Get this crazy baby off my head!


Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones - Trouble Monkey - 1995 - Audioquest Records

This monkey means trouble! Bluesman Lloyd Jones and his excellent 9-piece band record a set of (mostly) Jones originals live to analog two-track in the studio. The result is super crisp, funky rhythm-and-blues with a horn section so tight it hurts. Terry Evans and Ray Williams finish it all off with superb backing vocals. If I were Delbert McClinton, I'd give Jones a call and tell him to back off if he knows what's good for him. © Jason Staczek, © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved

Lively and danceable R&B, in the vein of James Brown. Jones' and his musicians, especially the horn section, would be ideal as a house band for a late-night talk show host. Exceptions are "Long, Long Way to Go," a solo acoustic giving a back porch feeling, and a slow sobber, "I Broke My Baby's Heart." The ending tune, Sleepy John Estes' "Drop Down Mama," is a treat with Jones on guitar accompanied by drummer Reinhardt Melz. © Char Ham, allmusic.com

In the early 70's, Seattle born Lloyd Jones was the leader of Portland's great Brown Sugar blues band, for about six years. The band toured with greats like Charlie Musselwhite, George "Harmonica" Smith, the Johnny Otis Show, Big Mama Thornton and Big Walter Horton. Lloyd learnt to hone his guitar skills from some of these artists, and later on performed with Albert Collins, Robert Gray, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Dr. John, John Hammond, Etta James, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. In the 80's Jones played with Curtis Salgado, the ex-Robert Cray singer/harp player in a band called In Yo' Face. Curtis encouraged Lloyd's guitar playing, and by 1985, Lloyd was confident enough to display his guitar skills in a wider capacity. He was already a competent drummer, and acoustic guitarist, familiar with the folk songs of players like Charlie Musselwhite, but he had yet to become the great lead guitarist he is today. Lloyd released a few albums in the late eighties, and early nineties, some to critical acclaim. However, "Trouble Monkey" released in 1995, was Lloyd's most admired album to date. Blues Revue named it, "not only one of the best albums of 1995, it is one of the best albums of the 1990's,". Robert Cray called it "the best damn record I've heard in a long time!" Vintage Guitar Magazine said, "Jones offers vocals that would make Sam and Dave smile and guitar work Steve Cropper would be proud of" and referred to his affecting vocals as "gritty as a dirt road and smooth as melting butter." Lloyd Jones is a great songwriter, and the album is full of jazzy, funky, "New Orleans" style "swamp" blues, and R&B, all played with great skill and panache by Lloyd and his brilliant back up band. Lloyd Jones' guitar work is terrific, and the man also can sing with real Soul. The horn section, in particular adds real "punch" to this album. "Trouble Monkey" is a great album. Not quite "big band" music, and definitely not orthodox or traditonal "blues" music, but well worth your while listening to it. It's a very enjoyable album to get you movin' ! Buy Lloyd Jones' outstanding "Struggle" album for more of the same


Can't Get You Off of My Mind
Broke My Baby's Heart
Trouble Monkey
Old Friends - Larry Pindar
I'll Be Laughing (When He Makes You Cry)
Bust up a Love, (Just About to)
Don't Call Me Today
No More Crying
Long, Long Way to Go
Rosemary - Fats Domino
When I Get Back Home
Drop Down Mama - Sleepy John Estes

All songs written by Lloyd Jones except where stated


Lloyd Jones (vocals, guitar)
Victor Little (bass)
Glenn Holstrom (keyboards)
Reinhardt Melz (drums)
Bobby Torres (percussion)
Warren Rand (alto saxophone)
Bob "Housewine" Roden (tenor saxophone)
Rudy Draco (tenor & baritone saxophones)
Steve Cannon (trumpet)


