What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 15, from Gazette & Herald

Florally attired York Art Gallery senior curator Dr Beatrice Bertram stands by Claude Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond, on loan from the National Gallery. Picture: Charlotte Graham

FROM Monet to Martin Carthy, a Shakespeare play in a day to Henry VIII’s life and loves, teenage blues to country rambles, Charles Hutchinson sees how the cultural land lies.

Exhibition of the summer: National Treasures: Monet In York: The Water-Lily Pond, York Art Gallery, in bloom until September 8

FRENCH Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s 1899 work, The Water-Lily Pond, forms the York centrepiece and trigger point for the National Gallery’s bicentenary celebrations in tandem with York Art Gallery. 

On show are key loans from regional and national institutions alongside York Art Gallery collection works and a large-scale commission by contemporary artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan, Una Sinfonia. Monet’s canvas is explored in the context of 19th-century French open-air painting, pictures by his early mentors and the Japanese prints that transformed his practice and beloved gardens in Giverny. Tickets: yorkartgallery.org.uk.

Steven Arran: Directing Shakespeare’s Speakeasy’s debut play in a day in York at Theatre@41, Monkgate

York debut of the week: Shakespeare’s Speakeasy, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tonight (16/5/2024), 7.30pm

SHAKESPEARE’S Speakeasy is heading from Newcastle to York for the first time, making its Theatre@41 debut under the directorship of Steven Arran. “It’s Shakespeare, but it’s secret,” he says. “Can a group of strangers successfully stage a Shakespearean play in a day? Shakespeare’s Speakeasy is the place for you to find out.”

After learning lines over the past four weeks, the cast featuring the likes of Claire Morley, Esther Irving and Ian Giles meets for the first time on Thursday morning to rehearse an irreverent, entertaining take on one of Bill’s best-known plays, culminating in a public performance. Which one? “Like all good Speakeasys, that’s a secret,” says Arran. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Sarah McQuaid: Playing Helmsley Arts Centre on Friday

Folk gig of the week: Sarah McQuaid, Helmsley Arts Centre, Friday, 7.30pm

BORN in Madrid to a Spanish father and folk-singing American mother, raised in Chicago and holding dual Irish and American citizenship, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sarah McQuaid is long settled in west Cornwall.

She has released six albums, When Two Lovers Meet (1997), I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning (2008), Crow Coyote Buffalo (written and recorded with Zoe Pollock under the name Mama, 2008), The Plum Tree And The Rose (2012), Walking Into White (2015), If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (2018) and The St Buryan Sessions (2021). Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Jack Abbot’s Henry VIII: Regal performance in Divorced, Beheaded, Died at Milton Rooms, Malton

History lesson of the week: Divorced, Beheaded, Died – An Evening With King Henry VIII, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday, 7.30pm

THE year is 1544, when King Henry VIII is engaged on royal progress about his realm, halting in Malton on Friday to afford his loyal subjects the opportunity to have “audience” with their sovereign lord and king.

In Select Society Theatre Company’s one-man, two-act show, Jack Abbot’s Henry recounts the events of his life and long reign with tales of his wives and children, concluding with an audience Q&A. DNA tests, by the way, have revealed that Jack is Henry’s 21st cousin, six times removed. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Toby Lee: Blues prodigy heads to the Fulford Arms on Saturday

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, Saturday, 7.30pm

BLUES rock prodigy Toby Lee, the 19-year-old Oxfordshire guitarist and singer, will be playing 100 shows home and abroad this year, 40 of them his own headline gigs, 60 as a special guest of boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holand.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year learned his trade playing Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School Of Rock and has since shared stages with his hero Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash. First up, Fulford Arms on Saturday, then come Jools engagements at York Barbican on December 1 and Leeds First Direct Arena on December 20. Box office: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163.

A seascape by artist Ione Harrison, who leads Sunday’s workshop at Helmsley Arts Centre

Workshop of the week: Seascapes with artist Ione Harrison, Helmsley Arts Centre, Sunday, 10am to 1pm

ARTIST Ione Harrison hosts a workshop suitable for all levels, from beginners to anyone wanting to explore new techniques, exploring the magic of watercolour in a mindful and playful way – no drawing needed.

Participants will create two atmospheric seascapes of the North Yorkshire coast, with room for artistic licence, using a limited but vibrant palette, trying out fun techniques, such as cling film, spatter and wax resist, plus raditional washes and wet-on-wet painting. Refreshments will be available. Bookings: visit ioneharrison.co.uk/book-online. 

