AS one of the driving forces behind the folk juggernaut Bellowhead Jon Boden was used to travelling the country with a massive array of instruments.
Now as he prepares to come to Clitheroe Grand with his solo tour, he admits nothing much has changed.
“It’s not quite Bellowhead but it’s certainly not a light pack,” laughed the multi-instrumentalist and one half of award-winning duo Spiers and Boden.
“I thought I might be able to do the tour in the car but I’ve found I need a long wheelbase van. There’s quite a lot of stuff to lug around.”
The ‘stuff’ includes guitars, mandolins, fiddles and keyboards plus his trademark ‘stomp box’, all essential for Jon as he tackles songs from throughout his career.
“I do like the freedom that a solo tour affords,” he said. “If you are in the middle of a song and you fancy doing an instrumental, then you can do.
“Similarly if you want to introduce a new song into the show that’s possible. I did a gig the day that Leonard Cohen died so I learned one of his song s during the day and played it that night. You couldn’t really do that with a full band.
“There’s also part of me that enjoys the fact that a solo show forces me to work a bit harder.
“It was lovely in Bellowhead as I just had to make sure I turned up on time and sang vaguely in tune but that was it really. It’s a much more challenging proposition entertaining people by yourself but it’s something I find exciting and invigorating.”
Jon’s first solo album, Painted Lady, originally released in 2006, has recently been reissued with three new tracks including a cover of Whitney Houston’s I Want to Dance with Somebody.
“The three new tracks for the reissue are there in every set and then I might also do two or three more from the original album,” he said.
“It’s a funny album, partly because it was written when I was in my early 20s. Now I’ve just turned 40 I’m approaching it more as an interpreter than the composer as I’m far removed from the person who wrote it.”
Given the passage of time, Jon could be forgiven for having a different view about some of his early songs.
“Actually I’m not too critical of that album,” he said. “It was done in a fairly organic way which was basically me throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. I liked the feeling at the time and that’s not changed. It’s an album I’ve always really enjoyed.”
Although Jon is seen as a folk artist - this year he will be guest curator at the Cambridge Folk Festival - his work ranges from the traditional to the avant garde.
“I always thought that prog folk was a good description of Bellowhead,” he said. “I do love the adventurous spirit you get in prog rock and the way that nothing was restricted.
“One of the problems of the music scene to me is that too many people are trying to be risk averse. It is far more important to consider if people will actually enjoy what you are doing.”
Jon Boden, Clitheroe Grand, Sunday, May 21. Details from 01200 421599 or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk