Jon Bickley is a songwriter, poet and broadcaster with a love for the rise and fall of language. As a songwriter he sings of love, social justice and the mystical lure of nature in a prolific output. As a poet he is a regular contributor to the “For the many not the few” series as well as several volumes of his own. As a founder of the Invisible Folk Club podcast and radio show he has interviewed widely and championed many grass roots musicians, film makers and singers. As part of Invisible Folk, Jon has raised funds, commissioned creatives, directed films and written plays and music and staged concerts and discussions.
Jon Bickley and the Invisible Folk Club band have made Under the Same Sky, an album of mostly original songs, nature poems set to music, chant and journey songs. Their goods are laid out on the cover with dreamy verse reference to Bunyan's Pilgrim Progress and the composer Bickley in contemplative, writer pose. The Rain it Raineth every day sets a playful mood, with blues-y violin, a charming song; 'the sky is crying 'cos the earth is hurting so bad', laying the blame with God for sending the flood that is 'here to stay'. The album is an eclectic mix, unpredictable at times, like the weather but nicely so, the natural world is celebrated, strong earthy rhythms, light and dark, with literary and actual rain references throughout. It is a joyful and light sound-scape, good musicianship and singing; / Can Hear Voices is a melodic, ethereal woman-chant interspersed with rain sound, a beautifully meditative piece, and effortless harmonies in Beside Me. One of the great oldies Carrickfergus is pared right back with just guitar accompaniment, brilliant playing, Bickley's interpretation, his timing and cadence, make it a superb rendition. Ghostly ambience and mood in Into the Woods, the woman's lilting voice sweet, warm and flourishing, violin to the fore as it is in Call The Sun, a fine catchy melody here. Russell Eyre on slide guitar, Diana Stone on violin, singers Alexandra Reynelds and Annette Burrows, Bob Templeman on guitar, with poet and composer Jon Bickley on guitar and lead vocals, together they form The Invisible Folk Club band. Appealing to a wide mix of tastes, Under The Same Sky is refreshingly original, good textures and harmonies, good heart and humour, it crosses an array of genres and once live performances begin again, this band should be one to watch out for.
Irish Music Magazine Anne Marie Kennedy
Jon Bickley has developed an enviable reputation over the years as a songwriter of some insight as well as founder of the Invisible Folk Club podcast. RnR
The arrangements are undeniably ragged at times, but the songs prove as bracing as a rain soaked hike through the woodlands on a brisk January dawn. Songwriter, poet podcaster Bickley has written a collection of songs that, alongside a few traditional numbers, see a kind of communion with the landscape. The relaxed ambiance conjures up memories of those distant days when strangers gathered around a folk club table, glass in hand, to share melodies and stories.
I thought it was great . . . . . a touch of Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake. Rhythm
Persuasive takes on traditional folk material fRoots
Engaging original compositions . . . great ideas. fRoots
a fine songwriter . . . well crafted songs . . . a real gift for lyricism. RnR
these powerful evocative lyrics deserve your full attention. . . . . swept along by the sheer power of the imagery . . . . . echoes of John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen. Unicorn
April evening sky like a pigeon's chest
snow yesterday and still cold so we wait
on our toes for Spring and a glimpse of sun.
Tea stains on the cup, toast crumbs on the plate.
Poetry falls on the page silently
as the slightest sound would scare it away.
You don't have to know what you are writing,
you just have to keep everything else at bay,
and it comes like a memory of snow
or the dream of a lover beside you
airy and soft and never to be known.
The pillows are stuffed, poems and feathers,
while this poet listens to the silence
and sits at his desk watching the weather.
The Invisible Folk Club builds a platform for grass roots talent. Hosted by Jon Bickley and produced by Steve Yarwood the podcasts include interviews with singers, song collectors, musicians, people who run folk clubs or festivals, poets and politicians. We tell the world about them and they tell the world how they do what they do so we can all improve what we do.
The long running radio show plays the best new releases and specially recorded sessions. Patreon sunscribers get the Album of the Month and Mistletoe magazine delivered every month. Invisible Folk has partnered with museums to contribute films, plays and music to exhibitions and events.
We made a film to complement the 'Under The Same Sky' art exhibition that would have opened at the Higgins Bedford Museum at the beginning of April 2020. Paintings of landscape, nature and weather in Bedfordshire were going on show before COVID-19 closed all the galleries and museums. Lots of new music was written, some of it is in this film which will be shown alongside the exhibition when the museum reopens.
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