Friday, September 7, 2007

John Paul Jones' busy year

John Paul Jones has had an active year. Having produced the album Waterloo, Tennessee for Uncle Earl, he began the year with several appearances with the group. In London, he appeared on BBC Radio 2's "Bob Harris Country" show alongside Uncle Earl and accompanied them onstage on Jan. 27 at their premiere London performance. Jones and his wife, Mo, allowed them to stay at their home while they were in town. The "g'Earls" were also able to meet all three daughters of Mo and John Paul Jones.

Waterloo, Tennessee was released March 13 while the group was in the middle of a U.S. tour. Jones flew from London to New York to join Uncle Earl onstage on March 14. They caught up again at the end of the following month at the Merlefest bluegrass festival in Wilkesboro, N.C. Throughout the four-day festival held April 26-29, Jones sat in with several acts: Uncle Earl, the Duhks (Video of their "Whole Lotta Love" cover on April 28 can be seen here and here, and audio of the entire set can be purchased here), Donna the Buffalo and the John Cowan Band. Audio of a four-song set he played on April 28 with Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert can be found online here.

Jones' first billed appearance of the year was in June at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. There, his name was included as part of the scheduled SuperJam alongside solo star Ben Harper and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots. Jones commented in a videotaped interview a few hours before going onstage for the SuperJam that he had not yet met either performer – much less discussed what material they would play or rehearsed anything. It was truly to be an impromptu jam session. In the meantime, however, Bonnaroo held plenty of other activity for Jones, including two sets on the afternoon of June 15. He sat in with Uncle Earl during their 12:30 p.m. spot and with Gillian Welch during her 3:45 p.m. spot (A 10-minute video can be seen here).
Jones then played Bonnaroo's SuperJam set beginning at midnight. As Uncle Earl explained in a newsletter in July:

Well, the truth is, if we went to festivals like Bonnaroo every weekend, we just might be in danger of trying to be actual rock stars. We saw The Police, and Sting took off his shirt at the end of their set. But even better, we got to see our dear John Paul Jones there in his truly native element, rocking out in a midnight "superjam" with Questlove and Ben Harper. The crowd went wild. John took a full ten minutes to walk across the stage and pick up his bass, and he needed that much time for the applause to chill out enough so the band could play music. It was intense and very humbling. To think we had been playing Cluck Old Hen with the man just hours before!!
A one-minute video capturing the beginning of "Good Times Bad Times" can be seen here, although a much better-sounding clip contains the middle of the song including a fine guitar solo from Harper. Michael Ward joined on bass to allow Jones to play lap steel for "When the Levee Breaks," video of which can be seen here. Ten minutes toward the end of "Dazed and Confused" can be seen here while another source captures it all in parts one and two. Ben Harper was interviewed afterward, commenting that he was "dazed and confused" to find himself playing onstage with Jones.

For good measure, Jones also sat in at Bonnaroo with Gov't Mule the following night for the tail end of a set that ended up heavy on Led Zeppelin numbers. (Videos show their set list as including "Moby Dick" riffs at the end of a drum solo before settling into "Livin' Lovin' Maid (She's Just a Woman)" – which can be seen both here and here – followed by "Since I've Been Loving You" and, finally, "No Quarter" – the beginning of this song is here, and more toward the end is here.)

During the week that overlapped July and August, Jones made no less than three concert appearances with Robyn Hitchcock and his band, which also includes Peter Buck of R.E.M. The first two took place in Italy on Monday, July 30 (footage of this show can be seen here and also here), and Wednesday, Aug. 1. The third was at the Down on the Farm festival in Halden, Norway, where – in addition to the Campfire Stage set with Robyn Hitchcock – Jones also played a set on the Main Stage with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

This busy year of jamming continues next week as Jones is set to perform again with Robyn Hitchcock on Sept. 14 at the End of the Road festival in Dorset, England.

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