When world music magazine Songlines reviewed Ian Clayton’s book Bringing It All Back Home they declared the reading experience to be ‘The literary equivalent of a great evening in the pub’. In the ten years since publication, Bringing It All Back Home has fast established itself as a modern classic of music writing. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, the inaugural Pontefract Festival of Stories made literal the Songlines review with a series of events over ten days that reflected the content of the book, incorporating music, film and good conversation. Ian Clayton hosted guests throughout the week. All events will took place in the intimate theatre setting behind the curtain at the Tap & Barrel, Pontefract. All tickets £5 and carried a £5 voucher to be cashed in at the Route bookshop on the night.
Run the playlist above or click here to see it in YouTube
Festival programme below.
Friday 23 September, 9pm
Glass Caves + Toria Garbutt
‘That summer someone organises a Rock Against Racism benefit at Pontefract Town Hall. Topping the bill are the Leeds Marxist intellectual rockers Gang of Four. Bottom of the bill are our local punk band, The Thrust, named after a chain of petrol stations. Every punk in Pontefract is present. The Thrust have Mick Griffiths on brand new Rickenbacker, swinging his arm like Pete Townshend, and Pete on vocals. He hangs off the microphone stand like a wounded scarecrow and spits out his songs with mighty venom: ‘I’m a victim of the system, a proper little twat. I’m an ordinary member of society, society, so…ciety!’ And the immortal ‘Northern Town’. ‘You’re living in a northern town. Pit stacks t’only scenery you’ve got.’
A celebration of leading-light, home-grown talent. With live music from the sensational Pontefract 5-piece, Glass Caves, and stunning poetry from the rising star of the UK Performance Poetry scene, Knottler’s very own Toria Garbutt.
Saturday 24 September, 7:30pm
Young Man Blues
Juke Joint Night
‘My home town is full of ghosts. It is also a blues town. Like all blues towns, Featherstone thrives on shadows and echoes of what once was. Featherstone, like the first two lines of a blues song, likes to repeat itself. Featherstone is the most remote of the blues towns, a long way from the Mississippi Delta, yet if you drew a line between New Orleans and Memphis you might find Featherstone on that line. Somewhere between Rolling Fork where Muddy Waters was born and Clarksdale, the birth town of John Lee Hooker, is Featherstone.’
The Tap & Barrel transforms into a juke joint with a night of blues, live and on vinyl records. Live music from Ben Buddy Slack.
Sunday 25 September, 6pm
Global Threads + Chris ‘The Man in the Hat’ Martin
‘Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Pakistani ghazal singer had a voice that went right through me. A bloke in a restaurant in Bradford called The Kashmir put me on to him. He gave me a cassette of a live concert in Paris. Then I saw him in the green fields at Glastonbury. He was magnificent. After Glastonbury I saw a snapshot of him pinned to the wall at the back of the till in a curry house in Pontefract, next to one of Imran Khan. The owner told me that he’d been in there for a meal. A story in the Big Bill Broonzy at Castleford mould.’
Ian Clayton presents his Global Threads world music session, spinning vinyl records from around the world. We come all the way back home with live music and hollering from the great Yorkshire bluesman Chris Martin aka ‘The Man In The Hat’ with fingered-picked and slide blues guitar.
Monday 26 September, 7:30pm
Freedom’s Just Another Word
Dave Downs with Steve Ely
‘I’m replaying in my mind something that happened in Wakefield Prison some years before when making the Jailhouse Opera. On the day of the performance, one of the soloists decided that he didn’t want to perform his song accompanied by his own guitar that he’d been trying to perfect all week. He played a slightly out of tune guitar to the Kris Kristofferson song made famous by Janis Joplin, ‘Me and Bobby McGee’. It is the last song he learned before coming into prison. The song that seemed to have kept him going for the nearly twenty years he’d been inside. The refrain ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ never sounded any sadder. I cried at the end of that performance. When I got home I took out my Kris Kristofferson Greatest Hits and played that song about fifteen times one after the other.’
Dave Downs in conversation with writer Steve Ely about his astonishing life: growing up on the mean streets of Featherstone, the violence and dark-side of ‘the doors’, the brutality, despair and humour of prison and his unlikely redemption. A Dissonant Voices special.
Tuesday 27 September, 7:30pm
Quiz + Jess Gardham
‘When my grandad told me that I should never work down the pit, he never really told me what else I might do. Well, what he actually said was, ‘If I ever see thee near that pit I’ll give thee a bloody good hiding!’ When I asked him what he thought I ought to do he said, ‘Read books, lad!’ I used the maroon leather-bound dictionary that my Auntie Alice won for occasional reference; my word hoard improved dramatically. I got a bollocking at the age of sixteen for knowing too many “posh” words. Then there was my maps. And where did they get me?’
A specially curated cultural quiz, with a Yorkshire theme. Live music from York singer-songwriter Jess Gardham, with a distinctive mix of pop, soul and acoustic sounds. Richard Hawley was a surprise guest, and played 3 songs in the break between the quiz questions and answers.
