Monday, September 10, 2012

July 2012: “Keeping up with the Runaway Joneses”

The Soundcheck, July 2012:  “Keeping up with the Runaway Joneses”
By j. Gabrielle

There are two ways to look at the name "Runaway Jones".  "Jones" is a fixation on or a compulsive desire for someone or something.  In this case the "jones" is good music and a unique set list.  It is the band's collective passion for the unusual that makes it a runaway.  Also, there is the Middle America reference to "keeping up with the Joneses", striving to achieve or own as much as the people around you.  The band sees themselves as running away from this catchphrase.

The "Jones" started innocently enough.  Vocalist/keyboardist Jonathan Barker recalls, "RJ started one night when Mike Maycock and I were chatting. We were both looking for something fresh. He was a good friend with Will Henson and I had jammed with Will in the past on various projects. Shortly after that, I met Matt Holland in the church praise team. He was filling in at our church and I thought he laid down a good groove.
We all got together and threw a few tunes out and found out we had common musical interests and actually, quite a variety of musical tastes. Sometimes, one of us will start a riff and the rest of us easily jump in on it, so the potential for songwriting as a band is great...we just haven't fully capitalized on that yet. We do play several originals which Mike, Will, and myself have contributed and the band seems to gel on those pretty well.”

Will Henson is the bassist/vocalist of the group. He remarks about performing with Runaway Jones, “When I was a kid, I used to stare at the inside sleeve of The Beatles - Let It Be album cover, fascinated by all the pictures of cables strewn around, the amps and the drum set, and the four guys holding their instruments, debating what and how they should play next. All the while, seemingly having a pretty good time, too. Now I get to live that with these guys. I was very fortunate to hook up with them and it's too easy to get along with them. They are that cool! I keep waiting for some kind of drama to unfold, but it never does. That is worth gold.”

Drummer Matthew Holland acquiesces as being the youngest in the band.  Much of the material they perform was written before he was born.  Matt says, “Some of it I’ve never heard before in my life. But I like it AND not everyone is doing it. I think we’ve connected with a good niche.”  Asked about his influences he jabs, ” most of ‘em bad...especially these guys I play music with!  Seriously though, as a kid, I guess it would be most of the eighties stuff, mixed with an alternative tour during my college years, followed by my most recent long stint of various Christian artists who have heavily influenced my playing style and approach.”

The band’s material is what keeps fans coming back to the shows.  Elton John, “Honky Cat”, “Benny & The Jets”, Little Feat, “Oh! Atlanta”, “Fat Man in the Bath Tub”, Paul Simon, “Late in the Evening”, Bare Naked Ladies, “It’s All Been Done”, Traffic, “Medicated Goo”, “Empty Pages”, Jackson Brown “Doctor My Eyes”, The Band, “The Shape I’m In”.  Maycock says, “We love all of these bands but we want to pick fresh songs.”  Barker says they try to choose nuggets, the B sides, and special gems to offer something not being done in town.

In talking about area venues, the band is partial to Blue 5, Jake Dempsey’s excellent sound and the appreciative crowd.  Barker also says, “The Pine Tavern pavilion is also very, very cool.  The people in Floyd are way into music and are so appreciative. They really make you feel special up there.”  Guitarist/vocalist Mike Maycock chimes in about Schooners.  “Tammy was very cool at getting us out to start playing.”  Jonathan interjects, “When she first asked me about playing there, we hardly had enough material to play out...but we had been practicing in the basement for several months.  Tammy kind of pulled and tugged and we all said ‘yeah, ok’ and now she has that great stage.”

Jonathan heads to the studio this month to start work on some originals.  The band hopes to grow their audience and work toward an original set list.

 “Jonesin’” for something different?   Runaway Jones has the “fix”.

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