Jones Street Station are ready for their debut… Again.
Though the simple grace of 2007’s Overcome extends to the band’s second effort, In Verses, “This is really our first record as five people coming from five different places,” explains singer and harmonica/accordion player Jonathan Hull. To wit, In Verses marks the studio debut of drummer Sam Rockwell, the emergence of four lead singers, and the addition of roadhouse rock and straight ahead pop to strains of Americana and soulful country-folk.
The evolution of the group is, according to mandolinist and singer Danny Erker, due to fact that “Each member of this band is capable of fronting one on his own. We’ve each got different skills and tastes, so when we’re lucky, we wind up with a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts— it’s a beautiful show of strength in numbers.”
This group of Brooklynites from Minnesota, Princeton, Chicago, St. Louis and Springfield, Ohio are indeed a quintet of fully-formed characters. Hull, for one, carries his harmonica in a gun belt for a reason—a note-nailing delivery that’s as jittery and disjointed as his personality. Then there’s Rockwell, a steam roller who can punish the drum set and play with lightness and touch; keyboardist/singer Jonathan Benedict (better known as JB), a skilled remixer/producer who’s twisted knobs on tracks for Rihanna, Yoko Ono and The Killers; bassist/singer Walt Wells, a “musician’s musician” and part-time ethnomusicologist with the chops to carry his own in everything from a soul revue to a Japanese string band; and Erker, a “craftsman” with a modified mandolin, plug-and-play banjo approach and honed singer-songwriter skills.
Ask Hull just how this adds up to an album as seamless as In Verses, and he’ll rattle off one reason after another, from the heft that came from dropping Rockwell’s drums in the mix to a pass-the-mic style that results in their trademark harmonies. Case in point: the way “Favor” and “Evergreen” fade in and out on the strength of starry-eyed keys, slow-burning chords and melancholic melodies. And just when you think you’ve got the band figured out, they send a crunchy Rhodes cascading across “Oh Victoria” and invite their friends in Goes Cube—a metal band, mind you—over for the raucous, banjo-led campfire climax of “Neville.”
“We don’t really do genre-specific music,” says Erker. “In ‘Neville,’ for instance, we’ve got detailed four-part harmonies alongside flat-out screaming, Scruggs-style banjo and a harmonica, for God’s sake—all of which co-exist within a three-minute song that starts off as a sleepy ballad and mutates into a rock anthem free-for-all.”
And if In Verses doesn’t explain all the gear-shifting behind the scenes of Jones Street Station, there’s always their shows…
“People see our instruments and expect one thing,” explains Hull, alluding to previous gigs with Ben Kweller. “Then they’re like, ‘Woah! That’s not how people play the harmonica. Or the mandolin. Wait; where’s your lead singer? You don’t have one?’”
Nope. And they won’t anytime soon, either.
US Tour Dates
June 5 – 92Y Tribeca w/ Shannon McNally – New York, NY
June 10 – Off Broadway w/ The Feed & Wheels On Fire – New York, NY
June 11 – Murphy’s Lounge – Omaha, NE
June 12 – The Bluebird Theater w/ Ben Kweller – Denver, CO
June 13 – Avalon Theatre w/ Ben Kweller – Salt Lake City, UT
June 15 – Chop Suey w/ Ben Kweller – Seattle, WA
June 16 – Doug Fir Lounge w/ Ben Kweller – Portland, OR
June 17 – Slim’s w/ Ben Kweller – San Francisco, CA
June 19 – El Rey Theatre w/ Ben Kweller – Los Angeles, CA
June 20 – House Of Blues w/ Ben Kweller – San Diego, CA
June 22 – Club Congress w/ Ben Kweller – Tucson, AZ
June 24 – The White Rabbit w/ Ben Kweller – San Antonio, TX
June 25 – House Of Blues w/ Ben Kweller – Houston, TX
June 26 – Granada Theater w/ Ben Kweller – Dallas, TX
June 27 – Emo’s w/ Ben Kweller – Austin, TX