A world-renowned American singer songwriter is coming to Henley next week with his familiar radio favourites and mid-country folk tunes.

Dean Friedman, 61, shot to the forefront of pop culture in 1977 with his folk hit Ariel, which told the tale of falling in love with a vegetarian Jewish girl who wore a peasant blouse and lived on the other side of the Hudson.

Dean tells me: “I think of my songs as short stories. I write about the world around me. You should write what you know about, life experience, family friends, everything that you can see and hear.”

Music was always a part of Dean’s life; he recalls it being prevalent in his childhood home in Paramus, New Jersey.

“My mum was a singer so there was always some show tune on the piano, I grew up in a house full of music. Once I had my first transistor radio I was listening to everything on the air froorm The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, The Supremes. I had a special affinity for singer songwriters, folks like Joni Mitchel, Paul Simon, who told stories through words and music.

“I took piano lessons when I was five, I took guitar lessons when I was aroundbout nine and the rest was all self-taught. I picked up the harmonica later on in the day. I just liked to figure out how they worked and make sounds out of them.”

The ubiquitous influence of music remained with him and is something he has passed on to his own children.

When I asked for the highlights of his career his family is what he is most proud of.

“It’s always fun doing a big concert but for me the most fun has been is having the chance to perform with my kids, they’re who are both talented musicians. I would be standing on stage and looking left and right and seeing them both play and sing harmonies and that’s very satisfying. My daughter Hannah is now 29, my son Sam is 25, and they’re in California making music and working hard.”

When Dean is in the UK and not gigging with his children he admits that the venue he will be visiting in Henley next week is one of his favourites.

“The Crooked Billet is always one of my favourite gigs, there’s a really warm atmosphere. Paul Clerehugh who runs it is just the coolest host and greatest chef and I always looks forward to the gig. I will be singing familiar radio hits and band favourites, and mid tunes as well.”

The Crooked Billet, Newlands Lane, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 5PU, Tuesday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 22. Details: 01491 681048