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Billy Jenkins

News Archive

Various articles, features, interviews and archive trivia from the 1970's onwards can also be found at the Billy Jenkins Webzine site.


2017

Drumming The Blues!
Billy's Big Basque Blunder!
Billy Takes Over BBC R3........!
DJ Nick Davies Telephones Billy!

Spring Is A'Coming.....!
Recording Billy Changed My Life!
Billy Snaps...!!
Into 2017....!


2016

A Festive Tale - And Charlie Hart Speaks!
Classic 'True Love Collection' Album Relaunched As Download!
Exciting New Billy Podcast Series Begins!
'Controversial' Uncle David Fondly Remembered!
Pigfoot Plays Billy - Live At The Vortex !

Steve Morrison - 'Guitar Star'!
More Beowulf Mayfield Music Sn-Apps Emerge!
Writer Philip Watson Revisits Billy's Invisible Jukebox!

London Jazz News Features Billy!

Jazzwise Review Vortex Celebration!
Vortex Jazz Club Celebrates Billy!


2015

Refresh Yourself.....!
New 'Music For Download' Album Out Now!
Archive Footage Reveals Jenkins As A 'Young Fogey'....!
Obscure Jewels Of The British Jazz Underground!
The Best Way To Eat An Apple!
Three Gems of Gentle Daftness
!

Save These Billy's!
Farewell Dave Hatfield...
Woke Up This Afternoon.....!


2014

Critics Warm To 'Semi-Detached' Music!
Humanism, Blues & Bereavement!
One Step On From The Blues!
What's This I Hear? A New Billy Album?!?
Musicians - Do You Remember Them..?!? 
Documentary Update!
Scare Electric Loop Bill!

Steve McManus - A Great Musician!
Too Many Months On And Counting...!
Austerity Aural Art!
 

2013

Getting Down And Dirty...!
The Sweet Smell of Success...?
'Blues Al Fresco' - The Live DVD Ten Years On!
'Violent Lewisham' Confuses Jenkins!
'Entertainment USA' - Celebrating Independence Day!
 

2012

Jenkins Spotted Hanging Round Pub Toilets.....!
'The Drum Machine' Brecon Bash!
Desperate Times In The Music World!
Jenkins Endorses Poet Jazz Man John Clarke!
A Ginger Baker's Nutters Live CD Emerges...!
 

2008-2011 can be sourced here

.......'Jazz Gives me The Blues' an Album of the Year 2011....Billy with Arthur Smith on BBC R4....... Glasgow Herald feature.....BBC Big Band Play Billy.......Hysteria, Fear & Live Music.....BBC Ban Billy.......BBC Apologise To Billy......and much more!


Various articles, features, interviews and archive trivia from the 1970's onwards can also be found at the Billy Jenkins Webzine site.



Drumming The Blues!


Mike Pickering
Beowulf Mayfield captures Mike Pickering
 in 'H.A.P.P.Y.' mode...


Beowulf 'Wulfie' Mayfield is on a roll - as he produces a beautiful brace of Billy-ness....!

The latest Listening Club episode features drummer Mike Pickering - discussing, amongst several fascinating stories, his role in the formation of the Blues Collective in the mid 1990's and, in doing so, how he eventually fulfilled a teenage ambition....

Meanwhile, Wulfie took Billy down to the Greenwich One Way System and tried not to get him run over, as he melds his photographic skills to the opening track from 'Greenwich' - with another carefully crafted
'Music Sn-App'!

Greenwich One Way System
Spank this image for a whirlwind 61 second high energy hit.....!

Explore more about Beowulf's photographic, writing and podcast work here.


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Billy's Big Basque Blunder!


Billy Bilbao Bull
Beowulf Mayfield captures 'bull headed in Bilbao' Bill!

Photographer and podcaster (or, 'snap-caster' - as he likes to call them - in keeping with his photographic interests....) Beowulf 'Wulfie' Mayfield continues his collaboration with Billy as he tells the shameful tale of how, many moons ago, Billy totally destroyed a great gig by uttering just two words....

Get thee to the Billy Jenkins Listening Club now! 


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Billy Takes Over BBC R3........!


Billy presents a Mixtape
Beowulf Mayfield catches Billy with a curio.....


Yes! It's true!

Mr Jenkins has been given the honour of presenting his own Mixtape on R3's cutting edge 'Late Junction'!

Well, to be honest, it's on at midnight and only for 30 minutes but, being Billy, you can be assured of an entertaining (and hopefully moving) half hour!

Together with his long time producer Tony Messenger, he decided to attempt, within those 30 minutes, six decades of music and sound influences......

It's being broadcast at midnight on Thursday 27th April and then available
online, for a short period, to listen on catch up.


Sounds unmissable!

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DJ Nick Davies Telephones Billy!


DJ Nick Davies
DJ Nick Davies - the 'Crazeology' King!


Billy won't come out to play.....

He finds it hard to travel any great distances....

He hates the telephone and he avoids noisy social environments.....

But intrepid jazz, soul and music fanatic, DJ Nick Davies, who broadcasts on Radio Winchcombe, Soul Legends Radio and other outlets, managed to get the reclusive guitarist to break his silence - in an extraordinarily comprehensive telephone conversation, which now be enjoyed online!

Nick's shows run for three hours and, in Billy's featured episode, he put together a superb and intimate Jenkins insight that runs for the last two hours!

Focusing on a look back at his life, career and collaborators as part of the Billy@60 project, Nick also thoughtfully selected some emphatic Billy recordings to enjoy!

You can hear Nick's telephonic 'broaching of the Billy barricade' either via his Crazeology Radio Show link or The Boogie Wonderland Show  !


Oh Yeah!

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Spring Is A'Coming.....!


Arrival Of The Tourists photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

And with it, come the tourists...!

Photographer Beowulf Mayfield creates another marvellous 'Music Sn-app' with 'Arrival Of The Tourists', from the 1985 critically acclaimed vinyl album
'Greenwich'.

Personnel and album details here!

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Recording Billy Changed My Life!


No brakes.....
No brakes....!                                                                  Photos: Beowulf Mayfield


Billy's long time recording engineer and producer,Tony Messenger (pictured on the left), is featured on the latest Listening Club 'snap-cast' podcast - where he not only explains how working with Billy changed his life, but how it reminded him of careering downhill in his old Volkswagon with no brakes!




And, judging by the colour scheme of his latest Beetle, it was heck of a 'trip'!

Enjoy the ride here !

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Billy Snaps...!!


Billy Lips
Button your lips, Billy!                          Photo: Beowulf Mayfield


Presenter Beowulf Mayfield and Billy Jenkins get in a bit of a ding-dong on their latest 'snap-cast' podcast, as 'Sade's Lips' and 'smooth jazz' create a two way schism for listeners!

Enjoy eight minutes of confused listening - and other previous 'snap-casts' here!

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Into 2017....!

Listening Club


As this technological age increasingly bemuses and confuses many, we at Billy.com can assure readers that the guitarist and composer continues along the slippery and ever narrowing path of free thinking creativity!

Whilst the world wide web slowly catches up with the recent download release of the True Love Collection, coming up in the first two months of this new year will be three more new podcasts, presented by Beowulf Mayfield - the next one now online here!

I Lock The
                                  Back Door
'I Lock The Back Door'.........

The podcasts, or, as Wulfie likes to call them, in keeping with his photographic interests, 'snap-casts' -  are an excellent accompaniment to the joys of Billy's recorded oeuvre.

And, with the guitarist's live performances now seemingly consigned to memory and history, these short radio shows let folks hear the man himself (and some of his collaborators)
speak in an up to date setting.

 You can enjoy the Billy Jenkins Listening Club podcasts here!

Thank you for listening!

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A Festive Tale - And Charlie Hart Speaks!

Light Of The Blues

Inspired by Billy's music (and, more's point, the wonderful musicians he plays with), photographer Beowulf Mayfield has created a special Low Season Festive Tale for your entertainment!

Spank the photo or the link here now!


Meanwhile, with another of one of his many creative hats on, Beowulf has been round to Equator Studios to interview long time Billy musician and  producer Charlie Hart.

Charlie Hart

This interview is Episode 3 of the Billy Jenkins Listening Club 'snap-casts' - an occasional series of short podcasts that offer a unique aural insight into Billy' music and modus.

Whack that mouse here - d'yer hear!?

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Classic 'True Love Collection' Album Relaunched As Download!


TLC


NOMINATED BY THE BBC AS ONE OF THE
TOP 50 GREATEST JAZZ ALBUMS EVER !!!


Originally released as a CD album in 1998 and
en route back to the blues and his guitar playing roots, BJ started the reverse trend by exploring Seventies Pop tunes.

Django Bates, Iain Ballamy, Martin France, Dave Ramm, Christine Tobin, Steve Watts, The Fun Horns of Berlin and others weave their unique skills over 'Mellow Yellow', 'Everybody's Talkin', 'Feeling Groovy', 'How Deep Is Your Love', 'Sunny' and other imitation paste gems.

When the album was originally released, the respected comedian, writer and long time Billy Listener Stewart Lee interviewed the guitarist for a Sunday Times article.
It tells you all you need to know - and you can read it here!

Now available from iTunes or your favourite download site!

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Exciting New Billy Podcast Series Begins!

Billy Listening Club


A new experience in webcasting has arrived! The Billy Jenkins Listening Club podcast!
 
Presented by Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield, who, apart from being a wonderful photographer (amongst many other talents) and someone with 'history' when it comes to creative podcasting, you'll be able to enjoy Billy's occasional thoughts on music, the world and life in general piped direct to your laptop, tablet, smartphone , or whatever you have that's capable of playing an mp3 sound file - you don't need an iPod!

The first episode is on iTunes or you can hear it by visiting here.

Here's the obligatory promotional video trailer...

Listening Club YouTube promo

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'Controversial' Uncle David Fondly Remembered!


Jenkins family in the 1970's
A bunch of Jenkins in the early 1970's.
Billy and Uncle David on the right at the rear....



Billy's uncle (and godfather), the Right Re
verend Dr David Jenkins slipped away on the 4th September, aged 91.

He created panic and controversy amongst believers, Margaret Thatcher, her government and the General Synod when Bishop of Durham (1984-94) - with his outspoken, but entirely rational theological observations.

He even had a Spitting Image puppet made of him (something that no doubt tickled him greatly), being depicted in one episode persuading God to become an atheist......

Although their paths did not cross too often, here, Billy recalls a meeting in 1992:

The VOGC were heading across the north of England towards Newcastle having ‘taken’ Lancaster the night before.

 ‘I know a good place to stop’, says BJ. ‘Bishop Auckland.  There’s this little tearoom….’

This turned out to be Auckland Castle, where Billy’s Uncle David lived on the job as the fourth highest official in the Church of England.

They called him the Bishop of Durham. And what good entertainment he had given. He spoke his mind, he spoke of this, he spoke of that (mostly in a somewhat extended and over circumspect rhetoric)  - and the media had lapped it up, giving the C of E unprecedented publicity and putting the issue of religion, belief and faith into the thoughts of thousands who would have never even considered the stuff.

Jenkins led saxophonist Mark Lockheart, double bassist Steve Watts and drummer Martin France down the drive to the large door with matching knocker. Cousin Rebecca opened it.

           ‘Just come to check out the tied cottage before you get booted out’, said the band leader and tearoom expedition leader, as they filed through into the private quarters.

BJ turned to Cousin Rebecca. “I’ve bought you some chocolates....”.

“Yummy!”, she said, eyes lighting up.

Only her face fell when, on closer inspection, the chocolate bars turned out to be the three ‘UNCOMMERCIALITY’ cassette tapes.....

Tea, biscuits and exchanges of family news completed, the Voice of God were given a tour of the north east’s House of God by, well, Billy’s uncle.

He showed them weapons used by his predecessors to repel insubordinates. Yea - faith, hope and charity. Peace and all that. Love Thy Neighbour - if not I will thee stab.


We had the usual C of E sob stor­ies about building upkeep, the need for visitors to contribute hard cash to keep the building maintained and the problems of living ‘above the office’.

               ‘Just like Wood Wharf Rehearsal Studios’, agreed BJ, whilst making certain in his mind that any predecessors he had had never led armies and given the order to crush rebellion.

We were shown his private chapel. Just like a rehearsal room.

The well practised tour of the house ended, unsurprisingly, where we first came in.

Billy could contain himself no longer.

               “I put it to you, Uncle David, that our ‘religion’, which is music, has caused far less distress in the history of mankind than yours. Would you care to comment?”

And for once, Uncle David refused to answer.

Was it because one should not bite the hand that feeds you, or was it because it was an undeniable truth?

The sun shone brightly on the road to Newcastle.....


Uncle David. A life well lived.

Billy and his family's thoughts are with Becca, Debba, Chris, Tim and their families.

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Pigfoot Plays Billy - Live At The Vortex!


PIGFOOTJames Allsop
Batchelor, Clarvis and Noble welcome James Allsop (r) to play Billy


The evening of Saturday 1st October at The Vortex in London N16  is the place to be - for a fascinating performance of some of Billy Jenkins' instrumental compositions interpreted by the cutting edge '21st Century Acid Trad' quartet ' Pigfoot - with Chris Batchelor (
trumpet), Liam
Noble (piano), James Allsopp (baritone saxophone) and Paul Clarvis (drums)!

"..stunning in their originality and almost anarchically gleeful sense of fun.
Pigfoot reminded us that this music was once raucously subversive and
intensely joyous."        

 Matthew Wright - londonjazznews.com


Pigfoot
established themselves as innovative interpreters of classic New Orleans jazz with their acclaimed 2014 CD ‘21st Century Acid Trad’. At their ongoing ‘Pigfoot Play’ residency at the Vortex they have been extending their repertoire in all directions, with sold out gigs dedicated to Opera, Motown, Elvis ,1972 and Bacharach - each show unique and unmissable.

And now - they play the music of Billy Jenkins!

Chris Batchelor (trumpet) collaborated with Billy on the legendary 'Scratches of Spain' 1987 album release and the 1988 'Motorway At Night' vinyl release. He was also a featured soloist in a London Meets Vienna ensemble that performed Billy's music in Austria towards the end of the last century.

Liam Noble (piano), like Jenkins, a native of the SE London/NW Kent borough of Bromley, have regularly bumped into each other on the European jazz circuit. And even once played with Billy at the original Vortex in Stoke Newington!

James Allsop (baritone saxophone) studied and explored Jenkins' music and methods with the composer at the RAM.

Paul Clavis (drums) may have been Leonard Bernstein's 'first call drummer' when the legendary conductor appeared in London, but for Jenkins, Paul was the  'eleventh call' drummer when the guitarist was urgently trying to find a percussionist for a Blues Collective gig at Ealing Jazz Festival many moons ago. So enjoyable was the result, Jenkins wished he could have worked with him more often!

Book your tickets NOW!!

Vortex
Pigfoot Plays Billy Jenkins
Saturday 1st October 2016
The Vortex Jazz Club
11 Gillett Square
London, N16 8AZ
Map

Opening hours:
8pm to midnight daily

Call to book
T: 020 7254 4097 (Mon-Fri 12-6pm)
E: info@vortexjazz.co.uk

£15

www.vortexjazz.co.uk

REMINDER: Billy Jenkins is currently in an ongoing period of silence. His guitar will not be attending. Neither will the person. He is deeply flattered that Pigfoot are playing his music and assures that every single wonderful musician contributing to the evening's music will be worth the entrance fee alone!

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Steve Morrison - 'Guitar Star'!

Here Is The Bues


Great to see and hear
guitarist Steve Morrison - Billy's 'twang twin' in 'Here Is The Blues' wowing the celebrity judges on Sky Arts 'Guitar Star'!

Many folks in SE London have known that for years!

Not only is Steve a great guitarist and performer - but a wonderful songwriter and singer too!

Enjoy this clip of Billy & Steve from 2006 as 'Here Is The Blues' stormed the Broadway Theatre (the one in Catford, SE London - not that one...)!

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More Beowulf Mayfield Music Sn-Apps Emerge!


