Napper’s Delight is Jones’s first released solo effort, and he’ll be celebrating its unveiling at Rosendale Cafe at 8pm on Saturday December 15. An adult event at which children are welcome, this gig will be a gathering of some of the best musicians in the area, all of whom contribute to the album. Smithsonian Folkways recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell, who sings the timeless “Grow Little Flower” will be on hand, as will Fooch Fischetti on pedal steel, vocalists Amy Poux and Debbie Lan, fiddle player David Levine, and bassist John Parker. In addition to the odd Tom Waits cover, Jones also promises to play “humorous, upbeat songs about pirates and lowlife” from his “bootleg” album Ophelia and Lucky Go To Hell. Bring the family!
“We’ll save the swearing ‘til after the kids leave,” Jones says, with a laugh.
In addition to composing music for television, Dean Jones has made a name for himself as the indispensable multi-instrumentalist behind—and at times in front of—such diverse Hudson Valley-based bands as Sonando, Uncle Buckle, Big Sky Ensemble, and the renowned family music group Dog On Fleas. Jones explains his “day gig” is traveling with Arm of the Sea Theater, a “troupe of puppeteers wielding giant puppets and big ideas,” as their one-man band.
Of Napper’s Delight, produced, recorded and mixed by the maestro himself at Rosendale’s No Parking Studio, Jones says, “I have all these mellower things that we leave off the Fleas’ CDs, just me by myself.” When asked about his deft mash-up of synthesizers and traditional wooden instruments, modern-day lingo and olde English ballad-speak, Jones admits, “Even if I’m doing a folk song, I’m thinking about Kraftwerk.”
The result is that rare song collection that pulls the listener in rather than jumping in their face. Jones’ cool-water phrasing is at the center, and he has expertly cast sounds and voices to complement both his originals and his takes on public domain chestnuts. The latter activity, not unlike modern-day sampling (but without the lawyers) is in the grand tradition of folk “song-joining;” the performer uses extant forms and words and adds or subtracts, making something new while referencing something ancient. Although the Napper’s Delight liner notes humorously cite this as “butchering,” it’s actually the best way to keep a song alive.
Another sure-fire way to keep a song from perishing is to get out of the house and sing it with someone, which Dean Jones & Co. invite you to do at the Rosendale Café on Saturday, December 15 at 8pm. (845) 658-9048; www.rosendalecafe.com.