5th April 2018
MEET LAURENCE JONES: WALTER TROUT’S FAVOURITE BRITISH BLUES GUITARIST
Every blues guitarist needs a mentor. For Laurence Jones, it’s Walter Trout, the legendary US six-stringer who has kept a watchful eye on his career ever since Jones supported him in 2013.
“Walter used to watch me onstage every night,” says the 26-year-old Jones, who plays Ramblin Man’s Blues Stage . “He’d tell me what he thought, whether it was great or not. He ended up getting me onstage every night. Walter is a big believer in passing the torch along. That’s important, because not many people do that nowadays.”
Trout’s musical radar is on the money when it comes to Jones. Since 2012, the Warwickshire native has released a string of acclaimed albums that have seen him bag a shelf-full of British Blues Awards along the way. “The blues scene is great because the audience appreciate how much hard work the musicians put into it, practising and driving up and down the country in a van for years,” he says.
Jones started early, learning classical guitar at the age of eight before gravitating towards his dad’s blues and classic rock records. “My had guitars kicking around the house, and he used to play The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun,” says Jones. “He was better than me for years, and then I got to play that song onstage at a Leadbelly tribute show at the Royal Albert Hall with Eric Burden. My dad was in the audiences, and I said, ‘I’m better than you now.’”
As a teenager, Jones had the chance to attend the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire but instead opted to sign up for a music performance course at university. He never finished it, abandoning his studies in his final year to support Johnny Winter.
“Johnny was fragile and frail but he was really nice,” says Jones. “He toured in a mobile home, and after the gigs he’d invite me in for a drink and to tell me stories. But the music industry had really affected him, and that was one lesson I learned from him and Walter – don’t do drugs, don’t get addicted to alcohol. Rock’n’roll can take its toll on you.”
Jones’ career has grown slowly but steadily since he first began playing pub gigs at the age of 15. In 2014 he signed to German label Ruf Records, who flew him to deepest Louisiana to record his second album, Temptation.
“It was like nowhere I’ve ever been before,” he says. “Proper swampy, out in the country. I loved that atmosphere.”
The globe-trotting continued with his latest album, The Truth, released via Top Stop Music and recorded in the Caribbean and Miami. But the sunshine hasn’t affected his music – new songs such as What Would You Do? see him edging towards such contemporary blues-rock big-hitters as Gary Clarke Jr, Eric Gales and even John Mayer.
“You have to be brave with your music,” he says. “There’s no point restricting yourself to write in a certain way. You have to be 100 per cent yourself. That’s when people believe in you.”
The Laurence Jones Band plays Ramblin’ Man Fair’s Blues Stage on Sunday July 1
Words: Dave Everley