at a glance
Paul Ubana Jones,New Zealand singer-songwriter, May 2 & 3 at the FCC Phnom Penh. Shows start at 9 p.m.
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Paul Ubana Jones
In a town unheralded for its live music scene, the return of Paul Ubana Jones offers a welcome respite from a near-drought of world-class music.
Arriving with his trademark afro and 1979 Martin 6-string, Jones plays two nights at the FCC Phnom Penh on May 2 and 3. Both shows start at 9 p.m.
Cambodia is becoming a regular date for Jones. The U.K.-native first played Cambodia in November 2006 following the release of his first live album, “Live: The Christchurch Civic.” He returned again in December 2007.
“What brings me back is the mystery of this land,” Jones says. “I find it is haunted with a thousand stories waiting to be told.”
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.
In previous Cambodian gigs Jones has played to standing-room-only crowds.
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.” Born in London to a Yorkshire mother and a Nigerian father, Jones was playing guitar by the age of 11. After attending 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 he has been called “blessed with rich timbre and biting wit.”
But Jones still slips from any convenient musical labels. As the Evening Post newspaper wrote in 1998, “Trying to describe just how good Paul Ubana Jones is, is like trying to define why the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world — words pale in comparison.”