Saturday 13th September 2014
My usual drummer Gilson is sick this week, so I've been playing with the great Neal Wilkinson and he's been telling me about this
book by the legendary drummer, Earl Palmer. Now, Palmer is someone who played on a huge amount of amazing records and has a very
broad range. Back in the early 50s he was playing with
in September 1955, Palmer and the rest of Fats' backing band played on Little Richard's Tutti Frutti. So, basically, he invented
rock and roll drumming. Palmer would go on to play with Sam Cooke and
played on the original Batman theme, Andy Williams' 'Can't Get Used To Losing You', the soundtracks to
Predator. This is a musician who helped invent the whole idea of
pop music everyone has heard his drumming even if they don't know his name. So we celebrated him on the show and played a few
things he was on. An amazing chap.
As for guests, we had the always amazing Dawn French who told me she'd always wanted to be an opera singer. I'd like to think we
could help her realise that dream. We also had the novelist Mark Billingham, the wonderful Rick Wakeman and the guitarist and
song-writer Boz Boorer who was in
and has, for
some time, been Morrissey's co-writer and musical director.
We played a special show this week at the Barrow Hill Roundhouse in Chesterfield. It's a truly wonderful venue and it was there we
said goodbye for a while to Melanie C who's been such a big part of the band recently. We had a proper farewell knees-up after the
show she will be missed. Winter is for preparation, while summer is for display.
And that's been this last week. Next week, the TV show returns...
Monday 8th September 2014
Hello! Since we last spoke I've recorded two episodes of my Radio 2 show, one with the wonderful
of UB40 and one with Andy Bell
Erasure. They were both great guests, but it was Andy who tipped me off about the mysterious
, an English singer
from the 1940s who I must confesss I'd never heard of. I went straight to my Spotify and there he was I couldn't find it anywhere else,
by the way and I'd love to share this with everyone. Andy told me that Conway had been a porter at Billingsgate
fish market for a while, but was a big star by the late 40s. He was a crooner, Britain's answer to Bing Crosby and he
does have the most remarkable voice. He died of a heart condition in the early 1950s. It's a sad story, but do have a listen.
I ran into Chrissie Hynde
week and she told me she'd love to come on tour with us next summer. I told her about the scent of
BBQ in the air at many of the shows, but she promised not to shout at any one she saw cooking...
We had Kirk Brandon in too this week. He has a very strong new record out soon his intensity hasn't changed a bit from his
earliest records, that's a real tribute to him. We talked about his band,
Spear Of Destiny
, and how
I once went to Vienna to see the real Spear of Destiny and verify it was the real one. The Nazi's ended up with it in Berlin, and the rumour conspiracy
theory really is that after WWII the Allies took the real one and replaced it with an exact replica. I wanted to check with
my own trained eye but it was shut for refurbishment when I got there.
On a brighter note, I accompanied Van Morrison to the GQ Awards. He was on great form, but I was so eager to get inside I went
arse-over-tit on the way in. We met Paolo Nutini there who told us he'd just written a song that sounded just like
rather like that idea...
See you next week!
Monday 1st September 2014
Hello! After a great summer break this last week has been particularly hectic and busy. For one thing, my Radio 2 show is back from
today Monday with an appearance from the very briliant British classical violinist,
. She was marvellous,
an impeccable speaker and player perfect for radio whose story is all the more remarkable for having grown up in an unmusical
family. We perform a version of 'Summertime' and the way Nicola plays will make you love the piece in aways you'd never known before.
On next week's show we've got The Shires
who are great young new country duo from Bedfordshire who have such great harmonies listen out for them, and Moon Mullican's 1953 hit,
'Rocket To The Moon', which I play on the show. We're making the show at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. You know they keep an entire symphony
orchestra in the cellar there? I love walking in past the original Radiophonic Workshop
studios what an inspiring place...
So, I've been recording with Emeli Sandé, Imelda May, and Joss Stone over the summer and I've just been in the studio with Kylie. She really is the
most incredible person, she's like sunshine, she lights up the whole place. I was going through my Spotify playlists before we met and I thought she'd
be great on a new version of The Clash's 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?'. We gave it a New Orleans' nuance, a bit of The Clash's
bit of the mighty Neville Brothers
Am I giving away too many secrets here?
