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Dennis Jones: CD Reviews

If a true bluesman must pay his dues to play the blues then Dennis Jones has paid in full. He was the second lead guitarist in the renowned Zac Harmon Band and can be heard on their premier album Live at Babe & Ricky’s Inn. In 2004 he was in ZHB when they won the prestigious International Blues Challenge as Best Unsigned Band. Since then Dennis has relentlessly pursued his solo career culminating in this blistering mix of well-crafted songs and quality Hendrix-laced blues rock. His vocal bark is as bad as his guitar bite. This disc features selections from all five of Jones’ solo albums. His L.A. based power trio’s rock solid rhythm section consists of Sam Correa on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums. Dennis has come a long way from Zac’s band. He was a side player then and now he’s the star. The sound is crystal clear, full of sonic punch with a thick bottom end. It’s as good as any studio recording.

The biggest takeaway is how well these three mesh together in the intimate live setting at Beaver Creek Brewery in the off-the-beaten-track town of Wibaux, Montana. The rapt audience cheers them on with every lick and cleverly twisted phrase. Maybe a deal with the devil was made, or not, but there is ample evidence in his lyrics. Dennis has seen the dark underbelly and has come out the other side with some first hand stories to tell. Bad luck in love seems to be his cover story as in “Blue Over You” or “Stray Bullet” but the truth to be told is when he talks about how there’s plenty of time to rest… “When I Die” and the unabashed anti-drug ode “Kill the Pain”. “Blue Over You” starts the evening off with funky bass and choppy melodic chord phrasing. The leads take center stage. The volume goes up when the solos take shape. Dennis takes the sonic excursions seriously every time so nothing is wasted. “Passion for the Blues” lists the luminaries he paid his dues to such as Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others he name checks. The lyrics pay proper homage where homage is due, mostly to the roots while Dennis plays the role of the torchbearer.

The well-constructed flights of soaring guitar fancy are well-framed by the sleek arrangements. His signature Stratocaster tone is consistent and his octaves, double-stops and sustained notes are reminiscent of both Stevie Ray and Jimi. In a Crossroads style battle he could give Joe Bonamassa a run for his money. Fluid runs are his weapon and he spreads it all over the music like hot mustard. In fact his song “Hot Sauce” brings in some needed comic relief. “Like it so hot, want to feel some pain.” A nice little song about one of the true unsung heroes of the blues: the culture of bottled heat as opposed to the tired anti-hero “canned heat” of old “Sterno” based drinks. Hot sauce is not toxic but still gives many a blues musician a nice pre-gig or post-gig kick in the pants. Dennis does his own take on the well-worn riff from “Third Stone from the Sun” on this track. It’s a southern take on it using the secondary “Peter Gunn Theme” riff in Freddie King’s “Hide Away”. By copping two blues rock guitar gods in one solo he better have the chops to back it up and he does. He goes for the more familiar on “Super Deluxe” with half-step chords complemented by the straight single note pentatonic scale runs. It could be his hit.

The one criticism here is that the penultimate song, “I’m Good”, is good, but too much like the Count Basie / Joe Williams showstopper “Alright , Ok, You Win” lyrics by Mayme Watts and music by the greatly underappreciated Sid Wyche. “No thanks, no way, I’m good” lyric utilizes that song’s popular phrasing to great effect. The albums sequence is well thought out and each tune has its own reason to exist. The vocals are fresh, new and uncommon. It’s a sweet syrupy articulate sound.

Dennis Jones has a way of singing the blues where each word is understood and the stories of his blues life are interesting for long enough to get to the meat the matter; his muscular lead playing. If he made a deal with the devil it may be time for the devil to pay up as this album delivers the goods. 

Recorded in Beaver Creek Brewery in Wilbaux, Montana, this CD finds Maryland-born, Los Angeles based, bluesman Dennis drawing on his previous five albums for his material, before he signs off with a storming version of the Albert King classic ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’. Dennis has a strong, muscular approach both to his vocals and guitar playing, and his rhythm section of bass player and backing vocalist Sam Correa and drummer Raymond Johnson provides just the kind of backing this music needs – though Jones’ music is in no way one-dimensional. The band eases into the show, and the intensity racks up a little, appropriately enough, when Dennis reaches track three, ‘Passion For The Blues’, and this energetic approach, with some Hendrix-y type of playing, continues up to the jazzily swinging shuffle of ‘Super Deluxe’, the lyrically pointed ‘Enjoy The Ride’ with its touch of funk to its blues and ‘You Don’t Know A Thing About Love’, with Latin touches on a relatively relaxed number. There’s a low-down and dirty tint to the grinding anti-drugs track, ‘Kill The Pain’, ‘Big Black Cat’ is a no-nonsense blues, ‘Devil’s Nightmare’ has a tough sound, and ‘I’m Good’ is another fine shuffle, before Dennis turns his hand to Albert King’s aforementioned classic and mashes it up with Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’. “Blues you can rock to” is the strap-line on Dennis’s website and that’s the truth!

