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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vote for Jinx
one man's rockabilly election selection


DC Larson

In February, new peer acclaim may well be extended to Jinx Jones. The California-based singer/guitarist, a popular fixture at Viva Las Vegas, has been nominated for Rockabilly, Male in the 2015 Ameripolitan Awards.

Competition will be stern. Also nominated in that category are Paul Pigat, Eddie Clendening, James Intveld, and Jason D. Williams.

"I’m feeling very honored to be nominated," Jinx recently said. "I also have to say that I really appreciate the work that they do in supporting an important America art form, which celebrates a place in the musical landscape that may not receive a lot of attention from the mainstream media."

(Nominees for other distinctions include Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Kim Lenz, the Derailers, Marti Brom, Miss Ruby Ann, and Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics. Though voting begins on December 6, the Awards themselves will be held on February 17, in Austin.

Consider this both my vote for Jinx and effort to sway you to his cause.

To date, he has four crucial CDs to his credit. But Jinx's road began long before them, and was marked by impressive sideman turns. Beginning in 1976, he backed legend Solomon Burke, as well as Howard Bomar. From 1979 through much of the 80s, he worked in one of Chuck Berry's regional touring bands. During the mid-80s, Jinx backed Roy Buchanan in concert.

Undertaking studio player work, he appeared on various recordings. This ultimately led to his playing both studio guitar and bass on the 1992 En Vogue hit, "Free Your Mind."

He developed a musical voice at once inclusive of the finest of Americana past and his own novel articulation. Abandoning work as an auxillary man, he set out to carve his name in the sun.  

With seeming ease, he divines the blood fraternity of rockabilly, western swing, blues, jazz, and honky tonk, dazzling with furious note-bursts one moment, and in the next spinning glorious, intriguing strands of wondrous and untethered imaginings.

Imagine an advanced guitar textbook on 10. Listeners all will doubtless be thunderstruck by Jinx's authoritative command of labrythinian note aggregates, lightning-fleet navigations, and esoteric chordal modes. One intuits they are in the twang-upholstered, jazzy Court of a flat-gone Monarch, one for whom fair Aoede is a favored midnight-hour ship.

2000's License To Twang (Red Rogue) introduced the virtuosic Jinx by name to countless listeners who might already have dug his side and studio work. From the opening, a rapidly descending flurry of treble notes, it was apparent that he deserved remark in the same six-string pantheon already home to Danny Gatton. Honky tonk twanged expressiveness and riotous rockabilly exhortations are colorfully integrated with ebullient bursts of jazz-inflected phrasings. Recommended: "License To Twang," "Big Daddy Bop," "I Need a Good Girl Bad," "Tailor Made Woman."

A follow-up appeared in 2007. On Rumble & Twang (Home Braend), Jinx continued the hardwood-trippin' genre-bending he'd unveiled on "License."  Undeniable now was his status as fretboard royalty. Ecstatic notes were bent, jabbed, and fired off at rocketship velocity. While there was plenty of fierce and wooly barn-dancin' bop on hand, gentler moments, too, enjoyed audience. Jinx's every-string-aflame evocation of old boss Roy Buchanan's "The Messiah Will Come Again" alternately ached, pummeled and seared. Recommended: "Flat Gettin' It," "Swedish Pastry," "Either Way I Lose," "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White."

The next year saw Jinx's Live In Finland (Home Braend) turn up on shelves. Originals "Mr Right Now," and "Honky Tonk Playgirl" pointed up spring-heeled bop's reeling country accent. Further rousing the crowd were three commanding Rock'n'Roll Trio covers --"Honey Hush," "Tear It Up," and "Rock Billy Boogie." Insofar as he was that night representing America abroad, Jinx did it with appropriate swagger in the type of international incident that leaves all drained. In fact, this on-the-scene document may well have been more frenetic and happily freight-paced than its studio predecessors.

On his latest release, 2010's Rip & Run, Jinx ascended still o'er previous successes. By this time globally famed as a breath-stealing, advnturous picker both encyclopedic and devastating, he led new band the KingTones to bop nonpareil. Whereas others might take broadening capacities to assay styles more sanctified by clef-note gray-beards, Jinx stayed put in the rockabilly/country mileau -- though he unburdened himself of serrated jazz thunderbolts. Recommended: "Redneck Barbie," "On Parole and Out of Control," "Never Live It Down," "Hot Rod Heartbreaker," "Rip and Run."

Such impressive wax to one side, Jinx may be the hardest working man in rockabilly.

"I do a lot of performing here in California, (like four to five nights a week)," he told me recently. "But I also have been playing the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend for the past several years, and do an annual Christmas show in Denver, Colorado.

"This coming year." he continues, "I do have some festivals lined up such as the Vintage Torque Fest in Dubuque, Iowa, and the Ink and Iron Festival in Nashville, Tennessee (which are confirmed as of this writing). I have other events in the works as well.

"I’m in the process of recording another studio record, which will be nearly all original material."

But first will come the Ameripolitan Awards. As Andy Griffith would say, 'Let's think about this thing.'

Appreciating great sounds bring great responsibility. Fractured night spot revelers and disc-hoarding adherents are obliged to defy boardroom-choreographed pop culture and support those true-believing musicians who preserve vintage stylings and embroider upon them.

 Jinx Jones looms to fight the good fight. Our fight.

We all need to have his back.

VIDEO "Redneck Barbie"
VIDEO "Rip & Run"

(Parts of this essay appeared previously in the now-defunct Rockabilly magazine, and on my own website,

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