Anyway, we played in Greenwich last week, right in the middle of the old Naval College. My mother and grandmother both lived in Greenwich, in houses
that were bombed during WWII, so it was a quite odd being on stage and looking out over this place. We were right by the Observatory, on the Meridian Line,
which was a wonderful place to play.
Now, I mentioned Imelda May earlier and I'm happy to say she's now the new me in Ireland. She has her own TV show there that features new and old
artists mainly Irish playing with her and her excellent band who are rockabilly and boogie experts. The whole thing's made me very
happy I can't think of anyone I'd rather be me!
Until next week...
Monday 28th July 2014
One thing I forgot to mention when I talked about the band playing at Edinburgh Jazz Festival last week, we had the Prince of Wales
and the Duchess of Cambridge in the audience that shows quite how far jazz has come. Also, the crowds there and in Liverpool
were crazed! Melanie C joined us on stage in the latter of course, that's a hometown show for her and I had mentioned
to her earlier how my great-great grandfather was from Liverpool. She announced during the show how "Jools has a lot of Scouse in him..."
which went down well, as you can imagine.
This week I've been recording with Emeli Sande which was a real joy. She really is a fantastic person, a huge talent also terribly glamorous
she arrived in a soft-top Jaguar sports car. So we recorded a version of the Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn song, 'Love Me Or Leave Me', made most
famous by Nina Simone in the late 50s. Emeli nailed it in two takes, her voice is brilliant and the band just loved her. The song will appear on my
new album which has the working title, 'Sirens of Song' Imelda May, my scouse-friend Melanie C, Laura Mvula, and Joss Stone are all involved
There's such a wealth of female talent at the moment, Adele
heralded a new dawn there's so many more opportunites for female artists
than there were 20 years ago. Music isn't limited by gender or sex anymore and it never should have been as talent is free from all such
Emeli and I were both very inspired by Nina Simone
she could be a frightening, no-nonsense character, but she took songs and made them her own creations. Her tribute to Martin Luther KIng, '(Why?) The King Of Love Is Dead',
released on the 'Nuff Said LP six months after his death in 1968, is a remarkable piece, recommended to all Depths Plumbers.
Finally, I was visiting a friend last week and they had a copy of Randy Newman
'Harps and Angels' lying on a sofa. Now, I love Randy, but this one had passed me by. So as soon as I got home I fired it up on Spotify
and it sounds wonderful, he's such a unique songwriter. The title track is really good.
As I leave you, I want to say thank you to the 7000 people who came to Kew Gardens to see us last week. It was great to see them trampling all over the
grass and flowers!
See you next week...
Monday 21st July 2014
Last week we played at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival and at Kew Gardens' Kew The Music event, but really it's all been about
rest and preparation. I saw the brilliant Stephanie Trick
performing in Edinburgh and she played a version of Princeton-born, jazz stride pianist's
take on Richard Wagner's 'Pilgrim's Chorus'. Now, Lambert was a pianist beyond mere
pianists, and that track is a formidable finger-buster, so it's all praise to Stephanie there.
This week I'm recording with the wonderful Emeli Sandé
I will report back and let you all know how that went. As for now, it's so been so hot and such a giddy heat that I've been forced to walk around in my
underpants. Frankly, I expect to be put in the cells any time soon.
If I'm not I'll see you all next week...
Monday 14th July 2014
This week we've been at the Carlisle
Sands Centre and the Wigan
International Jazz Festival. They were both great
shows and it was a joy to be in Wigan, birthplace of the great George Formby
, who George Harrison himself told me as the first
British pop star. Now I hear that Johnny Depp is set to play George in an upcoming film of his life. Seems perfectly sensible
So, touring has taken up a lot of time over the last few days, but two pieces of music have stuck in my mind this week. I worked
with the late, great Bobby Womack and he was a wonderful songwriter and artist. He started his career early in the history of soul
music and did a lot of work, he showed the way forward more than once. He came into do a New Year's Eve later the year before last
and did 'Looking For A Love' with Damon Albarn. That was a single for him back in 1974 and I remember buying it then Bobby
was a truly great figure and he'll be missed.