Mikron Theatre cast members Eddie Ahrens, left, Mark Emmon, Georgina Liley and Lauren Robinson: Presenting an outdoor performance of Common Ground at Scarcoft Allotments, York, on Sunday afternoon. Picture: Robling Photography

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, Sunday, 2pm

ON tour on narrow boat and canal, van and land until October 18, Marsden company Mikron Theatre present Common Ground, writer and lyricist Poppy Hollman’s hike through the history of land access in England, where only eight per cent of land is designated “open country”.

Under the direction of Gitika Buttoo, actor-musicians Eddie Ahrens, Georgina Liley, Lauren Robinson and Mark Emmon tell the tale of the fictional Pendale and District Ramblers as they look forward to celebrating their 50th anniversary walk, but the path has been blocked by the landowner. How will they find their way through? No reserved seating or tickets required;  a “pay what you feel” collection will be taken post-show.

Martin Carthy: Folk trailblazer

Gig announcement of the week: Martin Carthy, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, July 27, 7.30pm

“WHAT we like most about Martin Carthy is that to us he’s a local hero who will once again take the high road from Robin Hood’s Bay to Farndale, jewel in the crown of the North York Moors National Park, to renew his acquaintance with The Band Room,” says gig promoter Nigel Burnham.

Carthy, 82, who has enjoyed trailblazing folk partnerships with Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick, wife Norma Waterson and daughter Eliza Carthy, brings to the stage more than half a century of experiences and stories as a ballad singer, groundbreaking acoustic and electric guitarist and insatiably curious interpreter and arranger of other artists’ material and trad songs. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, from a remote island murder trail to science lessons. Hutch’s List No. 39, from The Press

Mark Simmonds, left, Martyn Hunter and Ian Giles rehearsing Pick Me Up Theatre’s And Then There Were None at Theatre@41, Monkgate, York

AND then there were ten as Charles Hutchinson picks his cultural highlights, from Christie mystery to prints aplenty,  Wax words to science explosions, extinction fears to singers’ farewells.  

Thriller of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, running until September 30, 7.30pm (except tomorrow and Monday); 2.30pm, today, tomorrow and next Saturday

TEN strangers are summoned to a remote island. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they are unwilling to reveal and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder.

As the weather turns and the group is cut off from the mainland, the bloodbath begins and one by one they are brutally murdered in accordance with the lines of a sinister nursery rhyme in Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, directed for York company Pick Me Up Theatre by Andrew Isherwood, who will play retired Inspector William Blore too. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Michelle Hughes’s Kilburn White Horse, on show at York Printmakers Autumn Fair

Print deadline: York Printmakers Autumn Fair, York Cemetery Chapel and Harriet Room, today and tomorrow, 10am to 5pm

IN its sixth year, the York Printmakers Autumn Fair features work by 26 members exhibiting and selling hand-printed original prints, including Russell Hughes, Rachel Holborow, Michelle Hughes, Harriette Rymer and Jo Rodwell.

On display will be a variety of printmaking techniques, such as linocut, collagraphs, woodcut, screen printing, stencilling and etching. Artists will be on hand to discuss their working methods and to show the blocks, plates and tools they use.

Pulling a face: Comedian Phil Wang returns to York on his Wang In There, Baby! tour

Seriously silly: Phil Wang, Wang In There, Baby!, York Barbican, tonight, 7.30pm

AFTER his Netflix special, David Letterman appearance, role in Life & Beth with Amy Schumer and debut book Sidesplitter, Phil Wang discusses race, family, nipples and everything else going on in his Philly little life in his latest stand-up show, Wang In There, Baby! Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Cinder Well: Songs of mystery at The Band Room, Low Mill. Picture: Georgia Zeavin

Gig of the week outside York: Cinder Well, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, North York Moors, tonight, 7.30pm

CINDER Well, multi-instrumentalist Amelia Baker’s experimental American roots project, showcases her mysterious April 2023 album, Cadence.

The title refers to the cycles of our turbulent lives, to the uncertain tides that push us forward and back, as Cadence drifts between two far-flung seas: the hazy California coast where Baker grew up and the wind-torn swells of County Clare, western Ireland, that she has come to love. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.

