We asked Jonathon Linaberry, the dipped-in-honey voice behind the one-man blues band The Bones of J.R. Jones, to swing by the studio for a jam session. The occasion? To celebrate his latest album (and first LP) Dark Was The Yearling.
His first album, The Wildness, has a way of creeping up on you, filling the space with grainy blues and pounding rhythms (just try and not stomp or clap along). Dark Was The Yearling only builds on this experience. Listeners feel they might have stumbled into an old-time juke joint, or gotten lost down a rambling back country road just as darkness falls…
Disarmingly modest, Linaberry showed up at the office with not much more than a tambourine and a guitar he bought in Buffalo for $400. “It’s a bit of a Frankenstein and always going out of tune. I have to battle with it.” But when he played, everyone sank into a spell. How can that much sound come from one man?
Inspiration is a hard thing to peg down, but there are a few clues: a guitar tuner Linaberry’s childhood friend inscribed for him with the Tom Waits quote: It ain’t no sin, to take off your skin and dance around in your bones. “I look down at it every time I play,” Linaberry explains.
We asked him to share a few more favorites.
This is the first dollar I ever got for my music. I was busking on the platform of the Metropolitan subway stop and a guy stopped. He didn’t have any money, so he gave me this silver dollar from 1972. He said it was lucky.
HEROES OF THE BLUES TRADING CARDS
I have a thing for cards. The mysticism of the Blues, the fuzzy details of their origins and fantastical history serve as eternal inspiration for me. Imagine a Saturday night with those guys. I fall into that character when writing songs; it’s much easier for me to focus on the creative process when I’m not being me. I bought two sets of these cards. One for me and the other… I don’t know. [Ed’s note: The ghost of Robert Johnson, perhaps?]
My girlfriend gave me this print, a “private postcard” dated 1896. It was taken in British Columbia during the expansion west. The sepia tone is beautiful, but the picture is actually about destruction, with trees being cut down.
NATURE WRITING BY JOHN MUIR
The Blues are so guttural, and Muir was also interested in being out in the wild in a primitive state. Some of these essays can be tough to get through – he can talk about a boulder for five pages. My favorite parts are about his youth in the Sierras, and his wonderment as a child. The name for The Wildness actually comes from a quote in the book: “Wildness was ever sounding in our ears, and Nature saw to it that besides school lessons and church lessons some of her own lessons should be learned, perhaps with a view to the time when we should be called to wander in wildness to our heart’s content.”
POCKET KNIFE & BRASS COMPASS
I’m a tough person to buy gifts for. Both my pocket knife and compass are for getting lost in the wild. The knife has a bone handle with an inscription from my girlfriend. The compass is the one object that would best express a source of inspiration for me.
To see favorites from more friends of KM, head to our new Curated By… section.