NATALIE Merchant is to play "towns and cities chosen by the Jamestown, New York folk singer herself and not usually included on her British tours" this summer.

None of the 11 intimate dates will be in North or East Yorkshire alas, but you will not have to travel too far for An Evening With Natalie Merchant: West Yorkshire has a brace of shows, namely Hebden Bridge Trades Club on July 18 and the King's Hall, Ilkley, on July 24.

More than three decades after Merchant's first British concert fronting 10,000 Maniacs, and two years since her sold-out Royal Albert Hall show marking the 20th anniversary of her solo debut, Tigerlily, Merchant will be touring once more with Erik Della Penna, her guitarist for 20 years now.

Together they will perform material drawn from the past 35 years of Merchant’s career. "I have always enjoyed performing in the UK but have rarely played outside of the major cities," says 54-year-old Natalie. "There’s so much of Britain I’ve never seen; I expect this summer’s tour will satisfy my desire to explore those historic and scenic regions while meeting up with my fans who live there."

The July tour will take in St Ives, Exeter, Bath, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Buxton, Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford, as well as Hebden Bridge and Ilkley. These British travels follow last year's release of The Natalie Merchant Collection, a deluxe ten-CD box set on the Nonesuch Records label. Compiled by Merchant herself, it comprises all eight of her solo studio albums from the past three decades, plus a new studio set, Butterfly, a disc of rare and previously unreleased tracks, Rarities, and a 100-page lyric book and pictorial history of her solo years.

Hebden Bridge tickets are on sale at; Ilkley, 01274 432000 or