Friday, 5 April 2019

Hi and Happy Spring- at long last - spring. I am fed up with the grey now and seeing all these fabulous flowers brave the icy cold April winds gives us all courage, mon amour!

Battersea Park this week, gloriously in bloom despite the wintery weather.

We've been working on a series of videos explaining what it is I'm doing with Bob, Brel and Me, this fabulous project including a new recording (to be released September 6th) and shows. 4 now in May and many more in the autumn.

Here's the second part of this video....

Meanwhile I've been in the rehearsal room with some fine and fabulous musicians. Jenny Carr and Jamie Safir are a dream team with the arrangements and on drums I'm reunited with Rod Youngs who played on Stockport to Memphis and Davide Mantovani on bass, who toured with me on Shelter From the Storm. And we did a Shelter show in Birmingham last week

thank you Sorcha for this

where we met in person the wonderful Sorcha Ra, who of course did this great interview recently.

Steve Ullathorne took this and made it so.......

So I hope you can come and see us - tickets are going fast - book here for London and find all the other May dates and links to book, here on our new snazzy home page

Speak soon!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

New Year New Project - Brel, Bob Dylan and originals launch in May!

The New Year is upon us, 2019, The Year of the Pig in Chinese astrology. So its become time for one of my my long time collaborators, the superb musician Jenny Carr and the extraordinary young jazz pianist Jamie Safir and and I to beetle away on a new collection which launches at the newly refurbed South Bank Centre's Purcell Room on May 9th. Co-incidentally my birthday. Yes, 21 again. Ha! Here's the poster for the South Bank's brutally good music gigs campaign.

And you can book that, now, here

There are two more performances of the piece in May, one at my beloved Komedia in Brighton as part pf Brighton festival, booking now

and at the wonderful Saddleworth Live at Millgate in Delph nestling inside the heart of the fabulous north western Pennines.

There's treats in store when we record Bob, Brel and Me in April for release in early September with a posse of truly great musicians contributing to the songs. More about that nearer the time. And the songs. Well, the marvellous Robb Johnson has translated four Jacques Brel lyrics for me; Tender Hearts, To See A Friend Break Down and Cry and Cathedral. We will also do a new translation of If We Only Have Love with a surprise element on record and at Purcell Room. You'll have to come to see what it is!

Photo and design by Steve Ullathorne
Then there are some new Bob Dylan's I've not recorded before including If You See Her Say Hello, Buckets of Rain, Mr Tambourine Man and Simple Twist of Fate. I know. A lot of love songs. In the words of the long gone and badly missed Marvin Gaye. Whats going on?

And from my own repertoire two new songs written with Level 42's co-songwriter, keyboard player and vocalist Mike Lindup, new songs written with Jamie Safir, one of my favourite songs from Jonathan Cooper and my Mabel Stark Tiger Tamer and one of my songs written in Corby with George Reilly and Mark Brennan. 

Currently The Singing Mermaid, which we worked on for The Little Angel Theatre and Northampton Royal and Derngate for Christmas 2017, is touring with a wonderful cast. Getting great reviews, again. All the creative team remain so very proud of our adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk's wonderful book. Here are reviews from Edinburgh today, hot off the press.


Later this coming year there will be a new collaboration with Little Angel Theatre artistic director Samantha Lane.  The Pixie and The Pudding is an original piece which we are co-writing and Sam will direct, I'll write the songs and music and it will be the Little Angel Christmas show. 

