'It’s got that magic rock ‘n’ roll feeling’ – The alternative side to Ripon’s live music scene awarded a star for cultural impact

Nick Thompson awarded a St Wilfrid's Star for his contribution to culture and bringing alternative music to the city with Ripon Live. (Photo: Nick Thompson)
Nick Thompson awarded a St Wilfrid's Star for his contribution to culture and bringing alternative music to the city with Ripon Live. (Photo: Nick Thompson)

This year's cultural awards category was handed to Nick Thompson, founder of Ripon Live, for his outstanding contribution to the city's evolving eclectic music scene.

Ripon Live, which began in 2015, grew out of a passion to bring quality music closer to home and open up audiences to exciting performers, both old and new.

Nick Thompson said: “I’m a big fan of John Peel, but I’d say my taste is eclectic.

“I saw ‘the great’ Chuck Berry in the 60s, supported by the north’s finest rhythm and blues band The Animals.

“We got sick of driving across the country to see live music.

“I thought why not bring the music to Ripon?

“So I got cheeky asking bands if they wanted to play here.

“I continued to do this until we developed an audience of followers who supported us.

“They’re the important thing really, without them we couldn’t have done it.

“We’d used pubs but needed a venue, which began Ripon Arts Hub.

“Music in pubs, if it's not dedicated, you don’t have an audience.

“The hub is run by Ripon Operatic Society, with amazing volunteers.

“It's an intimate venue.

“It has that magic rock ‘n’ roll feeling.

“The crescent in York has excellent music, it’s like a reduced version of that.

“The Hub has an excellent sound and light system.”

Ripon has been known for its reputation in classical and folk music, while the alternative scene has frequently had a rocky foundation.

He said: “We want to pay musicians well, as they work for every penny they get.

“Me and my wife host quite legendary curry feasts which they appreciate.

“They don’t turn up to a dark cold hall set up and go home.

“We look after them well.

“My daughter works the door, it's a bit of a family affair.

“I bring in the alternative side of music culture which I suppose is unique to Ripon.

“We don’t have a huge amount of gigs but we work on the quality.

“Graham Chalmers has been excellent over the years, putting it into the Harrogate press.

“Music is important as it connects people, you find if you like the same music you're instantly on the same wavelength.

“It’s an instant bond between strangers.

“My aim is to give the Ripon music scene the boost it deserves.”

Mr Thompson's personal approach has earned Ripon Live a strong following with a reputation for quality live performers.

Meanwhile, his personal tastes have extended beyond his generation as his 78 years have even led him to listen to the music of own grandchildren.

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He said: “We are currently listening to our grandchildren's favourite band Boy Genius, which has elements of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

“We try to swap musical tastes across generations.

“I know we are only small but we are always looking to bring in performers who want to break down the barrier bigger venues have between the audience and the musicians.

“It’s the kind of venue where you might meet the musicians at the bar, get a chance to talk to them.

“Nobody’s any great distance from the performers, it's very special in that way.”