JW-Jones performs at Penticton’s Dream Café on Oct. 23. Submitted photo

Exploring the edges of the blues

JW-Jones takes to the Dream Café stage in Penticton for the first time tonight

JW-Jones is walking out onto the Dream Café stage for the first time tonight.

“I’ve heard so much about the venue, I’ve had so many friends play there,” said Jones, who performs tonight (Oct. 23) at the Dream. “I am really excited we can finally do this.”

The veteran Maple Blues Award-winning Canadian bluesman is fresh off his new album, Live, which showcases his forays to the rock-blues edge.

“What I was playing previously was pretty traditional, BB King, single note style, Muddy Waters, Chicago blues,” said Jones. “I’ve always played with a lot of improv, but the difference with this one, I kind of started messing around with my overdrive pedal, just to go into different sonic territories, just different sounds. It’s kind of taken me away from being super-traditional sounding, which is what I was previously known for.”

Jones said he was always a little shy about heading into that “Hendrix-y” territory until he started playing around with his overdrive pedal.

“It was on all the time at a low volume, so it was just affecting the tone a little to give me a bit of grit. I was turning it up a little bit more and discovering the sustain and different sounds that this could create,” said Jones, who started wondering why he had been reluctant to explore this direction.

“I am at a point now in my career that if I want to do something and if feels good, I am just going to do it,” said Jones. There’ll be few tunes like that tonight, but Jones said they keep the concert upbeat and tailored for the audience in the small club.

“Initially I was a drummer, and I was really into Jimi Hendrix and Led Zepplin kind of stuff. And then I saw BB King in 1995, I was 15 years old and that’s what made me want to change to guitar,” said Jones. “And realizing that all of the classic rock stuff was just blues. They were getting all of their influence from Chess Records and Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, all of that stuff.”

That realization got him deeper into the traditional blues music.

“I just fell in love with all the different great artists, all the great guitar players. I saw Buddy Guy when I was 15 and now I’ve played with him six times,” said Jones. “That’s something I would have never expected to happen.”

Jones has also played with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf sideman Hubert Sumlin, harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. He’s opened for blues-rock legends like George Thorogood and Johnny Winter.

“Even then, he was still top of his game, guitar-playing wise. People said he looked frail, he could barely walk … that’s true, but if you close your eyes and listen to him, he was not missing a single note. He was incredible,” said Jones.

“What I think is different about blues is there is a feeling that we all care so much about it on a deep level. There is a tradition there that needs to be carried forward.”

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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