The story of It’s Jo And Danny is one of individuals making it against the odds through their own brand of innocent determination, and it is this very innocence that echoes throughout the music created by Jo Bartlett (b. 9 December 1968, Guildford, Surrey, England) and Danny Hagan (b. 15 November 1965, England) A romantic as well as a musical duo, Bartlett and Hagan served time in a number of outfits under monikers such as Go! Service and Blue Train, all of which attracted the attention of record companies, only to be passed over for flavour-of-the-month Britpop acts throughout the 90s. Breaking away to work on their own, they set up their own Double Snazzy label. As for a band name, the couple chose simply to use their own. In a vein of self-irony, they chose the title Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy for their 2000 debut album, an allusion to D.A. Pennebaker’s Bob Dylan documentary film, Don't Look Back (the phrase is the commentator’s description of Dylan’s audience). The hippie references set up expectations, but although self-evidently folk-influenced, with strong melodies, sweet vocals and acoustic guitar at its core, the duo’s music also incorporated ‘found sounds’ and electronica. The album featured whimsy in good measure with the choice of subject matter; for instance, the 1964-66 Gold Cup-winning horse on the instrumental track ‘Arkle’. This slim collection of songs was recorded in eight and a half days for the sum of £2, 500, which they repaid with receipts from the album.
It’s Jo And Danny have drawn comparisons with Belle And Sebastian, the Beta Band and the Cocteau Twins, and were associated by default with the UK’s New Acoustic Movement (a title dreamt up by the New Musical Express rather than an actual musical scene). However, there was enough good original musicianship and ideas on their debut and the follow-ups Thugs Lounge and But We Have The Music to enable the duo to survive passing fashions and forge their own path. In addition to their work as It’s Jo And Danny, Bartlett and Hagan also run the annual Green Man folk festival.