Interview | Canadian Bluesman JW-JONES
Canadian Bluesman JW-Jones completed a very successful 17 date tour of the UK in April which took him to England, Scotland and for the first time Wales, where he played The Garage in Swansea. I spoke to him on Soul of The Blues ahead of that appearance about the tour, his latest album, Belmont Boulevard, and his future recording plans .
JR: You’ve earned a reputation as one of the hardest working touring Blues acts in Canada – how are you finding British audiences?
JW: Well so far the audiences have been super-receptive which is great, that’s what I was hoping for because this tour is all about making a name over here, breaking new ground and trying to develop an audience so we can keep coming back and doing it. I’d played in 19 countries before this tour – England is my 20th, Scotland my 21st and Wales will be my 22nd.
JR:Who have you got in your band with you?
JW: We’ve got Laura Greenberg on bass – and actually her family is from Wales – she’s been in the band for about three and a half years; and the drummer is Mathieu Lapensée who is band new to the band, and played just nine shows with us in Canada before taking off for this tour – internationally where we’re are doing 19 straight so he’s pretty new but the band is sounding great. I mean when you play every night like this the energy and the chemistry is exactly where you want it to be.
JR: You’re working with Dudley Ross on the tour – a very familiar name to us on the British Blues scene have you got to meet any British artists so far?
JW: Well so far on the trip, other than Dudley himself, his friend Katie Bradley was at one of the shows, but I have a couple of friends over here that I’ve known for quite some time. One of my first gigs ever was opening for The Hoax in Ottawa – that was back in ’98 – and so I’ve become good friends with Jon Amor; Todd Sharpeville, also a good friend, and those guys have been supporting the tour on social media and being really helpful, as well as Vintage Trouble – who have done very well here in the UK – they have been sharing posts and helping as much as possible to get the Trouble Maker fans out. It’s been great so far, we’ve been getting good reviews – and that it what all this is about – trying to connect the music to the people
JR: In many of those reviews the term ‘high energy’ is used to describe your live performances, how do you keep that energy going when you are on the road?
JW: It’s a funny thing – as soon as you get on stage the adrenaline starts pumping and sometimes right before getting on stage I feel kinda terrible, like ‘Wow, how am I gonna get through this show” and then as soon as we start playing the energy is there and it becomes a whole different animal. I love it, and that’s when I feel best in the whole day, when I’m on stage and just after the show – that’s what I live for.
JR: Your album Belmont Boulevard was produced in Nashville by Grammy award winning Tom Hambridge who has worked with so many of the greats, what was that experience like?
JW: It was an amazing experience. That was my first time doing something different where I hired a Producer and let them take the reins. On all the previous records – and you know we have eight albums in total now – I had self-produced. With the exception of one that Kim Wilson from The Fabulous Thunderbirds produced – but he will tell you himself that he’s not really a producer, he was just helping out and stuff. So yeah, this was the first time I really let go of the reins, and I went down to Nashville and I let Tom, basically, tell me what to do. I’d just come and he’d tell me ‘here’s your guitar solo’ or ‘here’s where you’re gonna sing’ – he picked a lot of the songs and we co-wrote a bunch of them together. He’s a great, great songwriter. So it was an incredible experience and the result is my favourite record yet.
JR: That came out what, 18 months ago now – I know you’ve been touring a lot since, is there a new one in the pipeline?
JW: There is, absolutely. I’ve been planning with the Producer – I can’t name him yet – but we will be going back down to Nashville and working with a different producer on this one, and we’re doing that in June so we should expect a fall release. And that will be exactly two years since Belmont Boulevard was released
JW Jones’ latest album Belmont Boulevard is out on Blind Pig Records.