Lifoti Interview | John-Paul “Jp” Jones on his new album, “Broke In Bridge City”

The ever so talented John-Paul “Jp” Jones is not just an artist. He is a person with a unique background story and someone who has been passionate about making great music for decades now.

Something quite special can happen when the melodies of blues collide with the energy of rock and many other styles. While some might think that these genres are worlds apart, they have so much in common, and artists like John-Paul “Jp” Jones represent the perfect example of how the different sounds can come together under one roof to create something that’s truly perfect. The artist recently unveiled a brand new studio album titled Broke In Bridge City. The track is magnetic, impactful and engaging, combining great melodies and exciting hooks, with a world-class production that’s always about making sure that every detail in the mix is up to snuff. 

As they say, a chain is only strong as its weakest link, and in this case, it’s hard to find a fault in terms of production, songwriting, and performance excellence here. When there’s so much passion and focus involved, you really can’t go wrong indeed! As an artist, John-Paul “Jp” Jones isn’t just about creating great music. For him, the storytelling component of being an artist and songwriter is also quite important. This is precisely the reason why he is always building powerful narratives and relatable stories, which are just as catchy as his amazing instrumentals and vocal melodies. With John-Paul “Jp” Jones, you don’t just get a good song, but also a fantastic snapshot of an artist with something to say, and a very creative approach to what he does. 

Broke In Bridge City is a showcase of personality and passion, and a very stark reminder that John-Paul “Jp” Jones is an artist who is not the kind of person who would rely on a shortcut or settle for less. His songs are excellent and well-produced, a strong indication of his artistic integrity and ability to create music that’s massively appealing. Having said that, John-Paul “Jp” Jones still managed to develop a strong individuality, shining for his personality and showing the world what he is all about. This release is a must for all fans of high-quality blues and rock music out there.

There are so many artists out there, spanning different genres and artistic background. However, not many have the passion, background story and unique artistry of John-Paul "Jp" Jones! Based out of Ottumwa, Iowa, this talented performer has a career that continues from several decades. In fact, many might not know that he has been an active professional musician since 1988, when he could be found playing club gigs and putting his own spin on some amazing hits. John-Paul "Jp" Jones had it all on track for a successful career as a musician and touring performer. This year marks his 33th year as a professional guitarist John-Paul "Jp" Jones first founded the John-Paul Jones Group in 1998 and this marks the 23th anniversary of the band.

The John Paul Jones Group formed at the end of December 1998 leading into January 1999 from the remnants of the progressive rock band John-Paul "Jp" Jones’s Eternia. Under JohnPaul “Jp” Jones leadership, the John-Paul Jones Group has quickly established itself as one of southeastern Iowa's most popular heavy blues acts. The band is rapidly gaining regional and national recognition. The group’s excellent musicianship, powerful stage presence, and a remarkable stage show, sparks audience interaction/participation integrated throughout the shows. First and foremost, the John-Paul Jones Group is talented. These musicians are highly trained professionals with diversified musical backgrounds, ranging from big band jazz and progressive metal to blues and rock. The John-Paul Jones Group perform sheavy blues material from all eras along with original material written by members of the group. The group invokes references to Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, and Robin Trower among others. Their stage show consists of a colorful and energetic presentation along with great musical performances—the way heavy blues is supposed to be played. The John-Paul Jones Group has received rave reviews from their audiences. 

The band and its member shave been the recipients of many awards including best heavy blues band, Top 100 on Number One Music Blues Charts, Top100 Reverbnation Blues Charts, 2018 Iowa Blues Challenge finalist. The group is affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians, Black Rock Coalition, International Blues Society, and the Southeastern Iowa Blues Society. The band’s leader John-Paul “Jp” Jones is a fierce performer, with a barrel house style vocal that go from subtle to growl in at the turn of a pin. John-Paul “Jp” Jones has the voice and presence of a man in charge. He commands the stage in concert with his fellow members. The band is in fact truly drawing from its roots of Blues, Rock, Jazz and Metal to create a sound that is unique, in today’s pop-polished ultra quantized play to tracks karaoke styled popular music. John-Paul “Jp” Jones is quoted as saying, 
The music of the late 60’s and early 70’s is very special tome, the guitarist were each unique and individual. The recording techniques were good enough to allow for higher sonic quality, but poor enough that you could not create too slick of a recording. When you listen to a CD or DVD of the John-Paul Jones Group you are going to get an accurate representation of the band. When we record its live in the room, the same way as early Fleetwood Mac, and Mussel Shoals recordings were done. Or Chess Records… all of the most magical records were recorded live in the room.
The John-Paul Jones Group under John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s leadership over the past 20 years has grown from a young kid with a guitar to a full turn-key production organization. Everything about John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s career is contained within his organization. Publishing, Licensing, Concert Promotion, Sound Reinforcement, Lighting Systems, Audio Recording, Video Recording, Marketing. John-Paul “Jp” Jones is known for developing talent in both musicians and crew. 

