Jez Lowe

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Jez Lowe
Jez Lowe 2011.jpg
Lowe on stage in 2011
Background information
Birth name John Gerard Lowe
Born (1955-07-14) 14 July 1955 (age 61)
Easington Colliery
Occupation(s) folk singer and songwriter
Years active c. 1979–
Associated acts The Bad Pennies; Jake Walton
Jez Lowe performing at TwickFolk, February 2015

Jez Lowe (born John Gerard Lowe, 14 July 1955) is an English folk singer-songwriter. Lowe was born and raised in County Durham, in a family with Irish roots. He is known primarily for his compositions dealing with daily life in North-East England, particularly in his hometown of Easington Colliery. He attended St Francis RC Grammar School in nearby Hartlepool and later studied languages at Sunderland Polytechnic. He performs both as a solo artist and with his backing band, The Bad Pennies. In addition to singing his songs, Lowe accompanies himself and The Bad Pennies on guitar, harmonica, cittern, and piano.


He grew up witnessing the decline of the coal-mining industry that had defined the region's economic profile for generations. A great many of Lowe's compositions address the economic distress that the North Country has suffered as a result of this industrial decline, and the social repercussions thereof. "Galloways," "Nearer to Nettles," and "These Coal Town Days" are among the songs that directly address economic conditions. In the much larger category of social impact songs, well known Lowe compositions are "Big Meeting Day," "Greek Lightning," and "Last of the Widows." (His song, "Last of the Widows", was written in 1991 to mark the fortieth anniversary of the pit disaster at Easington Colliery.) Numerous other songs by Lowe deal with the general issues of poverty and limited social opportunity in the region.

Recent projects[edit]

In 2006 Lowe contributed to the BBC Radio 2 'Radio Ballads' documentary series broadcast on Radio 2 as a homage to the original series of the same title pioneered by Ewan MacColl and Charles Parker in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jez Lowe was commissioned to write 22 new songs for the documentary-folk series, which were not all performed by Lowe but featured guest vocals from the likes of Barry Coope, Bob Fox and many more. The series went on to win two Sony Radio Academy Awards.

In 2008 Lowe was nominated as 'Folksinger of the Year'in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, but ultimately lost the category to young Scottish singer and instrumentalist Julie Fowlis.

In March 2009 Lowe was invited to collaborate with seven other songwriters on the prestigious 'Darwin Song Project' co-ordinated by Shrewsbury Folk Festival in celebration of local connections to Darwin's birthplace in the bi-centennial year of his birth. The songwriting project has been the subject of a featured documentary programme on BBC Radio 4 and Mike Harding hosted folk programme on BBC Radio 2.

In 2012, a new series of Radio Ballads, The Ballad of the Games, relating extraordinary moments from the history of the Olympic Games was written to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. More than sixty new songs were written for the series by several UK songwriters including Jez Lowe, drawing inspiration from interviews with Olympic athletes taking part and people who were there. A six-part series of one hour duration each, it was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 during the Olympic Games in July/August 2012.


Note: All of Jez Lowe's albums have been released on CD with the exception of his self-titled debut album from 1982. However, the contents of that entire album are available as bonus tracks in the CD reissues of The Old Durham Road and Galloways

Jez Lowe
  • The Ballad Beyond (2014)
  • Heads Up: 18 Essential Jez Lowe Songs (2012)
  • Jack Common's Anthem (2007)
  • Back Shift: a collection of songs from 1980 to 1986 (1992) [17 tracks. 14 previously released and 3 are live/alternative versions of previously released songs]
  • Bad Penny (1988)
  • Galloways Fellside FE 049 (1985)[1]
  • The Old Durham Road Fellside FE 034 (1983)[2]
  • Jez Lowe Fellside FE 023 (1980)[3]
Jez Lowe and the Bad Pennies
  • Wotcheor! (2010)
  • Northern Echoes: Live on the Tyne (2008) (two discs – CD live Feb. 2008; DVD live Nov. 2007)
  • Tantobie Twinset – The Parish Notices + Honesty Box (2007)
  • Doolally (2004)
  • Honesty Box (2002)
  • Live at the Davy Lamp (2000)
  • The Parish Notices (1998)
  • Tenterhooks (1995)
  • Bede Weeps (1993)
  • Briefly on the Street (1990)
CD reissues with additional tracks
  • The Parish Notices (Green Linnet 1998 CD)
    • Reissue: The Parish Notices – The Art Edition Tantobie 2003, with 3 previously unreleased tracks
  • Tenterhooks (Green Linnet 1995 CD)
    • Reissue: Tenterhooks – The Art Edition Tantobie 2005, with six bonus tracks from the 1994 album Banners
  • Bad Penny (Fellside 1988 LP)
    • Reissues: In the US (1995) on Firebird CD and in the UK (1996) on Fellside CD 1995. Includes an extra track recorded in 1988, but left off the original LP release.
  • Two A Roue (Fellside 1986 LP)
    • Reissue: Tantobie CD 2001 with 3 extra tracks recorded in 2001.
  • Galloways (Fellside 1985 LP)
    • Reissue: Musica Pangaea CD 1996 USA, with 6 additional tracks, being Side A of the Jez Lowe album, 1980
  • The Old Durham Road (Fellside 1983 LP)
    • Reissue: Fellside CD 1999 with 5 additional tracks, being Side B of the Jez Lowe album, 1980
Collaborative albums
  • Banners: Music For East Durham – Jez Lowe and Easington District Musicians (1994)
  • Jake Walton & Jez Lowe – Two A Roue Fellside FE 055 (1986)[4]
Other connected albums
  • Kate Bramley – Fighting The Tide: a play by Kate Bramley (2002) (all 12 songs written by Jez Lowe)
  • Sight Rhymes – Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies (2007)


  1. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Record Source Book; 2nd ed.; p. 265
  2. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Record Source Book; 2nd ed.; p. 265
  3. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Record Source Book; 2nd ed.; p. 265
  4. ^ Pohle, Horst (1987) The Folk Record Source Book; 2nd ed.; p. 265

External links[edit]