An Audience without Jake Thackray or Les Barker

The Kitchen Garden

An Audience without Jake Thackray or Les Barker

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John Watterson is delighted to announce his show for 2024, celebrating the life, songs and wonderful wordsmithery of the great Yorkshire chansonnier, and the hilarious poetry of ‘the finest Poet Laureate we never had.’

Without Jake

Leeds-born Jake Thackray (1938-2002) is increasingly recognised as being one of the greatest English songwriters of the twentieth century, a unique talent, whose songs are full of poetry, wit, irreverence and humanity. He became known to millions through his regular appearances in the 1960s and 1970s on programmes such as Braden’s Week and That’s Life. Since his death in obscurity there has been growing recognition of his genius and a resurgence of interest in his work. His admirers include Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, Don Black, Thea Gilmore, Cerys Matthews, Benjamin Clementine and Neil Gaiman.

John Watterson is the UK’s leading performer of Jake’s songs. As Fake Thackray he has toured with Fairport Convention and performed at Latitude, Cropredy and the Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. He has also played for Jake’s family.

John has appeared many times on radio, including Radio 4’s Great Lives, a Radio 2 documentary on Jake presented by Cerys Matthews and Radio 3’s The Verb hosted by Ian McMillan. Most recently he appeared on TVs Meet the Richardsons with Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont.

The show will include many Jake classics (Sister Josephine, On Again On Again, The Bantam Cock and others), anecdotes from John’s research into Jake’s life for the recently published biography as well as some of the ‘lost’ Thackray songs John has rediscovered and recorded on his CD, The Lost Will and Testament of Jake Thackray.

Without Les

Before turning his hand to poetry, Mancunian Les Barker was a chartered accountant, working at the city’s town hall until 1982. But he found it boring. He discovered that his real talent was in writing silly poems, which he would perform at local folk clubs. He soon became a regular at folk clubs and festivals. By his side was Mrs Ackroyd, his dog and loyal companion. He toured America and Australia, and his genius and silliness were treasured everywhere.

His poems set to music were recorded by the US folk singer Tom Paxton, the English folk singer June Tabor, the English folk group Waterson:Carthy, and many others.

The Financial Times praised his work as “a blend of Edward Lear nonsense, Stanley Unwin wordplay, the surreal inconsequentiality of Reeves and Mortimer and the demonic robustness of Stanley Holloway monologues”. Les Barker’s wonderful poetry is celebrated through such gems as Reg was a Lonely Glow Worm, Dachsunds with Erections, Spot of the Antarctic and Déjà vu.

Les had a serious side, too. He was politically aware and had an acute social conscience. His poems The Civilised War, with its opening line of “How goes the war on terror, George?”, and The Church of the Holy Undecided got him into trouble in America, leading to cancelled concerts and a refusal to grant him a work permit for his next tour.

“Affectionate and skilful. Long may John continue” (Sir Richard Stilgoe).

“Jake’s songs are in safe hands” (Ralph McTell).

“I am sure my old friend would be delighted” (Jasper Carrott).

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Date And Time

Tuesday, July 16, 2024 @ 08:00 PM (Doors 7:30 pm)
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