There have been a lot of musicians who have come and gone and even returned and left again in the John-Paul Jones Group. The one thing that I was determined to do was to be a musician without sacrificing my quality of life or the quality of life of my three children. I a man Iowegian as we used to call ourselves when I was a kid in Appanoose County, Iowa. I have worked all over the country, but Iowa is my home. I have always been determined to carve a music business out of Iowa. I had left occasionally over the years to larger markets. But my quality of life was so bleak that I returned home about 25 years ago. I have been working on this ever since. My children are all grown now. So I have more time on my hands. I never saw myself starving in a car or getting hooked on drugs, or any of those things for the sake of my “art”. What I decided was I would work in a trade that could afford me the ability to purchase equipment. Which I have done faithfully for the past30 years. Now I teach electrical engineering and renewable energy program at my local college for the past 10 years. That has afforded me the time to really develop my business. The one thing I will say that I have been an avid student of the music business. Before the fall of MP3.Com I had quite a few sales on that platform. Success with my other band a progressive rock outfit called John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s Eternia. Now my entire focus for the past 20 years has been the John-Paul Jones Group, we don’t play bars, we don’t hold ourselves out as a cover band, and we work on arrangements, composition, and musicianship. It is very important that we have an original take on everything we do. And it's starting to work.

You will definitely get that feeling when you attend a John-Paul Jones Group concert, this artist is the real deal. Not many Black American artists are into guitar playing and very few play guitar the way that John Paul “Jp” Jones plays the guitar. He specializes in using a 7-String guitar. Jp is very unique in his approach to the music business, as he is looking to connect with true fans…The John-Paul Jones Group is also very unique in its lending of its support for charitable giving. The band plays annual concerts for multiple charities in its area. Including but not limited to: Blessings Soup Kitchen, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Market on Main Business Incubator, Wapello County Sheriff’s Children’s Shopping Program, Iowa Donor Network, Jessica’s Closet. The band’s audience can range from 7 months of age to70 years of age. The unique thing is that they don’t change their style per crowd. They still play heavy blues. On the concept of heavy blues John-Paul “Jp” Jones had this to say:
I am an American of mixed ethnicity, although on the surface I would be correctly identified as a Black American. What’s so unique is that I was raised in the country outside a little town called Iconium Iowa. Which is on the border of Monroe County and Appanoose County Iowa. I went to school in a small town of about 4900people called Albia. Literally 4500 people and at the time I was attending school there, mid 70’s late 80’s the town consisted of One Asian, Two Native Americans,10 Blacks and of those blacks 7 of them were my immediate family. Growing up my culture was a much Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin, Count Basie an Marvin Gay and Ray Charles Chuck Berry, and it was Hee Haw, and All In the Family and Jeffersons, with my friends at school we discovered Kiss, and Cream and Black Sabbath. With my music teachers, I discovered a love of Miles Davis, Chuck Mangione, when I hit college age it was Weather Report, Frank Zappa, Return to Forever, Dream Theater. But my formative years was also Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, Robin Trower, Deep Purple… So to say I had a diverse upbringing is true, I was truly blessed to grow-up with all the same ills that black folks in America have, being called names, degraded etc. but ALSO learning that not everyone who was different than me was also trying to take advantage of me nor did they look down on me. Most of my lasting friends I have had were through a love of music. Music was my area of expertise, and I have worked at it a long-time. As of today, I see the rewards of my education from a life in music. 
This diverse musical background has one thing in common it influenced John-Paul “Jp” Jones to be the authentic heavy blues artist he is as leader of the John-Paul Jones Group. 

Broke In Bridge City is due to be released on February 5th, 2021. The album is a collection of songs written by JohnPaul "Jp" Jones. All songs contain a fresh look on life in Southeastern Iowa as told in story form from the perspective of a Black American.

