Richard Digance is gearing up for a series of live shows in 2021, negotiating motorway closures and diversions to play his favourite venues around Britain. You can expect to hear new songs (after all, there’s been plenty to write about in recent times), along with his popular nostalgic songs that promise the kind of audience participation he has made his own. Richard’s timeless songs and stories are built on a life well-lived.
Subject to the ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions and rules, Richard is gearing up for a handful of live shows throughout 2021.
To those who may not know, tell us a bit about yourself and your music and comedy…
I’ve been around for half a century, singing songs and writing poems on TV and radio and of course, live concerts, at least until 2020 brought on The Third World War! I’m part of the Folk Entertainers boom of the 70’s, pioneered by the likes of Billy Connolly and Mike Harding.
What got you into music and comedy, and who or what inspired this unique blend of the two?
I was inspired by Billy Connolly when I was at college in Glasgow and he appeared regularly at the college folk club at The Rockfield Hotel, Paisley. I noticed after he’d sung, men bought him pints of beer and women chatted him up and so as they were the two main reasons I went to college I decided to get up on stage and perform myself. Didn’t meet with much success but I was on my way!
Understandably, this has been really hard year for the arts – but what have you done to adapt?
I’m lucky to have my own recording studio so I’ve making TV soundtrack music and recorded a new album ‘Goodbye 2020.’ Done a few online concerts but it isn’t the same as being out there and so I’m really looking forward to appearing at The Apex, on stage where I belong.
Are you looking forward to getting back on stage, and what can audiences expect from your shows?
They can expect a performer who is as excited to be on stage as hopefully the audience are to see a live show at last. I know they can’t join in and sing along as they usually do but I have adapted the show accordingly so it’s safe to come along and enjoy themselves.
That said, this tour was actually due to be your final farewell to live shows, so what does the future hold for you?
Yes, it was indeed my last tour but re-arranged dates have meant I will continue through 2021. I wasn’t so much retiring from live shows but more extensive touring which becomes more difficult with roadworks and 50mph speed reductions, to say nothing of diversions. I will continue to do the odd show but will be careful crossing The Orwell Bridge at the right speed as I don’t want to end up at Ipswich Magistrates Court again!
How much of a challenge have the Covid-19 safety measures proved to be for you, and what are some of the measures in place for you as an artist?
It has been no better or worse than for anyone else. There have been times of total loss and frustration, but luckily I live near Stonehenge, in the middle of nowhere, so I have shut myself away for months, done loads of gardening, made chutney and decorated the bathroom. To help my income I painted pictures and held an online art exhibition, I couldn’t believe I sold all 20 paintings. It was a great success, so I went to Tesco.
The arts industry has been through a lot – but what in your opinion do you think the future of live events holds?
I don’t have the answer to this one. The very sad thing is we have been totally branded as worthless by The Government and it really hurts. This is the time when people need entertainment and music and I will never forgive those in power for getting it so wrong. We all know what a great therapy music is for so many things, particularly mental health. I can only assume those who make the rules spend so much time at posh dinner parties and driving to Durham, that they have no idea how the rest of us enjoy and need social time to get through this mess.
What would you say fans can do to continue supporting yourself and the arts?
I don’t really know but I feel it’s my duty to reciprocate and help the public by ‘going live’ again. It’s important to both parties.
Finally, tell us why you love what you do, and give us a message to your supporters?
I love more job and I can’t do anything else. I applied for a job as a Tesco van driver, just for something to do and help, but I was turned down because I didn’t have a clean driving licence. Amazing that I can do 45,000 miles a year but don’t have the ability to deliver pasta and crates of toilet rolls. I wish everyone well, to keep safe and to join me in hoping one day the Government realise the importance of live entertainment across the broad arts spectrum. Love to you all and happy new year!
Since our chat with Richard, his gig at The Apex has had to be cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic
For more dates, updates and information visit: richarddigance.com.