Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones

Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones


Captivates with his deep mix of gospel, soul and blues vocals, powerful passionate harmonica tone and technique, his quirky chordal phrasing on guitar and his masterful story-telling.


Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones, a multi-instrumentalist (harmonica, guitar, vocals) has been a vital force in the Detroit music scene since he moved there from Chicago in 1971. His voice is expressive and soulful and he has a versatile instrumental technique that can range from suave uptown blues to backstreet grit.
Born John Junior Jones on June 21, 1941 on a plantation in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, his family soon moved to East St. Louis, Illinois where he grew up listening to records of Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker, and Sonny Boy Williamson. At the age of thirteen, he was heard by Little Walter Jacobs, who encouraged him and gave him pointers on playing harmonica. Johnny frequently hung around the blues clubs, where he also met Albert King and Little Milton.
It was the stirring sounds of gospel vocalists, however, that inspired him the most. Jones heard O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, and the Spirit of Memphis when he was only six years old, and remembers the impact their music had on him. When Jones was a teenager he moved to Chicago, where he spent the next twelve years as a guitarist for various gospel groups.
After picking up skills as a welder, Johnny moved to Detroit, where he quickly became a key figure in the Detroit blues scene. After years of playing Detroit area clubs he recorded his first track on a 1991 Blues Factory anthology that also introduced Detroit’s Butler Twins. Shortly after this he moved back to the Chicago area, where he caught the attention of Earwig Music’s Michael Frank, who would later record Jones’ critically acclaimed debut album, “Ain’t Gonna Worry,” which gained him recognition in Living Blues Critics Poll for Best New Blues Album (Contemporary) in 1996, and a W.C. Handy Award for best new male blues artist in 1997.

“If you like your blues straight-ahead and tough, with just a hint of soul, this is the one to get” –Blues Revue

“…solid blues marked by Yard Dog’s soulful vocals and flowing harp solos.” –Campus Reader

1997 W.C. Handy Award - Best New Male Blues Artist
1996 Living Blues Magazine Critics Poll - Best New Blues Album - Contemporary


Anything But Without You

Written By: Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones

I’d rather be on public welfare
Oh, I’d rather be, darlin’
Lost in space somewhere
I’d rather be somewhere sad and blue
Oh, I’d rather be, darlin’
Anything but without you

I don’t care I were the talk of the whole town
I don’t care, darlin’
If you got me actin’ like a clown
But so what, darlin’?
If I know your love is untrue
Still, I’d rather be, baby
Anything but without you


If all the money in the world
Was mine, you see
You’d have everything you want, baby
Right down in the poorhouse I’d be
It ain’t nobody’s business,
Treat me the way you want to
But still I’d rather be, baby
Anything but without you.


Everybody can laugh
When they see me passin’ by
But, okay, I don’t care, baby
if they see these tears in my eyes

So what if I know, darling
That you’re loving two?
But still, I’d rather be, baby
Anything but without you


Ain't Gonna Worry - Earwig Music Company (4937)