There was a time when the Canadian music scene started with the word “Celine” and ended with “Dion”. Thankfully, those days are long gone and the country is now home to a number of brilliant Americana artists, including JW Jones, who arrives on stage in the underbelly of Brighton’s Komedia club looking like the younger brother of Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey.
Jones dives straight into a series of Texas shuffles and Chuck Berry riffs, which perfectly illustrate his pre-Bonamassa approach to the blues. He’s here to get the audience on their feet and he’s not going to take “we have work tomorrow” for an answer.
But that’s not to say Jones can’t satisfy the guitar geeks of this world. He’s like Brian Setzer (minus the tinsel) as he puts that Les Paul through its paces, delivering every solo with just the right amount of showmanship and technical prowess.
Buddy Guy gets a namecheck or two as Jones gives us his crowd-pleasing cover of Tell Me What’s Inside Of You by the Chicago blues great. His version of Bobby Parker’s Watch Your Step is equally on the money. This is not some young upstart, glibly paying tribute to a few names he spotted on YouTube. He knows these artists, inside and out.
And just when you think you have Jones sussed out, he pulls a party piece out of the hat. Without skipping a beat, bass player Laura Greenberg switches to the Les Paul, drummer Mathieu Lapensée picks up the bass and Jones ends up behind the drum kit. Before you know it, all three of them are standing there, playing one electric guitar to rapturous applause. It might sound a bit naff, but the mid-week crowd is soon dancing away. Like the Mounties, JW Jones and his band always gets their men and women.