Norman Darwen

Does it sound good if three good friends without egotrips make wonderfully harmonious music together? The Dennis Jones band gives the answer with their current live album "We 3". Guitar, bass, drums and two microphones, that's all the California guys need. Clever arrangements can not miss the pianist in any second. In the accompaniment, Jones proves to be a springy groove expert, as a soloist he unfolds with fuzz pedal in front of the amplifier a trained Hendrix tone, which occasionally falsettierender tilts into higher overtones, and sheer unimaginative melodic ideas, served with exuberant play joke. Bass bassist Sam Correa contributes rock-solid foundations, imaginative solos, and contagious funk grooves, while drummer Raymond Johnson simultaneously grounds the ensemble and drones with explosive objections. In addition, Jones sings unpretentious, but with great tone and a lot of feeling his imaginative, poetic lyrics. Mind you: he sings. Never yells or barks, he does not need that. After the last bars of Albert King's "Born Under A Bad Sign" faded away, one of the few songs that did not come from Jones' pen, you could hear the record of this wonderfully disheveled band playing a second May, because as Dennis puts it: ..Love everywhere is the devil's nightmare. " (Ap)


Ap - Blues News Germany (Dec 17, 2018)

Reviews - WE3 Live

The Dennis Jones Band has grabbed me pretty much ever since I heard their album, Pleasure and Pain, back in 2009.  To these ears, Jones is the total package for any modern blues fan……he’s a killer guitarist that can play the blues and rock things out when the need arises, he’s a strong vocalist, and he’s a talented songwriter.  Based on what can be heard from Jones’ latest release, We3 Live (Blue Rock Records), he’s a dynamite live performer as well. 

This ferocious live set, captured at the Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux, Montana, finds Jones fronting his explosive trio (Sam Correa – bass/background vocals, Raymond Johnson – drums) and ripping through 14 songs taken from all of the band’s previous five releases, plus an excellent cover of Albert King’s (via Booker T. Jones and William Bell) “Born Under a Bad Sign” that closes the set. 

“Blue Over You” opens the set.  It’s a funky contemporary urban blues that includes a pair of lively solos from Jones.  The driving Texas-styled shuffle “When I Die” is next, followed by “Passion For The Blues,” where Jones acknowledges a host of blues legends and influences, and “Stray Bullet,” a midtempo blues about a man down on his luck in love.  The amusing “Hot Sauce” is a salacious country-flavored rocker (complete with “Third Stone From The Sun” reference, as heard previously onPleasure and Pain), and “Don’t Worry About Me” is R&B with a rock edge.

“Super Deluxe” is a swinging shuffle where Jones compares the girl of his dreams to his dream car, and “Enjoy The Ride” is a good-natured warning to not let life pass one by.  The Latin-styled “You Don’t Know A Thing About Love” is a smooth change of pace that mixes samba with soul, while “Kill The Pain,” is a nasty grinding shuffle about drug and alcohol abuse.  “Big Black Cat” nimbly mixes jazz, funk, and Hendrix, while “Devil’s Nightmare” has a bit of a Caribbean flair and some great guitar work from Jones, and the roadhouse rocker “I’m Good” closes the regular set.

The cover of “Born Under a Bad Sign” was the band’s encore track and the trio really leaves everything on the playing field with this effort, particularly Jones with an incredible run of guitar solos.

We3 Live is a masterful set of blues rock from one of the premier bands of the genre.  If you haven’t tuned in to the Dennis Jones Band previously, this is a great place to get started.

Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes Review (Nov 16, 2018)

The power trio of guitar, bass and drums has long been a foundational lineup in rock ‘n’ blues with groups like Cream, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble and The Jimi Hendrix Experience building Hall of Fame careers and cementing the format. All the great trios built that reputation playing hundreds of shows. L.A. based Dennis Jones Band are proving that the power trio is alive and well, with the hard-working band already logging over 12,000 miles so far in 2018, not counting a European tour of four countries. In that spirit the road warriors honor their hard-won skills by releasing a new album, WE3 Live, captured at the Beaver Creek Brewery in the wild west town of Wibaux, Montana.

