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Phoenix New Times
Guitarist Carvin Jones stays on-brand even in a pandemic.
Blues Guitarist Carvin Jones Is Bringing Supplies to Seniors
Niki D'Andrea | April 16, 2020 | 7:00am
The last time most folks saw flashy Phoenix blues-rock guitarist Carvin Jones in person, he was shredding his six-string in a sequined shirt while walking across a local bar top.
But if you see him in person these days, it's likely he's pushing a grocery cart full of bottled water, toilet paper, and other supplies down a grocery store aisle early in the morning. (And he'll be sporting a sequined face mask.)
For a few weeks now, Jones has been shopping for supplies every day to deliver to senior citizens all around the Valley. It’s become a full-time day gig for him during the coronavirus pandemic. As his good deeds hit Facebook, more requests for help have started coming in. He arrives at stores with lists every morning and then spends his days dropping bags off at people’s doorsteps.
We recently caught up with Jones to learn how this all started, where it’s going, and how he’s keeping the music alive.
Phoenix New Times: Why did you start shopping for and delivering groceries to seniors in our community?
Carvin Jones: I saw a buddy of mine in England make a post on Facebook about people taking elderly people's money to shop for them and then never coming back with the groceries. Then I heard the same thing happening here and about people stealing things out of the elderly’s carts at the stores.
I was raised by my grandmother and her blind sister, so I knew I had to do something. I started shopping for some elderly neighbors with my own funds, and it has gone on from there. Now I have fans messaging me with elderly neighbors, family, and friends who need things and people sending in small donations to help with the shopping. It's become bigger than I expected. I’m delivering all over the Valley, so we welcome the donations!
What’s a typical day like for you doing this? How many people do you deliver to?
I try to get to stores in the mornings before the necessities are gone. I have people send me lists of the things they need the most, and I do my best to find everything they request and deliver the same day. It varies how many deliveries each day, but lately I've had to enlist some helpers because there have been more and more requests.
What are the things you usually buy?
They usually just request the basics — bread, fruits and vegetables, milk, ground beef and roasts, rice, butter, eggs, things like that ... and, of course, toilet paper! I've been lucky that I have fans who give me heads up about where they see toilet paper, so I try to get to it before the hoarders do.
What have been some of the reactions when you stop by?
They have all been so thankful and kind. Lots of, “God bless you, Mr. Jones,” and “Stay healthy.” One cute lady was scolding me for not having a mask on, so I immediately had some sequin ones made to go with my trademark sequin stage shirts — since I couldn’t find any masks in the stores.
How long will you continue to do this?
As long as I'm needed. I get so much joy out of brightening up these people's days and seeing their smiles. I may continue even after this quarantine is over.
How are you sustaining your music career?
I'm staying connected with my fans through Facebook and Instagram. I've been doing virtual concerts on Facebook Live once a week, mostly to give people a way to experience attending a live show in some way since we can't do it in person. But I'm in a great position, so I'm not hurting as bad as some other musicians. My career will still be in a good place when we get through this.
Get Ready to Rock
Carvin Jones "I'm What You Need" CD Review
What can you say about Carvin Jones aside from being the biggest people person on the planet! Known variously as 'The Carvinator', 'The Phoenix Thunderbolt', and 'the fastest cat in the west', he is certainly all these things and above all one of the great entertainers of our time.
Quite simply when it comes to a unique selling point, Carvin Jones has broken the mould. But where his live performance is a frisson charged blur that induces even the most temperate person to get on their feet and punch the air with all the fervour of a gospel meeting, his recorded output has in the past been more problematical. The question is how to convert all that supercharged energy and that special people connection into the cold, dispassionate, clinical unforgiving carrier of the CD?
'I'm What You Need' strikes a compromise, somewhere between the warts and all style of the late Hound Dog Taylor, and a mellower song driven approach.
The danger here is that if you manage to bottle this Texas hurricane you will neutralise a genie whose raison d'etre is to make a magical connection with an enthusiastic crowd. Happily on 'I'm What You Need' he manages in part to retain his 'joy de vivre' by dragging in guest vocalist Roscoe Taylor on the celebratory opening duet on the title track and the surprisingly funky horn led 'One Night Stand'.
Curiously, given the live show emphasis on his virtuoso playing, the guitar work here is relatively restrained earlier on, but being Carvin Jones that means he still punches a hole through a wall. And with such route one lyrics as 'Six foot three with a sex appeal, I'm what you want you want, baby know the deal', you are left in no uncertain terms as to Carvin's humorous sense of presence.
In fact 'I'm What You Need' finds CJ fronting a 7 piece band, all of whom help to flesh out his patchwork of rocking blues, shuffles, and rock and roll. He approaches the languid shuffle 'Ya Drive Me Crazy' in a husky whisper with the Bill Troxell on bass and drummer Patrick Riley nailing down an uncompromising back beat. He also digs deep for the low down blues of 'Drowning on Dry Land' with a full horn section acting as a nice foil for Carvin's use of rich toned sustain.
The larger than life persona shines through on the self explanatory titled 'Born to Win', and he add some busy Albert Collins style note clusters on the instrumental 'Lightnin & Ice' complete with fine piano embellishments from Tim Furkes.
'I'm What You Need' is arguably Carvin's best album. For long time fans, that means a welcome dozen new original tracks on which his singing is getting stronger, and a sense balance being struck between the man's natural vivacity and the restrictive studio environment.
And while the closing, down- home noodle of 'I Need Your Sweet Lovin' is perhaps an outing too far, there's enough here to offer more than a glimpse of Carvin's unique style. If this CD passed your personal litmus test then you should follow the natural progression to his new 'The Carvinator' DVD, but in the meantime this four out of five stars CD should point the uninitiated in the direction of one of the great showmen of our time.
Carvin Jones "I'm What You Need" CD Review
Review Written by Alan Candy
Oct 31, 2007
Carvin a place in rock history - the man with the flying fingers.
No CD could ever do Carvin Jones justice. Having seen him live at The Horn in St Albans recently, I can testify that he is the most amazingly involving, characterful entertainer you’ll ever come across in rock/blues.
He’s flash, glitzy, bling and anything else you can use to describe a man who performs with a fedora, a sequined shirt, chunky jewellery and who is built like an brick outhouse.
In fact, he’s so larger than life that sometimes it’s hard to see past the rock star glam and remember there’s an incredible musician behind all the glitter.
So I’m What You Need, the latest CD by the Carvin Jones Band, may go some way to redress the balance. If you can’t be mesmerised by his live performance, perhaps you can just sit back and appreciate the music.
Jones sets the standard from the title track with a ZZ-Top-like easy-rocking number that showcases his energetic lead guitar style and rough-hewn voice.
The pace slows next for Ya Drive Me Crazy – fat, dirty guitar sounds and no-nonsense lyrics – You drive me crazy/You sexy lady/I’ve got my eyes on you/You know just what to do. Shakespeare it ain't, but you get the picture.
Thing hot up with the instrumental Strawberry Shortcake, where Jones seems more at home – he’s happiest when improvising fast and loose and sliding in a few jazz-blues chords for good measure.
Drowning On Dry Land, one of the only tracks he didn’t write, is a real slow, clubby number but I don’t like the horn accompaniment – too soul-like and over-produced for me, but each to his own. Calvin’s solo also struggles to impose itself.
But if you don’t like the next track, Born To Win, then you just might as well be dead. It’s a trad rock and roll number, complete with double-fast piano, smackin’ drums and Jones in full flow on the Strat.
My pick of the album has to be Havin’ A Bad Day (I know the feeling) which could have been the theme music to an ’80s American cop show . Here’s where some brass backing really DOES add some worthwhile colour and this, combined with some slappy funk bass and imaginative guitar work all ties in for a dramatic and memorable track. Great stuff.
It’s back to chunk-achunk-achunk rock’n'roll by numbers for Lightning And Ice – a good time instrumental with plenty of rolling honky-tonk piano that could have been cut any time in the past 40 years. Irresistible, if a little predictable.
Earlier on the album, Carvin was drowning on dry land, now he’s similarly grounded in Stuck In The Mud – an downbeat lament about clothes wearing out, cars not starting and trouble all around. Some things never change in life, or in the blues.
We’re back to horns, soul and music more Wilson Pickett than Chuck Berry in One Night Stand – this is too long and tedious for someone as on fire as Carvin.
But he gets back on safer ground with the devotional Miss You Baby, followed by Wanna Walk Witcha Baby.
The album winds up with I Need Your Sweet Lovin’ – so laid back, it could be John Lee Hooker playing on his back porch. The bluesiest and most traditional number on show has him cleverly flirting with dark, minor chords and showing his music dexterity.
For those who haven’t been touched by Carvin Jones’ presence in the world, this is really no more than a warm-up. A man who has rightly been compared with the late, great Jimi Hendrix needs a live audience, a sweaty club and some ear-shattering amps to really be appreciated at his best.
The big man from Phoenix is a star who thrives and feeds off an audience and I’m What You Need is a bit like trying to appreciate what he looks like through the wrong end of a telescope.
Carvin Jones @ Music Palace, Crouch End N8 UK
Review Written by Pete Feenstra
Oct 10, 2007
CARVIN JONES @ Music Palace
Hailing from Lufkin Texas, guitar slinger Carvin Jones was the right person at the time to help celebrate what would have been the forthcoming 65th birthday of the late Jimi Hendrix.
In terms of sheer flamboyance, outrageous guitar stunts, and above all virtuoso playing, Carvin Jones has all the attributes, but his show is a melting pot of the original, the retro and the brilliantly improvised.
Who else but this Texas Tornado would start a high octane shuffle, then slip into his own anthemic 'I'm what you Need', before delivering a few unlikely lines from 50 Cents before playing a rock and roll outro?
Whether darting into the bewildered audience to fire off some incendiary licks or whether to bring the crowd to its feet with a mesmerizing 'Becks Boogie', or indeed pausing to allow an audience member to strum his strings while he did all the work left handed, Carvin Jones is the ultimate entertainer
And if there is to be a future for rock blues and post Hendrix guitar heroes it surely lies in the lap of this fireball of a performer who from the first number springs from the trap like a rabbit being pursued by a fox. He plays incredible fast, he moves at the speed of , but he also occasionally slows down to deliver conjure up some light and shade through subtle variation of tone and sustain. Above all his charismatic personality held his audience in the palm of his hand from the first volley of notes until the standing ovation at the end. Every now and then you almost wished for a cessation of intensity, but Carvin never allowed that in either of his two sets, keeping the audience focussed, involved and at times simply mesmerised.
Carvin Jones is not Jimi Hendrix, but he certainly has the chops, the showmanship and above all the sense of occasion to remind everyone just how exciting live music in a club setting can be.
"Bluesblues" Web Post
Carvin Jones "I'm What You Need" - CD Review
Review Written by David Blue
Posted on Oct 04, 2007
CARVIN JONES "I'm What You Need" CJ Label
Carvin Jones has been voted in the world’s Top 50 guitarists in Guitarist Magazine and this album confirms that status. Jones and the band open with the eponymous title track, a rousing blues with gunslinger guitar and vocal duet with Roscoe Taylor. You Drive Me Crazy has fuzzed guitar to introduce this slow burner. Strawberry Shortcake is R&B with Steven Von Wald’s saxophone introduced to good effect. Carvin shreds up the fretboard on this instrumental which also has a clever piano break from Tim Furkes. Drownin’ On Dry Land is a strong Chicago blues but with an unnecessary trumpet in the background. It is too much of a conflict with Jones’ guitar, which overpowers everything. Born To Win is a fast paced R&B with stinging guitar. The excellent Patrick Riley on drums keeps the whole thing together.
