Jewson is the largest chain of British general builders' merchants, selling to small building contractors and the general public with over 500 branches across the country.
Jewson, as part of the Meyer group, was acquired by the French conglomerate Saint-Gobain in April 2000.
George Jewson bought a business in Earith in 1836 to trade goods in the Huntingdonshire Fens of East Anglia. His son John Wilson Jewson (b. 1817) had 13 children: the eldest, George, at the time working with a timber merchant in Norwich, suggested expansion there.
John Jewson bought a house in Colegate in Norwich in 1868, and he moved there where he developed a successful timber, coal and builders' merchant business. The family played a role in civic service in Norwich and Norfolk.
Of John's eight sons:
Frank became a partner in a solicitors, Cozens-Hardy & Jewson.
Richard Jewson (1867-1949) was Lord Mayor of Norwich and the firm became the largest timber merchants between the Thames and the Humber.
Percy Jewson was Lord Mayor in 1934 and Liberal MP for Great Yarmouth during the Second World War. His son, Charles Jewson, son of Percy, was a writer on the history of Norwich and its buildings and Lord Mayor in 1965.
Norman Jewson was a distinguished Cotswold Arts and Crafts movement architect.
Dorothy Jewson, the Labour Party politician and Trade Union organiser, was one of the party's first female Members of Parliament, who represented Norwich.
Another Richard Jewson was Managing Director and Chairman of the holding company for all the timer and merchants interests Meyer International Pl] until the purchase by Saint Gobain.
In 2001 Worldwide Business Information and Market Reports http://www.the-list.co.uk/acatalog/kn51001.html stated that "Having undergone a period of major consolidation, the builders’ merchants market is now dominated by Jewson Ltd (owned by Saint-Gobain Building Distribution Ltd), Wolseley and Travis Perkins... These top three companies each have total sales of over £1bn."
Currently sponsor Gloucester RFC of the Guinness Premiership.
On 14 May 14, 2008 it was reported that Jewson had dismissed two members of staff and contacted police after an internal investigation revealed evidence of an alleged £1m fraud at the firm. http://www.contractjournal.com/Articles/2008/05/14/59134/jewson-director-sacked-over-alleged-1m-fraud.html
Sales director Tony Newman and another unnamed employee had left the firm following claims of irregularities in the company's books.
In a statement Jewson said: "We can confirm that following an investigation by our internal audit department Tony Newman was dismissed from his role as sales director, on 18 April. In addition, one other person, who had been employed by Jewson for less than 2 weeks, has been dismissed as a result of our internal investigation. This matter, which relates to the fraudulent supply and procurement of marketing services, has now been passed to the police who are conducting a detailed investigation with our full cooperation and support."
The instrument is known in many different cultures by many different names. As with the parallel example "jew's ear" for the jelly fungus Auricularia auricula-judae, the common English name "Jew's harp" is controversial and is avoided by many speakers, giving rise to various alternative terms. Another name used to identify the instrument, especially in scholarly literature, is the older English trump, while guimbarde, derived from the French word for the instrument, can be found in unabridged dictionaries and is featured in recent revival efforts.
The instrument is a lamellophone, which is in the category of plucked idiophones: it consists of a flexible metal or bamboo tongue or reed attached to a frame. The tongue/reed is placed in the performer's mouth and plucked with the finger to produce a note. The frame is held firmly against the performer's parted front teeth, using the jaw (thus "jaw harp") and mouth as a resonator, greatly increasing the volume of the instrument. The teeth must be parted sufficiently for the reed to vibrate freely ,and the fleshy parts of the mouth should not come into contact with the reed to prevent damping of the vibrations. The note thus produced is constant in pitch, though by changing the shape of his or her mouth and the amount of air contained in it the performer can cause different overtones to sound and thus create melodies. The volume of the note can be varied by breathing in and out.
Since trances are facilitated by droning sounds, the Jew's harp has been associated with magic and has been a common instrument in shamanic rituals.
There are many theories for the origin of the name Jew's harp. One proposed explanation is that it is a corruption of "jaw harp", while a less likely explanation espoused by some is that its name comes from "juice harp" from the amount of saliva produced when played by amateurs. Both of these explanations lack historical backing, as both the "jaw" and the "juice" variants appeared only in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It has also been suggested that the name derives from the French "Jeu-trompe" meaning "toy-trumpet".