So, its a new year! I hope we'll see you at Bob, Brel and Me. There's more info on the newly designed website, here

Do join up to the newsletter mailing list there for a monthly gig and news alert, or you can do that, here - 

I'll leave you with something beautiful, to cheer us through the policies and weirdness of the modern world, I'm sticking with joy.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Jools Holland, A new Dylan Podcast, Spotify playlists and more

In the early part of the autumn I headed out to South London to be a guest on the Jools Holland radio show. Years ago, at an Edinburgh Festival in the dawn of time, I sang with him and his big band when we were all doing shows up there one summer. We have alot of mutual friends and instantly remembered them all. Some have now gone to the great bar in the sky, and we fondly recounted stories of our now legendary old mucka, Malcolm Hardy. I sang with Jools, and he played a couple of tracks from the new Barb and John Sting album. Its on player for a while and you can hear it all, here

With Jools recording his radio show
Is it Rolling, Talking Bob Dylan is a brilliant new podcast started by the lovely Kerry Shale and Lucas Hare. Essentially they sit and talk to a bunch of Dylan loving folks about Bob and all things Bob. I was really happy to spend an hour with them and you can hear all of that and all their other wonderful guests talking Bob, here.

With Kerry and Lucas after a wonderful hour of Bob chat in London
And thanks to Nathan I now have a new Spotify playlist, which he's magically made. Its always interesting to see what other people choose of the back catalogue, and you can hear it, here -

There will be a website redesign and a ton of news about 2019 quite soon. Meanwhile there are shows in Warwick and Helmsley with Jenny Carr on piano in October with the Bob Dylan repertoire I've been touring recently, and 2 shows in the London Jazz Festival with Jamie Safir on piano and Davide Mantovani on bass at Live at Zedel's Crazy Coqs. In December there are 2 Christmas shows with Jenny Carr on piano and Dudley Philips on double bass at The Bull's Head in Barnes and The Vortex. All details are here at the website

and if you missed it a beautiful trailer from Bar Jeder Vernunft about performing in Berlin, is here

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

New video trailer for 1968 - Let The Sun Shine In

Hi there,
autumn is upon us and it feels as though the endless summer is just a passing fragment of a dream. Last week I was in Berlin at Bar Jeder Vernunft and the temperatures were soaring.

With John McDaniel and my brother and sister in law, Isao and Aki, at lunch in Berlin
Though it was hot in the venue because we were on fire with the music and songs, politics and vibe of 1968. Let The Sun Shine In. We are so enamoured of this collection we are playing it again in the USA in late October at Birdland in NYC, Chicago and St Louis. There may still be a couple of additional dates. As they come in they are on the website here

as are all the new reviews of this show. And there was a beautiful trailer made of the work and my upcoming Dylan shows at the venue in November.

And I haven't mentioned Connecticut and the O'Neill Cabaret Conference which was, for me, the most wonderful so far. I'm thrilled that several of our "alumni" have gone on to win awards in NYC, and I am in no doubt that that will be true of the talented fellows we worked with this year. Here we are with them all.

The entire O'Neill team

The Cabaret Fellows with our stage manager Caroline, Lennie Watts and our Mrs Tracy, Jon and Michael.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Liverpool and the opening week of Liver Birds Flying Home The Musical is here at last!

Well, after 3 and half years of working and dreaming and scheming and plotting and collaborating, we are here at last, at the brilliant The Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool.

Tickets are on sale and I am writing from the stalls as we light and tech the first act. We have a dress rehearsal scheduled for tomorrow night with an invited local audience and by then we have to be ready and up and shining like the star we hope our baby, this musical, will be.

George, James and the Royal Court's artistic team are our producers and all are in the theatre milling about with our fabulous director Benji Sperring

Benji and Mark in tech Royal Court Liverpool
who can find a joke in a can of tuna, and the writers, Mike Lindup, George Seaton and I.

Mike Lindup and I arriving in Liverpool
George Seaton and I Royal Court foyer
We have a superb movement and choreographer, Lucie Pankhurst, who has done wonders with how all the musical numbers look. And

Our set and design looks amazing thanks to Mark Walters, and though some of it will not be in till opening night, we are all on fire with how everything looks. Here's our first view of the stunning set.