They stay with R&B for Havin’ A Bad Day and this confirms that Jones’ guitar is the star. Excellent horns on this as well. The slightly familiar instrumental, Lightning & Ice is a fast paced, shuffling blues on which Furkes gets his share of the limelight. The electrifying guitar of Jones heralds Stuck In The Mud; a familiar tale of a lost job, no money and a woman leaving. This down on my luck blues at its best. There is a little more power to Roscoe Taylor’s voice on One Night Stand, an R&B/Soul crossover with Jones’ guitar piercing the sky. Miss You Baby is a rolling blues with a return to his smokey voice and prominent piano from Furkes. Wanna Walk Witcha Baby is another rolling blues and they finish off with I Need Your Sweet Lovin’, a slow, delta blues with a primeval feel. Simple guitar and voice is a fine way to finish.
Eric Clapton thinks that Carvin Jones is the next up-and-coming blues player and I am not about to argue with him.
Mick Kenny aka MTW
Carvin Jones @ The Madison Rathmines Dublin, Ireland
Review Written by Mick Kenny
July 28, 2007
CARVIN JONES @ The Madison Rathmines
A musical tornado blew into Rathmines on Saturday night all the way from Phoenix Arizona and treated the full house of delighted music fans to some tube screaming roadhouse tinged Texas Blues Rock. Carvin Jones is an ace guitarist and a broad brimmed fun charismatic front man who mixed time honoured classics from Hooker, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan with his own originals and several tributes to our own Rory Gallagher during the performance. It was high energy solid gold fun from the minute the sequined Carvin stepped on stage with Carvin repeatedly bringing the stage down to the audience with ecstatic reactions from the spellbound audience in the tightly packed Madison Bar as he weaved his way through the crowd with his Fender Stratocaster screaming into the stratosphere.
A Carvin Jones gig is the ultimate participation event for the audience, if you leave your pint out of your hand for a second there is a good chance Carvin will lay his tortured Strat on top of it and commence to play it lap style. Nothing stands between the artist and the audience at a Carvin Jones gig, there are no barriers, and it’s a wonderful feeling and a testament of his self confidence and natural friendliness on stage or off that leaves one and all thoroughly entertained.
Carvin is an ace player and delivers the set of classic covers and medleys with an uncompromising muscular brass knuckled style on his Black Fender Strat, that takes you to the hearts and hands of the essential bluesmen enhanced with some tube screaming sound effects. The guitar – bass – drum line up delivers the rollicking roadhouse rockers with Carvin’s dark brooding vocals teasing the audience. The classic bar room favourites are delivered in rapid succession with Carvin’s fluency imagination and versatility being grounded by his long time stage partner Bill Troxell and the help of an Italian rhythm section on this leg of the tour.
The audience were amazed at his playing and it’s great to see such ability and talent being harnessed by such a fun loving entertainer and it’s good to feel so much fun in the atmosphere. The Carvin Jones gig had us all exhausted at the end but the crowd could have gone on all night long because of the up beat enjoyment. Carvin said at one stage “I am a man who knows what he wants, get up and dance, you know its cool” and that about sums him up perfectly”. Promoter Pat Cannon strapped on a bass guitar and joined the band on stage for the final encore. There’s no messin with the kid.
Mr.Kyps Live Music Venue
Review Written by Neil Nicholson
February 22, 2007
CARVIN JONES & Bloozer at Mr Kyps
I had a great surprise last night courtesy of the Carvin Jones band. After 2 pints of excellent 49er (thanks again Kyp and team), cradling my third, I had a smile on my face right through the most "performencest" show I have seen for ages. Carvin played the heart out of his overdriven Stratocaster (and Fender The Twin - the ugly one I once had too!) - and was a really successful example of the great presentation style delivered by USA based bands Mr Kyps. They really know how to deliver! In case you missed him it is probably fair to describe Carvin as an obviously warm-hearted, 6ft+ black powerhouse, from Phoenix, Arizona, with a Stevie Ray Vaughn hat (and SRV guitar licks...plus the Jimi Hendrix influence he shares with SRV), who really puts on a maximum-entertainment show, highlighted by several audience-winning strolls through the large crowd, swapping fist based "punch gesture of goodwill" (my pal says - coz' i don't know how to describe it!!!) with grinning onlookers, who occasionally were invited to strum his Strat!
Carvin is a good fiery player, and left the subtle stuff in the dressing room last night - realising the crowd wanted what he delivered - an almost non-stop set of covers spiced with a couple of originals. Great support was delivered by excellent Italian drummer (Joe?) and fellow Phoenix-based bassist (missed his name in the excitement and effects of 49er!) who also sang some of the songs - Hey Joe and Voodoo Chile - spring to mind whilst Carvin was whooping it up in the audience! Nice touch! So, why was I surprised? Well, I did my homework on Youtube and though interested I was not impressed by what I saw.....but on the night he knocked me out! Great stuff - well done again My Kyps.
Mr.Kyps Live Music Venue
Review Written by Mick Ward
February 22, 2007
CARVIN JONES & Bloozer at Mr Kyps
After a miserable rainy day, what better way to get a bit of sunshine back than a bluesfest at Mr. Kyps. By the the time we arrived support band Bloozer had just started their set and what a great little blues band they are, next time we won't be late. Most of their set are covers, but very well played, with Bill on lead guitar excelling during his solos. Their vocalist has a great blues voice similar to Larry Samford of The Rocky Athas Band. An excellent version of 'Heartbreak Hotel' went down extremely well, a great start to the evening.
The Carvin Jones Band had their own MC to introduce them and he spent several minutes building up the atmosphere, but needn't have worried, Carvin came on to the stage to be greeted by a very enthusiastic blues loving audience. He hit the stage like a whirlwind and never let up the pace unless you count him doing press ups near the end of the set. Dressed in a sequined top and donning a black hat, he strapped on his battered looking Stratocaster and took us off on to a new high of blues music. Backed up on drums by John Paul ? from Italy and fellow American Bill Troxell on bass, who also never let up on the pace, of this the most energetic and talented blues guitarist to hit these boards for many a year.
Carvin plays his guitar in every position you can think of and some more, to take a breather he lay on the floor with his legs in the air holding the guitar with his feet and playing the fret with his fingers and then balancing it just on his feet. I lost count of the number of times he jumped over the barrier to go on walkabout amongst the audience who were loving every minute of it, especially his version of 'Hey Joe' and 'Voodoo Chile' with Bill left on stage to tackle the vocals, while Carvin played up to the crowd, even stopping for a photo shoot with members of the awe struck audience. Then he was back up on stage to play two guitars at the same time, one with each hand, and to top that off he shook off his hat and played one of them behind his head, Just when you thought you'd seen it all he'd pull another gimmick out of the hat by playing with his teeth or holding it like a violin player. This guy is pure showmanship and entertainment, and poses the question, is he as good as the legendry Jimi Hendrix ? Those people that were there can answer that, all I'll say is that Carvin plays right handed.
Live Reviews Preview
Review Written by Keith Thompson
Issue 35 (28/01/2007)
August 27, 2006
CARVIN JONES @ Hotel California, Birkenhead.
Thanks to Eric Harvey @ Soundwave, the healthy Merceyside Bank Holiday night audience witnessed a man who most definately was at the top of his game and worthy of the praise heaped upon him by Messrs. Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. Preceded by Burnley's Cutler Waterworth Band whose set was a beautifully executed groove of original Rock'n'Blues mainly from their thoughtful muse King Cotton (Blues Matters label), the scene was set for The Phoenix Thunderbolt.
Jones is one of those infuriating musicians who makes the guitar look easy and gigs seem like a walk in the park. Don't be fooled. To reach this stage of total brialliance, Carvin Jones has made the Stratocaster his weapon of choice. The smile from the audience when you walk into the California said it all. There is no side to Carvin. No rock star pretence hiding in the dressing room until it was time to stride on. But does he look the part? Oh yes. Dressed in Hendrix style black hat, his influences are obvious and he doesn't hide them under a bushel.
The set kicked off with a medley of standards such as 'Boom Boom'/ 'Rock Me Baby' all smattered with joie de vivre and energy. Carvin lasted all but two minutes on the stage before he came down into his audience. The tribute to the great man's greatest hits continued through 'Purple Haze' to the technical highlight 'All along the Watchtower', 'Hey Joe' and finishing with 'Sunshine of Your Love' and 'VooDoo Chile'.
In all my years of going to gigs I haven't seen anyone who bonds with the audience faster than Carvin Jones. He's a showman! But it all comes naturally to him. This is his gift and he shares it at close quarters to all who come to watch. Whether stood on someone's chair or dancing with the audience, it is easy to forget that this showmanship is founded by skill. This hour-long set ricocheted along and finished too fast. Possiblly peaking too early with the Hendrix histrionics, I'd like to see Carvin Jones do a full two hour set showcasing his own stuff and building up to the greatest hits in part two. To be fair, he had been travelling from the Colne Festival, so less was more on this occasion. If Hendrix was watching he'd have smiled that his legacy was in the safe hands of a rich talent.
Review Written by Pete Feenstra
February 15, 2006
CARVIN JONES @ Beards Blues, Tooting, London.
There are gigs and there are special gigs and then there are Carvin Jones gigs! Never in the history of Rock Blues has there been a Carvin Jones. Yes, of course, there is the ghost of Hendrix, and there have been any number of showmen, guitar whiz kids, charismatic guitar playing front men and all manner of artists born for the stage, but none I would venture combine so many unlimited facets as Carvin Jones. In fact, I'll go further. No performer has excited crowds in the way Carvin Jones has done on this, his 2006 UK Winter Tour.
And tonight in Tooting, South West London, Carvin carved out his own special niche. Yes, of course, there are many more cultured players, players with more feel, and certainly better song writers, and as regards his vocals don't ask, but when it comes down to it, Carvin Jones and his power trio have that rare ability to set light a venue, and take people to fever pitch.
Of course it helps if you look a little like Hendrix, perform some astoundingly outrageous guitar stunts, and play at the speed of light. But this particular midweek February show tore up the scripts, made a mockery of considered debate and went for the throat. Born in Texas, raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Carvin isn't called the Phoenix Thunderbolt for nothing. And before the blues cognescenti dive for cover at the thought of an avalanche of Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, let's just consider Carvin's last few numbers of a blistering first set.
Having blazed a trail literally through the animated crowd and having totally captivated his audience with that all too rare quality of wanting to be loved, Carvin worked his way through a beautifully delivered instrumental version of "Little Wing". He barely paused or breath before tearing across the room, to hit the stage with an autobiographical shuffle "Born To Win", from the "I'm What You Need" album (Carvin isn't short of self-confidence). He juxtaposed that with another self-penned epic, "Midnight Seduction". The latter starts incredibly quietly and brought the raucous crowd to virtual silence as he teased out a vibrato before building a staggering solo, that contained three separate attacks in one song. By the time of another stunt guitar outro on which he played his horizontal guitar with the soles of his feet, Carvin proved his ability to take a crowd up, down, sideways and to the pitch of hysteria, and this was only the first set!
