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The In Conversation series at New Town Theatre in George Street is an hour of chat with a celebrity guest each day. Hosted by Glasgow based arts group Fair Pley, their impressive listings for the Fringe includes Jeremy Corbyn, David Hayman, Val McDermid, Judy Murray and singer Amy Macdonald. I attended the first of these with veteran songwriter and musician Rab Noakes. The interview was to be hosted by comedy compere Susan Morrison but due to illness Fair Pley director Stephen Wright stepped in and impressed us with his knowledge.

The format is a winner and owes its success to the selected line-up and knowledge of the interviewers.

The Scottish performer opened the show with a song and, as a seasoned raconteur, was able to weave a story into his song performed live with his own guitar accompaniment. He sang Al Jolson’s Anniversary Song, the best-selling sheet music when he was born in 1947, while delivering his best Leonard Cohen delivery. Immediately we were celebrating a 70th birthday and the interview flowed around this exploring musical influences such as Bob Dylan. This was further discussed at the audience Q&A section where Barbara Dickson, who has her own In Conversation slot, asked about the importance of American folk singer, Pete Seeger.

Noakes has a wealth of musical knowledge from his 50-year career and was able to reflect on his upbringing and forming Stealers Wheel with the late Gerry Rafferty as the great folk explosion happened in the UK. He had great praise for Celtic Connections, the Glasgow music festival held in January each year, and described his love of Gibson guitars naming the models in his growing collection. The flow of the show was relaxed and I got the impression the audience were fans and they were just glad to see the artist up close.

The format is a winner and owes its success to the selected line-up and knowledge of the interviewers. I understand most of the shows will feature journalist Graham Spiers so the standards are expected to be high. The show closed, in this case, with a live performance from Noakes’ current release The Treatment Tapes written and recorded during his recent cancer trauma and lapped up by his adoring fans.

10th Aug 201712:00pmNew Town Theatre
Freemasons' Hall, 96 George Street, Edinburgh

The Blurb

Songwriter and performer Rab Noakes is a force to be reckoned with in popular music. In May 2017 he turns 70, celebrating 50 years as a professional artist. He has released over 20 albums and contributed to many more. His most recent release, The Treatment Tapes EP, features six songs related to his ongoing recovery from tonsillar cancer. He tours extensively and has curated high profile concerts. He spent time as a head of department at BBC Radio and, with his wife Stephy, manages indie production company Neon. He is active in the Musicians’ Union.

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