at a glance
Paul Ubana Jones, at the FCC Phnom Penh Sunday Nov 26 and Friday Dec 1. Both shows start at 8 p.m. At the FCC Angkor Tuesday Nov 28 at 10 p.m. At Pacharan Saigon Saturday Dec 2, 8 p.m.
The unmistakable talents of Paul Urbana Jones will be on dramatic display in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for three upcoming November shows.
Arriving with his trademark 1979 Martin guitar and a hard-won reputation as a masterful performer, the New Zealand resident is aiming to increase the strong cult following he’s earned over 30 years of concerts, tours and studio albums.
The Cambodian gigs follow the release of Jones’ first live album, “Live-The Christchurch Civic,” which was recorded earlier this year. Longtime fans will delight in Jones’ original work and heartfelt interpretations while first-timers discover his singular renditions of rock classics from “The House of the Rising Sun” to “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
Having played with musicians as legendary as punk siren Patti Smith and folk poet Bob Dylan, Jones is authentic rock n’ roll royalty. He’s recorded seven eclectic — often iconoclastic — albums and has opened for blues artists such as Taj Mahal Ben Harper and Keb Mo. A music critic in 2003 labeled Jones a “wise creator of powerful compositions, tender ballads, shuffling blues and acoustic poetry.” And another wrote, “His original work is filled with fond, sincere statements about love and life.”
“He’s been hanging out in New Zealand for years,” said Dan Poynton, a Phnom Penh ex-pat who worked as a professional musician in New Zealand for many years. “He’s not big on trying to move up in the business, so he’s probably living with much less success. He’s a master, his music hits you right between the eyes.”
Born in London to a Yorkshire mother and a Nigerian father, Jones was playing guitar by the age of 11. After attending a “music college” in London, where he studied guitar and cello, Jones forged a solo acoustic style that has been his trademark for years. He is known to his fans as a soulful singer and virtuoso guitarist, and has been called “blessed with rich timbre and biting wit.”
But Jones still slips out from any convenient musical labels. As the Evening Post newspaper wrote in 1998, “Trying to describe just how good Paul Urbana Jones is, is like trying to define why the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world-words pale in comparison.”
In the late 1980s Jones moved his family to New Zealand where he has forged an enduring fan base and become well known on the streets of Wellington.
Phnom Penh music lovers can unravel the enigma of Jones themselves as he plays live shows in Cambodia.