Humanities Project: Singer/Songwriter Christopher Mark Jones Performs on Oct. 1st

Christopher Mark Jones

Christopher Mark Jones

Contemporary folk and Americana singer/songwriter Christopher Mark Jones will perform at the Coffeyville Community College Spencer/Rounds Performing Arts Theatre at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 1st, as part of the CCC Humanities Project. The performance is free and open to the public. 

In his program, entitled “Migrations”,  Christopher will explore through stories and songs about why people abandon their birthplaces or homelands to begin new lives, often at great risk and sacrifice. While individuals commonly move for family, a new job or even weather, a migration usually refers to movements of large groups to escape poverty, war or religious persecution. In our time, gang violence and climate change are new motivators.

Songs in the program will include original compositions by Christopher relating to the topic, like “Dakota Territory” (Norwegian homesteaders), “Dust to Dust” (the Dust Bowl), “Black Earth” (the decline of small towns), “Dans la ville” (emigration from the Quebec countryside to Montreal and New England), “Miguel y Celestina” (Mexican immigrants to the Midwest), and “Caravan” (migrants fleeing violence in El Salvador).  Songs by other writers will include “Deportee” (fate of a migrant laborer) by Woody Guthrie and “City of Immigrants” (the diversity of New York City) by Steve Earle.

Christopher's songwriter saga started in Paris in 1976, when he found that all he wanted to do was sing and play guitar. He had spent a half-dozen years playing professional basketball (in Portugal) and studying languages (Portuguese, French, Spanish) and was enrolled at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations in Paris at the time where he was studying Chinese. He finished that degree, while playing in restaurants and the Metro, then headed to London to do music full-time. He played a showcase at the Cambridge Folk Festival, where Rosie Hardman heard him and recommended him to Bill Leader, a legendary producer (Bert Jansch, John Renbourne, Nic Jones), who had a deal with Transatlantic Records to issue records under his imprint. The album they did together, with contributions from traveling partner Mick Linnard, Christopher's brother Jeff, Gerald Moore, (a popular club guitarist in London) and Pick Withers on drums (Dire Straits) was licensed in five countries in Europe, distributed by Rounder, and getting good reviews, but it came out at the same time that punk hit in London, and the reception for acoustic songwriters was at an all-time low in the UK.

Moving back to Boston in 1979, he put together a band called Christopher Jones & The Regulars, which worked consistently for several years with excellent musicians: Andre Locke (Mandrake), Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie's Tin Machine), Reed Butler (Chris Smither) and Sheldon Mirowitz (Livingston Taylor & Patty Larkin), among others.

After moving to Pittsburgh to teach French Studies at Carnegie Mellon, he returned to acoustic music through swing and blues,  recorded a catch-up album, Heartland Variations, and re-mastered the Transatlantic (UK) album No More Range to Roam. Three additional recordings of new songs have since followed, including Suburban 2-Step (2012), Atlantica (2014) and  Incantations (2017) and a sixth album is on the way.  Listeners have mentioned echoes of Greg Brown, Lyle Lovett, Bruce Coburn and Darrell Scott in Christopher’s songs.