Although he grew up in a small town just south of London, England, spend some time listening to Jon Cleary and you will swear he is the result of some sort of super-engineering experiment that sought to combine the absolute best of New Orleans/Funk/ Soul music into one performer- it’s in his DNA- from the way he plays to the subtle ways it permeates his native English accent. In addition to being a pianist and guitarist of impeccable taste and feel, he is also a gifted vocalist.
Cleary, who has 8 solo records to date, recently won a Grammy last year for Go Go Juice, (a record I had the pleasure of being a part of). He was also a member of Bonnie Raitt’s band for 10 years - (she once referred to him the “9th Wonder of the World”. )
He frequently plays at the world famous Maple Leaf Bar, a place that he has had a connection with since the early 80’s, as well as touring all over the world with his band. In this interview we discuss piano, guitar styles, his early years and passion finally making it to New Orleans, James Booker stories, Bonnie Raitt, what makes the New Orleans sound unique to other styles, and much much more. We do a fair bit of playing in this one too.
This interview took place at Jon’s home/studio in New Orleans, LA on June 2nd, 2017.