Gig Scene - Birdman Rallies’ new single on the BBC

The Birdman Rallies. (PIcture by Stuart Rhodes)
The Birdman Rallies. (PIcture by Stuart Rhodes)
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In today’s music business, popularity is no guarantee of quality - and vice versa. Which is why it’s so good to see that word about the innate brilliance of Harrogate band The Birdman Rallies is finally starting to spread beyond the immediate area of Harrogate and, indeed, Yorkshire, writes Gig Scene Editor.

This clever, melodic alt-indie band, who appear at Harrogate’s Blues Bar in their monthly residency next Thursday, are simply the best band the town has produced in the last 20 years - in my opinion (and there are a fair few other contenders, some of them playing in Harrogate right now).

The four-piece group is the most recent creation of the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Dan Webster, who I first saw leading local band Wilma as a teenager approximately 15 years ago.

That young band, who featured bassist John Davey, who is also in The Birdman Rallies, won the annual Fibbers Battle of the Bands at the height of Britpop. I used to be a judge occasionally and the competition could be a bit York-centric which is a good indication of just how amazingly good these fresh-faced youngsters were then.

Older, wiser and even better now, Webster, Davey and the other two members of The Birdman Rallies (Dave Armstrong on drums, Adam Westerman on keyboards and more), may not be ‘signed’ yet but their reputation has grown steadily in the past five years - and rightly so.

So it’s great news that current single Telescope Katie has been picked up by both BBC 6Music and XFM radio stations.

It’s off their current album Moons, a brilliant piece of work which, if it were to be released on, say, Domino or Rough Trade or Bella Union, would surely be showing up in critics’ ‘Best of the Year’ choices in Mojo, Uncut or the NME as I speak.

Speaking of great local talent, singer-songwriter Karl Culley is nearly ready to unleash his third album.

I say ‘unleash’, but this highly creative acoustic musician is far too subtle and unique to ‘unleash’ anything.

His live performances may be emotionally intense affairs but his modern twist on folk-blues is too psychologically complex to use that term.

Although this Harrogate singer-songwriter currently lives in Poland, thanks to the internet it’s almost like he never left.

For example, he’s just posted online a taster track from his next album which has the amazing title of ‘Phosphor or The Gods or Silver Set Of Bones’.

The album was recorded on the Isle of Jura and Poland while the taster track Icarus and Whisky was recorded at Karl’s House near Krakow.

As always, his acoustic guitar work and haunted vocals are cracking, revealing him to be the sort of musician the young Bob Dylan might wanted to have chummed up to when he first arrived in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s as a young unknown.

For more information, visit

More great gigs for the festive season - As well as MFOR’s annual Christmas show at The Alexandra in Harrogate tonight, Thursday, and Dr Thirsty at the same venue on Boxing Day, don’t miss a Prog Age show at The Orb in Knaresborough tomorrow night, Friday and The Blockheads at Ripley Town Hall on Saturday, December 29.