The energetic music on J.W. Jones' seventh album, aptly dubbed 'Seventh Hour," breaks the traditional boundaries of blues.
The energetic music on J.W. Jones' seventh album, aptly dubbed "Seventh Hour," breaks the traditional boundaries of blues.
"Its twists and turns make it a departure from traditional blues," Jones says during a telephone interview. He's ordering food at a Tim Horton's drive-through restaurant — a Canadian chain known for its coffee and donuts.
"We play chord changes that aren't found in conventional blues," he says. "They're more likely to be found in music played by Motown or jazz artists. Like 'Heartbreaker' on 'Seventh Hour.' It has a rock 'n' roll feel, but we took chord changes from a be-bop style called rhythm changes and put a hard-edged approach on it.
"It's a totally different way of soloing when playing blues," Jones says. "It puts hard rock 'n' roll grooves behind '50s- and '60s-style electric blues and rock."
Jones — who plays a Gibson Les Paul (he has an endorsement with Gibson) — along with Laura Greenberg on electric bass and drummer Jamie Holmes are in the middle of a six-week tour that's taking them around the U.S. and their home country of Canada.
So far, the trio has covered Detroit, Minneapolis and a couple of Canadian provinces. On Tuesday, the musicians crossed the U.S. border to perform at Duff's Garage in Portland. Then they headed south for two nights at Biscuits and Blues in San Francisco.
On Friday, Oct. 25, the band turns north and heads back to Oregon for a show at Alex's Plaza Restaurant and Bar, 35 N. Main St., Ashland. The music starts at 9 p.m.; the cover costs $5.
"We put on a high-energy show," Jones says. "We're more visual than a lot of bands. We play a lot of originals and cover songs by artists like B.B. King and Albert Collins, along with some old-school, Chicago blues by Jimmy Rogers."
Covers of Roy Orbison's "So Long I'm Gone" and Little Milton's "I'm Tryin" grace Jones' "Seventh Hour," released in 2012.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Jones says B.B. King has been the biggest influence on his music since he was 16 years old. Jones began playing professionally at age 21, signing with recording label Northern Blues Music in 2001.
"I've met B.B. King a few times," he says. "I opened for him this summer at the Ottawa Blues Fest."
Jones' earlier recordings feature seasoned blues artists Hubert Sumlin and David Newman, along with heavy-hitters Kim Wilson, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson, along with Colin James, a Canadian billboard favorite.
Guitar World Magazine's compilation CD titled "Guitar Masters: Volume 2" stacks Jones up alongside guitarists B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Carlos Santana and others, a fact that led to his endorsement deal with Gibson.
With one foot firmly planted in his roots, the Maple Blues Award winner believes that appealing to a younger audience is the most important way to ensure the evolution of blues-based music.
Jones' last few CDs — "Kissing in 29 Days" (2006); "Bluelisted" (2008); "Midnight Memphis Sun" (2010) — have hit the No. 1 slot on B.B. King's Bluesville on Sirius-XM Radio.