The Shed Reviews Archive 2

Waterson:Carthy at The Shed – review
Hank Wangford at The Shed – British Medical Journal!
Creative Yorkshire – 16 October 2001
Sevara Nazarkhan – Yorkshire Evening Press 28.06.04
Simon Armitage on a trip to The Shed
Shichiseikai – 13 July 2000
Ian McMillan and Billy Jenkins – Friday, 30 March 2001

Waterson:Carthy at The Shed
REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press 10.12.00

INFLUENTIAL guitarist Martin Carthy, peerless singer Norma Waterson and their charismatic daughter Eliza Carthy, who played Leicestershire small pipes and fiddle, showed why they are regarded as the First Family of English Folk music last night. Along with gifted young melodeon player Tim van Eyken, they filled The Shed – that intimate venue at Brawby, which attracts top class performers like bees to a honey pot – with wondrous sounds.

Martins individualistic guitar playing acted as a perfect foil for his daughter’s fiddle and Tim’s melodeon as they rattled through various instrumental pieces with Norma content to take a back seat. Their ensemble playing was electric and excited the cheek-by-jowl audience. Norma’s singing had the polish of a consummate professional. Among the highlights were Black Muddy River and There Ain’t No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears.

The harmony singing by all four performers was impressive; Eliza’s harmonies with her mother had that intangible musical quality known as “the tingle factor”. And their versatility knew no bounds. To celebrate the season of Advent, they sang a full-blooded carol called Shepherds Arise, which reminded me of the era of boisterous gallery orchestras before they were banished from church by the coming of the organ.

Then Martin came up with an atmospheric vocal for a spine-chilling song called The Bows Of London. Eliza’s fiddle was other-worldly – highly appropriate for a song about a fiddle made from a corpse found in the Thames. Waterson:Carthy can also do Hollywood schmaltz when required. For their encore, Norma and Eliza sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow as a classy duet. Pure magic.

© Richard Foster (first published 11 December 2000 – Yorkshire Evening Press)

Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys at The Shed
REVIEW: British Medical Journal – February 2004 – Review

I liked Hank Wangford even before I met him. His name, perfect for a country and western singer, suggests deadpan mischief. It’s made up, of course. In real life, he is a London doctor. He mentions this on stage but doesn’t make a big thing of it.

I liked The Shed before I saw it, too. A tiny venue on the edge of the north Yorkshire moors, its gigs include poetry readings on Radio 4 and an improvised bingo and percussion show. On its website ( are detailed instructions on how to knit your own Elvis wig.

The last time I had met Hank was at the Royal Society of Medicine. We had chatted about contraception and then he told me about falling angels. Kicked out of heaven along with Satan, they were still falling and causing trouble. He thought the idea might make a good song.

Now, on the moors in December, a lad with a lantern directed us to the village hall. Crammed in were 70 seats and little candlelit tables.

In the kitchen Simon, the friendly but pensive impresario, was helping to sell drinks. Hank and his band, the Lonesome Cowboys, were changing in the toilet but would be signing CDs later.

The packed audience included men with pullovers and women with pink Stetsons. Hank told us that he, like everyone else, had once considered country music naffer than naff. Then, one life-changing day 20 years ago, he met one of the genre’s greats. Now, according to, he has become its “troubled grubby soul… and walks the thin line between laughter and the dark.”

He mournfully welcomed us to an evening of festive misery and sang songs about death and loneliness. They included a Johnny Cash number about a divorced man learning to fend for himself (“Beans for breakfast once again”) with the exquisite line: “I ain’t got no clean utensils.” And a wonderful song about falling angels.

As we left, Simon was there in the darkness, handing out fliers for a forthcoming concert by an avant-garde string quartet from the Netherlands. Britain was experiencing a meteorite shower and on the long drive back to Leeds the sky was full of shooting stars. Angels? On this surreal night, I could believe it.

