Search
  • The Sound Cafe

A Conversation With JW-Jones


Ken sat down with JW to talk about his latest release ' Sonic Departures '.


Ken Wallis is the former Associate Dean, Media & Entertainment, at Mohawk College, Hamilton, Ontario. Now retired, he currently is a music promoter at Blues Source Entertainment, and presents two radio shows, Blues Source Canada and Blues Source International, which air weekly on Blues & Roots Radio and The Hawk FM. Ken is a nominations panellist for the Maple Blues Awards.


Billboard Top 10 Blues Artist, 2020 IBC Winner, and JUNO Nominee, Canadian singer/guitarist JW-Jones is known for his high-energy shows! Fresh off the heels of winning "Best Guitarist" at the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, popular Canadian blues artist JW-Jones was looking forward to a huge year before COVID-19 hit and halted his tour schedule.



KW


A brand new cd from JW-Jones !


It is called Sonic Departures, one track I will ask you about, oh boy...this is a big one... obdacious, JW, tell us what this obdacious is all about.


JW


Well, all I know for sure it's a made-up word for a really cool song that was written by Buddy

Johnson and performed by the Buddy Johnson Orchestra. So it's a crazy word. I can say that much. Yeah, I can't even uh, I can't even pronounce it half the time. Yeah, it's a weird one I just say obdacious, if you say the ob really fast and people don't have questions


KW


Okay, I got it. You've turned me on to obdacious now. I'll use that every second word

The title of your cd is Sonic Departures. What's the significance of that?


JW


Well, there are multiple elements to that really, part of it is that it's the biggest band I've ever recorded with, it's a 17-piece band with a 13-piece horn section, so it's enormous in that sense. So in that sense alone just with what the horns are bringing to the table It's a sonic departure for me in that way, but where it really comes from is that we added some production value kind of things to a couple of these songs, especially the intros for Blue Jean Jacket for example and Snatching It Back where we added loops and did some really kind of weird creative stuff with the production before the song comes in. And while we were doing those I was like man, this is really cool. This is really different, it's cutting edge stuff in the blues world, and to me those are departures, and I love the word sonic. So we've got Sonic Departures


KW


And one of the quotes I've heard that you have said is that you turned isolation into inspiration on this album. Can you expand on that a little bit?


JW


Absolutely. Yeah, we had actually recorded a bunch of the tracks pre Covid with the big band and, almost this whole album was recorded together in one room in one take, and then all the production and the vocals and stuff like that came after during Covid. Um, so you know, when this whole thing hit, a lot of musicians were depressed. They were just, you know, not creating anymore. They were down on their luck. They thought when's this going to last till, I have no gigs? I'm out of money. You know, it was a big mess for a lot of people, but I knew that if I got dragged into that thought process and that feeling that I wouldn't be able to do something productive. So I thought okay look I've got to actually do something and as Eric, the co-producer on this, and I were mixing the songs, we were actually thinking of just releasing this as an EP. Just something that would go on the website and kind of live there and have maybe three or four songs, but, as we started mixing it and producing it, It was like wow, this is really good, we should make this a record and use this time wisely that you know, has been given to us as a gift, in a very strange packaging, make something of it, so that's what made me want to create something special out of this very strange and difficult time.


KW


And where was the mixing done?


JW


Well, the mixing was all done remotely, here in Ottawa, the engineer and producer, Eric Eggleston, from Johnny Hall productions, he worked from his home and I worked for my home. He had to get software so that he could share his screen with me, but also not just the screen, but his studio quality audio coming through my speakers, so, on his end he had a special app or plug-in, and I would load it up on my side and that way I was hearing exactly the mix that he was hearing out of his pro speakers. I was hearing out of my pro speakers at my home. So everything was done remotely


KW


So you felt quite connected to the whole thing then?


JW


Oh, absolutely, I mean, I had an earpiece in so we'd be on the phone, basically just a regular phone call, over, you know, the the telephone and then on the other side of it, we had the internet doing the rest for us. So we were totally connected. I mean there wasn't a moment where he was working on something where I wasn't involved and seeing the screen and being involved in the process in that way.


