I was born and raised in a suburb of Kansas City called Liberty. I went off to The University of Iowa with a trombone scholarship and earned a degree in literature, while dabbling with creative writing and guitar. When words and music started lining up for me, I was well into a twenty-year stay in Eugene, Oregon, where I got started troubadour-style and made a coffee shop story-song cassette called For Your Radio. I played a ton of acoustic shows for a while, but the americana and folk circuit was never totally my thing, and punk and indie-influenced rock bands followed. Mostly I led Dan Jones and The Squids (a collective that has lots of members) and made three albums: One Man Submarine, Get Sounds Now, and Totally Human. Later I formed The Golden Motors; we released one self-titled record and recorded a second that will see the light of day soon. I also made an EP with my pal Peter Wilde, My Name Is John Smith.
As a kid I loved classic 70's singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne and Billy Joel, then got into into new wave and punk all all the great 80's underground bands (SST stuff especially). I bought every 80's Lou Reed tape I could at the Liberty Wal-Mart and those are still some of my very favorite two-guitar poetry collections. In Iowa City, I discovered Neil Young, americana, college rock, and great Iowa bands like House of Large Sizes and The Hollowmen. I kept absorbing musical influences in my 20's but was mainly writing poems and reading and making macaroni and cheese and living in a small mother-in-law apartment full of books while I cooked, slung produce, or worked in custom manufaturing for a living.
Playing solo and in various bands in the northwest I got to play gigs with Mike Watt, fIREHOSE, John Doe, Curt Kirkwood, Calvin Johnson, Dinosaur Jr, Steve Wynn, The Decemberists, The Minus 5, Roy Harper, Peter Case, Stew, James McMurtry, Arthur Lee, and of course umpteen hundred local and touring bands who, on any given night, could be the greatest band on earth. I moved back to Kansas City in 2013 and started up the Squids again with old friends Steve Tulipana, Alex Alexander, and Boojie Schneider, playing songs from my Northwest years and developing new material as well.
Somewhere along the line I started messing around with visual art, being fairly faithful to blogging, cartooning, doodling, daily posting and spontaneous little pieces that get my ya-yas out and are fun to make. I work as an estimator in the world of architectural signage, custom fabrication, and graphics, so I guess working with designers, marketing folks, and talented fabricators and artists of all kinds rubbed off on me somehow.
Dan Jones is the bed-headed poet laureate of Eugene. More of a verbal fix-it man than a lyricist, Jones finds beauty in the ordinary while coaxing poetry from things most writers leave in the garage. His songs are delivered in a Neil Young-esque holler or Lou Reed-style talk/sing... Those who’ve been around Eugene a while are familiar with the many incarnations of Dan Jones — acoustic troubador, rock ’n’ roll bandleader with the Squids, and now he’s stepped it up yet again with The Golden Motors.
William Kennedy, The Eugene Weekly
The Golden Motors is exactly what you’d play at a raving party. Jones is likely in his 40s but he dresses and performs like he’s 18 and his new rock band just made it on the cover of Rolling Stone and their music is burning up the airwaves, primed for world domination. And what’s enjoyable about Jones is his keen ability to know when less is more and when it’s okay to slow down the pace of a song. In that respect, Jones is an artist, not just a rock star. (Andrew Fickes, gig write-up, northwestindiemusic.com, 8/23/11)
The music contained in the grooves of this four-song EP is driven by a throwback innocence and energy that rummages through the vintage closet of ’60s pop. Jones kicks off side one with “Don’t Be Afraid of Love,” a three-chord rocker that channels early Who, and Wilde’s flipside opener, “Two People in Love,” is a laid-back ballad that floats on a swell of Hammond organ and pedal steel. Long live DIY and the crackle of static. (Rick Levin reviews Dan Jones and Peter Wilde’s My Name Is John Smith e.p. in The Eugene Weekly, 10/28/10)
When the lyrics start to go all metaphorical in the middle of Dan Jones and the Squids new album, Totally Human, and you hear lines like, "Sometimes I feel just like a gremlin on the wing of our love" or "I think we saw the rapture, but it went as far as it could go," you know you've entered true Squid territory. (Chuck Adams reviews Totally Human in The Eugene Weekly, 5/31/07)
A repetitive Jiminy Cricket has been following me around pointing out my foibles. When I stopped by Jones' garage for a recent rehearsal on a hot May evening, "Being Difficult" was one of the first songs Jones and the Squids launched into. "Being difficult/ Like a knob that won't turn," Jones sang, his band sweating and periodically requesting ice cream, "Like a vine that won't wind." I felt downright guilty until I focused on what I decided the point of the song was: Being difficult is "totally human." And it's that line, taken from the most infectious song on the album, that seems to validate all of our petty existences. (Serena Markstrom, Eugene Register-Guard Ticket cover story for release of Totally Human, June 2007)
