Manfred’s man back with his Blues Band

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AT 68 years of age, Paul Jones shows no signs of winding down a career that started nearly half a century ago.

The Manfred Mann frontman continues to tour with an adapted version of his first band, as well as with wife Fiona Hindley-Jones and DJing on BBC Radio 2.

But it is with the Blues Band that Paul visits Langholm’s Buccleuch Centre this Saturday.

Paul told TheSouthern: “The Blues Band are on tour all the time. I have been away with [fellow Blues Band member] Dave Kelly recently but the rest of the band are joining us for our upcoming concerts.

“But I do still have a lot of time at home – I am quite good at managing my time.”

Back to the start, and Paul began his musical career with Manfred Mann in 1962.

The group went on to become one of the 60’s most prominent bands as the decade experienced a pop revolution.

Paul quit in 1966 to go solo and try his hand at acting in films and television. His TV credits included Z Cars, Space 1999 and The Sweeney, as well as presenting shows on ITV and Channel 4.

Paul’s stage performances have included starring at the Royal National Theatre in The Beggar’s Opera and Guys And Dolls.

His other West End shows were Conduct Unbecoming – which also appeared on Broadway – Cats and Pump Boys.

In 1979, Paul founded the Blues Band, who were credited with kick-starting another boom in blues music. The current line up alongside Paul and Dave Kelly is Rob Townsend, Gary Fletcher and Tom McGuinness.

On radio, he worked for five years on the BBC’s World Service, and has broadcast on all five BBC Radio’s main networks as musician, DJ, actor, critic and Desert Island Discs castaway.

Paul is president of the National Harmonica League and has recorded with a range of artists, including Tina Turner, Percy Sledge, Memphis Slim, Katie Melua and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Married to Fiona, the couple became Christians in the mid-1980s and have produced a gospel album. They performed last year at St Paul’s Church in Galashiels.

Paul played to a Langholm crowd many years ago in what he remembers as a “village hall”.

Paul added: “It is very interesting because people who come to the Manfreds come to the Blues Band but there are others who only come to the Blues Band.

“It is also interesting that we are seeing more younger people in the audience.

“We get quite a lot of young people emailing my radio programme saying they have never listened to blues music before but love the show.

“The programme is great for finding there is still demand for our music, without being able to complete considerable research.”

After nearly 50 years, Paul is still delighted by positive feedback from fans, wo range from “old fogies to young people”.

He added: “We recently played a concert on Jersey and a young guy said: ‘My dad had dragged me here but it has been wonderful’.”

Asked which of his musical commitments is of most significance to him, Paul said: “Although I spent most time with the Manfreds and the Blues Band, I would say the most important is with Fiona in churches. I would not say being on stage is the pinnacle for me – Jesus Christ is and whatever I do it is in his name.”

December 1962 was the date when Manfred Mann launched the career of Paul, who said the 50th anniversary next year would be marked with a “celebration”.

But in the meantime he and the Blues Band have no intention of stepping down from the stage.

“Music is what we do – some people are greengrocers, we are musicians,” Paul said.

Tickets are priced at £17.50 and the gig starts at 7.30pm – phone 013873 81196 for more details.