Banff Mountain Film Festival tour hits adventurous peaks at York Barbican in April

Hitting the heights on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour . Picture: Tony Tibbetts

THE Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour returns to York Barbican on April 21 with a new selection of action and adventure films.

The tour features two collections of films from the world’s best adventure filmmakers, with super-human challenges, soulful journeys and spectacular cinematography from the wildest corners of the planet.

Among them is Up To Speed, whose spotlight falls on the extraordinary discipline of speed climbing, soon to feature in the Olympic Games for the first time at Tokyo 2020. 

“We can’t wait to share the latest inspirational films from the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival on our biggest tour yet,” says British and Irish tour director Nell Teasdale.

“As well as exhilarating stories starring intrepid characters and pioneering journeys, an evening at Banff is a celebration of the great outdoors, with a vibrant atmosphere and a real sense of community. And we guarantee audiences will leave feeling inspired to have an adventure of their own.”

The tour’s films have been chosen from hundreds of entries for the Banff Mountain Film Festival, held every November in the Canadian Rockies. The UK and Ireland tour starts in Pitlochry, Scotland, on January 18 and finishes in Norwich on May 26, visiting 60 locations with 114 screenings along the way.

Aside from Up To Speed, film highlights include Home, wherein Oxfordshire adventurer Sarah Outen embarks on a four-year, human-powered traverse of the globe, travelling by bike, kayak and rowing boat across Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and finally the Atlantic.

The punishing elements, months of solitude and storms push Sarah to the mental and physical brink, as Home intimately and unflinchingly captures on her 20,000-mile odyssey.

Spectre Expedition charts the progress of Mission Antarctica: 1,000 miles, 200+kg of kit each, 65 days, three mates and one mountain, those adventurers being Brit Leo Houlding and teammates Jean Burgun, from France, and Kiwi Mark Sedon.

Using snow-kites to travel great distances, with massive loads, at speeds of up to 60kmph, this is the epic tale of a daring dream to reach the summit of one of the most remote mountains on earth: The Spectre in Antarctica.

In The Ladakh Project, French athlete Nouria Newman tackles a 375km solo kayaking expedition down the most remote and daunting rivers in the Indian Himalaya. Facing hair-raising moments, Nouria is forced to push herself to the edge of her limits, saying “I felt really vulnerable. I had a proper look at what my guts were made of.”

Tickets are on sale at, on 0203 356 5441 or by visiting the box office in person.

Silky to top Laugh Out Loud comedy bill at York Barbican on January 31

Silky: headlining Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at York Barbican

SILKY, Nick Doody and Joey Page make up the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club bill, hosted by Damion Larkin, at York Barbican on January 31.

Liverpudlian-in-exile Silky made the final of the 1995 BBC New Comedy Awards in only his fourth gig, when competing against Lee Mack and The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt.

Silky, who lives in Leeds, has performed internationally in China, the Philippines, the Gulf, Singapore, the United States, Australia (Melbourne Comedy Festival) and all over Europe.

Nick Doody: ;political satirist

In Britain, he has played the Glastonbury Festival, headlined the world’s smallest comedy festival at Frampton Mansell, appeared on Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Brookside and Heartbeat and done warm-up spots for BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Nick Doody, who specialises in political comedy and satire, supported the influential Bill Hicks at Hicks’s invitation while still a student. He has performed in Ireland, Germany, Spain, France and Croatia, as well as Britain, and has written for The Secret Policeman’s Ball, Armando Iannucci’s Charm Offensive, The Now Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Friday Night Project. His BBC Radio 4 show Bigipaedia has had a second series confirmed.

If the crown fits: surrealist comic Joey Page

Indie comedian Joey Page’s brand of inventive, surrealist humour has found favour with Noel Fielding, who invited him to support him on tour.

Doors open at 7.30pm for the 8pm start in the Fishergate Bar. Tickets cost £17 at, on 0203 356 5441 or in person from the Barbican box office or £22.95 on the door.

Review: Guildhall Orchestra opens New Year with family concert at York Barbican

Lynne Dawson: ” bewitching in an unattributed version of Goldilocks”

Review: York Guildhall Orchestra, York Barbican, January 4 2020

TUBBY the Tuba was the headline star and Goldilocks & the Three Bears put in an unscheduled appearance at York Guildhall Orchestra’s family concert on Saturday afternoon.

There were also sizeable selections from two musicals, Les Miserables and The Sound Of Music, while the more traditional delights of Johann Strauss the Younger added Viennese touches to the New Year hi-jinks. A good time was had by all.

Not that the YGO took its duties lightly. On the contrary, behind Simon Wright’s genial baton there lurks a hard taskmaster; he ensured his charges delivered their customary high standards.

Anyone whose 2019 was less than satisfying will have been soothed by the story of Valjean’s journey from despair to hope, evoked by the musical version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. YGO brought reassurance to this emotional roller-coaster: we can all now face 2020 with confidence.

So too with the Von Trapp family, whose real-life journey from Nazi Germany to liberation in the USA inspired Rodgers & Hammerstein to write The Sound Of Music60 years ago. Here we had 15 singers from York Stage Musicals (otherwise unidentified), half sopranos and half children, adding vivacity and verve to the familiar songs.

Brian Kingsley: soloist for Tubby The Tuba

Although her name unaccountably escaped mention on the front cover of the programme, YGO president Lynne Dawson’s contribution to the afternoon was invaluable, as narrator in the two children’s stories. Her charming, chameleon voices brought her characters instantly to life: we felt Tubby’s disappointments keenly.

She was partnered here by Opera North ace Brian Kingsley, the north’s finest tuba player, whose velvet tones were plaintively suggestive.

Dawson was equally bewitching in an unattributed version of Goldilocks, which amusingly made reference to other favourites such as Brahms’s Lullaby and Henry Bishop’s Home, Sweet Home. Soloists in both wind and brass were really on their toes here.

The Strauss family and Franz Lehár filled in the rest. And how. The orchestra’s kitchen department had fun popping the corks in the Champagne polka and providing fireworks for Thunder & Lightning. The brass went to town in the Tritsch-Tratsch polka and the crazy ending of Lehár’s Gold & Silver.

But it was the majestic sweep of the strings in two Strauss waltzes, The Emperor and The Blue Danube, which lives in the memory. The audience clapped heartily in the Radetzky march at the close: everyone went away happy. This event has deservedly become a New Year tradition in York.

Next up: YGO’s 40th anniversary concert at York Barbican on February 15. Don’t miss it.

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Kate Rusby has a hippo, a banjo, a Christmas pudding costume and a Holly Head for Christmas

Kate Rusby wearing her Holly Head, the title of her fifth Christmas album. Pictures: David Lindsay

Kate Rusby At Christmas, York Barbican, 18/12/2019

“HOW nice to be back in mighty Yorkshire,” said the Barnsley nightingale. “Don’t have to calm mi accent. Don’t have to worry about saying the word ‘mardy’.”

That said, there is nothing mardy about Kate Rusby At Christmas, her joyous celebration of South Yorkshire carols still sung heartily in pubs, complemented by Rusby’s own winter songs and a brace of novelty numbers.

It turned out Rusby was the only Yorkshire-born musician on stage, her sparkling green party dress twinkling like a Christmas tree in the forest of men in black: her folk band and regular winter guests, the “Brass Boys” quintet.

“Ruby Twosday”, the decorative reindeer, was there too, bedecked with fairy lights, her head nodding when Rusby asked her a series of questions. Rusby had been given the option of a “Yay” or “Nay” reindeer, and in keeping with the surge of positivity and humorous banter that accompanies these winter-warmer concerts, she chose the affirmative.

Hark, hark: Kate Rusby at Christmas

As evocative as the crisp sound of walking in newly settled snow, Hark Hark, from 2017’s Angels & Men, opened the set with the Brass Boys in situ, before Rusby explained the roots of these Christmas concerts, now in their 12th year, with Christmas album number five, to showcase.

Holly Head, so named by Rusby to equate her love of Christmas music with petrol heads’ love of cars, featured prominently in her two sets, each also sprinkled liberally with versions of While Shepherds Watched too. More than 30 exist, apparently, and Kate is working her merry way through them.

Here We Come A Wassailing and Sunny Bank (a variation on I Saw Three Ships) were early festive highs before the bleak midwinter’s chill of Lu Lay (aka The Coventry Carol) brought an eerie night air to the Barbican, Duncan Lyall’s Moog keyboard sending temperatures dropping. Not for long, however, as Rusby introduced her row of knitted miniature hippos to herald Hippo For Christmas, a particularly perky rendition of John Rox’s novelty wish-list song, parping tuba and all.

The album cover for Holly Head

Rusby’s own Christmas compositions are among her very best, never more so than this year’s newcomer, The Holly King, played early in the second set, where she evoked Clannad while stretching out fruitfully into folk-prog terrain.

Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo, a Canadian ditty by David Myles, wholly suited Rusby’s tightrope walk between melancholia and hope, and after a break for Damien O’Kane to lead the band through dexterous instrumentals and unexpected Christmas classics, Rusby steered us towards Christmas with an extended Hail Chime On, a delightful Walking In A Winter Wonderland and the latest heroic rescue mission for Barnsley’s Big Brave Bill.

No Rusby At Christmas show would be complete without the fancy-dress encore, and this year they really made a meal of it, Rusby dressing as a Christmas pudding, the Brass Boys as sprouts and O’Kane as, wait for it, a roast turkey for Sweet Bells and Yorkshire Merry Christmas.

Ruby Twosday was not the only one nodding in approval as Kate Rusby At Christmas grows ever better by the year.

Charles Hutchinson

Lynne Dawson, a tubby tuba and Strauss waltzes for Guildhall’s New Year concert

Lynne Dawson: narrator for Tubby The Tuba at York Guildhall Orchestra’s New Year concert on January 4

YORK Guildhall Orchestra will open 2020 with a family-orientated, mid-afternoon concert on January 4 at York Barbican.

“This is a great way to finish off the festive break by introducing the younger members of the family to the fantastic and entertaining world of live orchestral music,” says publicist Geoff Eggington.

Joining Simon Wright’s orchestral forces will be the YGO’s president, Tollerton soprano Lynne Dawson, in her role as narrator for a couple of pieces.

Brian Kingsley: tuba soloist for Tubby The Tuba

These will include Kleinsinger’s Tubby The Tuba, the heart-warming story of Tubby, the butt of all the jokes in the orchestra, who nevertheless finds a wonderful tune and persuades the whole orchestra to play it. The tuba soloist will be Brian Kingsley, from the Orchestra of Opera North.

Other family favourites in the 3.30pm programme will be Viennese waltzes and polkas by Johanne Strauss, the Elder and the Younger, such as Thunder & Lightning, Champagne, Gold & Silver and The Blue Danube. 

Extracts from The Sound Of Music and Les Miserables will feature York Stage Musicals members in the singing roles.

Simon Wright: conducting York Guildhall Orchestra’s New Year concert

Looking ahead to 2020, this will be YGO’s 40th anniversary year, when the main celebratory concert will be held on February 15, almost to the day when the orchestra’s debut concert was performed in the York Guildhall, hence the name.

On that first programme were Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and a Brahms Symphony. This time, the orchestra will be joined by Jamie Walton in Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

“As always, we’re delighted we’ll be working with the City of York Council and the York Music Hub in 2020 by providing free places at our May concert for children from York primary schools and members of Yorchestra.”

Further information on the year ahead can be found at Tickets for the New Year’s Family Concert are on sale on 0203 356 5441, at or in person from the Barbican box office.

REVIEW: Ed Byrne passes the honesty test at York Barbican, 13/12/2019 ****

Putting the “barb” into York Barbican: Ed Byrne on Friday night

Ed Byrne, If I’m Honest, York Barbican, December 13

FRIDAY the 13th is unlucky for some”, and certainly for those who missed out on Ed Byrne’s If I’m Honest show at a half-full York Barbican. An honest mistake, no doubt, that should be rectified next time.

Unlike our political parties in the General Election, 47-year-old Dubliner Byrne has decided honesty is the best policy, and while comedians are no less likely to exaggerate than politicians seeking the X factor at the ballot box, they do so with a silver, rather than forked, tongue.

Byrne headed to York, the lone red rash in deepest blue North Yorkshire, on the night after the nation had voted. Yet more politics was not for him, however. “I could talk about Brexit for 20 minutes, but I choose not to,” he said. Exit Brexit, stage hard right. Good call, Ed, judging that the party mood needed to be joyful, not political.

He was not one to massage figures, either, instead drawing attention immediately to the empty seats, making everyone there feel better for their impeccable judgement. Honesty, straightaway, was the best policy.

Byrne book-ended the show, providing the short opening and longer closing chapters, with Henley comedy pup Kieran Boyd let off his lead in between. While this can break the rhythm of the night, Byrne knows the importance of giving fledgling acts their wings. Nish Kumar, for example, played support slots in York several times before graduation to headline status at the Grand Opera House.

Rather too many comedians do material about their children; the equivalent of being passed endless pictures of little Johnny or Joanna at an inescapable party, but when Byrne, fast thinking and even faster talking, is making the observations, then fair children’s play to him.

In If I’m Honest, he “takes a long hard long hard look at himself and tries to decide if he has any traits that are worth passing on to his children”.  On Friday, he did so self-deprecatingly, as he takes on parenthood in his forties with children named Cosmo and Magnus. And no, they were not named for comic effect.

Far from it. When he played Reykjavic, Byrne was greeted with an outpouring of Icelandic congratulations for choosing one of their own!

Byrne could laugh at how his young sons already were mirroring him and his mutually sarcastic exchanges with his wife, theatre publicist Claire Walker.

Byrne’s comedy is both mentally and physically energetic, even hyper, as well as laced with Irish storytelling lyricism and much mischief making, and not only children’s received behaviour was up for his honesty test.

So too were superdads and superheroes and the way superhero film titles have become so convoluted, as he yearned for the simplicity of old.

Byrne wore a shiny red jacket and tapered jeans that would not have looked out of place competing on Strictly Come Dancing, a show he revealed he had turned down, foregoing the chance for “Byrne the floor” headlines, much to his family’s disappointment. He could not trust himself with the dancers, said the Oti fan, honest to the end.

Charles Hutchinson

Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats announce York gig and first album in 36 years

Here come the Citizens Of Boomtown: Bob Geldof, second from right, and The Boomtown Rats are to play York Barbican next spring

BOB Geldof’s punk old guard, The Boomtown Rats, are on their way to York Barbican on April 25 2020 on their Citizens Of Boomtown tour.

Tickets go on sale at 11am on Friday (December 13) on 0203 356 5441, at or in person from the Barbican box office.

Next spring’s tour will complement the release of a new album, Citizens Of Boomtown,  the Rats’ first studio work since In The Long Grass in May 1984. Full details will be announced “very soon”.

Irishman Geldof, now 68, formed The Boomtown Rats in Dublin in 1975, touring in their early days with The Ramones and Talking Heads en route to achieving BRIT, Ivor Novello and Grammy awards.

Lanky, lippy frontman Geldof, pianist Johnny Fingers and co became the first Irish band to top the UK charts with Rat Trap in 1978 and made number one in 32 countries with I Don’t Like Mondays in 1979.

The Boomtown Rats recorded six albums, The Boomtown Rats in 1977; A Tonic For The Troops in 1978;The Fine Art Of Surfacing, 1979; Mondo Bongo, 1980; V Deep, 1982, and the aforementioned In The Long Grass two years later.

That year, Geldof formed the Band Aid charity supergroup, co-writing the chart-topping single Do They Know It’s Christmas (Feed The World) with Ultravox’s Midge Ure and later organising the Live Aid and Live8 fund-raising concerts in aid of Ethiopian famine relief in 1985 and 2005.

