Words by Ian Pennington

This week’s summer silly season of news telling has illuminated the daytrippers and Sunday drivers who were taking so long that they swam against the tide to avoid traffic on the M1. The manoeuvres aren’t quite so dangerous here in our latest Manchester listings blog – the jams are more of the musical variety. Read on as we highlight the heads talking loudest over the next seven days’ roads to nowhere.

With the MIF circus packing down, there’s a lull around the city as it takes a breath. But some of its productions are staying for longer runs – one of which is The Skriker, starring Maxine Peake, who’ll continue among the “deranged shape-shifters and awkwardness” within the Royal Exchange Theatre’s octagon, including tonight, Monday 20th.

The Last Poets are a band who, rather than being the last of their kind, conversely signalled various firsts in music, navigating through the political landscape to the genre that became hip hop. The contemporaries of Gil Scott-Heron take a stroll across Band on the Wall’s stage on Tuesday 21st.

A sharp left towards Salford’s Eagle Inn on Wednesday 22nd detour into C Duncan’s melodic indie rock tones.

U-turning back into Manchester the following night, Thursday 23rd, The Castle Hotel hosts a folky jive headlined by Newcastle’s Holy Moly & The Crackers.

Friday 24th offers a hyper lift for fans of Shangaan Electro, whose kingpin Nozinja arrives at Soup Kitchen with a cargo of sounds from the South African townships.

For more mellow vibes to bring in the weekend on Friday night, park yourself at Band on the Wall to watch the reformed 70s soul group The Blackbyrds.

The pick of this weekend’s festivals is the relative newcomer now in its fifth year (third at its current venue), Cloudspotting. Up in Lancashire’s Gisburn Forest you’ll find the likes of The Earlies, Jane Weaver, Dutch Uncles and Ezra Furman, with plenty more besides. It runs from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th, so make some room for an extended.

Staying closer to Manchester, Prestwich’s pun-friendly Festwich is also this weekend. But fans of tribute acts have already snapped up all the free tickets, so instead you could try Craig Charles’ latest Funk N Soul Club, which features a live set by The Get Up on Saturday 25th at Band on the Wall.

Finally, roll into town for a Sunday 26th country-fried barn dance at Sound Control, where the self-proclaimed ‘motherfuckin’ gunslinger’ Shooter Jennings plugs in for a friendly fire stand-off.

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