Q&A with Arkansas-based talented blues musician Billy Jones, one of the very best authentic modern artists

Q&A with Arkansas-based talented blues musician Billy Jones, one of the very best authentic modern artists

"There certainly is an audience for blues music in today's world because the blues is timeless...it's eternal...and there is the potential for even greater audience growth as we explore the ever-expanding musical variations of the art form...it's the main ingredient."

Billy Jones: The Delta Bluez Outlaw

Billy Jones’ voice and guitar work shine like a dazzling star! Billy's voice will enchant you, his songs are oozing with sexuality, downright funky, and always compelling with a show-stopping style. One of the very Best Authentic Modern Blues artists in recent memory. Billy Jones Bluez born into the segregation of the 1950's south, he was exposed to the driving beat of the Blues when he was still an infant. In the crib, he could hear it as it permeated the walls against which he slept. This sound which spoke to him gave him an early direction in life which he has pursued to this day. Exquisite Modern and Traditional Blues and Neo-Soul by one of the most talented artists on the contemporary scene. Billy Jones & Delta Blues Outlaws have been a crowd favorite and one of the most requested variety show bands on the Mid-South casino, nightclub, and party circuit for many years. With a repertoire that encompasses a wide range of musical styles, from pop to country to soul to today's biggest hits, the Delta Blues Outlaws are guaranteed to please any audience.

(Photo: Billy Jones, one of the most talented artists on the contemporary scene)

Arguably one of the very Best Authentic Modern Blues and Soul albums in recent memory. His early memories are of a juke joint from where he would draw inspiration; the images, and the folks he knew then are the stuff of his song. Outstanding stage presence, world class vocals, and awesome musicianship, Billy Jones & Delta Blues Outlaws have performed their show-stopping, high-energy style for audiences in Europe and USA. From the juke joints of the Delta to the Blues Festivals — and many, many, many shows in between — this band has proven repeatedly that it's the real deal! Billy & the Outlaws brings experience, showmanship, and passion to every performance is a guaranteed great time.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues music influenced your views of the world? What does the blues mean to you?

My family owned and operated a juke-joint and rooming house in the mid-south delta of Arkansas, and I was born into and grew up in the lifestyle. As a child, I would stand in front of the jukebox and dream. I'd pretend that every guitar player on each record was me. I am an authentic American delta bluesman. My entire world view has been influenced by blues music. I am a product of the culture. The blues has been both my recreation and my occupation for as long as I can remember.

How do you describe your sound and songbook? What's the balance in music between technique and soul?

My "sound" is a mixture of the old and the new and the accidental.  ..and it is still developing as I learn and adapt to new styles and information that I learn or that I improvise or stumble upon as time goes by. In the beginning, I was taught and mentored by blues legends like Little Johnny Taylor ('Part Time Love', 'Open House at My House' ect.), Calvin Leavy ('Cummins Prison Farm'), Larry Totsie Davis ('As The Years Go Passing By' and 'Texas Flood' ...that was later re-recorded and made famous by Stevie Ray Vaughn), Rev. James T. Phillips (..who was lead singer and guitarist for the gospel group the Zion Five), Red Harpo, Willie Cobb and many great blues and gospel artists and musicians that never achieved national fame, but were all great entertainers and innovators.

My first influence was traditional blues. But as time went by, I fell in love with the music of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Percy Mayfield, BB King and the masters of soul, funk and R&B like James Brown, George Clinton, Prince and Jimi Hendrix. There is no balance between technique and soul with me... it's all soul and guesswork... I can't read music.

"I am an authentic American delta bluesman. My entire world view has been influenced by blues music. I am a product of the culture. The blues has been both my recreation and my occupation for as long as I can remember." (Billy Jones, Arkansas 2021 / Photo by Deke V. Rivers)

What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

The moment that received a phone call from Jan Mittendorp at Black & Tan Records to come perform on blues festivals in Europe. From juke-joints to European blues festivals Now that's a life changing moment! Paris, Germany, Romania, Italy, Austria, Amsterdam, Belgium ...too many places & shows to mention here. One of my favorite shows was when I represented Black & Tan Records on the Blues Passions Festival at the Hennessy Castle Fairgrounds in Cognac, France. We performed on the main stage for 15,000 fans! No matter whatever happens in the future I will always be loyal to Black & Tan Records. ..forever grateful. They believed in me and opened a door that elevated my life to a whole new level when no one else would.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I had fun...performed LIVE! ...in a Juke-Joint, somewhere along the Blues Highway!

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

What I miss most about the old guys is the authenticity and the originality. ..every artist had his own style. Today many of the new artists seem to focus on sounding "like" Muddy or "like" Hendrix ect. and so, a lot of the newer music sounds formularized and predictable. I want to variate from the formula. It's my hope to take elements of traditional blues and infuse it into elements of contemporary music like funk, jazz, and soul and hip-hop to create a style of music that will appeal to both the traditional listener and attract the younger contemporary audience. For example, in our live shows my band performs a song where I sing Tyrone Davis' soul song 'In The Mood' and blend in lyrics from the hip-hop song 'Smile' by TuPac & Scarface and then, lay a funky blues rock guitar solo on top of that monolog between the verses. I sound crazy don't I?  ...well, the audiences that we play for really like what we are doing...they call it 'gangsta blues' and we have been holding down a main stage residency at Harlow's Casino in Greenville, MS for over 15 years playing it that way! As far as fears for the future... I can't see any...I believe this new style bring old and new together.

"The blues will always be here...transmogrifying and mutating and morphing into new and different forms. And yet at the same time it remains the same...just below the surface of any song you will find the blues." (Photo: Billy Jones and the Delta Blues Outlaws)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

True greats are not those born with golden spoons in their mouths… but those who through hard work turn their own wooden spoon into gold.

Why is it important to we preserve and spread the blues? What is the role of Blues in today’s society?

The blues will always be here...transmogrifying and mutating and morphing into new and different forms. And yet at the same time it remains the same...just below the surface of any song you will find the blues.

Do you think there is an audience for blues music in its current state? or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

There certainly is an audience for blues music in today's world because the blues is timeless...it's eternal...and there is the potential for even greater audience growth as we explore the ever-expanding musical variations of the art form...it's the main ingredient. Traditional blues is only the beginning...funk, rock, jazz, pop, soul, grunge, hip-hop or even country music are all simply offshoots and incarnations of the blues...they are all built on the foundation and framework of the blues...the one four five...sometimes just the one. The key is to educate the young audience on how to recognize and understand that these styles are based on and derived from the blues...and to educate  the "traditional" audience to except and appreciate that the newer songs are based on and evolved from the blues.

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