Jonny Brick talks about A COUNTRY WAY OF LIFE at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Name: Jonny Brick
Name of Edinburgh show: A Country Way of Life
Venue: theSpace @ Surgeons’ Hall
Performance time: 10.10pm, August 14-18
Show length: 50m
Ticket price: £6 (£5)
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I was born in Watford and spent a childhood acting in school plays and playing in the school orchestra as a violinist. I picked up the guitar at 16, learned chords and songs and wrote some of my own. I was bitten by the Fringe bug as a student up in Edinburgh, but never thought I’d perform my own show until about 2017, when I set the wheels in motion.
Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It’s an introduction through song on how to live life according to tenets of country music. It’s much more than doggone dogs getting doggone gone: it teaches you how to fall in love, be in love and what happens when you fall out of love. There are songs for drinking and for being the best person you can be. It’s more fun than scripture…
I really want to be an evangelist for a genre which has mutated and evolved since country music was first recorded for commercial consumption in the 1920s.
I do a lot of podcasting and journalism, so this is a stage-show version of a conversational, educational and musical show. I’ll have a guitar in hand and a jukebox in my head, as well as spouting country music trivia.
How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I first had the seed idea for the show in 2015, when I began to pay attention to country music on US radio. Country music is timeless, as shown by the songs of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Garth Brooks. It’s also taken a very poppy direction in recent years so people outside the heartland of America can dig it: Nashville, the epicentre of the genre, is fast becoming a destination for bachelor and hen parties.
I hope to attract American fans of the genre, but in the UK country has never been bigger with acts playlisted on Radio 2 and playing huge venues and festivals like Country2Country and The Long Road.
Country music appeals to anyone who likes melody, emotion and storytelling. I’ve also been writing songs inspired by traditional and modern country, which I might include in the setlist, which will change for every show. Requests can be made @CountryWOL on Twitter.
Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Don’t overdo it. Eat on the move. And don’t be afraid to make friends: I bumped into someone who became a good friend at a comedy show in 2009!
I’d also always chat to the performer if time allows after the show both to boost their ego and to make their visit to the Fringe worthwhile. There are so many top performers and it means the world that you as a punter have chosen their hour of entertainment. This works in reverse for the performer, who should welcome audience interaction on social media and in person. Who knows, the tiny show you saw could take over the world within five years and you can say you were there first…
What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I will never forget the time I didn’t pick up a pivotal prop, a map, when playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island. I improvised my way out of it…
Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
In terms of musical performers, Billy Connolly combined storytelling with music and put his total personality into the performance. I can rattle off names of young musicians in the UK country scene but Ben Earle, the bloke from The Shires, has led the movement with his talent, passion and dreadlocks. Even Ed Sheeran’s a fan!
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Aside from wondering if the audience will like it, just strumming whatever comes into my head to warm my fingers up.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
There are so many brilliant shows at theSpace, where I am performing, that I will try to catch some of the many a cappella, musical and dramatic shows there. If you want a whole day of country music, try shows about Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
If you want to see some fun, raunchy comedy come out of a face in which butter would seemingly not melt, Evelyn Mok is your girl. Graham Norton sat next to me when I caught her last year and he was chortling away!
Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
It’s a fun and educational look at one of the most popular art forms of the last century, which makes them think and dance in equal measure. The show builds up to a fun climax involving a song I think is country.