What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond in the wild, on stage, canvas and dancefloor. Hutch’s List No 20, from Gazette & Herald

What’s All The Fuss About?, Will Palmer’s photo of Arctic walrus Thor on the Scarborough harbour slipway, from the British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition at Nunnington Hall. Courtesy of National Trust

WILDLIFE photography, Rodgers and Hammerstein romance, a Strictly couple and a Scottish double bill send June into full bloom for Charles Hutchinson.

Ryedale exhibition of the week: British Wildlife Photography Awards, Nunnington Hall, Nunnington, near Helmsley, until July 7

CELEBRATING the diversity of British wildlife and wild spaces, this exhibition aims to raise awareness of British biodiversity, species and habitats. On display are award-winning images selected from 14,000 entries in more than a dozen categories, including film and three for juniors.

Look out for What’s All The Fuss About?, taken by Scarborough photographer Will Palmer, who captured the headline-making Arctic walrus, Thor, when resting ashore on the harbour slipway cobbles on December 31 2022. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 5pm; last entry at 4.15pm. Tickets: nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall.

Courtney Broan’s Ado Annie in Pickering Musical Society’s Oklahoma! at the Kirk Theatre, Pickering

American classic of the week: Pickering Musical Society in Oklahoma!, Kirk Theatre, Pickering, running until Saturday, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

LUKE Arnold directs Pickering Musical Society in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 love story of Curly (Marcus Burnside) and Laurie (Rachel Anderson), set in the sweeping landscapes of the American heartland. 

Further roles go to Courtney Broan as Ado Annie, Stephen Temple as Will Parker, Michael O’Brien as Mr Carnes and Rick Switzer-Green as Ali Hakim, joined by dancers from the Sarah Louise Ashworth School of Dance. Box office: 01751 474833 or kirktheatre.co.uk.

Nadiya & Kai: Strictly dancers venture Behind The Magic at York Barbican

Dance show of the week: Nadiya & Kai , Behind The Magic, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm

STRICTLY Come Dancing professionals Nadiya Bychkova and Kai  Widdrington go Behind The Magic on a journey through the world of dance, from childhood memories and competition days, to dancing on Strictly and beyond.

The Ukraine-Southampton couple and their cast will be highlighting the influence of 20th century dance legends, creatives and artists alike. Expect “fabulous outfits, wonderful music and sensational dancing”. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Ceramicist Emily Stubbs: Exhibiting with sister Amy and father Christopher in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth at Pyramid Gallery, York

Family exhibition of the week: Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, June 15 to August 3

FAMILY artistry unites in Stubbs3 – Canvas, Clay and Cloth, a unique exhibition featuring works by sisters Emily Stubbs and Amy Stubbs, regular participants in York Open Studios, alongside their father, Christopher Stubbs, from Hepworth, West Yorkshire.

Their first-ever joint showcase brings together diverse artistic media in a celebration of family creativity. Contemporary ceramicist Emily Stubbs works from PICA Studios, in Grape Lane; Amy specialises in textile and surface pattern design in a range of homeware and wearable art; Christopher will be exhibiting framed paintings and sketches. All three will attend Saturday’s launch in a Meet The Artists session from 12 noon to 2pm.

Amy Stubbs: Homeware and wearable art

Vintage gig of the week: Ben Beattie’s After Midnight Band, Helmsley Arts Centre, Saturday, 8pm

BEN Beattie’s After Midnight Band celebrate the greats and the lesser known, from honking jump blues to hypnotic Latin beats, joyous African township sounds to the smoky jazz normally to be found in a Chicago speakeasy at 3am. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Ben Beattie: Heading to Helmsley with the After Midnight Band

Film music of the week: A Tribute To Hans Zimmer and Film Favourites Illuminated, Grand Opera House, York, Sunday, 3.30pm and 7pm

EXPERIENCE cinema’s most iconic soundtracks performed by the London Film Music Orchestra in an immersive tribute to Hans Zimmer and more besides in an immersive illuminated setting.

The chamber orchestra will be performing music from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, E.T., Pirates Of The Caribbean, Jaws, Interstellar, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and Inception. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Simple Minds in Scarborough: Charlie Burchill, left, and Jim Kerr are off to the Yorkshire coast on Tuesday. Picture: Dean Chalkley

Coastal gig of the week: Simple Minds and special guests Del Amitri, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, June 18; gates open at 6pm

SOMEONE somewhere in summertime, namely Simple Minds in Scarborough on Tuesday, finds Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill’s band revisiting such hits as Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize, Alive And Kicking, Sanctify Yourself, Don’t You Forget About Me and, aptly for Scarborough, Waterfront.

Opening the Scottish double bill will be fellow Glaswegians Del Amitri, led as ever by Justin Currie. Box office: scarboroughopenairtheatre.com/simpleminds.

Wannabe: Spicing up the Grand Opera House, York

York tribute show of the week: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Musical, Grand Opera House, York, June 20, 7.30pm

WANNABE, the “world’s longest-running” Spice Girls tribute stage production, celebrates three decades of girl power in a nostalgic journey through the Spice World.

The show charts the English girl group’s meteoric rise, from July 1996’s debut number one, Wannabe, to Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s reunion at the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony. Expect “meticulously crafted costumes, unique vocal and musical arrangements exclusive to Wannabe, iconic dance routines and stunning visual flair”. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Tim Ainslie: Leading his three-piece band in Malton

Blues gig of the month: Ryedale Blues Club, Tim Ainslie and The Vibes, Milton Rooms, Malton, June 27, 8pm

TIM Ainslie and The Vibes head up to Malton from Suffolk for a night of blues, jazz and funk, crossing over into country and rock too, making it hard to pigeonhole his three-piece’s style.

Ainslie, who turned professional in 1997, will be showcasing his original material and guitar-playing prowess that has seen him tour home and abroad with Steamboat To Chicago, Steel Street, Swagger, Groove Doctors, Delta Groove and American guitaristsBuddy WhittingtonandLightnin’ Willie. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

The poster artwork for Rick Witter and Paul Banks’s acoustic Shed Seven gigs at Huntington Working Men’s Club in December

Show announcement of the week: Shed Seven’s Rick Witter and Paul Banks, Huntington Working Men’s Club, York, December 21 and 22

RENASCENT York band Shed Seven will end their 30th anniversary celebrations with a brace of intimate acoustic concerts by frontman Rick Witter and guitarist Paul Banks at Huntington WMC, supported by a DJ set by Sheds’ bassist Tom Gladwin.

Tickets will go on sale at 9am today (12/6/2024) for these homecoming gigs: the York postscript to the Sheds’ 23-date 30th Anniversary Tour, their biggest ever “Shedcember” itinerary from November 14 to December 14. Box office: store.shedseven.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond, whether Unfortunate or fortunate to be here. Hutch’s List No. 24, from The Press

Swing when you’re singing: Ryedale Primary Choir schoochildren doing their vocal exercises for Across The Whinny Moor

MUSICAL moorland mermaids and a villainous sea witch, motion in art and a Mozart mass, vintage Pink Floyd and a Louise Brooks silent movie set up Charles Hutchinson’s week ahead.

