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

On Monday 14 June, Steven Gene Wold, aka the inimitable Seasick Steve, will take over the stage of the Royal Festival Hall for an evening of the best hobo blues, while Martin Simpson, John Etheridge and others tbc provide a dream line-up for Meltdown Guitar Night in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Across the foyer in the Purcell Room will be a screening of Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man, the remarkable film of the life and death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, with a sparkling score composed and performed by Richard Thompson.

Following critical acclaim for his number one album Sunny Side Up, sell-out tours and support stints with the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Paul Weller, the prodigiously talented 22 year-old Paisley-born singer songwriter Paolo Nutini, performs on the stage of the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 15 June. Rising stars and huge Richard Thompson fans Sunderland’s Field Music play in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, with support from Connor O’Brien’s spellbinding new band Villagers.

On Wednesday 16 June, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cajun dancehall legends Beausoleil from Lafayette, Louisiana prove our director’s belief that Cajun music “is the best thing to dance to on Planet Earth”. Ollabelle, the New York five-piece folk music group named after the influential Appalachian songwriter Ola Belle Reed, perform in the Purcell Room with support from Emily Smith.

On Thursday 17 June, three of Richard’s abiding passions – cricket, politics and soul music - are celebrated in one night across three venues. A month on from the UK General Election, A Night of Political Song in the Royal Festival Hall (the venue of New Labour’s 1997 victory celebrations) features performances of protest and rebellion by Tom Robinson, Jez Lowe, Eliza Carthy, Martin Carthy, Boris Grebenshikov and Emily Smith. In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Neil Hannon and his new band perform music from Duckworth Lewis Method (the best album about cricket ever recorded…), supported by The Leisure Society’s beguiling and peculiarly English strain of Americana. Stretching our director’s loyalties to the limit, one of his favourite soul singers, Bettye LaVette performs in the Purcell Room.

Friday 18 June, sees an intriguing double bill in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, featuring the visionary musician, composer and producer Van Dyke Parks and Clare Muldaur Manchon’s hotly tipped Clare and The Reasons. Van Dyke Parks, who has worked with everyone from Grace Kelly and The Beach Boys to Joanna Newsom, mentored Richard when he first moved to Los Angeles. This will be the first time he will be performing his own songs for the first time in the UK.

In a special afternoon performance on Saturday 19 June, that demonstrates his versatility as a performer and interpreter of songs, Thompson reprises his hugely popular and ludicrously ambitious show 1000 Years of Popular Song, which has seen him perform everything from Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas to Nelly Furtado’s Maneater, via Gilbert & Sullivan and The Kinks. Later on that evening, in the same venue, Richard Thompson performs with long-time friend and collaborator Loudon Wainwright III as Loud and Rich, in a night of classic songs from their respective back catalogues, and jokes about who can produce the most musical offspring. Turning up the volume in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Taqwacore night sees performances by two bands – Kominas and Al Thawra - from the burgeoning Islamic punk scene in the US, together with UK-based band Fun-DA-mental. In the Purcell Room, a screening of Taqwa Core – The Birth of Punk Islam will be followed by a Q&A on the scene that is a musical expression of a generation of American Muslims caught between the puritanical interpretation of Islam of their parents and the liberal morality and seductive consumerism of the West. Meanwhile, Fisherman’s Friends – the traditional Cornish band who recently landed a 1m record deal from Universal – perform for FREE in The Clore Ballroom at 1pm and 6pm. (N.B. Full programme of FREE events to be announced soon)

Sunday 20 June sees a rare chance to catch Richard’s long-time friend and collaborator Elvis Costello with his guitar and a hatful of some of the finest songs ever written, perform solo in the Royal Festival Hall. Richard’s daughter Kami Thompson supports on this very special evening. In the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence Oliver Coates String Quartet play some of Richard’s favourite classical works, including Dutilleux Ainsi la Nuit, Ravel Duo for Violin and Cello and Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8.

In a hotly-anticipated event that sees the unlikely, and very Meltdown pairing of surrealist hip-hop producer Danger Mouse and The Shin’s front man James Mercer, the Festival closes on Monday 21 June, with Broken Bells’ first live show since the release of their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album.