Top acts at Acoustic Saturday at Harrogate Theatre

Karl Culley. (Picture by Andy Rowson)
Karl Culley. (Picture by Andy Rowson)

Over the years I’ve come to learn that while some musicians rarely listen to music, many of them are as big music fans as you or me, writes Graham Chalmers.

In the build-up to An Evening with Karl Culley, a ticket-only acoustic night in the cosy confines of Harrogate Theatre Studio on Saturday, April 20, Gig Scene talked to the line-up about their favourite music.

Headliner Karl Culley, who is flying from Poland for this rare local appearance to play songs from his latest album Phosphor, is an immensely gifted and unusual guitarist as well as a hauntingly melodic songwriter.

Unsurprisingly, his appreciation of musical heritage stretches far and wide.

“It starts with Nick Drake and, in particular, Pink Moon, a flawless album. Also from the same period John Martyn’s Bless The Weather and Solid Air.

I also love Robin Williamson, formerly of Incredible String Band. His solo stuff, the good songs are blinding. Ring Dance is a stunning album.

“Then there’s John Jacob Niles, Blind Blake, John Lee Hooker, Django Reinhardt, Leadbelly, Blind Willie Johnson, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson

“More modern music includes the harp-tickling genius Joanna Newsom. Ys is a masterpiece cut from the sky.

“Plus Ellliott Smith’s Roman Candle and Devendra Banhart’s Rejoicing in the Hands album, Kelly Joe Phelp’s Slingshot Professionals. . .”

This special event’s main support act Dragonfly Tattoo recently debuted their debut EP, Songs of Murder and Love, at Seven Jazz venue in Leeds.

All jazzy brushes and dark atmosphere and stunning songs, lead singer Vicky Whelan said: “As a child we listened to classical music in the car but I also I heard my brother’s Pink Floyd abums constantly and my sister playing Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.

“At school I loved the old blues guys like Lightning Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf. Later on, seeing Beth Gibbons from Portishead at Glastonbury was amazing.

“And when PJ Harvey performs she’s utterly mesmerising.”

Final support act, the gifted Samantha Smith spent some time in the London musicbiz as a teenager and combines an easy feel for soulful r’n’b with a feisty pop spirit.

“I am a fan of all types of music. It might be a bit obvious but I do like Ed Sheeran.

“He is diverse in the sense that he can hold a crowd in both playing an upbeat song with rapping like “you need me, I don’t need you”, to singing an old Irish traditional song such as “the parting glass” and making both fit and work.

“And I’m just starting to get into Jake Bug. I love the way he’s bringing the old school ‘Oasis’ type sound back. Ben Howard also stands out to me with his distinctive vocals.”

Presented by Abattoir Blues at 7.30pm on Saturday, April 20, tickets forre available now at Harrogate Theatre box office on 01423 502116 or book online at

For tickets and videos of the acts, or visit

Next week’s Weekend section will feature an interview with Gaz Coombes of Supergrass who is playing Deer Shed Festival in North Yorkshire this July.

Now, I’m not giving the whole game away, but this is part of what he said about the chances of a reunion.

“We’re still friends and I’m still in touch with the rest of the guys. Luckily, we split up before we got to the point of killing each other.”

More next week!