Ryedale Festival community event of the week: Across The Whinny Moor, St Peter’s Church, Norton, today, 4pm

THE world premiere of the Community Song Cycle: Across The Whinny Moor follows the trail of North Yorkshire’s Lyke Wake Walk, meeting cheeky hobs, angry mermaids, resourceful giants and wise witches along the way. 

The all-age cast for a walk through stories and songs by John Barber and Hazel Gould includes the schoolchildren of the Ryedale Primary Choir, the Ryedale Voices, Harmonia and The RyeLarks choirs, Kirkbymoorside Town Junior Brass Band, storyteller Rosie Barrett and mezzo-soprano soloist Victoria Simmonds, conducted by Caius Lee. Box office: ryedalefestival.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/1173652657. 

Tim Pearce’s poster artwork for Life Forms In Motion at Blossom Street Gallery

Six of the best: Life Forms In Motion, Blossom Street Gallery, Blossom Street, York, until June 30

SIX Yorkshire artists give individual responses to the challenge of interpreting the motion of life forms in a range of static media. In a nutshell, time and space condensed into single, dynamic images.

Taking part are Tim Pearce, painting and sculpture; Cathy Denford, painting; Jo Ruth, printmaking; Adrienne French, painting; Mandy Long, ceramic sculpture, and Lesley Peatfield, photography. Opening hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm; Sundays, 10am to 3pm.

Robert Hollingworth: On baton duty at the University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra’s concert at York Minster tonight

Classical concert of the week: University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra, York Minster, tonight, 7.30pm

UNDER the direction of Robert Hollingworth and John Stringer, the University of York Choir and Symphony Orchestra perform Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass in C minor, widely considered to be among his supreme choral works.

This will be complemented by a selection of works by Anton Bruckner, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Austrian composer’s birth, including the Te Deum, “the pride of his life”. Box office: 01904 322439 or yorkconcerts.co.uk.

Across The Fields To The Sea, by John Thornton, from his Kentmere House Gallery exhibition

“Favourite artist” of the week: John Thornton, Across The Fields To The Sea, Kentmere House, Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York

BORN in York and now living in Selby, seascape and landscape artist John Thornton has opened his latest show, Across The Fields To The Sea, at his regular York gallery.

“John is everyone’s favourite painter,” says gallery owner and curator Ann Petherick. “I’m delighted he has produced a new and exciting collection of paintings of Askham Bog and Skipwith Common woodlands and meadows and the occasional seascape, inspired by his travels in Yorkshire since the end of Covid.” Opening hours: First weekend of each month, 11am to 5pm; every Thursday, 6pm to 9pm; any other time by appointment on 01904 656507 or 07801 810825.

Louise Brooks in Diary Of A Lost Girl, showing at the NCEM on Tuesday

Film event of the week: Diary Of A Lost Girl (PG), with pianist Utsav Lal, National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, June 11, 7.30pm

TRAILBLAZING New York raga pianist Utsav Lal improvises his live score to accompany Diary Of A Lost Girl, a rarely shown gem of German silent cinema starring American icon Louise Brooks.

Presented by Northern Silents, G W Pabst’s 1929 film traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening. Box office: 01904 658338 and at ncem.co.uk.

Sex, sorcery and suckers: Shawna Hamic’s filthy-humoured Ursula in Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch. Picture: Pamela Raith

Musical discovery of the week: Unfortunate: The Untold Story Of Ursula The Sea Witch, Grand Opera House, York, June 11 to 15, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

AFTER a hit London season, Yorkshire writer-director Robyn Grant heads north with her raucously rude, wickedly camp parody musical Unfortunate, wherein Disney diva Ursula, the villainous sea witch, rules the waves and waves the rules.

New York actress Shawna Hamic’s Ursula gives her filthy-humoured take on what really happened all those years ago under the sea in a bawdy tale of sex, sorcery and suckers. Age recommendation: 16+, on account of strong language, partial nudity and scenes of a sexual nature. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Courtney Broan as Ado Annie in Pickering Musical Society’s Oklahoma!

American classic of the week: Pickering Musical Society in Oklahoma!, Kirk Theatre, Pickering, June 11 to 15, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

LUKE Arnold directs Pickering Musical Society in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1943 love story of Curly (Marcus Burnside) and Laurie (Rachel Anderson), set in the sweeping landscapes of the American heartland. 

Further roles go to Courtney Broan as Ado Annie, Stephen Temple as Will Parker, Michael O’Brien as Mr Carnes and Rick Switzer-Green as AliHakim, joined by dancers from the Sarah Louise Ashworth School of Dance. Box office: 01751 474833 or kirktheatre.co.uk.

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets: Re-visiting Pink Floyd at York Barbican

Rock gig of the week: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, York Barbican, June 12, 7.45pm

NICK Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets follow up their April 2022 appearance at York Barbican with Wednesday’s date on their Set The Controls Tour.

Once more, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason will be joined by Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, bassist Guy Pratt, guitarist Lee Harris and keyboardist Dom Beken to perform vintage Pink Floyd material. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.   

The poster artwork for Calamity Jane, starring Carrie Hope Fletcher, on tour at Grand Opera House next spring

Show announcement of the week: Carrie Hope Fletcher in Calamity Jane, Grand Opera House, York, April 29 to May 3 2025

IN the week when Nikolai Foster’s production of An Officer And A Gentleman The Musical is on tour at the Grand Opera House, the York theatre announces the booking of another show with the North Yorkshire director at the helm, this one bound for the West End.

Three-time WhatsOnStage Best Actress in a Musical winner Carrie Hope Fletcher will star in the whip-crackin’ musical as fearless Dakota gun-slinger Calamity Jane. “She is one of those roles that doesn’t come around all too often,” she says. “She’s action, romance and comedy all packed into one character, and I can’t wait to take on the challenge of filling her shoes.” Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican

York Guildhall Orchestra conductor Simon Wright

IT was a field day for horns. All the works in this afternoon programme conducted by Simon Wright featured important French horn solos. Strauss’s First Horn Concerto was centrepiece, preceded by a Humperdinck prelude and dances by Elgar, and followed by Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony.

The horn has always been considered the Romantic instrument par excellence, evocative of fairy-tale, fantasy and fanfare alike. Humperdinck opens his opera Hansel and Gretel with a chorale for a quartet of horns, suggesting the presence of the divine over the children’s adventures.  The horns here were a model of composure, although the orchestra’s subsequent capers just lacked that final ounce of playfulness.

