By: Damian Robinson
The Band: Beans on Toast
British folk singer Jay McAllister (Beans on Toast) rose to prominence out of the UK folk scene in 2005.
His songwriting openly deals with the topics of politics, drugs and love. Jay's last (and 8th) album focused, amongst other things, on the importance of a pub to the local community.
Damian Robinson caught up with Beans to discuss the ‘Down the Pub’ tour, and his upcoming appearance at the Willowman Festival.
Damian: We saw you a couple of years ago supporting Frank Turner and you were great...
Beans: Thank you. Funnily enough I supported him last night at the Roundhouse in London and he was excellent. I'm a bit fuzzy today (laughing).
Damian: You’re in middle of your ‘Down the Pub’ tour at the moment. How's that been going?
Beans: I’m really enjoying it, thank you. It's mostly to do with the fact that I like pubs and I get to go to a lot of them around the country. It's been a lot of fun.
Damian: Where did the concept of touring pubs come from?
Beans: A song on the last album is called ‘Down the Pub’ and it sparked the idea. I try to have a theme for each tour - last year was small town celebration, this year it’s pubs. I really like touring and wanted to find some weird and wonderful venues around the country. I tend to tour larger cities most years around December and then smaller places around May.
Damian: Sometimes when you look at the tour listings it feels like a lot of artists follow the same path and play the same venues. It's nice to see different venues and places on gig listings...
Beans: I agree. And playing pubs means that sometimes it's easier to persuade your friends to go to a show if they've never heard of the artist. You can almost say “come on he's playing at the bloomin’ Noals alms” and your friends may be a bit more likely to pop out to the local, whether they like the artist or not.
Damian: And the next gig up in our region will be the Willowman festival...
Beans: Yeah, that's right. I can't wait for that one as it's a great line-up and a few of my friends and favourite artists are playing including Funke and the Two Tone Baby who’ve just played on one of the pub dates and I'm a big fan of theirs.
Damian: So you'll be hanging out at the show?
Beans: If time allows then yeah, definitely. I try to see as much live music as possible so with this bill in particular I'll be spending as much time as I can catching up with friends and checking out some new music. Time permitting, I'll stick around and get stuck in.
Damian: Great. And after the festivals, anything planned?
Beans: There will be some new stuff this year. I tend to stick to a well-worn path each year so as soon the festivals are finished I'll be back in the studio recording a new album and then I’ll be out touring it again. (Laughing) Round and round we go.
Damian: And your reputation as an artist who focuses on contemporary issues must mean that you've got plenty of inspiration at the moment?
Beans: That's right, yeah. I've got a song called ‘Please Don’t Let This Woman Run the Country’ (laughing) so there's certainly some strong ideas.
Damian: We can't possibly comment, but how about we catch up after the election at Willowman?
Beans: You're on.
Beans on Toast is set to play Willowman Festival near Thirsk. The festival takes place between 15th -18th June in North Yorkshire. Tickets, priced from £70.00 for adults for the full weekend, can be purchased now at willowmanfestival.co.uk>
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