IMAGINE you’re presenting a radio show when a listener calls in to tell you he’s going to kill himself.

That was the horrific reality facing New York DJ Bob Fass, when a suicidal caller phoned into his Radio Unnameable show on WBAI in November 1971, saying he had swallowed an overdose of three different kinds of pill.

Bob, a pioneer of free-form radio, kept the caller talking on the line while signalling to station staff to trace the call and tell the police. Their actions saved the man’s life.

The quirky tale is one of many which feature on a new record by Oxford singer-songwriter Megan Henwood in a collaboration with Scottish folk artist Findlay Napier. And the pair are bringing them to life in a special show at Oxford’s Holywell Music Room on Saturday.

The gig is part of Oxfordshire music-lover Geoff Smith’s wonderful series of Holywell Music and Folk concerts at the city centre venue – one of the oldest purpose-built music performance spaces in the world.

“Findlay and I are pretty different, but that’s what makes it fun and interesting,” says Megan, who lives off Iffley Road.

The night will see Megan and Findlay performing solo sets of their own music before coming together to play tunes from their new EP, The Story Song Scientist, which is out on March 15.

For all their musical chemistry, Megan and Findlay’s collaboration almost never happened at all.

The pair met by chance at a songwriting retreat run by the English Folk and Dance Song Society in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Both were exhausted before they had even started, Findlay having driven nine hours from Glasgow and Megan still jet-lagged after flying back from Nashville.

“I was a little bit dazed and confused!” she laughs. “Then he asked if I fancied writing a song about maths.”

On odd proposition, maybe, but the result was End Of Numbers – a tune about the late 19th-early 20th century German mathematician Georg Cantor and his struggle with infinity, maths and God.

Other songs deal with a cult in Oregon, a man who lives alone in the woods, a shepherd and his sheep (a political allegory) and single-use plastics.

“I love writing with other people,” says Megan, who in 2009, at the age of 20, won the BBC Young Folk Award with her brother Joe.

“There’s something about the synergy. It’s exciting and was unlike anything I’d done before. We immediately wanted to get the most interesting concepts we could.”

Inspiration came from podcasts. “I’m an avid podcast listener and reader,” she says. “So I had a bank of stories which I thought would be challenging to work on individually but better together.

“Like the story of Bob Foss whose radio shows were different to anyone else’s. If he liked a record he’d play it five times in a row.”

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She goes on: “The story of the guy who called in was so moving but also raises issues of morality as he had asked them not to trace the call. Yet Bob held him on the line long enough to save his life.

“It’s a really powerful story and it captured my imagination.”

The project is a departure for Megan, whose previous album, The River, was inspired by her love of the natural world – including the Thames which flows close to her home and beside which she grew up, in Henley, where he father built boats.

An elegant collection of songs, it includes The Dolly, which she describes as an “ode to Oxford”. Its title refers to a former music venue, now The Cellar in Frewen Court – which is once again fighting for its survival. The album was also performed at the Holywell – and tunes from the LP will be aired once again on Saturday.

Megan says: “I write a lot from a personal point of view but love writing about anything, and this has helped me feel a more confident person.

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“This is more acoustic, stripped back and less produced than my albums.

Findlay is also a celebrated songwriter and storyteller, likened to a Caledonian Loudon Wainwright and is a one-time member of Scottish folk band Back of the Moon. Fans include Oxfordshire’s own broadcasting legend Bob Harris.

“Findlay is hilarious,” says Megan. “He’s a fantastic writer and it was fun to hang out with him and his family in Scotland.

“We have a similar style of writing, stringing lines to pack in as much poignancy as we can without it becoming complicated. And he sounds phenomenal!”

  • Megan Henwood and Findlar Napie play the Holywell Music Room, Holywell Street, Oxford on Saturday (March 2). Details from