HARK!

The Sound of Stories returns, featuring Nel Unlit, Radikal Queen, Faithful Johannes & Bob Fischer, performing at The Hullabaloo Theatre in Darlington on Friday 15th July.

HARK! is a series of events presenting music inspired by writing. After moving online during lockdowns, HARK!'s return to a live venue features artists who are making music based on stories they've overheard, imagined, researched, inherited and written.

A bookish atmosphere will be provided by HEAD Bookshop (Post House Wynd). HEAD will be bringing a selection of books and music connected to the show, for the audience to browse and buy during intervals. Lyrics, readings, and more information about the musicians will also be available for audience members to read in a specially printed programme booklet.

Nel Unlit are a group of songwriters, storytellers and musicians who have their roots in the North-East of England and Northern Ireland. Their debut album Wake for the Dreaming (2020, Butterfly Effect) was a concept album based on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels. Their latest album, Ephemera; or, Tosh and the girl (2022, Butterfly Effect) is a unique character study of a family in crisis in the North East, drawing on a mix of overheard stories, painful family memories and overactive imaginations. It presents the story of Tosh, a floundering single father and serial hoarder, and explores his co-dependent paternal partnership with his teenage daughter and his fractured relationship with her estranged mother. It was originally released with accompanying film, readalong short story and art exhibition. Now the group are bringing this masterpiece of cinematically sweeping musical storytelling to life live at HARK.

Radikal Queen is the Northeast's premier Black spoken word artist, using words that dance to original Black music to communicate with people from diverse cultures, and an award-winning artist and cultural activist whose ethos is: bringing the margins to the centre. Radikal Queen is an initiate within an African Indigenous lineage of those who use mystical story as medicine to the masses - often known as "Griot" in the west. Her creative influences outside of the lineage of Elders and Ancestors within her traditions include Toni Morisson, Alice Walker, Buchi Emecheta, Gil-Scott Heron, Nina Simone, Betty Davis, and Mama Maya Angelou. Her show JazzWitch is virtual journey through time, and showcases the stories and the art of the BlacQueer Jazz and Blues pioneers who have been historically vilified, ostracised... and then colonised, incorporates song, immersive digital media, and poetry - all set to Jazz and Blues.

Faithful Johannes is a Durham artist who makes spoken word songs and its accompanying electronic music. He has been described as 'The Alan Bennett of Hip Hop' (Electronic Sound Magazine) and as the 'middle of a venn diagram where the four circles are Anticon Records, Alan Bennett, Leonard Cohen and Frank Sidebottom' (Slow Decades). He incorporates an ironing board and large signs in his shows, and often gives out discrete notes to audience members. He brought out his second album, the tragicomic story of Ken & Jean, in 2021, about a relationship between a prankster and the woman who grows tired of his schemes, and is currently working on a series of songs that form an adaptation of Durham writer Sid Chaplin's novella The Thin Seam. He will be premiering one of these songs at HARK! He is influenced by storytelling musicians such as Owen Ashworth, Serengeti and Billy Woods, as well as writers such as Sid Chaplin, Jack Common, Haruki Murakami, Flann O Brien, Proust and Nabakov, and the poetry of Caroline Bird.

An additional reading will be provided by Bob Fischer, a Teesside writer specialising in the stranger corners of British popular culture. He writes for Fortean Times, Electronic Sound and Doctor Who Magazine.

Get tickets: darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk/whats-on/Hark

Huge thanks to Arts Council England & Creative Darlington for their support in making this happen.

Image Description: Poster for the event, made to look like part of an old playbill, with photos of the artists attached