Paul Jones, 'voice of the Blues', returns to Suffolk with The Manfreds
PUBLISHED: 11:04 25 May 2019
Paul Jones, of The Manfreds, is back in Suffolk. We spoke to him about his love of life on the road and the joy he finds in performing live.
Singer and actor Paul Jones is a familiar face in Suffolk appearing regularly at venues like Snape Maltings, The Regent in Ipswich as well as the Theatre Royal in Bury and the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket. Now he is adding The Apex in Bury St Edmunds to his list of Suffolk stages he has performed on.
Paul loves performing and still juggles a hectic schedule performing with The Manfreds, made up of members of the original Manfred Mann band, The Blues Band with fellow Manfred Tom McGuinness and as a duo with fellow Blues Band-mate Dave Kelly.
Until recently, Paul was voice of 'The Blues' on BBC Radio Two, having hosted the late-night show for 32 years.
However, it is as a Manfred that Paul will be visiting The Apex along with bandmates Mike Hugg on keyboards, Tom McGuinness on guitar, Rob Townsend on drums, Marcus Cliffe on bass, and Simon Currie on saxophone/flute.
Originally formed/re-formed in 1991 without their eponymous bandleader Manfred Mann, The Manfreds revisit the wealth of hits they enjoyed in the 1960s and '70s which include Mighty Quinn, Pretty Flamingo, Semi-Detached Suburban Mr. James and Do Wah Diddy Diddy among many others.
Paul has been on the road for more than 50 years, so how does he keep his voice in prime condition, considering his hectic schedule?
"Well I warm up before a show as one is supposed to and I've got exercises that I do. To be honest though, I only started to do that in the late 70's when I went to a vocal teacher.
"Back in the early days I sometimes misused my voice, and if that happened I just screeched my way through a show. There were so many girls screaming that nobody noticed.
"But when I went into musical theatre I realised that there was nowhere to hide, so I started seeing this vocal teacher which lasted through to the late 80's, and I'm very grateful to that teacher."
Paul laughs. "I also started going to a dance teacher, but he didn't have the same success with me."
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So, what can we expect to hear on the tour this year?
"We have a couple of new things. There's a feature tune from sax player Simon Currie from his new album, and bassist Marcus will be featured on a song from his new album - a Curtis Mayfield song called People Get Ready.
"How Lucky Can One Man Be is a song from Tom McGuinness's latest album and there'll be one from my current album Straighten Up And Fly Right which was written by Nat 'King' Cole.
"The rest will be pretty much all Manfred Mann songs, but probably a few more obscure EP and album tracks as well as the hits."
"Also, there'll be the odd song that we never recorded in a studio, but did on the radio."
This is no doubt prompted by the recent release of four CD's of radio recordings by the Jones era Manfred Mann, the Mike D'Abo era Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann Chapter Three and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
Even with the band's vast catalogue of hits, Paul can still pick out a few favourites.
"Well, because I wrote them, 5 4 3 2 1 and The One In The Middle. I'm very fond of those, but also Smokestack Lightnin' because it's the Blues and right up my street.
"I also admire Oh No Not My Baby. Mind you if we had been allowed to write more I might have had a different answer."
The Portsmouth-born singer is looking forward to the dates on the current tour and is aware that, not to be morbid and to quote the blues, that 'my time ain't long'.
"Don't miss this. Firstly because it's a line-up you may never hear again and we fire off each other. We shall attack the songs with gusto and some musical expertise..." He pauses before adding. "And secondly because we look really stupid when there's no-one there. What's important is the people who are there."
The Manfreds will be bringing their Hits, Jazz & Blues Tour to The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday May 30 at 7.30pm. See www.theapex.co.uk or ring 01284 758000 to book tickets.