The first thing to realize about Bill Jones is that Bill isn't short for William -- it's an abbreviation of Belinda. Once you've taken that on board, you're ready to understand one of the more interesting young roots performers to come out of Britain. Born in Staffordshire, she grew up with music around the house; her father played fiddle in a ceilidh band and accompanied Morris dancers, while her part-Indian mother was a huge Buddy Holly fan, singing his songs as she did the housework. Jones herself proved to be a precocious musical talent, as she began classical piano and flute lessons while still young and also playing traditional music with her father. At the age of 11, Jones went to a boarding school that specialized in music, with the intention of becoming a classical pianist. She remained there five years before dithering about qualifications that would get her into university. But after a year and a half of an arts degree at Middlesex University, she dropped out, ending up at London's City University on a course that included plenty of ethnomusicological study, all the while playing in rock bands, one of which, the Wide Wound, brought her to playing accordion. For her college undergraduate thesis, she performed folk songs and put together a Morris dance team, then moved to the North East of England teaching and preparing a solo act. Her debut came in May 1999 and after a summer of playing anywhere and everywhere, she recorded her debut, Turn to Me, and continued to gig while still earning a living through teaching. Jones' breakthrough came in September 2000 when she was featured on a BBC radio folk show. In the wake of that, Turn to Me hit the folk charts for four months, followed by her sophomore effort, Panchpuran, on her own label (it was released September 2001 on Compass in the U.S.), and a summer of playing European festivals. In the autumn, she released a four-track EP, Bits & Pieces, and put together a band, the Bill Jones Band, to go on the road with her. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi
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