On a happier note, I got a package in the post this week from Paul O'Grady. In it there was a 1940's film, a box and a letter which
read, "I want you to have this, Jools". In it there was a tie-pin that used to belong to Fats Waller
There had been a cuff-links too, but Paul, being the kind chap he is, had felt it necessary to give those to Lady Gaga. I honestly think this might be the best
gift I've ever been given. The pin is gold with ruby eyes it looks amazing. Obviously it means I'll have to play with her
Ladyship at one point, if only so the items can be reunited. So, in tribute to Paul, Lady Gaga and, of course, Mr Waller himself,
I'd like to put 'Handful of Keys' in the playlist it's a real finger-buster...
Tuesday 8th July 2014
This week kicked off with a signiifcant birthday not mine, but the legendary Jeff Beck
was celebrating turning 70. I have to admit I found the whole thing a bit bizarre as he doesn't look a day over 12. Jeff really is an absolute marvel,
without doubt Britain's greatest ever guitarist.
We've recorded together before, Jeff joined me on a version of Drown In My Own Tears
my More Friends
album. He played a particularly brilliant version of 'Brush With The Blues'
that night too, that was a real treat to hear.
Elsewhere this week I was reminded of the first ever record I played on. It was Wayne County & The Electric Chairs
'Fuck Off', put out by Safari Records in 1978. I was thrilled to find it on Spotify and also thrilled to discover
it sounds as fresh and vibrant as ever.
I think I was paid about £18 for the session itself, but the much more important thing was when I was sent a copy of this thing
we'd made. When I'd gone into the studio the song was more or less an instrumental blues, there were no lyrics. Imagine my
surprise then when I sat my mother and aunt down and, aged just 19, played it for them that very afternoon. In fact, I'd like
all Spotifiers to try and project themsleves into that moment as it really was quite something.
So, coming up we have Cornbury Festival. I hope Russell Brand might pop along as his girlfriend lives nearby. I've also been
in the studio with the wonderful Imelda May
tell you about all that next week!
Friday 4th July 2014
This has been a very busy week with a particularly busy Thursday. I've been in the studio with
and we recorded versions
of Percy Mayfield's 1951 song, 'Lost Mind' and Billie Holiday's 'God Bless The Child'. The great jazz singer and pianist
a brilliant version of 'Lost Mind', but I'd recommend all Depths Plumbers to begin with his version of Parchman Farm dip your
toe in there first. So, that was a quite abstract way to reach out from Rumer, but we got there!
Later that same day I played at Bella Freud's Hoping Foundation gala, accompanying
a version of 'Unchained Melody'. Of course, it's well known what a brilliant pianist he is, but he has the most wonderful voice.
Listen to 'Border Song' and you can hear all his Gospel roots.
was also there
and he was very, very good too. Russell Brand was hosting and he mentioned how Mr Naughty had a "nice face", and he really does.
You can go a long way with a nice face in this business.
One of the people whose taste I really trust in music is
week he turned me onto Toussaint McCall's 1967 hit, 'Nothing Takes The Place Of You'. This is a wonderful record my exhibition winner for this week!
Friday 13th June 2014
On The Road:
We've just done two nights at Hampton Court which is a wonderful place to play.
We were given a tour of the palace before the first night and were shown this great
painting of Henry VIII and his jester. The guide was brilliant and he told us this
original Tudor joke.
What is the cleanliest leaf in the forest?
It is indeed the holly, for no man dare wipeth his arse upon it!
The old ones, as they say, are the best ones. Later that day I saw a white figure at an
upstairs window. I mentioned it to someone and they told me that part of the palace is
completely closed off so that was a bit odd. An American fan gave me a book on Lightnin' Hopkins
last night. Like a lot of blues musicians has a huge catalogue
, but y
ou Depths Plumbers would do well to start with 'Let's Move', that always makes me dance. In fact, I've seen people of all ages just
leap up and start dancing as soon as they hear it.