Jazz
                                                          Gives Me The
                                                          Blues


Continuing the music and photographic creations announced here, and commissioned by billy.com and VOTP Records to celebrate Billy@60, camera creative (and musically gifted too) Beowulf Mayfield has produced some more marvellous musical miniatures!

Extracts from another four Billy recordings - all designed
to offer a moment of escapist balm away from our screen dominated lives - can be enjoyed on this site's YouTube page here.

Do forward to all your online buddies - by doing so, you will be helping to spread the sound of Billy's music!

Meanwhile, you can enjoy more of Beowulf's photographs here.



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Writer Philip Watson Re
calls Billy's Invisible Jukebox!




The respected writer and journalist Philip Watson has written to the Billy Office:

Hi Billy,

Long time. Only one time. For The Wire. More than 20 years ago. 

Anyway, was just reading London Jazz News, and well, for no other reason I suppose than it’s your 60th, I thought I send you this, one of my absolute favourite Invisible Jukeboxes, from the many I conducted around that time. 

Originally published in November 1992, you can enjoy reading it here.

And, if you so wish, you can also enjoy the soundtrack to the interview.

You can find out  more about Mr Watson and his writing on his website.

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London Jazz News Features Billy!


London Jazz News


London Jazz News
editor Sebastian Scotney
had the inspired idea of asking some of Billy's musical collaborators to say a few words about the guitarist and bandleader.

Here's the complete, unexpurgated texts:

The first time I played with Billy was on Scratches Of Spain around 1987. We had a horn section session at Wood Wharf in Greenwich and Billy was directing us by dancing, lurching around gleefully in front of us as we played.

We were improvising on a track called "Cuttlefish" and someone played something that was stylistically inappropriate, maybe a bit too slick, and Billy said "No, a cuttlefish wouldn't say that".

It was funny but profound, and it changed the way I thought about music from that point on.

Chris Batchelor


I would describe Billy’s musical influence on myself and countless others as nothing short of a musical enema!

His music is highly conceptual yet often blindingly simple and always his musical presence radiates high energy and raw emotion.

I will never forget watching his “Big Fight” concert at Weisen Jazz Festival where he fought drummer Steve Noble in 10 separate 3 minute rounds.

Just at the point where the crowd were screaming for Noble (who had produced an air horn from behind his drum kit) Jenkins staggered off the stage and reappeared on a motor bike, put a mic into the exhaust pipe and kick started it to win the match in a cloud of smoke, engine roar and glory!

Then there was the time when we drove around Newington Green in his three wheeler in the middle of a song! Billy was driving while I took an an alto solo (via radio mic) with the band still onstage at the old Jazz Café. The song? ‘Swing Low Sweet Reliant Robin”

Happy birthday Billy!

Iain Ballamy



I was playing a gig with Billy in a jazz club in Amsterdam way back in the last century.  The audience was attentive in the extreme and treating the gig quite rightly as a serious music occasion.  

Billy had other ideas, and in the middle of one of the numbers,  let go of his guitar, grabbed one of Martin France's brushes and proceeded to brush his hair with it. The audience was astonished, I nearly died laughing, but from then on the whole atmosphere warmed up. 

The power of humour!  Thanks, Billy.

all best

Charlie Hart



I got to know Billy doing the Whose Solo Is It Anyway comedy improvising kids show which we did a run of in the Edinburgh Fringe.

I remember vividly an insane kind of very dark satirical dance/guitar/vocal improv during the Michael Jackson tribute round when we played the track Ben through the PA and contestants were invited to to add whatever they felt was necessary.

This was in 1997 so before Jackson was fully understood to be a twisted puppy but Billy presciently nailed the correct vibe and it was both disturbing, musically amazing, and hilarious.

After this great experience I asked Billy to be in Kidsamonium - show for kids that we did for about 5 years all around Europe - in which he played the character of Billy - a small boy who dreamed of flying.

He also used his glove puppet -Shitey - in the show although he used to call him Sooty nearly all of the time. Shitey was dropped down Oren Marshall’s tuba and was treated pretty badly but got to sing a blues.

We had quite a few celebrity guests and visitors at various Kidsamonium shows and I remember vividly Billy discussing Shitey backstage at the Sage with a fascinated Phil Woods who had watched the show and loved it and Shitey in particular.

Early on in the Kidsamonium journey we did our second ever gig at Cheltenham Jazz festival and there was this intended to be beautiful brass piece with no drums called ‘Being a Kid is Crazy Happy and Sad’ in which Billy would run around trying to fly and crashing into stuff for comedic effect until he eventually stormed off in tears.

I was conducting the horns but as soon as the piece started I heard that I had left the snare on on my drums due to it’s buzzing which I knew was going to bug me throughout the whole piece and I was going to feel frustrated that I had missed that important  but minor detail.

Next thing I know Billy has, without missing a beat, deviated from his usual routine and done a hilarious crash landing into the drum kit, and without giving anything away managed to make the whole room collapse in hysterics and also turn off the snare while he was doing it.

That was the thing about Billy and that show, right from there start he was interested in and aware of and thinking about every level staging, narrative, costume, physical theatre, music, everything - from big picture to the tiniest detail and he was 100% totally committed.

For several years when Billy had stopped doing all other gigs he would still do Kidsamonium and we were so lucky to have him.

It was very satisfying that during the second run of Kidsamonium at The Sage we were lucky enough to be able to actually fly Billy during the show which was a total blast.

The KIdsamonium band did a pub gig during the Orkney folk festival in packed bar in Kirkwall Hotel. Despite it being a folk festival we totally blew the roof off and the crowd was totally cheering and Billy was just blistering, just playing amazing world class guitar in a whole range of styles. That was the thing because of all the other stuff it is easy to forget he is just a phenomenal talent and master on the guitar.

When I got the BBC Jazz Award , which was partly for Kidsamonium, I decided to do a performance with the Kidsamonium group which in retrospect was not a great idea as it didn’t go down well with some of the jazz police and meant I had to accept the award in my Kidsamonium outfit - i.e. dressed as a fat Elvis.

However I will never forget the sense of going into battle with that fearless genius by my side.

Pretty much as soon as I got to the mike to accept the award  in my Elvis outfit I could  hear Billy coming out in his flying helmet and in character and he jumped on Paul Gambacini and we were off....!

So happy birthday Billy you crazy wonderful genius.

Tom Bancroft



In the late 1990s, after a "night of the long knives" with my own jump/jive band,
I informed a blues magazine that I was looking for new personnel.

The last person I expected to call and the first who did was Billy.
I only knew him slightly from using his rehearsal studios in Greenwich but we had a good chat about the trials and tribulations of being a bandleader and he helped me
assemble a new line-up and joined the band on guitar.

 His energy and enthusiasm acted as a powerful catalyst in bringing the best out of the rest of the band. We quickly recorded and released an album with some degree of critical success.
Billy and I then started writing together for the next one, and came up with 8 songs which were the basis of the band's first entirely self-penned album.

One track in particular, "The Big Swinging Dick" (about a tall, jazz-playing private detective, obviously) became a minor cult classic.
Another favourite of mine from those sessions was "We Don't Normally Work This Cheap"
about playing downbeat pub gigs.

Billy warned me when he joined that he got bored easily and might leave at any time but he stayed with us for several memorable years and is
remembered very fondly by all of us who played with him.

- Kit Packham, bandleader, One Jump Ahead.



I first met Billy when he ran Wood Wharf rehearsal studios in the 1980’s in Greenwich where I rehearsed with Loose Tubes a few times depping either for Steve Buckley or Iain Ballamy.

I liked his energy, quick thinking, humour and his unique approach to playing guitar (a mixture of blues and free improv, amongst many other influences) and was flattered when he asked me to record with him.

He was very prolific creatively in the 1980’s and 1990’s, releasing many recordings of different projects featuring many Loose Tubes musicians and I remember that time fondly.

The recording we did together was with Steve Watts and Roy Dodds and I hadn’t done anything like it before, or since.

There were also musical contributions from other Loose Tubes members connected with the Wood Wharf musical community.

Entertainment USA consisted of 8 tracks with each being a tribute/portrait/parody of an American icon from Doris Day to Charles Manson.

