Jones headlines the second Blues and Brews Festival at the Amphitheater, with fellow acts Mel Waiters, Shirley Brown, T.K. Soul, O.B. Buchana and Lacee. The fest features a beer garden from 5:30-7:30 p.m., where attendees can enjoy free samples of new beers.
The Birmingham-raised Jones, a Crimson Tide fan, is more than happy to make a second stop to the festival after what he called an electrifying performance at last year’s Blues and Brews. Jones has made a name for himself since arriving on the scene in 2000 with hits like “Is There Anybody Lonely,” “Friday” and “Just Can’t Let Go.”
“My act is staying pretty on the stage and making the girls scream,” Jones said. “It gives me an adrenaline rush, making something sexy on stage that the women love.”
Jones might have taken a page from soul singer Marvin Sease’s book. Sease, nicknamed “The Candy Licker” and known for his racy lyrics and passionate female audience, helped guide Jones early in his career. Before Jones hit it big, he toured with Sease for 7½ years and said The Candy Licker taught him everything he knows.
Jones describes his music as a gumbo pot, and he’s avoided falling under one specific genre.
“When I decided to first get off into it, I loved the blues,” Jones said. “But I thought everybody’s singing blues and everybody’s singing R&B, what if I take a mixture with it? I was just kind of joking, but I tried it and ladies loved it.”
Little more than a decade later after that first musical gumbo pot, Jones now headlines T-Town’s Blues and Brews Fest with legends like Shirley Brown. But for Jones, it’s like playing with family, since most of the lineup performs regularly together in festivals and tours like the “Blues is Alright” event every year.
Despite his success, Jones will still always be the young guy to his peers.
“It’s weird when Bobby Blue Bland’s tapping you on the back of your head saying ‘Hey youngster,’ but they’ve taught me how to sustain a career,” Jones said.
Jade Nicole, DJ and News and Public Relations Director at WTUG, said the station’s audience is very excited for Sir Charles Jones and the festival’s return. The “R&B and Old-School” station helped host last year’s Blues and Brews Fest, and Nicole is happy the turnout of last year’s helped bring a second installment.
“I liked the audience interaction,” Nicole said. “They seemed very interested in the show. T.K. Soul had a line dance to go into the show, with the audience from the first couple of rows.”
Nicole said she’s most excited to see Lacee, one of the newer faces on the scene, and to be able to do so in Tuscaloosa.
“We don’t really have many venues for artists here in town, but the Amphitheater has turned out to be a great venue, and people love to have an outdoor blues festival,” Nicole said.
The Alabama Blues Project is a non-profit organization started in 1995 to promote and preserve Alabama blues through camps, after-school programs, and many other projects. ABP co-founder and former executive director Bond said she’s happy to see the Amphitheater’s support of the blues, and particularly soul blues, which can get overlooked.
“I’ve personally been a big fan of Shirley Brown for forever,” Bond said. “She’s wonderful. She’s definitely one of those soul blues ballad singers, probably most famous for her song ‘Woman to Woman.’
“The blues is alive and well, but still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.”
Bond said the blues are there, if you know where to look for them. Right now, you can head up to Florence for its annual W.C. Handy Festival this month, or over to Bessemer to Gip’s Place, a historic juke joint run by an 83-year-old man.
“It’s like the world is slowly but surely realizing we have this rich blues heritage and all kinds of great musicians,” Bond said.
If you don’t want to leave Tuscaloosa to get your blues fix, the Amphitheater’s got you covered. In addition to the Blues and Brews Fest, the legendary B.B. King and Tedeschi Trucks Band, which won a Grammy for its debut album, make a stop on Aug. 25.
Tickets are still on sale for Saturday’s Blues and Brews Fest. They currently run $16.75, $30.75 and $40.75, but the day of the show, prices will go up to $25.25, $35.25 and $45.25.
The prices include both the music and the free brews, the latter of which has Sir Charles’ support.
“Sit down, let your problems sit aside, drink a little beer, maybe a little Jack Daniels, and enjoy yourself,” Jones said. “You can escape the world, and leave your problems behind, hear and feel what you want to feel.”