Drummer Brian Jones discusses his “Third Tuesdays” series with his Guitar Quartet, Double Quartet, Redhead group, and Wurlitzer Trio.
Drummer Brian Jones is getting ready to play the first gig in a series of “Third Tuesdays.” On the third Tuesday of each month between now and December, he will perform with a different group that has been recently active. This Tuesday, his Guitar Quartet performs. The current plan sees his Double Quartet performing in October, Redhead group in November, and Wurlitzer Trio in December. While navigating Friday afternoon school traffic around The Fan, he talked to me about each group that will perform, keyboardist Daniel Clarke’s current status, and his goals for the near future.
RVAjazz: You have four gigs coming up within the span of four months, a different group each third Tuesday.
Brian Jones: Right, at The Camel. The first week is the Guitar Quartet with Trey Pollard on electric guitar and pedal steel, Charles Arthur on electric guitar and lap steel, and then Cameron Ralston. I believe he’s going to be playing the upright.
RVAjazz: Tell me about Charles Arthur.
BJ: I wouldn’t say he’s a long-time Richmonder, but he’s lived in Richmond as long as I have. He’s played with people like Johnny Hott. He’s sort of the same generation as those guys. Roger Carrol, he’s played a lot with. He’s kind of one of those guys who’s a natural musician; he can play anything. But certainly I’d say his forte is blues and americana. He can play anything that has strings: guitar, fiddle, he can play the bass. I’ve known him for a while now. I don’t know him that well but every time I’ve played with him I’ve always just enjoyed it… He wouldn’t tell you he’s a jazz musician for sure, but he’s got a real open mind and he’s pretty creative, and he can play anything. But he’s got this twang and a really great feel. Him and Trey have a nice chemistry together, and that’s what I’m always looking for.
RVAjazz: The last time I saw the Guitar Quartet, it was Alan Parker and Trey. They have that connection, too, that definite chemistry.
BJ: Yeah. To be honest with you, the way that this happened: we did a recording, which I hope will be available at the gig but I’m not positive that it will be ready, but soon. Basically I did a session over the winter with a band that was myslef, Jesse Harper from Old School Freight Train singing, Daniel Clarke keyboards, Cameron, Trey and Charles. It was a great thing. I wrote some songs and we went in and recorded like four songs in one afternoon. It was a really great experience. The engineer on the session said, “Hey, I want to record just you, the bass player, and the two guitarists. That was really great.” And I said, “Ok, fine.” So that’s how it came about. He just heard that sound and thought that would sound great. I put some tunes together that I thought would work well with Charles and Trey and also give them a chance to dig out the lap steel and pedal steel. So I definitely plan on working with Alan sooner than later, but this is just a different line-up. But it sounds good though.
RVAjazz: So then the October gig is Redhead?
BJ: I’m hoping. I haven’t heard back from John D’earth, but yes, let’s just say yes. The album is Redhead so we’ll still be dealing with that material. Because we literally recorded the stuff, and we didn’t have a rehearsal, and we played one other gig. So this will be the third time we’ve played the material. Even though it’s been over a year since we recorded it, it’s still kind of fresh (laughs).
And then hopefully the following (month) is going to be the Double Quartet. We just did a new project, a new line up. The recording was Bob Miller (trumpet), Reggie Pace (trombone), Rick Rieger (bass clarinet, clarinet, bari sax), and then JC Kuhl (tenor sax), Cameron Ralston and Randall Pharr (basses), myself on drums and Mike Kuhl — JC’s drummer from Baltimore — on drums as well. And so far, there are a couple of problems. I think we might move that one to December, to be honest with you. And I’m trying to track down Daniel Clarke. I know he’s going to be back in town in October.
RVAjazz: And he plays an integral part in the last group.
BJ: Yeah, so I’m hoping the Wurlitzer Trio will do the last, either the November one or December one. We’ll have to see. Even if the Double Quartet plays, we’ll do the first set. Wurly Trio second set. Basically the next time I can nail Daniel down for a date when he’s off the road, I’m going to put a gig together. Because it’s ridiculous. The recording is going to be over a year in the can and it hasn’t been released because I want to do a CD release correctly with Daniel actually playing.
RVAjazz: When was the last time Daniel played in Richmond?
BJ: He just played at Mekong.
RVAjazz: He did? With Modern Groove Syndicate?
BJ: I think he played. I didn’t go to it. I was out of town. You know what, I know that Brian Mahne was playing on it, so maybe Daniel was just hanging out. But I can’t imagine he wouldn’t have played. You know what I mean? Knowing his personality, he’d have to play something. I know he sat in at O’Toole’s on the melodica with that sort of Eastern European sounding band.
