Richard Dawson had been playing around Tyneside for years before his sudden rise to wider recognition in 2014. He’s a difficult man to categorise musically – well, its easy to just label him a folk artist but how many of those claim to take such a strong lead from the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Iron Maiden? And where does a stomping 16-minute ode to a school trip piss-up fit into all that? And how the hell did he get so many radio plays for a 16-minute track anyway?

We’re talking about The Vile Stuff, of course – Marc Riley’s favourite track of that year when it appeared on his Nothing Important album, his first for Domino and the record that led him to that sudden wider recognition. Yes, two 16-minute tracks book-ended by instrumentals – you can see Dawson has own ideas about how he should present his music. And if you’ve seen him live, you’ll know that sometimes as much as half his set is taken up with between-song meanderings on various, often quite surreal, topics. But then he starts playing again and its fair to say that no one either plays guitar or sings quite like Richard Dawson.

His set at Safe As Milk will be a little different though – he has a new album out this year, one with a definite ‘band’ feel about it. So for the first time, Richard will be playing with a band – and we’re told he has no plans to tour as such this year, just sporadic, carefully chosen shows, so this will be a rare chance both to see Richard with a band and, well, possibly at all.

The band includes long-time collaborators Angharad Davies and Rhodri Davies and also two members of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Obviously.

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