BluesWax Sittin’ In With
By Robert Putignano
Lloyd Jones has six albums credited to his name and while being a regional favorite for decades, he hasn’t managed to create national attention just yet. But things may change with his latest disc, Doin’ What It Takes, which has all the elements needed for Jones to vault onto the radar screens of DJs, journalists, and festivals. For what it’s worth, Jones’ Doin’ What It Takes will definitely be on my 2012 Top Ten albums. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jones just as his latest and very well produced CD was released.
Bob Putignano for BluesWax: How you doing Lloyd?
Lloyd Jones: I’m doing well for this time of day [8:30 a.m. eastern time, 5:30 a.m. in Lloyd's Pacific time zone] I always wondered what it was like to be up so early. [laughs]
BW: Thanks for joining us. What time do you usual roll out of bed, or should I say what time do you usually go to bed?
LJ: I typically stay up late even when I am not working; I’m basically a night person. In reality this is not that early for me as I usually get up around 9 a.m., but I get up slow and I’m not used to having to deal with strangers so early.
BW: Am I that strange Lloyd?
LJ: Not anymore! And it’s nice to finally meet you, I enjoyed your BluesWax CD review of my new disc, and I have to say you have some wisdom in your ears.
BW: Thanks, but I truly felt you did a really nice job on your new album.
LJ: Thank you, man. Everyone had a ball making it; we felt that from when we first started recording the rhythm tracks that they had some fire in them. I’ve worked with the musicians on the album for a longtime, so I wanted to go back and call on my friends who I’ve worked with and it was nothing but fun.
BW: This new disc has a great vibe to it, and so different than your previous record, Highway Bound.
LJ: That previous record was pretty stripped down. I wanted to get something out, but for this new album I had to borrow money to get it done right as it has a lot more musicians on it to pay.
BW: I actually heard a couple of tracks earlier this year on the Delbert [McClinton] cruise, courtesy of Delbert’s previous [and now retired] sax player Don Wise who told me that I was going to like your new record.
LJ: Isn’t Don great?
BW: Have you performed on the Delbert cruise prior?
LJ: Many times. I always found it very inspiring because it’s like music camp. There wasn’t anyone on board that I didn’t like, everyone shares, it’s a fantasy world because everyone is there for the music. Playing on Delbert’s cruise always kept my spirits high for months thereafter, that’s because of all the great music and for all the friendships made.
BW: And I see you also had another regular Delbert cruise singer, Teresa James, on your latest CD.
LJ: Oh yeah! I thought she’d be perfect for the one track I wanted to use her on, but she wound up singing on every tune. In fact, she told me that I could remove any of her vocals from the entire album but I left all her vocals in place, she adds great energy. After doing this for so many years I’ve realized what I learned from so many musical experiences, especially so many of the artists on Delbert’s cruises.
BW: I hear that the 2013 cruise may be the last one.
LJ: Delbert said that for the last two years though, so I keep hoping that he just can’t sit at home just yet.
BW: I am sure you’ll back me up on this Lloyd, but for the WFDU listeners out there and the BluesWax readers: Don’t let the Delbert cruise pass you by, I know it’s not inexpensive, but if you can find your way down to South Florida this January, you will not be disappointed.
LJ: Yeah, oh yeah! It’s very special; people play together throughout the entire cruise, plus for me it’s important and nice that we all get to spend time with each other during the day too. At any other kind of festival or gig you just don’t get that kind of interaction.
BW: And the music goes on for over twelve hours a day.
LJ: With lots of fun surprises.
BW: Being a west coast guy, how’d you get into the Delbert clique?
LJ: Don Wise was an important factor, but there was a guy [Gary Turlington, Delbert’s Rocking the Boat producer] who stumbled across my Trouble Monkey album from ’95. He really liked but didn’t know who I was, but he purchased the album and gave it to Delbert, but a couple of years went by and I hadn’t heard anything back. Don Wise kept playing my CD on the Delbert tour bus, and eventually I was asked to do the cruise. Wise dug the horn arrangements by my keyboard player Glenn Holstrom.
BW: Outstanding horn arrangements!
LJ: Yes. So when we started to put the deal together Delbert’s people knew they couldn’t afford to hire my entire band with horns so we used Delbert’s band. So there I am onboard and ready to hit the stage when Turlington walks up to me and says I never heard you play live, so you better be good! Plus Delbert’s sitting at the board getting ready to check me out, so I just hit it and it really worked out, and we got invited back for future cruises.
BW: Way to impress.
LJ: Especially when you’re in an environment where you really want to play.