Wednesday 28 September, 7:30pm
Knocked Down By a Feather
Allan Agar + 1983 Challenge Cup Final Screening
‘In 1983 Rovers reached Wembley and were to play Hull, a millionaire club. Against all the odds, the Rovers with ten miners from the same colliery in their thirteen, triumphed. Jürgen Bredebusch stood on the terraces with me. He still talks about it today. “Mighty Hull knocked down by a Feather.” He quotes the headline on the back of The Observer newspaper from the day after. In Berlin just before they knocked down the wall I once saw sprayed in foot-high navy blue letters, Featherstone Rovers 14 Hull 12.’
Former Rovers coach Allan Agar in conversation with Ian Clayton about the glorious day in 1983 when Featherstone Rovers beat Hull to win the Challenge Cup at Wembley. Followed by screening of that 1983 final in full.
Thursday 29 September, 7:30pm
Subterranean, Homesick and Blue
Andy Kershaw Presents Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home*
(*Andy couldn’t make the event, but rescheduled to present Highway 61 Revisited)
‘I have spent a lot of time following signs out of my home town. And another part of my life trying to get back in again. Bob Dylan was the first man to pull me out of here and my gran and grandad had a bigger pull to draw me back.’
‘Our Ian went to see Bob Dylan and he’s never been the same lad since he came home.’ – Hilda Fletcher (Ian’s gran)
In association with The CAT Club (Classic Album Thursdays), legendary broadcaster Andy Kershaw presents Bob Dylan’s classic album Bringing It All Back Home in full and on vinyl. With Q&A.
Friday 30 September, 7:30pm
Bringing It All Back Home
Ian Clayton with Heath Common + Edward Clayton
‘Everything reminds me of something. I have filled my house and my head with things: books, records, paintings, stories; souvenirs that have no meaning except to me. Sometimes I think my house is my head and my head has become my house.’
Ian Clayton discusses his life and work in conversation with Heath Common, with Edward Clayton on piano.
Saturday 1 October, 7:30pm
One For My Baby (and One More For The Road)
Jazz Night with The Meg Holch Quintet
‘It’s a long way from the sleazy bars of New York and at the same time I’m sitting right in it. I’m listening to Billie Holiday pouring out a story to a tired barman, yet I’m nowhere near. What is it that? Why in some moments do I feel more akin to a black jazz singer from America than I do to my own Auntie Alice? I could say that Auntie Alice informs me about who I am and where I’m from. Billie Holiday takes me to places that I’d like to be from. Too simple minded that, though.’
A night of jazz on vinyl and live. The Meg Holch Quintet will serve up a mixture of some classic jazz standards with soul and funk fusion songs.
Sunday 2 October, 7:30pm
No Particular Place To Go
Kevin ‘Rev’ Reynolds
‘Prince Keeyama, the Chicken Man, King of Bourbon Street, Miracle of the French Quarter and Master of Martial Arts is sitting outside a shop called House of Voodoo surveying upper Rampart Street from a tattered deckchair, like my grandad surveyed the beach at Blackpool. He starts to tell his stories. “The chicken is wise and alert. He’ll run and run. He wiser than an owl. He give you energy and knowledge. If you bite his head off, he give you knowledge too.”’
Kevin ‘Rev’ Reynolds in conversation about a musical odyssey to America’s Deep South he took with Ian Clayton and some friends from Pontefract. Ian was armed with pen, Kevin with camera. With photographic exhibition. Live music from Scott Wainwright.
Your £5 Book Token
Cash in at the Route Bookshop
Throughout the 10 days of the festival, Pontefract publisher Route will have a bookshop in the theatre. Each £5* ticket purchased for the festival includes a £5 book token that can be cashed in at the stall on the night of the event.
The list of books on sale was tailored to each individual event, but the mix each night will included four of Ian Clayton’s memoirs, plus other Route titles, including a selection of books on offer for £5. For these titles, tokens were directly exchanged for a book.
See Route’s full booklist: www.route-online.com
Tap & Barrel
Your Home of Cultural Events in Pontefract
All events of the inaugural Pontefract Festival of Stories took place in the intimate theatre setting behind the curtain at the Tap & Barrel, Front Street, Pontefract. The festival is part of the ongoing cultural programme at the theatre, which hosts a regular series of events and sessions throughout the year, with live music, conversations, cinema and vinyl records. All events take place in a warm, friendly atmosphere, with the best stocked bar in the district, that includes a selection of artisan beers, wines and spirits, as well an exclusive range of fine Pontefract ales.
Dedicated to the memory of
‘I first meet Völker one evening in a bar called The Optimum. He is guest harp blower with a blues band that Jörge Petersmann has got together called Black Cat Bone. Völker is Jürgen’s younger brother. He is about my age, similar height and built like a brick shithouse. He has some right shoulders on him, through years of training to be in the German butterfly swimming team. If only Germany hadn’t withdrawn from the Moscow Olympics in 1980 he might have built a career as a swimmer. Völker took up joinery and music promotion. He has organised tours in Europe for artists who he’s a fan of, Eddi Reader being one, but mainly his hero John Martyn. Völker is a walking encyclopaedia of English folk-rock, blues, jazz and Bob Dylan. At the last count I think he had over four hundred John Martyn live bootlegs on tape. Völker grew up in that peculiarly German 1970s tradition of political activism, street theatre and impromptu gig organising.’
May this be the first of many festivals to come.
Tickets exclusively available at the bar.
The Pontefract Festival of Stories is a fringe event for Wakefield Literature Festival: