The situation It's Blues Jam night at Pioneer Square's 88 Keys, a band called Hot Damn Scandal is onstage, their standup bassist is wearing a pirate outfit, and I'm sitting down with 25-year-old guitarist Ayron Jones, who leads local rock-and-blues trio The Way. Five or six people stop by our table to greet Jones, including the bar's owner Dino Duran, whom Jones credits with giving The Way their start, hiring them to play their first gig in January 2010.
Ralph Gayle Jr.
How He Got Here Talking with Jones is like talking to a personified version of The Secret--he speaks earnestly about his purpose as a musician, his confidence in becoming a success. His talk doesn't come off as arrogance; he's just someone who actually believes in the power of positive thinking. Last fall Jones (who has a bronze and a gold medal from playing in two Ultimate Frisbee world championships) got his wife's approval and quit his job as a security guard to devote himself to music full-time. Right around then, he got a phone call from Janelle Monáe's people at Wondaland Arts Society; the label's Afropunk band Deep Cotton needed a guitarist. Within weeks, Jones was on tour with Deep Cotton, opening for Monáe. "That made me realize I could do so much more in this industry than what I'm doing right now," he says. "Why am I limiting myself?"Shop Talk Jones speaks so fast, he could be a great rapper. "Rapping's not my thing, man!" he laughs. He brands The Way's music as "neo-blues"; their just-released first EP, Baptized in Muddy Waters, features Jones' bluesy guitar and gritty, soul-tugging vocals. He says he doesn't consider himself much of a vocalist. "But neither was Jimi Hendrix," Jones says. "He wasn't really a singer, but what would Jimi's music be without his voice?" His confidence kicks back in. "Maybe people will say 'Well, he's not the best singer, but he can play guitar.' No, I can do it all, actually, because I said I can. I said I can."
BTW: The Way recently won the Seattle stage of the Hard Rock Rising competition. They're now competing with 86 other acts from around the world in the Hard Rock's Global Battle of the Bands--the winner of which will open for Bruce Springsteen at London's Hyde Park this July. "I can see us there. I can feel it in my soul," says Jones. "I believe we can win it. In my heart, I believe I can." He knows he's counting on people to go online and vote for him, though. "It's gonna take our city to support us. We want to make Seattle proud."
Ayron Jones and the Way plays the Can Can with Vince Mira on Tuesday, April 17. The show starts at 8 p.m. and there is a $7 cover.