Track Listing:
1. Blue Ruin (Right Now) 
2. Broke In Bridge City
3. Ballad of The Nine
4. Better Be Yourself
5. Blood Sugar Blues
6. Youth is Wasted On The Young

Lyrics & Composition: JohnPaul "Jp" Jones
Producer: John-Paul "Jp" Jones
Mix Engineer: Aggela Mourgella
Tracking Engineer: John-Paul "Jp Jones
Arranger: John-Paul "Jp" Jones
Drums: Chris Barber
Guitars, Bass, Vocals: John Paul "Jp" Jones
Additional Lyrics: Paul Hanson & John-Paul Jp" Jones
 Label: Eugene's Trick Bag Records, LLC
Distributor: Blue Nexus Music
Studio: Copper Top Studio Hut
Management: H&J Entertainment, LLC

As always, he is a master at creating a raw and genuine edge with his vocal performances, in line with some of the most authentic blues and rock performers of all time. Ultimately, this is yet another amazing musical release from John-Paul "Jp" Jones. By now, his fans know that they can always count on him to deliver high quality music, and this foray into the blues is exactly what we needed at times like this. While most people around the world are struggling due to this coronavirus crisis, or are forced indoors as cities lock down, it is quite important for people like John-Paul "Jp" Jones to keep making beautiful music. Thankfully, he always delivers, and this exciting album Broke In Bridge City is another stunning addition to his growing songbook, which is filled with spontaneous and exciting moments. 

What’s special about the Broke In Bridge City is definitely the fact that there are so many detail and nuances fueling the production, leading to an engaging, interesting, and one-of-a-kind sound that shows no signs of slowing down in terms of impact and punchiness. John-Paul “Jp” Jones himself admitted that this is one of his favorite album he has ever released, so you definitely know that you are onto something very special when the artist himself feels so good about his material! If you are familiar with John-Paul “Jp” Jones and his iconic style, you might know that this album feels like a quintessentially John-Paul “Jp” Jones tracks from the moment you press play. His blend of vintage and modern sounds is as distinctive as ever and he knows how to capture the imagination of the audience with his style. When John-Paul “Jp” Jones sings, he does not just come up with vocal melodies . He tells powerful stories, which connect with the crowd on a much deeper level. All about the album Broke In Bridge City containing six tracks, Lyrics Composition and production has has done by John-Paul “Jp” Jones in fabulous manner. 

Blue Ruin (Right Now)
This is a first song of album, written by John-Paul “Jp” Jones & Paul Hanson. The song takes on a very unexpected turn for John-Paul “Jp” Jones, who combines his ironic vocal style with a modern rock type beat. The production is crisp and impactful making for a diverse and exciting feel. His sound is as expressive as ever, and I really love how he managed to create a song that somehow combines the punch and energy of modern music with the emotional responses of oldies and lyrics that actually have some deeper substance! This song is also particularly outstanding when it comes to the sheer quality of the production. This song is about the issues that so many men and women go through. Regrets from decisions made, Addiction runs so rampant in Southeast Iowa.

"I have seen so many of my friends and relatives that have been through the struggles of the consequences of addiction manipulated decisions . Some however have lost their struggle and they forget that life "blue ruin" always takes its dues. The resulting mental health issues especially for men goes most of the time untreated. I hope this song will inspire someone who may be struggling to seek out help. I actually had this song written with a title of Right Now No Regrets, but I combined some of of Paul's words with mine from my life experience and that is how Blue Ruin (Right Now) came to be. Because of this inspiration Paul is part of the creation of these lyrics, I am rather proud of the lyrics as they are partially autobiographical in the sense that so many of the topics come from my life experience." John-Paul “Jp” Jones stated.

Broke In Bridge City
This is a beautifully written song, to begin with, so it really stands out for its own merits as an amazing song. However, John-Paul “Jp” Jones give it a very personal spin and sound has a nostalgic vibe to it. John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s distinctive vocals make for a very interesting new direction, giving the song a lot more richness and depth. He has a beautifully distinctive style, filled with passion, emotion, and the willingness to tell a powerful story. Musically, the instrumental track is just as balanced as John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s fantastic vocal performance. Like all of the other songs in John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s ever-growing musical portfolio, which is really outstanding about this track is the sound of the production. The story behind this song is one that is familiar if you live in any river town in the midwest. Meth and drug/alcohol addictions has been a huge problem for nearly three decades in these communities, and with that issue comes a lot of property crime even in the smallest of towns. Thanks to the trickle down economics of the 80's and the NAFTA agreements of the 90's most small towns in Iowa suffer from abject poverty, and a small portion of each community has "regulars" through the court system. Weekly these folks pictures are up in various newspapers in his particular hometown it is called 'Warrant Wednesday" and its the same parade of folks generally who are in and out of trouble. This song is basically about life in one of these Bridge Towns, like Ottumwa, Clinton, Farmington, Burlington, Davenport, Council Bluffs, Dubuque. And its probably the same in other midwestern river towns as well. John-Paul “Jp” Jones says "After 25 years of living in one of these towns I have experienced the property theft and the issues of the revolving door of the court system. Drug addiction is a serious matter and I encourage anyone with a family member or neighbor or friend to try encourage them to seek help because its leads to a road of pain and heartache especially for the ones who are left to pick up the pieces."

