Freedom’s Just Another Word

Monday 26 September, 5pm-8pm
Freedom’s Just Another Word
A Dissonant Voices Special
Dave Downs in conversation with writer Steve Ely about his astonishing life: growing up on the mean streets of Featherstone, the violence and dark-side of ‘the doors’, the brutality, despair and humour of prison and his unlikely redemption. Raconteur, comedian and wind-up merchant, Dave will give a candid, no-holds barred and often hilarious account of a life that veered dangerously onto the wrong side of the tracks before righting itself.

I’m replaying in my mind something that happened in Wakefield Prison some years before when making the Jailhouse Opera. On the day of the performance, one of the soloists decided that he didn’t want to perform his song accompanied by his own guitar that he’d been trying to perfect all week. He played a slightly out of tune guitar to the Kris Kristofferson song made famous by Janis Joplin, ‘Me and Bobby McGee’. It is the last song he learned before coming into prison. The song that seemed to have kept him going for the nearly twenty years he’d been inside. The refrain ‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ never sounded any sadder. I cried at the end of that performance. When I got home I took out my Kris Kristofferson Greatest Hits and played that song about fifteen times one after the other.’ – Ian Clayton, Bringing It All Back Home

Dave Downs was a face worker at Ackton Hall Pit, a Rugby League professional at Featherstone Rovers and a no-nonsense night club bouncer, by the 1990s he was running doors all over the North.  The police said he was a gangster – and he admits he made ‘a few bad decisions’ – resulting in him doing seven years in HMP Armley, a place where even the hardest of the hard sob themselves to sleep into their pillows.  In prison, Dave turned the direction of his life around and he now works with disaffected young people, sharing his experiences and attempting to provide them the wherewithal to keep on the straight and narrow.

Tickets £5. Available from behind the bar. Ticket includes a £5 book voucher to be exchanged at Route‘s book stall on the day of the event.