BW: I don’t have a musician’s perspective on Delbert, but he seems like a pretty easy going guy?
LJ: He just loves the music, so he’s all over the ship clapping and digging all the performances.
BW: Did you get to sing with Delbert?
LJ: Yeah. Plus when he was on tour out near me in the Northwest he asked me to sit in with his band and he kept me up there for forty-five minutes. We’ve sang together for at least a half dozen times.
BW: Nice! What’s your Web site Lloyd?
BW: Do you ever get over here to the Northeast Coast?
LJ: I’m kind of working on that. I’m looking to team up with some Northeast musicians, it’s easier than working with agents [laughs] but seriously the local musicians are more involved, so I’m going to try to build something and get out your way.
BW: You’ve been getting a good amount of airplay around the country, so the timing might be right.
LJ: I’m so delighted! It’s such a fun recording that I’m very proud of, there’s been good reaction to it too and I am delighted. It’s your entire fault too!
BW: Why’s it my fault?
LJ: Cause you wrote all those nice things at BluesWax!
BW: Where’d you read that? [More laughs] So you know, I wouldn’t have written what I wrote had I not meant what I said. There aren’t a lot of recent recordings that make the quality effort and have the production value and arrangements like yours. So there you go.
LJ: I’m so glad to hear that. I came up as a drummer and have been working on my groove. I’m more of a drummer than a guitar player, but I got frustrated because for so long it seemed that too many guitar players wanted to sound like their heroes and don’t veer far from that concept. Back in the old days, people like T-Bone Walker and Little Walter were breaking new ground, so I wanted to make a sound that drew from the masters but also focused at having a modern and unique/contemporary new sound. Sometimes DJs tend to put instruments and musicians into boxes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good shuffle and I enjoy all kinds of music, but I also like to add other flavors of music such as New Orleans music that add to the soul. All of these flavors help to tell the story rhythmically. I feel music needs to be punched up like that to be effective with what a musician is trying to convey. This country has so many different musical styles to call on, and I still get excited about it.
BW: I almost always like it when artists mix various styles into their playing and recordings.
LJ: Yes, I like telling stories too and did a lot of writing for this new CD. I felt kind of bad covering three tunes though, but thought they were important to have on it, like “My Wife Can’t Cook.” My brother still had the forty-five and we listened to it again, I decided to put some slide on it and add some New Orleans sauce which was a lot of fun for me.
BW: I’m sure! Tell me a bit about this record label? I’m not familiar with them.
LJ: They are so wonderful. Reference Recordings. It’s really a classical label that records live audiophile recordings. I didn’t think they’d be interested in what I was doing, but they came back to me and were all excited about it. They want to branch out into other genres of music, they also have another blues artist, Doug MacLeod too, and they are so focused on supporting my efforts. So blues is kind of a new world for them, but they give me all the elbow room I wanted, so it feels like a team. Jan Mancuso came to me and told me they were interested. They wanted it recorded in twenty-four bit, and it came out sounding great.
BW: And you just headlined the Waterfront Blues Fest in Portland.
LJ: Yes, I’ve done that festival since it started. This was their twenty-fifth anniversary and for this set I used four horns instead of two, and we also added vocalist LaRhonda Steele, who’s fabulous, plus percussion.
BW: I see you also added Terry Evans on the disc.
LJ: Yeah, Terry’s was on my Trouble Monkey album too and he wound up getting two records of his own from the same Trouble Monkey label [Audioquest] and I was thrilled that he got those records added to his discography. So I’ve always felt that I should have Terry on all my recordings, he’s so relaxed and full of joy. He always walks into a session singing.
BW: I remember those Audioquest recordings. Mighty Sam McClain, Ronnie Earl, and other blues artists also recorded for them. Their sound engineer Joe Harley was a magician in the studio too, he always made high quality and near audiophile sounding recordings.
What’s next for Lloyd Jones?
LJ: This is probably the first time that I’ve been in the position of having another bunch of new tunes ready for a follow-up album. The tunes are ready, I just need to start to finish them up, and I’m ready to go! It’s a good new feeling; usually I’m terrorized at wondering where the next batch of new tunes will come from!
BW: Some people age like fine wine.
LJ: Thanks, it’s funny but at this stage of the game I feel more relaxed, and I’m glad this latest record came out so well. So much so it’s been a real inspiration for me to keep on keeping on.
BW: Lloyd I’m going to let you go, thank you for your time for letting peek into your brain.
LJ: Thank you Bob, I will get out your way soon, and I will come out and bother you.
BW: We’ll go out and have a cocktail or three.
LJ: Now you are talking, cool!
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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