Ballad of The Nine
John-Paul “Jp” Jones became a true master at creating a distinctive blend of sound, which actually feels like a combination between the warmth of beloved vintage records and the feel of modern releases. His vision is to reach out to a younger generation of listeners and get them to truly appreciate the authentic vibe of older music, while still coming out with songs that feel fresh and inspiring for people from all walks of life. Ultimately, this is yet another excellent milestone in John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s soaring career as a musician. This song showcases the fact that legacy and how proud and grateful he is, not only started by Bunk Reed, but also more importantly the legacy of hard work and determination by Great-Grandparents. 

John-Paul “Jp” Jones stated "I come from a very special and unique ancestry. My ancestor Curry Oscar "Bunk" Reed who was my Great-Grandmother's Grandfather was a slave in Kentucky who was shipped to Mercer Missouri with his brother never to see his mother or father again. He and his brother escaped from that owner and walked to Eddyville Iowa around 1862 when the civil war broke out, Curry was too young to enlist so they worked odd jobs and survived. He and his brother samuel enlsted in the 165th Colored Regiment out of Keokuk Iowa. They walked all the way back south and fought in battles all through the south. After the war he settled in Centerville Appanoose County Iowa (an Iowegian) and his brother in Keosauqua Van Buren County Iowa. needless to say they started families, which brings me to my Great Grandmother, she and her husband Oscar Jones Sr. Had 9 children. My Grandfather was one of those nine children In my family the descendants of the 9 children have gathered together for 60 years at a family reunion. It is a big ordeal and we are very proud of our heritage. This song is inspired by the true events of my Grandmother and Grandfathers life. Robert & Marjorie Jones, my family has broken new ground in so many ways. My Grandmother was the Mayday queen, which is saying something in a southern Iowa town during segregation times, my grandmother's mother was white, her father was black, and they were married in Mystic Iowa. She was beautiful. My Grandfather was a coal miner and worked other jobs. My Grandmother became the first Certified Black X-R a y Technician in the state of Iowa and I am very proud of the firsts that she did. She died of breast cancer before I was born and when my dad was very young, however, the stories about her and my grandfather were passed down not only by my father, but my aunts, uncles and my great aunts and uncles. I can see the "firsts' that my family has done, my father and his brothers helped to change the tide before de-segregation in the USA to get small town Centerville Iowa to desegregate their movie theater and pools and it happened. I see myself when I became maybe the first if not the only licensed black master electrician in the state of Iowa and then moving on to become the only Black Professor of Electrical & Renewable Energy Technology in the state of Iowa. This song is inspired by ancestry and legacy, and I see it now in my son's one as a field engineer and the other working his way through a robotics career. This song is my tribute to that legacy and how proud and grateful I am too the foundation, not only started by Bunk Reed, but also more importantly the legacy of hard work and determination by my Great-Grandparents and my Grandparents passed down through my dad. This is song is my thank you to them."

Better Be Yourself
This song is well-produced as well, highlighting the fact that John-Paul “Jp” Jones knows what he is doing in terms of recording and capturing nothing but the very best. I really enjoy how everything is coming together so seamlessly, giving the track a very distinctive flavor. This is a fantastic song, which excels from every standpoint. From the quality of the instrumental, down to the timeless vibe of John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s vocals, everything hits the mark! 

John-Paul “Jp” Jones says about this song, "This song I wrote during the pandemic, but also it started from an idea inspired by a family member who suffers from self-doubt and poor decision making. This family member has always doubted herself and self-sabotaged her life. Depression clinical runs rampant throughout southeastern Iowa where I am from. I have been in relationships with women who suffer from it, and i have friends men and women who suffer from self doubt and getting down on themselves. Some of those folks have lost their bought with the depression, and chosen to end their life, or sabotage their life in some way that is permanent. With the lock-downs of the pandemic, and the safety precautions and the isolation I was really thinking about family members and friends who suffer form this. I also can relate to this in my own life with so many people through their actions who tried to get me to doubt myself, or planted seeds that I latched onto. But I have learned that we make our own destiny and we have to stop listening to experts, critics, and naysayers, even if we love them even if they are "smarter" than us. Because at the end of the day we make our own life, and we only have one to live. I can remember being in relationships an addict and the gas-lighting that happened during that relationship that got me thinking I was crazy and losing my mind. The manipulation I see that happens with our news media, and in my professional life at times, its all interconnected withing our own minds, and what we have to do is be ourselves, I believe in this philosophy, "DEFINE YOURSELF OR SOMEONE ELSE WILL" This song is my hope that it inspires anyone with self-doubt to be their own best self, and not let others negatively influence their self-awareness."

