Words by Adam Tudhope
Early in my career I came into the orbit of this incredibly charismatic artist. I was fairly new to London. University was behind me, and I had various part-time jobs keeping me going.
Jont’s great genius was his ability to bring people together and his Unlit shows at the 12 Bar Club in Denmark Street were among my first memories of being at events that were tied together by a sense of community. It was more than just a few bands playing one after another; it was a carefully curated bill and Jont was at the middle of it all as the master of ceremonies. It was a special environment and one I wanted to be part of creating myself in the future. It later expressed itself most completely in the Gentlemen of the Road events that we produced with Mumford & Sons. More about that elsewhere.
Long before Sofar, Mahogany and La Blogotheque, Jont had the idea of playing in people’s homes. Another brilliantly inspired idea. The way he took Unlit on tour was by inviting his fans to host a party at their house for a night, and to put him up, and if he could make it work he would route a course around the UK or the US. It got him around to many interesting places, and to meet hundreds of his fans close up.
I’ve been hugely inspired by this over the years, and have always encouraged artists who can play live brilliantly (the only kind I’ve managed!) to just play. Doesn’t need to be a perfect sound system, or a perfect stage, or a massive audience.. and especially early in an artist’s career the more they play the better they’ll get at doing it.
Check out the wedding scene in Love Actually and look for the musician in the pulpit.