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Something to Treasure at free cinema gig; Things are happening for singer songwriter Jack Arthurs and they're all good, as DAVID WHETSTONE has been finding out.

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE

NEWCASTLE musician Jack Arthurs has a new record label, a forthcoming new album and a gig this week in a new (well, newish) venue at the heart of his home city.

It's in the Tyneside Cinema's popular Bar Cafe and that's where we're having a chat.

A chat with Jack can take you off down many unexpected avenues but invariably it's entertaining - just like his music.

But we'll start with the gig. It is here, at 8.30pm on Thursday, July 31, and Jack - with voice and guitar - will be supported by Ruth McGivern.

It's a free gig but there will be a collection. Explains Jack: "Craig Wilson, who programmes events here, invited me to come and play and I thought it was a great opportunity to support the work the Tyneside Cinema does with young people.

"The Pop-Up Film School is a brilliant way for young creative artists to play around with storytelling through film and words and writing.

"I'm hoping people will leave a donation so we can pay for a young person to attend because I think it's really important to help the next generation of artists."

The first time I interviewed Jack, a few years ago, he was promoting The Art of Seeing, the debut album of his band Greyhound. I'd thought it was pretty good stuff. Jack and his band mates suggested it would appeal to anyone who liked Rush or The Police (Jack's first purchased album, he recalls, was Zenyatta Mondatta, The Police's third).

When the members dispersed, Jack went solo.

"Greyhound has been rested," he says. "I wanted to write stuff for my own voice."

His first album, Only Dreams Are True, came out in 2012 and garnered some really nice reviews, as you can see on his website (www.jackarthurs.co.uk). It was, he says, "an experiment. The work I'm doing now is building on that."

The follow-up, Treasure House, will be released early next year through Bad Elephant Music, with whom Jack has just signed a mutually beneficial deal.

He is, he says, "over the moon". "In January I recorded some demos and started approaching people. I just felt it would be nice to aim for a step up and have the support of a team of people rather than doing everything myself. Bad Elephant Music are a new label but they've established a reputation for putting out really good progressive music and taking a few risks by putting art before commerce.

"They promise to take care of promotion and marketing while allowing the artist to create. I'm really looking forward to working with them."

David Elliott, chief executive of Bad Elephant Music, had apparently heard Jack play at the Resonance Rock Festival, which took place in London last year in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support.

It was Jack's first London gig and it bore fruit. David, who is originally from Sunderland but has lived in London for 30 years, liked what he heard.

"I'm really happy to welcome Jack to the BEM family," he has said. "His approach and delivery take me back to my youth, following the acoustic scene in the North East.

"Jack demonstrates just what one man and his guitar can do and we're looking forward to releasing his new album next year."

Jack, who appreciates the North East link, says: "This gig I'm playing at the Tyneside is the first Newcastle gig since signing that record deal so it's a way of celebrating."

Conscious that his teens are fast receding, Jack says: "I've always taken heart from people like David Almond who wrote for years and years before anyone outside the region was really interested in his work. He took his chance when it came. You can learn a lot from other artists."

Jack is a bit of a renaissance man. He certainly has a literary bent.

Born in York, he came to the North East in 1989 to study English at Newcastle University and then went to the Lake District to work at the Wordsworth Trust with the late Dr Robert Woof - arguably the complete renaissance man with a love of literature, music and art.

"A true visionary," is Jack's verdict. He tells me a lovely story which is appropriate to this setting. It concerns Wilko Johnson, the musician best known for his work with the band Dr Feelgood. Having been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and given 10 months to live, Wilko opted against chemotherapy and instead embarked on a farewell tour with Roger Daltrey of The Who.

In the audience at one gig was a cancer specialist who was curious to see that Wilko didn't look as ill as a man in his condition should have done. He arranged an examination and decided an operation would be possible after all. Wilko is now clear of cancer.

The tale is told in the film The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson, showing at the Tyneside as Jack and I are speaking (but gone now - look out for the DVD). Jack recalls that Robert Woof, who lectured at Newcastle University for many years, told him that Wilko had been one of his students, graduating in 1970.

"Robert told me that in the late 1970s, when he was first involved with the Wordsworth Trust and was building a collection there, a set of original Wordsworth manuscripts came up for sale.

"Robert was trying to raise the money and Wilko organised a benefit gig with Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) of Motorhead. They raised the money. Now how rock 'n' roll is that? "I've got a lot of respect for Wilko because he's a literary man as well as a musician."

Jack has another gig coming up this week. It's on Sunday, July 31, and it's at a Leicester venue called The Musician.

He is supporting The Enid, the prog rock band founded in 1973 by Robert John Godfrey who worked a lot with Barclay James Harvest.

That, too, came out of the gig at the Resonance Festival when Jack must have given a winning performance.

Thursday provides the first opportunity to hear some of the new material from Jack's new album.

Who knows? It might be one of those key moments you'll look back on and say... I was there.

They've established a reputation for putting out good progressive music and taking a few risksJack Arthurs

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Newcastle musician Jack Arthurs <Bis playing at the Tyneside Cinema,

having recently signed to Bad Elephant Music
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2015
Words:1078
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