Music Wednesday, March 23rd

JW Jones: Watching his step

Neil Young, Arcade Fire, Joni Mitchell, and Leonard Cohen are some of the Canadian acts that have made a big impression on UK audiences. JW Jones Belmont Boulevard CD Cover NO TEXT1

But with Hereford bound JW Jones now getting airplay on national BBC Radio 2 could a new name be added to that list?

Jones has been described as a red hot Canadian guitar slinger/singer.

This is not just the view of some hapless music hack but that of the Grammy -winning producer Tom Hambridge who was hired to capture the electrifying atmosphere of Jones’s live gigs in the studio.

Fans of the blues can witness his exhilarating performances when he plays a gig for Hereford Blues at the Booth Hall on Wednesday March 30.

Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, referred to this Maple Blues Award winner as “one of this country’s top blues guitar stars”, while Billboard called Jones part of “a new wave of young talent moving onto Canada’s blues stage.”

Jones has released eight albums, performed in nineteen countries and four continents, played in front of tens of thousands of people and averages over one hundred shows per year.

The future does indeed look bright for this upcoming star. Now, with his latest recording, he’s excited about reaching an even wider audience.  Belmont Boulevard hit #9 on Billboard sales charts in the United States, and was nominated for JUNO and Maple Blues Awards in Canada.


What was your reaction when you found out ‘Watch Your Step’ had been played by Paul Jones on BBC Radio 2?

It was big news to find out Paul gave us a spin. In Canada, we have the CBC, and I know how many faithful listeners there are to a national show like this. I really appreciate the support from another Jones! JW Jones Fall 20131

You average more than 100 shows a year. What’s the longest you go without playing in front of an audience and why do you feel the need to perform so much?

I just love playing live, connecting with the audience, and continuing to live the dream, as they say. It's become part of who I am at this point and when too much time passes between dates, it feels like I'm losing a limb or something!

You’ve played in 19 countries. Are there any you want to perform in that you’ve not already? 

The U.K.! With dates in England, Scotland, and Wales, that number will be 22 countries by the end of the tour. I've been wanting to tour over there since the beginning of my career, and I am absolutely ecstatic that it is finally happening!

You grew up in Canada but with a name like Jones are you of Welsh heritage?

My full last name is Wynne-Jones, and my father was born in Canada though all of my aunts and uncles on his side were born in England, with roots in Wales. All of my aunts and uncles have the middle name Wynne, so when Canadian border officials saw this, they assumed that there were no middle names and that the last name was actually Wynne-Jones. My dad was the first in the family to be born with a middle name, and I was second. 


When you were 13 you started playing drums. Why did you make the switch to guitar?

A friend of mine was playing guitar and I was playing drums, and we used to switch for one song during rehearsals. I would always want to play an Albert King slow blues because I only knew three or four riffs of his. Then seeing BB King when I was 15 years old really changed everything for me, and I made the complete switch. I also had some good friends that were showing me all the best blues artists.

Who were your influences in your early days? JW JUNO RED CARPET1

When I was a drummer I was listening to classic rock like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, but I soon realized all of those guys were listening to blues artists. Then I was really into BB King, Albert King, T-bone Walker, the Texas guys like Jimmie Vaughan and Fabulous Thunderbirds, Anson Funderburgh, and then west coast swing players Little Charlie Baty, Junior Watson, Hollywood Fats.

Is it true you recorded your first album ‘Debrillatin’’after winning the Best Guitar Riff Off competition and securing some studio time?

That's right! I released it myself in Canada and it ended up being picked up by Crosscut Records in Germany, and Northern Blues Music in Canada.

You left college to become a full time musician. What was that moment like when you walked away from your course? It sounds like a scene from a movie!

It kind of came to me in a moment. I realized that I had to follow my dream, and that I wasn't happy with taking a computer course. It was risky, but it was the best decision I ever made!

What does the JW stand for?

My full name is Joshua Wynne-Jones, and in the music biz, most people call me JW or some other nickname like J-dub!

On your album ‘Belmont Boulevard’ you wrote about a lot of personal issues. What were these and did you find writing about them to be a healing process?

It was definitely a liberating feeling to put some of those stories into songs. I prefer if people listen to them and come up with their own conclusion as to what they are about, it makes it so much more interesting.

There is an area of Hereford known as Belmont but where is your Belmont referring to?

Belmont Boulevard is the name of the street that Sound Emporium studio in Nashville was on.


What is both the biggest and wildest audience you’ve played in front of?

Biggest and wildest would have to be separated in this case. I've played to 40,000 people in Portland Oregon, 20,000 in Ottawa a couple of times at festivals or an Ottawa Senators hockey game, but the wildest audiences are always the smaller ones. We love them all!

On ‘Belmont Boulevard’ you worked with Grammy winning producer Tom Hambridge because you believed he could capture the high energy experience of your live shows. How difficult is it to capture that ‘lightning in a bottle’?

I really think we accomplished it! Especially songs like 'Magic West Side Boogie' which we play live. As long as you put all the same passion into it, it translates the way you want it to!

What can the Hereford audience expect from your show?

We put on a high-energy show, and it's more than the music, we have a bunch of stage antics that are a lot of fun and get the crowd going!  It's going to be a great night!

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