The Jons
Gig Seeker Pro

The Jons

Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"New From The Jons"

It's been 3 1/2 years since The Jons released their debut album, Wine at the Hilltop (self-released, 2002), and it seems like they've been working on the follow-up for nearly as long. During that period, the Tucson-via-Nogales combo lost a couple of members and gained a new one, effectively slimming down to a leaner--and yes, meaner--version of their former selves. They're now a sextet: James Peters (drums, percussion, vocals), Charlie Rodriguez (guitars, vocals, French horn), Jon Villa (vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn, theremin), Ricky Custodio (bass, guitar, vocals), Jason Urman (vocals, piano, organ, synth, theremin, sax) and Javier Gamez (trumpet, guitar, vocals). This week finally sees the release of the fruits of their labor, the tongue-in-cheekily titled Greatest Hits Vol. II (self-released), complete with cover art mimicking that of some '70s dinosaur band (and it's driving me batty trying to figure out which one).

Where Wine at the Hilltop was a snapshot of a pack of youthfully exuberant, exceptionally talented players trying to cram as much of their music collections into their songs as possible--with an emphasis on ska, rock en Español and The Beatles--Greatest Hits Vol. II still veers from style to style (or, more accurately, merges many styles at once), but it's also more assured and is far more guitar-heavy (and those guitars get pretty damn heavy in places).

First song "Mirage" opens with a flourish of horns, nearly tribal drums and staccato organ stabs, then takes a momentary ska detour that's--to use a comedy phrase--called back on the second verse. In between, there's a first verse that subtly encompasses all of the track's basic elements, and a chorus that soars expertly. And then there's the bridge, which more overtly merges the fragments of the whole of the song, with even more emphasis on the initial ska break. (I know I'm breaking it down in a rather clinical manner, but the song itself is anything but.) The word "crafted" gets tossed around all too often, but here is a perfect example of a truly crafted song that clocks in at less than three minutes.

While '80s dance-punk revivalist bands are a dime a baker's dozen these days, "Miss Yugatu" is a giddy exercise in the almost forgotten hand-clap-utilizing new wave that, in reality, was far more pervasive in those days of bad clothes and worse haircuts. "Heroes Aren't Alone" is a blazing, ballsy guitar rocker tempered by British Invasion harmonies and abetted by a treated-voice spoken-word break that reappears later in the form of public-domain reportage samples of historical events (e.g., the declaration of World War II, President Kennedy's assassination, the space shuttle Challenger's launch). "Hideaguey" could be the theme to a James Bond flick, if Bond were recast as a Mexican (I smell a pitch!); "Docteur Waters" approximates Paul McCartney and Wings on a bossa nova flight; "Counter Melody" starts out as the theme song to a circus at a jazz club before nicking the melody from Queen's "Killer Queen" (and sounding like early Chicago while doing it); "Holy's Gay" is notable, among other reasons, for being the only song sung in Spanish on the entire album.

Maybe it's down to how often they switch instruments, but The Jons have always given off the vibe, more than most bands, that they're a truly collaborative ensemble. Whether or not that's actually true, if anything, Greatest Hits Vol. II reinforces that notion--and it couldn't be more refreshing.

(It should also be noted that both Jons albums were recorded at Waterworks Studios, with Jim Waters, who is known for his extensive input on the projects he works on. It's only fair to send props his way, too, for the resulting effort here.)

The Jons celebrate the release of Greatest Hits Vol. II at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, May 12. The show starts at 9 p.m. with openers The Deludes, Swing Ding Amigos and the Ten Percenters. Cover is $6, but you might want to pick up advance tickets, as it may sell out. Call 622-8848 for more details.

- Tucson Weekly

"The Jons Grow Up"

TucsonScene wants to start off this review by giving full disclosure: We love the Jons. Though there was an uncertain period a couple of years ago following the abrupt departure of one of their key founding members, we always fondly remembered our first meeting, about 6 years ago, at one of the legendary Stunning Tonto Records' after hours parties. We saw two Hispanic kids, who didn't look much over 21, wearing matching khaki safari-looking shirts with iron-on patches that spelled out, rather awkwardly, “THE JONS.” They looked frightened. We weren't sure if one of them even spoke English. Instantly, we were intrigued. After a few beers, and finding out we all shared the same love of Rock en Espanol, a bond was forged. It didn't hurt either that through the years The Jons' House, as it's now known, became notorious for throwing blow-out all-nighters where the male-to-female ratio was quite favorable to the hombres.

What really kept us coming back to their shows, of course, was the music. Though the lineup has changed and been streamlined since they first hit Tucson (via Nogales), the core members are still there: James Peters on drums, John Villa on lead vocals and horns, Jason Urman on vocals, keys and sax, Javier Gamez on guitar and horns, and Ricky Custodio on bass. Charlie Rodriguez was added a couple of years ago on lead guitar. On the first Jons CD, Wine on the Hilltop, you could hear the band's youthful exuberance in some of the more spastic arrangements and what sounded like helium-huffin' vocals.

The Jons' newest slick release, Greatest Hits Vol. II—which is a joke, folks, it's only their second release—shows they've matured in many ways. The album puts the band at the top of the heap with their peers locally, and sets the stage for them to become competitive on national (¡Y international, vato!) level.

Lead singer Villa has picked up the front-man-torch and ran with it. His vocal range has vastly improved, and he now has the chops to back up his cock-sure stage presence. Custodio, who did not sing lead on Hilltop, has shown himself worth his weight in gold and is a stand-out player on Hits. Peters is swinging the sticks with all cylinders firing, possibly trying to wake his late heroes Keith Moon and John Bonahm from the other side. Gamez and Rodriguez are double the flavor, double the Guitar-God-fun! Urman's songwriting is especially strong on this effort (one clever line:“I didn't mean to let you down/ Or put you in a wedding gown”), and he's responsible for the melody of the CD's thundering closer. Though each member is talented enough to start his own band (look at Custodio's side project, Shimo!), there's a certain chemistry they have when on stage together. They can play a show without one member here and there, but it just doesn't feel the same.

The Jons have always been very upfront about their love for Brit-Pop from the mid-Sixties, and it showed on Hilltop, which also gave nods to the Rock en Espanol and ska roots of the Jons' previous incarnation, the Nogales-based More Luck Thank Buck. On Hits, though they have retained the unique sound that people initially associated with the Jons (horn-infused, frantic, Beatlesque pop), lately they've been mixing this formula by writing rock numbers that remind you more of Who's Next-era Who, and less than a group of Mexi-Mod-Mop-Tops.

The blistering attack of the song “Heroes Aren't Alone” is framed by double-tracked, razor-sharp My Bloody Valentinesque layered guitars. But somehow the Jons are able to cram in Beach Boys-worthy harmonies and an epic ending that could have been lifted from side two of Abbey Road. Oh yeah, don't forget the speed-metal solo and some random JFK & NASA sound bites in the mix. It may sound weird, but trust us, it works.

“Cabernet” is mostly a Urman-Rodriguez collaboration, and you can especially hear Rodriguez's influence in the resonating rock-anthem solo/riff that runs throughout the song. A mid-70's AOR tune or a Guns and Roses tribute—just substitute wine for Jack Daniel's.

What's unique about these two songs, as well as “All I Ever Think About” (a tambourine-heavy ass-shaker featuring an early-Elvis-Costello organ), and “Miss Yugatu” (a clap-happy pop sing-along, and a possible single) is that there isn't one single skinny, brass, spit-filled instrument in sight--and you don't miss 'em either. The naysayers can no longer call the Jons a gimmicky band. These songs are solid rockers, and the lyrics don't get too complex or go beyond the universal themes of youth, lust, and unrequited love.

Now don't go thinking the Jons have forgotten their roots. The mellow ocean breeze of “Docteur Waters” (which tells the tragic tale of a father losing the only love in his life--his daughter--to her boyfriend) has a striking similarity to the Cafe Tacuba song “Como Te Extrano, Mi Amor.” “Waters” also features a spoken-in-French guest appearance by Eric Piffeteau, a member of the French band Little Rabbits. “Mirage,” which starts off the CD, features Los Fabulosos Cadillacs' and Mano Negra's trademark horn-organ-ska-breaks.

