2019 has been a busy year for North Eastern writer Jez Lowe. He has just completed a thirty-four date nationwide UK tour as part of the folk-singing quartet The Pitmen Poets, and at the end of October he was heard as presenter of BBC Radio Four’s Open Country programme, chronicling the myths and legends of rural Northumberland. The year ends with his annual Christmas tour with his band The Bad Pennies, this year entitled Ice Cold In Alnwick – a Northumbrian Christmas.
As if that’s not enough, he has also just published his second novel, The Corly Croons, a follow-up to his 2017 debut work The Dillen Doll, itself a best seller by any standards for a first-time novelist.
The new book, published by the independent Badapple Books, based in North Yorkshire, follows a similar path to the first, being based in mid-19th Century Tyneside, and inspired in part by the songs and characters of the region, notably the legion of poets and songwriters who were known as The Bards of the Tyne.
Jez’s story tells how a visitor from the south of England becomes entangled in a mystery concerning the fate of one of these so-called Bards, and soon finds himself seduced and bewitched by the music and songs of the region – much like Jez himself has been for much of his life.
Jez’s knowledge and fondness for the folk songs of his native North East have informed and inspired much of his thirty-year career as a much-covered and much-travelled singer-songwriter, and has had a similar effect on his more recent work as a story-teller and novelist. At the recent launch of The Corly Croons, at the Sedgefield Bookends Festival in County Durham, the audience was captivated by the language and imagery as Jez read out sections of the book, and then went on to sing several of the folk songs that lie at its heart.
Jez has released over twenty albums of original compositions over the years, with folk-luminaries such as Fairport Convention, The Dubliners, The Unthanks and Mary Black among those who have recorded his songs. In recent years he has extended his range and has worked as a principal songwriter on the award-winning BBC Radio Two series, The Radio Ballads, as well as being musical director for North Yorkshire’s Badapple Theatre. The move to writing full-scale novels became somewhat inevitable, and the reaction to his first book certainly seems to have shown this to be a good move.
Jez will be presenting The Corly Croons as part of a three day literary festival organised by Princeton University in New Jersey next spring, and at several UK literary events in 2020.
Meanwhile his musical career continues unabated, with the release of a box-set of his first half-dozen album, recorded for Fellside Records between 1980 and 1993, due for release in early 2020.
Author’s website: www.jezlowe.com