When Fort Worth native Matt Jones steps up to the microphone to sing or sits down to write a song, he hopes to make the best of the gifts he’s been given, and he hopes that the music comes from deep inside.
“My goal is ultimately to use whatever gifts I have,” Jones explained in a phone call last week. “And, to use them well.”
Jones, 32, will be playing at The Market on the downtown square on Saturday, Aug. 18. Joining him will be a bass player and Ryan McKenzie, whose wife is Jones’ cousin. Local musician Hannah Kirby will be their special guest.
They’ll be performing some songs from Jones’ new extended play (EP) record, “My Lonely Guitar,” recorded in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in March.
“I took some of my songs to a guy who owns a music store and a studio there,” he said. “I told him, ‘I want you to make them come alive.’”
Jones used the recording sessions as an opportunity to learn more about the business.
“It was fun to see how it works,” he noted. “Steve Boynton was the producer. He interacted with the musicians through the glass in the studio.”
Jones used Colorado musicians Dan Caro on percussion, Bonnie Murray on violin, Jim Knapp on trombone, Mark Rasmussen on trumpet, Katie Rasmussen on alto sax and Boyton on guitars. Alan Jones, Brad Rasmussen and Jody Feeley provided backup vocal support.
After the record was finished, Jones ended up back in his hometown, working as a land man during the day and playing music at night.
“In my day job, I negotiate with land owners,” he explained. “I do the courthouse title prep work.”
He started playing music “three or four years ago,” when his insurance agent asked him if he played an instrument and “forced me to play for her to see if she could use me in her band at church.” He discovered that he really liked singing and playing the guitar.
“It’s a great way to communicate,” he said. “That’s when I realized I like to play and sing, and that I was going to spend some time at it.”
Jones grew up playing on the baseball diamond and the football field at Arlington Heights High School, where he was a standout athelete. He pitched in a state championship tournament and went to Wayland Baptist College on a baseball scholarship. He received a bachelors’ degree in business administration.
The songs on his EP have a wide appeal, ranging from the upbeat “Bonnie Lass” to “Steamboat Moon and Stars,” a John Denver-like ode to the Rocky Mountains. It’s hard to listen to “Rain Coming Down” without tapping your toes and thinking of James Taylor.
The title track is a love song to his six-string, explaining the relationship between an artist and his instrument.
A simple song, it sets me free.
I keep playing my lonely guitar.
Hope one day it will take me far.
Yeah, hope one day it will take me far.
McKenzie says Jones is a good songwriter because “he is an observer – of himself, of those around him and everything else related to his surroundings. This, with the necessary amount of discipline, makes for a good start.”
During the past year and a half, Jones has focused on song writing. The EP contains seven original tunes that Jones hopes might be picked up by more well-known artists.
During Saturday night’s performance, Jones says he will perform his songs, some songs by his friends and, of course, songs by Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.
“I love Guy Clark,” he noted. “He’s so real. His music comes from the inside. He’s the reason you and I like music.”
When he writes, Jones hopes his music, too, comes from a deeper place.
“When a songwriter can come from the inside, they’ve done a good job, in my opinion.”
In addition to Van Zandt and Clark, McKenzie says the group will cover the blues, Americana and even some spirituals.
“We’ll also cover some younger songwriters we admire,” McKenzie added. “Like Slaid Cleaves, Ryan Adams and Adam Carroll.”
Kirby will join the group for several numbers, including Clark’s haunting ballad, “Dublin Blues.” It’s one of Clark’s most requested songs, for good reason. It’s the quintessential love song.
I loved you from the get go.
I’ll love ‘til I die.
I loved you on the Spanish steps, the day we said goodbye.
Copies of “My Lonely Guitar” will be available for $5 at the show, which begins about 7:30 p.m.
For more information on Matt Jones, visit his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/mattjonessongs
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