photo courtesy Lis Garrett
The Southbound Attic Band consists of Barry Jones, guitarist, singer-songwriter, and Ronnie Clark, bass and backing vocals. Their high energy live set is a combination of Americana, English and Celtic tinged folk rock.
Barry Jones, A Broken Heart (For Cynthia). E.P. Review.
We need others to be around us to keep our minds balanced, to keep pushing our creativity in such a way that what comes forth is more than just a sign of language, it is belief and hope that the ghosts of our minds will take corporeal form and leave a lasting trace of humanity in our souls.
However, in times of isolation, of universal adversity, the Muse will arrive with ideas in tow, comfort the heart, and see that the artist, despite being on their own, and bestow upon them the beautiful and shimmering impressions, the presence of unknown spirits, and because of that whisper in the darkness, the light that shines in to the soul of the solo pursuit, what arrives can be the resolution for the human heart; either acceptance, or new love, emerges with the Muse as the conductor.
A Broken Heart (For Cynthia) is the latest, and simply prestigious, E.P. from one of Merseyside’s favourite musicians, and whilst the global pandemic that has scoured the arts in the last year robbed Barry Jones of being able to work with the superb Ronnie Clark, as both men have had to isolate, it hasn’t stopped the mind of the artist from working in such a fashion that the ghosts, the images and the Muse have been left for themselves, and as the four strong song E.P shows with great humour, with passion, and of love for the principal character in the show, Cynthia Lennon, a broken heart will always still love, and in the same way, distance and isolation will only hopefully prove that we will eventually meet again, and when we do the creative high will be astonishing.
Whether we collaborate with another human being, or we co-operate with the Muse, songs such as Lost Resort, Nancy, The Woolton Fox (Strawberry Lane), and the E.P. title track, A Broken Heart (For Cynthia) show that the meaning behind our craft never diminishes, that a heart merely misses a beat in Time, it never stops being intact, and holding beauty in place, only waiting for the right song to come its way.
A Broken Heart (For Cynthia) is a tremendous set of songs by one of Merseyside’s finest, tremendously observed, insightful, unwavering in their search for immortality.
Ian D. Hall
Barry Jones, Songs From A(Bed)Room. E.P. Review.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
We hold our head in our hands and look for the signs in which we know and understand will guide us; not exactly a prayer, more of a request that our time is never wasted, that even when we look back at our youth, perhaps the first real inclination that we are embroiled in the lonely and remote thoughts that our mind conjures up, that the songs and stories we make up at that point are the ones that drive us when we grow older.
Songs From A (Bed)Room is a collection of memories and reflections from the hugely admired Barry Jones, part of the equally revered Southbound Attic Band and which captures a moment of the solitary and the consideration to which music is more than a key of life, it is a vital and deliberate action in which we embrace our own misgivings, and which proposes we purposely defy those that exhaust our well-meaning adventures to new, mysterious lands of song. The bedroom is the symbol of sanctuary and the centre of the home, it is where in the darkness we can be free and defend our thoughts against those who would dare suggest we should not express feeling or commitment to our own artistic soul.
Despite not having the exceptional Ronnie Clark available, the four track E.P. is one that refuses to be undone by the space and instead is gallant and proactive in its own outlook, and in the songs and inspiration gained by The Journey, Folk On The Farm, Record Booth Bard and California Ways, of the beauty motivated by the muse and the artist, in this case the love letter from Leonard Cohen to Marianne Ihlen, the over-riding message is one of care, of holding a hand out to the protective shelter of the room and holding tightly the emotions that are found.
The poet that inspires is the composer of many others own love, the Muse may be the catalyst, but it is to those that song touches that verification and applause dwells and resounds with honesty; and honesty that Barry Jones has never failed to achieve.
Songs From A(Bed)Room is a reminder of the times spent with just your thoughts for company and how each one of us conveyed those feelings once we made our mark on the world. Inspired reflections by a poet to his own Muse.
Barry Jones’ forthcoming release Songs From A(Bed)Room will available soon to purchase from the Southbound Attic Band’s own website.
