The Bones of J.R. Jones’ Chilling Performance at Bootleg Theatre LA
I had been missing hand-written set times stapled to the front door and freshly printed set lists dropped at the foot of the stage. This nostalgic and ‘not often experienced enough’ craving needed to be nourished.
Hallelujah! My prayers have been answered by The Bone of J.R. Jones with a devoted and deeply impassioned record release show at Bootleg Theatre in Los Angeles this past Friday (5/11). Celebrating his 3rd studio album, Ones To Keep Close, Jonathon Linaberry journeyed from New York to consecrate this release and we were fortunate enough to listen in on the intimate storytelling that arose that evening.
Linaberry’s solo-project is a modest showcasing of multi-instrumentalist talent with miles of sentimental lyricism. With a stout grasp on blues singing and songwriting, he blends soul, roots, and Americana into melancholy projections of heartthrob, longing, loneliness, confusion, love, forgiveness, and well, the list goes on and on.
I had been missing discernible nervousness in a performance and the raw, defenseless whimper of emotionally embedded artistry.
Never miss the opening acts. This is no Pro Tip. This boils down to a matter of respect and trust. Often times the headlining artist handpicks the openers, in which case, they become paramount to the entire night of performance. With that being said, 9:15pm marked the start of Melaena Cadiz – the first of two to precede J.R. and a dear friend of his as per his mention. With guitar in hand and her gorgeous vocals leading the way, Cadiz set the bar for a chilly night to be filled with warmth.
At 9:55pm, Prism Tats came forth with a synthesizer, guitar, rock and roll hair, and an ethereally charged set. Overlaying his voice with a satisfying echo gave the effect of distance, but we felt closer and closer in every pulsing moment. Electrifying music in analog form. Repetitive vocals luring you in and wavy solos striking fierce. Plus, mad props for the punny name!
I had been missing the swaying. Yes the swaying. Standing in the crowd, holding on to someone tight and just listening to the music. Swaying.
We cover a fair share of dance music. Heavy bass, throw your body around kind of dance music. I would go so far as to say it is imperative to have contrast in your musical stylings, just as J.R. does when he ventures to his house farmhouse away from city life. The city is upheaval. Noisy, fast-paced, rambunctious. We could all use a bit of grounding.
That sense of familiarity and relatability that came about at Bootleg Theatre with The Bones of J.R. Jones was just that. A contrast to the sprinting of life that passes by. An anthem to this overpopulated world that has never been more isolating. A love song for lovers and a fight song for fighters.
Just before playing the song ‘Burden’, he explained how it was written as a duet. However, Nicole Atkins who is featured on the track was not singing along side him. So he performed it alone. After looking into it post-show, gravity set it. The song is inspired by a place of catharsis, says Linaberry. Touring by yourself can easily become exhausting and exponentially lonely. ‘Burden’ plays with the idea of misery loving company and having someone to share that loneliness with.
Standing up on stage and singing a song like that without the company is a heart-wrenching expression of sheer beauty.
With a smile on his face, you’d never know just how inspiringly somber that track is to perform…alone. Inscribed in the evening were moments as described above. Lightly overcast with an uplifting percussive roar.
As per usual, this is but a mere glimpse of the experience. Only an ounce of the love and hurt and intimacy that bled into the evening. So I encourage you to get out there and enjoy The Bones of J.R. Jones when he comes to your city.
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