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Brand new for 2019, Live at Down Hall is the latest addition to the London music event calendar this summer, and the impressive line-up continues to take shape with British Jamaican R&B and soul singer Ruby Turner the latest name to be announced.
Turner is set to join Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blue Orchestra for an intimate, alfresco music evening set in the grounds of Down Hall Hotel & Spa, on the Essex and Hertfordshire border, on 15 June 2019.
Live at Down Hall will take place across two evenings next month, with Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, along with Ruby Turner and The Selecter, kicking things off on Saturday 15 June and James Morrison headlining the following day.
We caught up with Ruby Turner for an exclusive interview in the lead-up to the event.
What is the attraction of playing at Down Hall?
We have never performed at Down Hall and it’s always exciting to be in a new place. There aren’t many we haven’t yet played! There’s always an element of anticipation before a show, but when people are prepared to spend their evening with you, then that gives you confidence to give your best.
What can we expect from the set list?
The set will be a glorious and joyful selection of every kind of music Jools loves. He’s a real devotee of music – prepare to be entertained and uplifted! The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are all excellent musicians and they know how to throw a party on stage. It’s a powerful experience.
What are you expecting from Live at Down Hall – how does this kind of concert differ from others you’ve played?
We are expecting a fantastic night of great live music at Down Hall. I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Does any concert in particular stand out as a favourite or most memorable?
Performing at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with Jools Holland in 2012 was quite extraordinary. The line-up on stage was incredible and you could feel the love and joy from people who came to Buckingham Palace to join in the celebrations – it was such a wonderful day and such a privilege to be part of it.
Playing the Royal Albert Hall is also always a blessing. It’s such an iconic and beautiful venue and so well supported by music lovers around the world. Just standing on stage, looking out at its majestic hall, makes you feel very humble and lucky to be there.
How far back does your association go with Jools Holland? Can you remember the first time you worked with him? Why has he had such a long career in the business?
I’ve known and worked with Jools going way back to the early 90s. The first time I guested with him was at an event in Birmingham and that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
We spend a lot of time together on tour and I’ll often stay overnight at his family home. We get time to write songs and discuss music and films. He’s got a brilliant sense of humour too.
I respect his work ethic and the way he treats people. When I see him in a work capacity I realise I have so much to learn, he’s always got lyrics lying around. He’ll call me and say he’s got an idea and I’ll go down to his place – it’s easy there, no stress. Jools doesn’t lie about, he is the master of his destiny. I’ve never seen him procrastinating and feeling sorry for himself – he hasn’t got time for that. And that approach fires me up to do stuff too!
He is very respectful of everyone and particularly of all artists and their art. He is always very positive, puts his heart and soul into what he does (there aren’t many people who have been touring with a big band for decades), he is thirsty for knowledge and he is a very accomplished musician who knows a lot about music and many other things.
The music industry has changed significantly over recent years. What are the best and worst things about those changes?
The industry has changed quite significantly since I started in the business. Sadly, the closures of record stores on the high street has been pretty devastating to music makers, but the advent of digital music has allowed more people the freedom to create and promote their own work, which is quite liberating for the young and up-and-coming artists of today.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in music down the years – any in particular stand out among your favourites? Bryan Ferry, UB40, Steve Winwood and Mick Jagger are listed among the people you have collaborated with.
I consider myself most fortunate to have worked with some of the greats in the industry, and they’ve been all memorable.
Some artists are very particular about their rider. Anything in yours that is absolutely essential?
As a vocalist I’m never without my Manuka honey lemon and ginger. I think I can speak for all of us on that.
Your own musical background started in gospel. Can you remember your first performance or the moment you realised you had the talent to make a career out of it?
My first ever performance was walking on the stage of the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham to sing in A Street Car Named Desire. For a 16-year-old it was very exciting, and little did I know how life-changing the experience would be. It opened the door to my life as a recording and touring musician as well as to all the theatre, film and TV work that has come my way ever since.
Are there any musical ambitions you still want to achieve?
As a musician we’re forever striving to create that magical ubiquitous hit song, so it never ends. We love all the anticipation of that elusive track.
Anyone you wished you could have worked with from the past?
I adore Aretha Franklin – a real superstar I would have loved to sing with!
If you could choose one other musician to collaborate with, who would it be?
There are so many wonderful artists out there I wouldn’t be able to choose. I enjoy collaborating with other artists and I’m always open to new ideas.
As well as share a mutual love for what we do, you can always learn so much from other people and their method of working. When you connect it is like magic, you create something you didn’t think you were capable of – hence the reason I love working with Jools Holland.
Creating something new is exciting. Performing it in front of people and seeing them appreciate it – even more so. I have also recently been writing new songs with a young duo and am really enjoying the experience. I’ve been performing the new songs on my recent solo tour and my audience really liked them.
Fans can see Ruby with Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra live on Saturday 15 June. A range of picnic and VIP options are also available.
For tickets for Ruby Turner with Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.