Jinx Jones Has Played With Chuck Berry, Roy Buchanan and More

Rockabilly artist Jinx Jones has shared the stage with Roy Buchanan, Solomon Burke, En Vogue and Chuck Berry over the years.
Rockabilly artist Jinx Jones has shared the stage with Roy Buchanan, Solomon Burke, En Vogue and Chuck Berry over the years. Courtesy Bob Hakins
Rockabilly guitar virtuoso Jinx Jones has been a professional musician for most of his adult life, thanks to a musical education one can only earn by consistently gigging and playing alongside such legends as Roy Buchanan, Solomon Burke, En Vogue and Chuck Berry for more than three decades.

“Playing with Roy Buchanan was like going to a master’s degree program in music every night — watching him, standing three feet from him and watching him do what he did well. He was a very kind person. Anytime I’d ask him a question, he would sit down and explain it to me,” Jones says. “I think it took me years and years to unpack mentally all the stuff that I saw playing with him on stage. I would be standing alongside him, he’d be playing, and I could look out at the audience and watch the reaction to the stuff he did. There was some otherworldly quality to the things he did that produced a reaction in people. I really took that in. But to this day, I’m still unpacking being around the genius of Roy Buchanan. That was amazing.”

Before moving to California, Jones cut his teeth in the Denver area playing in bands like Jinx Jones and the Jaguars and the Tel Rays. He recalls the moment he decided to pick up a guitar after seeing former Boulder band The Astronauts.

“The first time I ever saw a live band playing music, I was a little kid. My dad worked for United Airlines, and they’d have a company picnic at the old Elitch Gardens Amusement Park. I was maybe in third grade or something like that, and I heard music coming from [the park’s ballroom], so I wandered over there, and this band was playing. It was a band called the Astronauts,” he explains. “They all had matching Fender guitars and matching blond Fender amps and matching jackets that they wore, and I think they were all blond, too, so they all had blond haircuts, blond amps and blond guitars. They were really good. They were an excellent, excellent surf-music band. I think that set the tone for me.”

Mixing his love of surf, blues and Americana roots music over the years, Jones’s sound is a unique guitar gumbo with a heavy jazzed-up rockabilly flavor. He’s twice been nominated for Male Rockabilly Artist of the Year by the Ameripolitan Music Awards, and has received gold and platinum record awards for his studio work with R&B divas En Vogue. But his roots run deep in Denver. He’s jammed with members of the Pretenders at Turnverein during a charity concert event hosted by Rupp’s Drums, while his last time on stage with Chuck Berry was at the old Mammoth Gardens, now known as the Fillmore Auditorium. He says he always enjoys coming back to play his hometown; he'll host the Jinx Jones Holiday Rockabilly Show on Sunday, December 18, at the Oriental Theater. Poudre Valley Playboys are also on the bill.

“I’m really grateful that the audience in Denver has attended my shows over the years, even after leaving Colorado and making California my home," says Jones. "Another thing about it that’s different about playing in Denver, where I grew up, I feel like there’s a lot of people who have known me for a long time, so I’m not going to be able to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. I got people who are familiar with my music going back many years. I can’t fool these folks. You've got to put on a really good show for them."

That shouldn’t be a problem for Jones, who likes to mix it up: His latest record, 2021’s Blue Gardenia, is a jazz album.

“You play music in a way that you have to engage people with what you’re doing. It’s not as simple as playing a song that everyone recognizes. I may be playing one of my original songs, but the responsibility on myself is I have to play it in a way that’s going to make them dig it,” he says. “There’s something there that connects with the human experience.”

Jinx Jones, 7 p.m. Sunday, December 18, Oriental Theater, 4335 West 44th Avenue. Tickets are $15.
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