Elgar’s three orchestrations of songs in From The Bavarian Highlands distil the essence of dance in the southern German countryside, a favourite holiday spot he enjoyed with his wife Alice. The central Lullaby found principal horn Janus Wadsworth in smooth fettle.

There was plenty of joie de vivre in the opening number, but the real joy came in The Marksmen, where Simon Wright’s delicate tempo changes were minutely observed and the final accelerando was delightfully dashing.

It was a privilege to be in the audience for the Strauss horn concerto. Its soloist, Annemarie Federle, principal horn of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, sports not merely superb technical expertise but a musicality personality that bubbles into all her playing.

It is not too strong to call her the Emma Raducanu of the horn. Both stars are 21, with bright futures and the freshness of youth on their side.

We have produced some outstanding horn players in this country over the years, but Federle is already right in the front rank. The orchestra offered every support she could have wanted, giving plenty of meaning to the ritornellos; Wright’s rapport with her was exemplary.

There was a telling moment in the opening movement. She leapt to a high note and it was not quite right. It was not out of tune, just not perfectly placed. But she made an immediate adjustment that opened out its resonance; it was the mark of a perfectionist.

Her velvety legato in the Andante encased a central section where she added heft to her tone to dramatic effect. In a seemingly nerveless finale, she managed some impeccable shades of phrasing despite the rapid tempo.

We were still not done with the horns. The slow movement of Dvorak’s Seventh features some telling moments for the instrument. Once again Wadsworth did not disappoint. He has been a faithful servant to this orchestra for many years and he deserved his moments in the spotlight.

The composer’s colourful orchestration emerged with considerable clarity in the opening Allegro, taken at a leisurely, lilting pace. But energy had been kept in reserve for the scherzo, which was crisp and taut, with idyllic contrast in its trio.

Wright’s command of this ensemble was in evidence again in the finale as he played with the tempo at phrase-endings and the orchestra responded as to the manner born. This movement has been compared to the devil’s music in Weber’s Der Freischütz and its stern drama remained strong right up until the final cadence in the major key.

The orchestra has decided to persist with Sunday matinee performances in the coming season, which begins on October 6. On this showing, any family with musical interests would be foolish to miss it.

Review by Martin Dreyer 19/5/2024

REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Yes, The Classic Tales of Yes Tour, York Barbican, May 28

Yes, here seen playing live in 2023, returned to York Barbican last night, having toured there in 2022. Picture: Gottlieb Bros

YES know how to play the long game. In the second half of their fifth decade as a band, this incarnation is led ostensibly by Steve Howe, who first signed on in 1970.

It is Howe’s skilfully selected setlist that lifts this concert, and gives it an appeal beyond the die-hards. Chosen with the same care Howe puts into his guitar playing, over two hours, two sets and 12 songs, they charted many of the interesting points on the Yes musical map.

With any longstanding group, there are line-up changes, and while there have been some negative reviews of their most recent album, May 2023’s Mirror To The Sky, it was clear they remain a potent musical proposition. Cut From The Stars, the sole ‘new’ track in the show, was there by merit, driven by some exuberant bass.

Yes’s long-form music is a byword for difficult, and as Howe observed late in the second set, “Yes members have to put the work in”. It was akin to watching an orchestra where everyone was the soloist – holding the entire set in their heads while playing for and with one another.

The first half showcased Howe, who played between six and seven guitars during the set (I lost count). With the air of a wizened professor at 77, his dexterity was amazing, switching styles without batting an eye. Like Yes, this is music that is hard for a newcomer to love. It takes effort, and Howe’s guitar work is the same, not people pleasing, but always coming at a composition from an expected angle.

The opening Machine Messiah showed off the heavier side to the band, starting with crunching chords before taking off around the ten-minute mark with some wonderfully propulsive ensemble playing.

Arguably the most memorable moments were when Howe’s guitar tech wheeled on a second guitar on a stand. Still with one instrument around his neck, Howe then produced the most lyrical sounds of the evening, and in this way he closed out Turn Of The Century to finish the first set.

The love the band and the audience have for the music is a powerful force, best experienced in person – and from his skips and hops, Howe looked totally absorbed in delivering a great performance.

The poster for The Classic Tales Of Yes Tour 2024. York Barbican was their only Yorkshire location

Jon Davison was game on vocals, taking on Jon Anderson’s lyrics in choral style. He is a wonderful singer, but the lyrics were generally pretty woeful. Don’t Kill The Whale being a good, if well intentioned, example.

Given the imaginative musical leaps in motion around him, the singer often had to sing the same things over and over – but never quite run into the ground.

There were some affecting moments with just Howe and Davison – and there is obvious rapport and affection between the men on stage. Talking of choir boys, it transpires that keyboard player Geoff Downes began his musical apprenticeship at York Minster. He had his hands full too, with eight keyboards to man, plus pedals.

There was too much intricacy to keep up with, but there was no room for noodling or drum solos mercifully. Stage lighting was also deliberately simple.

The second half was perhaps the better of the two, despite starting with the weakest number of the night (South Side Of The Sky). It shone a light on the incredible bass shapes produced by Billy Sherwood, very much a lead instrument.

It’s unlikely Yes get many plaudits for their sonic voyages on Tales From Topographic Oceans. This 1973 album marks an outer limit, even in the expanded prog universe, and now serves more as a warning to others not to take themselves so seriously. It was striking, therefore, that their 20-minute distillation of this 80-minute work was a real highlight (Howe having told CharlesHutchPress this was “a mini-representation…visiting each of the sides” in his interview.)

Not listening too closely to the words, but feeling the emotion, the interplay between the players, and the thoughtful way the sections had been stitched together, was a veritable masterclass.

The audience were on their feet for the rousing encore Roundabout, and by Starship Trooper we were as one in our appreciation of this vibrant, iconic musical institution that is Yes.

Review by Paul Rhodes

Drive to give a great performance fuels Yes guitarist Steve Howe after 54 years on classic tour return to York Barbican

Yes, seen here playing live in 2023, return to York Barbican tonight. Picture: Gottlieb Bros

PROG-ROCK legends Yes bring their Classic Tales of Yes Tour to York Barbican tomorrow night (28/5/2024) in the only Yorkshire show of May’s nine-date itinerary.

In the line-up will be Steve Howe, on guitar and vocals, Geoff Downes, on keyboards, Billy Sherwood, on bass guitar and vocals, Jon Davison, on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Jay Schellen on drums.

“We’re putting together a great setlist covering the length and breadth of Yes’s career,” says Howe, whose band last played York Barbican on their Close To The Edge 50th Anniversary Tour in June 2022.

Divided into two sets, the Classic Tales of Yes Tour show comprises myriad songs from Yes’s back catalogue covering 50-plus years.

Definitely it will include a 20-minute medley from 1973’s Tales From Topographic Oceans and “possibly” music from latest album Mirror To The Sky, released on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music in May 2023.

