Recently, Jones and his band performed at the bi-annual Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park in Centreville, and we had the opportunity to catch their performance. After being entranced by Jones and his band, we were determined to get an interview with this talented musician.southern soul, blues, and rock

Born in Rawley Springs, VA, which is a small town just outside Harrisonburg, JUSTIN JONES is the epitome of true American rock and roll. Though he may not be African American or live in the Deep South, Jones has a true connection to blues and soul music, which is coursing through his veins with each strum of his guitar and the hum of his voice. Raised since he was a boy on southern soul, blues, and rock, Jones has been captivating audiences all over Virginia and across the country for more than 10 years, and recently, he has taken time away from the road to focus on his new band THE DEADMEN with some of his friends and fellow songwriters, as well as to be with his wife and children.

We spoke with Jones about how his music career began and some of the highlights that got him to where he is today, his signature “quintessentially American” sound that resonates through each of his songs, as well as how he plans to balance his time between THE DEADMEN and the JUSTIN JONES band going forward.

According to your story on your website, you see yourself as a 68-year-old black guy named Luther black guy with one green eye and a couple gold teeth, and you play harmonica in a blues band that plays at a dump in the ghetto. Can you tell me how this perception originally came about?

Well, that was sort of a stream of consciousness. It’s not wholly accurate with how I perceive myself and my music.

Ok then. So how would you describe your sound?

I was actually talking about this with someone recently, and I like to think it’s more about how grew up in my hometown outside of Harrisonburg.

When did you move to Arlington?

I have lived in the DC area for the past 13 years, and in July of last year, I moved from Southern Maryland to Arlington with my wife.

Your musical career spans over a decade. How did you get started playing music?

I started playing guitar when I was pretty young, and I started writing when I was pretty young. When I turned 21, I started going out to open mic nights, and I really enjoyed the attention because it fed my ego.

How did you meet the rest of your band?

The band has expanded over the years through meeting new people, people leaving, and people getting replaced. It’s not like I met them all at a bar one night and that was that. Two of the guys I met through friends have been playing with me for four years. You meet people slowly. Another two of the guys have been in my touring band for years. Now if someone can’t go on tour, I’ll just have another guy fill in. It’s always changing.

What has been some of your proudest accomplishments as a musician?

I’m not really sure. As a musician, I have played some great gigs and toured around the country, but it’s a disappointing business. Even if you think you are making it, you are quickly brought back down to earth. I sang background for LUCINDA WILLIAMS at Merriweather [Post Pavilion] with my daughter in my arms. That was two years ago with her, myself, and DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS.

Additionally, in your story, you describe your music as “quintessentially American”, but what are the specific characteristics of your music that embody this genre?

To me, the content is so derived from my environment and my experiences from traveling around the country. It’s not about Chevy trucks or the Fourth of July, but it captures the real America. Not white picket fences and manicured front lawns, but a rusted Pontiac Firebird sitting in the driveway.

Tell me about your other band THE DEADMEN. How did you get involved with that project?

I have been buddies with the guys for a while. We had talked for a while about doing a band together for a couple years, and we finally made it happen. We have been playing some gigs, and it’s been fun getting to play with some of my favorite people. I love being able to sing in the background on other people’s music and play my songs as well.

Do you feel comfortable giving up the spotlight to be more of a supporting band member rather than the lead role?

I’m not stepping out of the spotlight necessarily, but it is shared. We all sing and play guitar and write songs, so we rotate who leads each song. I like it because it lessens the importance of me. When you are the band leader, every decision is yours to be made, whether it will be where you will eat dinner while you are on tour or what the track order for your record will be. There are some band stuff that I would rather let someone else do that hasn’t done it 100 times like I have and be excited about doing it for the first time.

I read on your website that you are taking more time with them than with your own band. What motivated that decision?

I have really pushed the JUSTIN JONES moniker really hard for a long time, and we have not been growing enough recently in a tangible way to justify me being away from home for six or seven months per year. I feel like we have plateaued, and now is a good time to take a step away from it. I have worked very hard on it, but the experience of me playing can no longer be a reward for me. THE DEADMEN is about writing good music and playing shows occasionally. I tried to make a business out of music, which made me not enjoy it as much, and it’s exciting to take that step back.

Since you won’t be doing music full-time, what do you plan to do as a career?

I have been bartending at the 9:30 Club for the past nine years. It’s not much of a career, but I make a decent amount of money to support myself and my family. I have lots of ideas about potential careers, but I’m not sure yet what will make sense for me.

What does the future have in store for the JUSTIN JONES band? Will it co-exist with THE DEADMEN?

It has to co-exist. I can’t give up on this thing that I have put 10+ years into. Honestly, I’d like to record an acoustic album for my next project. I recorded acoustic for my first album, and I would really like to do that again.

For more updates on JUSTIN JONES, be sure to visit his website, “like” his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter, subscribe to his YouTube channel, and download his sampler 8 Years in 11 Songs on Noisetrade.

Joe Fitzpatrick

Joe Fitzpatrick

As editor-in-chief, Joe is very passionate about promoting music and culture in Virginia and DC. A resident of Falls Church, Joe enjoys going to shows, checking out local breweries, and trying new foods with friends.

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