Joan Armatrading on touring roll 

click to enlarge British singer Joan Armatrading’s solo tour comes to San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom this week. - COURTESY ANDREW CATLIN
  • British singer Joan Armatrading’s solo tour comes to San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom this week.
British singer Joan Armatrading barely noticed when she turned 64 in December while on the road, promoting her 2012 release “Starlight.” The same may happen this year. She’ll hit 65 while still on the same solo tour, which started in South Africa, then steamrolled through her native Britain, Ireland, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and hits San Francisco on Tuesday. “Tonight will be my 128th concert, and it will be well over 200 by the time I finish,” she says, phoning from an overseas venue. “This tour is long. I haven’t had any time to think about making another album!”

You’ve been doing your own series of BBC Radio shows, like “Joan Armatrading’s Favorite Guitarists” and “More Guitar Favorites”?

Yes. I’ve done different radio shows, on different things. I did those two on guitarists that I really like, and I’ve done stuff on choirs and music from the West Indies and things like that. I don’t even know how they all happen, really. But initially, I had this idea for a program and wanted to take it to somebody to see if they were interested, but before I was able to do that, I got this letter asking me if I would be interested in doing a radio program. It was some really weird synchronicity.

What was your most recent subject?

It was a narrative voiceover for a documentary on the Newport Folk Festival. And I discovered a lot of interesting things about the festival – which I’ve actually played a couple of times – while I was narrating it. But when I’m interviewing people, it’s easy, because I’m a guitarist, so I’m not talking about something I don’t know. So I chose the people I wanted to talk to, because I thought they would be interesting and I really liked their playing.

And this tour is just you, onstage alone, right?

Yes. It’s me with electric guitar, acoustic six-string, and acoustic 12-string and piano. And actually, I’m used to being alone – I write on my own, I arrange my songs myself. And I don’t change the set as I want to – I like to know what’s going on. When I go into the studio, I go in with a full song, not just some vague idea. And when I do my tours, I go in knowing that this is the set list, this is the order of the show.

Your South African shows were for Anthems of Democracy, celebrating 30 post-apartheid years.

It was a very emotional few days there. The concerts were highlighting the struggle and coming through to this peaceful emergence of a new South Africa. And all the artist that were involved were people who’d played quite a part in making this history come about. It was absolutely amazing.


Joan Armatrading

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. May 5

Tickets: $42.50 to $79.50 (sold out)

Contact: (888) 929-7849,

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