Billy Jones, born Nov. 21, 1953, isn’t what I was expecting to find when I began emailing people in search of a taste of what Arkansas’s music scene had to offer. Instead of young artists struggling to discover themselves through music as well as whether or not they have what it takes to ultimately make it in the music industry, Jones is a musician that has already discovered that about himself.
Having worked in his youth as an understudy to the likes of such accomplished blues artists as Little Johnny Taylor, Larry “Totsie” Davis, Calvin Leavy, Rufus Thomas, Cal Valentine, Richard “Dimples” Fields, The Loving Sisters, Art Porter and many others, Jones quickly became a talented and accomplished guitarist and vocalist in his own right. How else would he have had the chance to either record or perform professionally with Vernon Garrett, Willie Clayton, Chocolate Milk, Chaka Khan, The Bar-Keys, Chick Willis, Willie Cobb, etc.
Simply put, this particular step along my path was one that had honed itself over many years into exactly what it wanted to be, a true blues musician.
Scheduled for release on Apr. 24, is Billy’s latest album (his second on his current label, Black & Tan Records), simply entitled My Hometown, and is just my first taste of the man’s music. At times dark, mysterious, downright funky, and always compelling, each of the ten songs on the album guarantees I’ll be back for more.
Whether talking about the incredibly soulful and funky opener, “Here With You,” the slithering and additively seductive groove of “Crystal,” the rolling bass-line and plaintive vocals of “The Clown,” the gorgeously realized mixture of frustration and hopeful dreams locked into the aching soul-groove of “My Hometown,” down to the rollicking guitar line on “Bluez Comes Callin’” that closes the album, it’s as if every song chastises me for never having heard of this man or his music before now.
On the opening page of the album’s liner notes, Bob Davis of Soul-Patrol.com talks for a bit about Jones and his music: