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Don McLean and Jarrod Dickenson at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
Event:
Botanical Gardens tour reaches the UK and Ireland
At the age of 72, Don McLean continues to record and perform and on April 29, 2018, he begins a UK and Irish tour to promote his 19th studio album, Botanical Gardens. Joining him for the shows, including a gig at Birmingham Symphony Hall on May 10, is Texas-born Jarrod Dickenson, who Don personally invited onto the tour.

Don McLean, Jarrod Dickenson, Botanical Gardens, Symphony Hall Birmingham, American Pie, Vincent


Best known for his songs American Pie, Vincent and Castles in the Air, Don McLean (pictured above) boasts over 40 gold and platinum records worldwide. Botanical Gardens is his first studio album in eight years, with some music writers claiming it is his most reflective to date.

Don says: "The inspiration for the project started years ago when I would walk in the beautiful gardens in Sydney, Australia, near the Opera House. I would dream young dreams and it was a comfort and an inspiration. I was always young inside, like we all are, and I felt it again there.

"The whole album really revolves around the title song. Later on, I realised that the gardens are really a metaphorical heaven, and there's a kind of death and rebirth."

Don McLean, Jarrod Dickenson, Botanical Gardens, Symphony Hall Birmingham, American Pie, Vincent


Recorded at Watershed Studios in Nashville, the album weaves country, Americana, folk, and boot-stomping rock. Don (below) says the intimacy of the studio meant he and his band were made to "play close and feel the music", resulting in a raw, yet tight sound throughout.

Don McLean, Jarrod Dickenson, Botanical Gardens, Symphony Hall Birmingham, American Pie, Vincent


In nearly 50 years on the scene, Don's songs have become a staple in Americana music. They have been performed by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Madonna, Fred Astaire, Chet Atkins, Weird Al Yankovick, George Michael, Josh Groban, Coolio and Ed Sheeran. His biggest hit, American Pie, was recognised by being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. This was quickly followed by Don himself being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004.

Tour guest Jarrod Dickenson is currently in great demand. He supported The Wandering Hearts in March and is opening for Grant Lee Philips on an eight-date tour in April before joining Don McLean for 32 shows in the UK and Ireland.

Don McLean, Jarrod Dickenson, Botanical Gardens, Symphony Hall Birmingham, American Pie, Vincent
In demand: Jarrod Dickenson (pic: Josh Wall)


He says: ''To be able to watch a master at work every night for 32 nights is an opportunity like no other. I'm excited to sing my songs to these music-loving audiences in some of the most stunning rooms across the UK and Ireland, and will be trying to learn as much as I can from Don and his incredible band in the process.''

Jarrod's latest release is a single, Your Heart Belongs To Me, a duet sung with his wife Claire. The song is a love story inspired by the four-year period in which he had a long distance relationship with Claire before they were married. It talks about what Jarrod describes as "how true love needs no frills, no sugar coating. True love wants to get straight to the heart of the matter, and the thing that binds two people together more than anything else is time spent with one another."

Their relationship started after meeting at the Songwriters Festival in Belfast, where Jarrod (below) was a performer and Claire a volunteer working at the entrance. They instantly hit it off, and although Jarrod was due to hit the road the following day, they knew there was something special between them. They remained in close contact, during which time a romance blossomed.

Don McLean, Jarrod Dickenson, Botanical Gardens, Symphony Hall Birmingham, American Pie, Vincent


Jarrod says he took inspiration from this time apart for his new single. "It's not necessarily an auto-biographical song, but where we were in our own relationship at that time certainly influenced my writing. There were very few gifts exchanged in our dating and courtship, because every penny each of us had was spent in travel to see the other. All we wanted was to be together, and I think the characters in this song feel the same way."

Don McLean and Jarrod Dickenson 2018 UK and Ireland tour dates:

Apr 29: Cliffs Pavilion, Southend;
Apr 30: Barbican Centre, York;
May 1: Victoria Theatre, Halifax;
May 2: Sage, Gateshead;
May 4: De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill On Sea;
May 6: Donald Gordon Theatre, Cardiff;
May 7: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester;
May 9: London Palladium;
May 10: Symphony Hall, Birmingham;
May 11: Colston Hall, Bristol;
May 13: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool;
May 15: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow;
May 16: Usher Hall, Edinburgh;
May 20-23: Vicar Street, Dublin;
May 25: Theatre Royal, Castlebar;
May 26: Millennium Theatre, Derry;
May 27: Aura Arena, Letterkenny;
May 29: Opera House, Wexford;
May 30: Lyrath Estate, Kilkenny;
Jun 1-2: Theatre Limerick;
Jun 3: Knocknarea Arena, Sligo;
Jun 5: Mullingar Park Hotel, Co. Westmeath;
Jun 7: Waterfront Hall Auditorium, Belfast;
Jun 8-9: Seapoint, Galway;
Jun 11-12: Vicar Option, Dublin;
Jun 14: The Marquee, Cork.


Don McLean, Jarrod Dickensen, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Botanical Gardens
Venue: Symphony Hall, Birmingham
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Why? American Pie legend tours with in-demand Texan
When: Touring from April 29, 2018; in Birmingham on May 10
Phone: 0121 780 3333
Where: Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and touring
Cost: 40.50 - 45.50 plus fees
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