Tag Archives: Jamestown Brothers

EP REVIEW: THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS – ‘Just Is’ (2022)

A new EP from The Jamestown Brothers. A high energy foot stomping original indie Folk band that tells real stories of real people with a huge sound that mine the rich history and social tapestry of Great Britain and Ireland. 

When we first reviewed The Jamestown Brothers back in 2020 for their debut album Rebels, Rogues And Regrets and we reasonably expected that within a short time we would have the pleasure of seeing them live but it was not to be. Two years later and we are still eagerly awaiting seeing them live but with things returning to normal now I’m sure it won’t be long, especially as these folks love to play live and every weekend sees them flying around the south of England from pub to festival to ‘proper’ music venues. We just need them to stretch their wings a wee but further as we are getting old and lazy!

The Jamestown Brothers formed in Somerset in 2017 and gathered up some great reviews and a fair bit of fanfare before the dreaded pandemic but have bounced back since the pandemic’s end with a new EP of all original material and continue to tour, tour, tour, tour so I’m sure we’ll get to see them soon enough. An incredible eight piece band that includes guitars, trumpet, piano, bass, drums, fiddle, recorder and trombone they certainly can kick up a right old racket considering they are almost acoustic.

Just Is kicks off with ‘Big Parade’ and the song is big in every sense. A hand of friendship is offered after two years when the act could only be symbolic. Catchy and energetic and a choice chorus this is definitely one for the festival masses to get on board once they had a  few liveners! Singer-songwriter Colin Batchelor leads the band with distinct and clear vocals in a song that is easy to follow and the brass instruments leading the way. ‘Jimmy James’ tells the story of the larger than life 18th century piper James Allen. Born sometime in the 1720’s in the wilds of Northumberland, Jimmy came from a family of border gypsies. An army deserter and adventurer, who travelled to far off foreign lands and an escapee from more than one prison whose one redeeming feature was his skill with the Northumbrian small pipes. Bellows-blown bagpipes as to mouth-blown Scottish bagpipes that have provided the North-East with a musical identity for centuries.

“folk punk was born to the land”

To fit the entirety of Jimmy’s life into a song is some achievement. Again the brass is put to extensive use and fits perfectly. Several listens and i’m still trying to pick out the individual instruments. ‘Billy Boys’ tells of the early 20th century razor gangs of Glasgow especially the fascist sympathisers of the protestant Billy Boys gang. Led by Billy Fullerton who would be awarded a medal for scabbing during the 1926 General Strike and formed a Glasgow branch of the British Union of Fascists. The gang are still remembered at Ibrox Park today with a song named after them in which the line “up to our knees in Fenian blood” led to it’s banning as it was undeniable that “fenian” in the context of the song meant Roman Catholics. Real history that leads me to think of the one band that The Jamestown Brothers can be compared to – The Men They Couldn’t Hang. They share not just a love of forgotten working class history but also a novel approach to Folk music that sees them trying many things that always come from. ‘Sunlight In The Morning’ sees the band tackling the subject of homelessness but as I’ve said in a real human way without cliche or lecture. Catchy, as are all the songs here, and well produced Country-Folk with more than a touch of Celtic about it it’s music for the outside and dancing around to (or tapping your thigh as I do). ‘This Is War’ about the life of ‘Jutland Jack’ John Travers Cornwell the youngest recipient of the Victoria cross following his brave action aboard HMS Chester in 1916 is full on Celtic-Folk-Punk historical stomp just as I like it. The curtain comes down on Just Is with the brilliant ‘Lower Us Down’ is a worthy addition to the coal-miner’s extensive musical canon. A life of unimaginable hardship and danger right up until the 2nd World War. These songs always remind me of me Dad but especially Ian Porter an old friend who was only 19 when he was killed down Rossington pit. Serious subject matter sure but sang with gusto and conviction.

Coming from an area of England with a rich working class tradition has not done The Jamestown Brothers no harm and I’m a fan of musicians who make political music without ramming it down the listeners throat or resorting to cliche. Story telling lyrics and a desire to re-tell stories of the past have made them festival favourites, especially in the South West of the country, and the other bits will follow I am sure.

Buy Just Is

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS- ‘Rebels, Rogues and Regrets’ (2020)

Debut album full of Celtic tinged anthemic songs from Somerset based band The Jamestown Brothers. Soul stirring, foot stomping originals drawn from the well of Country, Blues and Celtic Folk.

