Ari­zona mu­si­cian’s love for life per­me­ates his sound

Edmonton Journal - - YOU - ROGER LEVESQUE

Growing up in Texas with a love of the blues, singer-gui­tarist Carvin Jones was able to con­nect with some of the most fa­mous gui­tar stars from the south­ern states. Open­ing a show for B.B. King at the age of 22 earned him a good piece of ad­vice from the blues gi­ant.

“He told me, ‘You’ve got a good thing go­ing. All you’ve got to do is keep com­ing up with new ways to chal­lenge your­self.’ And that’s what I’m still try­ing to do. I’ve been a lucky guy.”

Now 51 and based in Phoenix, Ariz., Jones has more than paid his dues in the busi­ness, with a tour­ing reg­i­men that’s passed 300 per­for­mances over three con­ti­nents some years. He says it helps to stay in good shape. He doesn’t drink or smoke, works out at the gym, and plays bas­ket­ball a lot.

When it comes to in­flu­ences and gui­tar styles, he sub­scribes to play­ing his so­los eco­nom­i­cally.

“I try to play as few notes as pos­si­ble and to con­cen­trate on the feel and the fi­nesse of the notes. I try to let the notes breathe, and give them some space. It al­ways comes out much bet­ter like that. That’s the most ef­fec­tive way to cap­ti­vate an au­di­ence.”

The Carvin Jones Band makes a re­turn visit to Blues on Whyte this week af­ter their Ed­mon­ton debut at that venue last year. Jones has his reg­u­lar trio in tow, with as­so­ci­a­tions go­ing back many years for Phoenix drummer Levi Ve­lasquez, and a slightly newer ad­di­tion, bassist Mario Cian­car­ella from Rome.

“It’s al­most like we’re on au­to­matic,” he says of the trio and their abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate in­tu­itively on stage.

They’ll be fo­cus­ing on tunes from Jones’ re­cent fourth stu­dio record­ing, What A Good Day, brim­ming with solid blues grooves and sharp, ex­pertly crafted gui­tar so­los. With 11 orig­i­nal tracks, it takes on some clas­sic blues themes, but Jones’ lyrics man­age to add a cer­tain con­tem­po­rary spin, such as on the num­ber ATM Blues. And while a few songs dip into darker sto­ries about be­ing down and out, his over­all mes­sage is an up­beat devo­tion to the mu­sic, es­pe­cially on tunes like Why I Sing The Blues

or Blues Is My Life.

“I’m still singing the blues, but in a happy form. Maybe it’s about some­thing that hap­pened to me or maybe some­body else, but over­all I’m a happy per­son my­self, so I try to bring across that at­ti­tude.”

Jones was born in Lufkin, Texas. He owes his in­grained knowl­edge of the mu­sic to his grand­fa­ther who used to play blues al­bums around the house “24 hours a day,” as Jones puts it. He took up gui­tar at seven and played his first pub­lic tune at 14 at a birth­day party,

By then he was al­ready fa­mil­iar with greats like King, he­roes from his home state such as Fred­die King and Al­bert Collins, and blues rock­ers like Jimi Hen­drix and Eric Clap­ton, but his career didn’t re­ally take off un­til he moved to Phoenix at 19. There, Jones be­gan put to­gether his first ver­sion of the Carvin Jones Band.

Within a few years, he would find him­self play­ing some­where on the Phoenix club scene up to seven nights a week. Tour­ing across the U.S. fol­lowed grad­u­ally. He was able to make his first stu­dio record­ing, What You Need, in 1999, fol­lowed by The Carv­ina­tor (2008) and Vic­tory Is Mine (2014).

Be­cause he spends so much time on the road, he hasn’t found a lot of time to go back to the stu­dio, but good qual­ity live concert record­ings from such lo­ca­tions as Lon­don, Rome, Ham­burg and Spain have worked to fill out Jones’ his­tory. He also road-tests most of his tunes on stage long be­fore they end up on record. Right now, his eye is on tour­ing in East Asia af­ter an up­com­ing se­ries of Amer­i­can dates at Hard Rock Cafe out­lets.

The Carvin Jones Band plays the Com­mer­cial Ho­tel’s Blues on Whyte from around 9 p.m. Wed­nes­day through Sun­day, with a $6 cover Fri­day and Satur­day.


If you’re up to a short spin out of the city, this week­end’s Beau­mont Blues & Roots Fes­ti­val em­braces a wider range of artists than ever be­fore. Now in its 11th year, the non-profit, vol­un­teer-run event will fea­ture 29 acts from Fri­day through Sun­day, play­ing on two stages in the cen­tre of the town at Four Sea­sons Park.

This year, you’ll no­tice a larger por­tion of singer-song­writ­ers and rock­ers on the pro­gram, in­clud­ing Ser­ena Ry­der, Han­nah Ge­or­gas and Celeigh Car­di­nal on Fri­day, Joe Nolan and the Dogs, Rake and the Sam Roberts Band on Satur­day, and Erin Kay, Ben Sures and Mariel Buck­ley on Sun­day.

Other acts take off from surfer rock (Tsunami Brothers), or ska (Mad Bomber So­ci­ety), but names such as Dy­lan Far­rell hold down the blues an­gle.

Sin­gle-day passes start at $30. Visit

I try to play as few notes as pos­si­ble and to con­cen­trate on the feel and the fi­nesse of the notes. I try to let the notes breathe ...

Carvin Jones, 51, cred­its his mu­si­cal knowl­edge to his grand­fa­ther, who used to play blues records “24 hours a day.” Jones took up the gui­tar at seven and formed the first ver­sion of the Carvin Jones Band at 19.

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