Ian D. Hall
Barry Jones from the Southbound Attic Band launched his solo EP “Songs from a (Bed)Room” yesterday. As Barry explains in this video, he and his Southbound Attic Band partner Ronnie did not have many opportunities to practise or play gigs together last year due to personal circumstances. The 4 songs on this EP are the fruits of this period.
And delicious fruits they are. The EP kicks off with the slowest song on it. ‘The Journey’ was inspired by the relationship between Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen which lasted until the end of Marianne’s life. It’s a beautiful song about love and friendship.
Next up, we get ‘Folk On The Farm’, a song inspired by a festival at Tyddyn Mon Farm in Anglesey. Barry, the great storyteller that he is, really makes the festival tempting for his audience. One of my favourite lines in the song is “Woodstock left a legacy that’s alive and well in Anglesey”; you also get to hear Barry sing some parts of the chorus in Welsh.
The third song, ‘Record Booth Bard, carries on with the folky theme and is about a Voice-o-Graph recording machine, one of which can be found on the first floor of the Jacaranda. Another fantastic song in typical Barry Jones fashion.
The EP closes with ‘California Ways’ which is quite different to the other 3 tunes. While ‘The Journey’, ‘Folk On The Farm’ and ‘Record Booth Bard’ are purely acoustic. ‘California Ways’ is Barry on guitar and vocal with his friend Bobby Fury on vocal and all other instruments including electric guitar and drums. The song name checks representatives of the US West Coast scene like Michelle Phillips, Jan and Dean, Bukowski and a host of others. The accompanying video by Nick Bloomfield shows pictures of them, even The Rockford Files get a look in. It’s the perfect closer of a fantastic EP. Wilfried Haag
Seekers Of Solace CD PR i.e. What we say!
Seekers Of Solace (SAB8 2017)
“Seekers Of Solace” is a line from Song for Stan, Track 5 on the CD, the eighth release and fifth full length album from Southbound Attic Band (Barry Jones & Ronnie Clark). The song, and in some ways the album, is a tribute to Stanley Ambrose (1930-2016) Stan the Harper, producer/presenter of Folkscene on BBC Radio Merseyside for 49 years, for many years alternating with Geoff Speed, another legend of folk music on radio. Stan was a great friend to the band, featuring their previous four albums in their own hour long programmes with the Willows Suite (SAB2) featuring twice some five years apart. He was a gentle, thoughtful man whose signature style was to interview his guests and then edit out all but the bare minimum of his own contributions to give as much airtime to the interviewees, mainly local folk and acoustic musicians. An accomplished musician on whistles amongst other things, he took up the Celtic harp late in life and would play in coffee bars and restaurants to soothe all who heard him, a legendary figure, much loved by Liverpool’s acoustic music community.
Track 1, Old Fools, acknowledges the fact that you’re never too old to be duped; a regular live opener, it’s an upbeat toe tapping romp of a song. The Legend Lives On is a song written from the perspective of Bob Dylan who visited the National Trust owned childhood home of his friend John Lennon in 2009, travelling on the minibus, apparently unrecognised by his fellow visitors. These are the words that he might have wanted to say; maybe Bob will get to hear it and comment? Or maybe not! Give Me A Sign is a nod to skiffle and street music, a bit like Willy And The Poorboys, at least that’s what Barry says was in his head at the time of writing! The Fair was written for the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Competition 2015 and was based on the painting of a fair hanging in The View Two Gallery, Mathew St Liverpool. This time the perspective is of an elderly gentleman in a retirement home who is watching some old footage of his home area just before World War II who recognises some of the people in the film. Song For Stan mentions the phenomenon of Liverpool’s Bold St. which has a reputation for paranormal activity. Remember tackles the tricky subject of people suffering from illness who may need friends and family to acknowledge their condition rather than ignore it, sadly a common occurrence apparently; inspired by a Macmillan video! Molly’s Song is a fictitious tale of a singer of songs of melancholy and regret. Africa Oye uses Liverpool’s fabulous annual free festival as a setting for a song of emancipation. Christmas Has Come Around is a song which had limited release at Christmas 2015, included in a Christmas card to Southbound Attic Band’s friends and supporters, now given a wider release, in good time for Christmas 2017. Kenny’s Dream is a fond memory of Barry’s father and a long remembered Jones family episode. Rime Of The Open Micer recalls a true story with some not suitable for work, or radio, language! Listen at your peril! Promised Land is road song inspired by a beautiful 1959 Cadillac Coupe De Ville at a Car Show at Speke Hall. It seemed too big a car to set the song in the UK, so it’s not! Album closer The Man On The Train is a short poem set to acoustic guitar music; it just seemed like the right thing to do. We hope you agree!
