Friday, April 1, 2011


The post below is a quick write up of an interview I did with the legendary Joe Brown which was posted rather hastily just before I dashed out to watch his live show.

It was supposed to have appeared in the paper that I'm currently contracted to but for various reasons such as working across two offices, staff shortages, pressing deadlines, and space, it never got written up in time or used online when it was submitted.

I was disappointed because I'd wanted to do a good job and show the reader just what a lovely down to earth bloke Joe is. I immediately warmed to him when he told me he was a "fellow leper" although I didn't discuss my lifestyle politics with him because it would have been "inappropriate" given the circumstances and I didn't think he would be that interested. Music is his greatest love and that was obviously evident when he played and the interview was about him not me.

I did, however, print off a copy of the interview from this blog and asked for it to be delivered to him. I hope he got it and I hope he liked it but judging from something he'd said, I guessed he wasn't a great computer fan.

We had a very nice chat and he said he'd enjoyed the interview with me and then invited me to get tickets for the show from his agent so I couldn't possibly refuse.

Try as I might I couldn't remember one Joe brown song although I knew he was an artist with an illustrious career behind him. At his concert in Skeg last Thursday evening, it all came back to me but more than that I realised he was one of the true greats and probably vastly under rated as a musician and song writer and better known as an all round entertainer.

Joe ceratinly knows how to put on a great show. It is very much a relationship between his music, his personality and an audience that has grown up with him. He did tell me that the older generation probably drag the younger ones along with them but they enjoy the concert so much that they tend to return on their own accord because they enjoyed it so much.

I know now what he meant because as one of the relatively young 'uns, I had what was the best time I've had in years.

Joe appeared with a great backing band which included his immensely talented son Pete who is also a record producer. Joe was obviously very proud of him and he had good reason to be.

The show began with the roots of Joe's music - a tribute to Skiffle and the legendary Lonnie Donnegan.

The first half was an intimate affair and musical feast with Joe and the band seated under a spotlight and playing old songs including a 1930s piece from Hawaii, drummer Phil Capaldi’s softer rendition of the Elvis Presley track Mystery Train, and Joe’s cover of Chris Smither’s Leave the Light On. A gentle and acoustic ballad that kept the audience transfixed as he plucked skillfully on an acoustic guitar.

There were 12 guitars lined up around Joe and his band, plus a Ukulele that was brought out from backstage each time it was required, in all shapes and sizes, all gleaming and all obviously well loved. Joe made particular mention of a new guitar he was given by Danny Harrison, former Beatle George’s son. It was a replica of one owned by Eddie Cochrane. “It has the same cigarette burns, and rusty pick as when he played it,” Joe joked. Comedy that made the audience belly laugh was peppered throughout the show.

Pete did a brilliant version of Crosby Stills Nash and Young’s "Helpless". A natural guitar player, he made that thing weep in harmony to his gritty voice which had the depth of a harderned rocker. Pete’s influence on his father’s music means that new sounds have been introduced to the shows and appear on Joe's latest album. As the second half got underway, Joe did a cover and new arrangement of U2’s "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" and it got the audience jigging in their seat. Fantastic.

Joe then launched into some of his own hits for nostalgia value including "Picture of You", "Henery VIII I am" and "Sea of Heartache". I was bowled over by a charming instrumental Italian wedding waltz.

The veteran performer has been at the top of his game for 50 years. He is one of the nicest people in the music industry and one of the most talented musicians around. He doesn’t so much play and sing as live and breathe through the fun of his music and the interaction with the audience.

Joe has a few more dates on this tour and I heartily recommend you catch his show when it comes to your town. If you didn’t manage to see him at Skegness, then check out his tour dates HERE and do yourself a favour. You will so glad that you did and you’ll be smiling for a good long time after Joe has moved on.

I tried to find a link to Joe's U2 cover but couldn't find one so instead for your pleasure, "Sea of Heartache" is posted below. Enjoy.

A final point of interest to those of you who come here to find news and views on the smoking issue, during the half time break I stood outside with a handful of smokers and listened as one man told his friend that almost everyone he knows has quit. The friend with him said he was on his last packet. Thanks to the Govt's latest assault on the poor, it is only the rich and privileged that can now afford to pay the high tax on their cigarettes. Those who can't afford to smoke, and those who can't afford to go abroad to buy cheaper tobacco, simply have no choice.

And a final point of interest about Joe is that he is the only Cockney to be born in Lincolnshire - a village called Swaby which in 2001 had a population of 111. His mum and dad moved to the East End of London when Joe was 2 to run a pub.