Blood Sugar Blues
This wonderful track begins with a brooding atmospheric texture, and the main mood of the track jumps to the forefront soon after. Right off the bat, the production is very impressive, showcasing John-Paul “Jp” Jones’s creativity at its best. Lyrically, the song packs quite a punch with a very earnest and powerful flow, perfectly attuned to the intensity of the instrumental. You should definitely find an affinity for John-Paul “Jp” Jones and his music, because this production spares no expenses when it comes to creating some great vibes. Ultimately, John-Paul “Jp” Jones is a force to be reckoned with in the music scene, and Blood Sugar Blues is a great example of the massive impact and punch that he can bring to the table. 

Youth Is Wasted (On The Young)
What's special about the production is that it has a nice retro twist to it, but it still feels fresh and new. This falls in line with John-Paul “Jp” Jones's remarkable artistic vision: exploring the amazing melodies of the past, and bringing this timeless sound to a whole new audience. It is safe to say that his idea is working! Many people have been loving his releases so far, and this is another excellent song in his list of fantastic musical achievements. “Youth Is Wasted (On The Young)” is a fantastic release with a fresh attitude and an open sound that sets the bar higher in terms for creativity and production aesthetics alike. What’s more, the artist spares no expense in terms of detail and sound quality. Anything that John-Paul “Jp” Jones releases is consistently excellent and amazing, giving the audience a deeper insight into his talent - not only as a songwriter, but also as a natural-born storyteller with a penchant for connecting with his audience on a deeper level. 

Story Behind The Song: "I wrote this song around 1994 when my brother had passed away. Another victim of violence, but it was also inspired by events that I heard about when a student at a local high school walked into the school and killed another student. I is inspired by the phrase "youth is wasted on the young" and I really felt it relevant today. I see so much hate and violence in the world. But also I have had the advantage of experience and I truly do understand it. I have loved and been deceived and I have lost friends and family to violence. Many times through crimes of a passion (over a girl or boy). This seems to be part of my experience but I also have had immense joy in my life, and like the birth of my children, and meeting of my wife. Its pretty amazing how a song written out of tragedy can have some of its meaning become relevant later in life and actually adapt to your current life. However, this song is really my observation of several different relationships some of persons I knew personally and some where I just read or watched about their story. I hope it inspires some young people to value their youth and to make choices to keep their freedom and move into adulthood in a safe manner."

➧Interview By Maria Nicolas

• What does your journey as an artist look like, from start to present day?
» Well I'm from the lake Rathbun area in Southeastern Iowa my family has been there since 1863 I'm very proud to be an Iowegian. I started out on trumpet like most kids' Middle School Jazz Band, but music singing and dancing was a part of everyday life in my home. I moved onto teaching myself keyboards, inspired by Chick Corea and Especially Herbie Handcock, eventually the guitar is what found me. That was some 40 years ago I have played on and off the road in a variety of bands of multiple styles and genres. However, the John-Paul Jones Group has been my passion for the past 25 years. Through the John-Paul Jones Group, I have built a studio (CopperTop Studio Hut) and a Concert Production Company (H&J Entertainment, LLC), and a record label/publishing Company (Eugene’s Trick Bag Records). I have learned to be independently determined, and to keep my integrity towards the music that is my tradition. Which brings us to what I believe is my reward for all of this hard work, the release of this current album, “Broke In Bridge City”. 

• Compared to when you started music career some decades ago, is it easier or harder to be a musician in 2021? 
» I think it's easier and I say this because of the tools that are available and the information and knowledge that is available When I started I became a student of the music business my favorite book is “This Business of Music” and I have studied every edition of that book since it was released. I am lucky because early on I became a member of ASCAP and a member of AFM. So through them I learned a lot. I believe the resources to become a good musician are more vast now than ever. I think what is actually harder today is to become an original artist. Becoming a musician which the technician portion of being an artist, is easier. Carving a career that is financially sustainable is as hard as it ever was. However, being a financially independent artist to me is still about the same level of difficulty.
• At what point did you realize you had talent as a musician and potential to make songs? 
» I knew I could make my own songs pretty early on because I was an improviser on the trumpet. I can learn by ear and I can make things up. I wouldn't say that I was really writing a lot of songs back then but I was improvising them. I knew I had a talent for writing music and composing. I could also arrange parts at an early age. 