The CD was recorded and engineered by Ian Lewis at Whitby Rd Studios, Ellesmere Port. All tracks MCPS/PRS/PPL, written and composed by Barry Jones. All instruments Southbound Attic Band except Tubular Bells, Track 9, Ian Lewis.
And now…What they say!
“I thought that was absolutely lovely!” Genevieve Tudor re The Fair from Seekers Of Solace CD played on Sunday Folk on BBC Radio Shropshire 30 July 2017.
Southbound Attic Band, Seekers Of Solace. Album Review.
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Life would be intolerable without the huge abundance of many fantastic bands and artists that live and breathe their daily toil of observation and celebration of life in all its shapes and often mishaps; life would certainly be more boring, less examined, surely unendurable without the Seekers Of Solace and the wonderful tale told, Southbound Attic Band’s Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark.
To come across this marvellous duo anywhere on the road is like finding your dreams answered with a willing smile, a sentinel with a salute and the guide to life’s more discerning characters thrown in; hearing them as bold as brass and more beautiful than the appearance of a rainbow at dawn as they sing down your ears from a C.D, that is another matter entirely.
For the Seekers Of Solace, to hear them with the sense of gravitas, of humour, of the study of upbeat and the positive is to feel as if you had wandered into another time, a period in which the flowering poetry scene inhabited by Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough was the revolution that hung gracefully in the air, a time in which the lyrics of Barry Jones certainly fit and complement.
The album can be seen as a fitting tribute, not only to Liverpool, but to the late Stanley Ambrose whose name might not mean much to those outside of the confines of the Liverpool ear but to whom should nevertheless be respected as being one of the truly decent men to whom the Liverpool music was everything, who gave his time without argument and with the passion that artists and musicians fully deserve. It is in the sad loss of the man, highlighted in the powerful track Song For Stan, that many should hope that their town, their city, could have such a person dedicating their lives to the art.
Seekers Of Solace doesn’t deviate from a winning formula, in that alone the smiles of appreciation are even greater, Ronnie Clark’s backing is buoyant and craftily cool, whilst Barry Jones playfully sings down your ears and leaves nothing but a happy trail of fortune whispering in your mind.
In songs such as Old Fools, the remarkable tale of forgotten memories in The Fair, Molly’s Song, the fantastic and heart warming Rime of The Open Micer and the short cautionary tale of realisation in The Man on The Train, the Southbound Attic Band have once more given the city and beyond the greatest gift of all, the ability to smile and laugh whilst playing incredibly gorgeous music; a combination so rare that it makes you love them even more.
Ian D. Hall
Up and down the country there are any number of unsung musical outfits. Most never play further than twenty miles from home and they’ll never win an award or be featured in a broadsheet (or even a music magazine). But they do it for love (heaven knows there’s no money) and a lot of them produce some fine music along the way. Liverpool’s acoustic outfit the Southbound Attic Band, aka Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark, are a fine example of these unsung heroes and their fifth album has a baker’s dozen songs that you’d be more than happy to run across (and then run across again).
There’s a nostalgic and elegiac thread running through songs like the powerful The Fair, the heartfelt and nakedly emotional epitaph Song For Stan (from which the album’s title is taken) and the gentle Promised Land.On the other hand the duo don’t take themselves too seriously either (check out the very much NSFW Rime Of The Open Micer for the evidence) but in the main these tales of ordinary people and their lives and loves, sung and played in a simple unadorned style, will strike a chord with pretty much everyone. Jeremy Searle7/10 Americana UK
With their new album ‘Seekers of Solace. Barry and Ronnie have delivered a fabulous circle of songs. Barry, the main songwriter, is an excellent observer, a commentator and a storyteller whose tunes are full of humanity and wit. His guitar and harmonica and Ronnie’s bass sound great together.
