Jon Wood
ONE to five: Origins 1 | Origins 2 | Track by Track

ONE to five: Origins 2

How the album came together

August 4th, 2000, Lorient Festival, France - The Fold's biggest gig to that date. A stage as big as
the pyramid stage at Glastonbury (probably bigger, in fact); TV crews, great crowd etc. Returning
home it felt a little like 'what can we do to top that?'. With a six-week gap to the next gig, I
retreated into the world of acoustic guitar. Re-tuning to DADGAD and having a good old noodle
about, I came up with "The Clown", which is the hidden track on the album.

I then rediscovered a birthday present that Steve (bass player in The Fold) had given me many
years before. This was a great tape and tablature booklet of Richard Thompson tunes. I set about
learning three or four pieces; beautiful Celtic pieces from the tape, mostly in DADGAD tuning. One
piece was in FGDGCD tuning. The FG part of this tuning is great for creating a bass-line for
instrumentals and this led me to write the track "Tuning, Drop Out" on the album. Incidentally,
Steve also bought me an E-Bow a couple of years back - so perhaps I'll start using that too in
about five years' time!

Eric Roche live

A little after this time, I heard the track "The Perculator" by Eric
on a sampler CD. The sound of the Lowden guitar on the
recording blew me away, it was so clear and powerful at the same time. At that moment I decided
I wanted a guitar that could sound like that. I went to see the brilliant Lewes guitar maker Nick
Benjamin and played him the track. After ten seconds he said 'cedar top, mahogany sides', even
though at the time he had not heard of Eric Roche or knew what type of guitar he played! (Of
course, now Eric owns a Benjamin guitar - but that's another story - see Nick's
for details.)

So I ordered a left-handed Benjamin guitar and in the nine months it took for it to arrive, I wrote
"Tightrope" and most of "Slow Burn" anticipating its arrival. When it did arrive I decided there and
then I wanted to record with it at some point, as it makes such a lovely sound. Update, 2015: It
still does and it is often still in DADGAD!

My Benjamin guitar
(No. 29 and still the only left-handed model made to date)

I then wrote "125 mph" and "Sorry I missed your Birthday" plus also a number of other
instrumentals that didn't make the cut. At this point it was a case of "I'll get around to it at some
point in the future". But then that all changed!

New Year's Eve 2002

Eamon McLoughlin, The Fold's original fiddle player, was in town for a few days. Eamon has lived in
Austin, Texas for about nine years now and is a member of The Greencards as well as making a living
as a session player. I mentioned to Eamon the idea of us playing some duets on an album I was
planning. Eamon told me that he had no plans to return to the UK for two years and if we were going
to do it, it had to be now! (This was after numerous pints of ale!) So we rehearsed New Year's Day
(complete with hangovers) and recorded January 3rd and Eamon flew home on the 4th. I was (and
am) really pleased with these duets (tracks one and eleven) and then felt bound to complete the
project (but still take 15 months over it!).

The Greencards circa 2003. Eamon is on the left.

From a set of instrumentals to something else

I started out thinking this was going to be like a Pierre Bensusan or Eric Roche totally-instrumental
project, but a) I can't play like either of those esteemed players and b) I've always been first and
foremost a songwriter anyway. So I decided to go for a mix of songs and instrumentals.

The next mission was to find some guest singers and musicians for the project. Once I'd started
down the road of working with different musicians, I found it quite addictive! I didn't think it would
end up being 14 guests, but that's the way it turned out. When I was 17 I used to sing lead vocals
in a three-piece rock band (the oddly named "Phelma Keys"), and I would sing in folk clubs as
well. I once did a solo spot as a singer-songwriter at one of the legendary Cissbury Ring Free
Festivals (the festivals are legendary, my performance certainly wasn't!). As I was walking down
the hill after my performance I told my friend "You know, I can't really sing can I?" and he said
"That's never stopped Dylan!". However, I rapidly realised that singing is something I'm not really
cut out for! I feel really privileged to have worked with the great singers featured on the album.
They way they take the song and make it their own is a wonderful thing to observe happen.