LAURENCE JONES - TELLING THE TRUTH AT THE ZEPHYR
No support just two hours of the finest modern blues around curtesy of our local boy Laurence and his red hot, explosive band and talking of his band for me this current line-up is the best he has ever had.
Greg Smith at the back on bass is cool and steady as a rock if not as much of a character as previous bassist Roger Innis but then few people are!, Phil Wilson cuts a dynamic figure on the drum stool with flourishes galore and surely one of Laurence's best decisions was bringing a keyboard player to the band and Bennet Holland is a revelation on the wonderful Hammond and other keys adding an extra dimension to the sound while also suppling quality backing vocals.
All of his studio output was paid a visit with as expected his recently released The Truth album given special attention, this latest work is certainly his most polished and diverse album to date keeping his wonderful blues style but giving us what he says he has always wanted, to produce a crossover blues album like some of his musical heroes.
Most of The Truth material was given a run out with the opening two numbers the same as on the album firstly the wonderful, groovy and funky blues of ‘What Would You Do' followed by the zippy ‘Don't Let Me Go'.
Other standouts from the newbie included with possibly the biggest change of style from Laurence the catchy, light and breezy ‘Keep Me Up At Night' which even had a touch of dare we say dance music about it at times and the intense slow blues of ‘Can't Go On Without You' which included a cracking guitar/Hammond duel and loved Laurence's comment after a string break "you can't break a string on a keyboard".
For me when Laurence pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix (introduced by saying he is the reason he picked up a guitar, pretty sure he is not alone in that!) it is always a magical part of the set and ‘All Along The WatchTower' was an explosive delight with not for the only time in the set Laurence at full light on the fretboard just inches from those of us on the front row.
Another equally magical part of the set and the best version I have heard was going right back to the start of his story with the soulful, blues drenched ‘Thunder In The Sky' from his debut album and the extended solos were a joy to behold.
These days Laurence's stage craft matches his guitar prowess and always improving vocals as he made sure to get right into the fans faces either side of the stage and during one track taking his guitar off stage into the crowd and while surrounded getting down on his knees and soloing with his teeth!
Great to see Laurence bring the extremely young Toby Lee onto stage for a couple of numbers again and this extremely youthful guitar maestro (makes Laurence seem like an old master!) was having a ball sharing licks with our Laurence, surely it cannot be long before we see him on the Zephyr stage in his own right.
The rockiest part of the night introduced with a "Are You Ready To Rock and Roll" was a storming ‘Foolin Me' from the Temptation album with Laurence on full throttle and for crowd participation we had plenty of opportunity to sing along during the smooth, cool and funky ‘I Will'.
For emotional content ‘Thinking About Tomorrow' a song born out of tragedy is hard to beat starting with Laurence alone the rest of the band gradually walked on and joined in making this a special heartfelt moment of a special gig.
Another faultless performance by no longer a rising star but these days a real star of the modern blues scene with the added bonus that he is one of our very own.
**** "ROCK AND ROLL DREAMS COME TRUE - THE LIVE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANDREW LOCK 2008-2018" PHOTO EXHIBITION - THE OAK HOUSE SPORTS AND SOCIAL CLUB, LEAMINGTON SPA WEDNESDAY 17TH OCTOBER 2018 - 7-10-30PM****
PLANET ROCK BRINGS LAURENCE JONES BACK TO THE ZEPHYR
One of our very best local blues men Laurence Jones is back on home turf this May when he performs at The Zephyr Lounge on Friday 4th in conjunction with Planet Rock (a fine radio station and magazine it is by the way) and it is a sign of how well he is doing that they are on board.
He is sure to treat us to a selection from his recently released (would you believe it!) 5th studio album The Truth as well as fan favourites from his rapidly growing back catalogue.
Last year at the same venue he was simply stunning and he also supported Kenny Wayne Sheperd later in 2017 at The Assembly (unfortunately I was unable to charm my way into covering that one!) and I love it that he regularly continues to include local shows in his gig schedule and long may this continue.
For those of you that have seen this amazing guitarist/vocalist and his band in action I am preaching to the converted but for those that have not had the Laurence Jones live experience treat yourself to a night of top quality modern blues from one of the stars of the genre, and yes for me he is still getting better all the time.
The photos above are a few of my unpublished shots from that amazing Zephyr Lounge gig last year and I have kept back what I think are a couple of crackers for my exhibition this year.
***Coming this autumn in Leamington Spa - an exhibition covering my 10 years of gig photography (more info soon)***
LAURENCE JONES BACK IN TOWN SUPPORTING KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD - LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY MONDAY 30TH OCT
Another welcome return to town for one of our very own (Shipston-on-Stour, close enough!) and after his fabulous show at the smaller Zephyr Lounge back in April of this year it will be great to see him and his band strut their stuff upstairs on the bigger Assembly stage.
