'SONGMAN', JAY'S FIRST SOLO ALBUM IN NEARLY 30 YEARS IS BEING LAUNCHED FOR HIS BIRTHDAY IN MARCH 2022
A collection of songs, new and not-so-new, recorded at Jay's Skyline Studios is now available on cd or at your favourite streaming outlet!
14 tracks, including several new classics, such as 'At Last, The Rain', 'Black Gold', 'Shame', 'Try A Little Kindness' & more feature on the album. Jay plays a miriad of guitars, keyboards, bass and percussion and is supported, as ever, by Cath on backing vocals, keyboards and ukulele.
To stream or download digitally, from any of your favourite sites, check out https://gyro.to/SongMan
Listen to a selection of Jay's originals on Sound Cloud:
Photo by Vincent Swift
Background Artwork: Internal Landscapes by Chrys Zantis
Having played literally thousands of gigs internationally over a roller-coaster career spanning nearly 50 years (so far), Jay is working solo (as well as in Mundy-Turner), presenting an array of his original songs, some so new they're unpublished & a selection of others from his 5 acclaimed solo albums...
Having started appearing around the local Essex folk clubs whilst in his last year at school, Jay was encouraged to take his talents to a wider audience . A publicity shot taken in 1969 at the cockle-sheds on Leigh-On-Sea foreshore, before moving to London in 1970 to become 'an overnight sensation'!
Jay started by appearing at such iconic London folk venues as the Crypt in St.Martins-in-the-Field, Bunjies, The Troubadour & The Hanging Lantern in Richmond.
He played solo for a couple of years, (grew hair & a beard!), finally settling into a duo with fellow singer/songwriter John O’Pray.
The duo gigged around the London scene & in 1974 gained the support slot to Lesley Duncan (writer of 'Love Song' on Elton John's album 'Tumbleweed Connection') at the Wyndham Theatre in The West End, after she heard them singing on a late-night Capital Radio show.
The duo was tremendously well received by the star-studded audience, but missed the prestigious after-show party & as a result, vitally potential connections were lost.
The lads returned to playing small club gigs again, but O'Pray became demoralised & the duo eventually split.
In the aftermath of the duo folding, Jay had to start again, but it seemed suddenly that the wave of folk singer/songwriters making the leap to popular culture might have passed. However, he pressed on with his dream of being a professional singer/writer/guitarist. Here is a 1975 promo shot.
Jay playing The Crypt at St.Martins-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London. The competition in London was high & the gigs few & far between.
Needing to generate more income to support his family, Jay finally was tempted away into the more regular work available on the UK Country scene
In 1978, Jay joined 'London's Top Country Band', Cheyenne Country (photo). Over the two years Jay fronted the band, it became hugely popular, working at pubs, clubs & airforce bases all over the UK, often up to 6 times a week, whilst the members also held down day-jobs. It couldn't last...
After Cheyenne Country folded in early 1980, Jay tried forming several bands, meantime getting involved with live engineering for some of the top chart bands of the New Romantic era, such as Marc Almond, Roman Holiday, The Belle Stars & The Jo-Boxers.
His involvement with electronic music became influential & he put together an act to tour universities - enter Jay Lazer & The Phantom Orchestra! (photo)
Jay Lazer was fun for a couple of years, with its swirling synthesizers, taped backing tracks, backdrop projections, choreographed lightshow & pyrotechnics (complete with dry ice). However, it was primarily aimed at a pop market & record company interest proved elusive.
Disillusioned, in 1983 Jay moved out to Herefordshire, ostensibly leaving the music industry behind. Within 18 months, though, he was touring the UK & Germany singing pop covers under the joke name of Jay Walker. (photo).
4 years of ten-day touring followed. sometimes up to 200 gigs a year, during which time Jay decided upon a radical new look - no hair! Although the touring was proving financially rewarding, he still hungered to play his own music to a listening audience.