Ministry of Science Live: Lighting the flame for experiments in Science Saved The World at Grand Opera House, York

Explosive children’s show of the week: Ministry of Science Live in Science Saved The World, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 12.30pm and 4pm

MINISTRY of Science take an anarchic approach to science communication, looking at the scientists, engineers and inventors who have shaped the modern world, while proving that each and every one of us has the ability to change our world for the better.

Expect 20ft liquid nitrogen clouds, exploding oxygen and hydrogen balloons, fire tornados, hydrogen bottle rockets, ignited methane and even a self-built Hovercraft. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Confronting ecological disaster: Stephanie Hutchinson in A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction at York Theatre Royal. Picture: James Drury

Play of the week: A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction, York Theatre Royal, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

DIRECTED for York Theatre Royal by Mingyu Lin, Miranda Rose Hall’s play heads out on a life-changing journey to confront the urgent ecological disaster unfolding around us. Part ritual, part battle cry, this “fiercely feminist off-grid” one-woman show offers a moving evaluation of what it means to be human in an era of man-made extinction.

Leeds actress Stephanie Hutchinson will be joined at each performance by eight cyclists, who will ride specially adapted bicycles to power the electricity required for lighting and sound. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Ruby Wax: A search to find meaning on a series of life-changing journeys

Waxing lyrical: Ruby Wax: I’m Not As Well As I Thought, York Alive festival, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

IN 2022, American-British actress, comedian, writer, television personality and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, 70, began a search to find meaning, booking a series of potentially life-changing journeys. Even greater change marked her inner journey, as charted in her book I’m Not As Well As I Thought and now in her “rawest, darkest, funniest show yet”. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

The Manfreds: Last tour together for singers Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo on 60th anniversary itinerary

Nostalgia of the week…for the last time: Maximum Rhythm’n’Blues with The Manfreds, Grand Opera House, York, Friday

JOIN legendary pioneers of Sixties’ British rhythm & blues The Manfreds as they celebrate 60 years in the business. Vocalists Paul Jones, 81, and Mike D’Abo, 79, are touring together for the final time, alongside long-standing members Tom McGuinness, Rob Townsend, Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie, to rejoice in Do Wah Diddy Diddy, If You Gotta Go, Go Now, Pretty Flamingo, My Name Is Jack and Mighty Quinn. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company: Three performances in one day at the NCEM

Dance at the treble: Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company, Art Of Believing Special Edition, National Centre for Early Music, York, October 1, 3.30pm, 6pm and 8.30pm

LAST at the NCEM in November 2022, the Daniel Martinez Flamenco Company returns to York for three performances in one day of Art Of Believing, a 90-minute show suffused with emotion, passion and grit.

Works from Martinez’s Herald Angel Award-winning production Art Of Believing will be complemented by previously unseen pieces performed by musicians, singers and dancer Gabriela Pouso. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

Kenny Thomas: Rediscovered songs and big hits on the Him Tour 2024 at Grand Opera House, York

Looking ahead: Kenny Thomas, Him 2024 Tour, Grand Opera House, York, May 19 2024

ISLINGTON soul singer-songwriter Kenny Thomas will front his all-star band in York on his nine-leg British tour next spring, showcasing songs from his “lost” third album, the never-commercially-released Him, alongside his greatest hits.

“Over three decades on from when I first started out, this tour demonstrates that soul music is here to stay,” says Thomas, 55, whose Best Of compilation will be out on November 3. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

In Focus: Stephanie Hutchinson on starring in a one-woman show for the first time in A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction

Stephanie Hutchinson: Starring in one-woman, whole-world drama A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction at York Theatre Royal

STEPHANIE Hutchinson had never imagined she would do a one-woman show.

Come Wednesday, however, the Leeds actress will be giving her solo turn for five performances in “a bold experiment in eco theatre-making” and a “fiercely feminist off-grid production” at York Theatre Royal.

The title, A Play For The Living In A Time Of Extinction, is an indication that this Headlong, London Barbican and York Theatre Royal co-production will be unlike anything you have seen before.

Hands up anyone who has witnessed a stage production powered by bicycles. Only The HandleBards on their open-air Shakespeare travels come to mind.

Strictly speaking, Stephanie will not be on her own. Eight cyclists per performance will be pedalling away to power lights and microphones, while the York Theatre Royal Choir will be participating too.

After a Barbican run, Miranda Rose Hall’s play is on a zero-travel tour using an eco-friendly blueprint. The rest of the production, from local actor to cyclists, is provided by the theatre hosting the show, culminating in York next week.