Blues man extraordinaire Laurence is on this bill supporting American blues star Kenny Wayne Shepherd who is touring to promote his recently released and looking at some of the on-line reviews amazing latest album Lay It On Down, and in a way the show is a bit of a double celebration as Laurence has also just released his latest studio album The Truth (his fifth, boy is he prolific!).
On paper this looks like a dream blues double header, I have never seen Kenny live but what I have heard is absolutely top class and as for Laurence I have now had the pleasure of seeing him on stage many times in the last few years and he has blown me away on each and every occasion with his energy, song writing and sheer talent.
This show has must see written all over it and I for one cannot wait.
The photos above are a few of my unpublished shots from Laurence's Zephyr Lounge gig earlier this year (some with his special guest Tom Walker).
Tickets for the show are available on-line at the Leamington Assembly
Interview of Shipston's Blues Star Laurence Jones
The multi award winning Blues sensation 25-year-old Laurence Jones was interviewed after his brilliant gig at the Zephyr Lounge in Leamington Spa on 19th April 2017. Laurence has won Best Young Blues Guitarist for three years running (2014-16) at the British Blues Awards.
The Leamington Spa gig was his local gig on his UK tour, with him living since aged 8 in Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire, but born in Liverpool.
His band line-up is Laurence Jones (guitar and vocals), Bennett Holland (keyboard and vocals), Greg Smith (bass guitar) and Phil Wilson (drums).
Q) Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed and how is it going?
It is going very well, but very busy, and it's great to be able to play to my local fans on this tour, in a town (Leamington Spa) that I started gigged in as a 16 year old budding musician.
Q) What were your early music influences?
I listened to bands such as The Hoax (An English Blues band), classic guitarists/singers in Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton along with Tony Mcphee (English blues guitarist, and founder of The Groundhogs).
Q) What was your first Blues record?
Walter Trout – "Transition" (1992). The title track from this album is my all-time favourite, but one Walter doesn't play live. So I loved it when Walter played this song to me in the dressing room, shared with Buddy Guy, in the Carnegie Hall (New York) where I was also playing in 2015.
Q) Can you talk us through the process of writing a song?
This has now become very natural but originally was with the guitar first finding the rifs and key song chords, and then getting the melodies that become the vocals. With more experience on the road I find that new songs are coming easier used my personal experiences in life.
Q) How do you cope with Crohn's disease?
I have to be very careful what I eat and drink, particularly on tour, and it helps when I am touring in Europe I have caterers with me you understand what I need, which is great. Otherwise I must fend for myself!.
(Crohn's disease is caused by a combination of environmental, immune and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. It results in a chronic inflammatory disorder, in which the body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract possibly directed at microbial antigens.)
Q) What are your Musical ambitions?
While I experimented with some pop songs in my early days I soon found and loved the Blues. I want now to evolve my band's sound into a more Blues/Rock sound to keep my audience on their toes. I do also have a few songs that I sing as acoustic sets that are a bit more pop based, and tested these out at a recent songwriters night in Leamington Spa.
Q) You have expanded to a 4-piece band – how is your music style developing?
I wanted to evolve my band into a younger hungrier line-up, and now have added this year a keyboard player (Bennett Holland), to give a fuller sound that appeals to all ages.
Q) What do you listen to when relaxing?
When I do get any quality time to relax I listen to Blues artist such as US Bluesman Joe Bonamassa, English indie pop band Blossoms and US Blues/Soul artist Gary Lee Clark Junior
Q) What is your greatest achievement to date?
Holding my "Take Me High" album launch at the Townsend Hall in my home town of Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire in front of a large crowd of excited locals, who have supported me since I first started out in the business aged 16. It was also great to eradicate the disappointment of losing the Shipston Proms Fame Contest, which I participated in the same venue, aged 12.
Laurence's current "Take It High" continues with dates around the UK (and a quick trip to the Nidaros Blues Festival in Trondheim, Norway) until the end of April 2017.
Then in May and June he will be supporting Vintage Trouble (American Rhythm & Blues) on their UK tour.
Later in the year Laurence and his band will be supporting Grammy winning Kenny Wayne Shepherd on his European & UK tour, as well as many more dates in 2017 including headlining at the Shipston Proms on 1st July and other festivals around Europe.
More information about Laurence and his tour dates can be found on his website http://www.laurencejonesmusic.com
For a full set of copyright images from the Zephyr Lounge, Leamington Spa gig, please review my Flick album https://www.flickr.com/photos/widerviewphoto/albums/72157680217745662
LAURENCE JONES - HOME TURF GIG, NEW BAND LINE UP, LIVE ALBUM RECORDING AND ROCKING UP A STORM
Yet another spectacular performance by this amazing blues artist and another on home turf (he regularly looks after what he calls his family of local fans with frequent visits) and a particularly special show as his set was being recorded for a live album.
I was very impressed with the engaging support set by the charming Tom Walker playing solo here rather than with his band The Tom Walker Trio.
For me like Laurence he likes to play his blues with a soulful edge plus a touch of funk and his rich vocals and excellent guitar work on his original material mixed with ace covers made for a sparkling performance with the audience also playing a large part.
Loved original numbers ‘Into Space' with it's strong main riff and the laid-back soul of ‘Sweet Angel' while his impressive cover of Robert Johnson's legendary ‘Crossroad' (original title Cross Road Blues of course) was a perfect mix of being faithful to the original while adding a little of his own style.
The audience really warmed to his performance with several sing-a-longs and the stage/off stage banter was flying all set including from myself, after he announced something a little different I asked if it was a blues version of Supper's Ready to which a bright spark shouted out "he is far to young to know Supper's Ready".
I hold my hand up to admitting that on hearing in the queue outside that Laurence had parted ways with dynamic bass player Roger Inniss and added a keyboard player to the band I was just slightly concerned, but my worries were completely unfounded as the next almost two hours would prove.
The newbies to the band were on the bass Greg Smith who may not (at least yet!) have that famous stage interaction with Laurence that was one of Roger's trademarks but his bass work was top quality while for me the keyboards of Bennet Holland added a wonderful new dimension to Laurence's sound, I particularly loved it when he added a touch of that honky tonk style to proceedings (and a little of that Hammond sound also worked of course).
Still on the drum stool the magnificent Phil Wilson looking as cool as ever and as for Laurence, well he makes it difficult to review in a way because I always end up saying show after show that this is the best I have seen from him (and yes yet again this was !!!!!!).
Musically he is the complete package, guitar work up there with the greats of the genre with plenty of mixing of the blues styles while he throws in those touches of soul and funk with ease but he can also turn up the heat on the out and out rockers just as easily and his vocals for still such a young man always impress me with their maturity, tone and range.
His albums as with his shows also get better and better along with his songwriting prowess and his last studio album Take Me High was one of my top albums of 2016.
Stagecraft wise he is the complete package and has audiences in the palm of his hands with his friendly, good natured banter but he is also ultra professional as this show proved when during one of the show stopping numbers he handled a sound issue with complete professionalism and coolness.
The setlist for this show concentrated heavily on his last two studio albums or as he put it, to much amusement "all of our X Factor hits".
Highlights throughout including the heavy blues feel of ‘Evil', a fresh and zippy ‘Live it Up', Laurence funking it up on ‘I Will', the blues rock of ‘Good Morning Blues' and turning up the tempo and heat on ‘Stop Moving the House' for me the latter should be a regular in the set and I think it would also make a fantastic set closer or encore.
The epic of the night took us right back to his debut album and as he explained one of his very first compositions with a spectacular ‘Thunder In the Sky' full of atmosphere, style and amazing guitar work throughout this was also where the sound gremlins struck but when he had it sorted and restarted the number it was of course performed to perfection.
A real standout for me and and making up for no Hendrix blow-out tonight was his fab take on Eric Clapton's ‘Cocaine' with the crowd in great voice throughout and in a clever touch he also threw in guitar snippets of ‘Layla' and ‘Sunshine of Your Love' to make it a wonderful (no pun intended!) Clapton medley.
For me there is a touch of reggae to the funk blues of ‘Something's Changed' which was probably the reason we had a few lines of ‘I Shot the Sheriff' (Bob Marley style) blended in and I also loved it when those honky-tonk piano sounds lit up the groovy ‘Don't Need No Reason'.
To complete the night we also had a teaser for the next studio album and a real treat as Tom Walker returned to the stage for the last couple of numbers which included them trading (guitar!) blows on a pulsating version of blues standard ‘Every Day I Have the Blues'.
One thing I have noticed at Laurence gigs is that no one is quicker getting from the stage after the encore to greet fans, chat and sign stuff and for me this interaction is so important for an artist.
One of my memories from this show that also says so much about Laurence as a person is him trying to advise a young musician at the merch stand after the gig about making it in the music business, he was so sincere and interested in what the guy was asking and gave him a few pointers and told him to get in touch with him on-line as well - what a star.
A corking night of blues and so looking forward to the live album, studio album number 5 and of course my next Laurence Jones gig.
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