I loved the grooves set up from Billy, Steve and Roy and had great time playing with this project.

I was also lucky to do a few other gigs/projects with Billy at that time including in Austria at a festival and got the opportunity to experience http://www.dialogue-in-the-dark.com/

Thanks Billy!

He is an inspiration in that he has his own path and follows it regardless of trends.There needs to be more like him. An independent thinker.

I miss you Billy. Happy Birthday!

Martin Speake



I had 6 great years with Billy's VOGC including the 'football season' at the Vortex - ('Leicester City Leaps In', 'Don't Cry for me you Cheatin, b******'), followed by the fashion season in August. (Not a lot of people remember that Billy was composer in residence for Sittingbourne F.C. - 'Bourne to Win').

Django Bates playing piano in a casual loose fitting lime green cotton dress and myself in a - even though I say it myself - a smart twin-set and pearls, alongside him on digital keys. 

Frantic adulation followed everything Django played - ("too many notes?" as the Emperor said to Mozart). However following Billy's 'Dressing Up for Church' and my crunchy Hammond-type solo, and despite Billy and Iain Ballamy simulating crude vomiting sounds, the audience - even though I say ...... - erupted.

A young man close to me at the front shouted "Nice one, Django!". Despite my withering look and contemptuous expletive, he winked at me followed by an obscene suggestion.

If only it were a living.... 

Dave Ramm



I've only known Billy for 32 years so it's difficult to know what to say.

Most of the time I spent with him was playing music and most of that time was spent
trying not to laugh.

My kids love him and so do I.

A hard working man. Definitely not idle.

I hope he lives long enough to officiate at my funeral.

Oren Marshall





Billy has had a big influence on me.
The vinyl collection in particular (and I'm a proud owner of the whole set) really appeals to me: each album is a concept album which doesn't take itself too seriously.


As a teenager, I wrote him fan-mail, and it was an ambition fulfilled when I joined his Blues Collective. I'm glad to call him a friend and mentor!

Happy birthday, Billy! 

Dylan Bates



Looking back I remember Bill as the sandwich maker & caretaker of a rehearsal studio on the banks of the mighty Thames, home to the disco boats that motor past around 2 o’clock in the morning, little did I know I would one day perform on such a boat. That is all thanks to William Jenkins.

For if it wasn’t for he, I would have had a career playing immaculate ejaculate bop jazz, I’d be wearing a suit, playing the great American song book to middle class white septuagenarian audiences all over the north & west, striving towards the inevitable teaching in a college earning almost enough money to pay tax.

That all ended when Bill introduced me to the ‘deconstruction of recognizable genres’ in music. For years I stumbled around  I-VI-II-V chord progressions [that’s 1-6-2-5 for the hard of hearing] only for Bill to completely up end my quest and tell me the only progression of value is I-IV-V [1-4-5]. Bastard.

Therefore my first 10 years of no professional musical education were for nought. There was nothing for it, I had to earn a living somehow, but it would no longer be ‘sophisticated generic jazz to eat pizza too’.

I tried many things, playing with an ‘ecstatic dance ensemble’, playing with people from different cultures [northern & western] & eventually experimenting with boogaloo on a disco boat. I was lost. But then the very person who stole my fabulous career in jazz bass playing came to me and declared that “Religion is the Blues”.

Of course he was wrong but that didn’t stop me following blindly and accepting all dogma without question.

I didn’t flinch when I faithfully wore the black suit & tie of the oppressor at every performance, was told which root note to play & at what point in the tune, and to play a solo while the rest of the band had a chat. All this for the sake of music.

Lucky for me then that I lived to the end of the 20th Century to witness the death of jazz and as a result, the death of everyone's music careers. The good ones went into teaching, the others moved to cheaper areas and I hear some even got a ‘job’.

Just as the blues no longer has any meaning for the new generation and passes into legend, so must Bill Jenkins and one day, someone will stumble upon his large archive of thematic deconstructionist music and say “will someone put all that shit in the skip”

Happy re-birthday Bill!

Thaddeus Kelly




Billy is a true inspiration and a wonderful human being.
I first saw him play in the Blue Elephant Theatre and his approach blew me away.


Totally unique sense of humour and this comes out in his guitar playing and writing.
Of course there is the bowling captain and the humanist funeral director
and so on.............


Happy Birthday mate! xx

Finn Peters



 I first met Billy with Trimmer and Jenkins at a little festival in Druidstone in West Wales In about 1981.They made us laugh like hell and played great music .

The next year I was playing with them and Continued playing with Billy for 10 years and more .  I loved his music and he wrote great tunes with very funny titles .

When we recorded them we got one go at it even if things were wrong we weren’t allowed to have another take !

When we played live he would make a cue by moving his guitar up and down furiously that we had to play free and wild and destroy the tune.

I liked his tunes so much I was always sad that we finished so quickly and dissolved into chaos .

Billy could play the guitar really fast ,faster than anyone !!

I am very proud to have worked and played with him and it still disappoints when other people I work with don’t have his wonderful irreverence and turn their tunes in wonderful free chaos and call them things like “There’s a Ring Road In My  Garden” and “ The Rust On The Screws Of The Churchill Theatre “

A great and lovely man.

Roy Dodds




When I first started working with Billy we would often watch motorsport crash videos. Usually with titles like, "And They Walked Away".

It took me quite a while to work out the significance of these videos to Billy's approach to making music, but I got there in the end.

Motorsport is for aficionados in the sense that, in order to fully appreciate it, you need to understand how much thought and skill goes into things such as; the way the car is set up; the lines through corners, and many other technicalities.

Also, when everything is going smoothly, the tremendous amount of energy which is in the cars motion is practically invisible. However, if for example two open wheels touch, or there is a mechanical failure, all that invisible energy, with its associated danger, explodes into view: cartwheeling cars; flying debris; squealing tyres. Everyone gasps at those bits.

You don't have to be an aficionado. Billy knew how to make sure that two open wheels touched when we were playing.

He called that quality "Kineticism" and he knew exactly what he was doing when he made it happen. He is without doubt one of the cleverest people I know and a musician of exceptional spirit and creativity.

There is only one Billy Jenkins.

Steve Watts



Billy taught me that a boxing glove really can be as powerful as a flat 9, sharp 11, dominant 13th chord, if delivered with the correct, well intentioned momentum.

He hails from the same urban humblings as myself, and showed me that in this case, it's OK to play the blues in really weird ways without degrading the
 Mississippi River.

He's deadly serious about being very silly, which means he gets away with a lot, in the best possible way.

Arthur Lea

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Jazzwise Review Vortex Celebration!


Jazzwise
                                                          logo


Lovely words capturing the special atmosphere, written by VOTP's very own in house admin marvel, Mike Gavin!

Mr Jenkins sends his
deep, profound thanks and appreciation to Oliver, the Vortex and all the wonderful musicians who created such a magical, musical event!

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 Vortex Jazz Club Celebrates Billy!


Hot news on the Vortex Jazz Club website:

Celebrating Billy Jenkins’ 60th birthday

Mon 4 July 2016, 8PM



Three Gems of Gentle Daftness!


Ian McMillan Shed Short
Shed. Box.Toys.Bliss....                                © Simon Thackray

Archive creative waves wash onto the internet from Simon Thackray and The Shed. As his website tells it:


"Ian McMillan’s spontaneous improvised retellings of three of the world’s most famous stories, with music by Billy Jenkins from his 2014 album ‘The Semi-Detached Suburban Home’ (Music for Low Strung Guitar).

The films – FRANK, Yorkshire Nativity and Assassination of JFK, were made using a cardboard box and children’s toys and performed with no script and no rehearsal in the space of just 10 minutes on an afternoon in Brawby, North Yorkshire in 2002.

Filmed by Simon Thackray in his kitchen using a Canon XM1 during a break from a rehearsal of ‘HAT‘ – The Shed’s Award-Winning ‘words, music and knitting’ spectacular.
Ably assisted by Angie Harrison and Sam Thackray.
"

Enjoy a few moments of gentle daftness here.

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Save These Billy's!


Billy jenkins Shed postcards
A Box of Billy                 © Simon Thackray


Help needed!

Shed supremo Simon Thackray is hidden under a deluge of specially commissioned Shed Billy postcards...!

When giving the Shed HQ a necessary spring clean, about 1,500 postcards of the guitarist landed on top of him!


Simon says:

"If anyone wants 1 or any number up to 1500, rendezvous can be arranged for discreet hand-over on Showfield Lane, Malton (appropriately named) at time and date tba....."
That's Malton as in North Yorkshire...

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Farewell Dave Hatfield....


Many creative musicians throughout the world will be sorry to hear that the  music promoter and supporter Dave Hatfield recently slipped away.

His tireless work as part of Leeds Jazz and latterly with Fusebox ensured folks like Mr Jenkins were able to perform their music in Leeds over the last three decades.

Billy was deeply touched that in 2010, Dave was able to get up from his sick bed and make his way down from Leeds to the London Jazz Festival to especially enjoy the guitarist's concert with Iain Ballamy and the BBC Big Band -
and, that night, the musician especially dedicated 'The Duke & Me' to Dave.

We send our thoughts and a big hug to partner Jenny, kith, kin and Dave's many friends from all walks of his inspiring life.

This posted on Facebook by Dave's buddy Mike Murphy:

Dave Hatfield

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Woke Up This Afternoon.....!


Billy Jenkins waking up
Woke up this afternoon....         © Steve Morrison


2015 promises to be a fertile year for Billy listeners and audiophiles!

Having spent the last six years going 'one step on from the blues' - consoling, collaborating, creating and conducting humanist funerals, guitarist and composer Billy Jenkins has had to cease offering his (literal) services.

For, since 2010, the demands and emotional toll of officiating meant that all music creativity ceased and last year, emotionally exhausted and peopled out, Jenkins quietly slipped away from public ritual into a support and mentoring role - whilst laying down in a fallow field....

And, lo, after a few months of quiet destabilisation, musical shoots are slowly sprouting!

First recorded release of the year is due out in the Spring on Jazzman Records.


Provisionally entitled ‘A New Life – Independent, Private and Youth Jazz in Great Britain 1970-1990’, it's a CD, double LP and Digital Download collection of various artists and jazz creatives and it includes 'High Street/Saturday' from the first VOGC album - 'Sounds Like Bromley'.

Although this track is readily available online, the release of this collection puts the guitarist's work into a historical context.

Meanwhile, the new year sees Jenkins returning to the recording studio for the first time since 2010 to record a follow up to
'The Semi-Detached Suburban Home (Music for Low Strung Guitar), a collection recorded in 1994, but released only last year to critical acclaim.

Working under the sensitive ear of musician, engineer and producer Charlie Hart in his Equator Studios, where 'Jazz Gives Me The Blues' and other recent works were recorded, Jenkins - who has often cited that, 'a guitar is just a desk to work on' - has even had his low strung guitar restrung and serviced by the brilliant and handily SE London based luthier Graham Parker. So this truly does mean the guitarist is focusing musically!

Also, three other albums worth of new works have also started and, intriguingly, rumours abound that the superb Pigfoot, with VOGC and Blues Collective alumni trumpeter Chris Batchelor, pianist Liam Noble, tuba player Oren Marshall and drummer Paul Clavis might be presenting a concert of Billy music in the near future!

Apart from listening to the recordings, it'll be the the only way to hear Jenkins' music live this year - for it seems he has left all public performance (be it musical or pastoral) far behind him.....

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Critics Warm To 'Semi-Detached' Music!
 

Semi detached House


 'AN UNDERGROUND TOP TEN ALBUM OF 2014' IN MOJO!


Max Reinhardt
, presenter of ‘Late Junction’ BBC R3, cites Billy's new album as 'what seems set to be my album of the year'...

Clive Bell, writes in Wire Magazine that 'this could turn out to be Jenkins's best loved album', although that wryly follows the line that 'the average length of of theses 30 pieces is under 90 seconds.....'.

And over in the Jazzwise jazz world, the diligent and understanding Andy Robson proclaims - 'raise a glass to a masterpiece in miniature!' And even uses the word 'magical'....!

And we at billy.com recommend you spank this link to allaboutjazz.com - where the 'librarian, guitarist, violinist, bassist, author, journalist, reviewer and editor Roger Farbey has written a superb review - whilst cross linking to the Uncommerciality three album 'magnum opus'.

Read it and you'll really want to purchase those tracks for your own mobile digital music carrier!


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Humanism, Blues & Bereavement!

Billy Jenkins Humanist Officiant 
Billy Jenkins. At Your Service. Literally....
 

It has been several years now since Mr Jenkins began an 'open ended sabbatical' from performing live music in public. 

Unsurprisingly, he has found his work with the British Humanist Association as a humanist officiant - creating and conducting non religious funerals and collaborating with families at one of their worst times of their lives, rather conflicts with the hedonist joys of music making.

But he asserts and assures that he is 'in a groove with the funerals.They satisfy my creative needs whilst helping folk during the worst time of their lives, instead of satisfying my creative needs - whilst perhaps occasionally giving folk the worst time of their lives.....'

In 2011, he was interviewed by the award winning anthropologist and writer, Dr Matthew Engleke - who  kindly agreed for the complete unedited transcript to be reproduced on the The Billy Jenkins Webzine site.

Respectfully spank your mouse here.

But going 'one step on from the blues' is not the only reason Jenkins has stopped performing.

On his superb Jazz Breakfast, the superb blog curated by the most learned and erudite journalist, writer and jazz critic Peter Bacon, he asked the question 'How do jazz musicians earn a living?'

Amongst many interesting comments, Billy dwells upon the 'perfect' storm', that has been brewing for the last twenty five years or so.

Read it here!

In a private reply to an acknowledgement, Jenkins added the footnote:

     'I should have added to my bit about teaching in an FE Music department in the early 1990's and watching technology gradually replacing the edict of every single note and noise being the responsibility of the practitioner, budgets being squeezed by the demand of regular software and hardware updates and the sharp roll off of students wishing for lessons in guitar techniques...

    'One just knew 'it's gonna all end in tears....'!'
 

UPDATE AUTUMN 2014

After six years of intensive interaction with grieving families - consoling, collaborating, creating and conducting bespoke funerals,
Mr Jenkins instinctively felt it time to step back from conducting ceremonies, whilst continuing to offer background support to his fellow BHA celebrants.

 
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One Step On From The Blues!
 

Billy jenkins humanist funeral
                            celebrant
 'At your service. Literally.'                     ©Peter Daub

The Blues is an affirmation of life. 

For a man to call his free and fast flowing instrumental ensemble since 1981 the The Voice of God Collective - citing that 'the Voice of the People is the Voice of God - and the religion is music' and then preach the blues seriously since the mid 1990's, suggests a man who fully accepts that there is but one life, with no 'Invisible Friend' to guide one to 'the Promised Land' and supposed eternity.

Add a thorough grounding in backstage antics as a pre pubescent C of E choirboy ('great music, crap lyrics...'), it is hardly surprising that bj.com is proud to announce that Billy (now he's a properly grown up fiftysomething) has been studied and trained with the British Humanist Association and in 2008 he became an Accredited Humanist Officiant approved by the BHA to conduct non religious funerals.

    'I have nothing against those who need spiritual guidance to help them through life, although I draw the line when religious fundamentalists evoke one or all of what I describe as the 'Three 'C's: Conning, Controlling and Killing.....', says Jenkins.

    'A fitting funeral ceremony can do so much to assist and accept closure and to open the door to the initially painful and empty path of life one has to continue with. It is a threshold that has to be crossed.'

    'Amazingly, too many people are still unaware that a funeral can be 
non religious and I recommend you find out more about the work of the BHA and their ceremonies (they also officiate at weddings, baby namings and civil partnerships) at www.humanism.org.uk.'

UPDATE AUTUMN 2014

After six years of intensive interaction with grieving families - consoling, collaborating, creating and conducting bespoke funerals,
Mr Jenkins instinctively felt it time to step back from conducting ceremonies, whilst continuing to offer background support to his fellow BHA celebrants.

