R&B, soul, and blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Jon Lee Murphy is interviewed about his influences, crazy performances, thoughts on the local music scene, and much more.
What first got you into music?
Listening to my dad play the stereo all the time. When he saw that I was into it he’d bring me home cassettes that included the Traveling Wilburys. He’s a huge Beatles fan but that introduced me to Tom Petty’s music. A lot of his influences are early rock and roll. So I then bought a Little Richard cassette at a gas station and learned to sing along.
Who are some of your influences?
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Robin Trower, Free, Marvin Gaye, and Jackie Wilson.
What draws you to your preferred genre?
I think the the vocals of early Rock and Roll and R&B artists was the main draw. My dad is a great singer as well that listens to a lot of the same things I’m into. As far as guitar, Hendrix and Trower were the main draw. I love anything with raw emotion and feeling.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I’ve been given lots of good advice but I feel like I’ve learned the most from just religiously listening to good music and trying to recreate it in my own way.
I’d really like to meet a dedicated organ/keyboard player to join the group at some point
How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?
I played my first gig at JJ Cagney’s on River St. right out of high school. Vince took a chance on our pretty crappy band. We weren’t great. It was me and three other high school friends.
What was the craziest performance you ever had?
Some of the crazy good ones were for sure at the Bayou Cafe. My first band opened for “Bad Company” at Monkey Business in Hilton Head once. We showed up and realized there were no original members so we decided to cover some Free and Bad Company tunes. They were already being assholes so we figured that would maybe help. Ha.
Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with, and why?
I’ve already played with many local artists including Ray Lundy, Kyle Yardley, Culberson and many others at the Three Kings Tribute, and The Train Wrecks at the Allman Brothers tribute. I’d really like to meet a dedicated organ/keyboard player to join the group at some point.
Losing the Jinx and the Bayou Cafe was definitely a blow so I would love to see some more cool dive bar venues open up
What are some of your favorite local places to play?
Huc-A-Poos, the Rail Pub, Warehouse, the Bayou Cafe was Great, Jazz’d is cool for a more laid back change of pace.
Your thoughts on the Savannah music scene …
I’ve been playing in town steadily for about 12 years. I’m sure it’s this way with every place but it would be nice to see more people helping each other out and not being selfish with gigs. There seems to be enough to go around. Losing the Jinx and the Bayou Cafe was definitely a blow so I would love to see some more cool dive bar venues open up. Not just these fancy new places that only want acoustic music.
As far as talent, it’s definitely there but it seems that the “powers that be” have been on the buddy system forever and I’m hopeful that that can change so that new talent gets the recognition it deserves. Also, aside from what Savannah Jams is doing, the rest of the publications covering music in the area seem very out of touch and biased as well.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing a new record at the moment with Jon Willis and Jason Gecik. It will be a full length album that stylistically evokes the feel of some of the more well received covers that we play live. I hope to incorporate these into the set and bridge the gap between my live shows and original recordings. I’m looking to keep it pretty up beat musically and lyrically. I’ve also recorded an album with Mike Hughes and Jason Gecik that is sort of a breakup album in the funk soul rock genre. Sorry I’m not good with describing genres. It’s raw emotional stuff from the heart. It should be out this summer.