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Diana and her Epiphone

A Conversation with Diana Jones (continued)

PM: So although we were among the army of people that were more than taken--taken back, is more like it--with your debut, My Remembrance of You, who knew that it would have legs to travel the world and still be going strong after all this time?

DJ: Yeah, it's really been quite a year.

PM: It's just unbelievable. First of all, how long has it been out, at this point?

DJ: It was a year in April. It was just released in the UK this month. And I'm looking in my book to see how many shows I have in April, but let's see--I had a show in Germany and a show in Holland, and then I had--two, three, four--five shows in the UK. And I did two BBC shows. And every show was sold out.

PM: And that was in 2006 or this year?

DJ: This year, that was my first time here.

PM: And they just released it in the UK, and yet the shows were sold out.

DJ: Yeah, the CD was self-released in the US. But Bob Harrison played it a lot, and has gotten a lot of play on BBC2, too, so that really helps over here. And I think also I just got signed with Paul Fenn. We booked most of the shows, but then Paul booked a couple, and then just with his influence, and him putting the word out, I think--it was interesting, I mean, it just was really an amazing feeling to have that many people excited in a country I'd never been to.

PM: Well, I think it's indicative, too, of the fact that the people in the UK, both in folk and country music, get into certain kinds of things, certain things that they perceive to be very authentic and very real.

DJ: Yeah.

PM: And you're squarely in that category, not because of any cogitation or strategy on your part, but just where you're truly coming from. And they really get that. So I'm not surprised that they come in droves.

DJ: Well, and I think also the place that this music comes from, it's really the British Isles originally, and it got filtered through the Appalachians. So there's a language bringing it back over here, I think there's sort of a memory of it, there's sort of a context for it in the old English music.

PM: Yeah, I certainly, as a person with four Irish grandparents, certainly feel that the whole Americana scene, really, came from there, the whole folk scene, the whole bluegrass scene, that's just how it is.

DJ: Right.

PM: So My Remembrance of You certainly gathered amazing airplay and press. Maybe you'd help me with the list of accolades, if your humility permits. I know it was number one for 2006 in the Chicago Tribune, which is quite some feat, and it looked to be number three in the Folk Radio Chart of that year. Is that right?

DJ: Yeah.

PM: That's pretty amazing.

DJ: Yeah, it was. I think I was number three, and I was like the number three artist, or something, too. And "Pretty Girl" was number one for three months almost, Folk DJ Chart, it was the number one song. And we had a bunch of other songs that charted in different places.

PM: Number one for three months, wow. And as great a song as "Pretty Girl" is, it still gets eclipsed by the really legendary song, "Pony," which to me is the standout song on the record.

DJ: Thanks. Yeah, a lot of people relate to "Pony," I think.

PM: Yeah, "Pony"--I've said it before, it's one of the great folk songs of all time.

DJ: Well, thank you.

PM: I can't imagine how a friend of mine actually came up with that song.


DJ: That's sweet.

PM: It's kind of an awesome feat. And now the album has been picked up by Ryko Distribution. Now the people who have been meaning to buy it will all have a chance to get it.

DJ: Yeah, that will be nice, because it was hard to have a record out there and people saying, "Where can we get it?" And of course you can get it online, and a lot of people do shop online these days. But to not be able to pick it up in a record store and see it and hold it, I think a lot of people still buy that way.

PM: Yeah, because I think in this day and age there are still plenty of people who have trouble using their credit card online.

DJ: Yeah, I'm always a little worried about it.

PM: I can't imagine--I mean, I think the day will soon come when there's a whole lot less shopping except online, but it's not here yet. But where this activity has really paid off, in my mind, is how the gigs have flowed in, remarkably. Now you're opening for Richard Thompson in the UK, I mean, wow!

DJ: I know. I know. I try not to think about it, because I get kind of nervous.

PM: I think he is the best solo artist in the world, hands down, end of story. [see our review of his concert DVD]

DJ: Yeah, I know. I'm such a huge fan. And since it came in that I was going to do the tour--I've got one show with him on this tour, in Cardiff next week, and then I come back and do, gosh, a bunch of dates with him in October, so it's going to be a big month. Yeah, I've just been kind of assimilating that information for a while. [laughs]

PM: Yeah, I mean--

DJ: I can't quite believe it myself. It's kind of like opening for Bob Dylan.

PM: Yeah, very much so.

DJ: Holy moly!

PM: Very much so. Unlike Bob Dylan, I've never considered listening to Richard Thompson's albums my idea of a good time, exactly, but seeing his show--

DJ: Right.

PM: --now, that's a different thing, because he's awesome live.

DJ: See, I've never seen him live, but I really have been just a huge fan of his recordings. I just feel so blessed to get to see the shows; that's going to be amazing.

PM: Oh, he is stultifying live. He's one of the few guys you can see that gets up there not only with the Sunrise pickup, but with that huge thing that--I forget what the hell it is, exactly. It looks like a car battery--


PM: --that has to do with the ultimate delivery of that sound. When I run this interview I'll correct whatever the technical information is, but it's some kind of like a big preamplifier, is what it amounts to. His sound guy travels with a little suitcase, and it's got that thing in it.

Sunrise Tube Interface

[It's the Sunrise Tube Interface, pictured here without the vented top. It costs three grand and sounds like it, too.]

DJ: Wow.

PM: It's got the thing and two pedals. It has to do with the delivery of the Sunrise pickup in its most ultimate form. And his guitar sound is frickin' scary.

DJ: That'll be a cool thing to check out, just the tech stuff.

PM: Exactly, because that's as far as the acoustic guitar sound has gone, it's that. [IMHO.]

DJ: Yeah.

PM: And nobody much will carry this thing around except him, but people do the Sunrise with the Pendulum, or something like that, which also sounds great. And that's a good way to do it, too. So how did the bill with Thompson come together? What was that fortuitous happening?

DJ: Well, Paul's [Fenn] son works with the guy who books--or who I guess was managing this tour for Richard Thompson. And so they were looking for someone to open the tour. And since the UK tour happened, they've now added a week and a half of European dates as well, so that's really nice. But he sort of got it through Paul. The interesting thing was, Paul took me on without ever having seen me.

PM: Wow.

DJ: Just heard the record. And so I had a show in London last time, and Paul came. And I wish I could remember the guy's name, but he's Richard's guy. The two of them came to the show together. And it was funny, because it was an L-shaped room, and there were so many people in it, the only place for him to sit was like right in front of me. No pressure, you know.


DJ: I had just gotten a 50 pound parking ticket, which is about $100. We were not having a good day. I get into London, and we had driven to the BBC, and I don't even know how the rental car didn't get like completely smashed up in London, but it didn't. Anyway, so we finally get to the gig, and there they are in front of me. And it just ended up being a really magical night. I mean, the audience gave us so much energy back that every show was just kind of exhilarating. It was really amazing. So we did the show, and they were both sort of scheming about the next tour as I was playing. I think they were both feeling pretty good about it. And he was feeling good about me opening up for Richard, although most of it was booked. Then they booked the European leg after they saw me live.

PM: So the European leg, will you play Germany?

DJ: Actually, the European leg is interesting. I just put a record out with Jonathan Byrd.

PM: Right. What's it called?

DJ: It's called Radio Soul. And we're doing two weeks starting the last week of September. We did two weeks in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

PM: Will you play Heidelberg?

DJ: I don't see that, no, I don't think so.

PM: Too bad. If you get a Heidelberg date added, you got to meet my brother Billy over there. [www.billygoodman.com]

DJ: I would love to, that would be so much fun.

PM: He's a real character and a great player.

DJ: Yeah, cool.

PM: But those dates are with Jonathan Byrd?

DJ: Up until the 7th. And then on the 8th, in Brussels, with Richard Thompson. And then Amsterdam on the 9th, back to Brussels on the 10th, back to Holland on the 11th, and then Paris on the 13th.

PM: Holy jeez!

DJ: And then we're in Glasgow on the 15th. And then we're back in the UK for two weeks.

PM: You just must be trippin', girlfriend, right?

DJ: I am trippin'. [laughs]

PM: Wow.

DJ: I mean, even to just say that to you is like--I'm like, "Who is saying that? It couldn't be me." So it's really strange. I think P. and I were at the airport the other day, my manager, we're sitting there just having a cup of tea before I left. And I forget what it was I said, but it was just something really funny like, "I'll call you once I talk to the London people"--you know, it was something like that. And I was like, "Can you believe we're saying that to each other?"


DJ: It was just really funny.

PM: Right. "I'll call you from Prague," exactly.

DJ: It was just one of those moments where we were just like, "Wow, we weren't saying this stuff a year ago."

PM: Yeah, you were saying, "I'll call you from Lexington."

DJ: Exactly, yeah. "When I make it to Johnson City, I'll call you."

              Johnson City here I come  



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