A Legend Returns: Jez Lowe at Nitten.

Incredibly, it’s been over ten years since Jez Lowe graced the Nitten stage – not for want of asking of course – it’s just that Jez is one of the busiest and most in-demand performers on the circuit, and has been for many, many years. That’s to be expected, of course. A prolific songwriter with a plethora of recorded material (some going as far back as the good old days of vinyl), a fine singer and storyteller par excellence – it’s actually easy to forget that he’s also a stunning musician, but his skills on guitar, mandolin and cittern are quite superb. He has also published a number of highly acclaimed novels; the most recent being ‘Pipers Lonnen’ .

The evening got off to a fine start with a couple of floor spots  from Ronnie Miller (free from his sound man duties for one evening) and Neil Dawson before Jez launched into the politically charged ‘Tethers End’ from his 2016 CD ‘The Balled Beyond’. Many of Jez’s songs deal with the economic distress that the North Country has suffered as a result of the industrial decline of the last century, but the themes are universal and can easily apply to any part of the country – or even the world.  Subjects like shipbuilding (Takin’ on Men),  men of the sea (The Bergen) and, inevitably, the coal industry (Black Diamonds, Pitmen Poets), are dealt with articulately and with profound sensitivity. One of the many highlights was ‘The Last Widow’; the heart rending tale of the widow of a miner killed in the  Easington Colliery disaster of 1941.

Many people will know that Jez recently suffered the loss of many of his favourite instruments when his car was stolen last year – thankfully, like any instrumentalist worth his salt, he had plenty of back-up instruments to keep him going but it’s still a real blow to a working musician. A humorous little ditty entitled ‘Message From My Mandolin’ alludes to this and shows that his sense of humour prevails. Even more hysterically funny was a song from his latest album ‘Crazy Pagan” called ‘Talk to Me Dirty in Geordie’, inspired by time spent working with the National Theatre in London a few years ago.   Is Geordie the sexiest accent on the planet? I’ll leave you to judge that one for yourselves.

No show of Jez’s can pass without a raft of good old audience singalongs and his repertoire contains songs a-plenty that contain choruses (rousing or otherwise). The Nitten crowd,  obviously very familiar with Jez’s songs didn’t let us down and joined in lustily with songs like ‘This is Not My Tribe’, ‘Back in Durham Jail’ and the classic ‘Old Bones’. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 10 years before we can have this master troubadour back at Nitten Folk Club.

Additional floor spots were provided in the second half by Kay Dawson and Charlie Boyle and our ever popular raffle raised some welcome funds to keep the club going strong. Many thanks to Ian Duncan and Gillian Anderson for handling this. Thanks also must go to Rab and Lena Ballantine for selling the raffle tickets and taking the entrance fees.

We’ll be taking a break from guest nights during the summer months but in September we will resume when we welcome our old friend George Machray to our stage – performing his first full show for us.  A fine singer / songwriter from the picturesque village of Port Seton, George writes wonderful observational songs, both humorous and serious, about the people and places around him. Definitely not to be missed so make sure you add it to the diary.

The Committee