“As always, we are committed to pushing new boundaries and are very excited to be performing another chapter in the rich legacy of the band,” says Downes.

“This tour format does open up a few corridors,” says Howe. “Choosing the running order, I’ve dreamed up the set list, put it to the guys and said ‘what do you think?’, and thankfully they’ve liked it.

“I don’t pre-set it until I’m fairly sure it’s watertight, making sure we pick songs that reach out broadly across our catalogue. Like playing It Will Be A Good Day (The River) from [1999 album] The Ladder, which is something we’ve not played since maybe The Ladder Tour, and Time And A Word [from the 1970 album of that title], a song that is so warm and beautiful to play.”

Central to the Classic Tales of Yes Tour will be the Tales From Topographic Oceans section in the second set. “I got into the idea of visiting each side, drawing the lines together to form a mini-representation,” says Howe.

The poster for The Classic Tales Of Yes Tour 2024. York Barbican is the only Yorkshire date

This tour finds drummer Jay Schellen becoming a permanent member of the band, with the blessing of long-serving Alan White, who died in 2022. Schellen had begun performing with Yes in 2016, when White was beset with health problems. 

“Alan would not give up but he was getting a bit weaker, so we bought in Jay as a standby. For the bigger sets, Alan would come on and do the encore, as his general strength wasn’t capable of doing two and a half hours.

“When Alan couldn’t do the next tour, and later passed away, it was logical to pass on the baton to Jay, who was there already. He’s been very excited to take on the drummer’s role and be constantly involved. It’s a very complicated job but he makes it look easy.”

Will latest album Mirror To The Sky feature in the setlist? “We just do one song from it, Cut From The Stars, the opening track,” confirms Howe. “We’re happier with one, having earlier done two from it.”

As with 2021’s The Quest, Yes began work on their 23rd studio album gradually. “We started in our own studios and then a centralised studio,  building the songs. [Vocalist and acoustic guitarist] Jon Davison started to reside in the UK, in Wales, so we could get some of it done physically together, but with a great deal of file sharing first and then maybe rearranging it with greater dynamics,” says Howe.

“We then went on tour, but fortunately we didn’t do any touring in 2023 bar America in September and October, so we had time to finish earlier in the year.”

Howe has embraced the role of new technology in extending the possibilities of recording remotely as well as together, on The Quest and Mirror To The Sky, but also revels in the pleasures of performing each show. “When you’re playing live, you’re doing it differently, presenting it in an immediate way. That’s a beautiful thing; in between the start and the last chord, anything can happen, anything can become exciting. That drive to give a great performance.”

Performance is a combination of “a lot of structure” and the here and now, the difference maker from night to night. “There are parts that really come alive every night, and we put so much into tunes like America [an instrumental cover of the Simon & Garfunkel song]. It’s a challenge to play but bringing it to life is a joy.”

North Londoner Howe, now 77, says his greatest pleasure is playing solo guitar. “It’s the Chet Atkins in me that wants to play acoustic guitar,” he says. “I’ll be demonstrating that I have the will and determination to do that on my new solo album. It’s got me, lock, stock and barrel, me and the guitar, so I hope to do shows like that in the future.” As well as still saying yes to playing with Yes after 54 years, of course.

Yes, The Classic Tales Of Yes Tour 2024, York Barbican, May 28, 8pm. Rearranged from 2023; tickets remain valid. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

More Things To Do in York and beyond when saying Yes to a love of food and music. Hutch’s List No. 22, from The Press

Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival: Look out for the festival guide and map on site

FOOD for thought on the arts and culture front, from street cookery to dance, trailblazing women to Drawsome! artists and musicians, prog-rock and folk greats to coastal Dexys, as Charles Hutchinson reports.

Flavour of the week: Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival, today, from 9am; tomorrow and Bank Holiday Monday, from 10am

ON the streets of “Yorkshire’s Food Capital”, Malton Food Lovers Festival celebrates Yorkshire’s supreme produce and cooking over three days of 120 artisan stalls and street food vendors, talks, tastings, chef demonstrations, brass bands and buskers, festival bar, food shops, sculpture trail, entertainment, blacksmith workshops, vintage funfair and family fun with Be Amazing Arts’ Creativitent, Environmental Art’s Creative Chaos and Magical Quests North.

The live musicians will be: today, Malton White Star Band, 11am to 1pm, The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Oz Ward, 6pm to 8pm; tomorrow, White Star Training Band, 11.30am to 12.30pm, and The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Monday, The Acoustic Buddies, 11am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm. Festival entry is free.

Mary Ward (Augsberg portrait): Foundress of the Bar Convent, featuring in the Trailblazers audio trail

Exhibition launch of the week; Trailblazers of the Bar Convent, Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, Blossom Street, York, opening today

THE Trailblazers of the Bar Convent audio trail focuses on uncovering the stories of key characters from the history of the oldest surviving Catholic convent in Great Britain.

Among them are foundress Mary Ward, who believed that girls deserved an equal education to boys; Mother Superior Ann Aspinal, who determined to build a secret chapel totally hidden from the outside world, and Sister Gregory Kirkus, who set up the convent’s first ever museum. Tickets: barconvent.co.uk.

What a hoot: Gemma Curry and her owl puppet in Hoglets Theatre’s Wood Owl And The Box Of Wonders

Pre-festival show of the week: Hoglets Theatre in Wood Owl And The Box Of Wonders, Fountains Mill, Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, tomorrow, 11am and 2pm

IN an Early Bird event for the 2024 Ripon Theatre Festival, York company Hoglets Theatre presents director Gemma Curry’s solo show Wood Owl And The Box Of Wonders for age three upwards.

A lonely little owl wants nothing more than to fly into the night and join his friends, but how can he when he is made from wood in Gemma’s magical half-term journey of singing owls, fantasy worlds, friendship and an age-old message about love?  The 40-minute show featuring beautiful handmade puppets and original music will be complemented by an optional puppet-making activity. Box office: ripontheatrefestival.org.

Lesley Ann Eden and her York School of Dance and Drama pupils: Presenting Pinocchio And Ponchetta at Joseph Rowntree Theatre. Picture: Nigel Holland

Dance show of the week: York School of Dance and Drama in Pinocchio And Ponchetta, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tomorrow, 6.30pm

YORK choreographer and dance teacher Lesley Anne Eden presents her 50th anniversary York School of Dance and Drama show with a company ranging in age from six to 70.

Pinocchio And Ponchetta is Lesley’s take on the old story of Pinocchio and his sister, “full of fabulous dancing and great fun for all the family”, with the promise of her trademark quirky props. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

The cover artwork for York Barbican-bound Richard Thompson’s new album, Ship To Shore

Folk luminary of the week: Richard Thompson, York Barbican, May 27, doors 7pm

GUITARIST, singer and songwriter Richard Thompson showcases his 20th solo album – and first since 2018’s 13 Rivers – ahead of the May 31 release of Ship To Shore on New West Records.

