Skip to main content

Ryley Walker: The Half Wit in Hebden Bridge....

Last night I saw Ryler Walker for the second time this year.

Last time, back in February, it was in Manchester's Band On The Wall, when he appeared on his own, last night it was at the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, where he was accompanied by a drummer and bass player, both from Scandinavia.

So, only a few months, but a few differences.

The Trades Club is a fantastic venue, a friendly Labour Club and base for locals, and also very welcoming and supportive of the myriad of acts from all over the planet who over the years have rocked up in the town every week to perform there. This welcoming, family feel, is no doubt part of the reason why these artists, often of International stature, have consistently appeared over the years at a venue in a town with a resident population of less than 5,000.

There was no question Ryley Walker felt at home last night. More than once he shouted out 'Hey you guys, this venue is beautiful!. This place is awesome!' (all expletives deleted). From the outset he was bantering and telling tales to the almost-full crowd, much of which had us in stitches. Indeed, I can't think of anyone I have seen anyone other than Show Of Hands' Steve Knightly who can gain as many between-song laughs than our Ryley. Hey, if it all goes wrong musically, could a career in stand-up beckon?

But that's not going to happen. No, because the music last night was even better than when I had seen him in February. The band helped take his music to a different level, with the drummer in particular - who could have passed himself off as one of the Mael Brothers from Sparks - being incredibly inventive, adding an extra dimension to Ryley's incredible guitar work.

Earlier, we had been treated to a lovely set from Holly Macve, originally from Holmfirth but now based in Brighton, whose set of folk and country-style songs showcased her superb voice and range. A real pleasure to listen to, and well worth checking out.

Most of Ryley Walker's set came from his imminent new release, 'Golden Sings That Have Been Sung'. He played the opening track, 'The Half Wit In Me', which reflects his constant self-deprecating manner, starting off with an instrumental spell before getting into the heart of the song. Many of the songs had lengthy spells of improvisation, with Ryley extracting an amazing variety of sounds from his acoustic guitar. On this showing, the new album - which was given a 9 out of 10 in Uncut - is a must-buy. They also played an amazing version of 'Primrose Green', the title track from last year's fantastic album which was given a superb workout, demonstrating that the quality of Ryley's songs allows them to flourish under different treatments. 

Whilst he still retains strong influences from the likes of John Martyn, Tim Buckley, and Bert Jansch, last night showed that he has musically moved on considerably in the past 6 months. He is drawing from a host of influences, much from the musical scene in Chicago, the city where he grew up, and to which he constantly referred last night.

Last time I saw him we had a beer in The Castle in Manchester after the gig. Couldn't hang around last night, sadly, but even so what a brilliant evening!  If you are anywhere near to a Ryley Walker gig, make sure you get yourself there. One not to be missed....

'Golden Sings That Have Been Sung' is released on Dead Ocean Records on August 19th.

The Trades Club, Holme Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8EE. Tel: 01422 845265


Popular posts from this blog

A Calder Valley Ale Trail - UPDATE June 2022

T he definitive guide to the pubs and bars that line the railways in the towns and villages of the beautiful Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. After a break in updates with all the disruption of lockdowns over the  last couple of years, here's the latest, updated version.... The original Rail Ale Trail heads through the Pennines from Dewsbury through Huddersfield to Stalybridge, or vice versa, depending on your standpoint. Made famous by Oz Clarke and James May on a TV drinking trip around Britain several years ago, it reached saturation point on weekends to such an extent that lager and shorts were banned by some pubs and plastic glasses introduced to the hordes of stag dos, hen parties, and fancy-dressed revellers that invaded the trans-Pennine towns and villages. There are some great pubs en route but you ventured to them on a summer Saturday at your peril. However, only a few miles away to the north, there is another trail possible which takes in some great pubs and travels thr

There Used To Be A Bar There....

Last weekend a little bar in Wesley Court in Halifax, closed its doors for the last time. But unlike the sad fate that has befallen so many pubs and bars in recent times, The Grayston Unity will be re-opening in a few weeks' time in a brand new home on the other side of town. And so this weekend was a chance for a final drink and catch-up at its original home.... It was emotional, it was fun, it was inevitable. The final weekend at the original home of the Grayston Unity occurred this weekend, the last pints being poured around 9pm on Sunday evening with the price of a pint dropping first to £2 and then they were free. The little bar had attracted large numbers over the previous few days; Grayston stalwarts, regulars on the Halifax drinking scene, a host of old faces from over the years, and plenty of bemused first-timers, many here from out of town to see the likes of Orbital, the Charlatans, and Johnny Marr playing down the road at the Piece Hall.  Michael enjoying a quiet chat w

The Ripon Effect....

I've recently paid a visit to the small but lovely North Yorkshire city of Ripon where, on a cracking sunny afternoon, I had a mini tour of some of the town's best watering holes. Here's what I found.... The trains were off this weekend, so for a change I decided to take a road trip to Ripon, a place I had not visited for at least 20 years, but being somewhere that had lost its railway station during the Beeching cuts in the 1960's, it is a place that needs to be visited by road anyway whether or not the trains are running. Situated about 12 miles to the north of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, Ripon can trace its roots back for centuries, to at least the 7th century when it was part of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. Ripon was granted city status in 1865 and is the third smallest city in England, with only the City of London and Wells in Somerset having a smaller population, but it packs a lot into its compact footprint. It is famous for its stunning cathedral whose