Guitarist and singer/songwriter Johnny Jones writes and sings about thoroughly modern themes in a tradition-based blues style. The Nashville-based Jones is one of a handful of veteran, virtuoso bluesmen who are local heroes on the Nashville blues scene, which is surprisingly healthy given Nashville's legacy as a home for country music.
Jones was born in 1936 and moved to Memphis at age 13. He moved with his mother to Chicago in the early '50s, in time to learn from and share stages with the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. For a time, Jones shared an apartment with harmonica player Walter McCollum, and together, the pair formed a small group that worked regularly with harmonica player Junior Wells and guitarist Freddie King.
After tiring of long Chicago winters, Jones moved south again, this time to Nashville, to pursue a career as a studio guitarist. He formed a band in the early '60s, the Imperial Seven. That band worked regularly at the famous New Era Club in Nashville. While working in studios with the Imperial Seven, blues-rock master Jimi Hendrix would come sit in from time to time. Also in the 1960s, Jones played rhythm guitar along with Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown in the house band for a Dallas TV show, The Beat. In 1968 he formed a new band, the King Casuals, which cut several singles for Peachtree. By the end of the 1970s, frustrated by the feast or famine nature of a bluesman's income and irregular pay schedules, Jones retired, aside from an occasional stint playing guitar for Bobby "Blue" Bland when his tour bus would be making its way through Tennessee. Around Nashville in the late '90s, Jones accompanied the likes of Earl Gaines, Roscoe Shelton, Charles Walker, and others at local clubs. He finally released his debut album under his own name, I Was Raised on the Blues, in 1999. Two years later, he released Blues Is in the House for the Toronto-based Northern Blues Music label; the album was very well received by college and public radio DJs. He has long remained one of the stars of Nashville's often overlooked blues club scene. ~ Richard Skelly