Growing up in the 60s, I first fell in love with the blues when I heard ’John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton - the legendary Beano album - and I still have my original mono copy framed on the wall! I was stunned and wanted to know where this music came from. We used to get LP’s of Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy out of the Public library – and then there were the great blues tours with 5 or 6 top acts on one bill! We were so lucky!
Over the years Jones I've played with rock bands, big bands, folk-rock bands and even toured with bands like Limmie and the Family Cookin’ and The Exciters, but I still come back to the Blues. In 2006 Lesley and I had just got married and decided to go and live in Italy and I said I wanted to get back to the Blues. I was asked to audition for a band and only realised when I got there, that they expected me, as the only English speaker, to be singer and frontman as well… so that’s what I became! So began seven years of gigging in Italy – in bars, clubs and festivals from Bergamo and Verona in the North, to Calabria and Sicily in the South.
In 2014, we moved back to Manchester and the following year I recorded ‘You give me the Blues’ with Chris CJ Hillman (Billy Bragg Band) on pedal steel and Dobro, and Mark Lewis on bass, which Blues Matters described as an ‘album crammed with acoustic blues’ In 2016 I recorded ‘Still the Blues’ with the same team which was described in Blues Matters as ‘Pure blues expertly written and performed’ After some time gigging with CJ Hillman and time spent in the States, my 2017 album was quite different, with drummer Paul Burgess (10 cc, Chris Farlowe, Martin Barre) and producer multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier (Waterboys, Strawbs, Joan Baez) I wasn't sure how to describe the music, but a couple of mates came up with 'soulful Americana’ which I think covers it nicely.
My plan last year was to go back to basics - probably just guitar and voice. I began 2020 with a gig at The Rock and Blues Festival in Skegness, which I recorded just to have record of it, but I was so pleased with it that with a bit of fettling in the hands of Mark Lewis, I had a new album to which I gave the wildly imaginative title 'Rowland Jones - Live'
The rest of the year was a total wash out for many of us, so I concentrated on www.talkingsongs.uk a weekly on-line event where I have been interviewing other songwriters from the UK, US, Canada, France, Italy and Australia. It's been fun to do and we've had a great response with over 100,000 viewers in total.
Now just looking ahead to see how 2021 pans out. . . . .