"Music and all art reflect the culture. It is my hope that our music makes people feel like they are not alone, that others have experienced the same challenges that they have faced and are facing and overcame them. We want to be encouraging and provide some hope for people and at the least provide a distraction from life's struggles for a couple hours."
Jim Gustin & Truth Jones: Heart and Soul
Jim Gustin is a blues singer and guitarist from Santa Clarita California. He has a distinctive, powerful voice; soulful and deep with a smoky rasp, he is a passionate and energetic performer. He is also a very solid guitarist with great tone and a funky feel. Jim has been playing music for nearly 40 years up and down the west coast. His first gig on guitar was at the age of 18 at the L.A Sports arena in front of 10,000 people. Jeri Goldenhar, aka Truth Jones, has been singing since she was a little girl, although at over six feet tall, it’s hard to imagine her as a knee high, little red-headed child. She has a big voice to match her impressive stature. She can belt out gospel and soul seldom heard from suburban white girls. Together, they provide a powerful one-two vocal punch that is rare amongst blues acts. They sound great blended together as well as each bringing a distinctive flavor to create the band’s unique sound. They have well written catchy songs that come from the heart and performed with passion. (Photo by Moses Sparks)
Semifinalists at the 2020 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN. They have performed at many festivals, events and clubs. They have opened for, or performed with many notable performers including; Three Dog Night, Foghat, Tommy Castro, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Chris Duarte, Teresa James, Coco Montoya, John Nemeth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Delgado Bros, Deb Ryder, Dallas Hodge, Phantom Blues Band, Chris Cain, The 44s, Shari Puorto, Chase Walker, Darrell Mansfield, Ray Goren and many more. Jim Gustin and Truth Jones released their third album, “Lessons Learned” (2020). The eleven new tracks reflect the group’s diversity, talent and experience growing up in the melting pot of Southern California. The new album is a collection of driving blues, funky soul, sultry jazz and American rock ‘n’ roll that speaks to the tales of wild nights in bar rooms, Sunday mornings in church, times of heartbreak, and years of struggle and the wisdom received that fill the songs delivered by two powerful and emotive vocalists. Jim Gustin and Truth Jones firmly establish themselves in the southern California blues scene and share some of the wisdom they have gained on the journey.
How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Jim: I think that art and artists reflect the culture. I'm not sure how much the blues culture has affected me, other than after the IBCs, where it is clear what a small community it is, and that it really is a sort of family. I am so glad to be part of it.
Truth: Blues and Rock music has opened doors into many different environments and ideas that I may not have been able to explore otherwise. It has helped me to see beyond my own circumstances and environment. I think it has helped me understand the world and people in an unfiltered light.
How do you describe band's sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?
Jim: We have a big band, 6 people with varying influences, each member adds their unique ingredient to the collective soup that is our music. We try to write songs that tell a story, that are fun and that reflect us as people.
Truth: The band's sound is predominantly blues, but includes influences from rock, soul, and gospel. Before we were a blues band, we performed as a classic rock band, and Jim and I both sang together in church. We both are song writers and we grew tired of playing other artists music. The blues allowed us to tell our own stories. The music we put on albums now comes from the heart and soul of who we are.
"I have found the women of blues to be a very caring and nurturing group. They are incredible musicians with plenty to say, and I see more and more women are being included in events. Would I like equal opportunity for both men and women? Of course, but I'm personally not looking to change the world. If I can touch a couple of hearts for the better, then I've achieved my goals." (Photo: Jim & Truth)
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Jim: We opened for Three Dog Night for three shows at three different venues around LA. These people had never heard of us. We were not even listed on the bill. We played our set, and the people loved us! It was so incredibly encouraging and gave us some validation that we were on the right path.
Truth: There are so many performances and sessions that bring back wonderful memories, but without a doubt, my favorite gig was opening for Three Dog Night. Being accepted by an audience who had never heard of us and were only there to see the big named act, was an amazing thrill.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
Jim: I miss being paid well for gigs. I used to make $125-$150 a night, now gigs that pay even $250 for the whole band are getting tough to find. It makes it almost impossible to go on the road and share our music with people outside our area. People do not pay for music any more, I still spend $50 or so a month buying music, most people, particularly young people, don't spend that in a year. It is my hope that at some point people will appreciate people playing real instruments, again.
Truth: In most of society, music is no longer a focus in entertainment. It has been reduced to background noise. People don't sit and LISTEN to albums. It has caused the elimination of great artists. I want to hear an amazing guitar solo, or a soulful piano or sax solo, and my soul need to hear harmonies. I want lyrics that feed me. If music is just background noise, we lose what makes it great. It loses its ability to move and inspire us. (Photo: Jim Gustin and Truth Jones on stage)
"You have to play music because you love playing music. You cannot be true to yourself and your art, if you do it for any other reason. If you do it for fame or money or any other reason other than it's in you and it needs to come out, you begin to compromise what is in you."
Make an account of the case of the blues in California. What touched (emotionally) you from the local circuits?
Jim: Our local blues scene here in SoCal, is not unlike what I have encountered elsewhere. We have been blessed to have people give us advice, send gigs our way and do whatever they can to help us. People like Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson, Joey Delgado, Tommy Marsh, Deb and Ric Ryder and Teresa James and Terry Wilson. I am overwhelmed at how supportive others have been to us.
Truth: It is the blues family in Southern California that make SoCal blues great. The musicians here are always willing to participate in charity events. They help promote each other's gigs, the help fellow musicians get gigs and they give practical advice and encouragement. We very much owe a debt of gratitude to the wonderful musicians who have helped us.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in music paths?
Jim: You have to play music because you love playing music. You cannot be true to yourself and your art, if you do it for any other reason. If you do it for fame or money or any other reason other than it's in you and it needs to come out, you begin to compromise what is in you.
I really feel for those musicians who are trying to make a living by playing music, especially in today's world. I thank God for my day job. Money is not the driving force behind what I do. I can play whatever, whenever and wherever I feel like playing. It would not be that way if it was my primary source of income.
What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?
Truth: I have found the women of blues to be a very caring and nurturing group. They are incredible musicians with plenty to say, and I see more and more women are being included in events. Would I like equal opportunity for both men and women? Of course, but I'm personally not looking to change the world. If I can touch a couple of hearts for the better, then I've achieved my goals. (Photo: Jim Gustin and Truth Jones)
"Blues and Rock music has opened doors into many different environments and ideas that I may not have been able to explore otherwise. It has helped me to see beyond my own circumstances and environment. I think it has helped me understand the world and people in an unfiltered light."
What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?
Jim: Music and all art reflect the culture. It is my hope that our music makes people feel like they are not alone, that others have experienced the same challenges that they have faced and are facing and overcame them. We want to be encouraging and provide some hope for people and at the least provide a distraction from life's struggles for a couple hours.
Truth: Music is and will always be part of our culture. I want people to think, and to feel, and have hope when they hear our music. I want them to know that we are all the same, and we are more alike than our differences.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
Jim: I wish, I could go back and make the decision 20 years earlier to be a full time blues artist. While I appreciate the time, I spent playing rock and country, as it helped to shape me into the artist I am, I wish I had made the choice sooner. I was messing around playing cover gigs for over 20 years, when I could have been making my own music during a time when the music industry was healthier.
Truth: This is a hard question, because the genre that I love the most really had no place in its inception for a white girl from California singing the blues. Understandably so. I would have loved to have seen the great women in blues of the past like Billie Holiday, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Memphis Minnie, Big Mama Thornton and the list goes on. One day would not allow me enough time. I'm honored to humbly continue in their very impressive footsteps.
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