Breathing new life into Thackray

Jake in the Box, aka Ron Middleton and Paul Kearns, are a double act with a mission in life – to breath new life into the songs of Jake Thackray.

The Derbyshire duo have been mates since their university days and always had a shared love of music and performing. 

Paul, 60 a special needs teacher who lives at Matlock Bath studied guitar at the Musicians’ Institute, London, and Ron 59, a former civil engineer and college lecturer, whose home is in Wirksworth, loves acting and story telling.

It was in the late 80s when Ron heard Mike Harding peforming Thackray’s On Again On Again at the Stainsby Festival that his passion for the poignant yet hilarious music was rekindled.

“I had a grin on my face all the way home as I recalled songs I had heard on That’s Life and On the Braden Beat. I knew that Paul would be as keen on the guitar music as I was with the lyrics and so I suggested we had a go at reproducing it just for fun,” explained Ron.

“That was it – we became hooked. We researched his music more, practiced a lot and started performing occasionally at open mic nights and village events.

“They are brilliantly crafted songs and we are committed to producing as close an authentic sound as we can to the orginal versions. 

“We hope that people view us as much more than just a tribute act as we have such an affection for the music.

“This is a fun hobby that we love. We get such a buzz when we are out there performing and people come up to us afterwards and say they remember Jake.”

Jake in the Box now have a repertoire of about 20 songs and have built up quite a following – last year they are proud to say that they had a gig at Maddy Prior’s Stepping Stones Festival in Cumbria.

This month they are performing closer to home – at the Coach House Studios in Wirksworth with special guest Julian Badcock – on May 11 at 8pm. Tickets are 7.50 on the door and £5 in advance from Marsden’s Gift Shop in the Market Place, Wirksworth. Click here for details of future gigs.