Shedcember gigs, we just fancied doing something similar to Castlefield Bowl, but this time a Yorkshire gig,” said the Stockport-born Witter.

Stockport, Mr Witter?! “I know, but I consider myself a Yorkie now,” said Rick, who attended Huntington School in York. “To do an outdoor Yorkshire show in such a salubrious setting will be a great buzz.”

The Sheds are making provisional plans for a 2021 series of Shedcember shows. Watch this space for updates.

Meanwhile, The Piece Hall Trust and Futuresound have confirmed their rescheduled programme of live music events for 2021 and 2022, in the wake of the Government roadmap rollout.

The partners have worked hard to keep as many acts as possible in 2021, with the vast majority rescheduled for August and September. “But due to the complex nature of artist touring schedules, we have had to move some of the gigs, including Nile Rodgers featuring Chic and Doves, to 2022,” says the trust.

“We have managed to secure a second date for Nile Rodgers & Chic following strong sales demand seen this year. Tickets for the new show will go on general sale at 10am on Friday [12/3/2021], with a 24-hour Piece Hall Trust member pre-sale starting on Thursday.

“We hope that the return of live music to the venue will help bring some joy and a sense of normality back to music lovers.”

The dates now confirmed for The Piece Hall:

2021

Shed Seven, August 28; The Specials, August 29; The Cribs, September 3; Richard Hawley, September 4; Manic Street Preachers, September 10; Kaiser Chiefs, September 11 and 12.

Kaiser Chiefs: Two nights in Halifax in September

2022

Doves, June 18; Nile Rodgers featuring Chic, June 24 and 25.

All tickets purchased for deferred events remain valid, and ticket holders do not need to do anything to secure their spot for the new date.

Those unable to make the new dates should contact their booking platform to discuss making alternative arrangements. Refunds will be available from the point of purchase if they cannot make the rescheduled dates.

Visitor safety continues to be the number one priority for The Piece Hall Trust, and so the team has been working closely with partners to determine the safest way to reinstate live music events.

Essential maintenance and a significant deep clean have been undertaken during the Lockdown 3 and the logistics of the large-scale events are being planned meticulously.

Nicky Chance-Thompson, the trust’s chief executive officer, says: “We’re thrilled that we have been able to reschedule our planned Summer 2021 artists to the autumn in what has been a turbulent year for all of us.

“By moving the events to the later dates, we hope we’re providing peace of mind for ticket holders not just around the certainty of the gigs going ahead, but around individuals’ safety and wellbeing, which remains our main priority.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time in a long while, we can re-imagine a thriving and vibrant live music scene returning to Halifax once again. Live music events have always been the jewel in the crown of The Piece Hall, and we sincerely look forward to welcoming these world-renowned artists to our venue.”

For tickets, go to: lunatickets.co.uk, seetickets.com and gigantic.com.

Bull invite you to Discover Effortless Living with March release of their debut album

On the charge: York band Bull announce spring release for debut album

STILL sworn to secrecy in December, York band Bull have now confirmed the long-mooted name and release date for their major label debut album, no bull.

Discover Effortless Living – a title abbreviated for last year’s single Disco Living – will be out on March 26, launched on EMI Records in conjunction with York music hive Young Thugs.

To celebrate, here comes the York alt-rockers’ fifth single, Eugene, released today on the back of Disco Living, Green, Bonzo Please and the Love Goo EP that closed out a year when Bull became the first York band to sign to a major label since Nineties’ chart regulars Shed Seven.

“I wrote the song when I was feeling dissatisfied with what I was doing,” says singer Tom Beer of his mini-symphony of self-flagellation that trips through the various stages of feeling down on yourself.

Moods of lethargy, frustration and anger are captured in the tempo changes of a song that is melancholic yet spritely simultaneously: typical tropes of Bull’s idiosyncratic song-writing.   

“It’s kind of a self-hate song. You know when people talk about self-love? It’s not that. I’m slating myself,” reveals Tom. “It moves through the key changes and different moods and ends in a way that mocks the sadness, another form of self-deprecation!”

The accompanying video is again a collaboration with artist friends of Bull that reflects the song’s ever-changing moods. Guitarist Dan Lucas and bassist Kai West kick everything off with some DIY Claymation before handing over to artists Jack Iredale, Rory Welbrock, Roxy Linklater and Holly Beer, who each tackle a different animation style.

