“Great folk picker, great guitar picker…Wizz Jones to me then was like… a watched man, watched by me, by Clapton and Jimmy Page at the same too,” says Keith Richards.
Like such folk guitar players such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and John Fahey, Wizz has his own immediately identifiable sound. Wizz (whose nickname came from a comic strip character) was interested in music at an early age. His timing seemed a bit off, however. His lone single, a cover version of Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown,” promptly went nowhere; so he began concentrating on albums.
Early records such as The Legendary Me and the two-disc Soloflight seemed to position Jones at the forefront of the English folk rock movement, along with Fairport Convention and Pentangle. If bands such as Fairport, Pentangle, and Steeleye Span constitute a cult, Wizz Jones must be a cult within a cult. He has released upwards of 20 albums since 1969, yet his latest, Huldenberg Blues, may be his best yet. By playing to a small, invitation-only crowd, Jones’ winning onstage presence shines through. This is the perfect way to present his slightly unorthodox music to the general public.
For magnificent guitar work, look no further than “Massacre At Beziers,” “Burma Star,” or “Dallas Blues.” Jones has that rare talent of being able to not only accompany himself on guitar, but to make it sound like a full acoustic band at play. He is adept with the banjo as well, as is shown during “The Father’s Song.”
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Wizz Jones’ talent is his voice. It really is a one-of-a-kind instrument, and heard to great effect during “St. James Infirmary,” “Massacre At Beziers,” and “I Hold No Grudge,” among other gems.
It is ironic that the proudly British Wizz Jones signs off from Brussels with the classic “San Francisco Bay.” For fans of the “second coming” of British Folk over the past 30-some years, Wizz Jones is someone to be heard.