Annie Nightingale, John Grant And More For Green Man Talks

This year's Green Man Festival will host talks and interviews with the likes of King Gizzard, Annie Nightingale and more. Curator Laura Barton speaks to our Luke Turner about this year's brilliant programme

Green Man Festival has announced its programming for this year’s ‘Talking Shop’ stage, the event’s series of readings, live interviews and talks.

Heading the bill this year are Annie Nightingale, who will be discussing her years as the first female and longest serving presenter on BBC Radio 1, and musical headliners King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard live in conversation with the stage’s curator Laura Barton.

The third and final headliner will be the acclaimed ‘Literary Death Match’, in which four authors read their finest writing for seven minutes or less in front of a panel of four all-star judges presided over by festival fixture Johnny Pictish.

Elsewhere John Grant will take part in this year’s Mojo Interview, Baxter Dury will appear on a live taping of the Three Track Podcast, while musicians Peggy Seeger and Viv Albertine will also appear in conversation with Pete Paphides and Anita Sethi respectively.

There’s a huge amount more to be discovered, with appearances from acclaimed authors, panel discussions and more. For the full listings, click here.

Read on, meanwhile, for an exclusive Q&A with the stage’s curator, the journalist, author and broadcaster Laura Barton, as conducted by tQ’s Luke Turner.

How did you come to be the curator of Talking Shop?

I’ve always thought Green Man was such a stunningly beautiful thing — it’s there in the landscape, and the heartfelt way the music is chosen — right the way down the bill; it’s in its literature, comedy, speakers, dancing, mayhem, food stalls, beer tents and beyond. And it’s there in the people too. In fact, maybe what I’ve loved most over the years has been the people — from the ludicrous conversations you have with strangers at 3am, to the discussions I’ve joined on the Talking Shop stage, to getting to know all of those people who work to make the festival happen. I’d known Fiona Stewart and Ben Coleman for quite a while, and admired them both tremendously. When Fiona asked me if I’d be interested in taking over the Talking Shop I was extremely surprised, but also really excited. I had about 700 ideas in three minutes, and that’s how I knew it was something I wanted to do.

What did you want your curation to bring to Green Man? What shaped your selections?

Curating a stage like this is a joyous but sometimes exceedingly difficult thing to do. This is my first try, and my predecessors had it down to an art form, so that’s been fairly daunting. I suppose I wanted to keep some things that I think most of us see as Green Man institutions — Pete Brown’s Match the Beer to the Bands, the Pop Quiz, the Mojo Interview… but I also wanted to bring in some new voices and new ways of structuring 45 minutes. Because I work a lot in radio, and because I find the explosion in podcasts and audio events really exciting, I was interested to see how some of that might work live. So we’ve got Ross Sutherland’s Imaginary Advice, and Gabriel Ebule’s Three Track Podcast, for instance. We’re also bringing Literary Death Match to the festival, which I’m very excited about – it’s a live literature throw-down involving multiple authors and multiple judges and it’s invariably hilarious.

I suppose the happy thing is that my great loves have always been music and writing, and this stage has allowed me to combine the two — we’ve got some wonderful musicians: Peggy Seeger, Viv Albertine, John Grant among them, and we’ve got some incredible writers, including Rob Young and Owen Sheers. We’re also going to open the stage with a tribute to the landscape of Green Man — including a specially-commissioned piece written and performed by Horatio Clare, who grew up on the hills surrounding the festival, and that will be a beautiful moment.

Lastly, I wanted there to be elements of irreverence and surprise – brilliant moments that aren’t programmed, playlists curated by the waters and performers that you’ll be able to find on Spotify; just a general wriggling sense of things happening and minds meeting.

How has your love of music been shaped by writing?

Some of the first music I ever heard was the poet Sir John Betjeman’s collaborations with the composer Jim Parker – Banana Blush and Late Flowering Love. My mum used to play them a lot. I’ve often thought that this must have shaped my brain in some way, that this was where words and music became inextricably linked for me. Even today, rhythm is one of the most important things for me when I’m writing. I didn’t actually write about music for a long time – I sort of regarded it as too sacred. But then my former Guardian editor, Michael Hann, asked me to write a regular music column, and I found a way to write about it that wasn’t so bothered by trends or reviews, but was more about how music becomes part of our lives, why it matters so much to us. So I suppose writing about it this way has given me a greater understanding of my love for music

What was your first, and favourite, Green Man experience?

The first year I ever went to Green Man it was raining as I arrived, but it was this soft, misty rain, and I have this very happy memory of standing in the queue knowing I was somewhere very special.

Give us a Green Man Top Tip

Wear sturdy boots, always stay up late, and I heartily recommend an oat milk latte with tequila from Table Top Coffee.

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