Discover Effortless Living promises a “cornucopia of alt. rock sounds, the band having refined their song-writing style into 13 indie bangers”.

“It features songs written and rocked on between the years 2012 and 2018, with Love Goo being the newest one on there, the freshest,” Tom says. “The album title is taken from the opening lyric to the final track Disco Living. We wanted to use a lyric from the album and felt like this was a good one.

“I first saw the words in London written on the side of a mansion being built on the Millionaire Mile and thought it was hilarious.  

“I was on my way to Hampstead, got off somewhere wrong, which usually happens to me in London, and that’s when I saw the billboard – and the tune came to me immediately!

“The billboard was advertising what was going to be built behind: homes for ‘effortless living’, and that led to lyrics that tie in with ideas around class, new beginnings, a golden era of prosperity, and hoping to have life ‘in the bag’.”

Bull hope that 2021 will see them returning to the stage to promote their debut album, although December’s talk of an April tour, taking in York and Leeds, is yet to be set in stone amid the ongoing Lockdown 3. On Twitter today, however, they tantalise: “World’s largest Bull party at The Crescent as soon as.”

In the meantime, the track listing is rubber-stamped as: Bedroom Floor; Love Goo; Green; Shiny Bowl; Eugene; Eddie’s Cap; Serious Baby; Perfect Teeth; Find Myself A Job; Bonzo Please; In A Jar; Smoke and Disco Living.

Looking ahead, “we’ve written lots of new songs, progressing towards the next album,” says Tom.

More Things To Do in and around York and at home in 2021, whatever barriers may yet lie ahead. List No 23, courtesy of The Press

Grayson Perry: Two shows in York in 2021; one an exhibition of “Lost Pots” at York Art Gallery, the other, his existentialist gig, A Show For Normal People, at York Barbican

AFTER a year where killjoy Covid-19 re-wrote the arts and events diary over and over again, here comes 2021, when the pandemic will still have a Red Pen influence.

Armed with a pantomime fairy’s magic wand rather than Madame Arcati’s crystal ball from Blithe Spirit, when what we need is a jab in the arm pronto, Charles Hutchinson picks out potential highlights from the New Year ahead that York will start in Tier 3.

Velma Celli: Had planned to present A Brief History Of Drag at Theatre @41 Monkgate in January; now heading online at home instead

Back on screen: Velma Celli, Large & Lit In Lockdown Again, streaming on January 8

AFTER his “Fleshius Creepius” panto villain in York Stage’s Jack And The Beanstalk, Ian Stroughair was planning to pull on his drag rags for a live Velma Celli show in January, and maybe more shows to follow, at his adopted winter home of Theatre @41 Monkgate.

Instead, he writes: “Darlings, as we head back into a lockdown in York, I am back on the streaming! My first show is next Friday at 8pm. I would love you to join me for an hour of camp cabaret fun! Get those requests and shout-outs in!” Tickets for Virtual Velma start at £10 via http://bit.ly/3nVaa4N; expect an online show every Friday from Ian’s new riverside abode.

Shed Seven: Headlining all-Yorkshire bill at The Piece Hall, Halifax, in the summer

Open-air one-off event of the summer: Shed Seven, The Piece Hall, Halifax, June 26

FRESH from releasing live album Another Night, Another Town as a reminder of what everyone has had to miss in 2020, Shed Seven have confirmed their Piece Hall headliner in Halifax has been rearranged for next summer.

The Sheds have picked an all-Yorkshire support bill of Leeds bands The Wedding Present and The Pigeon Detectives and fast-rising fellow York act Skylights. For tickets, go to lunatickets.co.uk or seetickets.com.

Cocktail Party 1989, copyright of Grayson Perry/Victoria Miro, from the Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years exhibition, opening at CoCA, York Art Gallery, in May

Most anticipated York exhibition of 2021: Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years, York Art Gallery, May 28 to September 5

CHANNEL 4’s  champion of people’s art in lockdown, Grayson Perry, will present his Covid-crocked 2020 exhibition of “lost pots” at the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) next spring and summer instead.

The Pre-Therapy Years reassembles Perry’s earliest forays into ceramics; 70 “explosive and creative works” he made between 1982 and 1994. Look out too for the potter, painter, TV presenter and social commentator’s existentialist September 6 gig at York Barbican: Grayson Perry: A Show For Normal People, wherein he will “distract you from the very meaninglessness of life in the way only a man in a dress can”.