For more than 30 years now, Lloyd Jones has consistently been among the top names on the Portland music scene. Raised in a musical family, it was almost as if the life he leads was destined to be. This is an artist who has taken what was placed before him in life and made the most of it, much to the delight of long-time fans locally and to those who are beginning to awaken to his musical talents globally. Lloyd grew up in Portland in a household surrounded by music. It was just something he believed every child experienced. You played baseball and you played music. It wasn't until he was older that he discovered this was not the case. His older brothers were working musicians and often they would take Lloyd with them to their gigs. By the time he was six, they had already begun teaching him how to play the drums, and at the age of 12, they were also giving him the chance to sit in on some of their shows. But besides taking him along to their own performances, they also took him to see the national artists who came through Portland, too. This was something that played a major role in the development of Lloyd's own personal sound in the years to come. By 1968, he had already witnessed shows by renowned bluesmen such as Buddy Guy at the Crystal Ballroom and Muddy Waters at Lewis & Clark College. Yet it was the appearance of Soul master James Brown in 1964 at the Portland Armory that left the greatest impression in his young mind. James Brown in 1964 was at the peak of his powers. In the eyes of a 14 year-old, he was accomplishing inhuman feats onstage, such as standing on one leg and sliding across the floor. And, he was also overwhelmed by the fact that Brown had two drummers and played the instrument himself during the show. Plus the dimensions of a new musical sound the band was playing: Funk. Another aspect of this James Brown appearance which caught his eye was the family atmosphere that encompassed it. Along with his brother and the person who purchased the tickets for them, they were the only three white members in the audience. Lloyd was not aware of racism at the time and when he went to the show he looked around and noticed that the police were black, the promoter, the audience, and found himself thinking, "Now where are all these people every day that they're not in my life?" He was seeing how whole families were turning out for a show, dancing and just letting their emotions flow. It was fun and it hit him that it was okay to turn yourself loose like that. As a teenager, Lloyd also took an interest in the guitar. Folk Blues was another focus on his upbringing and he found that he was able to play the songs he liked without the need to have a large band. A local acoustic guitarist taught him the basics of guitar, along with songs by Jimmy Reed. The songs, especially their lyrics and groove, were his motivation to learn and still are today. He caught a performance by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee in San Francisco in 1970 that pressed this home to him. Their one-on-one interaction with the audience spoke to him and he found it relaxing, giving him the desire to learn the tunes once he returned home. In the late 1960s, his brother was drumming in a band called Moxy that also included guitarist Jim Mesi and bass player Al Kuzens. When his brother was going into the service, he decided to turn his position over to Lloyd. They soon recruited the talents of harmonica player and vocalist Rick Aldrich. Aldrich was the natural leader for the band and he had a specific direction that he was aiming for and would keep the band on track. He also decided to rename the group Brown Sugar. But, after six months, Aldrich decided that he had enough of trying to work in the rough business of playing music and left it altogether. And Lloyd found himself the group's new leader. Brown Sugar enlisted the services of a keyboard player and they developed a boogie-woogie feel. But the keyboardist soon left the band too and they worked as a trio for awhile. After another six months, Jim Mesi felt they needed at least one more instrument to really make the group come together. Lloyd had recently seen a 17 year-old kid named Paul deLay playing harmonica at a jam who had a killer tone and could solo endlessly. The addition of deLay to Brown Sugar brought an instant intensity and the quartet would get together and play for hours on end. All day and all night, 20 hours at a time. "You'd just say, 'Go!' and you'd keep going until somebody would say, 'Stop!,'" Lloyd recalls. "When you're that age you just go nuts. We were full of energy and nothing else was on our mind but playing." That intensity paid off for the band and they found steady work in the local club scene, often playing with some of the well-known national performers as they came through town. During this period, it was the norm for traveling musicians to be booked in a club for a week at a time. And in many instances, they could not afford to stay in hotels and were put up by different people in the city. One such time found Big Walter Horton and S.P. Leary staying