Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra - Direct from the Shire

Releasing new albums without a record label is an expensive game... Donate to the creation of more fine music here.


Top  Upcoming Gigs
October 4th Thu
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Nottingham University
October 5th Fri
7:30pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Songs from the Curate`s Lounge, Long Buckby
2019 May 18th Sat
8:00pm - 10:30pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Glenbuchat Hall, Strathdon

Top  A strange calm...

From the strange calm of my perch here in the front of the van, bathed in morning sunshine and sheltered from the whistling north wind, the relentless cavalry charge of white topped waves gallop towards the north Kent coast. Gulls hang, near motionless in the stiff breeze. A buzzard hovers below the cliff-top, feathers ruffled, body buffeted but gaze fixed, while the van shudders and rocks slightly under the enormous weight of the wind.

I’ve been laying low for a few days after three months of rushing around like the proverbial blue-arsed fly, promoting the run of concerts we just played. And what a joy it was to play them. My deepest thanks go out to all who came to hear us, all who fed, house and welcomed us, and to the fine musicians with whom I’m lucky enough to work, and indeed sing.

On the subject of singing, if anyone happens to have a shaky (or otherwise) phone video of our last song at The Old Queen’s Head, I’d love to hear whether it sounded as good from the outside as it felt from the inside. For a piece learned that lunchtime in a snatched hour in an overheating mobile classroom, it seemed to come off beautifully. Thanks immensely to Dominie Hooper for being a veritable Julie Andrews to these bristly and misshapen Von Trapps.

As with the juxtaposition of a warm calm perch in a howling gale, it can be hard to reconcile the warm glow of such a musical triumph with the juddering rattle of the accompanying financial disaster. I really shouldn’t be surprised by now, but hey ho, without an unhealthy dose of optimism, I wouldn’t have made it this far. The fact is that a predilection for playing ensemble music is an expensive game, however glorious it sounds. I must count my blessings. Just think of the 13 piece funk bands of this world.

Talking of ensemble music, James Patrick Gavin has composed and fashioned a beautiful debut album with an irresistible concept, featuring some of the finest musical exiles in London and beyond. Anyone who loves music should really have a copy in their collection.

Early bird tickets for the album launch at Union Chapel on February 5th finish on the 21st of November at 10am and they are only £10. This will be a one-time joining of forces by all those involved with making the album, playing together in one of the best venues across the UK. If you`ve never been to Union Chapel, it`ll take your breath away. If you have, you know just how many tickets we need to sell! Come and join us.

Anyway, we at The Djukella Orchestra have a chance to break-even by Christmas as we’re about to head up to Scotland for the second leg of the tour. We’ll be starting at the Eyemouth Hippodrome on December 1st and making our way around the country from the Borders to the Highlands and back again. If you’ve friends in Scotland, please help us to spread the word. We’re playing some fantastic venues and looking forward to catching up with all the friendly faces we know, but it’ll be delightful to see some new ones too. For those of you in Glasgow, no-one would book us, apart from our old mates at The Star who gave us a half-hour support slot, so if you can muster the spirit/train-fare to get to Kilbarchan or Edinburgh (calm down, now…) I’d really recommend it, as we’re playing a proper show in the coolest secret venue in Scotland, and you will love it, whatever your thoughts on Auld Reekie.

For the rest of you, I’m sure you’re aware that Christmas is coming and CDs (particularly our latest album, wrapped as it is in my mum’s finest jam, or James`, with his fat chewing lady) make the perfect presents for your relatives, friends, lovers, work colleagues, school-teachers and lollipop ladies, to name but a few. We’ll even do some irresistible discounts if you want to buy them in bulk, or send one to your favourite radio show, asking to hear it on the air.

For the new-fangled, phone-savvy and CD-free amongst you, all the albums are available to download digitally.

Now I must pluck up the courage to face the admin, find an internet connection, send out press-releases for our Scots tour and start trying to get some gigs rolling in for next year. If you’ve a favourite festival (folk or otherwise), venue or house-concert, why not ask them to book us? Word of mouth from bona-fide music-lovers is truly the only way we ever get through, and from now until Christmas is when they’re open to suggestions. I’ll send out a few hundred emails all the same and maybe even receive a couple of replies, but an out-of-the-blue recommendation goes a long way.

As I look up from my typing (such as it is) the cavalry have diminished to trotting ponies, and the vast salt-sands, strewn with seaweed and assorted flotsam are laid bare by the now retreating tide.

Posted: 14th Nov 2017 | Contact