Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton Words & Music Tour | The Red Shed | Woodstock

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton caught in the Devil’s bargain on their Words & Music Tour at The Red Shed, Wakefield. Ian reads a short extract from Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes followed by a stripped-down performance of ‘Woodstock’ by Iain. Recorded on 27th September 2019.

It was the perfect moment at iconic Red Shed, Wakefield’s Labour Club. The story shows that it was because of the Union that we got the Matthews Southern Comfort ‘Woodstock’ in the first place. It’s a song that strives for a new utopia, but it’s this version that spread the ideal beyond the hippies and dreamers to the kitchens, bedrooms, youth clubs, factories and paint shops of the masses. And this is a beautiful performance by Iain. At one point, he’s singing the notice board (Toulouse / To lose)

Click here for more on Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir.

Ian Clayton Wins British Guild of Beer Writers Award

Ian Clayton has won a prestigious British Guild of Beer Writers award, picking up the Long Live the Local Award for Best Writer about Pubs for his book It’s The Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses, which was published earlier this year.

In his acceptance speech, Clayton said, ‘Public houses are like libraries, in that they both deserved to be looked after and cherished.’ A notion shared by the award’s sponsors, Long Live The Local, a campaign backed by a broad alliance of pubs, brewers and industry bodies to celebrate the vital role local pubs play in our community, culture and economy. The judges were briefed to find the best writing about the pub as a treasured national asset. The award was presented David Cunningham, programme director for Long Live The Local, at the Guild’s glitzy annual dinner held at One Great George Street in Westminster. Clayton received a framed citation, a specially engraved tankard and a cheque for £1000.

Clayton’s was the only book honoured at this year’s awards, which received more than 150 entries across 11 categories. Emma Inch, chair of judges for the Awards said ‘The standard of entries across all categories was extremely high and judges had a tough task choosing the winners and runners up.  We were impressed by the levels of knowledge, energy and passion that shone through the works submitted by our finalists, whether they had written a column, published a book or produced a film.’ Inch described Clayton’s book as a ‘picaresque adventure’.

Inch was joined on the judging panel by Laurence Creamer, Social & Digital Lead on industry campaign Long Live The Local; Tim Hayward, food & drink author, restaurant reviewer and regular on Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet;: Charlie McVeigh, founder of Draft House; Tony Naylor, food & drink writer contributing to The Guardian and BBC Good Food; Ross O’Hara, head brewer at Greene King; Kate Oppenheim, hospitality sector journalist and communications expert, currently publisher and editor of BII News; Tony Sophoclides, Strategic Affairs Director at UKHospitality.

Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers, Pete Brown, said of the award that he was ‘I’m delighted Ian’s book was a success because it shows us how many different ways there are to tackle pubs as a writer, which in turn reminds us how multi-faceted and essential pubs are.’

In It’s The Beer Talking, Ian Clayton turns his sights on one of the great loves of his life, the public house. When he started drinking in the 1970s, Clayton drank alongside men who’d fought in the First World War, thus by 2019 he’s shared first-hand stories that span over a century of life lived. In his foreword to the book, one of Britain’s leading beer writers, Roger Protz, bemoans the decline of the public house as the centre of British life, a victim of modern times. While the statistics of pub closures bear this out as undeniable fact, somewhere in Ian Clayton’s story lays a glimpse of something else. In this journey to the soul of the British pub, we see a spirit that endures, an eternal connection to public houses which is ever-present, behind the layers of paint, inside the stories, waiting to be released. Ian believes that pubs, like libraries, are repositories of wisdom, if we lose either, then the neighbourhood starts to shiver.

Ian Clayton is an author, broadcaster and storyteller from Featherstone, West Yorkshire. His stories are about making sense of where we come from. His books tackle subjects as diverse as rugby league, jazz and homelessness.  His recent memoirs include Song For My Father, Our Billie and Bringing It All Back Home, described by Record Collector magazine as ‘one of the best books about popular music ever written’.

Click here for more on It’s The Beer Talking and to order a signed copy

Click here to order on Amazon

Click here to visit Ian Clayton’s website

The Strange Brew Podcast with Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton

Iain Matthews and Ian Clayton join Jason Barnard to talk about Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes for The Strange Brew Podcast, illustrated by 13 songs drawn from across Iain’s career. Running time 1hr 41 mins. Click play above to listen.

Jason at The Strange Brew has a fine collection of podcasts. You can find them on the website or subscribe to The Strange Brew Podcast on iTunes or your favourite podcast provider.

Click here for more in Iain Matthews memoir Thro’ My Eyes

Bob Dylan’s Picnic at Blackbushe | A Story By Ian Clayton

Ian Clayton reads an extract from his best-selling music memoir Bringing It All Back Home about the time he went to see Bob Dylan at Blackbushe in 1978.