“Holy's Gay” is the only true Rock en Espanol tune, as it is sung entirely in Spanish by bassist Ricky Custodio. (He wrote it in Junior High!) The lone track Custodio sings on, “Holy's” is undeniably the best full song on the disc and perfectly answers the question, “So what do the Jons sound like?” The boys receive a little help from their friends on “Holy's” with a tuba and clarinet performed by James Jordan and Jose Arriola, respectively. The song usually closes out their live sets and it brings the house down every time. “Holy's” ends in a blur of trumpets; imagine an elevator full of Mariachis free-falling thirty floors. (Of course, the music Gods would never let this scenario occur.)

Just when you think it's all over, and it couldn't get any better, a sneaky piano creeps out of the silence as Urman hums a counter-melody. This is the same version that was recorded live in the studio, without Urman's knowledge, while he was improvising. The band just jumps in, pounds out the melody, and turns everything up to 11. Horns blare, distant choirs sing, guitars are wind-milled, and one can imagine fireworks exploding in the sky above. After his sticks are slammed down, Peters kicks the bass drum one more time and the CD is over. The Jons have left the building. If chills don't run up your spine during this number, you may want to check your pulse and cut back on the meds. (Or you could be passed out on a sofa over at The Jons' House. Do the cushions smell like beer?)

The majority of “Greatest Hits Vol. II” was recorded and produced by Jim Waters at Waterworks Studios here in Tucson from March of 2003 to August 2005. (That's like Brian-Wilson-pace!) At the last minute of the recording process, and to the delight of TucsonScene after much encouragement to do so, the Jons added a song they'd just written, “All I Ever Think About” to the final CD. It wasn't done at Waterworks, though. They recorded, mixed, and engineered it with Josh Harrison, right there at The Jon's House, in the very living room where TucsonScene has witnessed (and participated in!) much chaos.

The thing is, "All I Ever..." ends up being the best-sounding track on the whole album! With their new in-home recording setup, one can only imagine what the next Jons release holds. They've come a long way from that fateful night we saw them standing in a corner at a party, shy as all hell. They probably haven't worn those oddly-decaled shirts in years, but the Jons can look at them now proudly and realize how far they've come.

Look for a special extended History of The Jons feature as the CD release party nears. The release will take place at Club Congress on May 12th and will no doubt sell out. Tickets are only $6 and joining the Jons will be the Deludes, 10 Percenters, and Swing Ding Amigos. You can pre-order tickets (which are going fast!) by clicking on Club Congress. Listen to a couple of samples from "Greatest Hits Vol. II" at The Jons MySpace, or check out their official website at

- Tucson Scene

"The Jons Stay True to Tucson"

Once upon a time there was a great band who dreamed dubious dreams of platinum and gold. The road they would take to the enchanted land of fame and fortune would humbly begin in their hometown. It was there where their roots of modesty and prudence were left behind to pursue the ultimate quest for the chalice of sellouts.

Now, as The Jons stand before that long road, faithfully playing the all-too-familiar Tucson circuit, the only thing that seems to be holding them back are those roots, which are powerfully fresh and briskly unique.

The six-man band comprises UA alumni Jason Urman (piano, organs, sax, and vocals) and Javier Gamez (trumpet, guitar and vocals), as well as James Peters (drums and vocals), Charles Rodriguez (Guitar, horn and vocals), Jon Villa (trumpet and vocals) and Ricardo Custodic (bass, guitar and vocals). The Nogales natives aren't ones to deny the importance of breeding your style with a little bit of hometown lovin'.

"It's extremely important as a member of the music community to support your local scene," Urman said. "It's hard for someone who's unsigned to stay alive."

The band wasn't on a label, so it formed on its own in 2000, fittingly named The Jons Records. Through its outfit, the band has released its first album Wine at the Hilltop in 2003, and plans to release a second, Greatest Hits Vol. II, on May 12.

