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In keeping with its 12-year tradition as one of the best live music venues in Sacramento, the Torch Club will feature a “different” brand of rock and blues Thursday night.
The Jeff Jones Band offers its own unique blend of rock, blues and R&B, a style describe by front man Jeff Jones as “Americana Soul.”
Jones, a native of New Mexico, now nests in the borough of Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, where he lives, records and performs his original music often.
I recently sat down with Jeff for a candid conversation about his upcoming performance in Sacramento, the first in several years, and how he describes his musical style, what he thinks about the Sacramento music scene and why he was somewhat of a gypsy during his childhood:
TL: Where did you grow up?
JJ: Interestingly enough, I moved 17 times before I graduated from high school. I was born in Northern New Mexico and I’ve lived a bunch of places in Texas. I’ve also lived in Pennsylvania, Washington state, Arizona and Oklahoma. After I graduated high school, I joined the armed forces. I kind of grew up as a child of the U-Haul truck.
TL: How old were you when you started playing music?
JJ: I started singing, playing piano and things like that when I was quite young. My family is a Baptist family and my mom remarried a bunch. When I was kid, I would spend time with my Grandma Jones in New Mexico. She’s a pretty devout religious woman, so it was church every Sunday and there was always a piano in the living room. There was a lot of singing going on.
I probably didn’t pick up the guitar until I was 18, when I moved out to Arizona and met a guy, a mentor of mine, Raymond King Shurtz. He taught me how to play the guitar and that was the beginning of it. But I’ve been singing pretty much all of my life.
TL: Who were some of your early influences?
JJ: My earliest influences were guys like George Thorogood. I spent a lot of time in Texas when I was a kid and George Thorogood was awesome. Stevie Ray Vaughan also had an immense influence on me. I’d say George Thorogood got it going and Stevie Ray Vaughan turned up the heat.
Randomly, I was also into Supertramp. Although I don’t know how much they influenced me in their style as much as they did in the quality of their music.
TL: So how would you describe your musical style then?
JJ: I’ve kind of coined a term for it — “Americana Soul.” Because it is not really blues and it’s not really R&B, it’s kind of like soul music. I definitely play a lot of slide guitar.
It’s been described as a fusion of rock, blues and R&B. If you like Americana music and you like soul music and you like blues, you’d like what I do.
TL: Have you recorded any albums?
JJ: I’ve recorded three full-length albums and one short album. The first album was recorded here on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, that’s called “Barbed Wire Sandals.” The next album, “Bisquets & Gravy,” was recorded half in Italy and the other half was recorded here on the North Shore, so it’s kind of a compellation of both recording studios.
And then the latest album, “Be With You,” was recorded entirely in Bologna, Italy at Spectrum Studios.
TL: So you have a fan base overseas?
JJ: I’ve been pretty much consistently touring in Italy for the last six years, since 2006.
I usually tour regionally on the West Coast, in San Francisco and Reno, which I’ve been doing for the past 11 years. I live up here (at Lake Tahoe), so when I’m not on tour, this is the area that I play. I need to get to Sacramento more.
JJ: We have a lot of fans that come up from Sacramento to the Tahoe area. We’ve had a lot of requests from fans to get down to Sacramento more often, so I’m really excited that we get to play at the Torch.
TL: What do you think about the Sacramento music scene?
JJ: You know, the little I know about it is great. A lot of musicians come up from Sacramento and play up here. I know there is a tremendous amount of talent in the Sacramento region, Grass Valley and Auburn.
This area of California is stocked full of talented folks. But I’d like to get to know the music scene there (in Sacramento) a little better.
TL: Why are you “excited” to play the Torch Club?
JJ: You know, I’ve never actually been to the Torch Club. I first heard about the Torch Club when I saw a video of Jackie Greene playing there on You Tube, and I thought, “Ah man, what a great venue.” I’ve been recommended to play at the place for a long time. A lot of people have told me that my music would be a great fit there, and so I’m hoping that to be the case.
The Jeff Jones Band will play at the Torch Club, 904 15th St., at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 19. Tickets are $5 at the door. For more information, call the club at (916) 443-2797. For information about the Jeff Jones Band, please visit www.jeffjonesband.com.
Toby Lewis is a writer, journalist, blogger, jogger, outdoorsman, musician and song writer living in the Sacramento area. Check out his blog, “Tales of the Traveling Uke,” here.