Jones For Real
After breaking with The Lock, Nancy Jones finds a roots-rock sound.
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Photo: Nancy Jones says her new band, which plays Ocean Thunder Saturday, reflects her Southern upbringing.
It''s been a short, straight trip for Nancy Jones'' newest band, Jones. It''s a story that started with a chance meeting. "It''s kind of a funny story," Jones says. "Mike [Staples], the drummer, and I met at the post office. We saw each other across the room and knew that we had to talk to each other."
At the time, Staples, a former member of Nectar of the Gods, was playing with Medium Chubby, a local band that was getting fairly regular work at clubs around town. Jones was working as part of a duet with keyboardist Mark Sherkus, one of the members of Jones'' former group, The Lock. Neither Staples nor Jones were particularly happy with what they were doing.
For his part, Staples says he was tired of being the primary person responsible for setting up all his band''s gigs and that he wanted to be involved in a group where the business end of performing was a more evenly shared experience.
Jones was in a more complex state of flux.
"The Lock was a project-based band," Jones says, "and when the album (The Lock, 2001) was over, we had a choice. We could either go to Europe where that kind of music is popular, or break up. Mark and I decided to keep going as a duet, but I wasn''t real satisfied with that; I wanted a full band."
The Lock, which had a couple of local shows, delivered a strange, retro sound somewhere between Styx and Carole King. And, although it was an interesting sound, it didn''t really suit Jones'' earthy, rock-vocal style.
After meeting Staples, Jones went to see a Medium Chubby gig at the London Bridge Pub, and asked both Staples and the bass player, Shawn Stewart (aka Koji) to join her and Sherkus. The quartet had its first rehearsal (in Jones'' bedroom) on May 28. A scant two-and-a-half-weeks later the fledgling group provided the musical entertainment for the Monterey Gay Pride celebration at the Monterey Fairgrounds on June 15.
"Things fell together so well at the first practice; it was almost like we''d been playing together forever," Jones says.
Although she originally thought to name the band after herself, Nancy Jones decided that the chemistry between the bandmembers deserved a more encompassing name, and shortened the name simply to Jones, which can be interpreted on at least a couple different levels.
A videocassette from the band''s Fairgrounds performance reveals a much more hard-rocking band than The Lock. On the basis of that videocassette, along with a recommendation from singer/songwriter Peter Mulvey (for whom Nancy Jones has opened), the band garnered two showcase performances at Ocean Thunder on Sunday.
The shows will feature all-original songs by Jones, who recently won the annual John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the folk category for her song, "Blood of Judas." Her songs have an almost-roots feel to them, fueled partly by the topics she covers.
"No more pussy music," says the North Carolina native. "I want to be Alanis Morrisette meets Marshall Tucker. I''m from the South, so Budweiser and living in trailers have been part of my life, but I like the modernization of rock that Alanis is bringing to the music."
Jones alternately belts and caresses her lyrics in a smoky, husky voice that is reminiscent of early Melissa Etheridge, and her songs'' imagery is something of which Jones is proud.
"The music that we''re doing," says Jones, "if you''re intelligent enough and close your eyes, you don''t need MTV to tell you what the songs are about; you''ll make your own video."
Jones plays two showcase performances at Ocean Thunder on Sunday, at 4 and 6pm. 643-9169.