James Owen Drife,
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Leeds

REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press -13 July 2000

As a showpiece setting for seven Japanese chanting Buddhist monks on a UK tour, there couldn’t be a better venue than The Shed at Brawby, Ryedale.
Based in the village hall, complete with notice board, The Shed is an experience in its own right and the brain child of Simon Thackray. It is where Inuit throat singers enthralled not so long ago, where people book on line from as far afield as Munich, where Labi Siffre did a one-nighter and where the crazy Great Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race began.
Last night the hall was packed to hear the shomyo, or sutra chanting, of the seven Shichiseikai with their strange cadences, harmonies and opposing rhythms hypnotically resonating through layers of incense.
The monks, all from Kyoto, sat in a semi-circle eyes downcast in their stiff saffron robes facing the candlelit audience who in turn stared back mesmerised.
As voices rose and fell sometimes in unison and sometimes in duets just half a tone apart, the audience may have remembered the advice of the man who brought the monks over to this country and who introduced them on stage after his own wonderful exhibition of Indian flute playing Japanese style. “Listen to the high overtones, you will enjoy more,” said Hiroshi Nakagawa.
Afterward, as people straggled out into the evening sunshine the monks quickly changed out of their robes in a mini van parked out front and then back into the hall.
Seven pints of Suddaby’s Double Chance bitter please, said Simon. “Good, very good,” said the monks breaking into bows and smiles. “Ah is good.”

© Hilary Sanders – 13 July 2000 Yorkshire Evening Press

Creative Yorkshire – The Shed, Brawby
REVIEW: 16 October 2001 – Yorkshire Evening Press

CHUTNEY, blackcurrant jelly and raspberry jam held sway at Brawby village hall as the counter attraction of the village harvest festival sent The Shed’s launch of the Creative Yorkshire showcase film into the workshops of J.Thackray and Sons.
This industrial building had not housed a social or musical event since 1969 when Mrs Trueman’s accordion playing made for a particularly lively barn dance.
Last night, Shed promoter Simon Thackray introduced the screening of Judi Alston’s Creative Yorkshire, a film featuring 12 of the county’s creative industries and their contribution to the life, culture and economy of the region, ranging from Brawby’s Shed, to Barton’s arts co-operative, from Arts For Health in Hull to Bradford’s Learning Village.
In all 13 Yorkshire organisations, as diverse as digital designers and an all-female balloon company, have been selected for the showcase commissioned by Yorkshire Forward, Yorkshire Arts and the Yorkshire Media Production Agency, the 13th being Alston’s film production company, One To One Productions, whose 30-minute film highlighted their work.
Barnsley poet and Yorkshire sage Ian McMillan provided a typically amusing and wonder-struck commentary on film, championing the endeavors of a “flat cap-free zone and no sign of that flipping ferret”. His every move, filmed in Simon Thackray’s cottage garden, was accompanied by the saxophone shadow-play of Snake Davis, forever appearing unannounced like Banquo’s ghost.
McMillan and Davis were there last night with blues guitarist Billy Jenkins, their impromptu live entertainment topping off a night that made the heart proud of Yorkshire art.

© Charles Hutchinson

Simon Armitage – poet:
EXTRACT: British Airways ‘HIGH LIFE’ Magazine

“a kind of Tardis…even Radio 4 has been coaxed out of the metropolis to record arts programmes from The Shed”

“It’s all right knowing a place like the back of your hand, but did you ever take a close look at the back of your hand? You might well have lived with it all your born days, but actually it looks a lot like every other hand, unless you study it closely, even then it’s something that changes every day – with time, weather, in different light and so on. Enough of the hand metaphor. What I’m trying to put my finger on are those alterations to the everyday environment that mean a person can travel through different landscapes and worlds just by staying put.

Example. There’s a village in North Yorkshire by the name of Brawby. I say village, it’s really half-a-dozen houses on a bend in the road, somewhere between the middle of nowhere and the back of beyond. It might have a phone box, although I don’t remember seeing one. It certainly doesn’t have a shop, unless it’s one of those shops that people have in a hut at the side of a road, where passing customers have to ring a bell or leave money in an honesty box. And I’m certain it doesn’t have a pub.

Anyway, [a very nice chap] called Simon Thackray runs an arts venue in the miniscule village hall – a kind of Tardis, which somehow manages to combine a toilet, a kitchen, a stage and seating for a few dozen people. It’s called The Shed. Not surprisingly, given its size (or surprisingly, given its location), it’s full to the rafters for every event, and I’ve given readings there, accompanied on one occasion by a didgeridoo player. Even Radio 4 has been coaxed out of the metropolis to record arts programmes from The Shed.

