Alice Jones is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and dancer from Ripponden in West Yorkshire. Her background is deeply rooted in the English folk tradition and the music that she makes instantly reflects this strong influence. Alice sings mostly traditional songs accompanying herself on the piano or harmonium and sometimes only with foot percussion. The sensitive and intuitive arrangements of each song allow the stories to take centre stage and, inspired by her beginnings as a percussive dancer, they are loaded with a rhythm and energy that portrays her dancer’s heartbeat. Her distinctive voice and innovative style lends a fresh, modern perspective to traditional material and brings new life to old songs.
“Alice Jones is a seriously impressive singer of traditional songs” fRoots (270)
Alice was first exposed to folk music as a babe in arms through her parents, both being keen attendees of folk clubs in the 1970’s. According to her mother, her favourite songs as a small child were “I Like a Drop of Good Beer” and “The Spotted Cow”… Songs about drinking and ladies of dubious virtue… With hindsight it was probably inevitable that she would turn out to be a folkie too…
Her first public performances were as a dancer, initially with Ryburn Longsword but later on as an Appalachian clogger, taught by the legendary Ira Bernstein and Sue Coe. At the age of 12 she began to perform at festivals and teach workshops around the country.
In 2001 Alice was invited to join The Herb Boys Ceilidh Band with Steve Harrison and Vic Gammon as a pianist playing mainly Northern English dance music in and around the Yorkshire area (and occasionally further afield). She still plays with the band today, although it has undergone a few personnel changes and a name change to The Black Box Band. A couple of years after joining The Herb Boys she became a member of the Gina Le Faux Trio and the High Society Dance Band with whom she also played piano and danced. Fronted by the virtuosic Gina Le Faux they performed traditional songs and tunes as well as less traditional songs by the likes of Hank Williams and The Beatles (to name a few) they also showcased new material by Gina.
At the age of 18 Alice took on the role of Chair of the Committee of the Ripponden based community arts organisation Ryburn 3 Step and at the time was probably the youngest Chair of a folk development group in the country. This was a role that gained her much experience in the organisational, administrative and event planning side of the folk music scene which has continued to this day seeing her working in the background at a number of prestigious folk festivals and events over the years.
In 2004 Alice was invited to join The John Dipper Band primarily as a singer but also on clarinet, whistles and again, a bit of dance band piano when called for! Alongside John Dipper, Michael Beeke, James Tween and occasionally Ralph Jordan they played many major folk venues and festivals in the UK and in Europe. Their only album received much airplay on local and national radio shows and they featured on a BBC World television documentary about English Folk Music.
“Superb, sincere vocals – meltingly fine music.” Verity Sharpe, BBC Radio 3
Over the years Alice has worked often as a session musician, appearing on a number of folk albums as well as other less folky CDs. Recently she has been involved in a long term research project looking at the vast collection of Leeds based folk song collector Frank Kidson. Alongside Pete Coe she has been touring a show featuring songs taken from this formidable collection called “The Search For Five Finger Frank”. Together they recorded a double disc album of the same name, released in 2014, for which they have had rave reviews and gained much airplay from both local and national radio stations. In conjunction with the BBC they also produced a radio documentary about Frank Kidson and his forgotten legacy.
Although Alice is immersed in the English folk tradition she also draws heavily from her roots as an Appalachian dancer with a keen interest in American folk song and music that frequently leads to her raiding the collections of Frank and Anne Warner, Cecil Sharpe and the Smithsonian Institution etc… for new material. Her love of European dancing, dance music and song also inspires her music and sees her performing regularly at French Bals and Breton Fez-Noz as well as participating and sometimes leading the dancing (most often with the foot-stomping trio Heretique).
All of these influences combine and intertwine to inform her interpretation of songs and tunes, creating a uniquely characteristic yet seamless style. Her deliberate yet expressive tone and heartfelt precision portrays a true and genuine connection with her material. She performs with a captivating sincerity that conveys the innate sentiment of the lyrics interwoven with an implicit energy and wit that enchants, beguiles and enthrals those listening. Every performance highlights her eagerness to include and engage with an audience and her concert sets are brimming with refrains and choruses specifically intended to invite as much audience participation as possible!