There are 13 songs on the CD. You get ‘Old Fool’s which has been a favourite at gigs for a while, ‘The Legend Lives On’ is a tribute to John Lennon written through Bob Dylan’s eyes, and ‘Song For Stan’ which is dedicated to the legendary Stan Ambrose.
Other gems include ‘Remember,’ ‘Africa Oye’ and ‘Rime Of The Open Micer’. You even get a great Christmas song (‘Christmas Has Come Around’).
All in all, this is a fantastic album that deserves much more exposure that it will probably get. It’s available from the band‘s website www.southboundatticband.com
Wilfried Haag, November 2017
Other assorted reviews….
“Southbound Attic Band brought a lot of energy and humour in their bar set. Again, delivering a completely different sound and vibe from the Shannen Bamford performance that immediately preceded it. It led with walking bass, harmonica, humorous lyrics, a great waist coat and an excellent hat. Playing in the bar area brought everybody closer in, and those that had seen the band play before encouraged them to play what can only be their classic, ‘Where’s My ******* Sausage’, which everyone joined in with. It is impossible not to smile while watching this band.”
Johanna Tidmarsh LSRadio March 2015 Review of Liverpool Acoustic Festival, Unity Theatre 20 March 2015
” Ever wandered into a pub and fallen into conversation with the best story teller you’ve heard. Time slips slowly, there is laughter, so much you cry laughing only for the next story to break your heart. He seems to have trod the same streets as you but has seen them with a poet’s eye. When his mate Ron comes back from the bar they bid their farewells until next time, and off they go to find new stories to tell. You sit back and recall the tales in the songs they left you singing – if you can get your hands on the new Southbound Attic Band disc then do so – better still go see them live.”
Tony Donaghey (Liverpool Bands) October 2014
Album: Our Day In The Sun
Label: Self Released
It’s a bit late with this review, played a couple of songs on my “Along The Tracks” radio show, put the cd back in the wrong pile and the review went out of the window, so this one is a little late, but definitely worth the effort.”Our Day In The Sun” is the fourth album from the Liverpool based duo that are the Southbound Attic Band and it has to be said that that city, it’s people and its environs provide a lot of the inspiration for the twelve original tracks that make up the album.Many of the songs are honed by the gigging the local area, which gives the band members of the band, Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark, plenty of chance to gauge reaction, something that’s particularly important with the songs that are a bit more tongue in cheek. There are some seriously unfunny ‘humorous’ songs out there, any one that has sat in a folk club listening to ‘the next Jake Thakray’ knows exactly what I mean, but there are some genuinely witty moments on here.A lot of the songs are observational in nature and telling a complete story in less than five minutes is never easy, to do so and still have an interesting song that stands as a universal piece is no mean feat and Southbound Attic Band nail it way, way more than the miss.Some of the language is a little fruity, but that’s the nature of the beast. The delivery comes between, blues, Americana and folk, but when all is said and done “Our Day In The Sun” is a good honest album that’s well performed and never tries to be anything it isn’tNeil Kinghttp://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/2014/SouthboundAtticBand.html
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
There are those that seemingly take great pleasure in deriding the power of Folk music. They are willing to sneer and complain that the story, often or not a tale of great morality with twists that raise a smile, is irreverent to the way of the world now. It is not a complaint that passes the lips of those that have Celtic blood raging through their hearts or those with an understanding that Folk, whether Celtic, European or English, touches upon the very nature of communication, simple, effective and memorable.
For underground Liverpool favourites The Southbound Attic Band, communication, the great tales of morality and memorability are wrapped up, presented with the occasion befitting ceremony and relished completely in their new album Our Day In The Sun.
For Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark, Our Day in the Sun brings all the pleasure of sitting somewhere between the great Mike Harding and Alun Parry. The smile being preserved whilst also musing in the way of modern society and the place of the individual within it; the humour and wit that is seen in everyday observations coupled alongside those that hide behind the façade of domesticity and the warring tones behind the closed door.
For Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark the album must surely represent a feeling of stature and it is fully deserved, it is a set of songs that capture the imagination, that represent all that is good in the world, all that shamefully remains unseen and un-talked of. Tracks such as My Irish Home in which the relationship between Liverpool and Ireland is explored by means of a young woman,The Lone Crow which is the perfect allegory for the stance in one person’s actions when up against the chattering mob, Adios Amigo, the beautifully written look at domestic violence but with a great twist, the sensational Hide The Sausage and the live fan favourite The Ballad of George and Maude all highlight the reason why Folk remains the leading exponent of such finely conceived songs.
Our Day In The Sun is one in which the music is elevated by the language on offer, it is an album of album of unashamed local glory that will deserve a wider audience.
Ian D. Hall (Liverpool Sound And Vision)
- Liverpool duo explore their city and its people to good effect
Liverpool’s Southbound Attic Band, aka singer-songwriter Barry Jones and compadre Ronnie Clark, continue to deliver the goods on their fourth album. Theirs is music rooted in their home city and also in the experience of its working class. So while there may be sorrow there’s also laughter, sometimes in the same song, and occasionally some distinctly low humour, as in “Hide the Sausage”, which is about an actual sausage rather than a euphemism but is most definitely NSFW.
Elsewhere “My Irish Home” speaks to the diaspora that landed in Liverpool and in some cases, stayed, there’s poignancy in “The Ballad of George And Maude” and the contemporary dream/ghost tale that is “San Vito 1970” tugs at the heartstrings. In one sense the music is simply “local man sings local songs” (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but in another, far more important one, the music speaks to everyman on every street, with Jones’ gruff unadorned voice telling it, as they say, like it is and revealing the truths behind the facades. And there can never be too much of that.
The Willows Suite
Their first full length CD, The Willows Suite (SAB2 2009) is a full musical suite of original songs, written by Barry, based around the book Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The Willows Suite, which incorporates readings from the original text, followed by the song inspired by it, is also an hour long theatre piece which is suitable for all ages except the very young. To critical acclaim, the Southbound Attic Band performed The Willows Suite at Formby Little Theatre for Formby Live 2010 and at the inaugural Liverpool Threshold Festival in 2011. (To Be A Father video (Threshold 2010) http://youtu.be/ZyVEEexTbdM)
FATEA (http://www.fatea-magazine.co.uk/) said “I’m willing to bet that when Kenneth Graham wrote “Wind In The Willows” he didn’t imagine it being performed in a folk blues style, but that’s exactly what The Southbound Attic Band have done and a damned fine job they’ve made of it too. It’s also delicious irony to hear the novel so well performed in the style of the people rather than through a more elitist medium. “The Willows Suite” captures the sense of drama of the book, this is partly achieved by taking passages from the book as introduction to the songs. The characters come to life through the songs.”
“…the ideal soundtrack to a summer’s afternoon” Stuart Todd, Liverpool Acoustic (http://liverpoolacoustic.co.uk/)
Stan Ambrose, Presenter/Producer of Folkscene on BBC Radio Merseyside (46 years and counting) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radiomerseyside) played the Willows Suite in full, uninterrupted on his programme, and said;
“Charming, integrity of both writing and arrangements”.
Mark Whitfield, Editor of AmericanaUK (www.americana-uk.com) who commissioning a private showing of The Willows Suite for family and friends said;
“Immensely thoughtful storytelling with melodies that leave the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, both moved and delighted at one and the same time. And I’d say that on a lie detector! I mean every word.”
No More Tears
Their second CD No More Tears (SAB3 2011) incorporated what have become their trademark songs, Howling at the Moon and Southbound Train as well as a tribute to their home city of Liverpool, City By The Bay, which featured as a youtube video http://youtu.be/eTMVeZXEwYA on a popular Liverpool Tourism Website. It wasn’t submitted for review anywhere, for now forgettable reasons, although again featured on an hour-long Radio Merseyside Folkscene programme.