Don’t know what they put in the water (or the cider!) down there in the South-East of England but when it comes to bands with a Celtic influence the counties of Devon, Dorset and Somerset can’t get enough. Bands like Black Water County, Mad Dog McCrea and Sinful Maggie have all reached headliner status across England playing a variation of Celtic-Rock/ Punk that is particularly popular down where the cider flows freely. The reasons for this I cannot really put my finger on. The Irish in England are numerous but outside urban areas they may still be found but they never settled in the countryside in any sort of numbers so I think we can discount Irish heritage so maybe its just the unabashed reckless abandon and fun of Celtic music that does it for them. After all in Folk music everywhere is sort of connected and these are also the areas where old English customs are not just maintained but flourishing too. Might not be connected but they also have had a reputation for many years of being a bit lawless with smuggling and the like years ago and even in the present day where unjust or unpopular laws are not fought and campaigned against just totally ignored!

So this is the part of England that the 9 (yes nine) piece band The Jamestown Brothers hail from, in particular Somerset. The area is these days best known for farming and agriculture, tourism and the manufacture (and drinking) of cider with several of the best known producers originating from here. The locals though much prefer ‘scrumpy’ a type of rough cider made from non-premium apples and significantly stronger in alcohol content. They were formed by lead singer and main songwriter Colin Batchelor in 2017 but it took them almost two years for their first release the EP Singing For Our Supper to come out. This EP gained them a large local following and saw them appearing on the plentiful local festival circuit of which their are many in the area the band come from, including the world famous Glastonbury festival.

The Jamestown Brothers from left to right: Simon Reilly – Bass * Del Walker – Drums * John Trimble – Fiddle/ Mandolin * Ian Burton – Guitar/ Vocals * Colin Batchelor – Guitar/ Vocals * Phil Price – Keyboards * Sharon Eastwood – Recorder/ Vocals * Andy Williams – Trumpet/ Flugelhorn * Charlie Fisher – Trombone *

Rebels, Rogues And Regrets is the bands debut album and was released just a couple of days ago and kicks up a right (un)royal storm from the first notes of the recorder till the last. ‘Cut ‘Em Down’ is a great start telling the stories of local rebellion as well as of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester on 16th August 1819. Cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 demanding parliamentary representation causing 18 deaths and severe injuries to 100’s. Though acoustic you just know these guys could go louder than most Punk band’s. Catchy and tunesome and great vocals from Colin on the whole it reminds me of the folkier side of The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

“cut ’em down, the rebels are arising we’ll have no talk of reform or liberty

 cut ’em down, the cavalry came riding into the crowd of peace and harmony”

‘Rebel Rousing Few’ follows and TMTCH comparison continues with a song that starts as a ballad before becoming a jaunty Country influenced number based again on the local history of rebellion and transportation to Australia of men and woman from this beautiful part of England. Fiddle and recorder are the main stand out instruments but that’s not a disservice to the other seven members as the sound is deep and multi-varied and the production is immaculate.

Two songs in and they finally get around to a drinking song and ‘If You Can’t Have A Drink’ opens with brass and a humorous take on heaven hoping their favourite bar is open up there. Mind you with the death of so many boozers in the last few years I’m hoping Luke Nolan’s up there pulling pints in a heavenly Acton Arms. Piano gives the song a olde timey music hall feel with great lyrics set to give the stoniest face a smile. ‘Salvation Alley’ has a darker edge to it then previous songs with trombone giving it a sinister feel. ‘Please Let Me Go’ straddles the fence nicely between Folk and Country and sees Colin accompanied by Sharon on backing vocals. ‘Whitley Girl’ sees The Jamestown Brothers take on a love song to the local girls of South Somerset and the joys of alcohol.

(just released the promo video for the album featuring excerpts from each song)

‘Bring Your Moma Down’ has a Kinks thing going on and is a nice change of pace too with the brass instruments playing their part here. We steering up towards port now and another change of pace with the beautiful and personal ‘The One’. The curtain comes down on Rebels, Rogues And Regrets with ‘Long Walk Home’ with another jaunty Celtic number that sees them go out with a fight. Hard to pick a favourite but I’d say this or the equally as good ‘Salvation Alley’.

The album came out just a couple of days ago on the 31st August 2020 and will definitely gather them some new fans and plenty of attention. In fact with 2020 officially cancelled they have already been booked to play festival’s in Godney, Watchet, Exmouth, Wimborne, Sheppy, alongside Seth Lakeman, and a Saturday night headline slot at Home Farm where their reputation for high-energy live performances, equally at home in the pub or the festival stage, will steal the show from a lot more well known bands. So plenty of chances to catch them play, especially if you’re a fan of camping like me. Guitars, drums, mandolin, fiddle we are use to here but recorder, piano and a brass section we are not and it comes together brilliantly.  Throw in what the band actually has to say and their willingness to tell the stories of the past to us today and we have a band that is hopefully bound for bigger things. Definitely worth checking out especially if you like your acoustic music to dance to as well as ever-so-fecking-loud!

Buy Rebels, Rogues And Regrets  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Apple  Spotify

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