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What's This I Hear? A New Billy Album?!?
 

Guitar afar in Lewisham
Did I hear a twang...? 
      © Steve Morrison
 

What we at billy.com are hearing is that the guitarist, urban musicographer, humanist funeral officiant, Suburban Billy Jenkins is soon releasing a previously unissued masterpiece from the cupboard under the stairs!

Entitled The Semi-Detached Suburban Home (Music for Low Strung Guitar), it is the intimate, inner sanctum music of a composer who, over three decades, has created aural art collections inspired by location, in particular – ‘Sounds Like Bromley’ (1982), ‘Greenwich’ (1985), ‘Scratches of Spain’ (1987), ‘Still Sounds Like Bromley’ ( 1997) ‘Suburbia’ (1999) and ‘I Am A Man from Lewisham’ (2010).

From those aural art impressions came another strand of work - the blues creations - in which Billy’s unique and impassioned guitar style drives on his musicians, creating an orgy of collective hedonistic joy!

But sometimes one needs to get away from all that sweet and inspiring collective cacophony. As on ‘When The Crowds Have Gone’, the solo steel strung acoustic guitar album released in 2004 and now on his new album, the guitarist and composer needs occasional doses of solitude to recharge and refresh. 

For inspiration, as on many albums before, Billy traces the musical psychogeography of the suburbs, finding stimulation in the mundane and the everyday.

The pieces, all for solo acoustic steel strung guitar, are arranged in six ‘rooms’. A walk through the semi-detached house he then resided in, in Lewisham, South East London – from hallway, through front room, the back room office, dining room, kitchen and then upstairs to bathroom and finally, the bedroom.

Wire, wood, skin and nail – all thrown into silence to create invisible audio images of everyday household objects and events and skillfully captured in close microphone glory by long time Jenkins producer Tony Messenger.
 

Semi-Detached
                            Suburban Home


This exciting UK digital only release is now available on all platforms.

The Semi-detached Suburban Home is perhaps the first recording that Billy feels works best as a digital download and as a ‘near field headphone experience’.

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Musicians - Do You Remember Them..?!?
 

Lewisham Jazz
                            Blues


Musicians. 

Do you remember them....? 
Used to pass through the Watford Gap Services at 2am.....

And when musicians get together to play - sparks fly and the resonance warms the heart.

Especially Billy's music. He's likened his musical interactions to 'one night stand group sex - but without body fluids or a trace of guilt.....'

He painstakingly picks an ensemble, has a quick briefing, talks everyone through the musical charts, gets them together in a recording studios, red light on and it's GANGBANG style! 
Music making how it should be.

Do you remember music...? 
Used to touch the head, heart and feet - totally drawing one into a sonic landscape. 
It wasn't just an aural accessory for electronic visuals..... 

So treat yourselves or a loved one to one of Billy's CD's this festive season!

Do you remember CDs? 
Like MP3 but with full spectrum audio and every breathe, scrape and twang preserved.

And in these austere times and the light at the end of the tunnel having been switched off, once more we remind you you can get 

THREE FOR THE PRICE OF TWO!

We at billy.com are excited to make available especially for your holiday entertainment (UK orders only) three Billy Calling Card CD's for just £19.99 
(inc. postage and packing)!! 

I Am A Man From Lewisham
BORN AGAIN (And The Religion Is The Blues) 
&
Jazz Gives Me The Blues 

All come in digi-file free standing card wallets 
and are dispatched directly from Billy HQ!

This special offer is only available from jazzcds.co.uk and only in the UK.

Details and critical acclaim for each album can be found on the 
Recordings+Shop page!

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Documentary Update!
 

Religion is the Blues Billy
                            Jenkins 
 

This update from filmaker Antonio Rui Ribeiro, who after a period of three years in the making, has now put the final touches on a feature-length documentary about British jazz and blues musician Billy Jenkins.

 
"The Religion is the Blues is a film about how Blues music has made Billy Jenkins, a renowned British Blues singer and guitarist change his approach to life and his music. 

Billy, has been playing his shows - part music, part stand-up comedy - across the UK and internationally since the 1970s. With the decline of traditional music sales and following a period looking after his father-in-law, a dementia sufferer, Billy decided to train to become a Humanist funeral officiant. 

The film takes us through Billy's music and inspiration in his early years and a career spanning four decades, offering a rare and intimate insight of his newly found spiritual role and his very unique take on religion, life and death."
 

It's a revealing documentary, not just about Billy's music and humanism, but a sobering statement on the state of the creative music industry today.

The trailer can be viewed here. 

Mr Ribeiro is currently in discussing with commissioning editors house and interested parties can contact Antonio here.
 

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Scare Electric Loop Bill!

Scare Electric with Blues Collective

Never one a fan of 're-mixes'- Billy Jenkins always puts musicians before machines, but we at billy.com are happy to share an inspiring use of a Blues Collective loop by AZIZ, recorded at the end of the last century and posted (with the permission of Mr Jenkins) by Scare Electric.

Using a four bar loop from the start of 'Every Night You Turn Away' from the 1996 'S.A.D.' album - it features a moment in time, captured so beautifully by engineer and producer Tony Messenger -  with Thad Kelly on bass guitar, Mike Pickering (drums) and Whispering Gerry Tigue on harmonica. 

If you listen closely, you might be able to hear Billy nodding his head in the background before he stabs the listener through the heart with some truly scary electric guitarwork. Except, AZIZ has cleverly ignored that - going for the underbelly.

And the silent guitarist would be the first to agree that it is a most fine reworking indeed!

Be seduced and enjoy some fine graphics here!

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Steve McManus - A Great Musician!
 

Steve McManus bass player
 

News filters through from the Musician's Union that the great bass and double bass player Steve McManus sadly succumbed to cancer earlier this year.

The Stage reports:

"West End musician Steve McManus, whose credits included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Witches of Eastwick, has died aged 48.

The musician, who played bass and double bass, had been battling cancer for the last five years and died in January.

As well as performing in the orchestra pit on many West End shows, including Betty Blue Eyes, McManus also featured on the soundtracks for films and television productions including Torchwood, Doctor Who and The Hunger Games."


Billy always enjoyed working with Steve in various function bands - on account of his passion, enthusiasm and musicality. So in 1991, the guitarist brought him into the studio and, as a result, made two superb contributions to Uncommerciality Vol.3.

You can hear an extract of his timeless bass playing talents here on 'Dancing In Ornette Coleman's Head'.
 

Billy says:

 
Thank you Steve. It was an honour to make music with you. 

As they say - 'the value of life lies not in it's length, but the use we make of it...'

You certainly did that.

My thoughts are with your family and friends.


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Too Many Months On And Counting....!

Julian Siegal directs Billy Jenkins
                            BBC Big Band
Conductor Julian Siegal directs the nineteen piece band in rehearsal    ©Steve Shepherd

Recently, when bravely out on a rare visit to Lewisham town centre, Billy Jenkins bumped into Lurca - a fine fellow Man From Lewisham, family man turned reluctant dog owner, excellent photographer and fanatical live music enthusiast.

And he had just one question - 'when are you playing live again?'
Frustratingly for him, it was a query the guitarist was unable to answer.

And that got Billy thinking. Was it that long ago that he last played music in public?

The 21st November 2010 on London's South Bank was the date and the Purcell Room was packed to the rafters as conductor Julian Siegal directed the nineteen piece BBC Big Band through some of Billy's music, beautifully arranged by Iain Ballamy.

The first call lead trumpet on the concert was the legendary Derek Watkins, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Billy had previously met Derek when they both booked to play on a jingle session.

'Why aren't you taking your coat off, Derek?' someone asked him.

'Because this is a 30 second jingle. And that's how long it will take us to record....' replied the trumpet genius - who always led from the front.

And he was right.

Onstage, on the night of the 'BBC Plays Billy' concert, this time Derek 'led from the back' and the guitarist well remembers a deep discussion with him pre gig about exactly what Derek and himself had eaten the night before. Like musicians do.....

Although the concert was recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 for 'Jazz Line Up', it is unlikely it will ever be broadcast again.

