Billy Jenkins at 60
Guitarist, bandleader and composer Billy Jenkins celebrated his 60th birthday in 2016. To help him celebrate this milestone, I compiled short photo slideshows to illustrate a handful of tracks from his back catalogue and presented The Billy Jenkins Listening Club podcast.
If you've never heard of Billy Jenkins before, he is a musician who defies comparison and categorisation. He is fundamentally rooted in the blues but over the years he has embraced "art" rock, jazz, free improvisation, comedy and the subtleties of solo guitar using low-strung tuning.
He toured in the UK and Europe with a band called Burlesque in the 1970s and later in a musical comedy duo with saxophonist Ian Trimmer called The Great Trimmer and Jenkins.
Since 1981, Billy has led his own bands - the Voice of God Collective, the Blues Collective and Blues Trio Suburbia and recorded numerous albums, notably on his own VOTP Records and the Babel label.
In recent years, Billy has been in a period of silence. His last major performance was in 2010 during the London Jazz Festival. Between 2007 and 2014, he conducted humanist funerals in south east London, an experience that inspired his most recent album, Death, Ritual and Resonation.
For his 60th birthday year, Billy wanted to promote his extensive back catalogue of recorded music. The challenge was to find a way to present the music online in a fresh format for distribution through social media. The first idea was photo slideshows - pairing Billy's music with my photography.
An extract from I'm Staying In The Car, in which Billy describes his dislike of shopping and parties...
The Light Of The Blues - a festive tale accompanied by an extract of Dressing Up For Church
The next idea was podcasting - the Billy Jenkins Listening Club - short audio webcasts exploring the ideas behind selected tracks. Billy suggested I should be the presenter in conversation with him or one of his collaborators. Billy has scripted many of the episodes himself and found the process tapped into his trademark humour. Although the project officially ended at the beginning of July 2017, Billy and I enjoyed making the podcasts so much we plan to continue.
More about Billy Jenkins
A very good outline of Billy's achievements written by Roger Farbey can be seen on the All About Jazz site.
A piece about Billy published by the south-east London News Shopper series.
An article about the first series of The Billy Jenkins Listening Club by Sean Doherty published in the News Shopper series.
If you're already a fan of Billy's work and use Facebook, you might like to look at the Billy Jenkins Listening Club Facebook Page.