After 13 years without a band and without a gig, JSL was dragged out of musical retirement in 2015 and began a second phase of his Blues career. The spur for this was the development of a close friendship between JSL and a remarkable woman named Gail McCallum. She became JSL's self-appointed PR Agent and Personal Driver.
'Phase 2' began with a one-off charity gig in support of NMO Spectrum-UK at The Granby Arms, Uppermill on March 28th, 2015. 'JSL and Friends' played to a packed pub, and began the fundraising effort that has now achieved a total of over £1500. He received valuable publicity from The Oldham Chronicle, The Saddleworth Independent, and from guest appearances on North Manchester FM's Blues Show. Legendary local DJ, Clarence Bennett, the Blues Show host, provided the end session of the Granby gig free of charge.
The musicians involved in the evening were old friends indeed! Ged Turner played guitar and bass and joined in on vocals. Paul 'Bart' Bartholomew played bass and slide guitar. Phil Barratt, who has appeared on JSL's recordings, played keyboards and accordion. Steve Murgatroyd played electronic drums - quietly. JSL played some (tentative) guitar, Blues Harp, and sang a mixture of Blues classics and his own compositions. The opening number and a speech may be seen on video in the 'News and Events' section of the charity's web site, which can be accessed from this site's home page.
The supporting act, Rogue Gene, comprised singer, songwriter and guitarist Phil MacDonald plus Bart on slide guitar and Geoff Sidebottom on percussion.
By the end of the evening, 'JSL and Friends' were joined by Raymond 'Raz' Lyness on guitar. He had just walked in off the street. JSL, Bart and Raz had not gigged together for over 25 years!
Playing the Sonny Boy Williamson II classic, 'Help Me' at the end of the evening was a poignant moment for JSL. The song had concluded Go The Hog's final performance in 2003 at Middleton's 'Bands on the Stand' festival. The surviving 60% of the band, JSL, Murg and Geoff were together once again...
The Granby gig was not to be the end of things...
Present at the gig was David Wood, organiser of the annual Diggle Blues Festival and a former work colleague of Ged Turner. He offered JSL a free page to support NMO Spectrum-UK in the 2015 festival programme.
Dave Hughes, of the band 'Mojo Rising' read it and contacted JSL to offer support for another gig. Aided in no small part by Gail McCallum's organisational skills, another successful gig was performed. This time the venue was larger: The Hare and Hounds, also in Uppermill. It was held on May 8th 2016. Significantly, this was the first anniversary of the untimely death of Joe Henderson, JSL's long-time friend and work colleague. Joe had mixed the sound and humped gear for 'Sod the Dots' in the 1980s. JSL marked the occasion by performing 'Playing Poker With the Devil', a song written especially for Joe. It was clearly appreciated by those in the audience who had known him.
The band, 'Mojo Rising', was augmented by Ged Turner's solid presence on guitar and backing vocals. Once again, JSL played a little on guitar, a lot on Blues Harp, and sang a mixture of Blues classics and his own compositions. Raz Lyness was captured on video, dancing in the street outside.
To publicise the gig, JSL was featured on the local That's Manchester TV station. He was filmed performing, with Ged Turner on guitar, at 'Toast' in Delph. He and Gail McCallum gave interviews about JSL's NMO Spectrum Disorder and the NMO Spectrum-UK charity. Brian Huckenhull, Toast's proprietor, invited JSL and Ged back for an informal gig which was performed in July 2016.
Other gigs at Toast and The Granby are strongly tipped to occur.
There will be a 4th album. JSL has been writing again and has so far managed to fit in 2 recording sessions with Bart. Much remains to be done as 2016 begins to wind down...
JSL’s fourth album will be dedicated to his long term friend and colleague, the late Joe Henderson 13 June 1951 - 8 May 2015
Video from That’s Manchester TV, recorded at TOAST, Delph 5 May 2016