SOUNDCHECK featuring JOHN WATTERSON
Live at Soundcheck Devizes
Recorded on Monday 23rd October 2023
An evening of music by Jake Thackray and poetry by Les Barker, performed by John Watterson.
Jake Thackray was a singer-songwriter in the French tradition, a “chansonnier” whose songs are nevertheless convincingly and idiosyncratically English.
After graduating from Durham University, Jake spent four years in France as a teacher where the likes of Jaques Brel and his particular hero Georges Brassens made their indelible mark. The influence of their songs and story telling propelled Jake towards his own writing and singing style. But despite this Gallic background his songs are no mere copies; they are firmly and recognisably rooted in the English countryside, character and language. They are also painfully funny, sad, tragic, rude, irreverent, incisive and happy, and often enough all these things at the same time. In short, they are unique.
By the mid-sixties Jake was performing in folk clubs which led to appearances on local BBC programmes followed by national TV with regular slots on The Frost Report, Braden’s Week and That’s Life. In nearly thirty years of performing he made over 1,000 radio and TV appearances ranging from a topical song in magazine programmes to broadcasts of live concerts on both radio and television. His EMI catalogue produced seven albums between 1967 and 1991. Jake Thackray sadly died in 2002.
John Watterson, an adopted Yorkshireman, grew up on the Isle of Man, which is where he first saw and met Jake Thackray in 1975. He recalls a performance at the local folk club, which had the audience in stitches and also a chat with a very modest and self-deprecating Jake at the interval – ‘a big man and a huge talent, clearly embarrassed by the standing ovation, Jake preferred to have a pint at the bar with the punters and didn’t really see what the fuss was about’.
John’s appreciation and love of Jake Thackray’s music is obvious to his audience. His performance is a celebration of the man that was Jake Thackray – his life, his work and his genius – a genius which the new age of music lovers are in danger of missing out on. John is a talented guitarist and vocalist and has that engaging quality that makes you want to listen to his performance. When you wrap these ingredients up in the songs of Jake Thackray the result is a highly entertaining, heartfelt tribute to one of the finest songwriters of the 20th century.
John has toured the show with Fairport Convention on their 6 week nation-wide tour, and has performed 20 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, earning several 4 star reviews. He has also been delighted to support Ralph McTell, Richard Digance, Vin Garbutt and many more of his music heroes.
In this Soundcheck performance, John also performs a number of poems penned by Jake’s friend, Les Barker, one of the UK’s finest and funniest wordsmiths, once described as ‘the best Poet Laureate we never had’. If Jake’s songs are funny clever, Les’s poems are silly clever!!
John Watterson (Vocals, Guitar)
JOHN WATTERSON PERFORMED
THE BANTAM COCK
THE BLACKSMITH AND THE TOFFEEMAKER
BROTHER GORILLA *
THE CASTLEFORD LADIES MAGIC CIRCLE
THE HAIR OF THE WIDOW OF BRIDLINGTON
ISOBEL MAKES LOVE UPON NATIONAL MONUMENTS
ON AGAIN! ON AGAIN!
All songs by Jake Thackray except * by Georges Brassens & Jake Thackray
DISASTER AT SEA
REG WAS A LONELY GLOW WORM
SPOT THE ZEBRA
HAVE YOU GOT ANY NEWS OF THE ICEBERG
DACHSUNDS WITH ERECTIONS CAN’T CLIMB STAIRS
Poems by Les Barker
‘Deserts 3’ by Playing In Tongues
available from www.freemusicarchive.com
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Soundcheck is a Visual Radio Arts production
Copyright Visual Radio Arts Ltd 2023
Filmed in Gig-a-Vision