Interview: Paul Jones of The Blues Band
WHEN The Blues Band – aka Paul Jones, Dave Kelly, Robe Townsend, Gary Fletcher and Tom McGuiness – take to the stage tomorrow night they will be making history.
For the group will be celebrating their 30th anniversary together.
“I always said it was crazy to imagine a band could stay together for this long,” admitted frontman Paul Jones.
“You get less than 30 years for murder!
“Actually the truth is we had about two-and-a-half years not together from the early 1983 to the middle of 1985.”
The band is acknowledged throughout Europe and beyond as being among the very finest purveyors of R&B in the UK today.
They have inspired numerous other blues, many of which have come and gone – but The Blues Band have remained a constant, increasingly popular fixture.
And they’re looking forward to doing what they do best at Colne tomorrow night.
“We always look forward to gigs anyway, but the festival is kind of special,” said Jones, who is also well-known for his popular BBC Radio 2 show.
“It’s one of the highlights of the blues calendar and we’ll get the chance to meet up with old friends.”
That’s somewhat of an understatement. The performers Jones doesn’t know from gigging, he knows from his radio show.
Scanning a copy of the line-up he said: “Alvin Youngblood Hart, Oh yes, I certainly always look forward to seeing Alvin.
“I’ve been a big fan for a long time and he’s done my radio programme a few times.
“I’ve actually appeared with Alvin at Ronnie Scott’s club in London.
“Deborah Bonham. I was with Deborah just the other day we were at a festival together.
“And Alan Price. Oh wonderful, Alan’s going to be there.
“We know him very well because I’ve toured with him for four of the last eight years.”
As well as being in the Blues Band Jones is a member of the Manfreds – a group reuniting many original members of Manfred Mann.
Jones was the original vocalist and harmonica player of successful 1960s group Manfred Mann and had several top ten hits with them before going solo in 1966.
He was less successful without the band than they were with his replacement, but he did have hits notably with High Time (1966), I’ve Been a Bad Bad Boy and Thinkin’ Ain’t For Me (both 1967).
Were they crazy days back then?
“It’s too long ago for me to remember!” laughed Jones.
“I guess it was kind of a bit crazy yeah, but the truth is the Manfreds are still together now and that’s just as crazy, in fact probably more crazy than it was then.
“I’ve been playing music for close to 50 years in total now, that’s crazy in itself.”
After going solo Jones undertook several other projects including acting in cult film Privilege opposite model Jean Shrimpton in 1967, and performing as Peron in the original concept album of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita.
He also played harmonica as a session musician on recordings by artists including Gerry Rafferty, Dave Edmunds, Katie Melua, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Marti Webb.
In the 1980s Jones became a familiar face on television in the children’s series, Uncle Jack.
In the meantime, he enjoyed a parallel career as presenter of radio programmes focusing mainly on rhythm and blues, notably his long-running weekly show on BBC Radio 2.
“It wasn’t my plan to go into acting and other thing,” said Jones.
“Most of the things that I’ve done outside music have just been things that people have asked me to do.
“Even the radio programme wasn’t my idea.
“The producer of the show just picked me out and said ‘Hey we’ve got this idea would you like to be involved?’ And I said ‘Yeah, sounds good to me’.
“So that’s what I did. I enjoy it very much, not everybody gets the opportunity to play their favourite records in front of an audience do they?
“And as long as I don’t have to choose between music and other interests I won’t.”
Jones has also released another solo album, Starting All Over Again, which he hopes to showcase at the festival.
“My last solo album was in 1971 and this one has been extremely well received so I’m pleased.
“The only thing is that with being in The Blues Band and The Manfreds I don’t get time to promote my solo stuff so if I get the chance to get one song of the album into the set it’ll be great.”
l See The Blues Band on the International Stage on Saturday, August 29 at 9.15pm.