Vintage 2015 for music in Lancaster

Lancaster Music Festival. Photo by Nick Dagger Photography
Lancaster Music Festival. Photo by Nick Dagger Photography

It’s always interesting to look back on a year in music.

For me 2015 started off quite slow as winter held on til April and hibernation mode was reluctant to relinquish its warm fuzzy fireside grip.

It was April when Dock of The Bay signalled a return to some degree of improved temperature and outlook with a great little one day festival at Glasson Dock Memorial Hall.

Bands all day outside on the Melodrome Stage then a great celebration of music in the hall at night.

And of course you can’t mention The Melodrome Stage without paying tribute to one of its founding fathers Chas Ambler, who sadly died in August from cancer.

He was described as a “kind, sweet and joyful musician” and has left a huge and invaluable imprint on the district’s musical heritage.

Class act: Chas Ambler

Class act: Chas Ambler

Another 2015 musical death - it felt like that to many - was that of The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Company in September.

They only went and released their final album A Different Country on the night of their final gig. I’m still chewing my way through that one...

Lancaster Funk Club went from strength to strength as the year progressed and brought in some excellent acts from outside the area including Man About A Dog and Harry Hammond and the Midnight Experience.

I managed to catch The Dread Supreme at the brewery as part of Lancaster Jazz Festival which was a rare treat, and then Lancaster Music Festival broke all its own records (again) by making sure it was one of the most unique and original live music events in the country last year.

A-Wing at the castle has continued to put Lancaster on the electronic music map, bringing in globally renowned DJs and producers to the city throughout 2015.

And then last month the floods knocked out two of Lancaster’s most prolific purveyors of live music - The Bobbin and The Yorkshire House – with a subsequent Christmas single released by some of the district’s musicians to help those affected.

Carpe’s Christmas show on December 23 at The Gregson Centre (traditionally held at The Yorkshire House) raised money for venue staff who lost their jobs over the Christmas period, and an all day event at the John O’ Gaunt organised by Mark Simpson also raised hundreds of pounds.

Let’s hope the two venues are back on their feet as soon as possible - but it’s looking like at least March at the moment until they re-open.

Albums from Molly Warburton, Imogen Rae, David J Kelly and Intensely Staring Cats, to name a few, and the brilliant single Goofin’ Around (in Lancashire) from The Lovely Eggs were all released in 2015, and celebrated American poet Larry Beckett paid a visit to the city to perform with Lancaster’s The Long Lost Band at The Yorkie.

Lancaster Musicians Co-Op celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015 with fundraising gigs and events, and a nod to the fact that there is still no medium to large sized music venue in Lancaster that could begin to attract nationally touring acts on a more regular and professional basis.

The Co-Op reckons it has the space and knows how to do this...so what are we waiting for Lancaster?

I enjoyed live performances outside of the area by Elton John at Westmorland County Showground, Faithless at Lytham Festival and Slamboree at The Ritz in Manchester, and of course the summer behemoth that is Beatherder Festival in the Ribble Valley in July.

Add to that a hundred or so little shows, gigs, ditties and jams dotted around Lancaster’s unique live music experience - including my own live debut at The Robert Gillow in November, and 2015 wasn’t a bad vintage year for music in the city.

Here’s to growing Lancaster’s music reputation further in 2016 by creating, enabling, promoting and supporting the live scene as much as we can.