Eugene staple Dan Jones delivers something like a more mature, less crazy Daniel Johnston vibe and keeps it rockin' thanks to the lo-fi fuzz of able backers The Squids. (Amy McCullough, show preview The Willamette Week, March 12, 2008)
What are my first impressions of Dan Jones’ music? Strongly influenced by REM, Robyn Hitchcock and The Who, does that suggest Guided By Voices to you? Perhaps. In fact, there is a very strong 80s alt-rock sound here. I mean, please also include Dream Syndicate, the Minutemen, Sonic Youth and the Replacements into the mix. Make no mistake, though, Dan Jones delivers where it matters – great rock music, whatever the genre. (Kevin Mathews reviews Get Sounds Now at powerofpop.com, 10/22/06)
Clocking in at slightly more than half an hour, Dan Jones' Get Sounds Now is a whirlwind of raw rock and roll color. Sounding like The Who fronted by an unpretentious, tuneful Lou Reed, Jones bashes out his short tunes with equal parts fire and tenderness. Get Sounds Now has the magical, inexplicable appeal of an album that gets you through. (Jon Itkin reviews Get Sounds Now in The Oregon Voice, Fall 2005)
Billy Barnett, owner of Eugene's Gung-Ho (where One Man Submarine was recorded and mixed) says of Jones' songs, "They tend to be musically straightforward, unpretentious, melodic; lyrically smart and thoughtful; and the angst and angles within the storylines come across with a wry humor and sympathy...never the urgent, needy, in your face variety." (Josh Sommer, Get Sounds Now show preview, The Portland Oregonian A & E, 7/8/05)
One Man Submarine is the real deal, 12 unforgettable tracks whose instantly hummable melodies will stick in your brain like gum under a desk long after you’ve wrested the CD from your player (good luck on that, by the way). Jones’ plaintive, well-worn voice is the ideal instrument to deliver his whimsical, detail-rich story songs, in which getting your PHD in post-war pornography theory, driving a Chinese car, and living in a town called Penitentiary are all possibilities. If Jones ever wearies of music-making, a long career in short story and novel-writing awaits. (Walker Grey, NWradio.com, 2003) reviews One Man Submarine at
Smash your head on the acoustic punk rock. Diehard fans of Dan Jones' debut, For Your Radio may miss the days when the Eugene singer-songwriter would ply his Cormac McCarthy-inspired stories with simply an acoustic guitar. But considering that this working-stiff-songsmith as always had a jones for rocked-up stuff like The Who, Husker Du, and Guided By Voices, it's little wonder that Jones eventually turned to electric guitar. (Kim Chun, show preview, The Portland Mercury, 4/29/04)
More open sky and underwater than just "Americana," this sophomore release from a late blooming master songwriter is blissfully washed in fragile acoustic and jangle Pop guitars, building and leaning, cutting loose with Punk Rock riffs and -- when you least expect it -- roaring walls of humming waves. Deliciously melding influences like Roger Miller, Lou Reed, Hüsker Dü, The Meat Puppets and Steve Earle, Jones' wit and chops are electric, haunting, spontaneous, and fun. (John James reviews reviews One Man Submarine in Positively Yeah Yeah Yeah, 2003)
For Your Radio is lyrically driven, storytelling folk music at its finest. With a warm, undistilled voice, Jones walks his way through a kaleidoscope of adolescent memories, revisiting the basketball court, the local grocery store, a freshly fertilized front lawn and other suburban touchstones. Jones album, with its collection of childhood tall tales and remembrances, is reminiscent of a shoe box full of old photographs. The images are there, incomplete and unsorted, and the fragments come together to form an incomplete, but somehow vivid, story. (Lewis Taylor, show preview, Eugene Register Guard, 2000)
Any given verse of his songs packs more wit than a roomful of singer-songwriters could must in a month of open mics. (Jeff Rosenberg, show preview, The Willamette Week, 2000)
For Your Radio exemplifies why local music fans should welcome back this prodigal son with open arms. Name-dropping certain sports stars, hitting the road with a "skanky hardcore band," and threatening to open a keg of whupass, Jones isn't the stereotypical sensitive-guy folk singer. Jones juggles witticisms with truly touching tales of longing and emptiness, setting both to gently rolling country melodies and spare descending scales. If his Acoustic Grudge Matches were actual competitions, Jones wouldn't have much to worry about--it's difficult to imagine a contender besting For Your Radio. (Kansas City Pitch, 2000)
Dan Jones lovely new tape For Your Radio opens with a trio of post-adolescent boy-meets-girl songs that feel like plot summations of movies such as Say Anything...all first love and fear of the future and small-town anxiousness rolled into one poignant moment. (Mare Wakefield, show preview, The Eugene Weekly, 1999)