Jony James Blues Band
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"Jony James Blues Band"

The Jony James Blues Band is a hardworking trio that depends on standard Chicago-style slide riffs and roadhouse rock'n'roll; unlike most bar bands, however, they are capable of writing fine originals. Check out the brooding I Don't Know Love and the 12-bar Don't Let It Blow Your Mind, both of which make In This World another interesting release from Greg Spencer's East Coast based Blue Wave label.

--Andria Lisle - Living Blues


"In This World"

I rarely pay attention to record company promo blurbs because, more often than not, their only intent is to shamelessly peddle a product. But even a card-carrying cynic like myself has to admit that Blue Wave head honcho Greg Spencer (who also produced this disc) knows whereof he speaks when he claims that what sets this blues album light years apart from the rest of the pack, aside from Jony James’ exemplary guitar playing with his telepathically tight band, are Jony’s original song compositions.
Then again, anytime you see a blues album with a pseudo-psychedelic Alphonse Mucha cover, chances are you’re going to get something more than just your usual standard set of 12-bar workouts. So it comes as no surprise to hear Jony James eschew the dreaded shuffle and approach the blues as if they were invented yesterday and in need of a serious retooling today.
And if that means daring to be different by adding a bit of organ-fueled R&B funk to the mix to spice things up (“Come Back Home”), then so be it. Because what makes In This World such a fresh offering is the paradoxical fact that it swings (“Time Flies”) with the kind of funky old-fashioned groove (“Voices”) that you used to regularly hear back in the ’70s (“I Don’t Know Love”).
And don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking, either. Hell, I miss Hendrix too. And yeah, he sure was great in his day, wasn’t he? But that was 35 long years ago. And look where he is now.
So stop living in the past! Take off that copy of Nine To The Universe and listen to Jony’s panoramic “Don’t Let It Blow Your Mind” instead. Because there’s a new experience in town, and his name is Jony James.
- Detroit Metro Times


"Upstate New York again!"

Here’s one for the city that gave us hot wings and the bills. The term “cutting edge” describes the T-in a number of ways-the music of the Jony James Blues Band. James-given name pronounced like Johnny-sings through a shredded voice box while launching steely notes that depending on the nature of the song land somewhere between the territories of Albert King and B.B King, two of his admitted idols. The Buffalo, New York guitarists and his band-bassist Rod Horning and drummer Kent “Boom Boom” Leech-have logged over a thousand gigs together, horning in on a tight-knit-, hard edged, and yet very soulful sound all the while. On their debut CD In This World, they present nine diverse originals in a way that tells you flat out that they’re into it. With guest pianist Mark Nanni on “Don’t Let It Blow Your Mind”, deep, swampy, funk is the order of the minute. That’s by the fleet-fingered and very jazzy “Time Flies.” On “Time Is All We Got (Or Haven’t Got),” they tour the chitlin circuit. And there’s plenty more, like the percolating “Voices,” during which James shows he’s capable of makin’ magic on the guitar. These guys are ready to break out. Just watch. James doesn’t have a site on the web just yet, but do visit www.bluewaverecords.com. There’s information on James as well as the story of the artist-oriented blues label that’s made a home outside of Syracuse, New York for nearly two decades. They offer an excellent 15th anniversary sampler that shows off quit well their past and present talent and the passion of the discriminating tastes of the label head Greg Spencer.
- King Biscuit Time


"Blues Bites"

Jony James is one of the tastiest guitarists around. Sporting a Chicago education, he's thoughtful and melodic, never overplays, and has some slide action going, too. James proves a fine songwriter on In This World (Blue Wave 145). This is the thinking man's blues, deep and wise, but still a lot of fun; "Time Is All I Got" is a brilliant soul tune, while "Voices" is sweet, subtle funk. And that's just a start. Go buy it. - Blues Revue


"USA - Jony James Blues Band"

Another fine example of what the Blue Wave label has to offer and this one is produced by none other than Brit. Blues legend Kim Simmonds who is making a bit of a name for himself on that front. Jony [pronounced: John-nie] was born in buffalo and raised in Chicago where he played with J B Hutto and Eddie Taylor. His influences were Albert King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy and B B King but there Blues are his own. His rasping vocal works well although it sounds sometimes fragile he never breaks up, it's soulful and Bluesy. Playing over 200 gigs a year the three-piece band has been together for 5 years now and it shows. This is a tight outfit who play some superb funky Blues, the rhythm section of Rod Horning [Bass] and Kent "Boom Boom" Leach [drums] really kick ass!! Jony plays super guitar and slide. Guest musicians include Dennis Cotton [of Savoy Brown] and Mark Nanni [Kim Lembo]. This album carries some really good tunes and has an overall great feel to it. If you like your Blues with a bit of funkiness and soul to them and some great playing then this is for you without a doubt......Caleb [and we'll make it available thru' Blues Direct] - Blues Matters


"SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK"

SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK:



Jony James Blues Band — What About Tomorrow (Blue Wave) :: A lot of guys who sing the blues these days sound so gosh-darned healthy that their weepy message to blub inevitably gets diluted. Jony James, however, sounds so run-through-the-wringer on this new album of his that he can't help but get his point across in no uncertain terms. Oh, and his uncanny guitar solo on "Tragic Magic" just may be the best blues guitar solo ever, this side of Roy Buchanan.



Be seeing you!
- DETROIT METRO TIMES


"Best Of WNY Review"

By Bob Silvestri
bobsilvestri@bestofwny.com
I’m sure if you checked the odometer on Jony James’ van it probably is over 100,000 miles. True road warriors, they have been up and down and back and forth across the land. Still, they find the time to write and hit the studio to preserve the moment for history. Their latest What About Tomorrow features nine tracks all written by James and anchored by one of the most robust rhythm sections in music today, Kent “Boom Boom” Leech on drums and Rod Horning on bass. Playing their own blues rooted style they manage to mix in elements of jazz, progressive rock and a dash of seventies guitar muscle. James’ vocals and writing here are seasoned and mature having been honed at the knees of the Chicago blues masters when James resided there. Whether it be the old time slide blues on the track “Going Down This Road”, the soulful “You And Me (Like A Rose)” or the low down dirty blues of “”You Make My World Go Around” you feel the authenticity of a bluesman and not the homogenized version sometimes passed off these days. The closing track “This Old Heart” features some fine Dobro picking from James. For more on Jony James Blues Band and their new release What About Tomorrow check out www.jonyjamesband.com or www.bluewaverecords.com
- Best Of WNY


"What About Tomorrow Review"

The Jony James Blues Band is a trio from Buffalo, New York. Jony (pronounced "Johnnie") plays guitar, Dobro, and sings, with Rod Horning on bass and Kent "Boom Boom" Leech on drums. They've been together for a decade or so, put out three CDs by themselves, and then signed with Blue Wave for (so far) two more releases.
The first thing to be said about their latest CD, What About Tomorrow, is that the arrangements and the playing of the band are very good. From one track to the next they find a riff and pretty much stay in it. There's no showing off by anyone to spoil the hypnotic, mellow-evening-in-the-roadhouse effect, though there's an ear-tickling harmonic effect here and there. James' guitar is apposite, never too many notes and just the right ones. The rhythm section is the perfect engine room, subtle and carrying things along without attracting undue attention. James sometimes seems to be using one of those electronic devices that allow him to sing a duet with himself and his voice occasionally goes from one channel to the other in a call-and-response sort of way. Greg Spencer is the producer and he doesn't get in the way.

All the songs are James' originals. The first, "Strange And Funny Thing," has a Hendrix feel. The eighth, the title track, has a slightly oriental sound. There are no loud tracks and no up-tempo ones, but each riff is different and these guys are experienced enough to avoid monotony.

The seventh of the nine tracks, "One Of Those Days," is the only one that almost makes me nervous, starting out with fuzz-tone on the bass. It is also the longest track, at 7:38. After the tension slowly builds with "Everything's always changin'/Everything's re-arrangin'," you think the drummer is trying to rush the tempo, but he isn't. It is a measure of Leech's skill that he can sound like he's playing faster while the tempo stays the same. And suddenly at five minutes in the fuzztone disappears, the air clears, the persona has survived "Still tryin' to find another way/Every dog has his day."

The last track, "This Old Heart," is a simple love song. It's a solo by James, who apparently double-tracks himself on acoustic guitar and Dobro. His whispery voice reminds me a bit of Mississippi John Hurt.

The downside, at first, is that the songs themselves, or at least the lyrics, are often less than memorable. Occasionally a word doesn't fit the tune or a phrase and just falls on the floor and lies there like it's wandered in from another song. James' singing is leathery, whispery, not always accurate, and sometimes almost offhand, like somebody filling in at a rehearsal because the real frontman couldn't make it.

I didn't know quite what to make of this. I left the CD in the player in my truck and listened to it going back and forth to work for a few days. And it began to grow on me. James has had a lot of experience in Chicago and in Canada before returning to his hometown; he's no kid. Maybe he has become a supplicant, begging the gods of music in a humble way, almost privately, not needing to be a "Rock" singer, and we are allowed to eavesdrop.

What About Tomorrow is at least a wonderful souvenir of a great bar band - I wouldn't hesitate to catch them live - and maybe more than that. At any rate, they remind me a bit of Rockin' Jimmy and the Brothers of the Night, who made two wonderful albums in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early 1980s, though Jimmy Byfleet was a better singer. But the Jony James Blues Band is really unlike any other band I've ever heard.

Donald Clarke is an associate editor at BluesWax
- BluesWax / Blues Revue Magazine


"Charlotte interview"





The Jony James Blues Band
The Newest Legendary South Chicago Blues Man
Special to AMPS 11 Magazine July, 2007
By DEBBY WALLACE


The good news is: there are still some damned good Blues bands out there, plugging away, playing their music and fervently hoping for some kind of breakthrough so that they can survive by doing the one thing they love most in life--play the Blues. Recently, I was fortunate enough to meet such a band. This was their second date at The Double Door Inn in Charlotte and hopefully, they will be back around soon to share their incredible sound. But to get to the point, each year there are hundreds of bands competing to break out in this niche genre we call the Blues. It is definitely not an easy road, nor was it meant to be.
Then, something may happen. It can be as simple as running into the right person at the right time that may be willing to invest time and dedication into helping your band. Sometimes, a magazine such as Blues Revue puts you on the sample CD in their issues. Sometimes, after trying for a long time, some musicians and bands are just at the right place at the right time. And if they are fortunate enough for that to happen, then they should certainly “seize the day.” I sincerely feel that the Jony James Band is approaching that point in their career quite rapidly now.
Recently, when I heard them play live, I thought to myself, “This is a band that can go the distance.” The band consists of lead vocalist and scorching guitarist Jony James. The drumming and some back-up vocals are handled exceptionally well by Kent Leech (aka Boom Boom). Last but not least is Rod Horning on the bass who adds considerably to the rhythm section. James was originally born in New York but fortunately was raised in Chicago where he became enamored of some of the south Chicago Blues legends such as B.B King, Albert King, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters just to name a few. He started playing out early. At the age of 17,he played in Blues clubs in Chicago with other famous Blues players of the day including Eddie Taylor, Willie Williams and the well-known J.B. Hutto. James toured for a while with Hutto and later settled in Canada where he played with a Native American band.
By the time the nineties rolled around, James returned to his birthplace, Buffalo, New York and begin playing and writing his own type of Blues which he called Survival Blues. I had the good fortune to do an interview with the band and when I asked James about how he defined “Survival Blues,” he replied, “For many people, survival is what it’s all about. For me particularly, the Blues is such a part of what I do that it literally is survival to me.” The band currently plays about 225 shows a year and recently received some industry recognitions. For the second year in a row, ARTVOICE MAGAZINE voted the band “Best Blues Band.” Also, at the WNY Blues Society Super Jam 2007, drummer Kent Leech received the Blues Beat Magazine “Muddy Waters Award” for DRUMMER of The Year.
After hearing the concert that night, it is obvious to me that Jony James deserves the title Legendary South Chicago Blues man, for that spot has definitely been lacking, as some of our older Blues musicians are no longer with us. Remember the name: Jony James. I feel sure that you will hear it again soon.
On July 7, if you would like to catch this band live, check out the festival at Eagles Nest in Banner Elk, NC. Jony James & his band will share the stage with Devon Allman and Edward McCain. At 9:00 PM, there is a “SUPERJAM” planned which will include 4 of the best guitarists in the East. Check out: www.jonyjamesband.com for more info.
Hope to see you there!
- Amps 11 Magazine


"James Gang"



The best blues music is not played just for kicks. It should always be entertaining, of course, but the blues was born out of the deepest desire to escape from hardship - if only mentally, and merely as a temporary salve for survival.
It's with the weight of those heaviest of burdens that a fine line is drawn between the carbon-copy booze bands, who merely play the blues, and the artists who are able to use the blues to deliver true feeling from their soul to yours. The Jony James Band falls firmly in the latter, having long since earned the right to coin the term "Survival Blues" to describe its line of work.

Guitarist/singer-songwriter Jony James, bassist Rod Horning and drummer Kent "Boom Boom" Leech can already call themselves the hardest-working band in Buffalo, thanks to nine years of more than 225 gigs a year in town and on the road. They're set to release their fifth album, "What About Tomorrow" (Blue Wave), without any love from major labels or promoters, but with a strong will.

"When I was little, everyone always told me I had it, but I didn't know what the hell they were talking about," said the Buffalo-born James, recalling his days on Chicago's South Side as a green teen with nothing to his name but a guitar. "Sometimes I think I must've lost it, 'cause I'm broke as a joke, and if I had it, I should've gotten paid by now.

"I still don't know," he added, after a hearty laugh and a sobering pause. "All I know is, I've spent my life playin' music. I'd like to be more secure financially, but I've always played music, so I can't complain."

James hit the streets young in Chicago, inspired by B.B. King and Albert King, instructed by Eddie Taylor and Buddy Guy, and intent on playing for a living. He followed Jimi Hendrix to London, only to arrive to the news of Hendrix's tragic death. All have informed his existential songwriting, which dances between lessons of love and life while constantly questioning the big picture.

"Jimi was a cat that talked a lot about global issues, whereas B.B. and Albert King, and Buddy Guy, they were more personal," he said. "I've always loved both [approaches]."

While James' strong songs and a combination of searing and serene solos have always stirred the soul, "What About Tomorrow" captures the trio's telepathic tempo changes and myriad moods, revealing a band equal parts muscle and finesse that transcends the blues into pure soul music.

"It's a departure - it's not straight blues by any means," James insisted. "But I'm trying to keep the blues roots. Blues is still the ultimate form of expression for the guitar - it's a language of its own, but you can't write it down."

The blues is always evident on the album, but the arrangements are more daring, due in part to their heavily experimental live shows, in which any of the three can take over at any time.

"Sometimes the groove is so heavy, you can feel it," Leech said. "You make a quick left, and everyone makes it with you. I think a lot of those parts came from those real special nights."

"You're grabbing energy out of the crowd when you stretch out, and it's hard to capture that in the studio," Horning added. "We're starting to, but we haven't totally captured it yet."

That's the magic in this band's sound - you can feel the struggle in the group's "Survival Blues," but they approach it with captivating conviction and a constant craving for adventure that allows them to grow with every show.

"We're just beginning to open doors," James said. "There are so many sounds to be found, songs to be written. I feel like we're just at the beginning."
- Buffalo News


Discography

Jony James Blues Band - 1998 (Self Release)
Some Things Never Change - 1999 (Self Release)
Live At The Tudor - 2001 (Self Release)
In This World - 2003 (Blue Wave Records)
What About Tomorrow - 2006 (Blue Wave Records)

Photos

Bio

Jony James is overflowing with soul. It drips down from his hands onto his guitar, in lyrically urgent bends and intense ethereal assaults. It pours out through his weathered, leathery voice, telling vivid, open-minded tales of a tumultuous life, with his impressive song writing skills. His jovial, yet pensive nature is evident in both his music and stage presence. He is often compared to Stevie Ray Vaughn, however, his persistence on being "Jony" and playing Jony James', original "Survival Blues", sets him apart from the rest of the Blues Shows currently on the circuit.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Jony was raised in Chicago, which was full of Blues, Motown and Soul influences. B.B. King, Albert King, Otis Rush, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix, were among those influences and are evident in his playing.

By the age of 17, Jony was playing Blues Clubs on the south side of Chicago, with local Blues legends such as Eddie Taylor, Willie Williams and J B Hutto, among others. After touring with Hutto and chasing Hendrix to Europe, Jony settled in Canada, playing with the Native American "Roadhouse Band from Six Nations" and finally the Matt Minglewood Band from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

In the 90's, Jony returned to his birthplace, (Buffalo, NY) and began playing and writing his own material as well as being the front-man for the Jony James Blues Band, playing "Survival Blues".

After 11 years and over 250 shows a year, the band is still together and is incredibly tight. Jony is joined at the hip by the explosive, Buffalo-born and raised, rhythm section of bassist, Rod Horning and Kent "Boom Boom" Leech, on the drums.

Horning, who has toured with Chris Beard, lays down expressive low lines from his five string bass and serves as a mighty anchor. Boom Boom pulverizes the skins with precise power and flooring force that would make you think you're hearing two bass drums. He grew up with Lucky Peterson and played with both Lucky and James Peterson.

After independently producing and releasing three CD's of original music, “Blue Wave Records” signed Jony.

The first Blue Wave CD, "In This World", was released internationally and rose to #5 album of the year in "The Detroit Metro Times". It was a tremendous success and catapulted the band into national recognition.

The second Blue Wave release titled, "What About Tomorrow", is currently available and has got some heavyweights in the Blues Industry very excited. To experience original "Survival Blues", you must listen to the Jony James Blues Band.

The band is available to play for Festivals and venues across the country.