By Danni Bauer
CALGARY – From the first note, The Bones of JR Jones connects straight to the iconic tonality of southern blues. Lead Belly and Blind Lemon Jefferson were major inspirations for Jonathan Linaberry, who makes up the skeleton of The Bones of JR Jones. Even the static sound that blankets tracks such as “Free” and “Let Go” off debut album The Wilderness (2012) channels the sound of 1950’s blues era. His next two albums Dark Was The Yearling (2014) and Spirit’s Furnace (2016) only build on what he has accomplished thus far.
The term ‘old soul’ comes to mind, but Linaberry is a pragmatist, and he is highly modest about his craft and art. “I don’t know if I am that self aware,” Linabbery tells Beatroute,while on a walk through Highland Park in New York over the phone. “For me it’s about falling in love and being nostalgic for the blues.” Currently recording his fourth album, Linaberry is currently grappling with what it might mean to bring in new players to create a fuller sound. He is working towards this, but maintains a desire to stay true to the work he has done solo. “As an artist should I call it something else? In the end it’s still my art and it’s in the same environment, the roots are still there.” Linaberry is extremely reverent to the history of the blues, and of his position as a player in the contemporary moment.
Music is one of the best gifts you can give someone; whether it is a mix cd for a friend, a playlist on Spotify, or a documentary, it can be a touchstone for whoever receives it, and Linaberry is a huge proponent of this method of spreading the love. “My dad gave me American Roots Music (2001) VHS tapes when I was doing my undergrad,” Linaberry explains. The four-part documentary explores the historical roots of Folk, Country, Blues, Gospel and Bluegrass, with live footage of its early masters, and the documentary stuck with Linaberry ever since. He had started with punk roots, but his heart was always in the blues, “raw passion and community is a part of punk. There is a parallel within blues and punk music.”
Blues is ubiquitous, and there is a long continuum of authentic therein. With The Bones of JR Jones, Linaberry manages to hit the nail on the head, producing blues that could easily place you on a porch in the Deep South, sucking back on whiskey with the fire flies, all the way from New York’s modern metropolis. His heart, passion, and reverence comes across in every note.blues, Jonathan Linaberry, The Bones of JR Jones