Must-See: Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

This past November, when the wonderfully talented Brit-folk troubadour Johnny Flynn told me he was set to have a baby in March with his longtime girlfriend, I sent a onesie to his London address, and resigned myself to the fact that we probably wouldn’t be seeing him for quite a while.

At the time, Flynn, who is in his late twenties, was touring solo because it was too expensive to bring his band, the Sussex Wit, all the way to America, where he’s still relatively unknown. So I was pleased to learn that not only was he embarking on his third tour of the States—but the full band would be in tow this time around. 

I first came across Flynn’s debut album, A Larum, in the Dog Pile, the collection of books and CDs sent to the magazine from people we have never heard of, and where you can make a great discovery on occasion—like A Larum. I was pretty much smitten after listening to it twice, and Flynn’s followup EP, Sweet William, and recent full-length CD, Been Listening, proved that his first effort was no fluke.

Flynn is a evocative vocalist and multi-instrumentalist whose songwriting is mostly intriguing and rarely predictable, and whose lyrics are steeped in a metaphorical wisdom beyond his years. He also knows how to seduce a crowd. I saw him play solo late one weeknight after waiting through a couple of openers who, alas, didn’t know when to call it quits. But his fans stuck it out and were amply rewarded. I can only imagine how much more Flynn will be able to do with the Wit behind him. (See update below.)

So here’s a list of his US tour dates. Basically, I don’t care if he’s playing San Francisco’s Independent on a Tuesday night in the middle of our grueling magazine production cycle. I’m there. And if you live anywhere from Portland (tonight) to Baltimore (June 2), I’d recommend that you be there, too.  Flynn will not disappoint.

Update (Wed. May 18): As promised, I caught Mr. Flynn Tuesday night at the Independent. One word sums it up: “stunning.” He drew a sizeable and enthusiastic weeknight crowd and broke out all the stops in his band’s hourlong set, playing mandolin (“The Water”), banjo (“Eyeless in Holloway”), fiddle (“Barnacled Warship”), and acoustic and electric guitar—which he alternated with trumpet on “Hong Kong Cemetery.” The Sussex wit upped the ante with drums, keyboards, and bass—not to mention Johnny’s lovely younger sister, Lillie, on flute, harmonium, and voice. I brought along a friend who had never heard of Johnny Flynn. Now he’s a convert. Guess that about sums it up.

I’ll leave you with a little take-away video:

Click here for more music features from Mother Jones.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate