WEEKLY ROUND-UP (27.05.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Dana Gavanski by Jack Tennant

Every week we pull together some of the best events taking place across the region, from music and theatre, to comedy, art and film. Read more on these, and other events, in the latest issue of NARC. magazine in print and online.

Nora Brown
There are prodigies, and then there is Nora Brown. Still not twenty and with three excellent albums on Jalopy Records to her name, she’s been playing banjo and guitar since she was six and learned at the knee of some of the best Appalachian traditional musicians around (surprisingly for someone steeped in this music, she’s from NYC not South Carolina). There are YouTube clips of her barely in her teens playing mercurial, electrifying banjo tunes like it ain’t no big deal (check her version of Hares On The Mountain with a full band, it’ll knock yr socks off).
Brown has also been playing and recording with Chicago fiddle player Stephanie Coleman for a few years, a brilliant player in her own right (she’s the record holder for most ribbons won in the renowned fiddle contest at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival), and what the two of them create together is timeless and magical. And they’re coming to Newcastle on Wednesday 29th May, a typically brilliant Jumpin’ Hot Club booking at Cluny 2. If you’re a fan of that high lonesome sound – and if not, why not? – you don’t want to miss this.
Wednesday 29th May @ The Cluny, Newcastle

Yarns From Hyem
Those who champion North Eastern home-grown talent should get themselves along to Yarns From Hyem, by award-winning theatre company Hooley, at a variety of venues. Featuring four tales of love, loss and hope all written by local writers, you can follow the highs and lows of these characters in short plays combined into one evening of performance – with each also starring and directed by local talent.
Hooley aims to make work that speaks to community audiences and it’s fantastic to see some familiar names and faces cropping up in these shows; such is the talent and breadth of stories, there’s bound to be something you like in this selection box of heart-warming and hilarious tales, which includes Hope That A Flat Door Shuts by Claire-Marie Perry, Boxing by Charlie Prothero, The Edge by Barbara Williams and Ryan by Sarah Tarbit. Michael Blair and Zoe Murtagh take on directorial duties across the productions, and performers include Umar Butt, Kieron Michael, Ainsley Fannen, Micky McGregor, Harriet Ghost and William Wyn Davies.
These Yarns promise to be a great introduction to theatre for those who might not normally go, so don’t stay hyem – get yourself along.
From Wednesday 29th May @ Various venues

Frognall & Fox – A Life In Song
Taking in a staggeringly broad itinerary of local venues, from Alnwick’s Playhouse to Newcastle’s Prohibition Bar (and, I kid you not, near-enough everywhere in between throughout the North East and Cumbria) Frognal & Fox – A Life In Song is a cabaret-style show which boasts a raucously singular blend of satirical comedy and rousing renditions of some of the finest works in the Great American Songbook (including the likes of Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Stephen Sondheim and Noel Coward) to tell the story of Margaret Frognal (Jane Holman) and Adele Fox (Zoe Lambert), two fading stars who, with a cynical and bemused pianist (Declan Flannery) in tow, use theatre and song to explore their careers, and the hidden tensions that have remained a fierce undercurrent within their storied partnership.
Written by acclaimed playwright Fiona Ellis, with direction by Cinzia Hardy, the play promises to be an enthrallingly unique celebration of a classic era in theatre, fusing cabaret and witty satire into a brilliantly single blend of narrative and performance. Come for the spine-tingling renditions of some of the finest works of song, and stay for the gloriously witty and compelling story that they serve.
From Thursday 30th May @ Various venues

Image: Frognal & Fox by Fiona Ellis. L-R Zoe Lambert & Jane Holman

Taking aim at hyper-masculine culture, four talented local musicians – Janice Burns, Holly Clarke, Cathy Geldard and Amy Thatcher – present virtuosity, strength and power in a language that is unashamedly and vibrantly female.
Friday 31st May @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