On The Radio:
My Radio 2 show has finished for the summer, but I was on Sean Rafferty's Radio 3 show last week. I thought
the DJs would be all dinner jackets and tweeds, but they're just like you and me. I played a version of Ramsey Lewis'
'Consider The Source' Radio 3 really is such an incredible station.
In The Studio:
I've been writing with Joss Stone she has the most amazing voice. I can't tell you everything about it now but
there is a new song. If you want to plumb some depths, have a listen to Joss and I doing
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
my 'Golden Age Of Song' album. We'll be on tour together later in the year. I'd also like to say how sad it was to hear of my friend Rik Mayall's death this week.
I love this clip
, of Rik, Bill Wyman and I playing together...
Friday 30th May 2014
On The Radio:
I had Ade Edmonson on this week and he's always
a marvellous guest. He plays
English folk music
these days with his band,
The Bad Shepherds
recommend all Depth Plumbers check them out. It was great
to get the chance to play B.B. King's 'Days Of Old'
on the show too, that's a record that has made me
happy for years and years. Whenever I'm plumbing
the depths that's where I head. I'll be on Paul
O'Grady's show this week with
known fact: Paul is an expert on British cinema
and has a serious, specialist subject style knowledge
of music hall.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had Kwabs who was very,
very good indeed. Arcade Fire were introduced by
Jonathan Ross, which I'm sure confused a lot of
people. Imelda May was on and it was a great pleasure
to talk to her and her husband and producer Darrel
Haigham who, like Jeff Beck and Bruce Springsteen,
is a huge fan of another of this week's guests,
in particular the music he made between
the late 50s and the early 60s. Darrel's huge love
for that era meant he could ask Hank a string really
searching and detailed questions. My TV highlight
of this week was Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse's
take on Later... during their tribute to BBC 2 evening.
Paul's version of me was dazzlingly brilliant. Took
a picture of the screen and I plan on using it for
my publicity photo from now on.
On The Road:
We're really properly warmed up now and played great
shows in Perth, Scarborough, Middlesborough and
Wolverhampton this week to some fantastic crowds.
While we were in Wolverhampton my trumpet player
Chris saw a sign in a taxi that read, "There is
a £40 charge for soiling this taxi". So, obviously,
we paid upfront and enjoyed ourselves. I've also
been listening to myself on Spotify while on the
road. At home I live in tunnel of old newspapers
and LPs, so Spotify is the easiest way for me to
find anything. I was pleasantly surprised to find
track I'd recorded in Spain for a charity
record, on there. I'd forgotten I'd even done that...
Friday 23rd May 2014
On The Radio:
I played Lee Dorsey's 'Do Re Mi' this week, that's a superb track.
You can hear the beginnings of hip-hop in Dorsey and Allen Toussaint
records like 'Get Out Of My Life, Woman'. One particular favourite of mine
I played this week is Winnifred Atwell's 'Big Ben Boogie' a record I was
given by my friend Paul Roberson who is that famous bell's caretaker.
Those chimes are so wonderful they are the true music of London.
was my guest this week. He's been appearing with my band and we've been performing
a version of Dinah Washington's 1963 hit, 'A Stranger on Earth', a song we're
great fans of. As a child Dinah was taken to see the great Blues singer
and the Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson
A generation later, Aretha Franklin was taken to see Dinah Washington so they're all linked together.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had Ed Sheeran who I think is a great songwriter. He has
become a serious international phenomenom and he sings and plays so well.
I was delighted to have my old friend
too, she's always a fantastic guest. Did you know Kelis is a fully-trained Cordon Bleu chef? Her
new album is completely focused on food and our conversation went like this:
Me: Square plates or round plates?
Kelis: Always round.
Kelis: Never, it's like someone's sneezed on your food!
Kelis: What's not to like about pies?
I was very happy to find we were in complete agreement on everything.
On The Road:
My band have been playing across the North of England this week and I've been
playing duets with my brother which has been great fun. When people who are related
sing together they're said to have 'Blood Harmonies' so perhaps our piano improvisations
are an example of 'Bloody Fists'? We know precisely where the other one is going without
saying a word we're really thinking as one. But maybe we need a better phrase
than 'Bloody Fists' could the Depths Plumbers help?