And there lies the kernal of what it is that makes the Jones phenomenon so addictive. This self taught rock blueser who enjoys exploring everything from Freddie King, and Howlin Wolf to Cream, Beck, Clapton and Hendrix, is simply guided by whatever his crowd wants. And on this freezing cold February night he attracted a truly international cast of Russians, Poles, French, Spanish, and Austrians, and even a couple of fellow countrymen plus - gasp- the Tooting regulars. The result was a totally spontaneous, mesmerising show, bags of fun, and to the youngsters in the croud, perhaps shades of what Hendrix might have been like, but twice as fast.
In the ere when guitar heroes carry with them egos the size of their amps, here is a man who walks in the place, greets everyone himself, takes all of 20 seconds to prepare and barely a minute later, flies his guitar through the air with a huge smile...the first of many in a captivating evening, hail Carvin Jones The King of Tooting!
The Chitlin Circuit
June 15, 2005
Irish Blues Challenge Newsletter
Published by Bill Grogan -
By Mick Kenney -
CARVIN JONES @ Irish Blues Club, JJ Smyth's, June 7th 2005.
Always a "must go" for me when an American Bluesman comes to own and boy was I delighted to be in attendance for this high energy, cocktail of trailblazing guitarmanship, on stage acrobatics and solid gold entertainment.
Carvin Jones and his very competent and capable Band have their priorities right, it's all about having a good time and I get the feeling that they don't ever give up until everyone in the audience feel like they're on stage and participating in the celebration, except that their way of doing things is by way of bringing the performance down with fifty foot guitar leads to the tables and sitting in between the amazed members of the audience, laying the regularly abused and evidently long suffering Fender Strat wailing like a banshee to rest across two tables and adopting a lap style technique in mid song and without any interruption to momentum of the piece of music filtering into every crevice in the room.
Nothing stands between the artist and the audience at a Carvin Jones gig, there are no barriers, and it's a wonderful feeling and a testament of his self confidence and natural friendliness on stage or off that leaves one and all thoroughly entertained.
Just watching someone like Carvin is enough to ratchet your own guitar confidence up a level on the stage presentation front alone.
Carvin arrives on stage in top Texas form smiling like a showman that's got more than enough to meet the challenge ahead, immediately stepping into a comfortable pair of Stevie Ray Vaughn or Jimi Hendrix's boots with an effortless combintation of charisma, soul, showmanship, and guitar vocabulary that pays homage to all the great influential masters of Blues. Carvin thankfully doesn't go for the pain and sorrow approach to interpreting the blues preferring to whammy it up with joy and pleasure as central parts of his armoury.
Carvin is an ace player and delivers the set of classic covers and medleys with an uncompromising muscular brass knucked style on his Black Fender Strat, that takes you to the hearts and hands of the essential bluesmen enhanced with some signature sounding effects that deliver right to your doorstep that combine to create a fusion of pile driving rhythm and screaming notes that suspend in the air long enought for someone to run downstairs in JJ's and outside and rotate a flat tyre on Augier St if the need existed.
Like Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Stevie Ray and Jimi its got more to do with passion than technique at times stepping outside the minor pentatonic box scales and making the magic happen in intervals, working the space between the notes till their fingers bleed, weaving in and out of the prescribed 1 - 1V -V harmony and orbiting around the original influence until it's time to land it on your own runway.
Hammering on double stops and rubbing sensually against the ninth chords with power tube distortion, it's Guitar Slim hanging out with ZZ Top and the wind cries get out of the way or it's going to run you over.
There is no standing on ceremony here, no bandstand meandering, if it's reverences you want you're in the wrong house at a gig like this, you need to cross the street and go up to Whitefriars Street Church. Hideaway, Voodoo Chile, Little Wing, Sweet Home Chicago, Boom Boom Boom, Johnny B Goode, Dust My Broom are all just ingredients for the Blues n Boogie stew boiling away on stage.
If we are ever going to reclaim the blues for this generation and the next and solve the commercial nature of it for all concerned, then this sums up what a live performance is all about. This is what Guitar Slim and T Bone Walker has to do fifty years ago along the roadhouses of Highway 61 walking out through the crowds with a 100 foot lead snaking its way from the stage and playing back in at the audience through the window. This is a barrier removing participation tradition that must not disappear and is a signature trademark of the Blues performance and as necessary a credential as an Albert King wide interval bend, BB Kings vibrato and the bone chillin legacy of Albert Collins or John Lee Hooker already incorporated into the standard.
I witnessed our own Peter Moore weave a similar magic in JJ’s one freezing cold night in January, flanked by Ben Prevo and Johnny Reynolds on guitars and with Irish John Earl and the rest of the International Blues Band when the audience and musicians were as one and the atmosphere was warm, wonderful and spine chilling. Peter also works from a tapestry of diverse and unique delights, one minute your head is in Mississippi and the next you’re a Blockhead in a burlesque London pub gig. So it is when Carvin plays its about attitude, he has one hell of a take no prisoners right hand approach snapping and popping the strings with utter conviction on his beat up Strat at one stage sent sliding down the floor of JJ’s at full throttle. Slashing and cutting the chords, chicken picking and damping arpeggios the reverb drenched sound commanding attention at all times with foxy pull and slide manoeuvres and the occasional bottle whipped off a table to add the bottleneck touch to proceedings.
