If the name doesn’t grab you, the music will. The Bones of J.R. Jones is a bit of an enigma, J.R.’s music is gritty. It’s bluesy. It’s not your average fare. It’s no wonder that his unique style stood out amidst all of the applicants for Emerging Artists at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. There’s a lot to find out about The Bones of J.R. Jones. What you see below is only the tip of the iceberg. I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll all be in for a surprise….
Falcon Ridge is celebrating its 25th anniversary the first weekend in August and the Emerging Artist showcase is always one of the highlights of the festival. The musicians are chosen by a three-member jury and are given the opportunity to perform two songs (not to exceed ten minutes).* The audience votes for their favorites and three or four acts are asked to return to the main stage the following year.
Check out the website for The Wildness. You may get seasick if you stay on the site too long so grab the information and run!
And you must watch this fascinating video of the song “La La Liar.” There is nothing typical about this artist. Nothing.
So we’ve got to know—-what’s the story behind your name “The Bones of J.R. Jones?” Is it a band? Is it a person?
I can’t say much about the name. My explanation for it changes almost daily. I will let you know when I get a story that sticks.
There seems to be an aura of mystery about you. Is this something that you’re trying to cultivate?
I’m not sure if I’m cultivating the mystery, more than just not filling in all the blanks. People generally make things more interesting than they are if you don’t give them all the information… and I’m ok with that.
It’s been said that your inspirations were some of the old blues players like Son House and R.L, Burnside. How did you discover that kind of music?
Yes, Definitely both of those men are huge influences of mine. You know, you hear songs growing up and never really realize how much they impact you. How much those songs, take from history. I was given a roots blues album by my father 15 years ago or so and found that history that drove a lot of the contemporary music that I was listening to at the time. It was just more boiled down. Concentrated. Raw. This project is my reaction to that.
Tell us about the recording on your EP, The Wildness. Do I detect an effort to make it sound like an old-timey recording done years and years ago?
The album was my first effort. I was going for an older sound, but I didn’t want something found in ProTools or anything like that. I wanted that sound that was on coming out of my record player. I wanted accidents in the recording. I wanted the volume of certain tracks to come and go. I wanted parts to be ugly.
We ended up multitracking a lot of the album and then when it came to mixing, we recut each track to vinyl using an old lathe and then put it back through the board. So all those idiosyncrasies are genuine. I have a long way to go to get the sound I’m after, but The Wildness EP was a step in the right direction.
The official video of “La La Liar” is very creepy. Again, the bones making an appearance! What was the inspiration behind that video concept?
The video was collaborative effort with the director Ian Cinco. We watched old Halloween cartoons and wanted that kind of jittery 1930’s cartoon feel. Where the animation kind of looks like it speeds up and slows down at some points. We knew what we wanted, it was just a matter of labor and time. The costumes though? The credit is all his. He really did a lot of that work and designing himself.
What’s next for The Bones of J.R. Jones?
There is always something on the horizon. More music. More shows. More recording. All things I love to do. And possibly a little film about the history of J.R. Jones, which will hopefully provide a better answer to your first question.
*The Falcon Ridge judging panel changes year to year. Many thanks to this year’s panel, Carter Smith, producer of Common Ground Community Concerts in Hastings-on-Hudson NY, Dennis O’Brien, talent buyer for the Newtown Theater in Newtown PA and Kathy Sands-Boehmer, booker for the Me & Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead MA now in its 43rd year of presenting great acoustic music.