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Jez Lowe

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  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Jez Lowe is one of northern England's finest singer-songwriters. In addition to being featured on seven solo albums and three albums by Lowe's band, the Bad Pennys, Lowe's songs have been featured on albums by a lengthy list of performers including Fairport Convention, the Tannahill Weavers, the Black Family and Gordon Bok. Lowe's best-known tune, "Back In Durham Jail," has been covered by more than 20 different artists.

Although his earliest musical roots were in Irish and Scottish music, Lowe found his niche after becoming interested in the traditional music of the North East region of England. Many of Lowe's songs, including "The Famous Working Man," "The Honest Working Way" and "Workhouse," reflect the struggles of the British working class. Several tunes, such as "These Coal Days," "Black Diamonds," "Pit Boy" and "A Small Coal Song," focus on the plight of the coal mining community.

Lowe first attracted attention in the late '70s in a duo that he shared with Northumbrian pipes and guitar player and vocalist Ged Foley. After Foley joined the Battlefield Band in 1980, Lowe continued to perform as a soloist and in a duo that he shared with hurdy-gurdy virtuoso Jake Walton. Lowe and Walton's partnership ended in 1989 with Lowe forming a quartet, the Bad Pennys. The current lineup of the band features Billy Surgeoner (fiddle, keyboards, whistle, vocals), Jez Luton (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Judy Dinning (keyboards, guitar, vocals).

Lowe's third album, Galloway, initially released in 1985, was expanded with tracks from his self-titled 1980 debut album and re-issued in 1996. In 1992, a greatest-hits album, Black Shift, featuring tunes recorded between 1980 and 1986, was released.