According to their bass player Gary Fletcher, the Blues Band don't trouble the press and the press don't trouble the Blues Band; and if interviews or comments are required Dave Kelly or Tom McGuinness will oblige. So a rare opportunity to talk to the front man Paul Jones was our Christmas Day treat. I took some recording gizmos to the Maddermarket in Norwich and we sat down for a chat while the Blues Band set up for that night's gig.
We started by talking about the new album "Few Short Lines" and - as the project was intended to mark their 30th anniversary - the choice of guests: Linda Lewis and Southside Johnny having a chance to stretch out on some new songs and some less obvious cover versions. Paul is much more than their singer, he's a working musician that hosts Britain's flagship weekly blues radio show for BBC Radio2, something he's done for twenty five years. That's a heck of a feat for an unfashionable genre of music and it shows that Britain still has a very passionate love for blues. Over the years the show has had some fine sessions and Paul talked about some of his favourites: Eric Bibb, Robert Cray and Ruthie Foster At the start of 2011 he was given international recognition with a "Keeping The Blues Alive" award, as well as winning "Blues Broadcaster of the Year" and the Harmonica player trophy for a second time.
The year has had some sadness with a number of significant blues players passing over: Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, Willie Big-Eyes Smith, Big Jackson Johnson, Eddie Kirkland and sadly too many more. Paul remembered the Legends tour from a few years ago and also talked about the talent coming through, his discovery of Giles Robson and his admiration of Joe Bonamassa, he admitted to listening to Stephen Dale Pettit in the car!
He and Brian Jones played together before Brian set off for London to form the Rolling Stones, Paul stayed behind as "Paul Peterson" singing pop covers in a dance band all the while learning invaluable lessons in stagecraft and musicianship from the trained jazz players in the same outfit. After that he went to join Manfred Mann and briefly put together a "Supergroup" for an album on Elektra that included Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood (Ginger Baker turned him down!!!). When punk rejuvenated the live music scene with an anyone can make a record attitude, Paul spoke to some old mates about some sporadic gigs using an anonymous name "the Blues Band" with a limited edition album to sell at gigs. They had to bootleg their own album when they ran into cash flow hurdles, the disc was a triumph and their gigs sold out.
Paul was candid about the influence his father had and how he juggles everything to fit in playing in four different groups as well as doing sessions, leading the British Harmonica League and an award winning weekly radio show. Early in 2012 the Blues Band back catalogue will be spruced up and reissued with as many rarities as he can find, and the Manfreds will celebrate 50 years since formation. You can expect something special.It was a pleasure to chew the fat with Paul, it was all over too quickly.
From everyone here at STAR BLUES, wishing you a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, Until our next live STAR BLUES on 8th January take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you