“I don’t want the audience to feel they’re just being talked at,” says Stephanie. Picture: James Drury

Stephanie sees it as a co-operative production, not only a one-woman show. “I’ve not seen A Play For The Living but heard a lot about it,” she says.

Her character, a dramaturg called Naomi, pressed into impromptu service as an actress, is fearful of death but is determined to confront fears about an impending ecological disaster.

“What caught my eye was just how sustainable the production is,” she says. “Naomi is described as a woman in her 20s who is scared of dying. She’s already had to go on stage and act in front of people. She’s confronted that fear. Now she’s facing her fear of dying and wants to have a conversation about it.

“I like how interactive it is. It’s not just me, not just a verbal splurge. She wants to know what others are thinking. I don’t want the audience to feel they’re just being talked at.”

Despite the subject, A Play For The Living is not all gloom and doom, emphasies Stephanie. There are funny moments. Gloomy and funny is her hope for the experience.

Stephanie Hutchinson in Badapple Theatre’s production of Elephant Rock, part of the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal in May last year

“I don’t think it’s just a message play,” she says. “Naomi’s having a conversation, making the audience aware of what she’s found during her research. It’s also like an ode to the Earth as well because the Earth has given us so much but in return we’re not treating it back very well. It’s almost like she’s blessing the Earth and thanking it. But we do need to be careful – if we keep going the way we’re going, future generations might not have it.”

Stephanie was last seen on York Theatre Royal’s main stage in Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre’s Elephant Rock during the TakeOver season in May 2022. Her other credits include Shake The City, based around the clothworkers’ strike in Leeds in 1970, staged at both Leeds Playhouse and Jermyn Street Theatre in London.

All this is something of a surprise for Stephanie who did not nurse acting ambitions from a young age. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. Then when I was 15, 16, I was going to theatre classes where you’d do singing, dancing, acting and I was like, ‘I quite actually like this – can I do it at uni or go to a drama school?’.

“So, at 18, I went to Salford University and graduated with a BA (Hons) Performing Arts. I’ve managed to carry it on, although I’m not quite sure how I’ve done that. My ambition is just to keep on going because I can’t really see myself doing anything else. Even in my day job, I do role play and that’s acting on the side. Acting is getting paid for doing what I love.

“I thought I would never do a one-person show. I am feeling very happy where I am at the moment. Very happy.”

More Things To Do in York and beyond as the summer of love arrives early. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 21 for 2023, from The Press

A study of people studying People We Love’s digital portraits in the Chapel at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

LOVE lost and found is all around in Charles Hutchinson’s picks from the shelf marked culture.

Goin’ to the chapel of love: People We Love, Castle Howard, near York, until October 15, 10am to 4pm

AFTER gracing York Minster twice, Pittsburgh, USA, Viborg, Denmark, and Selby Abbey, North Yorkshire, KMA’s latest contemplative digital art installation takes over the Chapel at Castle Howard, a setting that provides a contrast between portraiture old and new. Produced by York-based Mediale and designed by Kit Monkman, People We Love explores “the invisible transaction between a person, a piece of art and the emotion which bonds us all: love”.

A quintet of high-definition screens display portraits of estate staff and volunteers, Castle Howard visitors and Ryedale residents, filmed in March, as they gaze at a picture of someone they love. A picture you never see, but you will feel each unspoken story as the faces tell the tale of a person they love.

Alexandra Mather’s Adina, left, in York Opera’s The Elixir Of Love

Opera of the weekend: York Opera in The Elixir Of Love, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today at 7.30pm

WILL Nemorino, a simple village farm lad, ever find love without the help of a magic potion? Discover the answer in Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisere d’Amore, packed with light-hearted music sung in an English translation by Ruth and Thomas Martin with orchestral accompaniment.

Under the direction of Chris Charlton-Mathews, principal roles go to Hamish Brown as the lovelorn, lovable Nemorino; stalwart Ian Thompson-Smith as opportunistic Doctor Dulcamara; David Valsamidies as the boastful Belcore; Alexandra Mather as the intelligent, beautiful Adina and Emma Burke in her York Opera debut as the flirtatious Giannetta. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Harvey Badger, Eddie Ahrens, Hannah Baker and Rachel Hammond in Mikron Theatre Company’s Twitchers

Bird song of the week: Mikron Theatre Company in Twitchers, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, Sunday (21/5/2023), 2pm, and on tour until October 21

IN Mikron Theatre Company’s premiere of Poppy Hollman’s Twitchers, Springwatch is coming to RSPB Shrikewing nature reserve, home to raucous rooks and booming bitterns.