Re-live that memorable night by appreciating some wonderful photographs taken by Eliezer (Elie) Dinur of the South East London guitarist enjoying himself, presumably safe in the knowledge that he was, indeed, safe in his 'Sarf Lundin' manor....

Re-read the pre concert Q & A with Mr Jenkins that appeared on the BBC R3 Facebook site here.

And find out more about the event, including the wonderful musician line up on the bj.com Archive page here!
 

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Austerity Aural Art!
 

Billy Jenkins Calling Card CDs
 

In 1992, VOTP Records issued the Billy Jenkins First Aural Art Exhibition.

It was the guitarist's first CD release on his own label.

Like a visual art exhibition, it featured ten 'works' from the previous decade of vinyl and cassette releases - selected by a panel of sixteen keen Billy listeners.

Twenty years on, we at billy.com are excited to announce that 'due to the economic downturn - and the fact that 'the light at the end of the tunnel has now been switched off'...., VOTP are offering a special austerity package of the available three Billy Calling Card CD's for just £19.99 (inc. postage and packing)!!

I Am A Man From Lewisham, BORN AGAIN (And The Religion Is The Blues)  and Jazz Gives Me The Blues all come in digifile free standing card wallets, are dispatched directly from Billy HQ and this special offer is only available from jazzcds.co.uk.

Details and critical acclaim for each album can be found on the Recordings+Shop page!
 

Why you should take up this generous Calling Card Collection offer:
 

  • A chance for you to explore, or to introduce a friend to the music of Billy Jenkins.
  • Treat your family and friends to a unique Billy musical greeting card - one that sits free standing on the table or mantlepiece!
  • His music uses real musicians. Do you remember them? Every single note scraped out of silence and every note created with the heart, mind, hand and ear. Often in an ensemble spontaneity that mixes written music with instant creativity. A kineticism that is being eroded in this tick box accountability culture.
  • The musicians who work with Billy are very special people. Most of them have devoted their lives to their aural artistry. They do not steal, insult, hurt or offend anyone. Music is a medium that enriches. Billy and his wonderful record producers and engineers capture every facet of their art. 
  • Music isn't what most folks perceive it as these days - half heard from myriad environmental sound sources - be it a passing car, shop muzak, a smartphone, an open window, background candy on a television trailer or the neighbours....
  • The sonic range of music on a CD far outstrips that on MP3 download. 
  • Although all Billy's albums are created and constructed 'symphonically', to be listened from start to finish, why not give yourself to just one Billy track at a time. Place yourself stereo centre in front of a modest hi-fi system. Do not use headphones! Feel the resonance and drink in the imagery. It will feel good deep inside.....!


£19.99 isn't too much to help bring real music back into your life or that of a loved one or friend!

Or, as comedian, critic and Billy listener Stewart Lee once wrote in Q Magazine:

      'There is a kind of genius on our doorstep. Don't let him die in poverty.' 

Spank that jazzcds.co.uk link now!

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Getting Down And Dirty...!

Billy Jenkins supports Brawby
                            sewers

The local Gazette & Herald snaps Mr Thackray and Anne McIntosh MP 
hearing the sound of Jenkins wafting out of the sewers in Brawby...
 

If not having been noted hanging round the entrance to a pub toilet is low enough for Billy Jenkins to stoop, he's gone even further now. Into the sewer....

The guitarist and composer has literally 'stepped into the breach' to add his support to the campaign that genius art visionary Simon Thackray is running to encourage the 'powers that be' to repair the leaking sewers in Brawby, the North Yorkshire spiritual home home of The Shed - the legendary venue Thackray has been running for the last twenty years.

Jenkins piece of music 'Terraced Fast Food', from the 'I Am A Man From Lewisham' album currently accompanies a CCTV inspection of the sewer in a 'trailer' for what will become a longer 'movie'.

Mr Thackray explains:

"Brawby Sewer CCTV Inspection – The Movie! is an eye-watering colonoscopy of Yorkshire Water’s failed and polluting Brawby sewer. 

This unique docudrama features contributions from some of the leading lights of free improvisation, jazz, blues and classical music, including Billy Jenkins, Matthew Bourne, Oren Marshall, Kit Downes, Stanley Bad, Alan Tomlinson, Mark Sanders and Jan Kopinski, with narration by Stewart Lee."


You can get a 'whiff' of the campaign and be mesmerised by the Jenkins sound (with Nathaniel Facey – alto Saxophone, Dylan Bates – violin, Gail Brand – trombone, Dave Ramm - keyboards, Oren Marshall – tuba and Charles Hayward – drum kit) - here on YouTube!

And do get a full blown further whiff of Mr Thackray's inspiring and creative campaign at www.thesewer.co.uk!

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The Sweet Smell of Success...?
 

Billy Jenkins naked
© Nick Corker

The digital age has taken this man's shirt, 
his music, his shoes. 
With nothing else to take, 
there is nothing left to give...
 

How nice to see Billy Jenkins and the Blues Collective in a Top Ten collated by The Guardian newspaper recently!

A pleasant surprise that someone took the trouble to champion his music.

It was a playlist of 'Songs About Smells' and a reader recommended 'I Love Your Smell' from 'sadtimes.co.uk' -  which might well be the CD of the website, or the website might be the site of the CD....

Anyway, 'great!', we thought, a bit of PR for the miserable guitarist, still bemused that, after twenty three years, the same paper decided his birthday wasn't worth listing anymore (though fortunately, to placate his wobbly fragile creative ego, The Times did list it).

But, hang on. A proviso of sending in a recommendation is that the song had to be available on YouTube. To listen for free.....

Lovely, but, in a mouse click, a classic example of how the currency of recording is as good as worthless. It's impossible to recoup the cost of creating.

And, in a way, if heard via computer, or other online mass information device, half heard for just a few bars and compressed beyond resonation - before a compulsive finger flick or click moves the insatiable mind onto another instant diversion, music is worthless too. 

Musicians still have a lot to give. But it's a two way experience. The listener has to give themselves to the music.

Support Billy and his work and bring back the true musical experience by treating yourself or kith and kin to the whole 'sadtimes.co.uk' album. 

As esteemed critic Ben Watson wrote in a review for Wire Magazine in 2000:
 

"Jenkins packs the 'icepick in the forehead', 'right note in the wrong place' R&B attitude that Zappa admired in Gatemouth Brown, Guitar Slim and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson. It's like a barbed wire fence swearing at you. The notes jump out like they're possessed. It's astonishing.

But - born too late for the platinum escape hatch that popped open for Jimi Hendrix and Cream - what can Jenkins do with his outrageous talent? His answer is to wrap his guitarism in lyrics that trash Mississippi clichés, a suburban surrealism derived from pantomime, The Beano, Sid James, punk, street furniture and shopping centres - any aspect of contemporary life allergenic to blues romance. Comedic bathos repels superficial listening, tests your ability to discern exceptional music. 

In Richard Bolton (rhythm guitar), Jenkins has a sophisticated harmonist; in Dylan Bates (violin), a player who knows that without grit the notes won't work (one day Jenkins will surely compose him a concerto of Sugarcane Harris proportions). The opening of "Badlands" - a superb integration of dub and guitar twang - could be an On-U Sound production: despite the jokes, the music is that inspiring, that heavy.

Billy Jenkins with the Blues Collective: a reproach to contemporary blandishments that'll be 'discovered' by arsehole advertisers 20 years too late. Just like the blues....."


Thirteen years on from the album release it appears, as Billy predicted, that we are indeed living (and just about surviving) in sadtimes.co.uk.....

Order you copy or download for the price of a bottle of wine here!

All orders from jazzcds come with a signed Billy postcard!

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'Blues Al Fresco' - The Live DVD Ten Years On!
 

Billy Jenkins BLues Al Fresco film
 

Folks keep lamenting that Billy isn't performing live anymore..... 

So whilst Antonio Rui Ribeiro's superb documentary 'The Religion is The Blues' (see story above) does the round of commissioning editors and film festivals, in the interim, why not treat yourself, or a friend, to a copy of 'Blues Al Fresco' - the Blues Collective live in concert beautifully filmed ten years by director Philip Vallentin?

