Ah, this takes us back. Back to 2012 in fact, when we first saw Luke Jackson (then a VERY young man) play on the same tour with Martyn Joseph which he speaks of fondly here. Since then, we’ve seen him play more times than Soft Mick, festivals, cafes, bars and even supporting Marillion! He’s been very active during lockdown, keeping busy with online performances and has some new music coming out at the end of January (a seven track digital only EP named Of The Times) which we’ll be onto as soon as. Luke has also found time to write a piece for us about the inspiration that is Martyn Joseph.
I had a slight obsession when I was younger with singers who had a worn voice. Those voices which sounded beaten by years on the road, too many late nights singing in bars full of thick smoke and belting it out a little too hard just to be heard over the drunkards at the back of the room. I’m talking about artists such as Ray LaMontagne, Bruce Springsteen, Foy Vance and Ted Hawkins, to name a few!
So the first time I heard Martyn Joseph perform with such raw passion and feeling, a voice with the perfect troubadour rasp, a guitar style which has influenced me greatly and songs that could make a grown man cry, naturally, he had me hooked.
I was 14 the first time I heard Martyn. At this age, I was performing at open mic nights in neighbouring towns and venturing up to the big smoke with my Dad to play session nights. On the way back from a set in London I had fallen asleep in the passenger seat (school in the morning) but my Dad was listening to Bob Harris on Radio 2 and on came Martyn Joseph’s song Vegas. My Dad loved what he heard and ended up getting us tickets once he’d seen Martyn was due to play locally in a few weeks. I found myself in a great venue in Maidstone Kent called The Zebra Bar, a venue me and my Dad had become regulars at after attending a lot of their shows. On walked Martyn, and at this point I still hadn’t actually heard anything of his, but the moment he dug into his first song the whole room was captivated and I knew this was going to be a memorable and inspiring musical experience.
I remember spending my hard-earned paper round money on his album Deep Blue that evening, money well spent as it still gets played to this day!
I think this and his acoustic album ‘Evolved’ are my two favourites, including songs like Can’t Breathe, Cardiff Bay & Sing To My Soul which are just masterful examples of song writing. With lyrics like “I’m slick with words and sentences, I’m silver with my tongue, if a stories to be telling, then baby I’m the one,” it is hard not to be impressed!
You must have had it when you’ve been introduced to an artist, or stumbled across them accidentally in the early hours of the morning down a YouTube rabbit hole and they make you sit up, make you listen a little harder, and before you know it you’ve researched their whole back catalogue, bought all their records, know the lyrics and have tired your friends out with the constant ‘You need to check this guy out!!’
After that night in Maidstone, I found myself as a musician taking so much inspiration from Martyn’s music. So a couple of years later when I was fortunate enough to have a 2 month tour opening for him, I was watching each night taking notes from the side of the stage, working out how to command a room, to ebb and flow, bring light and shade into a live show, to evoke every feeling possible and how to be captivating each moment on stage. It was the best masterclass I could have had!
Years on I still take great inspiration from all corners of his musical ability and that’s why when I was asked to do this, Martyn Joseph was an easy choice!
Our thanks to Luke for taking time to share his thoughts. Watch out for our review of his new EP.
Here’s the new video for Nothing But Time from the Of The Times EP:
And here are a few photos from the MJ/LJ tour in 2012 that Luke speaks of. Shot at The Met in Bury (don;t use without permission from Mike Ainscoe please)
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