Singer-songwriter Beans on Toast cock-a-hoop about returning to North East

Jay McAllister, alias singer-songwriter Beans on Toast.

Jay McAllister, alias singer-songwriter Beans on Toast.

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Beans might mean Heinz, according to the market-leading US food firm, but for fans of latter-day folk, they also mean singer-songwriter Jay McAllister.

That’s because Beans on Toast is the stage name used by the 34-year-old, currently on tour to promote his seventh album, Rolling Up the Hill, and about to return to the North East.

“I think it’s a pretty good description of what I do. It’s cheap, easy, fills a hole and is very English,” said the Essex-born protest singer when asked to explain his choice of nom de plume.

Cheap and easy it might be, but it is also a big fat fib likely to disappoint lovers of beans on toast believing him to be a kindred spirit.

Called upon to discuss his feelings for the foodstuff he has named himself after, he admitted: “Erm, don’t hate me, but I’m actually a spaghetti hoops man. But it didn’t have the same ring to it.”

It’s the sort of name that an artist wishing to be taken seriously later in their career might come to regret, but that’s not something troubling McAllister.

“I haven’t considered changing the name, no,” he said.

“Are adults not allowed to eat beans on toast? Thinking about it now, though, maybe I’ll call myself Sunday Lunch.

“In the States, beans on toast doesn’t translate as they don’t eat it, so I considered going by the name Hot Dog when I go out.”

McAllister, or Toast, is playing at the Cluny in Newcastle on Sunday, supported by husband-and-wife country-and-western duo Truckstop Honeymoon, alias Mike and Katie West, and he’s looking forward to returning to the city, he says.

“I love Newcastle and have played many shows there over the years,” he said.

“Bobby Banjo, my long-term touring buddy, has family from there and is an avid Toon supporter.

“Last time, we played the Cluny, we both wore full Newcastle United strips on stage.

“I sort of remember a show that ended outside after sound trouble at the Head of Steam too. That was fun.

“I’m also crap at doing accents but can sort of pull off a Geordie accent once I’ve had a few, which is always fun.”

His show in the city comes a day after one by another touring buddy of his, Frank Turner, at Newcastle University’s students’ union, and he’s not long back from doing a support slot for the Tape Deck Heart singer in the US.

“That was brilliant,” he said. “Frank’s looked after me over the years, and taking me out for a seven-week run across the States was all sorts of epic – big crowds, long drives and one hell of an adventure.”

America was also where he recorded his new album, and that is immediately obvious, he reckons.

“I recorded this new album in Kansas with a country band called Trucktop Honeymoon. They back me up on the record with double-bass, finger-picking banjo and some sweet guitar playing, bringing a fresh new sound to the songs,” he explained.

“Truckstop have come over to the UK for this tour and will be opening up the show and also playing as my backing band, so it’s a full-on, all-singing, all-dancing Beans on Toast gig. Come on down.”

Tickets for Sunday’s show cost £10, and doors open at 8pm. For details, go to www.thecluny.com or beansontoastmusic.com

McAllister’s new album is out on his 35th birthday – Tuesday, December 1 – on Xtra Mile Recordings.

Its six predecessors have also been released on December 1, annually since 2009, as a sort of reverse birthday present for his fans.