Saturday March 29, 2003
Jez Lowe recorded his first solo album in 1980. By that time he'd already spent almost a decade playing and absorbing the traditional music of his native North East England, an area rich in working-class values, with a wealth of songs and music unique to that windswept corner of the British Isles. This was to be the substance from which he would create a body of work that would make him one of the hardest working, most popular and enduring of the many singer songwriters to emerge from Britain in the last twenty years.
Half of the year, Jez appears in concert with his group, The Bad Pennies; otherwise he tours solo and he stopped here with us on his current American tour. Jez Lowe thrives on live performance, and he was in his prime oeuvre here as he brought to this house concert a wide range of his own singer-songwriter classics that were alternately mellow and lilting and rousing.
Born in 1955 into an Irish family, in the coal-mining community of Easington in County Durham, Jez's early interest in pop music steered him into a fascination with blues and folk, especially Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Big Bill Broonzy and Woody Guthrie. A chance visit to a local folk club in 1973 to hear Martin Carthy led him down another path, and by the mid-70's Jez had begun to play a mixture of Dylan, traditional, contemporary and original material, in partnership with school friend Ged Foley, later of Patrick Street and The House Band.
Together with Christine & Paul Stockton, they formed the group Hendon Banks in 1974, which found some local success before reverting to a duo in the late '70's. Lowe went solo as the decade ended, and recorded four albums of his own songs in the 1980's on the Fellside label. These songs about working class North Eastern life would spread his reputation around the world's folk stages over the next few years.
Among those who have recorded their own versions of Lowe's songs, are Fairport Convention, Bob Fox, The Dubliners, The Tannahill Weavers, Cherish The Ladies, Gordon Bok, The McCalmans, The Black Brothers, Liam Clancy and literally hundreds of artists from as far away as Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Songs like BACK IN DURHAM GAOL, THE BERGEN, BLACK DIAMOND and THESE COAL TOWN DAYS have generated scores of cover versions, and are now classics of their kind. His songs have been taught in school classrooms, not only in his native England, but in Canada and the U.S. as well.
With 14 full length recordings to his credit, numerous tracks on compilation projects, three songbooks and a consistently full international touring calendar, Jez has proven himself as one of the busiest and most popular and respected performers on the international folk scene.
He stopped here on his USA tour in this very special House Concert. He was in his trademark striped t-shirt and he was in fine voice. His two sets delighted our packed full house audience.
Link to Jez Lowe's website: and music clips