Notting Hill-born Thompson, 75, who made his name with folk rock pioneers Fairport Convention before forming his Seventies’ duo with Linda Thompson, will be performing with a full band. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Yes: Playing York Barbican on Tuesday

Rock gig of the week: Yes, The Classic Tales Of Yes Tour 2024, York Barbican, May 28, 8pm

PROG-ROCK legends Yes perform iconic songs from more than 50 years of groundbreaking music-making, definitely including a 20-minute medley from their 1973 album Tales From Topographic Oceans and “possibly” from latest album Mirror To The Sky too.

In the line-up will be Steve Howe, guitars and vocals, Geoff Downes, keyboards, Billy Sherwood, bass guitar and vocals, Jon Davison, vocals and acoustic guitar, and Jay Schellen, drums. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk. 

Kathryn Williams and Withered Hand: Teaming up at Selby Town Hall

Duo of the week: Kathryn Williams & Withered Hand, Selby Town Hall, May 29, 8pm

KATHRYN Williams is the Liverpool-born, Newcastle-based, Mercury Music Prize-nominated singer-songwriter with 16 albums to her name. Withered Hand is singer-songwriter Dan Willson, from the Scottish underground scene.

They first met in 2019 in an Edinburgh Book Festival spiegeltent, prompting Williams to tweet Willson: “What kind of songs would we write together and what would they sound like?” The results can be heard on the album Willson Williams, released on One Little Independent Records on April 26, and in concert in Selby (and Otley Courthouse on May 30). Box office: selbytownhall.co.uk.

Dexys: Heading to the Yorkshire coast on May 30

Coastal trip of the week: Dexys, Scarborough Spa Grand Hall, May 30, doors 7pm

AFTER playing York for the first time in their 45-year career last September, Dexys return to North Yorkshire on the latest leg of The Feminine Divine Live!

Led as ever by Kevin Rowland, Dexys open with a theatrical presentation of last year’s album, The Feminine Divine, to be followed by a second soulful set of beloved hits, from Come On Eileen and Jackie Wilson Said to The Celtic Soul Brothers and Geno. Box office: 01723 376774 or scarboroughspa.co.uk.

Bonneville (York singer-songwriter Bonnie Milnes) promotes her debut album New Lady at Drawsome! 2024 gig at The Crescent

York festival of the week: Drawsome! 2024, Young Thugs Studio, May 31; The Crescent, June 1; Arts Barge, Foss Basin, York, June 2

DRAWSOME! combines exhibitions and workshops with live music each evening. York multi-disciplinary artist Rowan Jackson will be exhibiting at Angel on the Green, Bishopthorpe Road, from 7pm on May 27; Things Found and Made at The Golden Ball, Cromwell Road, from May 31 and Greek-Australian graphic novel artist Con Chrisoulis for one night only at Young Thugs Studio, Ovington Terrace, on May 31 from 7pm, when Ichigo Evil, Plantfood, Mickey Nomimono and Drooligan will be performing.

On June 1, Bonneville, Lou Terry, Captain Starlet and Leafcutter John play at The Crescent community venue, where workshops run from 1 to 4pm, featuring Bits and Bots Recycled Robot, with Tom Brader, and Creative Visible Mending, with Anna Pownall, complemented by Zine Stalls hosted by Things Found and Made, Adam Keay and Teresa Stenson. 

On June 2, the Arts Barge presents Dana Gavanski, Kindelan, Moongate and We Are Hannah, after three 11am to 2pm workshops: Poem Fishing with Becca Drake and Jessie Summerhayes, Adana Letterpress and lino printing, and Screenprinting with Kai West. Drawsome! is run in aid of Bowel Cancer UK.

The poster for Drawsome! 2024

In Focus: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, York Theatre Royal, May 29 and 30, 7,30pm; The Showstopper Kids Show, May 30, 2pm

SHOWSTOPPER! The Improvised Musical heads back to York Theatre Royal in an expanded format with a children’s version of the spontaneous musical comedy for half-term week.

The Showstoppers have 14 years behind them at the Edinburgh Fringe, to go with a BBC Radio 4 series, a West End run and an 2016 Olivier Award for their blend of comedy, musical theatre and, wait for it, spontaneity. 

Each Showstopper show is created live on the spot from audience suggestions, resulting in a new musical comedy at each performance, which is then named by the audience. 

The cast takes suggestions for the setting, genre and style to transform them into an all-singing, all-dancing production with humorous results. Anything can be expected at a Showstopper show, so if the audience fancies Hamilton in a hospital or Sondheim in the Sahara, The Showstoppers will sing it.

Thursday’s Showstopper Kids Show is for children of all ages, who will see their own ideas being turned into a fully improvised musical right in front of them. 

The children will decide where the story is set, what happens next and who the characters are. The Showstoppers will create whatever is suggested, so the characters could be anyone, such as the children’s favourite TV show characters, and the show could be set under the sea or in a doll’s house. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

What’s On in Ryedale, York and beyond food, glorious food. Here’s Hutch’s List No 17 for 2024, from Gazette & Herald

Jeanette Hunter’s Wicked Witch, right, in rehearsal for York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz with Daan Janssen’s Lion, left, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man, Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy and Toto puppeteer Adam Gill

FOOD for thought for the cultural week ahead, from the Yellow Brick Road to Heaven revisited, a foodie festival to Laurie Lee, seascapes to coastal Dexys, as Charles Hutchinson reports.

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in The Wizard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, until Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time next week, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk. 

Velma Celli’s Show Queen: Celebrating the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits at York Theatre Royal

Cabaret celebration of the week: Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, tomorrow (23/5/2024), 7.30pm

DRAG diva Velma Celli, the alter ego of York actor Ian Stroughair, goes back to Ian’s roots in Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent for a new celebration of the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits.

The show “takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!”. Special guests will be burlesque star Miss Betsy Rose and belting York singer Jessica Steel. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Ferguson: Liverpool soul singer’s last album and tour at 37

Soul gig of the week: Rebecca Ferguson, Heaven Part II Tour, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm

LIVERPOOL soul singer and The X Factor alumna Rebecca Ferguson is touring her fifth and final album, Heaven Part II, released last December 12 years to the day since her debut, Heaven.

Working with new contributors and original Heaven writers and producers, Ferguson sings of love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness over the past seven years. She is, however, calling time on recording and touring to “find a way to have a relationship with music which is positive”. Friday’s support acts will be York country singer Twinnie and Eloise Viola. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival: Look out for the festival guide and map on site

Festival of the week: Malton Spring Food Lovers Festival, Saturday, from 9am; Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, from 10am

ON the streets of “Yorkshire’s Food Capital”, Malton Food Lovers Festival celebrates Yorkshire’s supreme produce and cooking over three days of 120 artisan stalls and street food vendors, talks, tastings, chef demonstrations, brass bands and buskers, festival bar, food shops, sculpture trail, entertainment, blacksmith workshops, vintage funfair and family fun with Be Amazing Arts’ Creativitent, Environmental Art’s Creative Chaos and Magical Quests North.

The live musicians will be: Saturday, Malton White Star Band, 11am to 1pm, The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Oz Ward, 6pm to 8pm; Sunday, White Star Training Band, 11.30am to 12.30pm, and The Rackateers, 1pm to 3pm, and Monday, The Acoustic Buddies, 11am to 12pm and 2pm to 3pm. Festival entry is free.

Kirkby Soul: Playing outdoors at Hemsley Walled Garden on Saturday

Fundraiser of the week: Kirkby Soul, Helmsley Walled Garden, Helmsley, Saturday, 7.30pm

RYEDALE eight-piece band Kirkby Soul present an evening of soul music in aid of Helmsley Arts Centre and Helmsley Walled Garden. Bring chairs, cushions, blankets, dancing shoes and picnics. A paying bar will be operation in the orchid house. Come prepared for the British weather! A marquee will be erected just in case. Box office: 01439 771700 or helmsleyarts.co.uk.

Anton Lesser: Performing in Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music at Grand Opera House, York

Literary event of the week: Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music, Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm

AUTHOR Laurie Lee’s extraordinary story is told in a captivating weave of music and his own words in Red Sky At Sunrise, performed by actors Anton Lesser and Charlie Hamblett, accompanied by David Le Page’s musical programme for Orchestra Of The Swan.

Together they celebrate Lee’s engaging humour, as well as portraying his darker side, in a performance that has startling resonance with modern events, tracing Lee’s path through Cider With Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment Of War as he ended up fighting with the International Brigades against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Jo’s Place, seascape, by Carolyn Coles, from her Home Is Where The Heart Is exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

Exhibition launch: Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1

CREATING atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, Carolyn reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape, offering a direct response to the feelings and connections to places that feel like home. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30, when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

Dirty Ruby: Ryedale Blues’ headliners at Milton Rooms, Malton

Blues gig of the week: Ryedale Blues presents Dirty Ruby, Milton Rooms, Malton, May 30, 8pm

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE five-piece Dirty Ruby have drawn comparisons with Seventies’ bands Stone The Crows and Vinegar Joe in their energetic, sharp-edged blues rock, combining Hammond organ and bluesy guitar with soulful lead vocals. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Dexys: Showcasing The Feminine Divine at Scarborough Spa

Coastal trip of the week: Dexys, Scarborough Spa Grand Hall, May 30, doors 7pm

AFTER playing York for the first time in their 45-year career last September, Dexys return to North Yorkshire on the latest leg of The Feminine Divine Live!

Led as ever by Kevin Rowland, Dexys open with a theatrical presentation of last year’s album, The Feminine Divine, to be followed by a second soulful set of beloved hits, from Come On Eileen and Jackie Wilson Said to The Celtic Soul Brothers and Geno. Box office: 01723 376774 or scarboroughspa.co.uk.

In Focus: The 1879 FA Cup clash of Darwen FC and the Old Etonians in The Giant Killers at Milton Rooms, Malton

The tour poster for Long Lane Theatre Club’s The Giant Killers

MANCHESTER United meet “noisy neighbours” Manchester City in the 143rd FA Cup final on Saturday, coinciding with the tour launch of a fitting theatrical tribute to the competition’s early days.

Staged by Long Lane Theatre Club, The Giant Killers tells the story of how Darwen FC came to the public’s attention in 1870s’ Lancashire to proclaim Association Football as a people’s game and not only the preserve of the upper classes.

Good news for Malton, the story of Darwen’s FA Cup clashes with the toffs of the Old Etonians is booked to appear at the Milton Rooms on July 4 (now confirmed as the date for another battle, the 2024 General Election).

The Giant Killers recounts how a ragtag bunch of mill workers in Darwen took on the amateur gentleman’s club of the Old Etonians in the FA Cup quarter-final in 1879. The Old Etonians were winning 5-1 but Darwen rallied to force a replay after a 5-5 draw. 

One replay turned into three, with one abandoned through bad light. Forced to travel to London a very expensive three times and with team members losing a day’s work, Darwen eventually succumbed 6-2, but their story of working-class men inspiring a nation enabled the top hats in football crowds to turn into ‘’a sea of flat caps’’.

Kick-off – or kick-toff! – will be at 7.30pm for Andrew Pearson-Wright & Eve Pearson-Wright’s story of how Darwen FC rose up against prevailing social prejudice and the might of the Football Association to earn a place in history as the first real ‘‘giant killers’’ in English football. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

More Things To Do in York and beyond when the wonderful and the wicked await. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 21, from The Press

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

FROM land access tales to the Yellow Brick Road, wonderful words about wellies to a journey through isolation, show song heights to a soulful heaven, Charles Hutchinson follows the path to cultural discovery.

Touring play of the week: Mikron Theatre in Common Ground, Scarcroft Allotments, Scarcroft Road, York, May 19, 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.

Harry Baker: Wonderful words by the slam champ at The Crescent

Spoken word gig of the week: Say Owt presents Harry Baker: Wonderful, The Crescent, York, May 20, 7.30pm

WORLD Poetry Slam champion Harry Baker is a poet, mathematician, stand-up comic and writer who reflects on “important stuff”, whether hope, dinosaurs or German falafel spoons, as found in his new poetry collection, Wonderful, published by Burning Eye this month.

On his 30-date Wonderful tour, the “maths-loving, TED-talking, German-speaking, battle-rapping, happy-crying, self-bio-writing unashamed human” brings his signature playfulness and poignancy to new poems about wellies, postcodes, sunflowers, sticky toffee pudding and his favourite German wheat beer. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Jeanette Hunter: Heading to the dark side as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz

Musical of the week: York Musical Theatre Company in The Wizard Of Oz, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, May 22 to 25, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

YORK stage stalwart Jeanette Hunter will play a villain for the first time next week, starring as the Wicked Witch in York Musical Theatre Company’s The Wizard Of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road will be Sadie Sorensen’s Dorothy, Rachel Higgs’s Scarecrow, Zander Fick’s Tin Man and Daan Janssen’s Lion, while further principal roles will go to Liz Gardner as Glinda, Marlena Kellie as Auntie Em and Martin Hunter as the Wizard. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Miranda Sykes: Songs of isolation, illness and recovery at Black Swan Folk Club

Folk gig of the week: Miranda Sykes, Out Of The Woods Tour, Black Swan Folk Club, Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, May 23, 7.30pm

SHOW Of Hands and Daphne’s Flight member Miranda Sykes promotes her pandemic-scarred March album Out Of The Woods in her debut Black Swan solo gig, showcasing songs that chart her journey through isolation, illness and recovery with the aim of bringing comfort after such turbulent years.

“Life is many faceted; like most people I’ve had good times and hard times,” says the Lincolnshire-born singer, double bass player and guitarist. “I’ve taken some forks in the road I shouldn’t have done and I’ve had some knocks, but it’s all part of who I am now.”  Box office: blackswanfolkclub.org.uk.

Velma Celli’s Show Queen: Celebrating the best of West End and Broadway musical theatre at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Sophie Eleanor

Cabaret celebration of the week: Velma Celli’s Show Queen, York Theatre Royal, May 23, 7.30pm

DRAG diva Velma Celli, the alter ego of York actor Ian Stroughair, goes back to Ian’s roots in Cats, Chicago, Fame and Rent for a new celebration of the best of London’s West End and Broadway musical theatre hits.

The show “takes us to every corner of the fabulous genre, from Kander & Ebb and Lloyd Webber to Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Schönberg’s Les Miserables and many more,” says Velma. “Like, more than Six!”. Special guests will be burlesque star Miss Betsy Rose and belting York singer Jessica Steel. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rebecca Ferguson: Final album and tour at 37

Soul gig of the week: Rebecca Ferguson, Heaven Part II Tour, York Barbican, May 24, 7.30pm

LIVERPOOL soul singer and The X Factor alumna Rebecca Ferguson is touring her fifth and final album, Heaven Part II, released last December 12 years to the day since her debut, Heaven.

Working with new contributors and original Heaven writers and producers, Ferguson sings of love, family, joy, liberation and her journey to happiness over the past seven years. She is, however, calling time on recording and touring to “find a way to have a relationship with music which is positive”. Friday’s support acts will be York country singer Twinnie and Eloise Viola. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Anton Lesser in Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music at Grand Opera House, York

Literary event of the week: Red Sky At Sunrise, Laurie Lee in Words and Music, Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm

AUTHOR Laurie Lee’s extraordinary story is told in a captivating weave of music and his own words in Red Sky At Sunrise, performed by actors Anton Lesser and Charlie Hamblett, accompanied by David Le Page’s musical programme for Orchestra Of The Swan.

Together, they celebrate Lee’s engaging humour, as well as portraying his darker side, in a performance that has startling resonance with modern events, tracing Lee’s path through Cider With Rosie, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment Of War as he ended up fighting with the International Brigades against General Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Home Is Where The Heart Is, seascape, by Carolyn Coles, from her exhibition at Bluebird Bakery, Acomb

Exhibition launch: Carolyn Coles, Home Is Where The Heart Is, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, York, May 30 to August 1

CREATING atmospheric, impressionistic and abstract seascapes, South Bank Studios artist Carolyn Coles paints mostly with acrylics on stretched canvasses, using an array of techniques and implements.

Known for evoking emotional responses, Carolyn reflects her love for the Yorkshire landscape, offering a direct response to the feelings and connections to places that feel like home. Everyone is welcome at the 6pm to 9pm launch on May 30, when Carolyn will be happy to answer questions.

‘Future superstar of the blues’ Toby Lee plays Fulford Arms tomorrow. Guest slot with Jools Holland awaits at York Barbican

Toby Lee: Blues guitarist on the rise

TEENAGE blues prodigy Toby Lee heads to the Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow night, the next stop in a year when the Oxfordshire-born guitarist and singer will play more than 100 British and European shows.

In his diary are 40 solo gigs and 60-plus engagements as a special guest on boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra’s travels in May to July and October to December.

The 2023 Young Blues Musician of the Year will be joining Jools at York Barbican on December 11, as well as further Yorkshire gigs at Bridlington Spa on July 16; Hull City Hall, July 17; Sheffield City Hall, November 23, and Leeds First Direct Arena, December 20.

The story goes that Lee’s musical journey began at the age of four when his grandmother bought him a yellow-and-green ukulele, but by then he had already “started banging around on stuff as if I wanted to be a drummer, when you want to make a noise out of anything,” recalls Toby, now 19.

“We always had instruments around the house, so I could ‘experiment’, as my mum reminds me on a regular basis. I started drumming on the piano legs with two drumsticks, so when it came to guitars and stringed instruments, that’s when I got the ukulele from my grandma, and my dad always had guitars in our home too.”

Toby still has that ukulele, “though it’s lost all its strings. I keep it in the footwell of the car,” he reveals. “It was a natural evolution to play guitar, so I got my first full-size electric guitar when I was eight.; it was a Stratocaster replica, I think.”

Within two years of receiving that guitar as a Christmas present while holidaying at a Cornish hotel, he was partnered by Gibson Guitars. “It was a very crazy experience, having that partnership at that age – and they rang me!” says Toby.

“It all came through social media, from when I did a Get Well Soon jam for BB King, recording myself playing along to a drum beat on my dad’s Fender guitar. It went viral, getting five million views in a week! Gibson Guitars got to see that video, contacted me, and they’ve been unbelievable in terms of them sending me guitars to use ever since.”

Living in the Oxfordshire countryside outside Banbury, no-one could object to Toby’s early guitar exertions. “Not even the cows,” he jokes.

Such was his talent that he was chosen to play guitarist Zack Mooneyham in the West End premiere of School Of Rock.

“I started rehearsals aged 11, going from being a bedroom guitarist, knowing every word of the show, when I got the call to go to Broadway, but it would have meant moving to the other side of the world.

“They said, ‘that’s fine, we’ll be coming to London’. So, after the auditions, they pulled me to one side to say ‘we’d like you to take the part of Zack Mooneyham’.

“That was a crazy feeling as it was a show I’d been listening all my life, and being told at 11 that you can play the guitar on stage, use all that energy, jump around on stage, was wonderful.”

Toby’s attendance record at school was “absolutely dire”. “But I was able to do classes during the day, sometimes cramming them into the morning,” he says.

Three young teams performed the show in rotation, with Toby picked for the team for radio, TV and press coverage. “We did the press opening night when Cliff Richard was in the front row,” he says.

He played Zack Mooneyham for a year, winning an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In Music, since when has gone on to share stages with blues luminaries such as his hero Joe Bonamassa (on his Mediterranean Blue Cruise), Buddy Guy, Peter Frampton and Slash.

Toby Lee with Jools Holland: Teaming up at York Barbican, Bridlington Spa, Hull City Hall, Sheffield City Hall and Leeds First Direct Arena

“It’s only now that I can look back and think about those amazing experiences, when now it feels real, because you’re in the moment. Now I know what they’ve been through to get where they are; the amount of graft that goes into it. Now I have infinite ideas of how hard it is to make it happen.”

 But what drew him to the blues, the music of BB King and Jimi Hendrix in particular, rather than rock?  “It’s a bit of an unusual style to pick, and I actually grew up listening to Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochrane, as my dad was always in love with American music, so that was the music around the house,” says Toby.

