‘Very much part of the UK’s living folk tradition, Wilks excels at reanimating broadside ballads and antique pieces with a scholar’s ear for vernacular and a dashing sense of verve on fingerpicked guitar… Wilks also showcases a trio of original compositions, at his eloquent best on poetic Soho encounter Greek Street.’
Jon Wilks is a prominent fingerpicking guitarist and singer who performs traditional English folk songs and broadside ballads, often specialising in traditional folk songs from Birmingham and the wider Midlands, of which he has recorded two albums, Midlife (2018) and Up the Cut (2021). With his background as a former editor of Time Out magazine and contributor to Dazed & Confused, The Guardian and other publications, Jon has a keen eye and ear for storytelling. During his live shows, he mixes entertaining folk song performances with fascinating tidbits about the original singers and collectors that he has unearthed during his extensive research on traditional folk music in the UK.
Aside from being a talented musician and performer, Jon is also the founder and editor of Tradfolk.co, a website dedicated to the traditional music and ritualistic culture of England.
He co-arranged and performed tracks on Jackie Oates’s Gracious Wings album and was a part of Slow Jane, the quartet that created videos of Nick Drake songs during lockdown.
In addition to his music career, Jon is the presenter of The Old Songs Podcast. His talent has been recognized by Guitarist, one of the world’s biggest guitar magazines, which featured him as one-to-watch in July 2022.
With his fourth solo album, Before I Knew What Had Begun I Had Already Lost (self-released 2023), Jon takes a step away from the Birmingham songs that brought him recognition on his two previous collections and instead focuses on the songs that have moved him most over the last few, difficult years. Still heavily focused on lesser-known traditional songs, the acclaimed guitarist and singer includes three compositions of his own and brings together a collection of musicians that he has grown to love playing with.
‘Sublime Song writing….Wilks is a rather special performer with an authentic and abiding love of traditional song. His enthusiasm for its history, and sheer joy at new discoveries, is palpably irresistible….Above all, it is a bloody good listen.’
FRUK Folk Radio
‘The sort of performer folk circles mean when they talk of the living tradition. Jon’s passion informs his live shows, the songs liberally sprinkled with anecdotes, humour and history, his singing and personality hugely engaging.’
‘Beautiful, delicate with love and loss.’
‘Up The Cut is a beautiful album. Affecting, simple guitar, exquisitely accompanied by Wilks’ authentic, honest voice. A raw, but entirely seductive, performance. One for all lovers of traditional songs delivered with minimal frills.’
Folk Radio UK