The Oxford English Dictionary calls theories that the name is a corruption of "jaws" or "jeu" "baseless and inept" and goes on to say, "More or less satisfactory reasons may be conjectured: e.g. that the instrument was actually made, sold, or sent to England by Jews, or supposed to be so; or that it was attributed to them, as a good commercial name, suggesting the trumps and harps mentioned in the Bible."
The Jew's harp is an integral element in the music of Tuva. Known as the khomuz, the instrument is used to play the same overtone melodies used in the khoomei, sygyt, and kargyraa styles of overtone singing. The instrument is also a traditional part of Alpine musical styles, from Hungary to France. The earliest trouve in Europe is a bronze-harp dating 5th to 8th century.
The Mouth harp (or munnharpe) is also strong in Norwegian traditional music. It is more melody based than rhythm/effects. The overtone is not pitched with the shape of the mouth but further back in the throat by using an opening and closing technique. With this technique the Norwegian players can play almost all the traditional fiddle/hardanger fiddle tunes in major scales. The oldest archeologigal mouth harp discoveries in Norway date back to around 1200. The reason why older instruments haven't been found could be because the Norwegian Mouth harp, unlike other places around the world (except some discoveries in the Benelux countries), is made in a way that makes it possible to replace the reed if it were to be broken.
Around 1765, Beethoven's teacher Johann Georg Albrechtsberger composed at least seven concerti for Jew's harp, mandora, and strings (three survive in a library in Budapest). They are pleasant, well written works in the galant style, interpreting melodies of contemporary Austrian folk songs.
The American composer Charles Ives's Holidays Symphony features a brief solo for Jew's harp in the first movement ('Washington's Birthday').
In South Indian Classical Music, the instrument is often used for percussion accompaniment. Satyajit Ray has used a taniyaavartanam that uses this and other percussion instruments in his movie Gopi Gayen Bhaga Bayen.
In Sindhi the Jaw harp is called Changu (چنگُ). In Sindhi music, it can be an accompaniment or the main instrument. One of the most famous players is Amir Bux Ruunjho. Sindhi Changu by Amir Bux Ruunjho
The Jews harp is frequently to be found in the repertoire of music played by alternative or world music bands. Sandy Miller of the UK-based Brazilian samba/funk band Tempo Novo, plays a Jew's harp solo in the piece Canto de Ossanha.
The Jew's harp has been used on occasion in rock and pop music. It is also used occasionally in folk, country and bluegrass music. It was brought to the attention of the masses when used during the intro of the song "Join Together" when played by Roger Daltrey of The Who. It also featured in the intro of Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" from the album Young Guns II, and throughout the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Give It Away" (in the album liner notes for the latter, the instrument is referred to as a "Juice Harp"). Lungfish singer, Daniel Higgs released the album Magic Alphabet in 2003 composed of 17 solo Jew's harp pieces. Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" has a jew's harp solo that is often mistaken for a synthesizer. It was used in the song "The Guns of Brixton" by The Clash, from their London Calling album. It features prominently on the song "Lion in a Coma" by Animal Collective, from their album Merriweather Post Pavillion. The instrument is also featured prominently in "Chicken Train" by Ozark Mountain Daredevils. John Lennon played a Jew's harp on the song The Fool on the Hill by the Beatles.
A Jew's harp, played by Michal Wright (UK), has been used in the lullaby Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that was recorded as part of a European Union funded language education project within the Socrates programme. A video recording of the song can be heard on YouTube Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
The Jew's harp has been used in several films and movies. In Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird, the character Atticus Finch is said to be skilled at the Jew's Harp.
In The Godfather Part III, traces of a Jew's harp can be heard on the soundtrack.
Snoopy frequently plays the Jew's harp in the animated Peanuts cartoons.
Many of Ennio Morricone's film scores (especially A Fistful of Dollars) contains the Jew's Harp.
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Jewsweek was an online magazine devoted to covering issues pertinent to young Jews in their 20s and 30s. It was created in 2001 by Benyamin Cohen. It covered a host of subjects, including topical events in the entertainment industry, political world, and within Judaism itself, both as it concerned the United States and Israel. In 2005 Cohen left the venture, which was subsequently reopened under Blue Star Media. Jewsweek ceased operation during 2007.