Mercury Prize band Alt-J’s Harrogate links


Harrogate isn’t known widely as a rock n roll or pop town, despite the fact many Harrogate musicians have ‘made it big’ in the past and continue to do so, writes Gig Scene Editor Graham Chalmers.

The reason you might not be aware of the town’s rock pedigree is that once any Harrogate singer/bassist/sax player/drummer has become successful in the business, they rarely utter the word “Harrogate” ever again.

Not that it’s entirely their fault. If a musician does mention they’re from Harrogate (near Leeds) to the press, journalists have a habit of telling readers they’re simply from Leeds – on the basis that Leeds is bigger than Harrogate and readers are more likely to know where it is.

I say this because Gig Scene has discovered that a member of the winning indie band Alt-J at last week’s Mercury Prize is actually from Harrogate.

I say we ‘discovered‘ but it was a reader who kindly alerted us.

Fiona McDermott emailed us to say: “I just wondered whether you were aware that the drummer of Alt J (Thom Green) who won the Mercury Prize was actually from Harrogate? He was a student at St Aidan’s High School and lived in Harrogate until joining Leeds Uni in 2007.”

Many thanks to Fiona for getting in touch.

Since Alt-J’s amazing victory, I’ve seen Alt-J and Thom interviewed about their triumph in The Guardian, the NME and a whole host of other high-profile newspapers, magazines and websites.

In all that press coverage Leeds and Leeds University have been mentioned a lot but never Harrogate.

Does anyone else have anymore info on Alt-J’s Harrogate links?

Tweet me @HarrogateGigs

Proof that Harrogate International Festival Fringe does know its Arctic Monkeys from its Fratellis.

Among the many out of town indie bands the Fringe has brought to the town over the past three summers are The Crookes.

This Sheffield-based indie pop band played The Blues Bar in July 2011 thanks to the efforts of Matt Stephenson – and pretty impressive they were, too, bequiffed and kooky and quietly brilliant.

The band have gone from strength to strength since then and are about to embark on a UK tour, having returned recently from a 17-date jaunt across Europe.

You can catch them playing their new single American Girls (and other songs from their debut album Hold Fast) at The Cockpit in Leeds this Saturday, November 10.

As BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2003, Anna Massie has been in high demand for nearly a decade now, especially since she linked up with Mairearad Green.

Between the two of these phenomenally talented youngsters from the Scottish Highlands, the following instruments feature in their sparkling performances: accordian, bagpipes, mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle.

Thanks to local promoters Kula Productions, this playful duo are playing in Knaresborough’s Frazer Theatre on Saturday, November 17.

More information at

Talented local singer-songwriter Angie Shaw is back in live action this Sunday night at The Mitre in Knaresborough.

For this performance, Angie will be accompanied with double bass and drums plus Vicky Whelan on keyboards.

With a new EP, Head for Heights, due out in the New Year, Angie is keen to build on her live success by strengthening the line-up. To that end, she’s looking for a versatile guitarist and a keyboard player.

She’s also set to support Nashville artists Stephanie Lambring on her UK tour next March.