JANICE Long is hosting this year’s Folk On The Dock at Liverpool’s Albert Dock and I met her on a wet and windy dockside outside of Tate Liverpool. The veteran broadcaster has always been a champion of new artists, particularly of the indie variety, so I didn’t really have her down as a fan of folk music
“I’ve always been a fan of folk music, I used to go to folk clubs at The Central Hotel and also The Rainford in Liverpool. When I was at Radio 1 I played folk and when I was at Radio 2 I played folk. I always compere the Moseley Folk Festival in Birmingham so I’m a huge, huge fan. So I was obviously delighted when they asked me last year to get involved in this.”
There’s more to folk music than maybe your average punter thinks?
“Yes, you can turn just about anything into folk. You look at people like Jim Moray who went to the Birmingham Conservatoire and then he came out making folk music with computers. So it’s not that stodgy stuff that some people might think.”
What do you think of the current Liverpool music scene? I saw you hosting the BBC Introducing night at last year’s River Festival and the acts on there were pretty amazing.
“Yes, the Liverpool scene is really powerful at the moment but it always is. If you look at record labels and A&R people, they’re like sheep really and follow a certain sound in a certain place but there’s actually always a sound in Liverpool, it’s incredibly healthy. What I like about it is that Liverpool bands are so supportive of each other, there’s a real camaraderie, there’s not a nastiness or a jealousness, they all look out for each other.”
So what’s Janice’s favourite Liverpool band of all time? She pauses briefly but her response is unequivocal.
“Echo and the Bunnymen. I think Ocean Rain is the best album and people always assume that Killing Moon would be my favourite track but it’s actually the title track Ocean Rain – it actually brings me to tears every time I hear it.”
Janice and I were both at LIMF a couple of years ago when Ian McCulloch introduced Ocean Rain as the best song ever written and we both find it hard to disagree with him.
Another favourite Bunnymen track is Villiers Terrace…”I played it on my radio show last night, and you wished you were there but it didn’t exist but just sounds so amazing.”
Janice has had a long and distinguished broadcasting career, so what’s been the highlight? No hesitation this time.
“Live Aid. It was an incredible thing that Bob Geldof pulled off and it was great to be involved in it and to watch the day progress. The crowd arriving as little dots in the distance, running towards the stage and then getting bigger and bigger and then Status Quo starting the show. But there’s been loads, I have to pinch myself because I’ve been incredibly lucky and I’m very, very grateful.”
Janice still lives in Liverpool and currently has a show on BBC Radio Wales. You can see her at Folk On The Dock on 26 August. And, she’s a lovely, lovely woman.