Photo Credit:David Kepner
Time to throw y’all off the rock n roll loop and onto something with more of an old school sound. This Badass Band hails from Brooklyn and will win you over with soulful vocals, storytelling lyrics and rootsy/bluesy sounds.
I was introduced to The Bones of J.R. Jones via my friends at SoFar Sounds LA. The second show of theirs I went to featured The Bones of J.R. Jones and as soon as Jonathon Linaberry started crooning and playing guitar, I knew I was seeing something special. The lyrical content and passion that came though one man with such a simple setup (guitar and stomping, it was an acoustic show that night) just blew me away.
The Bones of J.R. Jones just released a new full-length album, Dark was the Yearling, but my initial introduction was based on his previous EP, The Wildness. I would suggest you grab both, they are equally good and the latter displays more of a variety of his range. Some favorite tracks include:
Off The Wildness:
1. “Shine on Me”- The epitome of a blues track fueled with a hook boasting, “Lord, Lord won’t you shine on me? I know I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen.” The chant-like vocals, deep bass drum lines, and the extra twangy guitar just make this track resonate in your bones.
Off Dark was the Yearling:
1. “Heart Racing”- Bright melodies, head bobbing rhythms, signature soulful crooning, and simple, honest lyrics. The line that got me was, “Don’t you want to see the trouble we can get into?” The addition of the harmonica at the climax also adds just the perfect tonal extra to drive this one home. This is just a lovely song, no other way to say it.
2. “Ticket Home”- Chorus-like humming and ghostly stomps of bass drum. This rootsy track will get you with lines like, “Cause I’ve been to Hell, and I’ve lived to tell, I ain’t goin’ back, no I ain’t going back. The devil’s gonna chase me, cause I ain’t goin’ quietly.
Basically, if you want a guy who can sing with a ridiculous amount of soul and play the hell out of a span of blues/roots/country tunes, then The Bones of J. R. Jones is for you!
Jonathon Linaberry was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for BBB, so read on to find out about his creative process, if he has always played solo, and what his favorite Tom Waits tune is.
When and why did you start playing?
I grew up in a very musical household. My mother mandated my brothers and I all start taking piano lessons at the age of six… I guess I just never stopped. Moved to guitar at around thirteen.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
I listened to a lot of different music growing up. Definitely a lot punk rock and hardcore. I think I was drawn those genres most because of the passion that was involved in the performances. I still listen to some of that stuff. I have to be in right mood, but I still will break out my old Majority Rule record and such when I’m feeling angsty. That being said, most of the stuff I listen to…. I listen to it for the soul it carries. Not just one genre, but anything that moves me.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
Tom Waits, Son House, Bruce Springsteen… They are so many more. But I find that I admire people who I feel like stand on their own and last through time. They all offer or at least offered something completely unique. I hope can reach that point someday.
Why the name The Bones of J.R. Jones?
Why not? It adds a little bit anonymity to what I do. Plus it rolls of the tongue a little sweeter than my full name. It gives me flexibility. I can move on from this music project one day and not feel tied because of the name associated with it. Or at least that’s the way I view it.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
I’m sure my view of it is a little different than what the audience sees and hears. But it’s just me up there with a kick drum, hi hat, tambo, and guitar or banjo, playing what I can. For me it’s a foot stomping, emotional, and a bit raw. A lot of hollering but I try to temper my sets down with a slow song or two as well. It’s always a release for me… and I try to make sure the audience shares in that.
You play multiple instruments during your set, which is insanely impressive, have you always played solo?
As far as the musical incarnation is concerned, yes. I have tried playing with some other people… but for some reason it just never stuck. I kind of accepted it now. It’s just me and I’m ok with that.
How does your creative process typically work?
I wish I knew. Maybe then I could turn it on and off when I need to. But it doesn’t work like that. It comes in random spurts… and I never know what will bring me inspiration. Sometimes it’s music. A song that just clicks with me. It germinates in me and kind of swells into something that I need to play out on the guitar.
What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
I have a good year so far. I have made a lot of headway. Mostly due to the kindness of friends and just growing as musician. And there always seems to be something good on the horizon, but a lot times things never pan out the way you hope. I can be bit superstitious and I don’t want to jinx myself… so I’m just going to leave it right there.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Challenges just become part of the day to day. People never writing you back, songs not coming out the way you hope, feeling creatively stalled and so on. The toughest thing is just accepting that this all part of the process and trying to learn to love it.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
I’m putting together a tour for August and parts of September…. and I’m already looking forward to getting back in the studio. I have some songs that need to get down before I forget them.
Why should people listen to your music?
There is no one reason. I think all art is subjective. If it moves you, turn it up. If it doesn’t, turn the dial.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
I would change almost all of it. None of it is sustainable. Art and business have never meshed. We need to come up with a new format that is fair to every one. I wish I had some solution, but I don’t. I think it’s more cultural than anything else. People expect music for free. They won’t pay .99 cents for a song(something they will have forever) but they will hand over 3 Dollars for a crappy coffee everyday. That’s just silly. Things like Spotify only exacerbate the problem. I think I get something like .007 of a cent every time a song is played. That’s crazy. How is anyone suppose to make living with that?
One song you never get tired of.
“Shiny Things” by Tom Waits.
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
The best? That’s tough. I remember seeing Q and Not U ages ago at North 6th in Brooklyn. That was an amazing show. Full of energy. Full of life. It made it easy to check out of the real world for a bit. That may have been the last time I was able to dance at a show like there was no tomorrow.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
I like to be outside. Take a trip to catskills. Lose myself for a weekend in the mountains and all that entails. Canoeing, camping, cooking, anything that takes me away from my computer.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Perhaps Clarence Worley. There is a man who would do anything for his love.
What kind of jobs did you have before you were in the music industry?
My resume runs the gamete. I tried to take jobs where I could learn a talent or craft: Baker, guitar tech, teacher, printmaker, bartender… the list goes on and on.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature?
The Spirit Family Reunion. Although… they don’t need the press. They are good people who are making some amazing music right now. Their live shows are always memorable.
FIND THE BONES OF J.R. JONES HERE: