John Dexter Jones and the Steven Twins plus Wilber

Another free gig.  Another audience of about 40 people (although it would appear most of them are related in some way to the ‘support’ act).  This was half of Jump playing an acoustic set at the Black Horse in Lacey Green.  Well, in one (small) corner of the Black Horse to be precise.  The sort of thing you I remember finding in most pubs in Ireland when I was younger…and reminds me of the time I went along to a folk festival in a village hall to find the Chieftains were topping the bill.

I was able to chat with the very amiable John Dexter Jones beforehand and he told me they had a support act that evening, “if you like guitar players, he’s better than us” – and so I was introduced to Wilber, bad-ass acoustic folk and blues.  Wilber was a finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2007 and it is easy to appreciate why as he seemingly with ease takes you through a mixture of styles in his set.  First up was the Little Rogues of Lynn (there’s almost a 100% chance I have that song title wrong in some way), an English fairytale with some Dylanesque harmonica over southern blues guitar, and the theme from Postman Pat to finish it off.  Wilber is all about having fun while he entertains with his guitar prowess, and the next song, Mister Charlie, had one line for the ‘lyrics’ – “Woah, Mister Charlie, your rolling mill is burning down” – so now if you can imagine the sublime blues guitar underpinning the vocals, you have the whole song.  Then came some ragtime on his 12-string, while he thanked us for not staying in and watching Top Gear…it’ll be on again on Dave in a few years anyway.  Back to his 6-string for Good Morning Mr Walker, and then his Christmas present featured – a bouzouki he had been playing for no more than 3 days – and in a dedication to his mum he played us Deborah by T-Rex, although with only the first verse because those were all of the lyrics he had learned.  Clearly when it comes to the wors within his music, less is much, much more.  An excellent, enjoyable set, filled with top class technique and an easy humour.

John Dexter Jones and the Steven Twins did not want to come on because when someone plays the guitar like that and he’s only 12…  They are one half (roughly) of Jump (John, Steve Hayes and Steve Rundle) and play at the Black Horse one Sunday evening each month now, with an acoustic set they have developed while supporting the likes of Midge Ure.  They opened with Man In The Window, a slow laid back number, with some Knopfleresque guitar to finish (that’s a good thing).Then the Monica song (Used To The Taste) rattled along before they came to the only optimistic song they were playing that evening, from the Jump album On Impulse it was Rise (I think !), although John did say afterwards that the version on the album has all the right words in the right order to the right arrangement.  Staring At The Rain led us into the Dancing Queen cover version from hell and Blind Birds.  A request from a regular who was leaving the area transported us to Earls Court with Wish You Were Here, before the more folk feel of The Pressed Man.  A broken string from Steve Rundle allowed John to play his version of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, together with Good Morning Mr Walker “in the style of Lily Allen…or is it Chas and Dave”.  Then a new track which I had enjoyed when I saw Jump supporting Panic Room in Crewe – Three Times Down, a story of John’s great uncle, being played for the first time acoustically, and it sounded excellent.  It is due to be on a new album next year, and “will take some recording to get it right”.  The Freedom Train took us into a “country song for all you prog fans out there”, and Bonnie Raitt’s Angel From Montgomery.  Free At Last seemed to be sung with a particularly strong Welsh accent (nothing wrong with that…that’s one of the parts I most enjoy with Bethesda) and included an Electric Avenue ‘sample’.  Sweet Home Alabama came to a halt half way through so that Buckinghamshire could demonstrate its commitment to the cause with a proper ‘boo’ after the bit about the governor in Birmingham, and the set closed with “turn the music on chef, please, otherwise these people will think we’re going to do more”.

It was a wonderful evening, excellent music, some good banter and chat, pleasant surroundings, and I will be going back on a regular basis now.  Also can’t wait to see Jump with Panic Room at The Peel in Kingston upon Thames on Saturday 31 January – a rearranged gig after the electricity went the first time.  Maybe at one or the other they’ll play Grendel.

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