Photo by Glenn Kaupert
Humanitarian | Educator | Entertainer | Renaissance Man
Fernando Jones is an original. This world-class American Bluesman, educator and songwriter was born to loving Mississippi parents on the Southside of Chicago in Bronzeville who were advocates for education and the arts. Jones has performed his compositions from basement parties to the University of Hawaii to The Smithsonian Institute to the Conservatory of Music in Pescara, Italy.
Jones is on faculty in the Music Department at Columbia College Chicago. There, he is the Blues Ensemble director and the founder of Blues Camp. See list of camps and history. He also holds memberships with the American Federation of Musicians (Local 10 - 208), Broadcast Music, Inc. (songwriter and publisher), and The Chicago (IL) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Inspired by his older brothers, Foree, Marvin and Greg, Jones taught himself how to play guitar when he was just four years old, and has been playing since. Fernando Jones & My Band! is a sharp dressed, raw guitar driven power trio. Their sound [is] full, sexy, and always evolving.
"Fernando is one in a million trying to get to the bottom of the barrel of the Blues.”
- Buddy Guy
Jones is the go-to-guy for all things Blues when the City of Chicago needs an ambassador. Whether playing alone in someone's living room or with his band in concert, each performance is entertaining and engaging among multigenerational audiences. He has tricks or gimmicks and easy to work with and is one of the most complete Bluesmen and scholars of his generation. Sample of his scholarly writing (Journal of Popular Music).
He and his music have been featured in the Travel Channel’s “America the Wright Way” Series (worldwide broadcast, seen in over 125 million households), Eric Clapton’s Crossroads DVD, ABC7’s "Someone You Should Know." Dateline NBC, Downbeat Magazine's Musicians Studio and countless international music documentaries.
From books to films, from sound recordings to theatrical productions, his contributions to this American art form have been paramount. Jones has been recognized and celebrated by his peers and the press as being on the "cutting edge" of the Blues. He adds new blood and a new perspective to its legacy musically and culturally. As a composer, he has taken great pride in performing his original works publicly to help insure the evolutionary development of this movement.
“I work on my craft and my complete package every single day. I perform every show as if it were Carnegie Hall -- even if it’s a gift of my time in a classroom, retirement home, front porch in Mississippi, a TV show or on stage for thousands of dollars. My music and I are one. Being born 5 months premature, one looks at life differently. Therefore, each day is a lifetime achievement award proven earned the following day.”
- Fernando Jones
While refuting the many negative stereotypes that haunt this music, he is on a mission to show its beauty through academic implementations, lectures, and concerts globally. As a result, Jones' hands were photographed by National Geographic Magazine. His book, I Was There When The Blues Was Red Hot, has been used as a resource by the likes of the Discovery Channel, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, Living Blues Magazine, London Times, and Al-Jazeera. Radio stations such as ABC, BBC, CBS, CLTV, NBC, WTTW, NPR, WGN and PBS have celebrated him for his playing style and unique perspective on the status of Black music in America.
As a music festival producer, Fernando Jones created the first Blues Festival at the University of Illinois at Chicago when he was only a sophomore in the Spring of 1984. It was produced in February of 1985 and featured his eldest brother Foree Superstar, Junior Wells, Magic Slim, Buddy Guy and Phil Guy. Four years later he wrote the book I Was There When The Blues Was Red Hot.
Sponsors and professional relationships: American Federation of Musicians, BMI, Fender Musical Instruments, Jim Dunlop, Real Men Cook, Shure, The Chicago Blues Festival Advisory Board, NABSE.
Honors: Chicago Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Blues Kids Days Proclamation from the City of Chicago, California Legislature Assembly Certificate of Recognition, City of Riverside, CA Proclamation to Recognize and Honor, State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition, Corona, CA Blues Day Proclamation, State of Illinois Proclamation for a Blues Day, and a Keeping the Blues Alive Award recipient. See certificates. Teacher of the year finalist (Columbia College Chicago).
Photo by Glenn Kaupert