Well, I like going there, not least because the journey involves a drive through the grounds of Castle Howard, the huge stately home and estate with a long, straight road through the middle. At night, that stretch of the trip can be a solitary and meditative experience, usually with owls criss-crossing between the trees. The road takes in an archway, through which most modestly proportioned vehicles may pass, so long as the driver holds his breath and keeps a close eye on both wing mirrors.

Going to The Shed one night, Castle Howard was draped in a fog so thick I could have taken some home as a present. I squeezed through the archway, and was just accelerating towards 15mph when I came smack up against a huge stone obelisk in the middle of the road. Presumably it has been there for centuries, but I’d never noticed it before, and must have swerved around it many times without registering its existence. Suddenly it was very real indeed, rising from the front bumper of my VW to somewhere up in the clouds, like a giant exclamation mark, warning against complacency. They say the blind see more than the sighted. I’d always thought that was some claptrap Buddhist aphorism until I came face-to-face with the stone pillar of Castle Howard in a pea-soup of a fog. Go take a look for yourself, but get a weather report first.”

Extract from: ‘Where I belong’ © Simon Armitage
British Airways ‘HIGH LIFE’ magazine June 1999

Sevara Nazarkhan, The Shed
REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press June 25, 2004

SOMETIMES words are not enough. After all, try to write about love and it is like trying to wrap jelly in elastic bands.

So how do you write about a performance like this, when a slight 25-year-old singer from Uzbekistan steps on to a stage with a voice as old as time and paints the air with sounds of beauty, majesty, truth, yearning, sorrow, delight and desire?

Close your eyes and you are thousands of miles away from that village hall with the crown green bowlers at play out the back. The walls fall away and the sound of the desert wind comes keening through in this mixture of traditional songs and original compositions.

This was a rare treat for Hovingham. Sevara’s tour schedule reads Moscow, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin… Brawby. The Shed’s traditional home of Brawby missed out on this occasion, the gig relocated to Hovingham’s village hall, as all Shed gigs will be for the foreseeable future.

Brawby’s loss, for this occasion was magical, with the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award winner a sometimes coquettish figure, sometimes strong and powerful, in front of her band of six cohorts.

The superb Toir Kuziyev, on the tambour, was a particularly potent presence, sometimes plucking at the strings of the instrument, sometimes lending a more sorrowful resonance with the bow.

The offerings of these seven wanderers, these seven musicians, painted a landscape bigger and broader than one could ever hope to hear in these modest surroundings – but then that’s The Shed’s calling card. The unexpected, delivered without demand, but received with pleasure.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Ian McMillan and Billy Jenkins at The Shed, Brawby
REVIEW: Yorkshire Evening Press Friday, 30.03.01

THE Shed is the biggest small venue in Yorkshire. It’s hidden in the back of beyond, unless you live there, when it is in the front of beyond.

Last night a packed audience, and the entrepreneurial Simon Thackray certainly packs them into this village hall, saw an inspired pairing. Ian McMillan, self-styled Bard Of Barnsley and fat bloke in a loud shirt, was artistically wed, or welded, to Billy Jenkins, a guitarist who once long ago appeared in a mad-cap duo with another Ian (Trimmer).

Mostly they alternated, so that an eccentric burst of musical joy from Jenkins was followed by stand-up chat and poetry from McMillan. If Jenkins has surprised eyes, even more surprised hair, and mad mercurial fingers, McMillan rolls about like a beach ball while reciting poetry in a rapid Barnsley rap.

Jenkins is a musical maverick who has worn his own wilful little groove for years, and his delightfully mad blues songs (“I woke up this afternoon…”) belie a guitarist of fluid skill.

McMillan is very entertaining, reeling off assorted poems, including one about a fat bloke on the beach (“Look at that back, you can make York Minster if you join the spots”).

In a finale of rousing silliness, McMillan led a poetry workshop during which a vocal audience supplied the words, while Jenkins filled in the music.

You don’t have to be well read to go and see Ian McMillan at The Shed,
And when you come out, all sorts of glorious nonsense will rattle about in your head.

© Julian Cole