BADLY Drawn Boy star Damon Gough has said it may be 17 years since he found fame with his album The Hour Of The Bewilderbeast, but it seems like a lifetime ago to him. Damon will headline the Sunday night of this weekend’s Purbeck Valley Folk Festival for what will be a special appearance.

The Bolton-raised songwriter has had a break from music following the end of his marriage, with a welcome re-emergence in 2015 to mark the anniversary of his Mercury Prize-winning debut by touring the UK, playing the record in its entirety before its re-release last year.

Looking back on its initial release in 2000, Damon said: “People I knew back then who were 15 are now grown-ups with babies of their own.

“It feels like another world, although the standard reaction when I say it was all 15 years ago is to say, ‘Ooh, it doesn’t feel that long ago’. I think it feels like longer.”

The 47-year-old, known for his defacto uniform of shoulder-length hair, beard and bobble hat, his slightly shambolic gigs and his heartfelt lyrics, also talked about how he needed to take time out after his marriage to wife Clare ended.

“I split up with my missus three years ago,” he said.

“We were together for 16 years and have two kids. I didn’t really want to talk about it at the time, out of respect to her and our relationship, but now three years have gone, I feel like it’s probably OK to talk about what’s been going on. That’s also why I’ve not been playing or doing anything, because I’ve been putting my life back together.”

There’s a bitter irony to Damon talking like this while gearing up to perform tracks from Bewilderbeast, because the album is largely centred on his attempts to woo Clare.

“I fell for her, and now we’re not together and I’m touring it. I hadn’t thought about that before and now it’s dawned on me.”

The silver lining is that the heartache has spurred him on and given him the kickstart he needs to start making music again. He says he’s been in the studio, and has more than an album’s worth of material ready to record after a long period of not wanting to bother.

“The idea of putting myself back in the frame with some gigs and a re-release of the first album is a good incentive to crack on,” he said.

“I want to make everyone aware that this isn’t just me resting on my laurels and releasing an old album and playing some old songs. This is the opposite, it’s to spur me on to do something new; a new album next year.”

It’s highly unlikely any new record will feature songs about the breakdown of his relationship, however, as Damon said he finds the idea impossible to stomach, and could never write something as confessional as, say, Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, which documented his split from then-wife Sara.

“Losing a relationship is one of the hardest things you can go through, but everyone needs to move on. For me, especially as I write personally, it’s very difficult, and for a while, I just didn’t know what to write. The climate as it is, with more and more reality TV, everybody giving everything of themselves, that’s what’s expected, but I won’t be down about it.”

A shining light for British indie and folk music, festival organiser Catherine Burke is over the moon that Badly Drawn Boy is making his Purbeck Valley Folk Festival debut this weekend: “It’s a real coup for us to get Damon on the bill. We always thought he’d be perfect for the Sunday solo slot.”

Catherine added: “He brings his raw lyrical power to Purbeck Valley, coupled with his Mancunian humour and charm. It also doubles the amount of Mercury Music Award Winners performing this year, as Ben Ottewell from Gomez won in 1998. It should be something special.”

The glittering line-up also includes Turin Brakes, Ben Ottewell (from Gomez), Michele Stodart (from The Magic Numbers), This Is The Kit, Martha Tilston, Kathryn Williams and Dorset favourites, The Ben Waters Band. Not to mention exciting stars of the folk scene such as Gabby Young and John Smith.

Running over the Bank Holiday weekend, revellers can expect the very best folk, roots and world music. The organisers have carefully chosen an exciting line-up that reflects the diversity of the current folk scene, with plenty to keep music lovers and families entertained.

Of course it’s not just about the music, as the Purbeck Valley Folk Festival also features a host of other popular attractions including comperes, stage crew, kids entertainers, storytellers, craft workshops, music workshops, song sessions, poetry, Purbeck Rising, open mics and the very best folk, roots and world music. All this surrounded by stunning views of Corfe Castle, accessible camping and some truly delicious food.

Weekend tickets (Thurs-Sun) include free camping and are on sale now for £120 (youth £60, children age 4-11 £30). A limited number of festival day tickets are also now on sale at £51 per day (£25 youth, £15 child).

For tickets and information please visit