Jinx Lennon and Paula Flynn at the Flat Lake Festival
There are moments in art, science and human endeavour when an innovator does a lot more than just win the race a tad faster or sell a few more tickets to the show, they actually seriously move things on and make everything that went before look like history - Look back in Anger, Anarchy in the UK, the Fosbury Flop etc etc.
It’s not always immediately evident and sometimes it’s a simple pop song or a fashion accessory that in retrospect can be seen to have decoded the zeitgeist. Spotting these cultural phenomena ahead of the pack is a pastime of mine; so, that said:
At the end of August, I was at the first Flat Lake Literary and Arts Festival in Ireland very close to the border with the North. There were only a few hundred local punters present plus the same amount of assorted artists, creatives and crew. The sound man in the tent I was stage managing, the bloke who rigged the lights and another Clones local - the woman serving beer; all independently recommended that I make time to see Jinx Lennon. “Oh yeah, what does he do then?” I asked. Not one of them could give me a satisfactory answer; which I’ve learned is always a good sign. It panned out that I actually met the man before I saw him perform; he was a judge in the talent contest we staged and I hosted in our Circus tent. At one point I needed a chair for a singer songwriter and quietly asked Jinx to give up his seat (the rest of the room were sat on large cumbersome hay bales) “And just what am I gonna sit on?” He said gruffly. Before I could answer him, his friend and fellow judge Paula Flynn quickly gave up her seat. The next time I saw her was on stage alongside Jinx in the packed Butty Barn (the festival’s main venue) and it was her that once again I warmed to first.
Jinx Lennon’s tough love lyrics – a mix of cornerboy street lingo with the politics of peace and reconciliation accompanied variously on acoustic guitar and a dinky toy Casio keyboard, are given added dimension by Paula’s quirky and confident Marilyn Monroe-style vocals. Jinx’s delivery ranges from relentless ranting to larky laddish skat singing but his duos with Paula bring out a tenderness in him not heard in his solo pieces. My friend Rory Motion, himself a performing wordsmith, was gob-smacked; he described what we were watching as a cross between Flann O’Brien, Captain Beefheart and Ian Paisley. Bizarrely, he was spot on. Along with Keith Allen, Kevin Allen and a celeb-studded crowd, Rory was one of the first on his feet greeting every number with a standing ovation. It took me a little longer, but there’s no doubting that Jinx Lennon is a scary talent who is moving the artistic boundaries, winning friends and definitely influencing people with songs-cum-poems-cum-rants like You Must Forgive The Cunts and Stop Giving Out About Nigerians. For sure, this won’t be the last you’ll hear about Jinx and Paula.
Tony Allen 30th August 2007