KW


You did most of the guitar solos in one take, was that by design or it just turned out that way, as it was that good ?


JW


That's a very good question. I mean, there's something that happens when you're playing a guitar solo, you're working off the band, the band is working off of you. So when we recorded these tunes all together in the same place, I was just playing the way I play and then, looking back at it, It was like, yeah, I could go back and redo every one of those solos, maybe I could make them better, maybe I could make them, quote unquote, perfect, maybe I could fix some of the mistakes, but honestly, I just wanted to leave them as they were, because I thought they sounded exciting and inspired.


With that said, I did add one guitar solo that I recorded, you know, during Covid in my own home studio. That was more because I wanted to get a certain sound from it that I couldn't go back and recreate, I had to do something new and change it and that's the guitar solo you hear on Snatching It Back


KW


I understand this has almost a family album feel to it ?


JW


Yeah, absolutely, I mean, that's one of the cool things that came of this too. I never would have been able to have my wife singing on a bunch of the tunes, or have my little then 15 month old daughter singing, a little part that turned into a sample that we used at the beginning of Snatching It Back. None of that would have happened if it was in a typical studio situation, but because I was recording at home, I had my vocal mic set up and everything. It was like hey, why don't you come and do this part? Hey, why don't you come and do this? And then like you said, it became somewhat of a family gathering, a family production.


KW


Your talent was recognized when you won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, what impact has that had on your career?


JW


Well, I was fortunate a few years back to win the International Blues Challenge for best self-produced cd for my album High Temperature, thatI did with Colin Linden, but this time I went down to Memphis with another band that I have, Uh, it's a brand new band, only about a year and a half old called HOROJO Trio, and that's got Jeff Rogers singing and , my former drummer. Jamie Holmes, and so we created this band. We won the road to Memphis Challenge in Ottawa, put on by the Ottawa Blue Society. We went down and competed and we took home top honours as Best Band, I was fortunate to win Best Guitarist as well.


So yeah, to answer your question, what has it done for my career?


Well, I mean what's crazy is that literally that was February, we got home, It was a couple of weeks of doing blues in the schools, and that's when Covid hit, so we had all these huge festivals ,a blues cruise, Chicago Blues Festival um, Big Blues Bender in Vegas, everything was booked and then all of a sudden poof, everything changed and most of them had to be moved to the following year. Well, let's hope it gets back to normal in the near future because we all miss the live music.



KW


You were going to be starting a north American tour in October. I guess that's pretty well gone under, right ?



JW


Yeah, it's all but cancelled, it's a very strange time because I don't know if it's fully cancelled. There are some venues that are moving forward and there are some that aren't and so I have to look at the budget and start, you know, thinking, can I actually go out and do this tour, and tour to promote Sonic Departures?


I don't even know right now and it's kind of an ongoing conversation and at some point probably, you know, the beginning of September, we'll have to make a final decision whether that continues or not.


KW


I'm really missing the festivals, Uh, thank goodness I've got your brand new cd to listen to. Where can folks get a hold of it?


JW


Well, you can definitely get it on amazon or you can stream it if you absolutely must, but we prefer, obviously, if you buy the actual product, you can get it from my website Jw.Jones.com It's up there, as it was released August 14th and um, otherwise, yeah, please do find it and I'm really proud of it. I think people are really gonna dig it. And, thank you so much for chatting to me about it.


KW


Well, we're certainly encouraging everyone to buy cds online rather than streaming, because it's tough times for musicians and you guys certainly deserve the money that comes in from sales of a cd.


JW


Well, we we sure appreciate that. Thank you !


KW


Thank you so much and we will keep in touch.



Website: jw-jones.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/jwjonesblues

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jwjonesblues

Twitter: twitter.com/jwjonesblues

Youtube: www.youtube.com/user/jwjones1



 

 

 

© 2020 by The Sound Cafe.

thesoundcafe@feamedia.com