NIC JONES, THE BRILLIANT Orpington guitarist and singer whose 1980 album Penguin Eggs is rightly ranked amongst the classics of folk-derived music, is the subject of a moving documentary – the Enigma Of Nic Jones – by director Michael Proudfoot. Jones’ career was cruelly cut short by a major road accident in 1982. The physical and neurological damage he sustained meant he was never again able to play guitar or violin and the long-term rehab he required took him out of the music game, seemingly for good. Yet a surprise recent revival was documented in a 2011 MOJO magazine feature by writer Nick Coleman, and Proudfoot’s film tracks Jones’ battle to take the stage once more. It also features Martin Carthy, Stewart Lee, John Hegley and others assessing Jones’ impact and legacy.
Here’s a clip, embracing Nic then and now…
“It was the Nick Coleman piece in MOJO that reminded me I wanted to make a film about Nic Jones.” director Proudfoot tells MOJO. “I had suggested it to the BBC before but was told there was no film archive of Nic, so how was I going to do it? We actually started making the film ourselves without funding until the BBC came on board.
“This sequence was an important moment for me, Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow had invited us up to film the rehearsals for Nic’s shows last summer. It was the first time I’d heard Nic sing live since the early ’70s when I saw him by chance in a folk club in Worksop. I was 17 at the time and completely blown away by his singing and guitar playing, so this was a shivers-down-the-spine moment.
“Nic was also a very funny performer, he still is. He hasn’t bothered to watch the film, though: ‘I don’t need to, I was there!’ Since his near-fatal accident thirty years ago he lives in and for the moment, and who can blame him?”
The film is currently slated for a showing on BBC4 on Friday, September 27. But BBC schedules are notoriously movable feasts, so we’d recommend folk-fancying MOJO readers to keep ’em peeled.
And to underline Jones’ extraordinary talent…