Can Jess take inspiration from the RSPB’s tenacious female founders and draw on its history of campaigning to save them? Can she find her own voice to raise a rallying cry for nature in Mikron’s flight through RSPB and birdwatching history, feathered with bird song and humour. No reserved seating or tickets are required, and instead a ‘pay what you feel’ collection will be taken after the show.

Kate Rusby: On song at Harrogate Royal Hall on Monday

Folk gig of the week: Kate Rusby, Harrogate Royal Hall, Monday, 7.30pm

BARNSLEY folk nightingale Kate Rusby rounds off a year of 30th anniversary celebrations with an 18-date spring tour, in the wake of releasing her 30: Happy Returns compendium last May to acknowledge three decades as a professional musician.

Coming later this year will be Kate’s Established 1973 Christmas Tour, visiting York Barbican on December 7, three days after she turns 50: a landmark she will mark with her sixth album of South Yorkshire pub carols and winter songs. Box office: Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk; York, yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Beware the Green Fingers: Fladam’s Flo Poskitt and Adam Sowter launch their debut children’s show at York Theatre Royal

Children’s show of the week: Fladam, Green Fingers, TakeOver Festival, York Theatre Royal, May 27, 3pm

GREEN Fingers is a work-in-progress performance to test out madcap York musical comedy double act Fladam’s first foray into family theatre ahead of its full debut at this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Flo Poskitt and Adam Sowter present a deliciously Roald Dahl-style musical storytelling show for children aged five to 12 about a boy born with bright green hands. Is he really rotten or just misunderstood? Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Amy May Ellis: Back at The Band Room

Homeward bound: Amy May Ellis, The Band Room, Low Mill, Farndale, May 27, 7.30pm

BEWITCHING ambient Yorkshire rose folkster Amy May Ellis makes an overdue return to her “local” moorland venue, where she has opened for Hiss Golden Messenger, Willy Mason, Michael Chapman, Ryley Walker and Howe Gelb since teen days…and always brought the house down.

This time she is touring her debut album, Over Ling And Bell, released on Isle of Eigg’s cult Lost Map Records, home of Pictish Trail and one-time Lost Map Sessions singer and songwriter James Yorkston, with whom Amy has toured. Wanderland and Nessy Williamson support. Box office: thebandroom.co.uk.

Awaiting his coat of many colours: Jonathan Wells in rehearsal for his title role in York Musical Theatre Company’s Joseph And The Technicolor Dreamcoat

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Wednesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

KATHRYN Addison directs York Musical Theatre Company in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1968 debut musical: the biblical journey of Joseph, son of Jacob and one of 12 brothers, and his coat of many colours.

From the book of Genesis to the musical’s genesis as a cantata written for a school choir, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has grown into an iconic musical theatre staple. Here husband and wife Jonathan Wells and Jennie Wogan-Wells lead the cast as Joseph and the Narrator. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Richard E Grant: Reflecting on love and loss at the Grand Opera House, York

Talk show of the week: An Evening With Richard E Grant, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm

ACTOR Richard E Grant tells stories from his life, entwining tales from his glittering career with uplifting reflections on love and loss, as told in last September’s memoir, A Pocketful Of Happiness.

Grant will be considering the inspiration behind the book – how, when his beloved wife Joan died in 2021 after almost 40 years together, she set him a challenge of finding a pocketful of happiness in every day. The book and now the tour show honour that challenge. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Leon Francois Dumont’s Ring Of Fire: Not one of the “life drawings” but featuring in the Donderdag Collective exhibition nonetheless at Pyramid Gallery, York

York exhibition launch of the week: The Donderdag Collective, Artists And The Human Form, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, York, today, from 11am, until June 25

FOUNDED in 2011 by a group of artists in York, The Donderdag Collective members – both professionals and keen amateurs – meet at St Olave’s Church Hall, in Marygate Lane, on Thursday evenings to sketch or paint from a life model (‘Donderdag’ being Dutch for ‘Thursday’).

Taking part in this resulting show are: Julie Mitchell; Rory Barke; Bertt deBaldock; Diane Cobbold; Carolyn Coles; Leon Francois Dumont; Jeanne Godfrey; Anna Harding; Adele Karmazyn; Michelle Galloway; Andrian Melka; Kate Pettitt; Swea Sayers; Barbara Shaw and Donna Maria Taylor.

