Bryan Jones is busting into the great blue yonders of the solo world. The local musician is known around the scene as one of the voices behind the popular, jazz-influenced folk band Buster Blue, but he’s a self-proclaimed shy guy. When stripped of the uniform identity the band offers, what does one know about the individual who started Buster Blue back when he was 19, and has since taken them on to be road warriors, sleeping in a tour van more often than a bed?
For starters, did you know the Gardnerville native was raised by his grandparents? A fun fact that led to Jones’ solo persona, Moses Jones.
“When I was younger, my grandma used to tell me I was ’slower than Moses,’” says Jones. His grandma would tease him when he’d putter around the house.
As for those crooning tracks of heartache and upbeat misfortune made popular with Buster Blue and getting further honed with the Moses Jones act—they spawn from personal accounts as well. They date back to Jones’ first experience with love, when his girlfriend at the time cheated on him, with his roommate, on his birthday.
Yeah, Jones has his share of inspiration to draw from, and with the solo project acting more as a journal entry than the full band ever allowed, listeners are given a sneak peak into his—as he describes it—nicely neurotic head.
The new-found creative freedom gets back to the basics, “without all the bells and whistles”—just an acoustic guitar and Jones’ raw vocal strength. No longer having other members’ input and musical arrangements to worry about, he’s been able to rediscover himself as a songwriter.
“When I started playing music in high school, there were always people around to play with,” Jones says. “I didn’t really explore the solo option ever.”
Performing on his own has forced Jones to step out of his comfort zone, an act which he says by default leads to his Moses Jones song catalogue being more personal.
Take the Moses Jones track “Quinceanera Dress,” for example. The twang-distressed vocals tell an autobiographical tale about a childhood friend of Jones who drowned when they were 15, a tragedy he’s only recently found the strength to publicly express.
“If it makes me uncomfortable, it’s probably better quality,” he says. “It’s easier for me to do that by myself than as a collaboration. … These songs are a lot more adventurous.”
The solo act has inadvertently led Jones to fine tune other areas in himself he previously saw as weak. Having always had a band to intermingle with dispersed the spotlight, and alleviated missteps and nerves.
“You can’t blame anything on anybody else,” he says. “You can drop off on guitar and forget a lyric—but if you’re by yourself and you forget, there’s not much else going on to distract from it.”
And being up close and personal with audiences has helped Jones connect with not just his music, but those who love and support it.
“Every show is like a conversation,” he says. “You get to see if people will respond, whether musically or conversationally.”
As for what Moses Jones mean for Buster Blue? Only good things. Jones views his solo act as a way of staying focused in the band’s off season. Buster Blue will be hitting the road once again in fall to promote its new full-length album, Sleep Less Where the Heart Is.
“[Moses Jones] is like keeping the carrot in front of the horse,” says Jones.