Women Making Music Spotlights Asheville’s Funky Pop Starlet, Lyric Jones
By: Peggy Ratusz
Two years ago Lyric Jones was a finalist in Jenny Greer’s Brown Bag Songwriter’s Competition. At that time, Jenny and I joined forces in our efforts to bring singer songwriters into the limelight. She produced the weekly competition at Mo Daddy’s and awarded her weekly winners a slot in the Jack of the Wood Singer Songwriter showcase that I hosted and still host twice a month.
The first time I heard Lyric was the first time ninety percent of the full house audience that evening first heard Lyric. She fluttered in like a brassy butterfly; initially unassuming. She was methodical, taking her time to blow us away with her melodic poetry and her bountiful soulful voice. Whew, lordy people, if you haven’t heard of or heard Lyric, you simply must give yourself the gift. “Guitar Feet” is her latest release.
I cannot impress upon you enough that while her music beacons me, compels, soothes and entertains me, what is equally persuasive is her warm, open, kind and caring demeanor. This is a person who is aware she is special; a young woman with quiet confidence who exhibits sincere interest in others.
It’s high time we focus on this astoundingly talented young woman making music in our town, who is from our town. Leeda Jones was born and raised in Asheville. There’s no doubt in my mind that she will soar. Her star is rising beyond us. And no question in my mind she’ll ever forget where she earned her wings.
Lyric shared some time with me recently, answering questions that will help us all get to know her better.
What is your earliest memory in music?
My earliest memory in music would have to be as a young child when my dad would sit me on his knee and sing that 1968 Zombies song Time of the Season. “What’s your name….What’s your name? Who’s your daddy….Who’s your daddy?” He taught me to repeat those lines after him and that’s what I did.
Tell us how and when you discovered your desire to write and the significance behind your name change. I’m guessing they’re tied together.
I discovered the desire to write around the age of eighteen. I’ve only been playing guitar for three years, so I started out experimenting, singing and writing lyrics using instrumental tracks. When I was about twenty, my dad bought me an Epiphone acoustic. I couldn’t afford lessons, so I started using Youtube and other online resources and books right there (pardon the pun) at my fingertips, to teach myself how to play. As far as my name change, there’s big significance behind it. When I listen to music it’s all about the lyrics. I love strong positive messages and that’s what I write. A great song to me contains lyrics that are life-changing. Lyrics that uplift people from bad situations or circumstances are my favorite and are the ones that come to me the easiest.
Writers, authors, poets draw from personal experiences for sure and especially in your song, Hard Work, I sense this tune comes straight from your mind and heart. Can you talk about that song a little bit?
I was hanging out during lunch time in downtown Asheville in front of The Bistro and the Noodle Shop waiting for my turn to busk when my song Hard Work made itself known to me. I sense good things are going to happen for me and I always have. For instance in October, I was chosen to open for international Jazz vocalist, Lizz Wright in Atlanta at the Variety Playhouse. I also know that just because I may be talented doesn’t mean that things are just going to be handed to me. I know that in order to fulfill my dreams, I’ll have to continue to work hard at it. This song is my motto.
The freedom theme in Open Roads, the hope coming through hardship in Blue Skies, the joy in just waking up every day in your song So High…all embody constructive messages. Please tell us about your writing process.
Blue Skies is the first song I ever wrote. I usually don’t sit down and plan to write. I have to be in the mood to write. I let the lyrics come to me, and I rarely go back and change anything afterwards. Blue Skies tends to be my fans’ favorite song and I believe that’s because everyone can relate to it. The chorus is sort of an anthem that’s easy to sing along to. No matter what you go through on any given day, when you get up the next morning or the morning after that, there will be blue skies again. My girlfriend, Megan Drye penned the lyrics to Open Roads, as she’s no stranger to composing songs for the band. Open Roads evolved while we were all just hanging out. I was playing the jymbae drum and I told Mike, the guitar player in my band, to play a chord on the guitar and when he did, Megan started singing “I’ve been sitting down for so long I can’t get high, I can’t get low.” We just let it flow from there. Megan and I co-wrote So High and we let that one wash over us like a perfect wave too. Again, we just let it come and again, no need to change a thing afterward.
Your musical partners include your dad, Dave Matthews on bass. Tell us a little about each of them, and what collaborating with them means to you as well as your collective experience creating Guitar Feet.
Well my dad, Dave Matthews was born and raised here in Asheville. He’s been in bands ever since I can remember and as a teenager he too had original material being played on the radio and such. He loves Funk and has a keen talent for creating new music. His dad was called “Guitar Shorty” who also played and sang. I definitely believe my musical desires and abilities come from my dad and grandfather, and who knows where else? I love my dad and I love that he’s part of Lyric. We call him “Super bass.”
Michael Hoffman plays lead guitar. He’s extremely creative and is never without his guitar. He’s a peace maker. Every time he plays he lays his heart on the line. Music is his passion and he believes in the LYRIC project so much that he moved here from Florida. Mike used to play in a band called LAMB with our percussionist. We call him “Guitar Mike!”
Derrick Graves on percussion is also from Asheville. He’s mega talented and comes to the project with loads of experience. His work ethic is inspiring; always looking to get better. Derrick and my dad were buddies from back in the day and that’s how we pulled him into the fold. His happiness seems to come from being able to put his spin on original material, and never gets tired putting the time and effort into creating new pieces of music.
Last but not least is Story Rain (Megan Drye), my girlfriend. As I said, she writes the crux of our original material. She’s an astounding author from right here in Asheville, getting ready to release her first book of poetry. Inspired at a very young age, Megan’s natural ability for poetry easily translates into lyric writing. She adorns the most universal themes with beautiful and gripping word play and embellishments within the phrases. When the groove is upbeat, she shines even more.
It’s a beautiful thing that we all met on the streets of Asheville and came together to play our intricate part in Lyric. The streets of Downtown Asheville are still our favorite places to play. We all know what we mean to each other and they all know how much they mean to me personally. They know how much I need them to help me push this project and that I’m not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
As you mentioned, you recently opened for Lizz Wright at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. Delve into how exciting that must have been for you and the band.
I can’t even explain the feelings and emotions that were pulsing through us that night; and they reverberate still to this day. I was overly excited; the guys had to calm me down before hitting the stage. It was such an awesome experience and life-changing moment in my career. Lizz Wright is a humble and kind spirit and I now consider her a friend. She didn’t treat us like we were fans but rather as friends and fellow musicians. I look forward to working with her again in the future.
The future looks bright ahead for you, Lyric. Where do you see yourself in 1, 3, 5 and 10 years?
Well… as long as I’m making music and singing I’m happy, and that’s where I plan to be in the future. With a bigger band, more fans and enough money to make a living at what I love to do. I want to be able to help others and not just profit for myself.
Tell us about any gigs you’ve got coming up and the best place on line, to keep track of you.
Well, we’ve got a few Christmas parties coming up and things of that nature. Dec. 9th we’ll be at the Asheville Music Hall, 31 Patton Avenue for a Christmas party. On Wednesday, December 14th, I’ll be performing a few tunes for a benefit at Tressa’s, 28 Broadway that starts at 7:30p. I’ll be playing acoustic solo at the Singer Songwriter in the Round showcase at Jack of the Wood, 95 Patton Avenue on Tues, January 3, 2012 at 7p.
To keep track of us, check out our facebook page, reverbnation page and YouTube:
Peggy Ratusz is a songstress, writer and vocal coach.