At the suggestion of a friend in 1987, utilising the new computer technology of the time, Jay wrote & recorded ‘Billy Buckett’, a musical homage to his childhood, growing up in Essex surrounded by rock’n’roll. The show played to packed houses at the (then) New Hereford Theatre in 1988 & 1989, selling hundreds of original cast recordings - on cassette!
Jay musically directed & played 'Big Ted' in both productions (photo).
In 1989, wanting to return to the simplicity of acoustic music, Jay bought a new Takemine guitar & wrote & recorded ten new songs at the local Broad Oak Studio, run by master-fiddler Dave Wood. Dave encouraged him to form them into his first folk album .
He touted ‘Passion Roulette’, with it's collection of political ('Dreamtime'), environmental ('Burning Brazil'), social commentary ('Marie In The Corner') & quirky love ('Boxing Clever' & 'Mountains & Mist') songs around the folk scene in Herefordshire, Wales & the home counties, picking up club gigs, playing Cambridge Corn Exchange (photo) & making several unscheduled appearances at Cambridge Festival Club Tent (where 'Dirty Money' became a popular anthem) along the way.
Full-length club performances required more material & with the 1990 release of ‘Movements In Architecture’, Jay further cemented his place as a songwriter of insight & power (John Tobler of Folk Roots Magazine wrote "Jay Turner understands the craft of songwriting to the point where it becomes art, as it frequently does here..."), playing Summer festivals, notably Cambridge (photo), where his strong showing the year before at the Club Tent sent him to the Mainstage 1 Saturday afternoon slot (a feat at that time only rivalled by one previous artist - Paul Simon) & supporting Fairport Convention on their 1991 UK Winter Tour, where his song 'My Grandfather's Eyes' became the tour hit.
A tour of Italy, promoted by the redoubtable Gigi Bresciani followed in Spring 1991 & then a swag of UK festivals that Summer, including Cropredy...
Following his extraordinary success on the Fairport Tour in January 1991, Jay played Cropredy Festival, Fairport's huge summer festival (25,000 people in a massive natural auditorium!) that year, playing enthusiastically-received solo spots & also the prestigious Saturday afternoon slot in band mode with Chris Leslie (fiddle, far left), Bernard O'Neill (double bass next to Jay) & Paul Richards (percussion & whistle, right).
Although he had gained a huge new audience from playing 30-odd 1000+ seater auditoriums & sold some thousands of both his albums containing original songs about politics, the environment, romantic & historical topics, Jay still struggled to find UK folk-club acceptance. The rule seemed to be: no floor-spot, no gig.
Photo: at Birmingham Borderline, Christmas 1991.
Still, 1992 started with high expectations - a tour of Canada, no less. Influenced by players like Martin Carthy, Maart Alcock & Pierre Bensusan, Jay was experimenting with more guitar tunings in his latest writing & required a second guitar for live work, to save interminable re-tuning.
In recognition of Jay's burgeoning career, Takemine UK agreed to sponsor him a second instrument.
On arrival in Canada, it soon became apparent that the local agent had been somewhat elaborate with the truth about the number & quality of bookings (an arena support to Sting in Toronto had been promised) & the tour devolved into a sub-zero trudge around noisy, dismal, regional Ontario pubs.
Meanwhile, back at home the exclusive representation Jay had employed to promote work on the folk-scene in his absence had dropped the ball badly & when his third album ‘Atmavictu’ came out that summer, there were only a small handful of club gigs to promote it.
Turner rallied with a short self-promoted tour of a half-dozen arts centres, Maart Alcock & bassist Bernard O'Neill accompanying as the ‘Jay Turner Band’.
However, the previously meteoric rise of his career through 1989/90/91, had stalled.
Demoralised, in late-1992, Jay decamped to Austin, Texas, ostensibly the first stop on an escape trip round the world. However, he soon realised he would always want to play music for a living, so returned to the UK & with a clutch of new songs.
Accompanying Maart Alcock to visit Rob Armstrong in Coventry in early 1992, Jay had seen the unusually-shaped guitar Rob had built as a prototype for a batch of instruments celebrating his 25th Anniversary as a luthier.