He played solo gigs at the Grand Opera House, York, in November 2002 to promote his Sex, Age & Death album, and at Harrogate Royal Hall in May 2012 after releasing How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell in 2011. It didn’t sell, ironically, peaking at number 87 in the British album charts.

His last stage appearance in York should have taken place in a line-up alongside Alan Johnson MP, Nicky Morgan MP and David Dimbleby in June 2016 at Central Hall, University of York. He was to have spoken on behalf of the Remain campaign on the last Question Time before the EU Referendum, but recording of the BBC1 show was cancelled after the death of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox.

It would have marked the Irish knight, famine relief crusader, entrepreneur and rock veteran’s return to the Central Hall stage for the first time since 1986. That year Geldof had encouraged the audience to dance at a Boomtown Rats show despite a no-dancing rule in the contract.

“Since that day, only students have been allowed to attend York university gigs,” he recalled in an interview in 2002. “I only invited them to dance! We were a ******* dance band, for Christ’s sake.The student union sued us, but it was sorted out.”

How? “We ignored it! But I better not remind them – though they would have to sue the Rats, not me!”

Charles Hutchinson

Go West and Paul Young go north for York Barbican double bill next September

Double bill: The tour poster for Go West and Paul Young’s 2020 show at York Barbican

EIGHTIES chart heavyweights Go West and Paul Young will hit the road next year as a double bill that will visit York Barbican on September 13.

Formed in 1982 by Peter Cox and Richard Drummie, Go West scored such hits as We Close Our Eyes, Call Me and Don’t Look Down and were voted Best Newcomer at the 1986 BRIT Awards. In 1990, their song King Of Wishful Thinking featured on the soundtrack for Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s romantic hit.  

After fronting Streetband and Q-Tips, Paul Young went solo, his career taking off with the 1983 album No Parlez and such singles as the chart-topping Wherever I Lay My Hat, Love Of The Common People, Everytime You Go Away and Everything Must Change. He won a BRIT Award for Best Male Vocalist and sung the opening lines on the original 1984 Band Aid single, Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed The World), also performing at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in July 1985.

Young, 63, is a keen chef, biker and fan of all things Mexicana, not least touring with his Tex Mex/Americana band Los Pacaminos.

Tickets for Go West and Paul Young’s co-headline gig are on sale on 0203 356 5441, at or in person from the Barbican box office.

Kate Rusby wants a Holly Head, cheese and… a hippo for her Yorkshire Christmas

Kate Rusby in Holly Head mode for her fifth Christmas album. Picture: David Lindsay

BARNSLEY folk nightingale Kate Rusby has released her fifth album of South Yorkshire carols and original winter songs, Holly Head, so named on account of her love of Christmas music.

As with her fellow festive collections on her Pure Records label, 2008’s Sweet Bells, 2011’s While Mortals Sleep, 2015’s The Frost Is All Over and 2017’s Angels And Men, it is being promoted by a Kate Rusby At Christmas tour with Kate’s regular band and brass quintet.

Songs range from the Rusby original The Holly King, to a cover of John Rox’s novelty Christmas number Hippo For Christmas, via the carols Salute The Morn and Kate’s sixth version of While Shepherds Watched and God’s Own Country variations, Yorkshire Three Ships and Bleak Midwinter (Yorkshire).

Now part way through her 14-date concert series, Kate answers Charles Hutchinson’s questions ahead of Yorkshire Christmas shows at Leeds Town Hall on December 13 and York Barbican on December 18.

Five Christmas albums, Kate. Five! That must surely be a record? What keeps drawing you back to make another recording for the Yule season?

“I know, five albums, how on Earth has that happened?! It’s also album number 18 of mine, which I can’t believe either. Where have all those years gone? I still love making music and touring, so that time has whizzed by in a flash.