Its never been shown on network television or YouTubed on the web - it's only available on DVD via jazzcds.co.uk and the Billy Office here.

Find out more and see some clips here at Mr Vallentin's own website Espresso Animation!
 

      'Catches the band at their chaotic, deadpan best. Touches the heart, the 
funny bone and the soul in equal measure.'
                                                               John L. Walters / The Guardian

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'Violent Lewisham' Confuses Jenkins!
 

Billy Jenkins Lewisham Clock Tower
Lewisham Clock Tower of Power!
©Steve Morrison

In 2013, the leafy SE London borough of Lewisham was statistically proven to be the 'least peaceful' and 'most violent place in the UK'.

But long time proud resident Billy Jenkins recommends listening to his 'I Am A Man From Lewisham' CD.

'It's full of life affirming energy, community spirit and feel good factors', says the 56 year old guitarist and composer.

But this contradicts with elements of his work. Does not the title track feature gun shots and short-wave radio police messages?

'Maybe not many folks can tell the difference between a gunshot and a 350 cc single cylinder motorcycle backfiring....', offers Jenkins.

'And if you really listen and understand the phonetic alphabet - the police are actually discussing which takeaway to visit. And, to that end, I'm not inferring the police are not doing their job. Far from it. Perhaps they police our borough so effectively, the statistics are no doubt accurate - thus zooming lovely Lewisham to the coveted Number One slot!'

Find out what on earth Billy is talking about by treating yourself or a friend to a copy of  the critically acclaimed 'I Am A Man From Lewisham' here!

And, as it says in the album sleeve notes - 'Love wherever you live!'
 


 

'One of the great unclassifiable forces in the British underground. His ever-fascinating career takes a joyful turn on an album of pubsy knees-ups, blues growling and deliriously rude brass. He also conducts humanist funerals. Versatile!' 

                                                            Gavin Martin / The Daily Mirror

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'Entertainment USA' - Celebrating Independence Day!
 


 

July 4th marks adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring American independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. 

In the old days, it was celebrated by thirteen gun salutes, double rum rations for soldiers and, in 1783 in Salem, North Carolina, a 'challenging music program' was performed.

And, just over two hundred years later, an independent musician from Great Britain created his own 'challenging music programme' - 'Entertainment USA', which was released on CD in 1994 and features the wonderful Martin Speake on alto saxophone, Roy Dodds on drums and Steve Watts on double bass.

Oh, and some great twangy Stratocaster guitar playing from Jenkins himself!

Read about the making of the album on the Billy Webzine site here.

Then treat kith and kin to some aural cartoon-ery by sending them a copy via jazzcds!

All copies sold via jazzcds get a personalised signed Billy postcard!

Ye - HAH!

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Jenkins Spotted Hanging Round Pub Toilets.....!
 
 

Wetherspoons Bromley Billy Jenkins
Hanging rounds toilets......as spotted by Dave Yates
 

Although not one to frequent licensed venues (unless on musical matters), Mr Jenkins is most flattered that he is one of several 'local heroes' to adorn the walls of the Richmal Crompton Weatherspoon pub in Westmoreland Place, opposite Bromley South station.

Perhaps, rather fitttingly, his photograph is right next to the gentleman's toilets....

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'The Drum Machine' Brecon Bash!
 

Martin France drummer
Martin France - drum maestro.
 

'The Drum Machine Plays The Battlemarch of Consumerism' - the extended composition created, composed and scored for six drumkits by Billy Jenkins, was performed at this year's Brecon Jazz Festival on Saturday 11th August.

Directed by drummer Martin France, one of the key percussionists in Jenkins' various VOG Collective projects since 1988, it was performed by percussion students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

Written at the end of the last millennium, with funding from Tony Dudley-Evans, Birmingham Jazz and the ACE, it was previously been performed at the Birmingham Artsfest, the Rhythm Sticks Festival at London's South Bank and at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Interviewed for Making Music magazine in 2000, Jenkins explained that the piece was born out of hard-core political necessity:

      "This is war, We have the right to work. Technology and machine 'music' is taking our livelihood away. I want folks in clubs dancing to real musicians - those who take the responsibility for every single sound they make, not a pre-programmed pathetic microchip with parameters, pressed once by a self appointed purveyor of so-called music taste."

And there is no doubt that the last decade has seen the real musician more and more marginalized - not least helped by the selfishness of the solitary DJ, increased ambient sound all around us - be it folks talking into mobile phones, ever louder car stereos, the continued aural pollution of 'background' but more like foreground music, the rise of compressed digital recorded sound sources that constrict timbre and intonation, as well as the decimation of live music outlets due to the 2003 Licensing Act and cuts in arts funding.......

The score encapsulates an aural history of 20th Century popular music drum styles and, as Mark Walker (himself a well respected drummer) wrote in Rhythm magazine in 2002,  ' ...nothing could prepare us for the passion, enthusiasm and sheer joy that followed once the six drummers had taken their places behind their kits.'

We at bj.com are delighted that Brecon Jazz Festival programmer Huw Warren (himself another Billy VOGC alumni) asked Mr France to present 'The Drum Machine'.

The widely read Jazz Mann Blog liked it. Read his words here.

breconjazz.com.

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Desperate Times In The Music World!
 

Dylan Batesor is it Lynda Beast
©Simon Thackray
 

Shocking images reach billy.com via Simon Thackray of the legendary 
The Shed® fame!

It looks like things have got so bad in the music business that genius Blues Collective violinist Dylan Bates has had to resort to soliciting on the streets of Ryedale.

Mr Thackray assures us he booked the luscious Lynda Beast to brighten up the lives of those who wander aimlessly through the streets of grey clouded North Yorkshire towns.

Maybe he's right. But it sure looks like Dylan to us!

Take another look...... 

Lynda Beast and singing butcher
©Simon Thackray
 

Here she/he is singing a duet with the local butcher. That well known pop song 'You Were Made For Me(at)".....

Worrying times, indeed......

Simon Thackray and The Shed® are currently celebrating twenty years of creative madness. Humanist funeral obligations have prevented Billy from joining in the celebrations, but there's still so much to enjoy - including past Billy collaborators Ian McMillan, Mark Sanders, Oren Marshall, Snake Davis, Stewart Lee and others!

Get thee to The Shed® site now!

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Jenkins Endorses Poet Jazz Man John Clarke!
 

Jazz Man John Clarke
 

Twenty First Century Beat poet Jazz Man John Clarke has a new book out! Billy should know - he had the honour of writing the forward for it!

Amongst others things, Jenkins says this:

    "I have no time for imitation. Yet John works a genre decades old that, 
     under his pen, becomes refreshed, revitalised, reinvented and reborn.

    He is indeed everybody I meet, his art old as rivers of time. 
    Fired by a muse that burns so bright I fear spontaneous combustion. 

    Careful how you hold this book. It might burn. 
    But beautifully.
    With life.
    And with love."
 

In 2008, the guitarist collaborated with John and other inspiring SE London improvising musicians on the Jazz Circus project. 

It was, as it turned out, the musician's only recording of his guitar playing that year. You can hear an extract of the project here.

And find out more about 'All The Way From Kathmandu' (Nirala Publications) and John's unique life affirming words here!

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A Ginger Baker's Nutters Live CD Emerges...!
 

Giner Baker Billy Jenkins and
                            Nutters at Newcastle

The Nutters headbutt Newcastle 'Rock On The Tyne 1981. L to R: Keith Hale (keyboards), Ginger 
Baker (drums), Ian Trimmer (sax), the late Riki Legair (bass) and Billy Jenkins (guitar).
 

In 1981, Mr Jenkins spent a year touring with legendary drummer Ginger Baker - who felt compelled to call the band 'The Nutters' on account of the disparate mental state of his musicians.....

A CD of a concert they gave in Milan that year was released in 2011 on the Floating World label. 

Inventively entitled 'Ginger Bakers Nutters - Live In Milan 1981', it's a two CD set which can be ordered from your favourite online store or from Spin.

We at billy.com are unable to extract any insightful and witty observations about the concert from Mr. Jenkins, as he has no recollection of that night at all - save he recalls the theatre having a marvellous stage backdrop of a city at night.....

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