Barb brings a Hard Rain to Buxton

America’s “Shakespeare” comes to life at Buxton International Festival when Barb Jungr brings her world-famous re-interpretations of Bob Dylan to town.

Barb, who grew up in Stockport, has been described by Billy Bragg as the greatest interpreter of Dylan’s songs, which she sees as on a par with the work of our own Bard.

“The man’s writing is extraordinary,” said Barb who believes that anyone who doesn’t think he deserved his recent Nobel Prize doesn’t know anything about literature.

“I’ve been saying for years while I’ve been trailing around America that he’s the American Shakespeare. Nobody has disagreed with me.”

Rochdale-born Barb lived for many years in Stockport, and is looking forward to coming back to her home postcode for her show, Hard Rain – The Songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

“We used to do day trips to Buxton in the car when I was a tiddly little girl, but I haven’t been back for a while so it will be lovey and I’m really happy to be coming with this piece,” she said.

Dylan songs have not only made him famous, they’ve helped make lots of other people famous, too, because his work inspires something deeper than just a cover version – think of Jimi Hendrix and All Along the Watchtower,  The Byrds’ Tambourine Man or Johnnie Cash with It Ain’t Me Babe.

So why is Dylan endlessly open to interpretation?

“They are great songs – it’s really that simple,” said Barb. “But also it’s because he’s so extraordinary, melodically and lyrically, that there is lots you can do with re-harmonisation.

“It’s a like any good text: you can read them more than one way, and that makes him provocative and interesting.”

And, adds Barb, still surprising, despite the fact that he is synonymous with 1960s protests.

“These songs are more relevant today than they were then,” said Barb, quoting Dylan’s Power and Greed and Corruptible Seed Seems to Be All There Is as an example.

“When I sing that song, every time I think of something that has happened that same day.”

Barb’s many talents include writing comedy, putting the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt to music and being described as the ultimate nightclub singer.

“It’s about being able to talk to people,” said Barb. “If you can’t do that you don’t last three minutes in a nightclub. What people forget is that people like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald were entertainers. They were no strangers to standing in front of people and making conversations.

“It’s all about the storytelling.”

Barb Jungr: Hard Rain – the songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, Saturday July 8, 9pm to 10.30pm, Pavilion Café. Tickets £20, book via www.buxtonfestival.co.uk or phone 01298 72190.