• Did anyone help you at that point? 
» In my life I have not what I'd say had a lot of “help” but I have had several people who pointed me in the right direction or got me started on a path that inspired me to work harder. There are a few people for me that were personal in my life. The first was Mr. Bernie Allgood my middle school band instructor, and maybe the only person I took formal music lessons from. I never would have learned to sight-read learn about harmony and time and tempo. He was also very patient when I wouldn’t learn my lesson, but would come in with an album and learn by ear a Chuck Mangione or Miles Davis song (played not as well as it should have). Second is Doug Marks because without his Metal Method Correspondence Course I never would have learned how to play the guitar living in the middle of hills of the Rathbun Lake Area of Southeastern Iowa. And 3rd I have to give it to Chris Magee he was the band director at Indian Hills Community College (ironically John-Paul “Jp” Jones is the professor of Electrical & Renewable Energy Technology there now). Chris was a great mentor in that he allowed me to take what I knew from previous experience and apply it in a big band setting. It was a unique experience where I met a lot of great people and shared in music. Most of everything that I have done with music I have worked hard to learn from others through books or correspondence or video. I would like to say I was selftaught but I would that would be false I was more of a self-learner. I believe that is why I have such a unique way of approaching the guitar and my music career in general. There was no one in my life who could actually influence me to go down a different path.

• If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
 » Oh that's easy it's Authentic Heavy Blues 

• What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career? 
» Well the first thing was sacrificing my children and my responsibilities as a father. I was a single dad for most of their life. I will never sacrifice my Integrity or my goals. I do not chase after musical or genre trends. 

• Do you think music today is enjoyed more for the beats and rhythms or for the lyrical content? 
» Oh I think the enjoyment of music is the same as it's always been. Some people like it for the sound, some people like it for the words & some people like it for both. I do believe beats are very important today. We mixed this record using acoustic drums in a way for the listener who has grown up with sub-boxes in their parents' vehicles to hear the drums. I can't say that I'm going to be an authority on what is current and popular. I'm an older guy and as far as music is concerned, I tend to gravitate towards the sounds of my formative years that captured my ear. 

• How does your live show add to your mission? 
» Our Live shows are everything. We exist to play live. It is absolutely 100% more important that we are playing as a live band then Studio recordings Releasing live DVD’s of performances is a part of my business & creative process. So the live show is very important. 

• How do you want fans to feel when they see you live? 
» I want my fans to feel like they are seeing something they've never seen before not because of pyrotechnics or some kind of fancy gimmick. I want them to feel the same way when they see a John-Paul Jones Group perform as a fan would have felt if they saw Rory Gallagher or Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac or Jimi Hendrix perform. I want to feel like this is a fresh raw energy coming off the stage that they can feed off of emotionally and spiritually, because when they do, we get it back from them ten-fold and the experience is that much better. 

• What can fans expect from the Patriot's Picnic & Soul Brothers Revue Concerts? 
» What you're going to get from the Patriot’s Picnic is a real backyard in a field style outdoor event, outdoors, motorcycles, classic cars, and folks just hanging out for the sheer enjoyment of each others company for wonderful cause, supporting our veterans and veterans service organizations, but showing them that we are aware of their service and we appreciate the positive contribution they bring to our rural communities. With the Soul Brothers Revue, what an audience member is going to experience is three distinctly different, absolutely authentic Black Iowegian Blues Artists on one stage, performing original material that highlights, tradition, heritage, ancestry, and legacy. This has never been done in Iowa before, Our goal with this series is to show that when the great migration of blacks happened in 1865 that not all of the black blues people stopped in St. Louis, or Kansas City, or Chicago, Springfield or Milwaukee. Some of those folks made it to Iowa and they did bring those southern music traditions and all the determination to succeed that being black in America requires. Kevin (Burt), Ernie (Peniston) and I all have rich histories, and we are proud Iowegians and we are going to show that blues is not only to the east or the south of us. 

• In your opinion, what makes these concerts so special? 
» With the Soul Brother’s Revue (™) we are going to show our styles of roots music as it was influenced by our geographical region and our interaction as Black Iowegians with our respective communities. With the Patrior’s Picnic Concert Series, the John-Paul Jones Group is going to bring much needed awareness and attendance to Veterans Service Organization facilities that host an event. 

