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RICHARD THOMPSON APPOINTED ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF SOUTHBANK CENTRE'S MELTDOWN FESTIVAL IN 2010
2/23/2010 (updated 4/8/2010)

RICHARD THOMPSON APPOINTED ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF SOUTHBANK CENTRE'S MELTDOWN FESTIVAL IN 2010

11-20 June 2010, Southbank Centre

SOUTHBANK CENTRE announces that RICHARD THOMPSON will be the ARTISTIC DIRECTOR of the 17th MELTDOWN festival in 2010, taking place in the concert halls and spaces of London's most celebrated riverside arts centre, including Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

After a run of rock and pop artists including David Bowie (2002), Morrissey (2004), Patti Smith (2005), Jarvis Cocker (2007) and Massive Attack (2008), avant-garde legend Ornette Coleman took charge of Southbank Centre's iconic festival last year-hailed by Metro as "fantastically multi-layered" and "one of the best Meltdowns in years" (Guardian). Now, in 2010 Meltdown's curatorial baton passes to an extraordinary artist who first emerged in 1967 as a founder member of British folk-rock innovators Fairport Convention, who has since spent over forty years defying musical categorisation and convention. Thompson began a solo career in 1972, beginning with the bold Henry the Human Fly, and has gone on to produce a body of work that challenges, delights and amazes in equal measure. He has now written and recorded over 400 songs marked by consistent intelligence, taste and emotional resonance and has succeeded in becoming one of the most distinctive and iconoclastic guitar virtuosos, whether playing acoustic or electric guitar, performing solo or in a group." 

With the full line-up for the annual festival still to be announced, the possibilities as to what Richard Thompson might select or choose to perform himself are highly intriguing. This year's director grew up in North London, listening to Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller, Les Paul, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong from his father's jazz record collection but simultaneously embraced the rock and roll music of Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis. Such is the eclectic diversity of his career that one of his most recent projects has been a song cycle featuring the double bass in honour of long time colleague and friend, Danny Thompson, Cabaret of Souls, a musical chronicle of a talent contest set in Hell, performed in 2009 with a Chamber Orchestra. Thompson also created the music to Werner Herzog's 2005 documentary Grizzly Man, plus its recent prequel The Grizzly Man Diaries. Nothing exemplifies Thompson's versatility more than his occasional journeys through a 1000 Years of Popular Music, successfully toured here in 2009: The Guardian commenting: "He manages to convey the electrifying energy of rock'n'roll, the cheek of music hall and the sass of swing, all with the same aching precision."

The Southbank Centre press release goes on to say:

"Despite dividing is time between London and Los Angeles for the last twenty years, Richard Thompson has never lost his 'Englishness' or his belief that we need emphasise our regional and cultural roots wherever we reside and should celebrate the differences and sheer scope of all music.  We can expect nothing less at MELTDOWN 2010."

RICHARD THOMPSON, the 17th Director of Southbank Centre's Meltdown, said:
"I am very excited to be hosting this year's Meltdown Festival at the South Bank. The wide-ranging programme reflects many of my interests and influences across many musical, visual and literary styles, and should provide some unique moments, unusual collaborations and juxtapositions. All this in the place where I saw my first concert in 1961-such an honour!"

JUDE KELLY, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said:
"From the precociously talented 17 year-old with folk-rock pioneers Fairport Convention, through his inspired partnership with Linda Thompson to classic solo albums and brilliantly crafted songs covered by the likes of Elvis Costello, David Byrne and REM, few artists can claim to have maintained such musical virtuosity and songwriting excellence for so long. We are delighted and honoured that he has accepted our invitation to curate Southbank Centre's meltdown festival."

JANE BEESE, Senior Music Programmer, Southbank Centre, said:
"Whether penning such classics as Walking On A Wire, Dimming Of The Day or Meet On The Ledge, adding sublimeĀ guitar to Nick Drake's Bryter Layter, no-one associated with the folk tradition is also so highly regarded by fans and critics alike as a genuine 'guitar hero', able to juxtapose his fiery electric side with that more pensive acoustic mood. Richard Thompson's sheer versatility as a performer and renowned integrity make us wonder why he hasn't directed Meltdown before now."

Programme updates will be posted on Southbank Centre website
Web address: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/meltdown
Meltdown number: 0844 847 9944



guardian.co.uk
Richard Thompson: From Fairport to Meltdown

The folk-rock guitarist will be curating this year's Meltdown festival in London. Trace his fascinating musical career with our audio slideshow.

Richard Thompson will help reboot Meltdown
He may not be a publicist's dream, but the maverick musician will bring his forward-looking curiosity to this year's festival.

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