Live music is back in Harrogate district as 'socially distanced' gigs are announced

Acclaimed British blues rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor perform a "socially distanced" gig soon at Ripley Town Hall.Acclaimed British blues rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor perform a "socially distanced" gig soon at Ripley Town Hall.
Acclaimed British blues rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor perform a "socially distanced" gig soon at Ripley Town Hall.
Harrogate's live music scene is finally starting to revive a little with news of  the first 'socially distanced' live gigs since the Government gave permission for live performances to return in the arts..

But, in an indication of the challenges facing venues in their anxiety to reopen after four months of lockdown, one of the initial concerts will take place with only 25% of the normal capacity.

The Government may have given the green light for the live entertainment sector as a whole to begin again from August 1 but safety rules mean Harrogate's smaller pubs, which usually give a platform for local musicians, are unlikely to spring back to life.

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Elsewhere, two famous grassroots music venues in Manchester and two in Hull have already said they will not be reopening next month.

The operator of Manchester's Deaf Institute and Gorilla said it would not be able to reopen those venues under the new rules.

And the companies behind the Welly and the Polar Bear in Hull have gone into administration.

But in a positive sign for music lovers in the Harrogate district, this weekend will see live performances at the award-winning Deer Shed Festival.

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One of the highlights of the festival calendar in the north, attracting crowds of 10,000 each year for a mix of famous indie acts, comedy, literary, science, children's events, this weekend will see an amazing live line-up of comedians, bands, DJs and many more as well as pre-recorded shows.

The event will see Knaresborough's Rory Hoy perform a live DJ set for the first time since lockdown at the Deer Shed Base Camp this Sunday, July 26 at Baldersby Park near Topcliffe and Masham.

Rory Hoy, who has appeared many times on Craig Charles' BBC 6 Music Funk and Soul Show, said: "I’m absolutely honoured to be invited to perform.

"Deer Shed's founder Oliver and Kate Webster have pulled out all the stops at the socially distanced Base Camp weekend. It’s quite incredible how they’ve put it all together.

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"All cars and tents have their own large pitch complete with their own individual portaloos and on-board water for washing.

"My set will be from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Tickets have already sold out but it’s sure to be a blast!"

At Ripley Town Hall, the first live gig since lockdown will see acclaimed British blues rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Chantel McGregor perform a "socially distanced" gig on Saturday, August 15 courtesy of promoters Ripley Live.

But organiser Andy Herrington said the main hall would only be able to accommodate a quarter of the usual crowd to stay within the safety rules for Covid-19 and the live performances would have to be acoustic for the forseeable future.

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He said: "Bands will be difficult but we can promote solo performers or duos who would normally play our intimate upstairs room.

"We will have a quarter of our normal capacity of 250. We can accommodate 60 safely all seated with social distancing in our main hall and will only accept payment at the bar by contactless card.

"We have already had a terrific response to Chantel's appearancewith bookings from as far away as Essex."

One of Harrogate's newest bistro bars is also taking up the mantle of supporting live music.

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The Chris White Jazz Duo, known locally for playing regularly at the Harrogate Brasserie for many years, are set to perform at the Fashion House Bistro on Swan Road on Sunday, August 9 from 5pm until 7.30pm playing tunes from the great American Songbook.

Meanwhile, at a national level concern about the future of small live music venues has not eased despite the change of Government advice.

The Music Venues Trust said: "We have been warning for months that the situation faced by grassroots music venues was unsustainable and would result in the closure of spaces people love and artists need unless there was concerted, strategic action.

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