Special/Signature Issues » The Arts 25

First Aid Drum Kit



Brian Jones is the musician as model citizen. His contribution to the local community is like his drumming: imaginative, energetic and most often surrounded by and supporting the work of others.

Since his almost-famous days with the '90s band Agents of Good Roots, he's established a reputation as a first-rank studio player, backing everyone from pop-icon Mandy Moore to anti-pop eccentric Jandek. But it's his work with a kaleidoscopic lineup of local musicians, captured on a string of consistently excellent, self-released CDs that's made him both the axis and the historian of the ongoing Richmond scene.

His various collaborations converge at his annual Musicircus event, where a host of local artists fill Chop Suey Books from top to bottom with an hour-long collision of sound in celebration of avant-garde innovator John Cage. Jones' is the bass drum for music, starting at pop and moving out into the furthest reaches of experimental sound.

Jones is accustomed to the whirlwind. Before the next Musicircus (Sept. 12) Jones has a gig at The Camel with a new trio (Sept. 4) and a free concert of Monk and Coltrane tunes at Forest Hill Park (Sept. 9). He's also preparing several new CDs for release and staging his entire catalog for download at www.monkeyclaus.com. Looming in the near distance is a swarm of other gigs, including an all-Mingus ALS benefit Oct. 21. He's also expanded his longstanding teaching role at the University of Richmond to new positions at Virginia Commonwealth University, The College of William & Mary and Collegiate.

Onstage, when he's sitting at his drum kit behind the rest of the band, there are moments when the melody fades and his unmasked brilliance shines through. But most of the time he works from the inside, making everyone else sound better.

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