Jools in the crown
Jools Holland may have picked up an OBE at Buckingham Palace, was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent in 2006 for services to music and has performed around the world, but Rochester’s Castle Concerts are special as they are a home gig for him.
“Rochester is one of the most beautiful cities and I think it’s one of the most incredible venues, especially when the sun sets behind the castle and the cathedral,” said the 60-yearold star.
“Playing in the enclosure of the castle has a magical atmosphere.”
No stranger to the concerts, he was a regular for many years, but this year is a return after a six year break.
Since his first recording session in 1976, Jools has sold millions of records and performed to thousands around the world, from local pubs to Madison Square Gardens. A career highlight was last year’s performance on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
“Something happens when you are on the stage – you connect with the people. We hope our music has the same effect on them that it does on us. It’s an amazing feeling. Music is an amazing and powerful thing - it’s like a puzzle that you can never figure out, an enigma that you are infatuated with. Music makes people dance and feel amorous and melancholic.” He plays the concerts on Wednesday, July 11, with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
“Our music includes pop, blues, gospel, ska and boogie-woogie music,” added Jools. “It’s a very powerful, big sound; it’s very dynamic and made by lots of people. Some people just fit in with the big band, and Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall are part of it.” Describing singer Ruby as ‘unique’ he added: “There is no question that she’s the greatest exponent of blues and gospel. She seems to go right back to the root of it and has that thing that makes you want to dance and jump up and down.”
Also performing on the night is Marc Almond. Jools said, “Marc is an integral part of the show. His voice works in a unique and extraordinary way with the Rhythm & Blues Orchestra; something gels when it comes to working with Marc, who is also an internationally acclaimed and successful artist, as well as an influence to a generation of musicians. Marc is a dear friend and we are working on an album together.” He also revealed that when it comes to writing new music, he has even drawn inspiration from Kentish birdsong.
“Ideas come to me all the time. Last year we went to Hoo peninsula marshes and recorded the piano answering the bird song. It was fascinating.” Jools has played with musicians around the world, but who would he perform with if he could pick anyone? “I think you could put a fantastic super group together. Bach on the strings, Bessie Smith singing and John Lennon on the guitar… and Charles Dickens could write the words!”
His TV show, Later… with Jools Holland, which is filmed at Maidstone Studios, has just come to the end of its 52nd series.
He said: “The thing that I am most proud about my TV show is that there isn’t another like it. It’s a great advertisement for the area and Britain and its musical values, as no one makes a show like it anywhere else in the world.”
An evening with Jools Holland his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Marc Almond and Ruby Turner at Rochester Castle takes place on Wednesday, July 11. Tickets are still available
‘Playing in the enclosure of Rochester Castle has a magical atmosphere’