A COUNTY Durham singer is to mark the New Year by taking the region’s culture to the southern hemisphere.
Audiences from Auckland to Wellington, Canberra to Sydney will be regaled with tales of Durham Big Meeting, the Easington Mining Disaster and Coal Town Days when Jez Lowe tours Australia and New Zealand in February and March.
Jez, 56, from Easington in County Durham, has been a fixture on the British folk scene for more than 30 years, and has written dozens of songs about working class life in the North East.
But his role as a North East musical ambassador further afield is less well recognised at home.
He has already toured extensively in the USA and Canada and says his songs – even though they are nearly all written about North East mining communities – are well received further afield.
He said: “Jack Common’s Anthem goes down particularly well. It is about a left-wing novelist from Newcastle, but audiences all over the world can identify with him, and with the song.
“Last of the Widows of the Duckbill Seam was written about the Easington Mining Disaster when 83 men were killed 60 years ago.
“Many of the venues I will be playing Down Under are mining towns, and the audiences will relate to a song like that.”
Jez added that many of his songs have been sung in folk clubs around the world and recorded by a variety of artists, so his audiences are already familiar with them when he turns up to sing them.
He describes himself as a modern-day troubadour who is thriving while so-called major artists are now finding life difficult. He said: “I have always been self-financing, pressing my own records and organising tours.
“Many of the once major artists are finding life hard because record companies are now struggling and they cannot afford to finance tours.
“Even Fleetwood Mac, who sold millions over the years, had to finance their own CD recently. For people like myself, we just carry on like we always have done.”
Closer to home, before his tour of the southern hemisphere, Jez and his group the Bad Pennies will be performing at Cramlington Folk Club at The Sage Gateshead on December 27, while he also has a solo date at Westoe Club in South Shields, South Tyneside, on January 8.