S.J. Downes’ work spans the worlds of roots, folk, blues and old time, influenced by musicians and writers from the 1920s and beyond. Drawing inspiration from spirituality to the natural world - the macro to the micro - his meditative productions have a conscious and hopeful energy present throughout.
Mellowtone’s relationship with S.J. Downes began back in 2007 when the traveling bluesman first called Liverpool his home, with Mellowtone promoting his debut live performance in the city. He also featured on Mellowtone Records’ inaugural compilation, ‘Ten Years’, in 2014. Downes’ time in Liverpool also saw the start of a long time collaboration with Never Records - an art project by New York artist and musician Ted Riederer, where he travels to a city, and opens a pop up record shop and recording studio, cutting live records throughout. Downes has since recorded at ‘Never Records’ exhibits in Derry, London, New Orleans, Amman, Kansas City, and Brooklyn - the only musician to play every event.
"Cradled in his hands the guitar transforms into an instrument of divination. I have witnessed SJ Downes channel resonant frequencies in a cave at Petra, underneath radio towers on the Kansas prairie, and seated on a levee on the banks of the Mississippi. I testify that his ability to improvise, as if the notes were spontaneously conjured by the music, is perhaps one of my greatest inspirations for continuing on my musical path.”
Ted Riederer, Never Records
“as authentic as you can get”
"Downes’ folk-laden roadhouse blues is evocative of Duke Garwood scrapping with the junk yard dogs; his creamy purr resonating with the audience"
“celebrating the vast array of early blues talent, now oft-forgotten with the passing of time”
“the crowd sit quietly and appreciatively before what rapidly became a blues masterclass”
'a wonderful player'
Roots & Fusion Radio
“A beautiful arrangement and a must for all “
"A masterclass in blues guitar"
Chris Currie, Mersey Radio
"beatifully recorded, very bluesy"