Musician bringing blues to Pink Palace

J.W. Jones will play a blues show in South Surrey Saturday. - Contributed photo
J.W. Jones will play a blues show in South Surrey Saturday.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Watch out for the man with the suit and the guitar.

Canadian touring artist J.W. Jones is on the cutting edge of blues style – a throwback to the classic style of blues artists of the 1950s and 1960s.

Jones, who comes to the Rhumba Room of the Pacific Inn this Saturday (doors 7:30 p.m.), is on a roll these days.

He’s touring the West Coast in support of his latest CD, Seventh Hour, and is newly signing to agency Piedmont Talent – which will open the doors to the all-important U.S. market.

The Ottawa born-and-raised Jones – whose incisive vocals and catchy R&B, rockabilly and country influenced originals add a contemporary edge to the blues tradition – is also known for prodigious guitar chops that have drawn comparisons with masters like B.B. King, Jimmy Page and Carlos Santana, and won him an endorsement contract with Gibson Guitars.

But he’s paid all kinds of dues to get to this point – including numerous tours of Europe, where, as he puts it, “fans know more about American music than the Americans do.”

A man who seems to know just where he’s going, he confesses he’s tired of acts that look like they’ve just rolled out of bed and grabbed the first items of clothing they found on the floor.

And while it may be too hot for suit jackets under the lights, expect to see him in fitted dress shirt and tie. Jones and his backup bands project a clean-cut retro-influenced image and it’s not just a matter of detail, he said. Rather it speaks to the seriousness with which he takes his music.

“When people see a show, they want to see a band that stands out on stage,” he said. “With too many bands, they might be great musicians, but when they walk out on stage they don’t necessarily present themselves to the best advantage. When you’re playing the blues, if you don’t put on a good show and engage the audience, you might as well not be there.”

Jones, who started gigging at age 18 in 1998, said he had the benefit of growing up in a town that hosted a huge annual blues festival.

After spending some of his adolescence being a drummer in the thrall of rockers like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple, he began to appreciate the roots of the music.

“I realized that everything pointed back to the blues and classic guys like Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Each new player you discover leads you to something else.”

But while the roots of the music are tremendously important to him, he still reserves the right to pursue his own sound.

That’s apparent with all of the songs on Seventh Hour, which also happens to be his seventh album release.

“After six records, you find out it’s not about trying to sound like Muddy Waters, it’s about being yourself. We still play the blues and have a lot of connections to the roots, but there is a contemporary side to it.

“Some of the hard-core blues fans, the traditionalists, might not appreciate this and that – but I’ll take my chances.”

Tickets for the White Rock Blues Society are available from Tapestry Music, Surfside Music, online at http://tickets.surrey.ca or call 604-542-6515

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