He is unpredictable and cagey thriving in the fertile soil of Blues, Soul and Rock churning out a mix to keep things interesting, watching the eyes watching him from beneath the Texas Stetson. The Bass and Drum rhythm gives a rolling motion to the boogie as Carvin grafts on cunning grooves and hard rocking riffs delivered in an alternating fluid and piercing attack. Just as Muddy was the master of forging Delta acoustic music into the electrified Chicago blues of today the flame still burns as long as players with the passion and vision of Carvin Jones are playing from the heart with that gift for spontaneous reorganisation and give freedom of expression to the music so that the end result is larger than life itself.
“If I can bring joy into the world…then I’ll be successful”. Bobby McFerrin musician said and if you want to see that demonstrated treat yourself to a Carvin Jones Band gig.
As I left JJ Smyth’s last night and fair play to the lads in the Irish Blues Club for their efforts to keep the Blues scene alive, someone outside the door told me that the powerhouse rhythms from upstairs had caused the air bags in a Toyota Avensis to involuntarily explode outside the door.
Legendary gigs when reminiscing have a habit of prompting exaggeration as time goes by and this one deserves to get off to a good start. MK
Irish Times Review
June 12, 2005
By Tony Clayton-Lea
CARVIN JONES @ Seamus Ennis Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
The blues comes in many shapes and forms, and most of them by this stage are if not formulaic then certainly structured in a wholly recognisable format. This is what makes the blues equal parts thoroughly acceptable and occasionally downright boring. What makes one blues guitarist stand out from another, then, is not so much technique, talent, proficiency and/or expertise as application.
Tucked away in a leafy village in north County Dublin, this cosy venue might not have a beer-stained House of Blues badge stapled to its rafters (it's more accustomed to staging bluegrass, folk, and traditional music gigs), but it's the perfect size for someone as up and coming as hotshot Texan blues guitarist Carvin Jones.
For those whose idea of the blues is forged out of certain mythologies, someone like Jones is not going to shatter preconceptions. Here is a guy whose life has been saved by his dedication to the blues, from listening to his grandfather's BB King records to gigging week-in, week-out for the past for the past 15 years. It's an uphill struggle, of course, but you can sense that Jones has it in him to continue for as long as it takes.
Backed by veteran musicians that bring to mind a hint of Spinal Tap, Jones sails through a series of sharp, short blues tracks that embrace his own quite evocative style as well as his many influences. Songs such as Hoochie Coochie Man, Purple Haze, Crossroads, and Johnnie B Goode get the audience shifting in their seats, while Jones's measured showmanship - half showboating, half teasing - brings a smile to the face.
Anything new or groundbreaking? Not even close, but if he's in your town next time around be sure to look him up - Carvin Jones is as honest and genuine as the day is long.
Issue 17 - October, 2003
International Blues, Blues/Rock and 'Real' R'n'B
The UK's Most Read Blues Magazine
By Nigel Rose
CARVIN JONES @Alexander's, Rufus Court, Chester.
I wandered in early anticipating the inevitable full house just in time to hear the support act, local band 'Mother Goose' playing - oooh yesss I did! I didn't realise it was a sound check and neither did the gathered throng so we all applauded enthusiastically. Promoter Eric Harvey, who had borrowed one of Carvin Jones's gold spangly shirts for the evening, had warned them to behave themselves so tonight the set only included one exploding amplifier and the 'Electric drill with home made guitar' routine - don't even ask. They did play some useful bluesey pieces and were actually forced to do an encore. This initial mayhem should have been anticipated because Carvin Jones always seems to generate a sort of surreal high-energy atmosphere whenever he plays.
An anarchic off-stage guitar shuffle heralded the arrival of the Carvin Jones Band, Bill Troxell bass guitar and Patrick Riley on drums. Carvin, still jamming, subsequently wandered on with a smile as wide as his black Stetson straight into 'Hideaway'. The lights over Deeside dimmed momentarily as local power stations struggled to meet the surge in demand as the band blasted into 'Purple Haze' and 'Boom, Boom'. From then on it was a non-stop onslaught: 'The Sky is Crying', 'Sweet Home Chicago' and an extended unnamed Texas shuffle until Carvin announced he was going to... 'Play y'all a love song, y'all right'. I paid close attention but didn't hear any words probably because Carvin was in full particle accelerator mode and surge into the crowd like a crazed neutron into a bunch of alpha particles. The piece turned into an extended quantum jam taking in 'Johnny 'B' Goode' and 'Voodoo Chile' complete with the now obligatory guitar behind the head and on-floor routine. The band had set a relativistic pace and we all needed the interval to recover. I took the opportunity to have a quick word with Bill Troxell, who had been playing with Carvin for about three years, and suggested that being bass player in the Carvin Jones Band must a great job - he smiled knowingly.
They were off to Detroit next week to play a Festival in front of a few hundred thousand people - sounds like a pretty good job to me. The pause in proceedings also afforded the opportunity to study Carvin's signal processing set-up which I still haven't sorted out. I noted two in line Ibanez tube screamers, a Vox wah-wah pedal and a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere. These devices, with their high voltage tubes and dynamic analogue circuits, are spooky dead-ringers for the original Leslie rotary speakers so beloved of bands in the 60's and 70's. I also noticed the 'Custom Sound' amplifier cabinet had two speaker cutaways but was labelled with 1x15"! I suggest you check that out for yourself if you get chance. Carvin has been working with effect's maestro Roger Mayer over the past few years so I wouldn't be surprised if some of these gizmos had been fettled in one way or another.
'Can't Find My Way Back Home' saw Carvin on one of his several excursions into the crowd. Deciding to sit at a table Carvin finger picked his battered old Stratocaster, Hawaiian style, while a stunned member of the audience provided impromptu fretboard hammer ons, it looked like anarchy but it sounded good to me. Next a request, 'Little Wing'. Jimi Hendrix told British producer John Marshall that 'Little Wing' was based on a Native American Indian theme, stating... 'That's exactly what it's about, like she's walking through the clouds'. 'Pride and Joy', 'White Room' and 'Texas Flood' brought us up to the first encore; 'Willy The Weeper' and 'Foxey Lady'. We demanded and got a second encore, 'Crossroads'.
Carvin drew on his many influences during the evening but the play list didn't say it all. Carvin is his own archetypal frontman, with an understanding of his subject and his audience.
Experience Hendrix Magazine
Vol 3, Issue 5 - Nov/Dec 1999
by Salvatore Caputo
Carvin Jones' blues-rock trio puts the guitarist-vocalist squarely in the spotlight, and he's got the licks and stage moves to fill it up. Albert Collins called Jones "one of the brightest young stars on the blues scene today."
If the blues scene includes Jimi Hendrix, then yes, Jones is right there. His stage act includes tunes by Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Eric Clapton, as well as a growing number of originals, but there's no questioning Jones' devotion to Hendrix. The way he wields his guitar, the way he peels off a tasty run down the fret board, his expressions as he plays, and the hats he wears will remind you of a certain guitar hero from Seattle.
Don't think he's an imitator, though. "I mean they labeled me as 'the next Jimi Hendrix' over here," Jones says from London, where he's been touring and cannily escaping the heat and mugginess of Arizona's "monsoon" season. "Some people say that should make me angry, but I'm not. Why should I be? It just means they think I must be pretty good!"
Jones came to the Valley of the Sun in 1989, a veteran of Texas roadhouses. He started working in the trio-configuration in February 1991 and hasn't looked back. His current bandmates - bassist Bill "O.D." James and drummer Todd Jewell - are relatively new, but give Jones tight, flavorful support. The high energy Jones creates consistently packs the clubs he plays here, and judging by the online reviews of his British performances, such reactions are a trans-Atlantic phenomenon.
October 25, 1999
By Brad, Blues in Britain
Carvin Jones Band and The Hoax - 14th October 1999 (London Astoria 2, London)
Tonight was poignant for several reasons, not only was it the Hoax's last gig in the UK but also marked the ascendance of a potential superstar - Carvin Jones.
Almost at the end of a massive 78 date European tour, Carvin Jones has class written all over him. He also has Hendrix written all over him with a level of exactness which requires a double take to make sure it's not Jimi on stage. From the flamboyant hat and spangly shirt, to the voice, swagger and stage mannerisms, this is the nearest to re-incarnation I've seen. There have seen many Hendrix copyists but even the guitar tones and shadings are similar, which is something even Frank Marino and Randy Hansen could not duplicate.
But it's not all about imitation though for Carvin and his band play with sheer exuberance and passion. Even if the set was littered with old standards like Going Down, Boom Boom, Foxy Lady, Little Sister and Things That We Used To Do. Carvin absolutely covered the whole mile, excursions into the audience, playing between the legs, even balancing the guitar on both feet. He is monstrously good. The Hoax must have been sweating to death back-stage, for Pandora was out of the box which they must have wished they had nailed and chained shut. The encores of Before You Accuse Me and Fire would be enough to scare most bands witless. The only blip on the horizon is after such a long tour the old voice is starting to get hoarse which is not surprising and what material is he going to move on to? Have no fear though, the double "Live In London" CD will be going into the collection.
I felt pity for the Hoax having to follow such a masterful display, my pity was wasted. If the Hoax are anything, they are a band in the truest sense of the word and also, they have masses of attitude.
October 14, 1999
By Pete Feenstra, London, England
He came. He saw. He conquered.
Opening the bill for the final ever gig by the brilliant Hoax, Carvin Jones stepped into the footlights of the London Astoria to raise his profile by about 700 rock blues fans, and an adoring stage crew who gave him extra time to do his stuff. The healthy early evening crowd suggested that a couple hundred had just come in to catch the man in the sparkling purple top. He didn't disappoint.
Roaring into a melange of Texas blues, full of Freddie King and Stevie Ray style licks, Carvin departed from his normal full-on assault and headed straight for the blues'ers in the crowd. An unnamed Texas style shuffle blues song was incredible, whilst Elmore James' "The Sky Is Crying" gave the man with the plan the chance to indulge his die-hard fans. His walk about in the packed crowd was more like an aerobics workout. The spotlight just about picked out a flurry of notes, so fast, that I swear you could see them drift above the acres of heads surrounding the man with the blazing guitar.
There was time for an inventive, humorous and climactic Todd Jewell drum solo, complete with Todd's 'London Walkabout' around the kit, while Billy "O.D." James added some thumping bass.
Carvin eventually took his leave with surprisingly only his second Hendrix number of the night, but what an exit! Playing a quite startling version of "Purple Haze," Carvin momentarily eschewed his flamboyant approach for a straight from-the-board Hendrix rendition. By the concluding couple of bars, he was parading two guitars above his head as the 700 or so in the audience gave him the kind of reception that Jimi got at his Woodstock performance. Up came the roar of the crowd, out came the smoke machine, and in the blink of an eye Carvin was gone. Brilliant!
Happily for the UK fans, Carvin promises a post-millennium tour in the year 2000. Everyone here can barely wait.
September 14, 1999
By Pete Feenstra, London, England
Carvin just enjoyed a remarkable weekend of gigs. Starting with his 6th appearance at the famed Worcester Park Club, Carvin drew his biggest audience yet for the latest in his two set specials. He placed alot more emphasis on his use of dynamics rather than a full on blast. Mixing his trademark Stevie Ray Vaughan Texas shuffles with several unnamed instrumental pieces, Carvin gradually worked his way into a ferocious groove. His high intensity approach brought the majority of the crowd to the lip of the stage, affording Carvin the opportunity to dive in amongst his followers to great effect.
It is worth noting at this point that while at the outset of the tour, Carvin used to reserve his more spectacular efforts for a truly rocking night. Given the levels of excitement he has generated of late, he's having to pull out all the stops. Bearing in mind that he is playing to mature London audiences who are by no means starved of guitar players of international standing, the excitement levels generated by several of Carvin's shows are really impressive.
The Worcester Park show was featured in the Surrey Comet, the biggest selling paper in the whole of Surrey. The interest in Carvin was twofold. One, he was headlining the club's third anniversary, and two, it is unprecedented for anyone to play the club 6 times - let alone three - in such a relatively short space of time.
The following night was interesting again, because Carvin headlined the Albany Empire in Deptford, in his own right. This is a late night theatre gig, with a mixture of standing and seated fans. Bearing in mind the venue is in a tough part of town, Carvin pulled an excellent crowd, who snapped up no less than 43 CD's on the night. Carvin was slated to play an hour set, and ended up playing over double that!
He finished the weekend with a memorable gig on the coast at the Grand, Leigh On Sea, in Essex. A capacity crowd went absolutely wild! Such was the crush that Carvin at one point stood on two separate chairs to deliver another memorable solo. He was doubtless fired up by the presence of Snails Pace Slim, the guitarist from the Hamsters, Britain's most successful blues rock outfit. If people thought it couldn't get much better than the night before they were wrong, because Carvin again produced new levels of adrenilin, and for that matter, different material. He slipped in some splendid Latino licks, and a crushing "Tough Enough" from the Fab T'Birds. The PA could have been better, but hell with a crowd like this, nobody noticed the occasional bit of feedback. When you bend an E-string as much as Carvin, you're probably used to high frequency signals.
In summary, Todd Jewell has been magnificent on drums, and Billy "OD" James has never dropped a line. This is all the more remarkable, given the fact that after having witnessed 55 shows, I still haven't seen the man call out a song title to the band yet!
The other notable thing of late is the amount of dads who have brought their young sons along, presumably dreaming that one day, their son too might play like the Texas Tornado, from Phoenix!
Yet more: Carvin's been offered a weeks tour in Ireland - both North and South, and 3 dates in Switzerland, with Germany and Czeckoslovakia pending.
September 9, 1999
By Pete Feenstra, London, England
Carvin is roughly up to gig number 55. He's just conquered Wales, appearing on the same show as Tom Jones, and selling out his dates there. The Welsh media are calling him the new Jimi Hendrix!!!!!!!
Just about all the dates, except for two, have done well. One was washed out by a thunderstorm, and one was a public holiday, which should have done better, but that's another story.
Carvin has experienced some real fan attention. He sold out the Torrington Club (in North London) 3 times in a row, and also had Virgin Radio come out to see him (big cheese here). Incredibly, the first 6 weeks after he got here, the UK experienced a heat wave, and yet people still came out to see Carvin.
He's been played on the radio about 10 times, including on the prestigious Jazz FM station, and is receiving great write-ups. Also Wed 13th of Oct, Carvin plays his biggest show -The Astoria (big theatre in the middle of London) with the UK's leading rock-blues band, The Hoax. This is The Hoax's very last date, and they asked Carvin on to the bill, which is great.
This Saturday (11th Sept) he headlines in his own right at the Albany Empire Theatre, in Deptford, London. There's also a probable week tour of Ireland coming up.
Roger Mayer has been out to see Carvin over 10 times, as has all kinds of weird, wonderful and important (!) people.
Right now it looks as if Carvin's working through until October 21st.
There's also alot of interest in Germany and Belgium, as well as in Norway (loads of Norwegians in London follow him around at gigs). In fact in Wales, people literally followed Carvin around for autographs, and just like The Beatles, they were knocking on the Welsh promoter's door looking for anything they could get hold of.
There has also been interest from several record companies, but we'll have to see what develops.
July 29, 1999
By Pete Feenstra, London, England
Carvin' started off his UK trip with a bang. He guested on Friday night at The Worcester Park Club with a band called Four Bills & A Ben. They are are basically an all star rock and soul outfit, who feature the Status Quo rhythm section, plus Spike Edney from Brian May and Queen, and Andy Hamilton on sax from Duran Duran, as well as Johnny Warman on vocals. He guested in front of a packed house & went down a storm with the crowd. Also sold tons of CD's.
His own show at the venue followed on Sunday when he packed the dance floor with revellers, and was joined on stage by Los Angeles vocalist Emmet North Junior. Emmet is in London right now working with The Atlantic Soul Machine. His rasping version of "Mustang Sally", allied with Carvin's drivin guitar had the crowd in raptures.
In between the two dates, Carvin played at Club Riga in Southend on Sea - you guessed it, it's a seaside resort of sorts, and a hot bed of R&B. A band called Pride & Joy, featuring 16 year-old guitarist John Priest, opened up for Carvin. Their mix of SRV/Hendrix is in the same vein as Carvin, and they played the perfect support gig. But when Mr jones hit the stage, the air of expectancy was matched by Carvin's incendiary playing. He played over 2 hours 15 minutes, and won over many converts.
There's already been two major articles in the papers over here on Carvin, and Jazz FM played "Sweet Home Chicago" from the Live at Joe's Grotto album. Last night saw Carvin play an up market supper club, and former Hendrix effects man Roger Mayer with some special guests turned up to see Carvin startle diners and rock fans alike by interweaving between the tables, narrowly missing glasses and crockery, as he fired off an impassioned set.
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