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'Up The Cut' - Jon Wilks

Songs from Birmingham and the Midlands, unheard in 180 years

Up The Cut

Born and bred in the Midlands, musician Jon Wilks is on a one-man mission to resurrect some of the stories of Birmingham’s past and share them with audiences across the UK.

On February 12th, Jon will release Up The Cut, his second album of traditional songs relating to Birmingham and the Midlands, some of which have not been heard in over 180 years.

As a researcher and performer of traditional folk songs, Jon has a keen interest in both the history of folk music itself and its ties to Birmingham and the Black Country. During his research, which has seen him discover songs from all over the region - from Rugby, Dudley, Halesowen to Birmingham and Digbeth - Jon has built up a fascinating picture of hard lives well lived.

Jon explains, 'The songs describe everything from an argument overheard in a neighbour's house over the husband's lack of money sense, the complaint of a chimney sweep who longs to have a bath and be able to take the fashionable 'Brummagem Girls' for a date on New Street, the tale of a murderous father bent on killing her daughter's lover, and even the crazy tale of a knight who gets caught up in witchcraft and devilry during a pleasant morning in Bromsgrove!'

Birmingham’s links with folk are perhaps most widely known in the Digbeth area, which has long been the place to go if you wanted to hear Irish folk music. The area was once home to the country’s biggest traditional folk club, which attracted hundreds of keen folkies every week throughout the 1960s. Folk music and folklore run through the city’s arteries. And yet, according to Jon, the traditional songs of Birmingham and the Midlands seem to have been rather overlooked.

Jon continues, “Birmingham city has changed massively since my youth, but by focusing on the music and history of my home town, I fell in love with the city in a way I have never done before.

One of the things I love so dearly about singing traditional songs is that you’re breathing new life into them and sending them forth for someone else to discover. To do that with these Midlands songs felt more like “giving something back” than anything else I’ve ever done.”

Up The Cut, released February 12th, available from jonwilks.bandcamp.com and the usual streaming services.