Billy Jenkins by The Thames at low tide.
Navigating a sea of turmoil...
Billy's 2005 album When The Crowds Have Gone was described by music critic John Bungey, writing for The Times, as the guitarist's "darkest record yet...". Set against a backdrop of change in domestic circumstances and alterations to the UK licensing laws on musical performance, life for the musician - and life as a musician - was passing through turbulent times. In this episode Billy explains how producer Peter Bennett lent his musical skills, diplomacy and beautiful custom-made guitar for the sessions that explore raw emotions but also offer a glimmer of hope that better times will come.
Series Three, Episode Five: The Tide Is Out
We're travelling back through the years to Bromley at the time when the 1950s were rolling over into the 1960s... It was then that a young Billy Jenkins was taken from his happy world in the back garden to the church hall and cast into the hell that was nursery school... Listen
It must be so great living the life of a travelling musician... heading off to exciting places, staying in top notch hotels, enjoying exotic local food and drink, the harmony of sharing life on the road with fellow virtuoso musicians and the inspiration to be found by working with the local players as well... and getting paid for it. Oh, and all those wonderful encounters with adoring fans... how could anyone ever tire of that? Listen...
One technique that is a constant in Billy's music is the "stick in the wheel". One method might be use a skilled musician playing an unfamiliar instrument, another approach is to have two drummers using stick and drum kits. Beowulf Mayfield asks drummer Mike Pickering how he approached - and whether he enjoyed - playing alongside another drummer... Listen
As a teenager in Bromley Billy Jenkins made himself useful first as a part-time cleaner and later a part-time guitar teacher at Wing Music, a music equipment and instrument shop run by the late Barry Mitchell. In this episode we hear teenage Bill perched on the speaker stacks telling an even younger Beowulf Mayfield about those times and listen to what might have happened if keyboard giants James Taylor and Django Bates had wandered into the shop with bass king Mike Mondesir and drum legend Martin France... Listen.
Billy believes you can always recognise a fellow artist. It's obvious from the way they talk about their work, just listen to what they say - you can never mistake it. Well... almost never. Special guest performer and Channel 4 First Dates sensation Maggie Day stepped up to the microphone to read Billy's account of the time when two artistic minds didn't quite agree... Listen
When Billy performs away from home, he takes great care to learn as much as he can about local opinion and sensitivities. In this story we hear about the time, earlier in his career, when Billy put his foot right in it... Listen
When drummer Mike Pickering was a teenager he told a careers adviser that he wanted to be a drummer in a blues band. He had to wait a few years but in 1995 Billy Jenkins made that dream come true when he asked Mike to be part of the "holy trinity" at the heart of the Blues Collective. In this episode he recalls his part in that history... Listen
There's something out there in the darkness... It sounds like a scary film soundtrack is sneaking through the dark suburban streets... Don't worry, Billy assures us, it's only a string quartet - members of the Gogmagogs musical theatre group to be exact, and they only sound scary to consumers of the mainstream media... Listen
There's too much going on in the world - too much information, too much noise, too much social pressure and too much of everything! In this episode Billy describes how the irritations of suburban life inspired one of his most stamping, stomping and comical blues songs...Listen
Of all forms of jazz, free improvisation is possibly the most challenging for audiences. Billy recognises this and to make things a little easier for listeners he devised his musical Big Fights - inspired by the sport of boxing. Two improvisers face each other and, when the bell rings, they come out of their respective corners playing. When two or three minutes have passed, the bell rings again and the playing stops. It's really very simple - but it's not so simple to record, as producer Tony Messenger recalls... Listen
Billy confirms that he is still alive, explains the intricacies of the low strung guitar and mourns the decline of traditional analogue recording... Listen
Billy describes how, and why, he embarked on his musical journey back to his blues roots after many years of playing jazz... Listen
Multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and record producer Charlie Hart describes meeting Billy through Wood Wharf studios performing with the Voice of God Collective in the late 1980s... Listen
Billy discusses the constant pressures imposed by the forever-connected, immediately responding digital world. There's so much to take in it's no wonder he can't remember if he's locked the back door...Listen
Billy explains his philosophy of "aural cartoons" and describes how an overdose of so-called "smooth" jazz can really grate on the nerves. It might be exploring a form of torture but there's no connection with the Marquis de Sade - really... Listen
Record producer Tony Messenger jumped into his amazing psychadelic-wrapped car for the trip to leafy Brockley to talk about his long association with Billy Jenkins and the challenges of capturing the essence of his musical ideas on record... Listen
To celebrate the completion of Series Two, we compiled another box set for binge listening and this one's a bonanza for the ears and eyes...Watch and Listen
We all love a bit of binge listening and, on the completion of Series One of the Billy Jenkins Listening Club, we reckoned we'd made one of the best box set listening binges going - we even made a video to go with it...Watch and Listen
The internet seems to be plastered with previews and trailers for films, television shows and albums these days, so we did one as well... Listen
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