RVAjazz: I ask because Daniel has this appeal to him, kind of like you. Whenever you play, people want to be there. But Daniel leaves town all the time and now has this mystique about him, I feel like. And the students just want to hear him play again.
BJ: I think we all want to hear him play again, but I don’t know man, that bird might have flown in terms of him being a local. I know he just bought a place in Oakland with his girlfriend and he still has his house here. His mom’s still here, and his brother, and he’s really tight with his family. I think the way it’s set up now is good, and I think he’s waiting to see what happens with the Ryan Adams thing.
RVAjazz: Ryan Adams? I hadn’t heard about that!
BJ: He’s doing a little work with him.
RVAjazz: That’s great.
BJ: Yeah, songwriting. Well, Mandy Moore is married to Ryan. They got married recently. And so you know, Daniel and Mandy Moore at this point are good friends*. Because of that he’s become friends with this Ryan Adams character. So we’re all waiting to see what happens with that so we can get some tickets. Listen, the music business is crazy. You never know what’s going to happen. As I tell him everytime I see him, “Dude, just take advantage, ride that wave as long as you can.” If you know Daniel at all, he’s a very, very, very, very strong personality when he starts playing the music. Hell, all the time. And he will make an incredible producer at some point. He probably will transition into becoming a producer, hopefully.
RVAjazz: A Jon Brion type.
BJ: Yeah, because he can play everything, he’s got great ears, he’s got a vast knowledge of all things music, pop music, jazz, classical, whatever. The thing I like about him is he’s real professional, he can play anything you want, and he’s got ideas. A lot of people don’t have ideas. You don’t have to tell him anything, he’ll just start playing. And he’s a gregarious cat, man. We’ll see what happens with him. I hope to get a Wurlitzer Trio thing done before 2010, because it’s been too long. I loved that band. We need to not only play, but I’ve written a new collection of tunes that would work great, so I’d like to record it hopefully this summer but I’ve got to get this first thing done (laughs).
RVAjazz: I always think about (sings “Testify” from Wurlitzer Trio’s Drug Piano )
BJ: (sings along) (laughs) Yeah, we’ve gotta bring that one back.
RVAjazz: Would you say with these four groups, all of the tunes are your compositions, or will there be some covers?
BJ: The Double Quartet does another Neil Young tune, “After the Gold Rush.” Guitar Quartet will play a couple Beatles tunes: “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Eleanor Rigby.” “Happiness” is on the new recording. We might do a Cannonball Adderley tune. It’s his birthday on Tuesday. Maybe “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” which I know is a Zawinul thing. I think everyone would know it and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to try and put together.
RVAjazz: What’s the story with having (drummer, VCU student) Sam Sherman as your intern?
BJ: We had a great brainstorming session. It’s more of my fault (that we haven’t done much yet), it’s not him. I’ve been busy. I haven’t really taken advantage of it, but I should, I will.
RVAjazz: Because I was wondering if we’ll start seeing some more promotion for your gigs.
BJ: (long laugh) Oh come on, we don’t really want to work too hard and put all that effort in so the same 50 guys are at the gig. Or 33 people. No, I think there is going to be a push sending stuff out to the labels, making (connections) with my old rock and roll contacts, and all that. Yes, that was part of the brainstorm. Endorsement deals through my friends that are in the business that have endorsements… Re-acquaint myself with my old endorsements. I had a deal with Vic Firth. I still probably do. I just haven’t necessarily needed it… There were three dudes that worked with Agents of Good Roots that are still in the business that have been very successful as managers or working in the recording industry at some level. So we’re going to re-establish contacts, see if there’s anything they can do. And we’ll send out all the different projects once again to some labels.
RVAjazz: Eventually there’s going to be a massive Brian Jones box set.
BJ: It’s in the making.
RVAjazz: It’s going to be the hot item.
BJ: When I’m gone. As I joke, the box set is 21 cardboard sleeves with a rubber band holding them in place.
RVAjazz: Comes in a lunch box, too.
BJ: It’s a busy time in my life, on top of keeping all that going. But I’m still making music.
*Daniel Clarke, along with Jones, appeared on Mandy Moore’s record Wild Hope in 2007. Clarke then went on the road with Moore before his next gig with KD Lang, and he appears on Moore’s newest record Amanda Leigh. To validate Brian’s point, it is essential you view Mandy Moore’s Top 12 on Myspace
The first of Brian Jones’s Third Tuesday music series is this Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at The Camel. The band will play two sets, from 9-10pm and 10:30-11:30. All ages, $5 cover.