Dame Joan Collins: Going Behind The Shoulder Pads at the Grand Opera House in October

Show announcement of the week: Dame Joan Collins, Behind The Shoulder Pads, Grand Opera House, York, October 2, 7.30pm

TO coincide with the release of her memoir Behind The Shoulder Pads, Hollywood legend, author, producer, humanitarian and entrepreneur Dame Joan Collins, who will turn 90 on May 23, will embark on a tour with husband Percy Gibson by her side.

Returning to the Grand Opera House, where they presented Unscripted in February 2019, they will field audience questions and tell seldom-told tales and enchanting anecdotes, accompanied by rare footage from Dame Joan’s seven decades in showbusiness. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Sarabeth Tucek returns with SBT sobriquet, May double album and Selby Town Hall gig

Sarabeth Tucek: Re-emerging as SBT

SARABETH Tucek is emerging from a “decade-long hibernation” with a double album, tour and new moniker, SBT.

The New Jersey actress-turned-singer-songwriter will follow up the May 19 release of Joan Of All on her own Ocean Omen label with an 18-date itinerary that takes in Yorkshire gigs at Selby Town Hall on May 20 and The Greystones, Sheffield, on May 25.

Here, CharlesHutchPress discusses hibernation, the song-writing craft, a change of name, her album title, Bob Dylan, Brian Jonestown Massacre and past Yorkshire encounters with Sarabeth.

Had you ever envisaged such a long hiatus between albums since 2011’s Get Well Soon? 

“No, I had not. Honestly, I had not envisaged a lot of things that have happened in my life but here I am. I think if I needed to have my life take the turns it did in order to arrive at this new record then so be it. It’s my favourite creation.”

Did you ever doubt you would return to the recording studio?

“No, I knew I would return. I just wasn’t sure when that would be. I think I make records because I need to hear myself say something to myself. Aloud. I can look for another artist to say it to me but less and less I hear what I need to hear and so that has been a motivating factor.”

Did you consider it to be a “decade in hibernation”?

“In some ways. I think parts of my mind went into hibernation. I think I needed to understand some things that happened in my life. But I dunno. I just think of a bear or an animal in a cave when I hear the word hibernation.

“I am maybe more like a squirrel that buried some nuts in the ground with the knowledge I would come back to them someday for sustenance.” 

How have you changed as a songwriter over the past 12 years?

“I used to think I only had a musical language for sad thoughts and feelings but now I feel I have access to the other parts of myself as well. Also, I feel differently than I used to. In the world as a person. So that has changed my writing.”

How many years of song-writing span the double album? Did you ever suffer writer’s block?

“I wrote two of the songs several years ago and the rest in a couple of weeks. No, I don’t have writer’s block. I can write when I need to, but my issue is allowing myself the time to go sit in a room with my guitar and make something of the words.

“I don’t understand this problem but sometimes I think it’s some form of self-punishment. Like I am depriving myself of something that has brought me moments of real joy. I deny myself.” 

Explain the choice of album title, Joan Of All…

“Well, I wanted to call it The Middle Ages. That’s the age I am in, and I started thinking about armour and how I have started to feel like in some ways I am losing my armour but in other ways gaining it.

“Around the time I was deciding on a title, Roe v Wade began to come under attack so… middle ages, then women being brave and persecuted… Joan of Arc came to mind and then my mom’s name is Joan! She was a single mom and I am forever in awe of her strength.”

How do you distinguish Sarabeth from SBT?

“People have always called me SBT. Also, no-one can ever pronounce my last name. Every initial meeting with someone I have to hear them struggle with my last name and then I have to correct their pronunciation and then they apologise and I say, ‘no, its OK, no-one can pronounce it’, and it’s just a weird way to meet people.

“Also, I feel like everything about this record is new for me and SBT feels right.” 

“I can write when I need to, but my issue is allowing myself the time to go sit in a room with my guitar and make something of the words,” says Sarabeth. Picture: Paula Bullwinkel

What do you recall of working with Smog’s Bill Callahan? How did that partnership come about? 

“Colin Gagon, who played with Will Oldham, asked me if I wanted to come to his studio to record some of my songs. I had met him at a party in Echo Park where the guitar was being passed around and I sang a couple songs.