at Lloyd's home, giving him the chance to interact with the elder bluesmen. Horton and Leary were approaching the end of their lives and the two loved the idea of the younger white performers being influenced by their music and caring so much about it. They also saw the talent within Brown Sugar and offered the band encouraging words, "We're really glad you're into this. You've got to keep it alive. Give credit to those who did it before and don't let it die." There are many fond memories Lloyd recalls of those encounters with the touring bluesmen. Many offered not only favorable words, but people like Charlie Musselwhite also taught the younger players about the history of the music and its different forms. And, they learned about work ethic, too, from powerful onstage performances from the likes of George "Harmonica" Smith and Albert Collins. "It's a tough business," Lloyd offers. "Whenever it gets really tough, I think, 'Well, what would B.B. King do?' He'd roll up his sleeves and play another hour. Those guys were so strong, they could outwork anybody today." Brown Sugar lasted for six years and held the Portland Blues scene captivated in the 1970s. So much that they're still fondly remembered today, nearly 30 years after they went their separate ways. But, it isn't easy trying to be the leader of a band, no matter how successful. And, after six years, Lloyd wasn't having as much fun anymore in the position and decided it was best to disband the group while they were all still friends. Lloyd decided that he wanted to just sit back and play the drums again, without all the troubles of being the leader. He joined a Top 40 band named Slice of Life, led by guitarist Todd Carver. Slice of Life was a band filled with good players, made decent money and had gigs scheduled almost every night of the week. It was an appealing situation and kept Lloyd busy. But after a short time, he was invited to go on the road with The Drifters. The band traveled into Canada, and it didn't take Lloyd long to see that everything about the tour was disjointed and out of control. It became apparent that the only way he was going to regain any control of his career was to step back into a leadership role. Toward the end of Brown Sugar's existence, Lloyd had taken on the role of the band's second guitarist. He recalled the Folk Blues that had relaxed him when he was younger and also the great traditional songs he'd been introduced to by Charlie Musselwhite. So he decided that he would just play drums for money and would play guitar for himself. He took on a steady gig on Tuesday nights at Key Largo, playing guitar in a trio. He had no intentions for a direction or momentum with these performances, it was simply a hobby to amuse himself. One Tuesday night, Robert Cray Band vocalist and harp player Curtis Salgado walked into Key Largo during Lloyd's gig. He explained how he and Robert would often see Brown Sugar perform and he remembered how much he had enjoyed Lloyd's work. Salgado also stated that he had left the Cray Band and thought that the two of them should play together. The idea of working as partners was appealing; Lloyd would not have to carry the load on his own. Lloyd received the chance to take on a New Year's Eve gig, so he decided to take Curtis up on his offer. He called him and told him about the gig and asked if he could put together a band. Salgado brought up a couple of friends from Eugene and without any rehearsal, they went into the performance blind. In order to garner a larger crowd for the night, the venue's manager had set up for the show's first set to be simulcast over the radio. They didn't have the heart to inform the promoter that they'd never played together before. To open, Salgado called out a B.B. King shuffle, looked at Lloyd and said, "Take it." Lloyd just started grooving to the song and Curtis glanced over and grinned, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about." Next Lloyd called out a Jimmy Reed number and Curtis dug in, working his harmonica at the high end. Every song that they would call out seemed as if they were reading each other's minds. "It was like a bucket of goose bumps and always has been playing with Curtis. It was much more of a team than I'd ever experienced. You'd start playing stuff that you never heard come out of you before, because you're setting up the other guy." The pair decided to make this a regular partnership and called themselves In Yo' Face. Everybody in the band was set in the same direction and owned similar record collections. It was simply for enjoyment. During its six-year run, the band never made any recordings for themselves in an effort to promote or sell the band. Yet they worked all the time. "It was as fun as a band should be," remarks Lloyd. "I have no idea why, other than it was the right time and place for that thing to happen." Then one Sunday night while performing a show at Cisco & Poncho's, Curtis told the band he had received a phone call, "Oh, by the way, I got this call to sing with Roomful of Blues and I fly out Tuesday." "Do you mean you're