Gig Scene - beer, stars, love and murder

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I had the pleasure of meeting Vicky Whelan, lead singer of high-quality local band Dragonfly Tattoo recently, writes Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers.

Influenced by the imperious PJ Harvey and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, she didn’t just tell me about their impressive new EP, Songs of Love and Murder (review to come in Gig Scene shortly) but also how she avoided her love of playing music for years while she travelled the world and built a career (and a family while she was at it).

The resultseems to have been worth the wait - a deliciously dark, slightly jazzy, moody confection. It’s pretty amazing for someone who was playing piano in the corner of her classroom as a teacher five years ago to heading up a sophisticated ensemble capable of delivering a serious musical vision.

You can catch Vicky live with Dragonfly Tattoo at The Mitre in Knaresborough his Sunday night from 8pm.

I’ve never been to the Harrogate Charity Beer Festival, even though it’s been held 22 times previously, but I know it’s good, mainly because friends who have been tell me it’s good.

I mention this in Gig Scene for two reasons. Firstly, the 23rd Harrogate Charity Beer Festival is coming up on Thursday, February 28, running at the Crown Hotel until Saturday, March 2.

Secondly, as usual, it’s got a musical component in the shape of live music from Harrogate Brass Band (Thursday), The Directors (Friday) and White Man Van (Saturday).

Oh, and not forgetting a daily acoustic stage run by those go-ahead people from music website Ont’ Sofa.

The event opens daily at 6.30pm, except for Saturday when it starts at 4pm.

For tickets, visit

It was very sad to hear of the death of Reg Presley, lead singer of The Troggs, last week.

I say this partly because his band are playing a show at The Shed in Wetherby on Saturday, February 23.

When Googling the show, I was surprised to find that the band have kept most of their original line-up from the 1960s when songs like Wild Thing and I Can’t Control Myself not only brought some raw wildness to the charts but also contributed to the growth of both ‘garage rock’ and ‘punk rock’.

If it hadn’t been for Reg’s diagnosis with cancer last year, we may well have seen him on stage in Wetherby.

It makes a change from other ‘heritage acts’ from the 1960s with only one original member.

The One Top, anyone?

Another old act still going strong, though not quite as wild as The Troggs, are Smokie who were regulars on Top of the Pops for the best part of two decades.

The Spirit of Smokie will be playing Living Next Door To Alice and a dozen other of their big numbers from the 70s and 80s at Frazer Theatre in Knaresborough as part of a Raise The Roof theatre fundraiser this Sunday, February 17.

More information at

If you like relaxed swing and jazz, Harrogate-based big band Echo 42 are offering you just that – and for free.

The 18-piece band plus vocalists are doing a series of informal performances this year at Harrogate’s Cairn Hotel on Ripon Road, trombonist Paul Mayo tells me.

First up is Tuesday, February 26 with one in May, then another on November.

Each evening will seek donations for charity and feature a wide selection of big band favourites, vocal numbers and unexpected treats from this superb outfit.