“The Christmas side of things began for me in the ‘pub sings’ around South Yorkshire. We were taken along as kids; our parents would be in the main room singing away, while us kids were sat with the other kids in the tap room, colouring and drinking pop, unaware that the carols and Christmas songs were seeping into our brains!”

“I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’,” says Kate. “You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads.” Picture: David Lindsay

What happened next?

“It was only when I’d started touring around the country, I realised the ‘pub sings’ are  quite specific to South Yorkshire and people were unaware of these amazing songs we have.

“They’re mostly songs thrown out of the churches by the Victorians as they were thought to be far too happy! Ha! Those who loved singing them took them to the pubs, where you could combine a good old sing with beer and a natter, and there the songs have remained and kept alive, being passed down the generations.

“I decided to start the Christmas tour to take the songs out around the country to show them off and share them out again. It’s just perfect when we go back to a town again and they’re singing the songs back to us. It brings me such happiness. Like, ‘my work is done here’!”

And the Christmas albums keep coming too…

“There are so many songs still to go at, I’ve no idea how many I’ll end up doing. I am a Holly Head, after all!”

What’s the story behind Hippo For Christmas, the quirkiest song on Holly Head? One for the Rusby daughters, no doubt!

“Aw, it’s such a brilliant song! I came across it while I was researching for the album. I love how it’s the magic of Christmas through the child’s eyes, ‘cos why on Earth would Father Christmas not be able to bring a hippo? He’s magic, right?

“But, of course,, once it’s there, how do you look after it? The brass arrangement on that track is just a delight; you can’t help but smile as they play it. It’s a big tuba moment! They don’t get many moments, tubas, do they? Well, it does on this song!”

While Shepherds Watched is the Christmas carol that keeps giving! Another one has popped up on the new album…

“Well, there’s over 30 different versions of While Shepherds Watched that get sung in the pubs here in South Yorkshire, so I’ve still got a lot to go at! This one is actually to the tune of a different song that I also love, but I wasn’t that keen on the words, then realised it went with the While Shepherds words, so yey, another has now been invented.” 

Holly and the ivy: The album artwork for Kate Rusby’s new winter album

What is a Holly Head exactly, Kate?!

“Ha ha!! Well, I decided anyone who adores Christmas music is called a ‘Holly Head’. You know, like car fanatics are petrol heads. I thought it was the perfect title for such people, and I’m a fully paid-up member of the Holly Head club! ”

What is the most significant Christmas song on this album for you? One of your own compositions?

“Oooh, am I allowed to choose one of my own? Well, OK,  I will, I’ll choose The Holly King. It celebrates the more pagan side of Christmas. I wrote it after reading about the winter king, The Holly King,  and the summer king, The Ivy King.

“Legend has it that the two met twice a year and had almighty battles. Going into winter, the Holly King would win and reign for the winter months. Then the Ivy King would wake and overthrow the Holly King and reign through the summer months, and on they went in a perfect cycle.

“I just loved the images that it conjured up and a song came flowing out. I gave him a wife, The Queen of Frost, who creeps across the land to be with him for his time. In fact, I’m writing her song at the moment, so she will appear on the next Christmas album, I’m sure!”

How will you be adorning the stage for the 2019 Christmas shows? Maybe a new reindeer?

“Ooh yes, I can’t tell you too much or it won’t be a surprise. What I can confirm, though, is Ruby Reindeer will be taking her place on stage again; it’d be too strange without her now.

“We have a completely new set this year…and there will definitely be sparkles.”

Who is in your Christmas tour line-up this time?

“Ooh, this year we have me, hubby Damien O’Kane on guitars and electric tenor guitars, Duncan Lyall, double bass and Moog; Stevie Byrnes, bouzouki and guitar; Nick Cooke, diatonic accordion and sleigh bells (ha!); Josh Clark, percussion, and our lovely, fabulous brass boys, Rich Evans, Gary Wyatt, Robin Taylor, Mike Levis and Sam Pearce.

“So, 11 of us altogether on stage, and six crew, I think, and of course not forgetting Ruby Reindeer!”

What do you most want for Christmas, Kate? 