Monday 19th May 2014
On The Radio:
My guest this week was Suzanne Vega, she was a great guest and we played 'A Walk on the Wildside' as a
tribute to our old friend,
When Lou was on my TV show I asked him what his idea of a 'Perfect Day'
was and he told me he wouldn't know a perfect day was if it came along and bit him on the arse. I loved getting
a chance to play Amos Milburn's 'Chicken Shack Boogie', that's one of the great records of of the late 1940s.
From the world of jazz I played the top pianist Earl Hines performing 'Deep Forest' and I absolutely love
that Skatalites record.
On The TV:
On Later... this week we had
is a very interesting musician. He has a huge amout of material on Spotify. I recommend a good dig through his catalougue
there's a lot of pleasure to be had.
On The Road:
My band have been rehearsing a ska version of
's 'Ain't Misbehavin''.
All Depths Plumbers need to hear how he plays with the tempo it's a great joy to me every time I hear it. He wrote that song in 1929, so it's
almost 90 years old, but it's still so fresh. Playing it in a ska version is really exciting as it's so different...
Monday 12th May 2014
On The Radio:
on the radio show this week and she was fascinating on wanting to form a punk group in Los Angeles
even though, as she admitted, there really wasn't much to be unhappy about there, unlike in London. But that's what was so
great about punk. We played a lot of music, of course I really was plumbing the depths of my collection but I
particularly loved Hal Paige's 'Drive It Home', what a great, early RnB track. But BB King's 1954 single 'You Upset Me Baby'
is just great too the original B-side was 'Whole Lotta Love', which turned out to be fairly influential, didn't it?
If you want to plumb the depths of me, you won't get lower down than hearing something like that...
On The TV:
We had Roger Cicero and
The Afghan Whigs
this week both of who were fantastic. On Friday's show I'll be at the piano
with Aloe Blacc. We sang together, which interpolates Elton John's 'Your Song', but he told me people often mistake it for
Leon Russell's 'Song For You'. I asked him what version he most likes I love Leon's version but Aloe's favourite
is the Donny Hathaway version, which is very, very good. So, all plumbers, check out Donny, now!
On The Road:
We had a wonderful show this week with Gregory Porter at the Cheltenham Jazz Show; he's one of the greatest new Jazz singers
in the world. It's quite a boast, but I believe it to be true. We wrote a song together called 'Sweet Country Love Song'
it's unusual as it refers to the countryside rather than country music. We were on tour together when we wrote this song and he
was enjoying the English countryside not something he'd experienced much back home in New York.
Monday 5th May 2014
On The Radio:
I've been playing Eddie Reader's 'Snowflakes In The Sun' this week that's a great song, so I wanted to bring people's
attention to that. I've also loved Smiley Lewis' 'Mama Don't Like It' which is a list of music styles that mothers
and fathers don't like. If you're lucky enough to have your mother she might not appreciate you spending all this time on
listening to jump music, pop music and blues music on Spotify instead of doing what mama wants you to do, which is your chores.
So think on. A record I've loved this week is
Sister Wynona Carr
's 'See His Blessed
Face' she has a voice like you would not believe. Just astonishing.
On The TV:
This week on the TV show we have Germany's greatest jazz singer,
who's a huge, huge star in Germany. He's an
extraordinary talent we recorded a version of Stevie Wonder's 'I Love Every Little Thing About You' together once and
he'll be singing Prince's 'How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore'. I found a lot of versions of that song on Spotify, but it was
Alicia Keys' version that I really liked. In fact, her version was so good it made me listen to to her cover of Gladys Knight's 'If
I Was Your Woman', which is another excellent version.
On The Road:
This week we played some great shows and have been working on some great new songs. We've had Gregory Porter sitting in with us,
which has been fantastic and we're on tour all week. Some big shows coming up...
Monday 28th April 2014
On The Radio:
Music serves a lot of purposes. It can help with feelings of loss and grief, it can help with the shock you feel. In selecing music
for a funeral this week I chose a very special piece called
Precious Lord, Take My Hand
It was written in 1932 by the great Gospel composer
Thomas A. Dorsey
after his wife
died in childbirth he also wrote
Peace In The Valley
they were both made famous by Mahalia Jackson, but my favourite version is by Ruby Turner. Before his conversion, Dorsey recorded as Georgia
Tom his 1928 record with Tampa Red, 'Tight Like That', sold around seven million copies. A truly remarkable number, really.
