INTERVIEW: Joe Stilgoe (Songs on Film on Tour Dates from November to February)


Photo credit: Matt Humphrey & Matt Hodges

Pianist, composer and singer JOE STILGOE is part-way through a 21-date UK tour called "Songs On Film". He spoke to Peter Jones about how it’s been going so far.

London Jazz News: You’ve described "Songs On Film" as a concept album show. Do you mean like Genesis?

Joe Stilgoe: Well it’s a bit more theatrical than if you simply chose songs that happened to be in films – you’re taking the audience on a similar ride to what they might experience at the cinema. So there’s the love scene, the comedy scene… and that changes the way you put the set list together.

LJN: So do you have an imaginary film in your head?

JS: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it. I’ve always lived in a fantasy world anyway. I’ve tried to make it as escapist as possible, a heightened experience. People need that escapism these days, from working too hard, or whatever. I mean, we can all perfectly well listen to music on our own. But that’s not as good as a really well balanced and fun piece of entertainment.

LJN: You’ve released a couple of albums of film material.

JS: Yes. We started with a live album that we recorded at the St James Theatre in London in 2013. And this year - because you’ve got to have a sequel, haven’t you? – we released a studio album.

LJN: What can audiences expect from the tour?

JS: A lot of new songs, including several that you wouldn’t normally expect to hear from a trio.
Joe Stilgoe. Photo credit: Matt Humphrey


LJN: And has there been a difference in the reaction of audiences around the country, compared to those in London?

JS: The first thing you notice is that audiences are much more appreciative of anyone coming to their theatres. Thankfully I’ve built up enough of a following that I can get more than eight people there. But there’s still that sense of ‘thanks for bothering to come out here’ – whether you’re at Bracknell or Aberdeen or Brecon. Or North Ferriby.

LJN: Where is that?

JS: It’s in East Yorkshire, just by the Humber Bridge. They’re quite a cultural little town, and they asked if I could pop in there, since we were doing the next night in Richmond, Yorkshire. It’s really varied – we’re doing the Minerva Theatre in Chichester, which is five hundred seats, and the Apex in Bury St Edmunds, which is about a hundred. It’s a really nice mix. I’m used to that, because I started my career in jazz clubs, where it’s quite intimate, with people sitting at tables.

LJN: It must be nice playing with the same people this much, so once you’ve settled in, you don’t need to rehearse.

JS: Well actually we’ve done more rehearsal than we ever have before. On drums there’s Ben Reynolds, who’s played with everybody including Clare Teal and Jason Rebello. But then Tom Farmer on bass got offered something he couldn’t turn down, so he’s been off, and I’ve had to train up a couple of other bass players. And it’s quite an involved show – it’s not like just calling out some standards. It’s very arranged, but still with room for improv.

LJN: What else have you been up to recently?

JS: Well there’s a celebration of Gene Kelly which I’m doing for the London Jazz Festival this year. It’s a one-off. Serious came and asked me, could you do a show based on your favourite book, or something a bit different, and I’d just been reading Gene Kelly’s biography. And then I met Clive Hirschhorn, the guy who wrote it, and suggested he come along and read some passages from it.

LJN: I hear you have a one-year-old daughter. So how come Gene Kelly rather than Peppa Pig?

JS: I love Peppa, but I couldn’t ever get the magic of Peppa into a musical context.

Joe Stilgoe’s Songs On Film tour continues throughout November and beyond 

- Selby Town Hall (11th)
- Helmsley Arts Centre (19th)
- Crawley Hawth Theatre (23rd)
- Dorchester Arts (25th)
- Chichester Minerva Theatre (4th December)
-  Corsham Pound Arts (10th December). 

It then resumes in February 2017: 

- Barnsley Lamp Room (2nd)
- Otley Courthouse (3rd)
- Braintree Arts Theatre (4th)
- Wakefield Theatre Royal (9th)
- Exmouth Pavilion (11th)
- Keswick Theatre by the Lake (13th)
- Bury St Edmunds The Apex (17th) 
- Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (18th). 

Joe's Gene Kelly Show is at LSO St Luke’s as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival  on 17th November.


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