No doubt, local artist Frances Jones is the only woman in this or most towns playing solo cover versions of songs by The Dead Kennedys, X, The Babes In Toyland, Hole, Iggy Pop and The Breedes and the only one combining them with selections by The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath or Madonna.
“Solo, I’m like a hipper happy hour type event. Or like a crazy beatnik coffee house thing,” she said. “It’s definitely post-punk rather than punk, since it’s just me solo on the electric guitar, playing songs by artists I feel are some of the best writers and artists that have lived.”
“I think that by playing the versions of the songs I do right now in the format that I play them, it really puts the focus on the song. Some people that haven’t heard of the artists I’m covering before, or had stereotypes about the way the songs were presented or arranged and might not have listened closely enough, hopefully, might take another look at these songs on their own merit.”
Jones says people always tell her they think that she wrote the songs she plays, even though she constantly announces that they are songs by other artists, and that’s the proof, she hopes that they are taking a look at artists they’ve missed or hearing new ones, or that her versions sound a lot different than the originals, she jokes.
“I’m reworking a lot of the songs I do to more closely reflect the best parts of the recordings by the original artists.” she said. “I play the songs I do in tribute to all of them. I hope someone who sees me will hear me say who it is by and go and check them out, and, if they heard the song before and they like it, they definitely will go back and listen again, I bet, because it sounds so different.”
A barrage of chords and complex syncopation are two unique elements of her playing style, which is purely untechnical...almost. Jones studied classical piano from the age of 8 to 15 and performing in competitive recitals. She was selected to study at the University of Florida music department during the summer of her freshman year of high school. She played keyboards in a number of bands before switching to the guitar and performing solo. “I started out just wanting to sing and be in a band,” she explained, “I think changing to the guitar gives me the background and theory combined with the fresh DIY feel of punk, which is the music I love most. I’m glad I did it. Now just singing without playing on a regular basis would be boring to me. I would feel like I was missing all the fun.”
“I like to listen to all kinds music but I just get so bored with bands that are just uninspired technical exercises in a psychedelic format, parroting the true original music which was inspired in a wrong, really predictable, robotic type of way – that to me has got to be the worst. I really do like Britney Spears a lot better. She is a more sincere and dedicated artist to me.”
“I love great jam and psychedelic music though,” she says. “I’m sure I’m one of few people that at least admit loving all the music that I play and also loving bands like The Grateful Dead and open to all the bands that kind of follow that style. Certainly a lot of the people who listen primarily to or really identify themselves with that type of music are open to a lot of different music. “
“Playing punk around so many musicians, who are more jam oriented, has given me a different style than I would have in any other environment, even though I’m playing punk, sort of the opposite idea from a jam -- making songs as short as they can be, playing without solos, especially guitar solos.... the stuff that great jams are made of!. I love listening to all the great live artists in this area who really give life to a lot of that style of music.”
“Because I play just rhythm and because it’s live solo with no recorded effects, samples or playbacks, I really am writing all of my own parts that try to mirror the original recordings in a solo format. Maybe one day I should just write new lyrics to what I’m playing and those will be originals.”
In addition to reworking some of her old favorites, Jones plans to add a lot of new songs to her set, especially songs by Hole, BIT, Iggy Pop and The Breeders, with some new surprises, and as much X as possible. “X will always be my favorite band...to cover and to listen too,” she said. She said she will be using a lot more effect on stage creating a really rough, distorted grungy sound.“Playing the guitar is really one of my favorite things to do in life. I will always play no matter what, no matter where I am able to perform, but performing is the element that makes it the most fun.”
© 2006 The Dunedin Free Press/Brennan Ink