Jeff Jonees - webDan Boshart

After nearly two decades, Canadian music veteran Jeff Jones is emerging from the shadows of his celebrated collaborations to release new solo recordings. The bassist, whose iconic grooves powered hits like “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and “Lunatic Fringe,” is set to unveil his first solo project since 2007’s “Heir of Desperation” EP at the end of this month.

He made his professional debut at age 16 as bassist and a singer in the band Ocean who had a mega hit with “Put Your Hand in the Hand” before joining the band Red Rider which would become well-known with Tom Cochrane for hit songs like Lunatic Fringe, White Hot and Human Race. Before that, he briefly played with Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey before leaving and being replaced by Geddy Lee. Jeff Jones has had a long career performing with many legendary performers including Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Gowan, and Ronnie Hawkins.


Jeff will release his first new solo recordings since 2007’s EP, “Heir of Desperation” at the end of this month and do a music release party at Windsor’s River’s Edge on May 25. All proceeds from this event will go towards Windsor Essex County Food Bank. Joining Jeff in his performances will be his duo partner Gerry Finn who plays with Jeff in The Carpet Frogs and also plays guitar on the new recordings.

I asked Jeff why it’s been almost 20 years since his last solo project.

“I did an EP in 2007, Heir of Desperation, but it didn’t get the same kind of promotion and attention as the “Positive” album in 2001. It was slated to be a full album, but the tour schedule for Tom Cochrane, for Burton Cummings, for Bachman Cummings, became busy in those years and I never had the chance to complete it so I just released it as a three-song EP independently. That’s the reason for everything that’s happening now. The guys that I play with weren’t playing as many shows since the end of last year, so, I looked at that time at one piece I had been mulling around with which is “Velvet Sky” and we said, we have the time, let’s start recording that and see if anything else comes up.”

“Lo and behold we wrote two more and we have three songs in the garage up on the hoist. Two are a little more autobiographical, and we’re just moving through it like that. We’re using a very different method. We’re not doing demos going in and trying to make them real after. We try to make it real right from the beginning and don’t stop working on it until it’s done.”

“We’ve got three in the hopper ready to do the same thing and if they don’t start to take shape, we’ve got nothing to lose by letting it go, but it just seems that with Ken Friesen our producer, and Gerry Finn my duo partner, it goes easily. We work together really well.”

The album is being produced by Ken Friesen, who has worked with many artists including Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, The Sadies, Ronnie Hawkins, Kris Kristofferson, and many others.

“Ken noticed the last few years doing so many shows with Tom Cochrane and my carrying a lot of the load of the harmonies that I was not losing range but had gained range. It’s crazy that at 70, I have more range than I did at 17. I’m just happy that it’s like this so I’ll do it while I can and feeling good about it.”

rivers edge- jone finn may 2024 small copy“We’ve been recording in Almonte which is a little Hallmark kind of town and Ken’s studio is in a former land registry office built of stone in 1859. They put doors in the hallway to separate where they kept the records from the front office and the doors are made of iron and weigh about three to four hundred pounds. Those doors were hung 150 years ago and still swing freely and latch perfectly.”

Performing with Jeff and Gerry on all of the recordings so far are keyboard player Steve O’Connor who is a member of Jim Cuddy’s band, and Davide Direnzo who plays drums with Tom Cochrane. There are also a couple of guests featured on the song Strange Obsession. Jimmy Bowskill who spent seven years as a guitarist with The Sheepdogs, and is currently in the band Blue Rodeo, and Toronto Jazz singer Molly Johnson who was in the Juno-winning funk rock band Infidel with Jeff.

“We spent a full day in Jimmy Bowskill’s studio near Port Hope and my God, we got some good stuff. Jimmy played some lap steel on the song “Strange Obsession” which also features Molly Johnson. We also did a bit of work at Blue Rodeo’s studio “The Woodshed” in Toronto. I recorded some of Molly’s vocals there.”

“The song “Strange Obsession” is actually a song that I recorded in 2007. We reconfigured it and retitled it. The melody and lyrics are what they are but how we couched, it is different. It took on a whole other life when we said let’s see what those melodies are like with a shared vocal and different instrumentation and I can’t wait till you hear it.”

“We’re also working on a song that’s kind of autobiographical about my younger years in Ocean. I was playing in Toronto at The Friars Tavern and we played on the main floor. Ronnie Hawkins was in the upstairs pub and my father played in the downstairs piano bar. It was quite a time when we would all be playing there because we would go up and down the stairs to catch a bit of each other’s set. It was jazz to pop to rock and roll, and Ronnie took me during that time, I think it was to The Brown Derby or another tavern on Yonge Street and he took me to introduce me to Ian Tyson. There’s a whole lot of memories like that,”

“Ironically a year after I met Ian Tyson, Ocean was a guest on his television show. It just happened that way Then when Ocean was at the end of the rope, I got a phone call from Ronnie Hawkins asking me if I wanted to play in his band. I don’t know how he knew, but somehow, he knew that we were packing it in because it was that very day.”

Besides being a member of Tom Cochrane’s band, Jeff has also been a member of The Carpet Frogs since its inception in 1992. The Carpet Frogs are Burton Cummings’ touring band and also have recorded with him solo and with Randy Bachman. They recently were in the studio recording Burton’s as yet unreleased solo album.

“This is the third record we’ve done with Burton. We did Jukebox which was with Burton and Randy Bachman. That was a collection of cover songs that they loved. And we did Above The Ground, which was all original music. The one we just recorded, I don’t know what the title will be and I haven’t heard any final mixes, I just know I recorded about 15 tracks with him and that’s a lot of tracks.”

Long & McQuade music is a proud sponsor of the weekend event which will be held at River’s Edge at 494 Riverdale Ave Friday May 24 and Saturday May 25.
There will be an in-store live performance and meet greet at Long & McQuade Music 1801 Walker Rd, Windsor Saturday May 25 at 1:30 pm. Appearing with Jones and Finn at River’s Edge on the 25th are very special guests Dusty D’Annunzio and Rochelle Day. Non-perishable food or cash donation at door for Windsor Essex County Food Bank.

As seen in the May 2024 issue:

519 Issue 69 May 2024 web cover


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