Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jon and Roy take on the U.S. for their latest tour

Copyright - Billie Woods
“We have been together about 10 years now and we've released four albums, first one being in 2005.” Vocalist and guitarist, Jon Middleton of Jon and Roy, simply stated about the Canadian roots band, in his interview.

On shores of Victoria Island, Canada there isn’t just one band grabbing their acoustic guitars playing music on the beach, like the Current Swell. There is also a trio called Jon and Roy, who have made room for themselves on that same beach. It's amazing to see two bands that are such good friends, grow together in their music, travels, and the adventure that life is for them.

Originally a member of Current Swell, Louis Sadava ended up moving on to play with Jon and Roy with his bass in hand. Roy Vizer, the “Roy” of this grassroots, band plays the drums and percussion. Initially it was just Middleton and Vizer, but the addition of Sadava seemed to have given their sound a boost. Both Current Swell and Jon and Roy, have grown side by side musically, within the tiny music scene in Victoria explained Middleton.

“Our relationship with Current Swell goes back a ways.  Lou, our bass player now, was actually Current Swell’s original bass player up until their third album, Protect you own. We've definitely grown up into the music scene together.” said Middleton.  “We both started our bands in Victoria, B.C., and here we remain because it’s such a wicked spot.  The ocean, the town, the people, everything. There's a good vibe here and it comes out in both bands’ music, I'd say.”

When listening to each band, I can hear the similarities that sometimes come with starting and moving forward within the same music scene, as in Victoria. However, Jon and Roy lean more towards a grassroots, folky making it more of a  stripped down style, but I don’t want to generalize their music and sound. They are one of kind when it comes to placing them in a genre. The same goes for Current Swell, which leans more towards reggae, surf rock style of music. Both continue to cross paths.

Middleton told me how the two went on each of their first tour experience together and that that they “…became good friends, bummed around Australia for a time, playing music and enjoying the sun.” He went on to explain, “Now we’re both doing our own things with our music so we don't play together as much anymore, but we try to book one show a year still where we both play, and we try make it a special one.”

Both bands are now on a mission to break out into the American music scene, in order to build a up a wider audience. I never thought I would actually say that, but somehow they didn’t trickle down as much as they would have liked to, and become well known bands in the U.S. Currently, Jon and Roy are focusing on spreading their music to those just south of Victoria, particularly the west coast and even Denver.

“We definitely have some fans in the states but they are few and spread out.  We would like to 
change that though.” said Middleton. “Ideally we'd like to start moving southward. We've always heard great things about the music scene down your way [Denver], and would love to visit the Rocky Mountains down there and see some of the towns and cities.  I've travelled the west coast of the U.S. many times and have always loved it, but never Colorado.”

Hearing this come from Middleton put a nice smile on my face. It’s not like the band is sheltered from the states, but my impression is that they haven’t had the opportunity to tour as much as they would have liked to here. I believe that Jon and Roy would bring a unique sound to Denver that music lovers would embrace and enjoy to see live.

Middleton went on to say, “Its always a great experience to travel away from home and come to a town you've never been, meet new people and introduce them to your tunes.”

Copyright - Sam Thom
Middleton and I’m sure the rest of Jon and Roy, is very personable and clearly loves what he does a musician. He truly cares about the fans and giving them something to hold on to. I felt I was talking to the real Jon Middleton, not any kind of ego or fake persona. That is such a special quality for artists’ to have and doesn’t come around as often as it should.

Similar to Current Swell, it is as if Jon and Roy’s lyrics are about traveling and quite personal.  This is another great quality for a band to posses because the listener isn’t held back by songs about ‘getting’ money and hoes…’ which is music that will be forgotten. It fades away, but bands like Current Swell and Jon and Roy, will last through time because of the honesty they possess.

“People who have never listened to our music before should know that we play and create our music from an honest place… we make it and play it only because we love the art and feeling of it.” said Middleton.

Seeing Jon and Roy live will be one to remember. I believe it is going to be a great show because judging a band purely based on their studio recordings is naïve, and doesn’t allow people to get the full vibe and dynamic of the band. Jon and Roy play stripped down, raw music that has passion behind it, which those who go to see them live will be able to feel. Get ready for their stop in Denver as they are already on tour in the U.S. Jon and Roy will surprise you with how genuine they truly are.

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