Jay had been the first to play the guitar & fell in love! It took a year of negotiations until Rob was willing to sell it, but Jay used 'Lana' (photo) exclusively on all his new recordings from then on, firstly on a bare-bones digitally-recorded album he called ‘Sketchbook’.
Floor-spot: visit a potential club, sing a couple of songs & try to impress the organisers enough for them to book you in maybe a year or so's time. If the club venue is a long way from home, hope to stay overnight with someone (or sleep in your car)...
Sporting a new image & the new guitar, In 1993 Jay undertook a gruelling UK club & festival floor-spot schedule promoting his latest songs, often hitch-hiking to venues & sometimes sleeping rough.
Whilst appearing in sing-arounds at Redcar Festival that summer (& at night sleeping on a billiard-table at the Jockey-Club, wrapped in a borrowed curtain), Jay was approached by Jenny Simpson & Helen Mckenzie, two Australian folk singers who admired Jay’s songs & performances & offered to promote an Australian tour for 1995. They were as good as their word.
Meanwhile, the floor-spotting paid off & the previously-elusive UK folk club club gigs began to flow throughout 1994.
A tour of Holland & Germany was negotiated for mid-1995, to follow Jay's return from Australia.
In January 1995, Jay flew to Melbourne & toured festivals & clubs Australia-wide for 4 months, to terrific audience responses & excellent resulting album sales.
At Port Fairy Folk Festival, on his birthday in March, he met remarkable Brisbane-based singer/songwriter/violinist/pianist Catherine Mundy.
By the end of The National Festival, where they met again that Easter, the couple were fast friends .
Jay was offered (and gratefully accepted!) a sponsorship by The National Festival to stay in Australia for another year & was also booked for a June New Zealand Tour. He phoned the European agent to postpone the tour...
Cath would often accompany Jay on his solo gigs, as their relationship deepened (pictured by Phil Ashton at The Cockatoo Cafe, Dunolly, Victoria in September 1995).
October saw the couple join a scintillating trip with a group of Australian singers led by Gospel guru Tony Backhouse to sing in the Baptist churches of Louisiana, Alabama & Tennessee, after which Cath joined Jay’s second tour of New Zealand in November that year.
The couple then decided to formally join forces as Mundy-Turner, marrying late in December.
Between January 1996 & December 2006, Mundy-Turner toured in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada, Italy & Hong Kong, on a busy round of bookings too numerous to list, releasing a three-song EP ('The Sun Sessions', recorded at Sun Studios, Memphis) & six acclaimed albums of original material ('High-Life','Naked', 'Wholly Road', 'Crooked House', 'Bonzer Aussie Christmas' & 'Ha'Penny Tweedle').
With the arrival of their son Joshua in November 2006, the couple decided to move to live in Brisbane, Queensland in January 2007 to be close to Cath's family.
However, the tyranny of distance in Australia meant that the duo were confined to mostly playing locally around the rarified gig-scene of Brisbane & South-East Queensland, Cath eventually forming ‘Freedom Train’ community choir, (now in its e16th year), with Jay in support role of repetiteur & producer.
Encouraged by a UK publisher, StageScripts, in 2010 the couple began a complete revamp & re-branding of 'Billy Buckett', culminating in a highly-successful multi-award-winning season of 'Billy Buckett - A Rock'n'Roll Love Story' at The Crete Street Theatre in 2013, the first professional season at Logan Entertainment Centre in 2018 & under licence by the Broadway Theatre Group in Worcestershire, UK in 2023.
In 'Under This Sky' for the Queensland Music Festival, 2015, Jay played guitars & ukelele in the house-band in front of a 40-piece orchestra, also contributing a number of new original songs & instrumentals to the show while Cath conducted & directed the 400-strong massed choirs over 3 nights to a massive 15,000 audience.
More choir-work with ‘Mixed Beans Multi-Cultural Choir’ & ‘With One Voice Brisbane’ & spin-off gigs have kept the duo working on various prestigious community-based projects for up to 46 weeks a year as writers, arrangers & musicians since then.