“We made some demos and then later Colin was going to record his own record and Bill Callahan was producing it. Colin asked me to come up to San Francisco and sing on his record and contribute a song. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with Bill. He is very quiet and so am I.

“About a year later, Bill reached out and asked if I would come to Chicago, where he lived, to sing on his new record. Of course, I jumped at the chance. I have always been a big Smog fan.

“I remember listening to the demos of the songs on Supper at the studio, so I could figure out my parts, and it was difficult because the songs made me feel so much personally that it was hard to concentrate. I think I cried.

“The lyrics are very moving. That record is brilliantly written and I will always be honoured to have been a part of it. Bill was very kind. We had some good long talks. It was great.”

DiG! is one of the great rockumentaries.  What do you recall of making an appearance in the film and indeed of working with Anton Newcombe’s Brian Jonestown Massacre? 

“Well, I remember the day of his show at the knitting factory, which is in the documentary. The show when Anton kicked that poor guy in the head. He was asking me all day to come and sing because he wasn’t feeling well and wanted some help with singing duties.

“He wanted me to play some songs to lessen his time onstage. I didn’t want to and kept saying no because I could tell he was in a mood. I knew him well enough to predict the times when he might lose his temper.

“Also, I had just started writing songs and didn’t feel ready to perform to a full house. I agreed though and then of course he lost his temper with this guy in the audience. “Anton had introduced me as his sister and the guy after I played said something silly like ‘F*** you, your sister rocks’. He heard it wrong and thought the guy was suggesting he should have sex with me, his sister. I am not related to him by the way.

“This just sounds so dumb to retell and it is. Anyway, a fight ensued and Anton ended up going to jail. Good times!

“My time living/working with the BJM is part tragedy, part comedy. I am actually glad I got to be a part of a world, a rock’n’roll world, that is probably not going to happen again. That whole period of time in Echo Park in the mid-late ’90s. A lot of great musicians and cheap rent.”

Did you meet Bob Dylan when you supported him? 

“Yes, Bob called me over backstage and we had a nice chat. I was told he didn’t talk to his opening acts and so I wasn’t expecting the encounter. I was tremendously nervous.

“I am not religious but for me he is a kind of demi-god. I don’t get excited by celebrity but I was overwhelmed with being in front of someone who is actually a genius and whose music has helped me to understand what it means to be alive.”

Have you played in Selby/York/North Yorkshire previously? 

“Yes, we played the Band Room on the Yorkshire moors. In Farndale, I believe [Correct, Sarabeth! Low Mill, Farndale, May 2011]. I will never forget the absolute and overwhelming beauty of that area.

“We played York as well, but I can’t recall the venue. [Correct again, Sarabeth! Fibbers in March 2008, it turns out]. I have never played Selby! I am excited to visit and play!”

What form will your concert take: solo or with a band?

“I am bringing a band to try and bring as much as I can from the record to a live stage. We are going to go all out on this tour!”

SBT (Sarabeth Tucek) plays Selby Town Hall, May 20, 8pm, supported by Kiran Leonard and Todmorden guitarist and songsmith dbh. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk. Also: The Greystones, Sheffield, May 25, 8pm; mygreystones.co.uk/may.

The cover artwork for SBT’s album Joan Of All

Sarabeth Tucek back story

Born in Miami, Florida, daughter of a psychiatrist father and psychologist mother. Parents split when she was a child; raised by mother in Manhattan, New York. Graduated from Westfield High School.

Occupation: Actress first, now singer-songwriter.  

Officially broke onto music scene in 2003, performing duets with Bill Callahan on Smog album Supper.

Appeared in Ondi Timoner’s 2004 prize-winning Brian Jonestown Massacre versus The Dandy Warhols documentary DiG!. Contributed to Brian Jonestown Massacre’s 2005 EP We Are The Radio.

Debut single Something For You released in 2006, becoming Steve Lamacq’s Single of the Week on BBC 6 Music.

Self-titled debut album arrived in 2007, produced by Luther Russell and Ethan Johns. Rave reviews led to support slot with idol Bob Dylan.

After troubled Los Angles years of alcohol, car crashes and jail for drink-driving when struggling to handle the disorientating success of her debut album, she found her redemptive footing in New York.

Resulting 2011 sophomore album, Get Well Soon, meditated on “the ferocity of grief “after the loss of her father, who had died more than a decade earlier from a sudden heart attack on a boat on a lake. Title track featured on first season of HBO’s Girls.

