Ahead of his intimate performance at the end of September, Rik Jones and his dad, Chris, join me in the café as Rik speaks candidly about his music, his life growing up and his experiences living with sight loss, more specifically, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a sight condition prevalent in babies born before 32 weeks. Here is a little taster of what you can expect from his upcoming show, ‘An Evening with Rik Jones’.
Tell me about your music?
How I got into music is a very special story, one that involves the special people in my life, it’s a story that I don’t want to give too much away on as this is what you can expect from my upcoming show.
For me, music is something that I just took to, I was never interested in football as I can’t see. While other kids were out in the street with their footballs, I was sat out with my acoustic guitar. I’ve grown up around music, I have great memories of family do’s, we would all sit round on chairs, some drinking sherry, and others rum and black, and we’d all just sing together. The thing with music is that it comes from you, you don’t need anybody else, just a pair of ears.
When I was younger, I would emulate a lot of what I heard, a lot influenced by my dad, Oasis, Cast, The Jam, U2 and so on. I’m self-taught, I play the guitar, drums, bass, harmonica, and ukulele. I’ve been lucky enough to support John Power from Cast, The Songbook Collective (Paul Wellers Band) and the Real People. I’ve played at the Echo Arena, at a celebration of The Jam.
When did you start writing music?
I only started to write my own music in my 20’s when my vocal coach and now friend, BBMAK’s Ste McNally, asked if I’d ever thought about writing my own stuff. I told myself I would have a go and write five songs, get them on a CD and then tell myself I’ve done it, anyway, I’ve done 5 albums now. A lot of my songs draw from life experiences and others are inspired by random things I come across, like interviews on the tele.
Living with sight loss, how does your music help you?
For me, when you’re on that stage those two hours, you’re on a level with everybody else, there’s nobody excluding you, for those two hours, you’re in charge.
I get many people after performances asking me ‘how do you play if you can’t see?’ I feel like people have underestimated me because of my sight, but for me, the main thing is that my family, mum, dad, and grandparents, let me try, and they still do. There’s nothing off limits. My dad says other musicians are fascinated with the way I play, I don’t play the way musicians ‘should’ or the way teachers have tried to teach me, my style is very different, but it works.
What can we expect from this upcoming performance?
I’ll be playing a mix of my personal favourites along with some originals. Lockdown put a halt on the show, so I’m just really excited to do the performance and tell stories in an environment that they deserve to be told in, let’s just say you’ll need a tissue.
Chris (Rik’s Dad)
When I was a young dad, I remember seeing other dads shouting to their sons ‘go on lad!’ when their sons would be running to that goal or scoring a try. Well, I get that same feeling when Rik plays the guitar and I see that audience response.
You’ve decided to donate all ticket proceeds to Dementia UK, can you tell me a little bit about that?
Dementia personally affected our family when my grandma, Veronica, was diagnosed just as I turned 21 and sadly passed away in 2016. My grandma loved my music, she’d always turn up to my gigs. There’s a piece of my grandma in this upcoming show, you can learn more about her and the impact she had on my life and my music in the performance.