Jones has been well known as a blistering lead guitarist since winning the International Blues Challenge in 2004 as a member of the Zac Harmon Band. He has pushed forward his solo career winning acclaim as a songwriter, who isn’t afraid to tackle the controversial issues of today.

The high energy 14-song collection features selections from all five of Jones’ solo albums and a dazzling encore of the Albert King standard “Born Under A Bad Sign,” mashed up with several classic electric guitar riffs. The opening track “Blue Over You,” immediately shows off the chops of the dynamic rhythm section of Sam Correa on bass and drummer Raymond Johnson. With two clicks of drumsticks the gritty tale of a working man “When I Die” follows and Jones delivers a history lesson, namechecking the icons who have influenced him on the thumping shuffle “Passion For The Blues.” He then plays the part of man done wrong in “Stray Bullet,” built over a Robert Cray styled riff. Johnson rips a train beat for the countryfied tongue twister “Hot Sauce,” while Jones slips in a little Hendrix tone honkytonk licks on the solo. The slinky R&B groove of “Don’t Worry About Me” has a familiar Texas blues rock feel, then the trio swings hard on the bopping “Super Deluxe,” comparing his love to the popular trim line of Chevy Hot Rods. The trio keeps the party going with the funky “Enjoy The Ride,” that showcases their instrumental telepathy on intricate passages and run downs. Jones gets tender on the smooth samba “You Don’t Know A Thing About Love,” while his Stratocaster gently weeps. He then unleashes the bump and grind rebuke of a hard-drinking woman in “Kill The Pain.” The dance floor fills with swing dancers for the jazzy “Big Black Cat,” and the flow keeps moving on the Caribbean spiced rumble “Devil’s Nightmare.”

So much sound is coming off this disc you often forget it is only a trio. Jones channels Albert Collins on the Texas back shuffle “I’m Good,” then closes the set with the full bombast of ‘Bad Sign’ mashed up with ‘Voodoo Chile,’ firing off glorious sonic explosions and dive bomb wails, building to the dramatic climax, before departing the stage with a sincere “Thank you and God Bless.”

Live albums truly are a gift to the fans in the form of a keepsake to remember great shows. “WE3 Live” is a heartfelt token of appreciation to all those who have supported Dennis Jones and his power trio for over 15 years.

Click to see full interview.

   The California based Dennis Jones Band struts their funky blues selves at the Beaver Creek Brewery in Montana for this superb sounding live disc. Throughout the recording, Jones exhibits a muscular lead voice and steadfast Strat chops while bandmates Sam Correa on bass & vocals and Raymond Johnson on drums keep the grooves steady and grounded. Rockin’ blues tracks include the crossover album opener “Blues Over You,” the ground pounding “When I Die” featuring a searing guitar solo, the fire breathing “Hot Sauce,” the pulsating groove of “Kill The Pain,” the future classic, “Big Black Cat,” and the raved-up cover of Booker T. Jones & William Bell’s, “Born Under A Bad Sign” featuring Jones’ blistering Hendrixian chops. The Dennis Jones Band are as good as any other on the scene today. Outstanding!  

Brian Owens - Metronome Magazine (Boston) (Oct 2, 2018)

Boy were we in for a shock when we opened the CD case and noticed that this album was recorded in eastern Montana, at a brewery in a town that has less than 600 people. That’s a long way to go for an album because the band is based out of Los Angeles. We are sure the joint was jumping because the Dennis Jones Band is HOT! This band proves that the power trio is still alive and well in music, with Jones on lead guitar and lead vocals, Sam Correa on bass and backing vocals and Raymond Johnson on drums. The album contains 14 tracks featuring selections from all five of Jones’ solo albums as well as a stirring cover of the Albert King classic “Born Under a Bad Sign.” This is the perfect choice if you’re in the mood for rock and blues, and it will definitely get the party going. Recommendation: Definitely Get this one. It belongs in the musical library of every rock and blues lover.

Reviews - Both Sides of The Track

Reviews - My Kinda Blues

Reviews - Pleasure & Pain

Reviews - Passion For The Blues

Reviews - Falling Up

DVD Reviews. Live at the Temecula Theater

Magazine Reviews