Colour Field
Calling to mind the Colour Field painters Helen Frankenthaler and Mark Rothko, artists Kirsty Adams, Jill Campbell and Katie Mawson capture the spirit of a place through abstraction, colour and light, working in porcelain, paint, and vintage book cloth that powerfully evoke memories of landscapes.
Friday 31st May-Saturday 6th July @ Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle

The Breath
Nestled away in the heart of the Ouseburn, Cobalt Studios have steadfastly affirmed themselves as one of Newcastle’s, and indeed the North East’s, finest gems in the world of music events. From their now-iconic Fresh Thursdays through to their commitment to showcasing the most diverse and enthralling artists from the world over, and this class line-up on Friday 31st May is no exception to the rule.
Headliners The Breath consist of duo Ríoghnach Connolly and Stuart McCallum; fresh from the release of their third LP Land of My Other, over a solid body of work the duo have built up a reputation for crafting vivid and engrossing songs which channel stream of poetic consciousness and rich soundscapes which coalesce to conjure up a glorious world of sound. Support comes from local singer-songwriter Liz Corney, a founding member of local legends alt. pop outfit The Cornshed Sisters (and touring keyboardist for Field Music). Her forthcoming solo project channels existentialism, change and communication struggles through the prism of Motown, Queen, Abba and the Carpenters. The bill is rounded off with a solo set from local singer-songwriter Nicky Rushton. It’s another cracking line-up of brilliant songwriting talent, in one of the finest creative spaces in the Toon to boot!
Friday 31st May @ Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

Dana Gavanski
Ever since releasing her first Spring Demos EP in 2017, Canadian resident Dana Gavanski has continued finding a wider audience for her folk/art rock, singer-songwriter style. There are moments of gently lilting melody alongside plucked, picked and strummed guitar as she tells her tales of modern life’s contradictions. Her recent album LATE SLAP is bursting with these elements and more, pensive self-analysis rubbing shoulders with cute and playful odes. Laughing one moment, crying the next. She gives a masterclass in controlled yet emotional songwriting, and her show at Newcastle’s Common Room on Saturday 1st June is a perfect opportunity to experience it up close and unfiltered.
Support comes from Bingo Fury, who mixes the classic glitzy yet seedy Broadway sheen of classic songwriters, jazz legends and experimental alternative pioneers. Think Leonard Cohen or Nina Simone beside the arresting no-wave of James Chance and the Lounge Lizards and you’ll have some idea of the journey Bingo’s music takes. Ladakee is the solo project of Nano Kino’s Sara Suri, aided live by Andrew Jones of Pit Pony and Cheap Lunch. With a blend of psychedelic shoegaze, rhythmic guitars and dreamy harmonies, Suri takes influence from Panda Bear and Antelope among others in creating her own highly immersive and atmospheric sound.
Saturday 1st June @ The Common Room, Newcastle

Laurel’s Comedy Club
Laurel’s Comedy Club makes its triumphant return to Whitley Bay, proving that the social hub is making good on its promise to bring alternative entertainment to the North Tyneside town with another evening of fun and laughter.
On Saturday 1st June you can enjoy all the comedy stylings of Glaswegian comic and 2021 Comedian’s Comedian of the Year Mark Nelson. He’s managed to make other stand-up professionals laugh with comedy that constantly tows the line of common decency, so you’re probably going to be in good – if provocative – hands for the evening. Joining Nelson on the night’s bill is telly’s own Ben Crompton, in a decidedly different capacity from his best-known work as a member of the Night’s Watch – unless of course those playing the Game of Thrones were in dire need for some laughs beyond the Wall. The North East’s own Anja Atkinson completes the line-up; she hasn’t been in the game for as long, but is ready to bring her fresh takes to the Whitley Bay crowd. Tying the whole show together is our beloved and trustworthy Si Beckwith, without whom a North East comedy show would truly never feel complete. 
Saturday 1st June @ Laurel’s, Whitley Bay

Image: Mark Nelson

Ewan Brown Anarchist Bookfair
The third annual Ewan Brown Anarchist Bookfair returns to Star & Shadow Cinema on Saturday 1st June, continuing to honour the memory and passions of Ewan Brown with a vibrant day filled with radical ideas, art and community engagement. The event promises a rich blend of activities suitable for all ages, reflecting Ewan’s legacy as a bold and socially conscious individual.
From 10am until late, attendees can explore a diverse array of stalls by radical collectives, engage in practical workshops covering everything from basic bike mechanics to graffiti painting, and mini art exhibitions dedicated to Ewan’s life and works. The Star & Shadow community kitchen will offer delicious food, while BSL interpreters ensure accessibility throughout the day. As the evening rolls in the atmosphere will shift vibes, with live music from Almighty Uprisers, Fiona Liquid, Benny Rabble and 21 Melville Street, plus a film screening of dramatic documentary Battle of Stockton.
Ewan Brown, remembered for his activism in areas like animal rights and anti-racism, as well as his artistic contributions to the Star & Shadow, has inspired this annual gathering that not only celebrates his life but also fosters a space for like-minded individuals. Entry is donation-based, supporting the continuation of this unique and inspiring event.
Saturday 1st June @ Star & Shadow Cinema

Barry Adamson
Barry Adamson has been quietly building himself an impressive and diverse body of work as a solo artist in the last 35 years, fusing jazz, noir soundtracks, soul and a preoccupation with society’s underbelly into what tends to get called ‘imaginary soundtracks’.
He came to prominence with his time in magnificent Manchester outfit Magazine, who quickly left punk behind and became something far more strange and interesting. He then popped up in both The Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds for a few fertile years (and can occasionally still be seen lurking stage left at times). But a Scala cinema screening of Otto Preminger’s Man With The Golden Arm (and its Bernstein soundtrack in particular) set him on the path he still loosely travels.
His first album in eight years, Cut To Black, was released last month and is a beauty, a typically diverse but coherent mix of everything from jazz to soul, gospel to hip-hop, and to promote it he’s heading out on a rare tour that brings him to Newcastle’s Think Tank on Saturday 1st June.
Saturday 1st June @ Think Tank?, Newcastle

International Sex Worker Day film screenings
A film screening marking International Sex Worker Day aims to give a voice to women and commemorate a historic protest that took place in France nearly 50 years ago.
On Saturday 2nd June, North East Spicy Coffee Collective present a double-bill of screenings which include Prostitutes of Lyon Speak, and Kate Millet Speaks Prostitution With Some Feminists at Star & Shadow Cinema, followed by a post-screening discussion. Both films were premiered in 1975, a year which inspired the creation of International Sex Worker Day thanks to a mass protest in France which saw more than 100 prostitutes occupy Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, demanding better living and working conditions and an end to police harassment after suspected mishandling of several sex worker murders. 
The event is organised by North East Spicy Coffee Collective, a group of sex workers who organise monthly meet ups, sharing resources and safety tips and building a safe, inclusive community. Despite the rise in online adult platforms like OnlyFans, many aspects of sex work are still criminalised in the UK, and a recent YouGov survey revealed 46% of people would not be friends with someone who has sold sexualised images of themselves, a figure which rises to 71% when considering dating. The collective hopes the event will open conversations about sex work and reduce the stigma which leaves so many unable to talk about their work.
Sunday 2nd June @ Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

Scott Lavene
For those looking for an escape from the day to day, look no further than ‘gutter pop’ artist Scott Lavene, whose storytelling style and eccentric tales have seen him gain widespread acclaim. Third album Disney In Dagenham has been described as containing a “hallucinogenic world of his own creation with ne’er do wells, ragamuffins and eccentrics”.
Monday 3rd June @ The Engine Room, North Shields


Image: Scott Lavene by Hannah Turk

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