The Salford Star Award for Best Performer...
Salford has reclaimed the crown when it comes to spoken word. There has been a real wealth of talent, with many of our region's finest poets active on an effervescent scene. Regular events, open-mic nights and The Fringe saw poets old and new take the stage to deliver top quality entertainment.
We've had a real diverse group of poets: from the hip-hop inspired, to the comedic and politically charged. We felt that most of our nominees would be nailed-on for best performer in any other city. Of course, this isn't 'any other city'.
With so many successful, talented poets bringing new work it wasn't going to be a simple decision. Ultimately, it was the outstanding shows by JB Barrington that swung it for our panel. JB's set has evolved into a great fusion of poignant poetics and affable comedy. His work transcends poetry; this accessibility saw JB perform on an eclectic range of line-ups.
It only started in 2012 for JB Barrington, but he has flourished as a counter-culture raconteur. JB also had an instant classic on his hands with his debut collection, Woodchip Anaglypta and Nicotined Artex Ceilings. Having seen JB Barrington perform at a few different venues, we've watched his act evolve from his earlier shows at the Kings Arms to a sell out show at Salford Arts Theatre. Since then he's gone on to appear at fund raisers, tour with bands and play festivals.
Walking on stage and uttering the disarming, 'I'm JB Barrington, don't worry, I don't know who you are either', he sets about winning over the crowd with poems on subjects including poverty, pubs and piles. He has honed his craft and added anecdotes and the odd comedic segway or two between the poems.
Ultimately, he managed to convince even the most resistant music crowds to reconsider their stance on spoken-word. This has made JB a welcome and classy addition to any line-up and critical acclaim has come from far and wide, with fans including Johnny Vegas, Ricky Tomlinson and Suggs. However, it doesn't seem to have gone to Little Hulton wordsmith's head...
When I informed JB that he had scooped the award for Best Performer, he replied in a typically self-effacing manner, "Wow honoured, only thing I've ever won was a goldfish on Silcock's Fair 1979, and our kid flushed it down the bog". This unpretentious accessibility is one of the factors that make JB Barrington increasingly popular. His work is relatable, poignant and funny.
With JB out on the road, his mum, Barbara, picked up the Award at her home in Little Hulton, while we had a virtual chat with the winner...
Firstly, congratulations on the award...
JB: "It's an absolute honour to get the best performer award from the Salford Star..."
It's been another busy year for you. What are your best moments?
"It's been another great year and this poetry lark has once again taken me to places I never could imagine possible. Once again supporting Sleaford Mods was superb, and I was also chuffed to support Reverend and the Makers on their tour performing in front of 2,000 people. I also did Kendal Calling again; that's a great festival and hopefully I'll be back there again this year."
Is it more of a challenge performing to music audiences?
"For those gigs I went out 15 minutes before the main act was due on, to a roaring crowd all revved up waiting for the band they'd paid to see. They invariably have no idea who I am, so when I walk out on my own armed with nothing but my bag of books I have to be on my toes, loud quick and funny, and do no more than 15 minutes. That length of set works perfect I reckon. Any longer and it would be difficult to hold them but it's worked so far; intense but amazing."
What does 2018 have in store for you?
"Got some great live stuff already booked in for this year, including performing at Cheltenham Playhouse as part of the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, I'm really looking forward to that. I'm also working on finishing my new book which should be out later on this year."
Congrats to JB on a well deserved award.
Keep up to date with all JB Barrington gigs, appearances and, of course, that eagerly awaited new book at the JB Barrington Facebook Page – click here
The Salford Star Awards
Best Regular Event – Evidently – click here
Best Play – Joe O'Byrne – The Haunting of Blaine Manor – click here
Best Band - The Moods - click here
Words by Ian Leslie
Main photo by Steven Speed shows JB's mum, Barbara, picking up his Award at her home in Little Hulton.