Chris Moreno: No festive cheer at Christmas, but now he looks forward to presenting The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime, Aladdin, on Knavesmire, York, in spring 2021

A pantomime in the spring? Yes, The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime in a tent on Knavesmire, York, March 19 to April 11

CHRIS Moreno, director of Three Bears’ Productions four pantomimes at the Grand Opera House from 2016 to 2019, will direct York’s first ever “tentomime”, Aladdin, this spring with a cast of “21 colourful characters”.

The Great Yorkshire Easter Pantomime will be presented in the luxurious, heated Tented Palace, Knavesmire, in a socially distanced configuration compliant with Covid-19 guidance.

The big top will have a capacity of 976 in tiered, cushioned seating, while the stage will span 50 metres, comprising a palace façade, projected scenery and magical special effects. Look out for the flying carpets.

Going solo: Julie Hesmondhalgh in The Greatest Play In The History Of The World at York Theatre Royal from February 16

Falling in love again with theatre: The Love Season at York Theatre Royal, February 14 to April 21

ON December 15, York Theatre Royal announced plans to reopen on St Valentine’s Day for The Love Season, with the audience capacity reduced from 750 to a socially distanced 345.

Full details will be confirmed in the New Year with tickets going on sale on January 8, and that remains the case, says chief executive Tom Bird, after hearing yesterday afternoon’s statement to the House of Commons by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“We’re carrying on with our plans, including presenting Coronation Street and Broadchurch actor Julie Hesmondhalgh in husband Ian Kershaw’s one-woman play, The Greatest Play In The History Of The World, from February 16 to 20,” he confirmed.

Van Morrison: A brace of bracing nights at York Barbican in May

Six of the best at York Barbican in 2021

YORK Barbican has remained closed since the March lockdown, foregoing even the UK Snooker Championships in November and December.

A reopening date is yet to be announced but mark these shows in your diary, if only in pencil: Rob Brydon, A Night Of Songs & Laughter, April 14; Jimmy Carr, Terribly Funny, May 2; country duo The Shires, May 23; Van Morrison, May 25 and 26; Paul Weller, June 29, and Rufus Wainwright, Unfollow The Rules Tour, October 13.

Ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel: Looking forward to the 20th anniversary of York Open Studios

Anniversary celebration of the year: York Open Studios, April 17 and 18; 24 and 25, 10am to 5pm

2020 turned into a virtual Open Studios with displays online and in windows, but already 140 artists and makers are confirmed for the 20th anniversary event in the spring when they will show and sell their work within their homes and workspaces.

Many of 2020’s selected artists have deferred their space to 2021, but new additions will be announced soon, the website teases. “We’re channelling the optimism and enthusiasm from all our artists to ensure this year’s 20th show is one of the best,” says event co-founder and ceramicist Beccy Ridsdel.

Dr Delma Tomlin: Administrative director of the 2021 York Early Music Festival, running from July 9 to 17

And what about?

Festivals galore, as always, in the self-anointed “City of Festivals”. Coming up are the Jorvik Viking Festival; York Fashion Week; York Literature Festival; York Early Music Festival; York Festival of Ideas, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and more besides. 

Shed Seven talk hits in tweets in last “gig” of 2020 as #TimsTwitterListening Party focuses on Another Night, Another Town

SHED Seven’s “final performance” of 2020 will be on Charlatans’ front man Tim Burgess’s cult show, #TimsTwitterListeningParty, this evening at 6pm.

Burgess’s lockdown- kickstarted show invites you to stream or play an album, in this case the Sheds’ Another Night, Another Town, their December 18 release of 21 live recordings from their Castlefield Bowl open-air show in Manchester on June 30 2018 and 2019’s Shedcember tour that took in the York band’s debut at Leeds First Direct Arena last December.

As Another Night, Another Town plays, listeners should follow Tim Burgess at @Tim_Burgess and the Twitterers from the Sheds’ ranks, @shedseven (lead guitarist Paul Banks), @RickTw1tter, @TomGladwin2, @badstonejoe (guitarist Joe Johnson) and @apeachyleach (drummer Alan Leach), to watch the exchange of tweets in real time and to ask questions too.

For more information, go to timstwitterlisteningparty.com.