West Kirby Arts Centre 24th March 2018

Here's a review for our West Kirby Arts Centre Show last week (24th March 2018) that is on the West Kirby Arts Centre Facebook Page - Many thanks to Trevor Smith for such kind kinds:


Review: John Jenkins & the James Street Band at West Kirby Arts Centre
Last Saturday WKAC hosted the type of show that is rapidly becoming one of their hallmarks. John Jenkins and his band performed a warm, smooth, intimate show that complimented the unique atmosphere and acoustics of the hall.
John is a local singer songwriter who originally hailed from Scotland Road but who resides in Meols. He has played in some notable Merseyside bands and has supported some serious 80’s royalty, including Elvis Costello, The Beat and Echo and the Bunnymen. After a self-imposed hiatus, he has bounced back with a new CD of original songs and we were fortunate to have him showcase many of these at the centre.
John has a relaxed, natural style of delivery that results from performing for as long as he has, and associating with musicians of such impeccable pedigree. His dialogue with the audience was friendly and sincere and his introductions to the various songs enhanced peoples’ appreciation of them.
Similarly, the band was tight and well-balanced. I didn’t hear one bum note all night. This was quite an achievement as there were a wide range of instruments between the seven band members. It would be appropriate to also mention the sterling work of Tony Woof & Bob Glass who ran the mixing desk heroically. The overall sound balance was very pleasing.
First half highlights for me were an old favourite, “Playing with Fire”, and the first half closer, “Someday We’ll See Better Days”. The latter was inspired by local musicians singing “We Shall Overcome” en masse at an anti-austerity benefit concert. John made a good fist of recreating the power and passion of this performance here to whet peoples’ appetites for the second set.
The second half maintained the quality and momentum of the first. John performed many of his latest songs here, from his new CD, “Window Shopping in Nashville”. Speaking to him afterwards, he was clearly pleased how this new material compared with his established set, and how comfortable these new songs were now to perform. Notably “Looking For That American Dream”, the number that opened the second set and “Can You Hear Me” are examples of this. John set the scene for the latter with a heart-warming account of his father’s pride in moving from the urban Scotland Road to the leafier, suburban West Derby.
The James Street Band includes among their rank an extended family of talented singer-songwriters in their own right. John allowed certain band members to perform their own songs within the set. This was a nice touch and enhanced the evening’s entertainment. Notable examples of these included Denis Parkinson (electric guitar) performing his insightful “Idiot Guide to Modern Living”. In addition Sarah Jones showed plenty of maturity at a very young age with her tender song, “Way Into Your Heart”, assisted by Megan-Louise. She then returned the favour on Megan’s “The Train Song”. David Nixon then weighed in with his emotional rendition of “Moon and Stars”. There was a degree of Merseypride going on here also, with certain band members decamping on the Wirral from Liverpool and others going the other way.
My personal favourite song from the whole performance was “Don’t Make Me Stay”, the final number of the night. This was simply a lovely song, performed with warmth and wonderful harmonies, sending everyone home happy.
All in all, this was a deeply satisfying evening of original songs written and performed by a talented group of local musicians. The centre played its part in the proceedings also, its unique setting perfectly complimenting this performance. I would encourage everyone to check out the WKAC website to see the programme of up and coming acts for the year.
Review by Trevor Smith
Fine Art Degree (painting) Birmingham 1976, now lives in West Kirby. Whole teaching career in Liverpool schools. Retired in 2012 as Head of Arts Faculty in the North Liverpool Academy in Anfield.
He has exhibited at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool.

Scene and Heard March 2018

Here's a nice review from "Scene and Heard" by the lovely Lis Garrett of our show on Friday 23rd March 2018 at 81 Renshaw Street :

Next up was John Jenkins and The James Street Band. John Jenkins has surrounded himself with a super group of musicians and singers. It’s fluid and changing with several guests arriving and departing during the set but above all it feels like a group of friends having a great time performing together, the fact there is an appreciative audience seems like a bonus. Stand out individual performances for me were Megan’s stunning vocals - she has an emotional depth to her vocals that belies her young age. Denis Parkinson on lead guitar also impressed. John Jenkins’ understated role as band leader had more to do with the very limited space on stage but nonetheless he leads his band of musicians with confidence and his enjoyment is infectious.

Fatea Review Dec 2017

The Way Down Wanderers + John Jenkins and The James Street Band Venue: Grateful Fred @ The Atkinson
Town: Southport
Date: 06/12/17
Website: https://thewaydownwanderers.com/

Traditionally, the last Grateful Fred’s of the year has a party atmosphere and so it was tonight when we were treated to an awesome performance by Chicago’s “best emerging act”, the high-energy bluegrass band The Way Down Wanderers ,ably supported by Liverpool singer songwriter John Jenkins and his 5-piece James Street Band.

John opened the evening with a fine set drawn [mostly] from his excellent new double album “Window Shopping In Nashville” ,which was recorded earlier this year ,using notable session musicians, including Scott Poley, Chris Howard and Scott Whitley.

John is a well-known figure on the Liverpool music scene , having been a member of The Persuaders and Come In Tokio. His music can best be described as melodic , country-tinged rock and this was well-received by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Grateful Fred’s audience.

One of the highlights of John’s album is “I Was Looking For You” ,which he co-wrote with none other than Chris Curtis of The Searchers ,with whom John worked in the local tax office!

However, my favourite performance of tonight’s show was a superb version of the album’s opening track , a cracking country-rock number called “Silhouettes” ,which featured a wonderful duet with the amazing Megan-Louise ,who is surely a country star-in-the-making.

John has the knack of being able to combine melodic, catchy tunes with meaningful lyrics ,as shown on his performances of “Same Thing Every Night” and “Get Her Out My Mind” and he and the band earned a well-deserved encore , finishing on an optimistic note with “Some Day We’ll See Better Days”.

The Way Down Wanderers were formed by long-time friends [and soon-to-be brothers-in-law] Austin Thompson [guitar and vocals] and Collin Krause [mandolin, fiddle and vocals] in their hometown of Peoria, Illinois. They were joined by John Merikoski [drums and spoons] , John Williams [upright bass] and Travis Kowalsky [banjo and fiddle] to form one of the most exciting and unconventional bluegrass bands on the planet. Highly-skilled musicians, they combine that “high lonesome sound” with an almost punk-like energy.

Not many bluegrass bands can boast two highly individualistic , dread-locked singers and a rock drummer who doubles on spoons! The band have been together for four years and they are as tight as the proverbial canard’s derriere.

The Wanderers are no slouches as songwriters either ,as evidenced by break-up song “Circles”, “There’s A New Day Dawning” and “Treading The Water”, which featured a superb mandolin solo from Collin. If one song conveys the essence of this extraordinary band ,it has to be “Wildfire” which perfectly demonstrates their unique blend of harmony and energy [check out the video on You Tube].

The Wanderers treated us to not one ,but two, Bob Dylan covers with “Blowing In The Wind” [beautifully sung by bassist John Williams] and a gorgeous version of “Tomorrow Is A Long Time”, which featured a duet between Austin and Collin.

After such an inspirational performance, an encore was a foregone conclusion and the Wanderers came down from the stage to play a rousing acoustic version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” amongst the audience and so concluded a wonderful evening.

Peter Cowley