Saturday, 18 June 2011

Mary Epworth & The Jubilee Band

I certainly can't say I knew her well, but I remember Mary Epworth from around the turn of the century. She was going out with Jon Meade, a member of both Rothko and Geiger Counter - two very different but equally brilliant bands. Nick and Anet of Cay were good friends with Rothko, so apart from doing a handful of few gigs together we all often went to each others' shows or to see bands we had a mutual appreciation of.

Jon and Mary I knew least of all though. They were somewhat of an enigma to me. I remember they had a strong hint of rockabilly about them, but were far, far cooler than just being run of the mill rockabillys. They were music nerds for sure - they got excited at the prospect of me having an early vinyl edition of 'Surf's Up' (I don't know if it really was; it looked old).

They were kind of a sickening couple to be honest: cool, good looking; liberated (they argued about who was sexier between Rocket From The Crypt and The John Spencer Blues Explosion); Jon was extremely talented; and worst of all, both genuinely lovely people.

I knew back then that Mary was a musician but I didn't know much about what she did. So I was intrigued to learn that she leads a band, a Jubilee band, The Jubilee Band no less.

Far from the rockabilly stylings of The Elephant's Head Friday night crowd that I half expected, the two singles I've been able to get from iTunes sound like a cross between Fairport Convention and The Olivia Tremor Control. I won't waste too many words describing the music when I can just put a link to the videos here, but I'll say this: There is nothing wrong with this music. Nothing. The songs are dark and melodic; Mary's singing is beautiful without ever sounding as sickly as Sandy Denny or as shrill as Joanna Newsome; the instrumentation hints at a retro past with a tasteful vestige of that vintage fuzz , especially on 'Black Doe'.

And check out the pre-chorus drum fill on that same song - folk with drum fills Dale Crover would be envious of.

It's not often you hear someone you know performing music where you don't have to smile politely and lie about how good it is. It's even more rare to realise that you know (however distantly) someone who is genuinely talented and making music to get excited about.

I haven't seen Mary in about 10 years but I'm star struck in retrospect.

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