“Old-school country people’s music”— that’s how songwriter and musical talent Catesby Jones describes his CD. With almost 50 years of music under his belt, Jones puts a vibrant spin on some old tunes, including “Country Club” (co-written with Dennis Lord), a multi-platinum hit recorded by Travis Tritt.
“Three Chords & 90 Proof” kicks off with the romping “You Know I Will” and moves on to the poignant “The Older I Get, the Better I Was.” From honky-tonk swing (“Water in the Well”) to my favorite, the soulful “Weeping Willow Blues,” Jones writes lyrics steeped in romanticism: “My sweet lover, why can’t you be still/Maybe it’s your empty heart that’s just too deep to fill…”
Close friend Jeff Reid of Reid Recording Studio says Jones can play “just about anything,” and agrees that his songs about ordinary life, such as “I Am a Tree,” have a deeply moving effect on the listener.
“On this CD, we’re presenting a traditional classic style of country music,” Reid says, “unlike Catesby’s usual contemporary pop or folk rock.”
“Three Chords” features Perry Hewlett on the dobro, Alex Hall on the banjo, Susan Savia on harmonica and jaw harp (and the sweetest backup vocals you’ve ever heard), John Fonvielle on electric bass and guitar, Reid on backup vocals, and a host of other well-known local musicians.
Reid has made four CDs with Jones since 1993, but met him in the ‘80s before he went to Nashville to make his mark. “My parents retired to Wrightsville Beach, and I worked at Johnny Mercer’s Pier,” Jones says, “before my sister persuaded me to move to Kingsville, Texas, where I fronted a honky-tonk house band.”
Next Jones won a songwriting contest at the Kerrville Folk Festival, which is called the bees’ knees of Texas. In 1986, he married his wife, Mimi, who worked on her master’s degree in nursing while he wrote 300 songs in Nashville with some success. Soon after, he wearied of the conflict within the country music industry. On the “Three Chords & 90 Proof” dust jacket, Jones writes:
“It is fiercely resistant to change and yet the first to jump on the bandwagon when some new artist miraculously breaks the mold. It tends to eat its young and unceremoniously puts its veterans out to pasture. Although riddled with formulated songs, cookie cutter artists and embroiled in a constant battle between pop, rock and traditional influences, it remains an avenue for individuals to make their mark. And how can we ever forget those rare recordings that rise above it all and leave you weeping at the wheel on your way home from work?”
Now, his only goal is to write songs, make CDs and share them with his family, friends and fans. “Creation of the songs is what I love,” Jones says. “It’s what drives me and feeds my soul. I love it when the song comes through, and I catch it and write it down before it’s gone. Words jump on the page. I write as much as I can, as fast as I can in the first hour. That is the sea of the song, but I don’t mind rewriting.”
In the year 2000, Jones severely damaged a finger and thought his playing days were over. He felt stymied by a deep depression, but finally rose above it to set a good example for his children.
“I wanted them to know what it was like to have a dream and pursue it,” Jones says. “I started writing songs again, sometimes two a week. When my daughter went off to college she called and said, ‘I can’t tell you how much I miss hearing you play guitar in the morning as we’re waking up.’”
This coming Saturday, December 1st, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Catesby Jones’ fans will hear him play at Ted’s Fun on the River for the release of his eighth CD, “Three Chords & 90 Proof.”