After retreating from the record business to concentrate on other creative endeavours, she returns on May 19 with double album Joan Of All, under her sobriquet of SBT, a longtime tag given to her by the many musicians she has worked with throughout her career.

Lead single The Gift has been receiving airplay on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show. She will record a live session for Riley while on tour.

Should you be wondering: Tucek is pronounced two-check.

Joan Of All tracklisting:

Joan Says/Amber Shade; The Living Room; Cathy Says; The Gift; The Box; Work; Make Up Your Mind; 13th St #1; Swings; Happiness; Something/Anything; Sheep; The Tunnel; Unmade/The Dog; Creature Of The Night.

Chris Jones, Selby Town Council arts officer, on bringing Sarabeth Tucek to Selby

“IT’S Sarabeth’s first UK tour in over a decade, supporting her first album since 2011 – a big, sprawling, electric Americana affair called Joan Of All. She’ll be performing here with a full electric band, including some who have played with Jakob (son of Bob) Dylan’s live outfits. This is definitely one of the ‘cooler’ gigs we’ve put on over the last year or so!

“Sarabeth is as talented as she is enigmatic. Her new work mixes the classic sound of East Coast Americana singer-songwriters with bigger hooks, bigger guitars and some considerable musical exploration.”

Kacy & Clayton open new year of gigs at Lonely Planet’s seventh quirkiest venue”

Kacy & Clayton: cosmic alt-country on the North York Moors at The Band Room on Friday

KACY & Clayton are the first act to be confirmed for The Band Room’s 2020 concert programme at Low Mill, Farndale, near Kirkbymoorside, on the North York Moors.

Promoter Nigel Burnham has announced a 7.30pm shows for Friday, when the Canadian duo will be supported by Arborist. Given the capacity of only 100, he recommends booking at thebandroom.co.uk/gigs or on 01751 432900.

“I think our gig on January 31 – Brexit night! – could be the alternative double bill of the year,” says Nigel. “Kacy & Clayton brought the house down when they played here last March and we’ll be rolling out the red carpet for their return, this time with a full band line-up.

“Support act Arborist, from Belfast, are getting fantastic reviews for their debut album, Home Burial, too.”

Kacy & Clayton, from Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, are returning to Low Mill after releasing their fifth album, Carrying On, last October. “In the band are Kacy Anderson – alias the missing link between Sandy Denny and Emmylou Harris – and her second cousin Clayton Linthicum, a multi-talented guitarist who could have played on The Byrds’ Sweethearts Of The Rodeo album if he’d been around at the time,” says Nigel.

“Some call them ‘folk roots’, others ‘psychedelic folk’ or ‘cosmic alt-country’. Honestly! They’re destined for great things. Their fourth album, 2017’s The Siren’s Song, was produced by Americana icon Jeff Tweedy; they’ve toured with Wilco and The Decemberists and been mentioned in the same hallowed breath as Grievous Angel-era Gram Parsons and country rock pioneers Buffalo Springfield.”

Singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich,outside York MInster. Picture: Esme Mai

The next date in the Band Room diary is York troubadour Benjamin Francis Leftwich on March 6: his first North Yorkshire gig since the very contrasting York Minster nave on March 29 last year.

“We’re delighted that Ben, such a peerless super-cool singer-songwriter, will be making his long-awaited debut here,” says Nigel, who will welcome Wounded Bear as the support act.

Leftwich, who lives in North London these days, released his third album, Gratitude, on March 15 last year with a launch gig that night at an even more intimate solo show, playing to 50 at FortyFive Vinyl Café, in Micklegate, York.

The Band Room will kick off a new year buoyed by the Lonely Planet travel guide placing the moorland hall at number seven in its survey of Britain’s Quirkiest Music Venues. To discover where else made the list, go to lonelyplanet.com/articles/quirkiest-music-venues-uk.

“People travel from across the world to see gigs in this picture-perfect Yorkshire hut,” writes Lonely Planet’s Lucy Lovell. “The wood-panelled Band Room was originally built as a brass band practice room in the 1920s, and aside from new management and a well-curated line-up of bands, little has changed since then.

“There’s still no bar, so don’t forget to bring your own drinks, and enjoy chatting with others who made the journey across the North York Moors.” All very true, except that the pedant police would point out the Band Room used to house silver band practice sessions, not brass band ones.