Hidden in the heart of the North York Moors 35 miles to the north of York lies a wooden room with corrugated roof and small stage. Built for the Farndale Silver Band in the 1920s this little red-roofed shed could easily be driven past without a second thought, and it is this unassuming quality that goes some way to making it so attractive as a venue to some of the best folk, blues and americana acts in the world.
East Farndale, Kirkbymoorside, is a beautiful little village among many beautiful little villages in the national park and is worth a visit while passing through the lush green valley villages that are scored into the harsh purple heathered moorland, but there is nothing much to make it stand out from the other pretty villages in this part of the world. That is until The Band Room opens its doors.
It really is a wonderful little venue, the stage at the far end is surrounded with white hanging lights and the space is intimate but not fussy, and the acoustics in the hall that was originally built for a silver band are perfect. You take your own drinks and the musicians wander around the room before and after gigs making it all just feel incredibly relaxed.
The acts that play tend to vier towards the americana end of the musical spectrum and recent highlights have been Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Richmond Fontaine, Jolie Holland, Willy Mason, Cerys Matthews, and The Handsome Family. All the artists that play have to have at least one critically acclaimed album, and if I remember rightly each artist is required by the rules to play a Bob Dylan cover.
Feted by The Guardian and pretty much all the musicians who have played there (The Handsome Family called it “the greatest small venue on earth” and Cerys Matthews described it as “a very special place”) for its acoustics, magical location and uniqueness. The Band Room on a summer’s evening, high up on the moors under the bright stars is a magical place to see some incredible live music (I also once drove up there in the winter, and as anyone who has ever driven in the North York Moors on a dark icy night will know, it wasn’t so much magical as terrifying).
Kirkbymoorside is around an hour andy a half drive from York but getting there by bus is a little arduous. The 840 from Stonebow goes to Pickering where you can get the 128 to Kirkbymoorside which will take you about two hours in total, but with gigs finishing late you’ll struggle getting back on public transport. The best way to visit would be to make a weekend of it and there are some excellent places to stay near by with great access to the moors on your doorstep.