THE return of Buddy, Stewart Lee and English Touring Opera, a dream of an exhibition and a vintage DJ night of song top Charles Hutchinson’s diary highlights for the week ahead.
Musical of the week: Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story, Grand Opera House, York, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees
HOLLYLUJAH! Rock’n’roll musical Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story returns to York for the first time since 2017 with “The day the music died” tale of the bespectacled young man from Lubbock, Texas, whose meteoric rise from Southern rockabilly beginnings to international stardom ended in his death in a plane crash at only 22.
Christopher Weeks’s Buddy leads the cast of actor-musicians through two hours of music and drama, romance and tragedy, driven by all those hits, from That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue and Rave On to Big Bopper’s Chantilly Lace and Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.
Folk gig of the week: Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle, The Crescent, York, Sunday, 8pm
THE Black Swan Folk Club and Please Please You present the powerhouse triumvirate of musical magpies McGoldrick, McCusker and Doyle in a Sunday session of traditional, contemporary and original jigs, reels and ballads, as heard on their two albums, 2018’s The Wishing Tree and 2020’s The Reed That Bends In The Storm.
Their paths first crossing as teenagers before they joined separate bands (Lunasa, The Battlefield Band and Solas respectively), they line up with Mancunian McGoldrick on flute, whistles, Uileann pipes, bodhran, clarinet and congas; Glaswegian McCusker on fiddle, whistles and harmonium; Dubliner Doyle on vocals, guitar, bouzouki and mandola.
“The whole thing’s great fun,” says McCusker. “We have no agenda other than having a nice time and playing music. That’s the way we tour as well – we throw ourselves in a little car, instruments on our laps, and off we go. And the records? Well, I hope it’s the sound of three old friends, having a great time, making music together.” Box office: thecrescentyork.com.
Comedy at the treble: Stewart Lee: Basic Lee, York Theatre Royal, Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm
AFTER recording last May’s brace of Snowflake and Tornado gigs at York Theatre Royal for broadcast on the BBC, Stewart Lee returns for three nights of his Basic Lee show.
Following a decade of high-concept shows involving overarched, interlinked narratives, Lee enters the post-pandemic era in streamlined stand-up mode. One man, one microphone, and one microphone in the wings in case the one on stage breaks. Pure. Simple. Classic. Basic Lee – but sold out, alas.
Exhibition launch of the week: Navigators Art, Dream Time, City Screen Picturehouse, York, on show until April 21
YORK collective Navigators Art’s Dream Time exhibition takes inspiration from dreams, visions, surrealism and the mysteries and fantasies of the subconscious mind. The official launch event will be held tomorrow (19/3/2023) in the café bar from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.
This mixed-media show features painting by Steve Beadle and Peter Roman; collage, prints and drawing by Richard Kitchen; photography and painting by Nick Walters and textiles by Katie Lewis.
Nostalgic show of the week: Tony Blackburn: Sound Of The 60s Live, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm
BBC Radio 2 disc jockey Tony Blackburn hosts an evening of 1960s’ classics, performed live by the Sound Of The 60s All Star Band and Singers.
Listen out for the hits of The Everly Brothers, Dusty Springfield, The Kinks, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Otis Redding, The Beatles, The Who and many more. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Liverpool lip of the week: Paul Smith: Joker, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm
JOKER is Paul Smith’s biggest and funniest tour show to date, wherein the Scouse humorist mixes his trademark audience interaction with true stories from his everyday life.
Resident compere at Liverpool’s Hot Water Club, Smith has made his mark online as well as on the gig circuit with his affable nature and savvy wit. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.
Indie gig of the week: Roddy Woomble, Selby Town Hall, Thursday, 8pm
RODDY Woomble, Scottish indie band Idlewild’s lead singer, is now a leading voice in the British contemporary indie folk scene. In Selby, he is joined by Idlewild band mate Andrew Wasylyk for a duo show of Idlewild favourites and solo works.
“This is a tour in between records, so a tour for exploring all the songs,” says Woomble. “Lo! Soul is going on two years old now, and although the songs still sound fresh to me when I play them, it’s time for something new – which there is. We’ll definitely be including some new material in the set.” Box office: selbytownhall.co.uk.
Two nights at the opera: English Touring Opera, York Theatre Royal, in Lucrezia Borgia, March 24, and Il Viaggio a Reims, March 25, both 7.30pm
LUCREZIA Borgia, Donizetti’s tragedy of a complex woman in a dangerous situation, is making its debut in the English Touring Opera repertoire in Eloise Lally’s ETO directorial debut production of this thrilling and moving meditation on power and motherhood.
Valentina Ceschi directs a cast of 27 in Il Viaggio a Reims, Rossini’s last Italian opera, in which intrigue, politics, romance and lost luggage all play their part as a group of entitled guests from all over Europe is stranded in a provincial hotel on the way to a great coronation. Period-instrument specialists The Old Street Band play for both operas. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.
Gig announcement of the week: Steve Earle, The Alone Again Tour, Grand Opera House, York, June 9
AS his tour title suggests, legendary Americana singer, songwriter, producer, actor, playwright, novelist, short story writer and radio presenter Steve Earle will be performing solo and acoustic in York: the only Yorkshire gig of a ten-date itinerary without his band The Dukes that will take in the other Barbican, in London, and Glastonbury.
Born in Fort Monroae National Monument, Hampton, Virginia, Earle grew up in Texas and began his songwriting career in Nashville, releasing his first EP in 1982 and debut album Guitar Town in 1986, since when he has branched out from country music into rock, bluegrass, folk music and blues.
His colourful life prompted Lauren St John’s 2003 biography Hardcore Troubadour: The Life And Near Death Of Steve Earle, written with the rebel rocker’s exclusive and unfettered cooperation. “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself,” he once said.
Earle, 68, has been married seven times (including twice to the same woman) and been through drug addiction and run-ins with the law, serving a month in prison in 1994 for heroin possession. “Going to jail is what saved my life,” he said, after he was sent to rehab.
A protege of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, Earle is a masterful storytelling songwriter in his own right, with his songs being recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, The Proclaimers and The Pretenders, among others.
Since the Millennium, he has released such albums as the Grammy-awarded The Revolution Starts…Now (2004), Washington Square Serenade (2007) and Townes (2009).
Restlessly creative across artistic disciplines, Earle has published a collection of short stories, Doghouse Roses (2002) ; a novel, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (2011), and a memoir, I Can’t Remember If We said Goodbye (2015).
He has produced albums for Joan Baez and Lucinda Williams, acted in films and on television, notably in David Simon’s The Wire, and hosts a radio show for Sirius XM.
In 2009, Earle made his off-Broadway theatre debut in the play Samara, contributing the score too. In 2010, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics in the drama series Treme.
In 2020, he wrote music for and appeared in Coal Country, a docu-play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that shines a light on the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion, the most deadly mining disaster in United States history. A nomination for a Drama Desk Award came his way.
In 2020 too, Earle released the album Ghosts Of West Virginia and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. His 21st studio album, J.T. in January 2021, was an homage to his late son, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who had died from an accidental drug overdose in August 2020. In May 2022 came Jerry Jeff, Earle’s tribute to cowboy troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday morning (23/3/2023) at atgtickets.com/york.