• Have you been surprised by anyone who’s reached out and said they’ve been influenced by your music? 
» You know that has started to happen thanks to the wonderful thing we call social media I'll get a friend request from someone who will be you know 10 or 15 20 years younger than me who will tell me back in the day I saw you play and I just couldn't believe it or you were such a big influence on me and that feels pretty good cuz many times I don't know these young people but they come do a show or they saw me playing and now they're in bands of their or I may say I inspired him and some small fashion I think that's pretty cool and it does come surprising every now and then because I have always operated probably not as good of being the spectacle that's required of a front man I'm a little more reserved. However, recently I have to say there is one young man his name is Jake Schrader, he’s 14 and through the sadness of the passing of Eddie Van Halen, he posted a video playing some of Ed’s songs. I was greatly influenced by Eddie, that was my era of formative years, the late 70’s and being a guitar player you cannot be influenced by Eddie Van Halen. Well to make a long story short, Jake’s mom posted a video, I was tagged by a mutual friend, I contacted his mom Sarah, and asked them if they would like to tour my studio. They obliged, and we have been connected ever since. Sarah bought Jake a copy of “Broke in Bridge City” and here is the message he sent me.
Hey I got your album and man I am LOVING it. Your singing and the amazing riffs are truly inspiring to me. To be honest I listen to the album at night when I go to bed and man just the groove in the songs like “Ballad Of The Nine” are amazing and the fast paced “Better Be Yourself” makes me jump! and “Blue Ruin (Right Now)” is stuck in my head right now lol. I just want to say I am a HUGE fan of your music - Jacob
This is probably the greatest notification of inspiration I have ever received besides the wonderful note his mom wrote as well. It's very important to me to correspond and perhaps inspire young people in music.

• Who have you been listening to recently that inspires you both in creatively and personally? 
» Oh the artists who have been creative inspirations for me are Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jon Butcher, Robin Trower, Rory Gallagher, Booker T Jones & Peter Green those are the guys who really inspire me creatively. On the business side of things, Frank Zappa, Berry Gordy, Rick Hall, and Steve Vai. On a personal level though I have an affinity for young black artists from anywhere and right now. Marquis Knox, Quon Willis, & Christone Ingraham have all been inspiring me. Their dedication to preserving black music traditions, helped me to have affirmation to continue doing what I do. 

• There’s for sure the Southeastern Iowa vibes coming through on your latest Album “Broke In Bridge City” What’s the back story to this project? What makes it particularly special for you? 
» We all know this past year COVID changed the landscape for touring and performance. As a Type II Diabietic I had extra precautions I needed to take, so last year I made the command decision that we were going to postpone all shows in 2020. Normally we produce live performances from May through September. After the season ends, I take two months off. Normally I would go into the studio and I work on all the videos to release a live CD or DVD from the footage from the concert season. COVID-19 prevents us from performing… So I decided that I would take the time that we would have been playing going to CopperTop Studio Hut and write and record an album. The results are the songs on Broke In Bridge City and I would not be happier. What makes this album so special for me is it is extremely personal it is written from my perspective as a black iowegian who grew up in the hills of southeast Iowa not far from Lake Rathbun on the 6th of 9 Generations from that area and it's just very very important to me to right from a personal perspective The songs are not slapped together, they are written about my experiences. my family history. and observations that I have had within the communities that I have lived. 

• Youth Is Wasted, Better Be Yourself, Blue Ruin sounds more like a complete message. It sounds more solid like you were saying. Talk about your vision for this record. 
» The vision behind this record was to try to get as personal as possible. I consider myself an ordinary individual, with a very extraordinary background, ancestry, and perspective. So I felt that if I could lyrically bring out true feelings and thoughts, and musically express the proper emotions on this record, then it would universally connect with anyone no matter where they come from, what they look like, or how much money they had in their pocket. 

• How do you handle criticism? 
» I believe that criticism is simply an opinion. And if you have integrity you should take it under advisement, but since it's only an opinion. If you have integrity you should never allow criticism to stop you from accomplishing your goals. The only person in the mirror is you. The only person who can facilitate your success or failure is you. So as the song on the album “Better Be Yourself” states, “... Better be yourself baby, or drive yourself crazy, be yourself baby, self-doubt will stunt your growth...” Too many people allow the opinions of others diminish their self-confidence and cause them to second guess their self-worth, and their vision. I don’t allow that to happen. 

• Who has been your worst critic, if any? 
» I have had a lot of critics over the years, however there is a fine line between a constructive criticism and someone simply being a hater, who wants to bring down your level of expectation, because they have not or will not put in the work to achieve their own goals, this happens in all aspects of life. They are my worst critics, because what they do is not positive, it's not meant to build someone up, it's meant to bring them down. Those are the worst critics. “You blues is too rock” - “you don’t fit the image we need for the band” (i.e. too black), “why don’t you play more traditional” these types of comments are not meant to help they are meant to hinder. So the ones making these comments are the worst critics because they are not helpful. 

