An In Depth Interview with Johnny Ray Jones
By Richard L'Hommedieu
Aug 7th, 2017
“It’s like a smorgasbord of Americana and blues,” says Jones of the now-finished album, for which most recording took place in 2015 and 2016. Besides “Hole In Your Soul,” a Sam “Bluzman” Taylor-penned song taken from the 1995 sessions, Feet Back in the Door features a varied set of newly waxed tunes that run the full gamut of blues styles. From the smoothly soulful R&B vibe of the title track (written by Jones’ friend Arthur Adams) to the uptempo, Stones-style “Love-Itis” (recorded by Harvey Scales in the ’60s and popularized by The J. Geils Band in the ’70s) to the straight-ahead blues of Z.Z. Hill’s “I’m a Blues Man” and the New Orleans sparkle of Leon Russell’s “Hearts Have Turned to Stone,” these are some of the deepest blues you’re likely to hear, sung by a man who has truly lived them. Jones also contributed one original to the project: the gritty, lowdown “In the Heart of the City,” which he says was inspired by “walking through downtown L.A. feeling invisible, being alone and missing my girl.”
In his long career, Johnny Ray Jones has performed with a who’s who of blues royalty. The aforementioned Sam Taylor was his voice coach; Percy Mayfield’s wife, Tina, was his godmother; and he’s performed with the likes of blues shouter Big Joe Turner and L.A.’s beloved blues-rockers The Red Devils in addition to opening shows for Leon Russell, John Mayall, and Steppenwolf. Now, with an album co-produced by Tony Braunagel and Johnny Lee Schell and with guest spots by Coco Montoya, among others, it’s time for Jones to step into the spotlight. On Feet Back in the Door, he does so with style.
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