At home with... Jen and Jon
We spend a few minutes catching up with Jen and Jon...
You seem to play a lot of instruments! In some of the videos you're playing four or five different things. Just how many instruments do you play? What are your favourites?
Well, Jon plays most of the instruments in the video. Jen sings, plays guitar and a bit of piano and recorders; we have lost count of the number of stringed instruments we have around the house, but Jon plays them all, with varying levels of expertise! Jon's main instrument is acoustic and electric guitar, but he often plays Bouzouki (which is a Greek instrument, a bit like a mandolin but an octave lower), as well as mandolin, tenor guitar (a four string guitar), banjo, bass guitar, and in latter years he has also been learning to play the violin and cello. He also plays percussion including the djembe drum which is often a feature of our music videos.
What was the first band you were in and what was that like?
We met in Reading in the 80's when we were in a Christian band called The Return which was a sort of goth/alternative/indie band, where Jon played bass, and Jen was the backing singer. We played together in various church music teams over the years, as well as other bands and singing groups. During the 90's, while Jen was studying abroad in France and Italy, Jon was in another indie band and went on tour with them as they who were the support for a band called Eden Burning, (a Christian band who were quite famous - a bit like a Christian version of The Levellers).
How has being musical opened opportunities for you at church and elsewhere?
We moved to the Cotswolds from Reading in the late 1990s and although were involved in worship bands at Stow Baptist Church and The Community Church, we didn't actually start playing together as a duo until a good friend, Jane Gridley encouraged us to join the Folk Gospel and Blues band where we began to make music and put on concerts together Rachel Chai, her sister Cathy, Steve Weston and a host of other local musicians. We then started working on our own particular sound and repertoire, wrote a few songs together and then started performing under the band name Silverthorne, performing at local events, small festivals, pubs, parties etc. But worship is our first love and is really the primary focus of what we do now! We both find it easiest to worship God through music, and although we enjoy playing together as a duo, we really do miss playing and worshipping together with the rest of the music team.
What does worship mean to you?
Music is a wonderful and unique gift that God has placed in the heart of all human beings - it seems that every culture on earth uses music as a means of self expression, of coming together, as a way to connect with others, or as a way to influence or reflect our emotions, and whether you enjoy making music or listening to music, there is no doubt that it is so often used to enrich and enhance our lives. As Christians we have the added bonus that all of us can use music to connect with each other and most importantly to connect with God.
I expect it's been tough not being able to play and sing together with other people. How have you coped with that and what are your plans going forward?
Jon's day job is at Witney College where he works in the Music Technology Department, so he has both the technical expertise and the recording software at home to allow us to produce multi tracked recordings of worship songs, and while some of the songs have just featured the two of us, it is so much more fun and inspiring to produce music with the other members of the team. This hasn't been without its challenges, and very often what you are hearing in our recorded sessions will have taken many hours of work for Jon to produce on Logic software. When we did Blessed Be Your Name for the Pentecost service, there were 14 separate audio tracks that all needed to be recorded, edited mixed and mastered to produce something that sounded really good, and not just a cocophony of sounds! The end result was fantastic though especially once it was put together with the video, thanks to the amazing skills of Chris who editing and producing it; it was such a joy to be involved with something that involved everybody in church.
We cannot wait for the day when we can all be back together as a full congregation, worshipping and singing together. As musicians, we see our roles as simply facilitators of worship at church, and always feel it is an amazing privilege and blessing to be supporting a congregation singing together and praising God.