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December 4, 2021

Barb Jungr – the consummate Dylan and Cohen interpreter

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Barb Jungr, photo by Steve Ullathorne

Barb Jungr is the consummate Dylan and Cohen interpreter. A performer who truly knows how to deliver a memorable show. Jungr is in Byron for one show only.

How do you keep yourself engaged and enthralled with your performance?

People are amazing. I can be at a low and I’ll come off stage and someone will come up to me. This woman took my hand and said, ‘never stop what you’re doing. What you’re doing is wonderful.’ It’s like the spirits are always there, taking to you, no matter what.

Cabaret has had a huge resurgence, so much so that ‘alternative’ cabaret is actually at the forefront. Is that something you saw coming?

No. Never. So that’s great. I love that cabaret and jazz and folk and blues, which get so little mainstream media time, are suddenly walking around strutting their stuff again!

Why do you think it was ‘underground’ for so long when so often the work there was often of higher artistic merit than some mainstream cabaret?

By ‘mainstream’ do you mean American, or songbook cabaret? I have always believed that cabaret must have a political element, so I’ve always felt much closer to European, or alternative, cabaret than anything else.

I was a huge fan of Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, who worked a lot with British jazz singer Claire Martin, and he knew his stuff on songbook so well. I don’t really care if it’s mainstream or underground or anything, I just want it to be good.

Do you think being ‘underground’ or ‘alternative’ offers artists greater chances of extending themselves artistically?

I don’t care how far people extend themselves if what they’re doing isn’t interesting. I can take massive leaps if what I’m asked to be a part of in an audience is someone trying to do something bloody brilliant. I really want things to be bloody brilliant.

What were the defining moments that helped establish your creative voice?

I’m the child of refugees so all of that’s had a huge effect on the work and on the creative voice. I grew up in the 1960s so I was in a world that was full of life force and positivity. At home we had opera and music and Nat King Cole, but there was dialect and humour and politics. I was born in Rochdale and grew up in Stockport. It was the industrial northwest. It’s all had an effect. And my mum and dad were incredible.

I hear you had early involvement with Julian Clary; tell me a little about that.

I love Julian. I met him at a show in the original alternative cabaret circuit in London in 1984 and in 1985 at Edinburgh and we’ve been friends ever since. Fanny the Wonderdog used to sometimes come stay with me and sleep in the bed with her head on the pillow beside me; I loved that little dog. I still have Fanny’s pot we had from the show Sticky Moments, which I appeared on and for which I wrote the theme. Julian and I did an evening together at Crazy Coqs in London just for the joy of it and, because of that, we have a little something up our sleeve for 2017.

How do you bring comedy to the stage in your performance?

It’s just the way of it. I’m lucky in that I grew up in a humour zone – the northwest. I had funny parents, and I was lucky enough to work through the entire alternative cabaret areas in London in the mid to late eighties and so I got to work alongside the funniest people in the UK and learned a lot from all of them.

Can pathos and comedy sit side by side?

Yes. They are the same coin, welded together with pain and joy.

What should we expect for your show in Byron Bay?

Well, I hope some great music and songs and singing and a laugh and a cry and some alchemy. I can’t wait to do this material in Byron Bay!

Saturday 4 June at the Byron Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through www.byroncentre.com.au.


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