The good, the bad and The Rochdale Cow­boy

Folk mu­si­cian, sto­ry­teller, author and ra­dio pre­sen­ter, the of­ten over­looked Mike Hard­ing is back with a new tour. He talks to Chris Bond.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC -

IT’S in­ter­est­ing that mul­ti­tal­ented chaps like Stephen Fry and Si­mon Cal­low are re­ferred to in gush­ing terms as “re­nais­sance” men, while oth­ers are re­garded, less flat­ter­ingly, as jacks of all trades.

Per­haps it’s just a mat­ter of se­man­tics, or per­haps it’s old fash­ioned snob­bery, but Mike Hard­ing’s name doesn’t of­ten find it­self shar­ing a sen­tence with the word “re­nais­sance”.

Which is a shame, be­cause his tal­ents cover just as broad a pal­ette as those of Messrs Fry and Cal­low.

With the ex­cep­tion of films, Hard­ing has turned his creative hand to just about every­thing. As a folk mu­si­cian for more than 40 years he has toured all over the world and worked with the likes of Ge­orge Melly and Ralph Mctell, while his weekly BBC Ra­dio 2 show has be­come es­sen­tial lis­ten­ing for fans of folk, roots and acous­tic mu­sic.

He has writ­ten po­etry, short sto­ries, travel, humour and chil­dren’s books and won sev­eral awards in­clud­ing the Sig­nal Prize For Chil­dren’s Lit­er­a­ture. Most peo­ple though prob­a­bly know him for his mu­sic and he has just started his first ma­jor tour in more than 15 years.

That’s a long hia­tus, es­pe­cially for some­one whose tour sched­ule at one time could have ri­valled Bob Dy­lan’s.

“I ended up do­ing lots of other things,” he says. “I went trekking in In­dia, Pak­istan and Nepal and I was liv­ing out of my ruck­sack for three months. I’d been tour­ing all my work­ing life but there was so much go­ing on I didn’t have the time so I put it on the back burner and it went cold.” Then last year a friend asked him to play the In­gle­ton Folk Fes­ti­val, where he went down well and he fol­lowed this up with a cou­ple of small gigs, in­clud­ing one at the Ge­or­gian The­atre, in Rich­mond.

“I walked out on stage and the wave of hu­man warmth that greeted me was re­ally mov­ing. It wasn’t just clap­ping, it was some­thing else. I’m not say­ing it was spir­i­tual but there was a gen­uine hu­man con­nec­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion as I stepped out into the foot­lights.”

His new tour – Me, a gui­tar and some more daft stuff – is head­ing across the coun­try with shows in Don­caster, Hud­der­s­field, Leeds, Wake­field and Scar­bor­ough

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