Jools Street and the Tile Hill BilliesReview
If, like me, one of the things to look forward to & keep me relatively sane during the depths of lockdown was Jools Street's weekly bluegrass live streams, you'll be pleased to hear that he has made formal recordings of a number of tunes which you can enjoy for the moment via this link:
Although Jools plays his Tile Hill Billy gigs (when of course such are possible) as a duo or trio, out of necessity all these tracks were performed solo & produced by Jools himself (although nowadays Jools is known far & wide as a violin maestro playing with many bands such as The Mechanicals, the Wes Finch Band, Honky Tonk Rose, Doc Brown, to name just a few we've recently covered in the magazine), if you've checked out ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume 1' and the Russian Girlfriend track "Chameleon Boy", you'll have already heard his guitar playing too).
If , also as I do, you enjoy the bluegrass tunes of Tile Hill Billy but don't know very much about the genre, check out Jools' live streams as he always gives a lot of background to each song: previous recordings of note, composition (where known) and the origins of each. It's surprising how many pieces which seem rooted in Americana are in fact derived from Irish, Scottish & English folk melodies.
So in this collection we have the sprightly jig of "Bonnie Kate Reel" (which sounds very Scottish to me), the more stately "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps", the rustic "Boatman", "Blue Ridge Reel" (we even get some electric guitar on this one), "Blue Eagle", "Blake's March", "Blackberry Blossom" (another one with prominent electric guitar & probably the most noticeable percussion too) and "Black Jack Grove" with its interesting slurring & instrumental interplay.
Also on this channel you can hear compilations of other tunes of a similar background recorded in September (14 tunes) & October (12) under the alias of "Jools Street and the Band of Nobodies"
If you like being lifted up by virtuoso & tasteful instrument playing of compelling tunes which are nevertheless not necessarily currently known to you & if being taken to other, simpler, places & times is conducive in these circumstances, then I commend these songs & this channel to you.
Personally, although by now I've heard much of this repertoire online & a substantial number performed live in the context of gigs of other bands Jools plays in, I still haven't yet heard a full Tile Hill Billies concert (though I came agonising close to organising one in 2019). It's on 2021's bucket list….