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Ray Davies is artistic director of 18th Meltdown Festival

Ray Davies

Story by Jack Foley

RAY Davies has been announced as the artistic director of the 18th Meltdown Festival in 2011, taking place in the concert halls and spaces of London’s historic riverside arts venue, the Southbank Centre.

He follows in the footsteps of past Meltdown directors David Bowie, Morrissey, Pattie Smith, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Ornette Coleman and Richard Thompson.

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist with The Kinks, acclaimed solo artist, actor, director and storyteller, Ray Davies has written some of the most enduring songs in rock and pop history.

Feted by successive generations of musicians from David Bowie and Pete Townshend to The Fall, The Jam and Blur and, most recently, Mumford and Sons – who invited him onstage at their recent Hammersmith Apollo gig – his prowess as a storyteller has also endeared him to auteur filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Wim Wenders.

Davies’ latest release See My Friends (2010) features collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Paloma Faith, Francis Black, Metallica and many others performing Kinks songs. His highest charting album since 1967. Read our review

Hinting at a wide range of possibilities for the Meltdown programme, Ray hopes to represent artists and figures from the worlds of music, comedy, film, theatre, literature and politics who have profoundly influenced and inspired him.

Commenting on the appointment, Davies said: “My wish for Meltdown 2011 is that it will be a creative celebration through the decades. A bridge between the past present and future.

“I am thrilled to be asked to suggest what I hope will be a diverse programme, particularly as it marks the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain.”

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at Southbank Centre, said: “Enigmatic, provocative and literate – his razor-sharp observations on British society especially have coloured perceptions of ourselves for nearly 50 years.

“Ray Davies is perfectly placed to head Meltdown as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Festival of Britain next summer.”

And Jane Beese, Senior Music Programmer at Southbank Centre, added: “Ray Davies has acted and directed for TV, appeared in cult films and sold millions of records.

“Though, it is his songwriting that has kept him on our turntables, on our iPods and in our hearts over the decades, and his skills as a storyteller that make him such a tantalising choice as Meltdown director.

“With a wide range of interests and no shortage of friends and admirers, we look forward to working with this most singular talent on this most idiosyncratic of festivals.”

The 18th Meltdown Festival takes place between Friday, June 10 and Sunday, June 19, 2011.