Friday, December 23

Llewellyn and Clara Jones, The Music

Part four in a four-part series Rev. Llewellyn and Mrs. Clara Jones.

I've been attending Baptist churches for 48 years now and the very first pastor I can remember and picture in my mind is Pastor Jones.  He was the one who baptised me and established the foundation for my spiritual growth.  He and his wife were also good friends of my parents so we have a lot of family memories as well.

Back in the '70's at our little rural church, the Jones family often sang for the church.  Pastor and his 5 kids are all talented and musically gifted.  Clara?  Not so much.  She and I agreed that we both can't tell when we're off key, can barely tell when someone else is off key and I have no earthly idea what pitch is.  But we both love music.  I might actually die without it, but she didn't make such a strong pronouncement.....


Back in those days the Gaithers were becoming popular and the Jones' often sang Gaither songs to the tune of Pastor's guitar.  In the mid-70's, they recorded an album.  If I remember right, all the girls on the cover were wearing long skirts, is that right?  Anyone remember?  Today it would be very Amish looking.  Long hair, long skirts.

We loved that album.  It was played around my house alternately with Jim Nabors and the South Pacific soundtrack.  All vinyl.  The Jones Family produced a second album, most excellent, then they moved away and the kids grew up; the albums ceased.  I'd hear occasionally that they were together again and singing here or there, but no albums.

So when I caught up with them, 30 some years later in Florida, I was very surprised when Clara mentioned Cal's music.  Wait/what?
 "Oh yeah," Clara said, "Cal writes his own songs, sings them, plays the piano or guitar or gets the grand kids to play with him." 
We sat back and got comfortable as we began talking music, reminiscing about the instruction Cal received from Mr. Butler, a senior member of our little church who passed away while I was quite young.

Cal didn't write any of the songs on the first two albums.  As we talked, I was reminded that one of the songs was a playful one that went something like this:  "I'm no kin to the monkey.  The monkey's no kin to me.  I don't know much about your ancestry but mine didn't swing from a tree."  Oh boy, I can remember them up on the pulpit platform singing that song!  (I couldn't get that song out of my head for the next two days!)  (And now I'm hoping it's stuck in your head as well)

It turns out that songwriting is fairly new to Pastor Jones.  He only wrote a few songs throughout the years until just last year the Lord has been placing a lot of songs on his heart.   Throughout the years, he would only write a song when a church requested a song for a specific subject or theme. An Easter song, for example, was one he wrote back in my rural church in West Windsor, Ruth Morse (Helpful Hints Guest Writer here on my blog) helped him with the music.  The song he wrote for that Easter long ago was What Have You Done With My Lord.   Occupy Til I Come is a song he wrote during their years at a church in Moscow, PA.

Once the Jones' moved to Florida, the Seminoles loved Cal's music and asked him to sing every week. When there was a special need, he would write a new song.   That's when he wrote Seminole Trail.  He was so surprised when I told him that I had heard that song.  He didnt' quite believe me until I told him it was a video on Facebook.

Pastor Jones now has about 14 songs he has written and performed for a CD to be released in January of 2012.   Accompaniment is mostly piano and guitar with a little steel and maybe a little violin from his grandson, Joel.  Most of the songs are sacred, but a few are secular.

When I mentioned I'm No Kin to the Monkey, he admitted there is at least one purely fun song on this new CD.  It's called Don't Sit In My Pew.  Oh, yes, I can't wait to hear that one.

While they've always been a musical family, the music hasn't financially supported them through the years like the preaching has.
"But there was one time," Clara began amid a lot of laughter, "One time we wanted some money to get to Florida and back.  So the kids put their music on cassettes -- one side was Christmas hymns and the other side was the secular songs.  We traveled like gypsies, selling the tapes at churches for gas money all the way to Florida.  In Florida, had run out of cassettes and had to make more so we could get back home."  

Oh yes, I sure miss the Jones family.  Laughter was such a big part of their lives.  I have so many stories from their few years at our church.   We laughed the other day remembering when Laurie tied the horse to the handle on their back room's sliding glass door.  The horse spooked and ran off, leaving the sliding glass door broken. (Pictured: me on a pony with two of the Jones girls)

Many stories I don't fully remember, I just have images in my head, fragments of memories like Pastor dressed as a woman sitting in for my mom or Ruth playing the church piano and Pastor in a negligee (over his clothes) at a party.  Anyone want to explain that memory to me?  That one concerns me.

If you'd like to purchase a CD: send Clara Jones a message on her facebook or shoot me an email - PlanetPookie@yahoo.com - and I'll help you get in touch with the Jones Family.

Jones Series:
Personal Life

1 comment:

Midge said...

You bet your life I want a CD!! These interview blogs with the Jones family has sure brought back so many WONDERFUL memories, makes me miss 'em more and more. I remember hosting them when he candidated and the kids played "music" on my crystal! Now that's talent!! I,too, could give you so many stories------what a great family.