A huge honor has been bestowed upon one of our own. Morgantown based artist, The Appalachian Soul Man – Aristotle Jones will be performing at this years National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference this November in Salt Lake City as part of his induction into the Black Appalachian Storyteller Fellows.
Jones went through an interview process before being selected for the honor. In that he had to identify what he would plan to do with the financial portion of this acknowledgment. He plans to supplement his recently released Streets of Osage with a live storyteller concert tour and a historical component that would highlight the past of Osage that would incorporate unofficial town historian, shoe repair shop owner and musician, Al Anderson and stories from Jones’ late grandfather Robert Jones.
Aristotle plans to host a series of performances that would blend his music performance with video stories from Anderson, Jones’ family members and other contributors, that would highlight their unique perspective of West Virginia.
Jones’ title track features the lyrics that drive this idea:
“You can learn the most by listening to those who have made the most of time.”
The rich tradition of West Virginia oral storytelling will be used to tell the narrative of what has shaped Aristotle into who he is and the broader picture of life in his slice of Appalachia. Jones attributes his passion for this project to his upbringing and being part of a rich tradition of “porch picking” which he describes as the traditional act of siting on a porch and playing bluegrass and country tinged songs with a “1 and 3 chuck of the bluegrass guitar or the twangy melodic finger banjo of country music.” But on the porches that Jones occupied the 1 and 3 was replaced with the 2 and 4. “The singing was soulful and smooth, hopeful and optimistic. The lyrics reflects the stories of the civil rights movements and lessons learned during the Great Depression. The music from the porches I learned to pick on was Appalachian soul”
This induction will allow Aristotle to fill the void of this portion of Appalachian music that has been under appreciated and mostly untold.
Aristotle Jones recently released his full length album “Mountain Doo-Wop & the Streets of Osage.” You can catch his radio program “Sounds Good To Me” on WAJR. Aristotle also serves as the host for The Born & Bred Concert series at The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center in Clarksburg.