Must-See: Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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