"When we made our first album, we didn't have much studio experience," Urman explained. "We didn't really know what we were doing, and because we've learned a lot from that experience, our new album is a lot more polished."

It's extremely hard to define anything about The Jons. The band's sound seems to be a product of an eclectic list of influences, which range from Elvis Costello, and The Kinks to The Clash and even "Chicago." The presence of horns in most of their songs also reveals a true magnetism brought about by their taste for Latin and jazz music.

"The horns are really important in making up our sound. They really add a whole new dimension to the band," Urman said.

In the dawn of the release of a second album, the band's future seems to be vibrantly bright. Aside from their CD-release party on May 12 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., The Jons will play Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday and even venture as far as Hawaii to play a show in June.

"I think the band has come really far," Urman said. "And I like where we're going."
- AZ Daily Wildcat

"No Jonnies Come Lately( Wine at the Hilltop Review 02)"

It's a bit tough to get The Jons' story straight--there are, after all, seven of them, at least five of whom used to live in Nogales, Arizona (we think). Back in those days--a remarkable seven years ago, despite the fact that at least one of them still isn't even of legal drinking age yet--the roster was a bit different, and they played in the unfortunately named band More Luck Than Buck, opening for international acts, mostly in Mexico. Eventually, the band made its way to Tucson, and last year decided to finally begin documenting the songs they had accumulated, at which time it was decided a name change was in order.

Touting only one guy named Jon (singer/trumpet player Jon Villa; the other members are drummer James Peters, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sergio Mendoza, singer/bassist Ricardo Custodio, singer/keyboardist/saxophonist Jason Urman, singer/trombonist Jose Barnett, and singer/guitarist/trumpeter Escubi), the band somewhat inexplicably settled on The Jons, as well as a brand-new, sexy mod-girl logo (keep your eyes peeled for their unmistakable van around town). With the new name in tow, they added a few new members, began to practice in earnest and started recording their debut album with producer Jim Waters at WaterWorks studio.

Like we said, it's a bit tough to follow the full details of the band's formation and early years, and in a way that's appropriate: the music found on the finished product, the too-short Wine at the Hilltop (self-released and out this week following a solid year of work), is stylistically everywhere at once, and joyously so.

The album opens with stomping drums and a cheering crowd, which escalates into a wailing sound--a human voice?--which finally drops out, and a nifty, pummeling guitar riff and horn section take over, with more menacing shrieks buried in the din. That's the first 1:29, then it's off to a few seconds of an ol-skool '80s synth loop, a quiet voice that informs you, "We're gonna try different things," and all of a sudden you're smack in the middle of one of the most radio-friendly power-pop songs since Rick Springfield dropped "Jesse's Girl," angelic backing vocals all over the place. There's a catchy bridge ("She's not alright," delivered in a suave croon a la the Strokes), then another bridge, with creepy harmonies answering "Come to my little house" to the singer's calls of "I'll give you my lovin," "She's really bangin'" and something or other about a father and a mother, before abruptly shifting into a funky groove with the phasers set on "dance!" Then it's over, already all embedded in your brain, despite the fact that there hasn't even been time for a proper chorus yet. We're still only at the four-minute mark.

It's a huge, unabashed pop sound that's as fresh as it is reverent, and it establishes The Jons as one of the most purely enjoyable bands in a town currently boiling over with them.

The Jons celebrate the release of Wine at the Hilltop with a CD release party at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 21, at San Francisco Bar & Grill, 3922 N. Oracle Road. Chango Malo and Good Talk Russ open. For more information call 292-2233.

- Tucson Weekly

"The Jons LIVE @ City Limits"

Some things in life are absolute truths--they cannot be argued:

-Water seeks its level

-Madonna will always think she’s still culturally relevant

-Politicians will cheat on their wives and still preach family values in public

-Swamp coolers don’t work in August

-Tucson loves The Jons.

This is especially true among the female population. TucsonScene's Dani is no exception. The location for this show was the East side’s City Limits. There's something about The Jons' collective classic good looks and accessible music (though music snobs worship them too!) that draws audiences to the band like magnets. The Friday night show proved this more than ever and it also hinted at another possible truth--The Jons are going to be big, really big, someday very soon.

The Jons always give you more than what you paid for. Whether it’s wearing matching outfits (pin striped suits, wrestling masks, mime costumes) or perfecting entire sets of albums or bands (The Who’s Tommy, Café Tacuba, Love, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs), The Jons never fail to deliver. I’ve yet to bring a Jons “virgin” (we’re not talking about their after-hours, mind you) to a show that didn’t leave asking when they play again (or why there are no CDs for sale).

Deep blue lighting cast a supernatural hue over City Limits, as the Jons stood silently onstage; heads bowed in apparent contemplation. A deep voice proclaiming itself as God resonated through the room, announcing the Jons' vocation to spread their music throughout the world. The Second Coming? Not quite--it was just one of the most clever live music intros to ever grace the City Limits stage (or anywhere else in recent memory). In fact, it was none other than Jons’ drummer James Peters’ booming voice. He recently recorded his reality TV-meets-sci-fi intro at Waterworks West Recording with engineer Jim Waters, where they are currently mixing their next CD.

After God's introduction, The Jons exploded to life with their opening song; a slide show of Jons images--their logo, promo photos, first album cover, you name it--played behind them. It was very reminiscent of U2’s Zoo-TV multi-media intro. The beginning of their set consisted entirely of songs that will be featured on their upcoming album. The new tunes are smooth and catchy. They include the amazing "Miss Yugatu," a play on words and obsession, complemented by Jason Urman's killer keyboard riffs.

Other new songs showcased were "Ur" and "Dr.Waters", all of which highlight the rest of The Jons’ near bottomless well of talent and rock sensibility. You’ve got dynamic lead vocalist Jon Villa, who now looks and sings like a front man. Bassist Ricky Custodio lays down a driving rhythm section that allows for Peters’ Keith Moon-like drumming heroics; he really knows, in legendary producer Bruce Dickenson’s words, how to “explore the studio space.” Multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Charlie "C-rod" Rodriguez and Javier Gamez complete this mind-boggling package of genre-mash ups that needs to be seen and heard to truly comprehend.

The Jons ended their set with some songs from their first album, Wine on the Hilltop (also recorded at Waterworks), and some older songs in Spanish that never got on disc. Those hardcore fans in the audience familiar with sang along to with mucha pasión.

Leaving City Limits, it was apparent that the Jons had found It--the very essence that sets one band several notches above the standard bar band. The Jons don't settle for mediocrity; they never fall into the traps of "we're-just-a-local-covers-band" syndrome or just plain old laziness. They've already started concentrating on the finer details of what makes a great band great, and it shows: The audio-visual effect of their live performances, the development of musical motifs, the focus and drive to time and time again exceed expectations. Tucson loves The Jons--this is an indisputable truth. Soon, so will the world.

- Tucson Scene


The Jons Greatest Hits Vol II - May 2006

Wine at the Hilltop - Dec 2002


Feeling a bit camera shy


Comprised of 6 childhood friends in their 20's, The Jons exemplify the meaning of being a dynamic and electrifying group.

Armed with their unique musical ability to Rock bilingually in a variety of ways, The Jons quickly forged ahead by starting work on their first album with Jim Waters (Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) at Waterworks West Recording. The resulting album Wine at the Hilltop (2002) showed amazing skills and rocksensibility, producing album sales of over 5,000 in Tucson alone, and their sophmore album The Jons Greatest Hits Vol 2(2006) is well on its way of trumping Hilltop's sucess.

Now here is what we are really about. Since there are 6 of us with different musical preferences, we have a long list of influences. To name a few: The Beatles, The Who, Motown and Oldies, Chicago, Mano Negra/Manu Chao, Fabulosos Cadillacs, Zeppelin, U2, The Strokes, The Shins, many jazz musicians and much more.

We are a very versatile band as each one of us can play more than one instrument and can also sing in Spanish(we all grew up in a border town in Southern AZ). When we arent playing our original sets, we pack bars playing hours of different styles of music, mixing in rock, latin dance/rock, pop, jazz, and everything else we can get our hands on.