2009 Welsh Borders to Nettlebed

The “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” tour

John Jones and the Reluctant Ramblers played their first gig in May 2009, in Hay on Wye, and then walked to the Wychwood Festival via gigs in Titley, Leominster, Hereford and Ledbury. The band for the first few shows consisted of John plus Oysterband’s Dil Davies and Ray Cooper, Al Scott (producer of Rising Road) and Boff from Chumbawamba, and they were later joined by Seth Lakeman and Benji Kirkpatrick. They finally arrived in Nettlebed after completing 133 miles and 8 gigs in 6 counties.

JJ said “It was hard to plan and hard going on a couple of the days but the amazing weather and tremendous spirit of everyone who walked made it a real adventure.Thanks to all who walked, 18 started one day, and we often had 10,and to those who met us on the way and backed us up in vehicles with our bags and instruments. My thanks also to promoters and venues for giving the idea a chance and to everyone who came to see the shows.

Spiral Earth, 1st March 2009 wrote:

“John Jones of Oysterband is pulling on his walking boots in preparation for his latest solo tour, he’ll be walking to and between all the gigs! The tour is appropriately called the ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now tour’. The first leg, in May, will bring him from Herefordshire to Wychwood Festival in Oxfordshire. The second leg sees him hiking to The Big Session, the festival hosted by the Oysterband at De Montfort Hall in Leicester.

Some days will see John powering more than 20 miles over rugged terrain to reach the evening’s destination – only to play a full-blown gig on arrival. He’ll be joined en-route by various Reluctant Ramblers – surprise celebrity guests from the music world who will be pulling on their walking boots and trying to match John step for step. Various Reluctant Ramblers will even be joining him onstage at each of the gigs.

The tour cuts a swathe right through some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, and John says that re-connecting the music with the landscape has been one of the main inspirations behind the tour and his soon-to-be-released solo album: “A lot of the songs I’m singing are traditional, and some of the ones I’ve written for the album have a real sense of place. I’m not a very urban animal; I feel folk music to be rural and open. When I sing, I’m visualising the story, and the landscape is a big part of that. These songs, and this tour, are completely different from what I do with the Oysterband. It’s almost a way of coming at the music at a different pace.

There certainly won’t be any of the usual rock-star embellishments – a hot bath and a hearty pub meal are the most thrilling items on the rider, but John finds this surprisingly appealing: “You know, we’ve come through an extraordinary period of self indulgence – and musicians are always quite indulged! There’s something about walking; it makes you conquer your selfishness and meet very personal challenges. And there’s a great exhilaration in finishing things when there’s pain and a bit of a struggle involved. But you get through that, and it‘s an amazing feeling.”

The first leg of the tour will cover around 100 miles in 8 days of walking; the second approximately 75 miles over 6 days.”