Jomama Jones and her piquant band of accompanists have arrived at the Pillsbury House Theatre with a terrific show, Radiate Live! (through June 24). My firm advice: call the Pillsbury BO and make your rezzies. This show will take you through the summertime theatrical doldrums and the goodvibes will last – well, almost – until the Fringe. You need to see this one.
Ms. Jones is tall, svelte, very sexy, with an assertive Afro and an engaging (and slightly nasty) smile. Although she sports the de rigeur gaudy jewelry and slinky dresses, Jomama’s stage persona is simple; no applied-with-a-trowel make-up for her, and no over-the-top shrieking. She radiates barely contained passion and an edgy sense of humor: “Gr. That was my impression of a Texas longhorn.” Or: “Black power got turned off – someone didn’t pay the bill.” And Ms. J can sing – oy, can she ever. She mesmerizes.
We are lucky to have her back with us. After a drubbing by power-mad record company execs (in the 1980s; Ms. Jones is astonishingly young-looking), she retreated to her mountain fastness in Switzerland, where she raises goats (“They make wonderful pets. They go up, they go down”). But unlike her neighbor and close personal friend Tina Turner, Jomama has returned to her birthplace, the U.S. of A. She comes armed with a terrific album of intense, R&B inflected songs (composed by Jones along with her marvelous collaborator, Bobby Halvorson); these will have you dancing in your seat – and they are available for purchase in the theater lobby. Ms. Jones also has a fervent sense that focused anger and musical passion can break down walls. Jomama is seeking genuine awakening – and she invites us along. She offers an inspiring journey.
Jomama Jones is played by the brilliant and versatile Daniel Alexander Jones, an accomplished singer, an actor, creator of performance pieces (like this one) and, of course, plays. Daniel is a Playwrights Center core writer; his Phantasmatron was not too long ago featured in the prestigious Ruth Easton Series. Jones is a major American talent. Here’s a chance to experience his work in an intimate and quite lovely performance space.
Jomama’s hot band: Ted Cruz (keyboards), Benjamin Kelly (bass), John Raymond (trumpet), Matt Edlund (drums) and Mr. Halvorson (guitar). And of course the lithe and lovely back-up singers, Bianca McClure and Kalean Ung.
Radiate Live! is highly recommended.
For more info about John Olive, please visit his website.