Tim Jones & me

Tim Jones & me

In several of my posts, I have mentioned, with great affection , my connection to the Lovetown Music company in Bath, UK. I would like to tell you the story of how my association with them came about and the wonderful journey we have shared, and continue to share to this day.

Back in the mid-2000’s, I was playing in a Bournemouth-based jazz funk band called Spiral which was led by a wonderful saxophonist called Wendy Allen, who I met through trombone player and jazz supremo Adrian Fry. The band used to rehearse in Poole and also at a studio in Salisbury, owned by Steve Collazo who is the son of Lillian Lopez, one of the founding members of 80’s disco group Odyssey.  During one of these rehearsals, Steve approached me and said he was putting together a band to back the latest line-up of Odyssey and would I be interested in playing bass? Well, I didn’t need asking twice so myself and Wendy went along to the first rehearsals and met the other band members who included Matt Venn on drums and Tim Jones, from Bath, on keys. Unbeknown to me at the time, keys were actually Tim’s 2nd instrument and really he was a a superb guitarist but he was fantastic on keys and we did a few gigs together as the Odyssey band.

Onstage with Tim.

Onstage with Tim.

Following this first spell with Odyssey, I stayed in touch with Tim and in 2009 I played on one of Lovetown Music’s first projects, an album of original soul by UK soul artist Richard Alexander Davis. The album was very well received both at home and abroad and we enjoyed a very successful launch night in London.

Also in 2009, Odyssey were booked to perform at The Indigo2 in London with Sister Sledge and Matt Venn, myself and Tim were reunited to perform at this amazing night. Tim had now reverted to guitar and we brought in an old friend of Tim’s, London-based Steve Holmes on keys and another London session player, Varian Keller on 2nd keys and samples.

By now, the Lovetown Music brand was growing and Tim was contacted by a French soul and funk promoter, Juan-Luis from Soirez Funk. Juan-Luis was putting together festivals in Lyon and bringing over many great old-school soul artists from the USA to perform PAs at the events.  The problem was that the classic albums and tracks that the artists were famous for were maybe 30 years old and so high quality backing tracks for the singers to perform with simply didn’t exist.  Juan-Luis had heard great things about Lovetown and approached Tim to re-record the tracks prior to the festivals and thankfully I would be needed too!!
In 2010/2011, we recorded many great tracks by artists such as Marc Sirdane and Alicia Myers and Juan-Luis was so impressed with the work that he suggested that he change the format of his festivals to include a live backing band and to have the Lovetown gang as that band.

Onstage with Glenn Jones - Lyon

Onstage with Glenn Jones – Lyon

The core of the band was once again Tim, myself and Steve Holmes but now with Jose Joyette on drums, fresh from a stint with Frank McComb, Steve’s buddy Gibbs King on 2nd keys and a backing vocal team consisting of Gary Poole, Kate Fox and Amy Mattis. The first show featured Glenn Jones, who is the subject of this post on my site, and Delfonics vocalist Garfield Fleming.

During this period, we also recorded an album of original, new material with Alicia Myers, US soul artists Geraldine Hunt and Cliff Dawson with albums being recorded in the UK and also the USA. Cliff’s album was co-produced by another rare-grove icon David ‘Pic’ Conley from the US group Surface and Pic came over several times to oversee the process.

With Yarbrough & Peoples, Doc Shaw and Surface - Lyon

With Yarbrough & Peoples, Doc Shaw and Surface – Lyon

The second time we travelled to Lyon was to provide the band for another of Juan-Luis’ festivals, this time featuring Yarbrough & Peoples, Doc Shaw and also Surface with our friend Pic Conley and the amazing vocalist John Feva.

As the Lovetown profile began to rise, Tim had an idea to record an album of original soul with tracks performed by the band, now named the Lovetown Allstars, with guest vocalists from the soul archives of the UK and USA. He set about contacting many legends of soul, funk and rare groove and the response was incredible! We recorded an amazing album which I have talked about in this blog post on this site.

With Junior Giscomb

With Junior Giscombe

The final couple of pieces of the Lovetown jigsaw came from a great London-based promoter, Orlando Gittens, who was putting on a show back at the Indigo2, featuring Glenn Jones and Northern Soul artist Archie Bell (& the Drells) from Texas. Having played with Glenn in Lyon, we were the first choice for backing both artists in London. We called on 3 london-based vocalists to be the UK Drells, as well as Joe Rodwell and Justin Swadling providing brass duties and 2nd keys.
We also recently backed the legendary Shirley Jones from The Jones Girls at a weekender in Hampshire and we provided the band for an evening of tributes to Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill and Whitney Houston at The Jazz Cafe in London which featured vocalists Rachel Hylton, Kele Le Roc, Chyna and Aysha Loren.
We are now the band of choice for both Archie Bell and Glenn Jones and have since backed Archie at The Southport Weekender and also at The Northern Soul Weeekender and will be backing him again in the UK in 2015.  We are also currently booked to back Glenn Jones at The Hayling Island Soul Weekender in July 2015. We are incredibly grateful to all the artists who have supported our music and the radio stations and DJs who continue to play it!

The Allstars with Archie Bell.

Some of The Allstars with Archie Bell.

The Lovetown Allstars are currently……

Tim Jones – MD / guitar
Chris Wood – bass
Andy Sturges – drums
Steve Holmes – keys
Joe Rodwell – trumpet / keys
Justin Swadling – Sax
Marlon Conton – vox
Dionne Conton – vox