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Captain Beefheart Weekend

  • Fri, 10 Nov 2017 - Sun, 12 Nov 2017
  • 9.00 AM - 5.00 PM

November 2017

Liverpool celebrates a twentieth century visionary.

In 1972, cult American musician Captain Beefheart (1941-2010) had his first ever exhibition of paintings at Bluecoat. 45 years later, Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts is the focus for a weekend that will consider him as a ‘Twentieth-century visionary’ working across music, visual art, writing and performance.

Devised by independent curator Kyle Percy, working in collaboration with Chris McCabe (poet and Head Librarian, National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, London) and Bluecoat’s Artistic Director Bryan Biggs, the programme features music, poetry, a symposium, a walking tour, a fanzine, an archival display and a student exhibition – involving artists, experts and fans.

Presenting Beefheart as more than just an idiosyncratic musician of the 1960s counter-culture who gave up music to develop a career as an expressive painter, the programme will also explore his specific relationship to Liverpool, where he performed several times, and his continuing impact upon the city’s musical and creative scenes.


Fri 10 Nov

The Magic Band at the Liverpool Philharmonic

Promoted by Ceremony Concerts 

Though not part of our official programme, The Magic Band return to Liverpool as part of their final UK tour, performing at Liverpool Philharmonic’s Music Room. Former Captain Beefheart musical director and drummer John ‘Drumbo’ French leads the latest version of The Magic Band for one final UK tour. A faithful rendition of the best of Beefheart’s music is guaranteed. Line-up: John ‘Drumbo’ French - lead vocals, harmonica, sax, drums; Eric Klerks - extended ranch guitar, backing vocals; Max Kutner - guitar and slide guitar; Jonathan Sindelman – keyboards; Andy Niven – Drums.

For more information and to book, please visit the Liverpool Philharmonic's website.


Sat 11 Nov

Digging Beefheart: A symposium exploring Beefheart as ‘total artist’

10.30am - 4pm

The symposium will interrogate the idea of Captain Beefheart as ‘Twentieth Century Visionary’, examining the breadth of his work and exploring how music, visual art, writing and performance overlap and feed each other.

Plus a film Beefheart On The Beach, by Alan Dunn in collaboration with The Probes, Edgar Jones, Imogen Ettridge and Tim Brunsden.

To find out more about this symposium and to book, click here.

Doped in Stunned Mirages: A Poetic Celebration of Don Van Vliet

5 - 6.30pm

In this one-off poetry event, thirteen of the UK's most exciting poets have done just that. Each has taken on the challenge of writing a new poem in response to a specific Beefheart album, from Safe as Milk to Ice Cream for Crow. Poets include Patience Agbabi, Vahni Capildeo, Sarah Crewe, Patricia Farrell, Peter Finch, Libby Houston, Matthew Thomas Smith, Tom Jenks, Chris McCabe, Robert Sheppard, Zoë Skoulding, Helen Tookey and Jeff Young.

To find out more about this event and to book, click here.

Fast N' Bulbous: A Musical Celebration of Captain Beefheart

7pm (Doors at 6.30pm)

In this special musical event, a host of Beefheart-inspired musicians will perform their own original music alongside reworkings of Beefheart songs, in celebration of a true maverick and counter-cultural hero. Many of the artists featured hail from Liverpool, reflecting the reverence and adulation that Beefheart found here. They include Pale Rider, Karm, The Cubical, Psycho Comedy, Strange Collective, a.P.A.t.T, Dave McCabe (The Zutons) and Edgar Jones and the New Joneses. Plus, very special guest: guitar legend and former Magic Band member Gary Lucas.

Providing the backing track for the evening will be local DJ, Luke Garcia Doherty with a Beefheart inspired playlist.  

To find out more about this event click here.


Sun 12 November 12-2pm

Follow the Yellow Brick Road: a walking tour of ‘Beefheart’s Liverpool’

Meet at Bluecoat 

A psychogeographical meander through Liverpool city centre, visiting resonant locations and other hidden corners of the city’s cosmic and psychedelic imaginary, starting at Bluecoat where Beefheart exhibited his paintings in 1972 and taking in sites such as the Stadium, Rotters club and Probe Records’ first shop.

Booking information coming soon.

Old Farts at Play


At Bluecoat

St Helens duo Old Farts at Play offer a semi-acoustic take on the music and poetry of Beefheart and his surreal universe.


Ice Cream for Crow at Make, North Docks, 37 Regent Street, L3 7BN

3.30pm until late

The exhibition and events will continue to be open for the public Mon 13 & Tue 14 November, 2 – 8pm

An exhibition in black and white made from an innovative and intense making project by young artists from Liverpool, Dublin, Leeds, Manchester and Salford, in response to Beefheart allegedly creating the paintings for his 1972 Bluecoat exhibition in one intense burst of activity. Curated by John Hyatt, Professor of Contemporary Art at Liverpool John Moores University, the exhibition continues and extends the relationship between regional University art schools - LJMU, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford, developed under the title of ‘The Northern Flowerpowerhouse’, for Hyatt’s ROCK ART exhibition at HOME, Manchester in February/March 2017, the exhibition will also include Leeds Beckett University and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. At the opening event on the 12th, there will be live music from The Murmurists, Inland Taipan and John Hyatt's Plastic Reality


All events are separately priced, however a discounted weekend ticket is available for £20/£15. If you are interested in this special offer please phone Tickets & Information on 0151 702 5324.

Kyle Percy would like to thank Arts Council England for supporting this event. 

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