• Just for fun — You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only take one album, one book, and one movie. What are your must-haves to listen to, read, and watch? 
» Would it be too much to say that I would take “Broke In Bridge City” by the John-Paul Jones Group. ALBUMS: In lieu of my own album, “Broke In Bridge City” I would have to say that Irish tour 74 by Rory Gallagher would be a tough choice between that and Electric ladyland Jimi Hendrix or Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower those would be tough for me to pick which one of those I would take with me. BOOKS: If I was stranded on an island as far as books or concern it would probably be some nonfiction Wilderness survival book that was two foot thick with everything you needed to know to survive outside the modern world MOVIES: I think I would have two. Ghost Blues The Story of Rory Gallagher, and Frank Gambale’s Monster Licks and Speed Picking + Modes No More Mystery. I would just study them over and over again so that I would have something to occupy my mind. Sorry if that was a little too broad base but it's just too hard for me to pick just one 

• What does the next page in your career trajectory look like? 
» Well it'll be performing hopefully covid-19 willing Continue to see album sales to rise we are doing something a little different than most bands we concentrate on physical product only so if you want “Broke In Bridge City” you can get it at here.

• What does the rest of this year and the start of 2021 look like for you? 
» Album Promotion, Pre-Production for touring season, Touring Season, Vacation, DVD and Live Album Post Production, That will take me through to 2022.

• Are there any projects you’re currently working on right now? 
» We are trying to raise money for the IHCCTERET Renewable Energy Club’s Library. So we can help reduce book costs for students who wish to complete the Electrical & Renewable Energy Technology Program at Indian Hills College. Current $0.50 from every CD or Album sold is being donated to the cause. So understand when you purchase an LP or CD a portion of your funds are going to a good cause. I am working on restarting an old tradition that used to be common in Iowa schools, “The AV Club” I am trying to promote more and more young people to become part of production and promotion “behind the scenes” work with live bands and in a studio. Not everyone will be a musician, but there are careers and hobbies of being FOH or some other technical support person within an artistic endeavor. We have three young students signed up and want to have 3 more for this summer. 

• You’ve always championed new music. Are there any recommendations for Lifoti and its readers to check out? 
» Okay yes I'm going to name drop people that rdr2 me that I think your readers should check out First all Christone “Kingfish” Ingraham, your readers need to get his new album. He is the real deal when it comes to Southern Blues great guitar player phenomenal singer and I am proud to say he's like a little cousin We've gotten to know each other a bit through the internet since he's been about 15 I think he's about 20 now and he doesn't really need me to give him accolades he's already a star but your reader should check him out Next I have to give it up to a fellow Iowegian he's from up northern Iowa area, his name is Kevin Burt and he has an album out called “Stone Crazy” and it's great Kevin's voice is just so soulful and he's one of the best harmonica players I've ever heard. Your readers really are missing out if they don't pick up Kevin's album. Okay leaving Iowa for a bit one of my favorite bands they're not a new band by any means, but The Bush League out of Virginia I always tease their manager and their lead singer I tell them “your song “Hearse, I wish I had wrote that song” they are Hill Country Blues like no other. Your readers really should check them out, because folks need to stop getting hung up that blue sound old or it's for old people every one of these bands and artists that I've listed so far are as fresh as anything that's on the market I gotta tell you about my big cousin, Ernie Peniston, he has a new album coming up entitled “These Blues” Ernie and I are from the same family tree. His Grandmother is my Grandfather’s Sister. When you hear the song “Ballad Of The Nine” Robert in that that is spoken of there is my grandfather, and the girl in the lyrics is my Grandmother Marjorie, the first black woman to be an X-Ray Technician in the state of Iowa. Family is very important to me. Ernie is as funky blues as you will ever hear and like me he is 100% Black Iowegian. Our family was established in Iowa in 1865 by a Civil War Veteran of the 165th, Colored Regiment, of the United States Army, “Curry O. Bunk Reed”. We were our GreatGrand Mother’s Grandfather. Proud Iowegian history here. 

• Anything in closing you would like to say to our readers? 
» Yes I would like your readers to just know how appreciative I am of LIFOTI magazine and the time you've taken to talk to me and let me share a little bit about my life and the album. Go out and get the album “Broke in Bridge City” and also pick up the albums of my friends and family I have spoken about. For an independent artist like us, we are only able to sustain our careers via fan support. There's no other way for us to sustain our careers. Without your financial support, our careers will not weather the storm and survive to make more music. Support local and independent artists as much as possible. Thank you for having me. And we will see you at a concert near you soon.

Check out the “Broke In Bridge City” from John-Paul “Jp” Jones here

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