Jont- Church on SundayEntertainment — By Bernard Samms on June 4, 2013 at 1:26 am
Jont is a British singer/songwriter who recently arrived to live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While best known for having his music featured on various US TV shows (including Grey’s Anatomy) and the hit film Wedding Crashers – he has also built a significant global community through the success of his innovative traveling house concert series – Unlit. These concerts and webisodes had became a “viral internet phenomenon” by 2008 (The Guardian, UK),culminating in the sponsorship by UK mobile phone giant, Orange – who used the touring films as part of a huge marketing campaign. His Troubadour Journey saw him set off at the end of 2010 on a spiritual odyssey to be a troubadour for real – to travel with no plan, and to just let his songs organically lead him round the world – which concluded in a tumultuous climax.
The journey started in Australia, where after a serendipitous introduction to meditation by an acupuncturist, he had a real breakthrough in how he sang and played his music, and wrote the centerpiece of the new album, the epic “Teardrops & Pennies.” Inspired, the trip then took him onward through Italy, Germany, France and the UK. In Los Angeles in January 2012, he made the real, life-changing discovery that this journey had been leading up to. He discovered what many troubadours probably don’t dare to find out – that he had an eight year old daughter, living in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
“Basically,” says Jont, “after finishing this really intense meditation course there was just something I really wanted to clear up with an old friend, that wasn’t totally transparent”. On his return from the retreat, he contacted this old friend and found out that yes, he was indeed the father of her beautiful girl. He flew out two weeks later to Halifax and after a magical reunion, it was a “no-brainer” that he would move there for the rest of her childhood and that this phase of the Troubadour Journey was now officially over!
Before the Troubadour Journey began, Jont had a colorful childhood, growing up outside New York and then in London. As a teen he attended the world-famous Eton College and one day as a 17-year old found himself sitting at a dinner next to Princess Diana with her asking him if he was a boxer or a y-front man. On leaving school he travelled across the US, followed The Grateful Dead and interviewed 23 of the most well-known living American poets, ending up having dinner with Allen Ginsberg in his Lower East Side apartment, chatting about his old mates Kerouac and Burroughs. For a short while he then became a spin bowler for a professional cricket team, Middlesex County Cricket Club, alongside his heroes from childhood who just a few years before he had been asking for autographs. Soon enough he turned his hand to writing songs and organizing underground music events and his true creative life began.
Meanwhile, Jont’s albums have received critical acclaim with 4 stars in Q (“so lovely it makes you want to hug strangers in the street”), 4 stars in UNCUT ( “achingly beautiful under-stated melodies”, Nigel Williamson) and the album Supernatural continues simply through word of mouth to sell well around the world.
But it is the intense and magical context of meeting his daughter for the first time that has inspired the vibe of Jont’s new and most complete album yet, Hello Halifax. Recorded in both London, Wales and Nova Scotia, with great musicians from both countries, it is made up of the songs that accompanied him on his Troubadour Journey and ones he wrote on the way.
Jont’s song, “Church on Sunday,” is a song of hope and love, that addresses the purity of children, the spirit of love and life in their eyes and his primary message, that you don’t have to go to church on Sunday to deliver a spirit of love and giving.
To create a warm vibe, full of the colours, soul and emotion necessary, Jont mixed at The Maid’s Room in New York – a legendary studio in the Lower East Side where Devendra Banhart mixed his most recent album, and where Rufus Wainright recorded Want 1 & 2. He also pursued (as he did with Supernatural) an unconventional recording technique, recording all his vocal and guitar takes together live with no click track, and then once the best takes had been chosen, overdubbing all the subsequent orchestrations, including drums. The result?
The sound of something truly alive, the authenticity of a great live performer and songwriter who through sheer life-experience has finally reached his full potential, and a host of magical and inventive arrangements that bring out the size and colours of each song until you are swathed with emotion.
Hello Halifax is Jont’s finest moment. “I’m glad it’s not rubbish” says Jont, “otherwise it would be a bit embarassing for my daughter!”
If you’d like to download Jont’s entire new album, it is currently free to download by clicking on this link:
With Jont’s songs of love and inspiration, he clearly proves that love doesn’t have to take place in church on Sunday, it is an everyday practice from which all of us can learn.