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Kingswinford's Jess Silk just can't stop gigging - unsigned column

By Leigh Sanders | Entertainment | Published:

She's knackered, but she can't imagine doing "anything else in the world".

Kingswinford singer-songwriter Jess Silk Photo: Stephen J Bennett Photography

Jess Silk is a 23-year-old singer-songwriter who has just had a wonderfully busy summer.

She does "complain about being knackered all the time" but considering how "brilliant" her experiences have been she doesn't really mean it.

And to top it off, the former Summerhill and Kind Edward VI School pupil has been broadening her horizons by moving out from her comfort zone to perform further afield.

"It's been a mental year really," she says. "I've been gigging around the Black Country since I was about 16 or 17 so in the past couple of years it's been great to have been asked to play gigs and festivals in a much wider area, even if I do have to spend half of my time explaining to people that I'm not actually a Brummie.

"It's weird that you can be on the verge of falling asleep, especially after a few gigs in a row, but then you get on stage and it's like you come alive again. I’ve already got quite a few gigs and festivals in the diary for next year, so there’s no sign of it letting up any time soon."

It's a fantastic position for a self-financed musician to be in. And she's also getting to spend time travelling around to events that mean more to her than just another music show.

"I think one of the highlights of this year for me has been Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Dorset. Anyone who’s listened to me perform will know I’m in to my politics, and Tolpuddle was a whole weekend of protest singers and political activism, so I was absolutely in my element.

"That's only the second time I've ever been that far south to play as well, so it was great to play to a predominantly new audience.

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"Another one I really enjoyed was Wigan Diggers Festival a couple of weeks ago, but that was mostly because I was on just before the headliners The Men They Couldn't Hang, who are absolutely brilliant.

"It’s always amazing when you get to gig with a band you love, and Wigan Diggers is a festival I’d been wanting to play for ages, so I was really pleased to have been asked."

She's talking to us because despite summer being over, she's still working hard and will be supporting Nottingham political punk-folkers Ferocious Dog on their upcoming tour. But before that, she'll be in Stourbridge tomorrow at a venue Jess likes to call "home" - Katie Fitzgerald's.

"Katie's is like home so I always love playing there," she adds. "I have a song I wrote with Ian Marrey about the pub and it always fills me with joy when I play it there and I can hear everyone singing the words back at me.

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"Maggi Dave from Songs of Anger and Redemption has been putting on some ace gigs at Katie's over the past year or so, and I'm very grateful to have been asked to play at a fair few of them.

"I'm very excited to see The Leylines gracing the Cellar Stage tomorrow and be supporting them, and I always love watching [former Unsigned column star] Paul Henshaw play, so it promises to be a brilliant night."

And then comes the Ferocious Dog tour with a gig even closer to her home.

"I’ve seen them play live a few times over the last few years, but it was only last year when I supported them in Nottingham that I actually met most of the band for the first time.

"They’re a lovely bunch of guys and they always put on a fantastic show. There’s always an amazing energy in the room when you see them so I was ecstatic when they asked me to support them on the tour.

"I'm really looking forward to playing the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton with them on October 4; I love the venue and it's my ‘hometown’ show on the tour so I've got a few mates coming down."

So we know that Jess loves to mix a lot of politics in with her songwriting. But how does that compute with her stage persona?

"I'm a shouty woman with a sticker-covered guitar and a pint of cider," she continues. "I'm kind of folk with my writing style and then more punk with the delivery. I often get likened to a female Frank Turner or Billy Bragg, so make of that what you will.

"After spending a few years gigging the local pub circuit I’ve been lucky enough to be able to move away from covers gigs in favour of originals sets. I do still throw in the occasional cover, but I always prefer the originals."

And for those already familiar with Jess and her work and who like what she does, she also has an announcement that will get the excitement flowing.

"I have actually just spent a couple of days getting some demos done for a new album.

"The majority of it was written before I even released the first album [Break The Bottle] in May last year, but since then I've written new and better songs so I've been swapping and changing bits.

"The plan had originally been for a 2019 release, but I've not been standing still long enough this year to get it done. I think I've finally got the tracklist sorted, so now I've got to work on it over the next few months and try and get it out there next year."

For updates on that forthcoming album and her busy gig schedule, you can follow Jess on Twitter @silkj1 and Facebook @JessSilkMusic. Her previous releases can be heard on her Bandcamp page. Tickets to tomorrow's show at Katie Fitzgerlad's alongside The Leylands and Paul Henshaw can be bought from We Got Tickets, while tickets for her Ferocious Dog support slot at Slade Rooms can be purchased from the Wolves Civic website.

Leigh Sanders

By Leigh Sanders
@LSanders_Star

Senior sub editor for the MNA portfolio and entertainments writer leaning towards features and reviews. Get releases to me at leigh.sanders@expressandstar.co.uk

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