A very long time ago, in the 1960's, when I was in a band, people called me Jonesey. Now that I am making music again, I am going back to that stage name.
My real name is Paul Johanis and I was born and grew up in the Hintonburg neighbourhood in Ottawa in the 1950s and 1960s. I started hanging out and singing with different bands and proto-bands around 1964 and I got my first guitar from my parents on my 13th birthday in 1965. It was a student's acoustic folk guitar. I remember taking it downtown on my shoulder and sitting on the lawn on Parliament Hill, strumming folk songs with folkies in pre-hippy days.
I was self-taught, became pretty proficient and in 1967, some neighbourhood friends and I started a band called the Poets of the Great Society. We played mostly underage, non-union gigs, like community centre dances, church halls, and some dance clubs like the Oak Door on Bank Street in Ottawa. We were pretty busy with one or two gigs every weekend over a two year period and three practices a week in the front room of a band member’s home.
It was during this time that I took lessons from Roddy Ellias, who was teaching at Lauzon’s Music Store on Richmond Road. He introduced me to classical and jazz styles and forever changed how I play. After Roddy left, I took over his classes and taught guitar for about a year at Lauzon’s.
In 1969, I entered university and the band broke up. My first university career (I would return eighteen years later) ended after one year into what I hoped would be a music degree.
Then, I got a day job and kept playing regularly and jamming occasionally over the next forty years. But, public appearances and musical projects were very limited. My first time on stage with a band for a very long time was at my retirement party in 2008, when I got to sing a heart-felt rendition of Freebird to a packed room. This is when I set out to get back into making music.
I released my first CD, Living in the Old West End, in May 2012, a solo effort which I composed, performed and recorded in my home studio. I put together a little touring band for the CD release party, calling ourselves Jonesey and Friends.
My second CD, entitled Archaos, another solo effort like the first one, was released on August 9, 2013. The CD release show was at the Rainbow Bistro, featuring once again Jonesey and Friends.
For these early shows, it included combinations of Michel Cloutier on drums, Gib Rozon, Mark Bolton, Henry Blaszczak, Jim Devlin, and Ivan Matte on guitar, Ivan Matte, Myk Hewitt and Allen Gilbert on bass, Al Short, Peter Brown and Rob Alexander on keyboards, Nic Levert-Cui on sax, Ben James on trumpet and Al Rozon on blues harp.
In addition to the two CD release parties, they performed with me in shows at Greenfields Pub, the Rainbow Bistro, the Elmdale House, the Legion in Constance Bay and the Centrepointe Royal Oak.
In November 2013, I organized a show to mark the 50th Anniversary of the release of the Beatles' Beatlemania LP. Henry Blaszczak, Michel Cloutier, Myk Hewitt and Ivan Matte played this show with me, plus new member Jim Devlin We played this show to a packed house at the Rainbow Bistro on November 25, 2013.
We continued performing Beatles concerts under the name Jonesey and the GreyTones afterwards, starting with the 50th Anniversary show for Twist and Shout in January 2014. Aaron Reid joined the band in August 2014 for the Hard Days Night show, and this formed the stable core of the band for the next several 50th anniversary shows, with Michel Cloutier on drums, Myk Hewitt on bass, Aaron Reid on guitar, keyboard and vocals (and sometimes subbing for Michel on drums), Jim Devlin on guitar and vocals and Jonesey on guitar, keyboards and vocals, with Gib Rozon helping out on guitar for the Long Tall Sally, Beatles 65 and Rubber Soul shows.
The name was shortened to The GreyTones in 2015. We continued to play shows featuring the music of the Beatles, with Michel Cloutier, Myk Hewitt, Jim Devlin, Aaron Reid and Paul Johanis as members of the band. In addition to full band Beatles shows, Jim, Aaron and Paul also perform in a duo or trio, sometimes as the GreyTones Unplugged, sometimes as Two Cool Cats, or Three Cool Cats, playing Beatles and retro covers. After the Rubber Soul show in December 2015, the name Greytones was dropped.
I organized a Beatles festival, Beatlefest at the Brylee, which we played as the Beatlefest House Band, along with other invited bands in August 2015 and August 2016, the latter marking the 50th anniversary of the release of Revolver.
On March 1, 2017, I released another CD, Gib & Paul, twelve original tunes composed and recorded with Gib Rozon in my home studio, supported by Quentin Bell on drums, Rob Alexander and Jack Denovan on keyboards, Zeek Gross on sax, Rob Dillon on guitar and featuring guest singer Al Rozon.
In June 2017, Jonesey and Friends made a reappearance, presenting the 50th anniversary concert for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hears Club at Greenfields Pub. This grouping included returning players Michel Coutier, Jim Devlin. Ivan Matte, Aaron Reid and Jonesey, plus Lindsay McLeod, Rick Woyiwada, the Harea String Quartet with Ezra Poplove and a horn section featuring Brian Boggs, Bruce Baker, Fred Otterman, Paul Adjeleian and Kaz Samuljo.
Much the same group, with the addition of David Ranger, put on a full concert performance of Magical Mystery Tour at The Brass Monkey in December 2017, marking the 50th anniversary of the release of that album.
It was during this time that I teamed up with Denny Welburn to record and produce a CD of guitar instrumentals, 10 tunes by 10 different guitarists, called Ten Guitars (+1 bonus track). There were some great players on this record, including Gary Comeau from the original Esquires, Yvan Petit, guitar player for Johnny Reid, Dan Desjardins, touring player for Charlie Major, Terry Tufts, fingerstyle artist extraordinaire. Every track was really top notch. In addition to producing and recording, I got to contribute one track to the record. It was released as a fundraiser in August 2018 and all proceeds were donated to the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County.
Just a month later, Jonesey and Friends were back at it, playing the 50th Anniversary show for the White Album at The Rainbow on September 28, 2018. Our full band, with additional keyboardist Yvan Tessier, and featuring Johnny Vegas and a choir in addition to our horn and string sections. It was wild!
We did a small show with just a four piece combo in January 2019 for the 50th anniversary of the Rooftop Concert/Let it be and the grand finale was the 50th anniversary show for Abbey Road at The Rainbow in September 2019. We are putting together a documentary film of the full series of these 50th anniversary concerts for release in 2020.
Late in 2019 and into 2020, I have been recording and producing, along with Gib Rozon, another CD, this one featuring octogenarian vocalist Georgette Wittkopf. Not in My Wildest Dreams, her debut release, is a selection of eleven covers she has chosen and which she sings wonderfully well.