The Ballad of Billie and Bonnie

You know those corny country story-songs, featuring characters like Billy and Bonnie, and following them through a lifetime of high times and heartbreak? Now imagine that Billy and Bonnie come not from Texas but from Brighton, England (home town of Jaybeemusic), that the love story concerns a gay triangle, and that the characters in the video are played by…. teddy bears!

That’s the premise of The Ballad of Billy and Bonnie, one of 11 songs on Jaybee’s album Sussex Cowboy, a record that attempts to export country to the UK, with a good dose of irreverent indie attitude.

Casting the video, Jaybee found himself stuck on who should play the blushing bride, Bonnie, and the gallant groom, Billy, not to mention the gay homewrecker, Brad. Then his eye fell on three little teddy bears, lined up on the shelf.

Yes, even in anything-goes Brighton, the video shoot certainly attracted some curious glances as Jaybee filmed the bears snogging on Brighton pier, cruising on St James’s Street and dancing the night away at Club Revenge. But the end result was certainly unique.

Unique is an overused word, but it may justly be employed to describe Jaybeemusic, a one-man band, consisting solely of singer/songwriter Jaybee (aka James Bennett), who has now completed half a dozen quirky, catchy, memorable solo albums and most recently a Best Of, Jaybeejukebox: the Best of Jaybeemusic, containing reworked version of highlights from those albums.

From the electro adventures of the Sweet Savage album to the nu-soul leanings of the songs on Wanderlust and the heartrending vignettes of Found on Putney Bridge, Jaybeemusic’s songs always contain memorable hooks, surprising sounds, sophisticated arrangements, and — most importantly — utterly original lyrics.

‘I write the songs that I wish existed but don’t,’ he explains. ‘It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it!’

When the songs are written, arranged and recorded, Jaybee insists on completing the package with arresting album artwork as well as inventive videos that range from a vfilm shot with the BBC on Brighton seafront for the song High Tide to a mash-up of images from the film Let The Right One In for the song Oskar and Eli. All this can be seen at his website.