Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Rowland Jones find out more about him...
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
Born in Swansea, it was my cousin John who first introduced me to the guitar and then we formed The Dirty Feet Blues Band in school.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
The first album that really influenced me was 'John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton' – I still have my original Mono version framed on the wall of my studio! I've been fortunate enough to see many great acts like Free, The Who, jazz fusion bands like The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, the incomparable Captain Beefheart, Ry Cooder, Little Feat, Steely Dan, Frank Zappa, John Martyn and they have all been an influence on me in some way or another.
How would you describe your sound?
I've also played many types of music from acoustic blues to country rock, Big band jazz and funk. As a result, my music is a little difficult to put into a genre. I used to describe it as 'contaminated blues' but as I've been writing more on acoustic guitar the last couple of years and playing with a couple of pedal steel players, that's changed again. A couple of my friends coined the phrase 'soulful Americana' which I quite like, but the music is essentially still bluesy!
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
I recorded an album last year which was officially launched on 1st December - the title track is a single: 'New Start, New Day' – I wanted to write a song that sounded optimistic but coming from a 'darker place' – my favourite line is :
'But please don't say those words I hate,
That there's plenty more fish in the sea.'
What’s your local music scene like?
I live in South Manchester, and the Manchester music scene is very good in that there are a lot of musicians and lots of activity in terms of gigs, open mic nights and jam sessions. But at the same time many places are closing down, and people are reluctant to pay to put music on.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
More gigs, and since the last album was a very radio friendly produced album, I'm planning a more stripped down sound for this year's CD.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I wrote a song last year with Liam McClair which turned out quite well. So I'd like to do a bit more of that.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
In 2016, my wife Lesley and I spent a month in the US; playing in New York, Nashville, Memphis and Clarksdale – the home of the Crossroads. In Clarksdale, I played at Ground Zero - Morgan Freeman's Club and I also played in Red's which is an original 'juke joint'. It was dark and a bit threatening to be honest, but I asked the guitar player if I could sit in with his band and he said 'you play, man!' So I played half a dozen tunes with his bass player and drummer. It went down really well and afterwards I wandered up to the bar to get a beer. Red, the huge owner of the bar handed me a beer and growled: “When you come in, I thought you was bullshit... but you got it!” I'm not sure whether I was very pleased or just relieved!!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I write songs so I'm happy if you listen to them and even happier if you like them!!