Small town music: Kinky Friedman & Roger McGough at Richard Goodall Gallery

Kevin Bourke

A tiny gig in a tiny gallery heralds a new direction for a Northern Quarter art space.

The Richard Goodall Gallery, currently gracing two locations in the never-unfashionable Northern Quarter, has always had something of a rock n’roll swagger to it. Over the years, in fact, it’s hosted several exhibitions of classic rock photography (including by Salford boy, Graham Nash) and poster art. Indeed, it was at the Richard Goodall Gallery, not at the Manchester Opera House/MIF concerts (and never-ending tour that followed), that the great Leonard Cohen first broke cover after many years to introduce and exhibit some of his paintings.

So you might imagine that it was only logical that, sooner or later, the gallery would host an actual gig, something like this weekend’s words and music gig starring Liverpool wordsmith Roger McGough and Texan provocateur Kinky Friedman, in fact. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,” says Goodall. “But what actually set this particular gig in motion was the fact that I was contacted by Kinky’s agent who asked me if I could help set up a gig in Manchester for him on this current tour. I’ve always loved Kinky and we’ve had a good time together, notably in Austin, Texas.”

At this point, I should point out that the phrase “good times” and the Kinkster are virtually synonymous. This is the man who penned such immortal ditties as They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore, who toured for much of the 1970s with a band rejoicing in the name The Texas Jewboys, and habitually hangs out with the likes of Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. And that’s when he isn’t writing hilarious, best-selling mystery books or running for Governor of Texas (and almost winning).

It’s been a steep learning curve but I really think something like this can work in Manchester

“Even though, as Kinky might say, it wouldn’t be ‘a financial pleasure’, we just wanted to make a nice evening of it, offering table seating, food and so on,” says Goodall. “So I thought that I’d ask Roger McGough to join us, who I love too. He said he’d be delighted and that he knows Kinky – although I think he means he knows of Kinky – and do a reading that ‘dances on shared territory’, a great line.” The plan is for there to be more events in future (which is good, as this particular event has sold out), with artists such as Steve Forbert or Jimmy Webb – the sorts of artists who might appeal to an older demographic who tend to get ignored by the more, um, fashion-conscious venues.

“Jimmy Webb is one of my favourite artists, a great Sixties singer/songwriter who I’ve seen many times,” says Goodall. “A year or so ago I happened to notice that, a few weeks before he was playing great big venues like the Royal Festival Hall, he was playing at a gallery in a place called Marion, Iowa, which is a tiny, one-street town I’d never even heard of before. I had to go to the States anyway so I thought I’d make a detour to this crazy-sounding gig.  I had an absolutely fabulous time. It was so intimate, with about 50 people at tables. The guy who put it on told me later that didn’t make any money at all on the door, what there was of that went straight to the artist. But he could at least break even with the food and the wine, plus people would get this unique experience. That’s the model.  It’s been a steep learning curve so far but I really think something like this can work here.” So there you have it: expect more of the same from a Richard Goodall Gallery that’s newly musical.

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