‘One of the best books about popular music ever written.’ – Record Collector

‘A music-powered helter-skelter of living and learning, as perceptive as a Bob Dylan lyric and as earthy as a Bessie Smith blues.’ -Val Wilmer

bringing-it-all-back-home-paperback

Click here for more on Bringing It All Back Home

Bringing It All Back Home Updated Edition

A new updated edition of Ian Clayton’s best-selling music memoir is now available. This edition brings the story up to date and we’ve added photos for the first time. A new bigger format too. Click here to get a signed copy.

When you hear a certain song, where does it take you? What is the secret that connects music to our lives? Heart warming, moving and laugh out loud funny, Bringing It All Back Home is the truest book you will ever read about music and the things that really matter.

Author Ian Clayton listens to music as a kid to escape and as an adult to connect. In Bringing It All Back Home he has created a book about love, friendship, family and loss – about life and living it. While searching for a soundtrack to his own life story, he has discovered the heart that beats inside us all.

‘One of the best books about popular music ever written.’ – Record Collector

‘A music-powered helter-skelter of living and learning, as perceptive as a Bob Dylan lyric and as earthy as a Bessie Smith blues.’ – Val Wilmer

‘Unexpectedly beautiful. Sheer sincerity.’ – Daily Telegraph

‘Ian Clayton has much to say and he says it so well. We need original eyes to look at the North in these days of extraordinary change. Ian’s are among the region’s most perceptive and humane.’ – The Guardian

Click here for more details.

Thro My Eyes | Words and Music Tour

Thro’ My Eyes Words and Music Tour

25th September Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley (Tickets)
26th September Grateful Fred House Concert, Birkdale (Email for tickets)
27th September The Red Shed, Wakefield (Tickets)
29th September Tap & Barrel, Pontefract (Tickets)
30th September The Doublet, Glasgow (Tickets)
1st October Borderlines Festival, Carlisle (Tickets)
2nd October Backstage @ Green Hotel, Kinross (Tickets)
6th October The Courthouse, Otley (Tickets)
8th October The Greys, Brighton (Tickets)
9th October Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath (Tickets)
10th October Black Swan Folk Club, York (Tickets)
11th October Malvern Cube, Malvern (Cancelled)

Iain Matthews’s critically acclaimed memoir Thro’ My Eyes was written in collaboration with author Ian Clayton. The book is structured around a series of Matthews’s songs and illustrated by the stories that inspired them. This words and music show brings the book to life: Ian Clayton will read stories from the book interspersed with live songs from Iain Matthews, presenting an intimate and highly entertaining evening that tells the story of an artistic life through the eyes of one of our most enduring singer-songwriters.

The show will follow the story of Iain’s life, from a Scunthorpe childhood obsessed with football and music, to thrusting himself into the heart of Carnaby Street in the swinging-sixties. In 1967, he was recruited as lead vocalist for folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention before embarking on a hugely successful and prolific career as a solo artist and in the groups Matthews Southern Comfort and Plainsong, including a No. 1 ht single with ‘Woodstock’. In 1973, when an invitation was extended to record in LA with ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith, Iain took it with open arms. The opportunity to work with musicians and songwriters he had admired from afar led him to stay; he lived and worked in the USA for the next 27 years, through highs and lows, with extended stints in Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin. In 2000, in an an act of personal and professional renewal, he moved to the Netherlands, where he still lives and works to this day. Throughout those fifty years, Iain has never stopped working, with music driving him forward every step of the way. The show will be a highly entertaining and intimate occasion, rich in stories and wonderful live music, presenting the story of an artistic life through the eyes of one of our most enduring singer-songwriters.

‘If there was an award for the role of Godfather of Americana in the UK, serious consideration would have to go to Iain Matthews. It’s all there in his excellent autobiography.’ Americana UK

‘Thro’ My Eyes is the best music read I’ve come across in a very long time.’ fRoots

‘Highly recommended both for its historical value and as a quick-paced, absorbing reading experience.’ Richie Unterberger’s Top Twenty Rock Books of 2018

Click here for more on Thro’ My Eyes: A Memoir

Featherstone’s Rich and Impressive History of Fighting Back

Green Lane Club, Featherstone

Featherstone Working Men’s Club, affectionately known as ‘t Green Lane’. It was built by its members in 1904 after they decided they no longer wished to support the Miners’ Welfare next door, which they saw as a Tory bosses club (the Welfare was owned and run by the pit owners).

Ian Clayton’s response to the Brexit Party media circus sweeping in to his home town of Featherstone, sowing seeds of division with a stage show of mass hypnotism.

As a seventh generation member of my family to make their home in Featherstone, I care deeply about where I am from. My partner Heather loves it here and my lad Edward is a son of this grand old town too. I hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will feel that same sense of belonging. I have an immense pride in the history of this town and judging by the sheer number of people who subscribe to the Featherstone Bygone Days page and share their own family history, photographs and ephemera, I’m not on my own in thinking that we have a town and a community to take justifiable joy and delight in. The history of this town is undoubtedly in its people, the stories they share, the clubs, societies and unions they belong to, the shops, pubs and clubs they use, the allotments and gardens they tend and the houses they take satisfaction from.

We are a town that has grown from hard work, but also let downs, setbacks and struggles. We always come back. The miners’ strike nearly ruined much of what we hold dear, but still we bounced back and though it’s hard at times, we still have much here to take pleasure in. The glue that binds us as a community holds strong. Better than that, it is a glue of are own making and that’s the best sort. I’ve always thought that Featherstone knows what it is doing, culturally, socially, and yes politically. We here believe in being good neighbours, helping those less fortunate and reaching out to include people who might feel left out.

Yesterday morning I watched a live stream of a Brexit Party rally from the Green Lane Club. It upset me. If someone had told me a year ago – no, just a week ago – that I would see with my own eyes people in a famous old Featherstone Working Men’s Club cheering Tories and right-wing extremists, and giving standing ovations to dodgy businessmen mouthing false camaraderie, I would have laughed them out of town. Yet it happened and it happened here, in the heart of a proper, working-class town. Surely this can’t be right and fair can it? I usually respond to this sort of thing with humour, but it’s got to the stage where it is not only too daft to laugh at, it is beyond satire, it has gone to a very dangerous and dark place. This is not a one horse, one party town, we must embrace the differing opinions of our neighbours, but dear me, this surely doesn’t mean we have to cheer those who wish to destroy community, sew the seeds of division and then drive off laughing having tricked, conned and humiliated us.

I wrote something on my Facebook page about what I saw. A good friend of mine from California wrote to me. Michael specialises in conflict resolution, he has worked in Northern Ireland and other parts of the world where communities have turned on one another. This is what he had to say.

‘The far right have consistently, if not intentionally, practiced what’s called reflective listening in the world of conflict resolution. They’ll knock on the door, listen to frustrations and then say something like, “We’re hearing that a lot. It’s irritating isn’t it?” Having acknowledged how someone feels and built some rapport, they then offer simple solutions to complex problems by scapegoating easy targets such as immigrants. It’s desperately depressing to witness such political entrepreneurs as Farage exploit so many people with lies and false comradeship.’

As I watched the circus yesterday, I tried to count how many lies the speakers were coming out with. I lost count. Yet people still cheered and held up the placards they had been given and were instructed to hold up at a given sign. I am thinking that this was a stage show example of mass hypnotism. Except the subjects were not embarrassing themselves by dancing to imaginary disco music and it wasn’t funny. It’s not funny anymore is it?

A reporter from The Guardian newspaper was there to witness this unedifying spectacle. His report in this morning’s paper makes for grim reading. I feel humiliated by it. I don’t want my town to be the place that contributed to the success of something as nasty as this.

When I wrote on my own Facebook yesterday, I asked, ‘What is the Green Lane Club thinking in allowing such a thing to happen on our own doorstep?’ To be fair to them, I have discovered since that they were duped and conned. When the original booking at the club was made, the organisers merely asked for a room to hold a seminar, they didn’t even mention the Brexit Party. The good people at the Club took the booking, because that’s what they do. They allow rooms to be rented for a small fee to help the club in hard financial times. It was only a few days ago that the real reason for the booking was revealed and by then the invoice had been paid and it was too late to do anything about. We Featherstonians must ask ourselves then, is this what we really want? A gang of tricksters and conmen making false bookings in order to get in by the back door and then continuing to try and fool us with their flashing lights, downright lies, false friendship, limp handshakes and grinning in our face. Featherstone does not deserve to be treated in this way.

I once asked my granddad if Mosley and his black shirts ever came to Featherstone. He laughed and said, ‘Aye, they once had a meeting at the back of the Central Club in a place called Teddy Edwards’ Market.’ I asked him what people did. He just laughed again and said, ‘Me and Lionel Anderson and our Harold and some others went up with a pick shaft apiece. We told them to get off home and I’m fairly sure they did.’ I am not like my grandad, I do not condone that approach, but I will fight with my words to ensure that my town continues a proud history of kindness to others and I refuse to be humiliated and shamed by here-today, gone-tomorrow clowns who know nothing of our rich and impressive history of fighting back.

Ian Clayton’s website