“So I grew up listening to anything from Buddy Holly – who was my first inspiration – to Metallica, but blues music was the one that took off the most with fans. That took me down a rabbit hole even more, so I’d go from listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King to thinking, ‘right, I better do more homework’.”

His passion for playing the blues remains a family business, the Lees having moved to Cornwall, just outside Newquay, five years ago. “It’s very much a family-run thing, just me and my mum and my dad.  I couldn’t have done it without them,” says Toby, who describes the guitar as his “comfort blanket”.

“There aren’t many parents who would have said ‘great’ when I said I wanted to be a guitarist at nine! My dad was on it straightaway, whereas at first my mum was saying, ‘where’s the curriculum for that?’.”

Toby’s sheer talent negated that question, and the sense of togetherness, completed by their three dogs, prevails. “My mum works from home, and I always travel with my dad, who’s part of the management team,” says Toby.

His multiple shows with Jools Holland will heighten his profile still more. “I got asked to do Cerys Matthews’ blues show on BBC Radio 2, and one of her producers works with Jools too and got asked to do some filming for a film being made about blues music that Jools was involved in as well,” he says.

“That was the first time I met Jools, about seven or eight months ago, and it was definitely a jump in at the deep end, with everyone there knowing they were going to play a song together apart from me! So it was like, ‘ready Toby? Go’!

“It was a really cool moment, jamming a song between Jools and Ruby Turner called Remember Me, so, all of a sudden, I was having a one-to-one music lesson with Jools. It turned out there were lots of similarities between us because neither of us reads music.

“We get on really well, and just as I was about to leave to head back to lovely Cornwall, they asked if I could play some shows with Jools.”

Initially, 30 shows were on his schedule, now it will be more than 60; the summer itinerary with Irish singer Imelda May as Holland’s fellow guest, the autumn and winter dates with Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond on board.

“I grew up listening to Jools, watching his Hootenanny shows on YouTube, and after watching them for years, it was a surreal moment to be working with him,” says Toby.

Before thoseJools Holland commitments comes tomorrow’s gig at the Fulford Arms with Lee’s four-piece band, featuring Chris Haddon on rhythm guitar, Sam Collins on bass and Joe Harris on drums.

“It’ll be original material and a few covers,” says Toby. “For the new album – all originals – we’ll be dropping singles over the summer and it’ll then be out in the autumn with the title House On Fire.”

Toby has played York once before, supporting blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor at York Barbican in April 2022. “I’m excited to be coming back, headlining this time,” he says.

Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, tomorrow; doors open at 7.30pm. Tickets: ticketweb.uk/event/toby-lee-the-fulford-arms-tickets/13366163. Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, featuring special guest Toby Lee, York Barbican, December 11, 7.30pm. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

More Things To Do in York and beyond when Monet…that’s what you want. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 20, from The Press, York

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

NATURE in full bloom, hothoused Shakespeare, blossoming student creativity and teenage blues put the colour in Charles Hutchinson’s cheeks for warmer days ahead.

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.

Stewart Dylan-Campbell’s Rob, left, and Aiden Kane’s Marc in Qweerdog Theatre’s Jump, playing Rise@Bluebird Bakery tomorrow

Relationship drama of the week: Qweerdog Theatre in Jump, at Rise@Bluebird Bakery, Acomb, tomorrow (12/5/2024), 8.30pm; doors 7.30pm

DEVELOPED through Manchester company Qweerdog’s LGBTQ+ writing project, Nick Maynard’s dark comedy takes an unusual look at contemporary gay life, exploring the possibility of relationships and how they are not always the way we imagine.

Directed by West End director Scott Le Crass, Jump depicts the lives, love lives and past lives of two lost souls drawn to a canal one night. As the weary, embittered Rob (Stewart Dylan-Campbell) contemplates the lure of the water, a handsome young man, the “chopsy” Marc (Aiden Kane), engages him in conversation. So begins a strange and fractious relationship that might just prove beneficial to them both. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise.

Paloma Faith: “Celebrating taking responsibility for your own happiness” at York Barbican tomorrow

Recommended but sold out already: Paloma Faith, York Barbican, tomorrow, 8pm; Katherine Priddy, The Crescent, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

STOKE Newington soul tour de force Paloma Faith showcases her sixth studio album, February’s deeply personal The Glorification Of Sadness, her “celebration of finding your way back after leaving a long-term relationship, being empowered even in your failures and taking responsibility for your own happiness”.

Birmingham folk singer and guitarist Katherine Priddy will be promoting second album The Pendulum Swing, released on Cooking Vinyl in February.  For the first time, her 14-date May tour finds her performing in a trio, joined by Harry Fausing Smith (strings) and support act George Boomsma (electric guitar).

Hollie McNish: Performing at the TakeOver festival at York Theatre Royal. Picture: Kat Gollock

Festival of the week: TakeOver – In The Limelight, York Theatre Royal, May 13 to 18

IN this annual collaboration between York Theatre Royal and York St John University, third-year drama students are put in charge of the theatre and programming its events for a week, with support and mentoring from professionals. 

Among those events will be writer Hollie McNish, reading from her latest book, Lobster And Other Things I’m Learning To Love (Thursday, 7.30pm), dance troupe Verve: Triple Bill (next Saturday, 7.30pm) and multiple shows by York St John students. For the full programme, head to: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/be-part-of-it/children-and-young-people/takeover/. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Gray O’Brien’s Juror 10, left, and Michael Greco’s Juror 7 in the 70th anniversary production of Twelve Angry Men. Picture: Jack Merriman

Jury service: Twelve Angry Men, Grand Opera House, York, May 13 to 18, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

IN its 70th anniversary touring production, Reginald Rose’s knife-edge courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men resonates with today’s audiences with its intricately crafted study of human nature. Within the confines of the jury deliberating room, 12 men hold the fate of a young delinquent, accused of killing his father, in their hands. 

What looks an open-and-shut case soon becomes a dilemma, wherein Rose examines the art of persuasion as the jurors are forced to examine their own self-image, personalities, experiences and prejudices. Tristan Gemmill, Michael Greco, Jason Merrells, Gray O’Brien and Gary Webster feature in Christopher Haydon’s cast. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

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, Thursday, 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.

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

Blues gig of the week: Toby Lee, Fulford Arms, York, May 18, 7.30pm

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

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 next 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.

Her name is Del Rio: And she lives for stand-up comedy as drag queen Bianca feels Dead Inside on York-bound world tour

Gig announcement of the week: Bianca Del Rio, Dead Inside, York Barbican, September 18

COMEDY drag queen and RuPaul’s Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio heads to York on her 11-date stand-up tour. Up for irreverent discussion will be politics, pop culture, political correctness, current events, cancel culture and everyday life, as observed through the eyes of a “clown in the gown”, who will be “coming out of my crypt and hitting the road again to remind everyone that I’m still dead inside”. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday at 10am at yorkbarbican.co.uk.