My guest on the show this week will be Rosanne Cash, what will we do? I don't know yet!
On The TV:
This week we have Damon Albarn and he, like me, is a very big fan of Music Hall. We're both very keen on Leslie Sarony's 1932 classic,
'Ain't It Grand To Be Bloomin' Well Dead'. You'd have to be very hard of heart to not love a song with a title as
catchy as that. Right at the other end of the spectrum, there's Alfred Brendel playing Schubert's 'Opus 90 Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat',
which is a very uncatchy title of a surprisingly catchy tune. Look out also this week for Coldplay, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings,
and The Black Keys.
On The Road:
We're out on the road doing shows right now. Melanie C and Marc Almond are special guests on the tour and they're fitting in so well it's
like they're part of the family already. We've been rehearsing old songs and creating brand new things like a ska version
of 'Ain't Misbehavin''. Listen out for that...
Tuesday 22nd April 2014
On The Radio:
One conversation drove everything this week, and that began with us talking about Ray Charles' 1953 hit, 'Mess Around' and how much
it was inspired by Big Maceo's 1948 hit on Victor called 'Chicago Breakdown'. That is the hand that touched the hand... I also had
the brilliant Herbert Grönemeyer in and he played his song 'Will I Ever Learn' which he recorded alongside
On The TV:
This week has been all about Paolo Nutini for me. In the same way that
is widely considered to be the greatest living
intepreter of Beethoven's work, I believe that Paolo holds that role with Wynonie Harris. Paolo has studied Wynonie like Brendel has
studied Beethoven and so they both understand the other artist. All you need to do is listen to his version of Wynonie's 1952
hit, 'Lovin' Machine'. That's on the show this week...
On The Road:
The big thing this week has been rehearsing our own song 'Love Made Them Do That' with Ruby Turner. We have a load of gigs in
May we're on tour from next week so it's been a busy time with the band. Next week I'll be in touch from The Road...
Monday 14th April 2014
On The Radio:
I was in this little pub in Deptford a few nights ago and they had my radio show playing over the speakers. Among all the blues
tracks I had played was Golden Earrings
wonderfully strange late-40s hit for Peggy Lee
. There was a huge guy at the bar who
was almost crying, it had such strong memories for him. Last week I had Eddi Reader
on my show,
her new record Vagabond
worth a listen, she has a wonderful voice you might hear an echo of Peggy Lee, she has a voice a bit like that. Next week
I have Herbert Grönemeyer
in; he's a little like Germany's Peter Gabriel, and he's great. He did a duet with Antony Hegarty from
Antony & The Johnsons
On The TV:
A big thing for Later... is when people come on and do a new version of a song. This week I have
favourite son he's just recorded an album of duets and, within that, a new version of
, which I've now learnt! I've been
talking to Guy Garvey, too we've done a version of Everything Happens to Me
know a lot of songs and I know a lot of music, but I don't know everything and I didn't know this. That's what's great about music, you never can possibly know everything. Guy loves Chet Baker's
, but the chords in that take are very ambiguous, and this is where Spotify
really comes into its own. You can listen to the other versions
and pick through
the arrangement and changes and see how the song took shape. I mean, I have a very large record collection, but without Spotify I would have been hopeless at finding out about that song.
I might have had one version, but 10? Not a chance!
Julie London did a great version
That's right! All this great music has been made by men and women, these are real, human artefacts, and they need to be heard.
We're working with Melanie C
this week recording two songs, one that I wrote with Sam Brown and Chrissie Hynde called
Out Of This World
Wonder's I Wish
too. I spent some time this week having a proper Spotify rummage,
looking up Confessin' The Blues
and I found Wynonie Harris
doing his version
and it made me so happy as I have Paolo Nutini
on Later... next week and he is the greatest living interpreter of Wynonie Harris' style of vocals.
He is Wynonie Harris
! But let's talk about that more next week...