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.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

January New York, Florida, Austin, St Louis and Chicago and more coming! Part 1!The

Just back from a superb 2 weeks travelling the length and breadth of the USA with the wonderful John McDaniel.

John and Barb touring January 2018

Just saw a review of our St Louis show, her, by Chuck Lavazzi,

which was lovely, and a blog post about our show in New York, here

by one time editor of Opera News, Brian Kellow. So we're buzzing.

New York was cold but the show was warm, with great friends joining us

The crowd of friends and family at 54 Below January 2018
and a rave response to the new Sting material that we'll be launching in the UK at The Pheasantry on the King's Road on the 15th, 16th and 17th of February. All the UK our details are here

And I fell in love with a little staffie my friends Jane and Luka were fostering, and she stole my heart - here's me in my jim jams and little Minni Moo in a love fest.

Minni Moo and I in a love fest
John and I flew from the cold and went to Miami - I was blown away by the architecture. I've always been a sucker for art deco, and there's so much to enjoy there. Here's a small taste of some of the beautiful buildings we saw.

The birds on the beach Miami

We went from there to Ocean Reef which is like the edge of paradise. Spotted a huge green iguana there, too. That makes everything work while.

The reef at dusk

Palm trees do it every time

Tropical gardens

The mangroves

Hello there Iguana
 And then we were off to Austin Texas which was a treat, Stuart Moulton of Austin Cabaret took us to a fine taco fast food joint, with veggie options. Heaven. From there to John's home town of St Louis, where we saw the famous Arch by night from Kemoll's restaurant.

The St Louis Arch by the Mighty Mississippi at night.
And appeared on Fox2 morning show with interview and a teeny tiny song -

And from there to our January and US stretch end in Chicago. I'd never been there before. The wind comes off the enormous lake the size of a sea, and takes your skin off its so cold. But somehow it doesn't matter. And we managed to walk the famed Pier and also go up the Sears Tower to catch some views - here -

before I headed back to the UK for what will be stage 2. The UK leg of this winter tour of Sting and The Beatles via Barb and John. So I'll leave you with Chicago from the 90th floor and hope to see you at one of the UK shows in Corby, Southend, London (3 nights), Newbury and Delph near Saddleworth and once again all dates are here

So goodnight for now and see you in London!

On the Navy Pier, Chicago.