Jez Lowe – Over Hulton Folk Club – 1st June 2022
Over Hulton continues to thrive, with little room to spare in the Conservative Club function room the evening as the treats started with a short spot from our host Corrie Shelley. Clearly deeply immersed in local coal mining history, it’s folklore and its legacy her set included some songs written after meeting veteran miners from the locality, escape from the dark, about the plight of pit ponies appropriately accompanied by tapping clogs, ghost lights and about the miner’s code of conduct. Her interviews clearly represented the mining community and while the pits may have disappeared, the spirit and camaraderie is still strong. We are all aware that many artists require certain substances to enhance their performance and Corrie is no different…..albeit a cup of tea!!!! She sang of her childhood recollections in when the fair comes to town and gave us a sensitive rendition of The Box from the last album Forget Me Not. The evening’s organisers wanted to put on a quality act to support a top-quality main act in Jez Lowe. They didn’t have to go far to find one!!!
Jez Lowe’s immediate warm on stage presence emanated from the start. He too has a coal mining background, this obviously from the North-East. His association with the Pitman Poets, his songs Black Diamond and these Things I Know, showed empathy with the local heritage. His gentle humour and wordsmithery often brought out hilarious responses from the audience who clearly were loving every minute. His songs of declining industry (Taking on men), amusing and sensitive love songs ( Another Man’s Wife), and rebel heroes (Will Of The People) struck a chord with the audience.
Not only do Jez’s songs touch on love, social issues, everyday life and family events, but they also paint a picture of his life observations and concerns. However, the subtle and amusing charm he ensues shrouds a hard message telling poignant stories like his version of Jack Connor who wrote This Is Not My Tribe in the 1930’s when he couldn’t understand the way the country ran. (Ring any bells?) Indeed, songs like Wrong Bus, donning a cockney and German accent retelling the story of how British soldiers were actually London bussed to the front and neither side wanting to be there.
Rousing laughter rippled around the room in Talk To Me Dirty In Geordie proving being Northern is sexy and reminded me of regular requests when I was a student in Bromley, Kent and being asked to repeat words like ‘book’ and ‘castle’ for their amusement. ( I won’t go into detail on whether its pulling power worked!!)
More merriment filled the room with stories of a mother’s saucy secret, a meeting at the supermarket (Feller In The Checkout Queue), weary and cold Romans building fortifications across the north ( You Won’t Make Old Bones) and worries about confronting love rival (Another Man’s Wife). All these songs showed wonderful songwriting skill , indeed such is his expertise that his song London Danny was covered by none other than Fairport Convention.
Jez is a very versatile performer, with radio and book writing credits to his name. If you missed him this time around be sure to catch him when he returns to Wigan in November. You will not be disappointed.
The Over Hulton Folk Club are definitely pulling out all the stops. Their clientele mirrors folk audiences around the country as Jez told me it reflects the age group attending folk clubs everywhere, which is amazing when there are many brilliant young artists coming through the folk ranks.
At one point Jez also mused where the folk club scene started with many places claiming responsibility. However, like most things in music, new trends and styles emerged from something else rather than an explosive event. Personally, I think clubs emerged from music in coffee bars and singarounds then when larger venues were needed and artists travelled around the club scene developed. Whatever caused the demise of these clubs there is something special going on in Over Hulton.
Folk clubs now, and OHFC is no exception, are like mini-festivals; places to meet old friends and meet new ones discover new artists and see more traditional ones, in a friendly music- loving environment. OHFC has some juicy treats in store in the coming months as well as their monthly ‘come and have a go’ sessions.
6th July – Stanley Accrington
3rd August – Steve Turner and Winter Wilson
5th October – Reg Meuross
Can I also take this opportunity to plug another wonderful event. This year we will be anticipating the return of much-missed festivals like Cropredy but also the Whitby Folk Festival will return between 20th to 26th August, which at around £200 for 5 days is amazing value for money for fans of traditional folk music, (weekend and day tickets also available). Check out their website – whitbyfolk.co.uk
Categories: Live Reviews