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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones

Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones (John Junior Jones) was born 21 June 1941 on a cotton plantation near Crawfordsville, Arkansas, which is just a few miles from Memphis. His family moved to East St. Louis, Illinois in 1945. There he heard Robert Johnson, T-Bone Walker, and Sonny Boy Williamson on recordings, while also imbibing the great gospel music of O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor, and The Spirit of Memphis. When he was seven years old he began to sing in a family gospel group with several of his sisters. By the age of thirteen Jones was hanging around the blues clubs of East St. Louis, making friends with Albert King, who dated one of his aunts, and Little Walter Jacobs. After hearing him play harmonca and guitar and sing, Little Walter gave him the gift of a Hohner Marine Band harp. Jones moved to Chicago at the age of eighteen. He worked for years as a welder, but never stopped pursuing the music. At first he played in gospel groups, later transitioning to the blues. When his life was in a personal crisis in 1971, he went to Detroit, and really started to define himself as a blues musician. In those early years he often played with Bobo Jenkins, and over time was considered a Detroit blues stalwart, often joining with Baby Boy Warren, Eddie Burns, Little Sonny, Willie D. Warren, and Uncle Jesse White. In 1996 Earwig Music recorded the album AIN'T GONNA WORRY. AIN'T GONNA WORRY was a great success, winning LIVING BLUES magazine's Best Blues Album of the Year (Contemporary), and landing Jones the W.C. Handy Award for Best New Artist. National and international touring followed, with Jones winning endorsement deals with Hohner and Miller Brewing. Blues critics have praised the Yard Dog lavishly for his taut and good humored song writing and for his innovative arrangements within a traditional Chicago blues band musical structure. Michael Frank, the head of Earwig Music, has observed that Jones has a singular guitar style derived from an all but forgotten era of gospel music; many listeners have been awed by Jones' haunting harp play.
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