The improv magic you hear on JW-Jones’ 10th album, Live, is the spark that has awakened new sonic frontiers for the veteran Maple Blues Award-winning Ottawa bluesman.
“I cranked up my overdrive in concert one night for fun, and it opened up this new world of ideas for me,” admits the JUNO-nominated Jones, whose searing axemanship has been praised by Blues Revue Magazine as “a fluid amalgam of T-Bone Walker’s big, bright chords; Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s slashing leads and Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown’s jazzy sting.”
“I felt a new sense of freedom.” That sense of freedom resonates through Live, an exciting collection of 11 previously-unreleased songs lovingly recorded over two nights at a sold-out Gatineau, QC theatre by producer Zach Allen, fresh off his Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy Award victory for the Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo collaboration TajMo.
“This album is a big departure for me,” Jones explains. “Especially on songs like ‘I Don’t Believe A Word You Say’ and ‘Moanin’ at Midnight:’ both of those songs clock in at over six minutes and I’m playing that overdriven guitar in a way I’ve literally never played on record before.”
As he continues to evolve as one of Canada’s most versatile bluesmen, with one foot in the terra firma of the traditional blues espoused by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf sideman Hubert Sumlin and harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite (who both guested on Jones’ memorable Midnight Memphis Sun, recorded at the historic Sun Studio) and blues contemporaries Robert Cray, for whom the JW-Jones band has occasionally opened, he continues to challenge and raise his standards through his recordings and the 130 dates on average yearly that he clocks in on the road.
With the last JW-Jones studio project, the Colin Linden-produced High Temperature, capturing the coveted Memphis Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge honours for Best Self-Released CD, the frequent resident of Billboard’s Top 10 Blues charts and Canadian roots radio favourite continues to accelerate his career momentum to new heights, whether it’s as a personally-requested sit-in with the likes of blues legend Buddy Guy, opening for blues rock icons Johnny Winter and George Thorogood or entertaining thrilled audiences in 23 countries and four continents.
“Audiences get excited because it’s all so organic,” notes Jones, who stretches out on Live with his Goldtop Gibson Les Paul. “The blues is such a universal language, and the fact that we never play the same solo twice just adds to that vibrant energy, which I think we really capture on this album.”
Live also embraces Jones’ continuing appreciation of modern days blues music, best illustrated by the album’s opening number, a rendition of Robert Cray’s “A Memo (Nothin’ But Love.)” “The first time I heard that tune, written by Robert’s bass player, Richard Cousins, I fell in love with it,” says Jones. “It’s a really great contemporary blues song because it doesn’t sound traditional and it’s got a great chorus and harmonies. Robert saw a video of our version and gave us the thumbs-up.” It also represents progress, reflecting Jones’ growing modern tastes.
“When I first started out, I studied old blues records and wanted to be accepted by my heroes. I wanted them to notice that I was staying authentic to the sound. Over the years things have changed, and I want to play and write music that moves me, even if it doesn’t sound like a Chicago blues tune cut in 1956. I feel that I need to play the music that speaks to me personally.”
An additional highlight is the inclusion of the JW-Jones showstopper – the 17-song medley that rifles through snippets of classic guitar riffs backed by the energetic support of 2018 Maple Blues Award Bassist of the Year Laura Greenberg and the inimitable Will Laurin on drums.
“It’s been a staple of our live show for years,” says Jones. “People have been asking us to record it forever, so now we’ve finally captured it for everyone to enjoy!” And everyone will enjoy Live, an album for the ages that captures the JW-Jones lightning in a bottle. - Nick Krewen (freelance contributor for Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Grammy.com, and Billboard)
“This young man is one of the people who will keep the blues alive”
- Buddy Guy (7 time Grammy winner)
“His evolution as a musician and vocalist shine through... JW is the real deal."
- Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones)
"This is an amazing blues band"
- Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues)
1. A Memo (Nothin’ But Love) (5:04)
2. Need You So Bad (4:05)
3. I Don’t Believe A Word You Say (5:59)
4. Moanin’ At Midnight (9:37)
5. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You (3:42)
6. Early Every Morning (4:20)
7. You’re Gonna Need Me (4:41)
8. Catch That Teardrop (4:46)
9. That’s Alright (5:25)
10. Way Down Inside (3:08)
11. I Might Not Come Home At All / Medley (5:25)
JW-JONES – LIVE ALBUM - TOUR
28-Sep Live On Elgin – Ottawa, ON CD Release Party
29-Sep Van Aukens Inn – Old Forge, NY
30-Sep Wakeley’s – Utica, NY
10-Oct Buddy Guy's Legends - Chicago, IL
11-Oct Shank Hall - Milwaukee, WI
12-Oct Ore Dock Brewing Company - Marquette, MI
13-Oct Famous Dave's - Minneapolis, MN
14-Oct Ramada By Wyndham - Bismarck, ND
16-Oct Blues on Whyte - Edmonton, AB
17-Oct Blues On Whyte - Edmonton, AB
18-Oct Blues On Whyte - Edmonton, AB
19-Oct Blues On Whyte - Edmonton, AB
20-Oct Blues On Whyte - Edmonton, AB
21-Oct Blues On Whyte - Edmonton, AB
22-Oct Wild Bill's Saloon - Banff, AB
23-Oct The Dream Café - Penticton, BC
25-Oct The Flying Steamshovel & Gastropub - Rossland, BC
26-Oct Finley's - Nelson, BC
27-Oct Osborne Bay Pub - Crofton, BC
28-Oct Guilt & Co - Vancouver, BC
1-Nov Torch Club - Sacramento, CA
2-Nov Poor House Bistro - San Jose, CA
3-Nov Covo La Jolla - San Diego, CA
4-Nov O'Hennings - Bakersfield, CA
8-Nov Sand Dollar Lounge - Las Vegas, NV
9-Nov Private Party - San Diego, CA
10-Nov Tucson Blues Society - Venue TBA - Tucson, AZ
16-Nov Katie's - Bacliff, TX
17-Nov Big Easy - Houston, TX