I’ve just returned from Blackburn: my hometown and a place we’ll revisit a number of times over the course of this blog. My parents, grandparents and generations of my family lie in its cemeteries. Tim and Jules, my eldest and younger brothers live there along with a close network of friends I can happily get drunk with, or sit around drinking coffee depending on the time of day. We share each other’s triumphs and disasters and one day we’ll carry each other’s coffins. It’s that kind of place, and while my home and many of my friends are here in Grasmere my roots are firmly embedded in the sand and clay of East Lancashire.
Jules Ward is a singer/songwriter: a rhythm and blues man he moved back to Blackburn with his family a couple of years ago from Berlin, where he lived and played the blues for thirteen years, gigging in the all-night bars and flipping burgers at the Hard Rock Café to pay the rent.
Towns like Blackburn embraced and gave themselves over to subversive music: raw angry punk: low down dirty blues and briefly acid house all found an audience and an outlet in the bars, clubs and, in the case of acid house, the disused Victorian factories where the broken glass and pigeon shit ground to paste beneath the revellers feet and a hollow dawn tinctured with the smell of stale sweat and yeast greeted the emerging party.
The environment we grow up in shapes us in many different ways. Jules began playing drums in a punk band before picking up the guitar at the age of fifteen. He’s been a troubadour for almost thirty years playing in Berlin, Prague, Warsaw and Copenhagen along with a stint in Cuba, Central America and North America’s west coast. He once told me that I should have continued playing; he said
‘You’re never lonely when you have a guitar. If you feel down you pick it up, play a few tunes, and you feel good about yourself again.’ He is a true exponent of his craft.
He’s playing at Tweedies Bar in Grasmere on Friday 31 May, but you can check him out on the clip above.
Jules’s Prize Winning Burgers
800g minced steak
3 slices of sandwich bread, without crust, diced and mixed in
splash of worcester sauce, HP brown sauce, tabasco sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp of Coleman’s english mustard
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp celery salt
all mixed together cold, cover up and refrigerate for two or three hours, divide into four patties.
Next week: The only thing missing were the grizzlies