Jools Holland | York Barbican

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Artist Interview: Jools Holland

16 Oct 2019

Jools Holland & Special Guest

British Ska, '40s Boogie and some very special guests - ahead of his upcoming 2019 UK tour, musical virtuoso Jools Holland reveals what to expect from his show at York Barbican, including some new song additions, new musicians and more.

SO JOOLS, YOU HAVE ANOTHER PACKED SCHEDULE COMING UP. IT NEVER STOPS DOES IT!

There's an old expression that says if you want to get something done, give it to somebody busy to do it. I always seem to be busy even when I mean not to be, but I'm very lucky because I enjoy what I do.

The job of being me is the job I enjoy doing. I like touring and I like playing, and the best bit about touring is the fact that you get on stage.

So it's a lovely enigma to plug into all the time, the whole act of touring and the whole act of playing.

A LOT OF THESE VENUES ARE ONES YOU'VE PLAYED MANY TIMES BEFORE, BUT THERE ARE SOME NEW ONES TOO?

Now I do more shows than I've ever done before. I was in Europe throughout February and March, and now we've come back to Britain and a lot of the places where we've been before are getting even better.

The atmosphere in some of the places is just great, and they've become a bit like home. Some people come every year, or every couple of years, it's the same people and then you get new people as well.

But I think as it goes on, you go back to places and there's a certain warmth of the atmosphere, and you're all at home together because you all know what's going to happen. The contents will change, but you know what the parameters are.

YOU OFTEN ADD 'NEW' OLD SONGS TO THE SET, DON'T YOU?

We’re edging in new pieces of music all the time because that keeps us alive and it keeps the band excited.

Sometimes we're playing old things, and sometimes there'll be a spot where we'll do a blues song, and we'll just play a different blues song each night because we've got a whole repertoire of them. Or a boogie song, we've got different ones we sling in.

We’ve started doing a Skatalites tune called 'President Kennedy’, which as soon as we started doing that, you could see people, as soon as we played it, the audience lit up, and it got everything fired up.

WHERE DOES THE IDEA FOR AN ADDITION LIKE THAT COME FROM, IS IT THAT YOU'RE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW IDEAS?

I'm always searching and particularly I would go through stuff from films, YouTube or records.

I listened to all the Skatalites things and I kept coming across that one and thinking every time I heard it, I thought that's great, and if we did it would sound great.

There's another one from this great bandleader called Lucky Millinder, who people don't really know of now, but he was in the '40s and they were really early boogieists, because they would do a boogie in the '40s before it became rock 'n' roll.

EVEN FOR PEOPLE WHO COME TO SEE YOU OFTEN, THERE IS ALWAYS A NEW ELEMENT IN YOUR SPECIAL GUESTS.

What has evolved with the big band and their shows are, of course, the guests. This year, we're having somebody who's worked with us before, but they bring out this great element of us, which is Selecter.

They're perfect for us because they represent the British take on Ska music, the 2 Tone thing. Although I wasn't part of the 2 Tone thing, I was part of British Ska music, that's part of my heritage and part of the thing my orchestra has been doing for the past 25 years, so we've always been playing that music.

It's great having them and they like being with the orchestra because being with a whole big band, it magnifies it and makes it even bigger, and has just a fantastic jump up effect.

YOU'RE NOT ONE FOR LOOKING BACK, BUT DO YOU EVER STOP TO THINK ABOUT THE LIFE YOU'VE LED IN MUSIC?

I think sometimes it's time to look in the rear view mirror and take stock because there are some fantastic moments.

I've been very lucky, both either on record where we recorded with George Harrison or written with Dr John or Dionne Warwick covered a song that San Brown and I wrote. I can't believe it sometimes, all this stuff that's happened.

SO THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES?

The adventure continues, I hope, that's right, and it's great fun to do it, it's a great pleasure to keep playing, and you never know quite what piece of music is around the corner that you can embrace or attack, depending on which way you look at it next.

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