Music

Manchester Music: Gabriel Minnikin brings Americana to a church in Whalley Range

Julia Coulton
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Gabriel Minnkin, courtesy the artist 2

The critically-acclaimed Canadian singer on the making of Parakeets with Parasols.

Canadian singer and songwriter Gabriel Minnikin may have lived in Manchester for nine years, but home is most definitely Halifax, Nova Scotia. And home is still a very special place. “It means everything to me. It’s such a wonderful place. I forget sometimes how beautiful the land is – how open and loving the Maritimers [the collective name for those from the east coast of Canada] are.”

Music brought Minnikin to the UK in the shape of Alt-Country darlings, The Guthries, with whom he played (with his sister Ruth) until 2003 – the band released two critically acclaimed albums in the early 2000s. At the time, US promoter Cosmic American Music Group was touring bands all over the UK, and Minnikin looked forward to the Manchester shows as the audiences were very special. “They were more than fans, they became friends,” he says. So when the Guthries broke up, it seemed natural for Minnikin to make Manchester his home.

Growing up in Canada, Minnikin had long been a fan of bands such as Joy Division, but once here he discovered that there’s more to Manchester music than the Factory legacy might imply. “It feels a lot like at home – a total community of musicians who are open to everything,” he says. “I’ve been so lucky to have some of Manchester’s best musicians play with me, and there’s music of every genre.”

Musical heritage aside, the city’s industrial history, architecture and art has been an inspiration, with Minnikin’s latest album, Parakeets with Parasols, mostly recorded – with the help of a full orchestra – at St. Margaret’s Church in Whalley Range. “It was pretty cool. A church is a big enough space to hold an orchestra but also the acoustics are great,” he says, “and it sounded so wonderful to make music there.” The resulting album is a stride away from classic Americana – this is a rich, expansive, swirling sound – and represents a step up from previous, more intimate recordings.

Despite an album tour currently underway, and having recently returned from a few Christmas gigs in Canada, Minnikin isn’t taking any time out. He’s already working on his next release which, he hopes, will have a different feel again. “It’ll be stripped down like a rock and roll band, in a Traveling Wilburys, ELO kind of way,” he says. However the next album turns out, now is the time to catch Minnikin – he’s a guest of country devotees, The Lonesome & Penniless Cowboys, at The King’s Arms in March. And although his heart may always be in Nova Scotia, we are glad indeed that Minnikin has chosen Manchester, for now at least, as the place in which to live, work and make new music.

Culture Guides

Image courtesy of HOME

Cinema

Cinemas around the North are putting on their festive hats this month but don’t worry, there’s plenty going on even if you aren’t into the whole Christmas thing.

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Exhibitions

100 artists feature in an exhibition celebrating the Bluecoat’s 300th anniversary, Edward Krasinksy is a surprise hit at Tate Liverpool and Manchester Museum looks at a world without bees. Our top exhibitions in Manchester and the North.

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Families

It may be blinkin cold but The Whitworth’s Frost Fair will warm your cockles, as will some tip top theatrical family classics – but not as you know ’em.

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Literature

Plenty of festive fun, including some seasonal storytelling in Manchester and Liverpool, then much to add to your lily-white 2017 diary…

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Music

As the days get shorter, Manchester’s music calendar gets busier – with the city’s music venues burst from the seams with live music for you to enjoy.

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Theatre

We’re breaking this month’s theatre picks into grit and glam. Glam because it’s the season of shiny, sparkly things, ­and grit because, well, we’re Northern after all.

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Things to do right now

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COAL
Dance 07–08 December 2016 , from £10.00

Gary Clarke Company: COAL at Contact Theatre

Film Season: Fade To Black – Generations
Cinema 25 November–09 December 2016 , from £5.00

Film Season: Fade To Black – Generations

Feed Me - Image courtesy of Rachel Maclean
Cinema 03–13 December 2016 , from £7.00

Film Season: I’m Too Happy

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Theatre 17 November–15 December 2016 , from £7.00

Scouse: a Comedy of Terrors

Michael Rosen - Image courtesy of Z-Arts
Families 17 September–17 December 2016 , from £7.00

Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things at Z-arts

Benji Reid: A Thousand Words
Exhibitions 22 September–17 December 2016 , FREE

Benji Reid: A Thousand Words

La Vie Parisienne
Music 07–17 December 2016 , from £21.00

La Vie Parisienne

Photo of the festive display outside the Corn Exchange
Food and Drink 10 November–20 December 2016 , FREE

Manchester Christmas Markets

timisherwood
Exhibitions 24 November–21 December 2016 , FREE

Tim Isherwood: Please Use The Intercom

Find Rudolph
Families 26 November 2016–02 January 2017 , FREE

Find Rudolph

Tim Etchells, Lets Pretend (Large) (2014), installation view, Grundy Art Gallery. Photo: Phill Heywood, courtesy Grundy Art Gallery.
Exhibitions 01 September 2016–07 January 2017 , FREE

NEON: The Charged Line at the Grundy Art Gallery