Mark Walters has done us proud with this set.
But I'm getting ahead. We are in Liverpool. One of the greatest cities on earth. Home of the Mersey Sound, seagulls squawking overhead, water lapping and the ferry crossing to Birkenhead over the water there on the glorious Wirral peninsula. I took a run to the Mersey on my first morning here, for the joy. Even in the rain, it was beautiful.

The beloved Liver Birds

With Liverpool's most famous, in the rain beneath the Liver Birds.

Even in the rain, beautiful.
So all our fingers and toes are crossed and there'll be more from George, Mike, James, Benji, Lucie, Mark, Nic, the cast, the band, the crew and our beautiful stage and assistant stage managers, and I as the week progresses. I'm writing about it all for next week's New Statesman diary too.

Going places in a tuktuk at Spice Thai Liverpool with producer James Seabright
So watch this space as Barb's bouquet goes towards opening night! Love to all, everywhere, from Liverpool!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

John and I Barb Sting the UK, Ernest Hecht leaves us and spring is on the air

Hi Sunday folk,
as I'm writing on a Sunday afternoon with clouds of varied grey outside over the tall buildings and the trees still bare of leaves, but a sense of spring at last after the hideous Siberian snow and ice of the last week.

The waterfall couldn't cope!
Last week John McDaniel and I finished our teeny UK tour, with dates all over the country, and we had such a wonderful time in Delph at the new Millgate Theatre, Newbury Corn Exchange, The Pheasantry, the Core in Corby and Annie's Jazz in Southend.

Johan and I after the Millgate show in Delph last weekend - before the snow came!!
We recorded the Sting material for the Float Like A Butterfly album which will come out now late June, 29th, on Kristalyn, and we did a bunch of photos for our project which will go to Joe's Pub in July, 1968 - Let The Sunshine in, and for the Sting project. We were on Jazz FM live in session which was lovely and you can hear that, here

feel free to share that, it was recorded at 9.30 in the morning, which is only marginally better than the TV we did at 7 in the morning in St Louis and which is here

We had a wonderful time. Which was good because alongside that was the loss of my friend, the great and legendary publisher Ernest Hecht OBE. Ernest was my rock; adviser and mentor, friend and confidante, and I am wondering how a world without him will be. Here's a beautiful obituary of him and his extraordinary life and achievements by the journalist Liz Thomson.

Ernest was a truly great man, with all the foibles and wonder that such an epithet suggests, and I am very proud to say that we were friends.

With Ernest at the party to celebrate his OBE, Anne Dolomore and Liz Thomson to his  right.
And now to the future. Polka Children's Theatre is my current home as we rehearse and record the music for the fabulous Chocolate Cake, which I've worked on with friend, director and Polka's artistic director Peter Glanville. There's a wonderful, talented cast and the piece is based on the fabulous Michael Rosen's poems.

It opens in March and tours throughout the year. Come see it with your 4 year olds and more. The design and lighting are gorgeous and as always its a privilege to work in such a creative and lovely team of really nice people.

And alongside that there are some great gigs coming up at POW Thanet with Jenny Carr and Julie Walkington, in Broadstairs this coming Thursday 8th March

and on Friday for International Women's Day I'll be with Jenny Carr singing a little pot pourri called Barb, Bob and Brel - the clue's in the title there, at Stoke Newington Church for Blow The Fuse on a double bill with these great musicians Deirdre Cartwright, Alison Rayner and Louise Elliott.

On March 18th I'm thrilled to reunite with the brilliant Simon Wallace on piano and Davide Mantovani on bass to sing Hard Rain the Songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen again at the fabulous 606 Jazz Club in Chelsea. Its such a great venue and such a great vibe down there. You can eat and the food's good too.

And finally, on March 18th tune into Elaine Paige if you want to hear one of Mike Lindup (legendary Level 42 keyboardist, writer and vocalist) and my song from Liver Birds Flying Home which opens in April at The Royal Court Liverpool. Thats a heads up right there.

See you at one of the shows, I hope.

And Happy Spring - I think.