“A big lump of Cornish Kern cheese – it won best cheese in the world last year and is just gorgeous – and a bottle of Bread and Butter white wine to go along with it. It’s a big creamy white; just love it.”

Kate Rusby At Christmas, Leeds Town Hall, December 13 and York Barbican, December 18. Box office: Leeds, 0113 376 0318 or at; York, 0203 356 5441, or in person from the Barbican box office.

Golden moment: Kate Rusby received the Gold Badge from English Folk Dance & Song Society earlier this month. Picture: David Angel

On a separate note

ON December 4, Kate Rusby received the English Folk Dance & Song Society Gold Badge, in recognition of her 25-year contribution to folk music.

Among past winners were Cecil Sharp in 1923; Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1943; Ewan MacCoIl, 1987; Peggy Seeger, 1987; Shirley Collins, 2003, and Eliza Carthy, 2007.

Congratulations on your Gold Badge, Kate. What does this award mean to you? Just look at the names that have gone before!

“Aw, thank you. Goodness me, I still can’t believe it. It’s just amazing to be considered for this award as it’s recognition of my work from the massive organisation who work to preserve and document folk music and dance.

“I’ve done various gigs at Cecil Sharp House over the years, the building where they’re based in London. One time, they let me use the library as a dressing room and, oh my word, I was like a child in a sweet shop with all the ballad books. In fact, I think I may have been late on stage due to reading the books.

“But, yes, a real honour to be added to the list of Gold Badge winners. My love of the music has kept me entranced all these years, so to be given this award is just incredible.

“It was presented to me at our gig at in Sheffield City Hall, when it was also my [46th] birthday that day; what an amazing birthday present.”

Frank Turner finds himself in No Man’s Land as York Barbican bow beckons

Frank Turner: bringing history and song-writing together at York Barbican next March

FRANK Turner will turn York Barbican into No Man’s Land on March 8 on the Hampshire folk-punk singer-songwriter’s 2020 tour.

Tickets will go on sale at 10am tomorrow morning on 0203 356 5441, at or in person from the Barbican box office.

Turner, 37, released his latest album, No Man’s Land, in August, touted as his most original to date with its parade of fascinating characters, such as the woman who invented rock’n’roll, a serial killer from the Deep South, who plucked her victims from lonely hearts pages, and a Wild West vaudeville star shot by a small-town outlaw. 

“It’s bringing together my two main interests in life, which have always been separate from each other: history and song writing,” says Turner, who can be found seeking out long-forgotten historical sites on self-guided psycho-geographical strolls when not touring.

No Man’s Land is dedicated to the women “whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender”. “These stories should have been told already,” says Turner of the album and its accompanying podcast series. “And I suspect if they were men, they would be better known.” 

A couple of names here will be familiar, in the form of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Sister Rosetta and the mysterious Mata Hari in Eye Of The Day, but other women who feature have long been ignored by the mainstream.

Turner was inundated with crowdsourcing suggestions when seeking more names. “I know a lot of very smart people who sent me these huge lists of historically interesting women,” he says, after he ended up researching hundreds, seriously expanding the size of his home library in the process. “It felt a bit like going back to school, but it was so much fun.”

The women featured on the album’s 13 tracks come from across wide geographical and historical lines, whether Byzantine princess Kassiani in The Hymn Of Kassiani; Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi in The Lioness, or Resusci Anne, an apocryphal drowned virgin whose face was used as the model for the medicinal CPR mannequin across the world. 

“You can’t resist writing a song about a woman who died never having been kissed and then became the most kissed face in history,” reasons Turner. 

No Man’s Land boast perhaps the most revelatory song of Turner’s career. Written in tribute to his mother, Rosemary Jane honours her grit and determination through the harder parts of his childhood. “It’s quite a raw song,” he admits, adding that he felt compelled to ask permission from his mother and sisters to include the track. “But it’s nice about her. It’s not necessarily nice about my dad.”

Turner, by the way, will be making his York Barbican debut at next March’s gig.

Charles Hutchinson