going to play a weekend with them or something?" No, he had joined the band and was gone as of Tuesday. In Yo' Face no longer existed. During the last six months of In Yo' Face, Lloyd had also started working in a solo grouping on Monday nights at the Dandelion, performing material that was more on the funkier side. As a drummer, he felt that Blues music could do a lot more rhythmically. He saw the type of music that was taking place in New Orleans and the influence of its sound that wasn't happening in Portland. He felt that the stories, the simplicity and the depth; the whole combination of ingredients, was something that nobody else was doing. Again, he recalled the musicians who had inspired him in the early years of his career. People like Albert Collins, Albert King and B.B. King, who had created their own style and were easily identified as soon as they would start to play. This was an important piece of the puzzle for Lloyd. He wanted his own sound, something that would distinguish himself from anybody else. So, with that in mind, he took on a new funkier Blues rhythm pattern and told himself, "It's me. If it works, then I work out okay. You have to bring your own thing to the table, come what may." And, thus he put together The Struggle, once again taking on the frightening position of bandleader. With a sound that nobody was familiar with. But The Struggle has endured. Seventeen years later, Lloyd has released five albums and received glowing reviews from critics, fans and fellow musicians alike. His songwriting has also grown through the years, with people like Joe Louis Walker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, and most recently, Coco Montoya covering his material. "Having people like Joe Louis do that is about the nicest thing anybody can do," says Lloyd. "And, players that you respect saying kind words about you and supporting you means a lot. Robert Cray and Bonnie Raitt have said and done such ridiculously nice things for me. That's what I think in the light of reality keeps you going." Over the years, Lloyd Jones has definitely made his mark on Portland and the Northwest Blues communities. He has received multiple awards for his efforts, including an unprecedented 23 Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association. Lloyd's last two recordings, 1995's "Trouble Monkey", on Audioquest and 1999's "Love Gotcha!" on Blind Pig, have opened the path for higher profile exposure and he now finds himself being asked to participate in Blues festivals around the world. He has made appearances in Australia and most recently at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Western Maryland Blues Festival. The success of these albums has also allowed him to be a participant the past four years on Delbert McClinton's yearly musical cruises in the Caribbean, where he has been able to interact with some of the nation's best songwriters and to develop friendships with musicians like McClinton and Marcia Ball. But of all the festivals he has performed at, Portland's own Waterfront Blues Festival holds a special place in his heart. The fact that it takes place in his hometown is a partial reason, but the cause for which it takes place, The Oregon Food Bank's quest to feed the hungry, means so much. "It is such a unique thing," Lloyd states. "It's inexpensive enough for everybody to come to and it provides a service for the community. I'd like to see more festivals provide for fund-raising for education and that kind of thing. I've gone to festivals that I've heard about for years and thought were big deals. But, once I've gotten there, I find myself thinking, 'Well, the Waterfront's 10 times this.' It's a rare and wonderful thing." Since its inception as the Rose City Blues Festival in 1987, Lloyd has appeared at the Waterfront Blues Festival every year but one, due to a tour that found him out of town. This summer will find him at the Waterfront once again, as well as many other locations throughout the country. The future for Lloyd Jones is shining brightly. Burnside Records recently re-released the "Small Potatoes" album, giving many people from outside of the Pacific Northwest the chance to hear his earlier material for the first time and it has enjoyed glowing reviews. There will also be a new release eventually coming from Blind Pig and he intends to continue to expand on his sound. Lloyd finds himself intrigued as of late by up-and-coming performers such as pianist Jon Cleary, Delta-based rhythms from Corey Harris, and acoustic guitarist Jon Fohl (former member of Oregon's Cherry Poppin' Daddies, now laying down the Blues in New Orleans). "There's a lot of good stuff out there," he says. "I'm open to all those new ideas and I love the traditional stuff, too. I think they can work together well. And, that's what I look for. Somebody that's saying something and putting all the ingredients together in a new way." This can easily be used as the definition of Lloyd Jones' career. He has consistently brought a uniqueness of his own to the sound of the Blues. © 2002 Cascade Blues Association