The Alchemy of the Groove
From Punk to Funk with Jon Cleary
This week, we bring you that funky gentleman from the Ninth Ward, Jon Cleary, who talks about his native England, his grandmother, the piano back home, his mum’s songwriting chops, and a variety of other loves.
Cleary grew up listening to New Orleans soul, r&b and funk. And now, we listen to him.
As a multi-instrumentalist and sideman, he’s played with some of the best artists, including Earl King, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe and Walter “Wolfman” Washington. But Cleary is even better fronting his own band and digging into his own groove.
Mavis Staples might have said it best: “Get out the way and let the gentleman do his thing.”
On August 14, Jon Cleary is releasing a new album, called GoGo Juice. He’s been noodling around with it for years. The lead song, Getcha GoGo Juice mentions many of the colloquialisms that New Orleanians commonly say, including, “I wouldn’t do that, me.”
When Gwen spoke with Cleary, he also was thinking about including a love song that was co-written by his mother. And yes — if the song is on the album, she will receive her share of the royalties. It’s never a good idea to shank, Mom. I wouldn’t do that, me.
You can download GoGo Juice on iTunes here
Connect with Jon Cleary
The Poetic Prose of Jon Cleary
When all the elements are in accord and the Monster Gents are digging a trench a mile wide in the early hours of a Sunday morning at the Maple Leaf Bar, when the mercury in thermometers is shattering glass and you can slice the humidity out in the streets with a wave of your hand, when the spirit’s in your soul and the groove takes control, and when you close your eyes and feel like you’ve been lifted six feet off the floor, that’s the moment when there’s not a man alive that can possibly feel greater satisfaction. Cornell, Big D and Jellybean, as well as being among my best friends, Absolute Monster musicians in their respective fields, soulful scholars and Gentlemen, are bloody good fun to be around and a pleasure to share the stage with. To have the fonkiest band in a city that’s renowned for having the fonkiest bands in the world is a rare privilege. Thanks Fellas!
—Liner notes from Jon Cleary’s 2002 album “Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen.”
Filmmaker Jesse Hiatt’s “Occapella,” a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of some Allen Toussaint songs.