Living The Dream
Their recording Living The Dream (SAB4 2012) which includes a song written by Ronnie Clark, followed the previous two by featuring in its own hour long edition of Radio Merseyside’s Folkscene programme with Stan Ambrose, and Radio Merseyside’s Billy Butler has also played music from the CD featuring Nostalgia Still Rules on his popular prime time show. In the AmericanaUK (www.americana-uk.com) review, Jeremy Searle described the CD as “Fine old school song-writing and playing… a hugely enjoyable listen.”
FATEA webzine described it as “an album full of home truths delivered with a subtle wit and good honest humour.”
Tony Donaghey from Liverpool Bands (http://www.liverpool-bands.com/) said; “great solid songwriting, every song had a proper tune – immediately hummable and often sing- a-longable.”
“Next up after a short break was the ‘Southbound Attic Band’….I know top name isn’t it. The ‘Southbound Attic Band’ is comprised of Barry Jones Vocals/Guitar/Harmonica and Ronnie Clark Bass/Vocals. There seemed to be some in the audience that were there to enjoy this duo & I soon found out why. Within seconds I was tapping my foot along enjoying their infectious sound. Throughout the set they had the audience bouncing, howling & tooting along & I particularly enjoyed the stories behind the songs linking everything together. I was totally engrossed in the songs and my personal favourite from their set was The Lone Crow. The Southbound Attic Band are regularly found at View Two Gallery which is a wonderful venue in Liverpool as well as festivals up and down the country and after seeing them live myself I would definitely recommend you go check them out, you will have a great night(practice howling & tooting you don’t want to sound like a strangled chicken when you join in ;]). ” Mike Willacy willslmmusic
The festivities kicked off suitably early at 1pm, to accommodate for its fifty plus lineup, with local alt rockers The Next Life andGold Jacks playing to a sunbathed St Lukes Church and adding substance to the attendees of its hallowed, hollow interior. After a couple of short and sweet sets from these young talents, the Bombed Out Church made way for its next act, The Southbound Attic Band. This self proclaimed ‘token oldies’ duo of Barry Jones and Ronnie Clark, demonstrated their experience with a pitch perfect set of witty, folk parables concerning everything from sexual frustration to international espionage, “obviously” announced Jones as he broke into ‘Compromised’.
Continuing on from the acoustic vibe propagated by Jones and Clark, Liverpool’s own ‘Sound Food and Drink’ played host to yet more folk acts. Most beguiling of all was young singer- songwriter Shannen Bamford of Ryvers, whose soulful solo performance; at times reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie, in the intimate venue, went down like the third bowl of porridge (That’s just right).
Over at ‘The Kazmier’ the festival was experiencing it’s first bout of ‘technical difficulties, leading acts such as Low Winter Sun and Reva going on later, but this did little to dampen the festivities and Rufus Hok’s appearance in ‘The Kazmier Gardens’ came as a release from any tension built up from technical issues, with a spirited, jittery performance of troubadour anthems.
Despite the carefully planned schedule gradually unravelling, the talent took a decidedly relaxed approach and seemed unconcerned. This unforeseen hiccup in proceedings did nothing to hamper the spirit of the festival. In fact, it gave fans more time to flock to the Bombed Out Church to catch the act most had been waiting for, Space. Appearing on stage and ready to perform half an hour later than they were billed and ready to play to their packed congregation, Space secured their place as one of the true highlights of Liverpool Calling. Daniel Pearce
MONDAY CLUB AT THE CAVERN
many ‘These Favourite Things’
old Monday Club; performance
been many venues Club. Monday especially
and highly the
” It wasn’t long before Barry Jones introduced the evening & then took up position as one half of the Southbound Attic Band who set the mood perfectly. Songs with interesting & entertaining lyrics(pretty sure I’ve not heard a song with Bill Grundys in it before) and banter that helped you relax and feel welcome. A great way to open the evening…”
Mike Willacy on October 2014 Acoustic Dustbowl see full review here(http://tcjshopsessions.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-burning-hell-mathew-street-live-at.html)