“I can’t do an encore- it’s a schoolnight and it’s way past my bed-time!” Baby-faced Laurence Jones might look a bit like a schoolboy, but when he cranks up his Strat, he sounds just like a veteran Blues player and his songwriting has a maturity way beyond his years. With his third album out on Ruf Records, Laurence has been on tour with some legends and some rising stars, and some time soon he is going to find himself in the spotlight on the world stage, because his talents as a performer and songwriter deserve nothing less.
Magic of a Dad’s Vinyl Collection!
Laurence was born just outside Liverpool in 1992, but brought up in Shakespeare’s home-town of Stratford-upon-Avon. He took up classical guitar as a seven-year-old, but his musical education was shaped by his Dad, Melvyn’s vinyl collection. He often played The Groundhogs’ ‘Split Part 2’, with its psychedelic take on the Blues, and listening to the masterworks of Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray and Rory Gallagher, Laurence was attracted to the improvisational freedom that Blues-rock demands, which was the exact opposite of his highly-structured classical studies. He got a Les Paul and set up a local covers band, ‘Free Beer’ who had a female vocalist, but he always knew he was going to write and sing his own songs. At the age of 17, he formed The Laurence Jones Band and has been the frontman of a power trio ever since. He enrolled on a Music Degree course at Birmingham University, but before the end Laurence was faced with a dilemma: study for his final exams or go on tour with Johnny Winter and Walter Trout. Walter’s ‘Transitions’ album was one of those vinyl treasures he grew up with, and Johnny Winter is Johnny Winter, so ‘No Contest!’
High profile touring, and a debut album.
All the songs on his 2012 debut album ‘Thunder in the Sky’ were written by Laurence, except for ‘The Thrill is Gone’. His policy on covers is simple: take a song that means a lot to you, then add something to make it your own. His guitar sound is clean and straight ahead, using just a Boss Bluesdriver and a wah-wah. Pounding the highways and opening shows for several touring acts, Laurence supported The Royal Southern Brotherhood, Wishbone Ash and his old hero Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs. The following year, after another long tour of Europe with Walter- when he was becoming increasingly ill- Laurence was asked by Ruf to make his second album, ‘Temptation’, in The States. In the new year, the project came together, with Mike Zito on guitar and producing, drummer Yonrico Scott and bassist Charlie Wooton (all from The Southern Brotherhood) and guest spots from harp player Johnny Sansone, Aynsley Lister and, triumphantly, Walter Trout, recovering from his operation and well enough to play on the title track.
Laurence plays Luther Allison’s beautiful Gold-top Les Paul in a Dutch Café;
Highway to a Bright Horizon.
When they were down on the bayou recording ‘Temptation’ near Lafayette LA, Mike Zito asked Laurence for a song that took him out of his comfort zone, and he came up with ‘Whisper in the Wind’, a beautiful elegy for a close relative, taken before his time. In a rare acoustic treatment that has echoes of Led Zeppelin III, Laurence speaks to the emotions of anyone who has lost a loved one, with a voice and a sentiment that is simply timeless. As he puts it himself, “The Blues can be all different kinds of genres…. but what makes it the Blues is that it comes from the heart.” That is a wise head on young shoulders, and a young man with plenty to say.