4/8/2010 (updated 4/12/2010)

For eleven days in June, songwriting and guitar-playing legend Richard Thompson will take over Southbank Centre's riverside venues and spaces as the 17th director of Meltdown. A diverse programme of concerts - covering everything from blues, Cajun, folk and soul to punk, indie and classical - talks and films, reflecting the eclectic tastes, influences and passions of an artist whose restless versatility has kept him consistently creative throughout his forty year career. For those who relish Meltdown's unique mix of legendary names and rising stars, unlikely collaborations and those un-missable multi-artist bills, Richard Thompson's Meltdown will not disappoint.

Artists confirmed so far include: Beausoleil; Broken Bells; Eliza Carthy; Martin Carthy; Clare and The Reasons; Codeine Velvet Club; Elvis Costello; Boris Grebenshikov; Lisa Hannigan; Neil Hannon; Emmylou Harris; John Etheridge; Fishermen's Friends; Fun-DA-mental; Joe Henry; Kominas; Bettye LaVette; Anna McGarrigle; Field Music; Paolo Nutini; Ollabelle; Beth Orton; Judith Owen; Raihan; Tom Robinson; Linda Ronstadt (TBC); Harry Shearer; Martin Simpson; Emily Smith; Seasick Steve; Al Thawra; Danny Thompson; Kami Thompson; Teddy Thompson; Martha Wainwright; Loudon Wainwright III; Rufus Wainwright; Krystle Warren; Villagers and, of course, the Meltdown director himself, who hosts two concerts and guests throughout.

Blowing apart any lazy pre-conceptions about an artist who first achieved recognition as a folk rock pioneer, Richard Thompson's Meltdown choices reveal the diverse tastes and interests of an internationally respected artist who divides his time between Los Angeles and London, and is as at home watching test cricket at Lords as he is on the palm-treed boulevards of Santa Monica. While his Meltdown programme reveals a deep interest in politics and a passion for the very best song writing talent on both sides of the Atlantic, it also reveals a fascination with the burgeoning Asian-American punk scene, a love of classical music and an address book that includes rock stars, folk legends and maverick filmmakers alike.

Opening Southbank Centre's iconic, artist-curated Festival on Friday 11 June, will be the UK premiere of Cabaret of Souls, the wickedly observed musical chronicle of a talent contest set in hell. Written and composed by Richard Thompson himself, this ambitious, 80-minute song cycle was commissioned by the International Society of Bassists and written for his long-time friend and bassist Danny Thompson, who is featured, alongside Judith Owen, Debra Dobkin, Peter Zorn, Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind's Harry Shearer and a 10-piece string section.

Saturday 12 June* sees a host of friends and family line up for a Celebration of Kate McGarrigle, who died in January 2010. This very special event, put together by legendary producer Joe Boyd, includes performances by Lisa Hannigan; Emmylou Harris; Lily Lanken; Sylvain Lanken; Anna McGarrigle; Jenni Muldaur, Beth Orton, Linda Ronstadt; Kami Thompson; Linda Thompson; Richard Thompson; Teddy Thompson; Martha Wainwright; Rufus Wainwright and Krystle Warren. In The Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Fratellis frontman Jon Lawler's deliciously noirish collaboration with burlesque singer Lou Hickey play as Codeine Velvet Club, with support from Thomas White. Master musician, songwriter and long-time Americana touchstone, Joe Henry plays the Purcell Room.
(*4.30pm start, due to US/England game, which will be screened in the Clore Ballroom)

Taking Meltdown in an entirely different direction, Malaysian boyband Raihan perform in the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 13 June. Hugely popular right across the Islamic world, with album sales of over five million, Raihan seamlessly blend Far Eastern and Western styles and are renowned for their beautiful lyrics infused with powerful messages. In a night that demonstrates the breadth of our Meltdown director's interests, the Philharmonia Orchestra play the work of Alan Hovhannes, one of Richard Thompson's favourite composers, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and spellbinding Missouri-born singer-songwriter Krystle Warren performs in the Purcell Room.