The Camaros

  "The Camaros not only do it right, they do it like Eddie Cochran and a Young Johnny Cash taking Patsy Cline on a drunken ramble through the honky tonks of Memphis." --PERFORMING SONGWRITER

           Formed by Louisiana girl Jen Jones, in NYC, in '97, (as a Country/Rockabilly 4 piece) they became one of the more popular young Swing bands, adding 2 horns and novice Leeanne Westover as a second lead vocalist. The timing was right, and the blend of Rockabilly and Swing, combined with in-your-face lyrics, had them working 5 nights a week within 6 mths. They received positive mentions in US magazine's article on the Dance revival. From LA's "Derby" to NYC's Rodeo Bar, full time touring took it's toll on the line-up, and after 2 years the band dissembled and Jones went back to her Southern roots- Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, and Western Swing. An occasional dance gig kept it all going by taking advantage of the recognition brought on by impressive sales of the first release. (5000 copies sold)

           Released on Stupid Records, a label Jones started in '87, and helped along by distribution from Caroline and Hep Cat, "Evil" celebrated the 'Shameless Hussy'. This song became an anthem for their fans, earning Jones her rep. for being able to marry irreverence and melody. In the words of the critics: "Take it from me kiddies, this band kicks ass. They are a high energy, hard hitting, rockabilly, swing, punk mutation that will leave you drooling for more." (NINEVOLT) "The Camaros flaunt a brand of sass that evokes Wanda Jackson." (ATOMIC) The second release- 'Dangergirl' was a limited edition release that traded in Swing for Jump Blues, and it sold out within the year. "Songs like 'Am I the Girl' jump with a Ruth Brown Swagger" (WASHINGTON POST)

           In 2000 The Camaros stayed on the road all year, obnoxiously keeping the same name, although the only original member was Jones, and they rarely played Swing. Opening spots for Ronnie Dawson, and Ray Condo exposed them to an enthusiastic roots audience. By the time the newest record- RIGHT NOW I HATE YOU, was released the road grit and mutual influence that only happens when four people spend too much time in a van together created a record of true collaboration. Bass player Dan Enriquez (Wayne Hancock) put in a full year and a half, and co-wrote 4 of the best tracks. From LA, where he thrived in an always-popular Rockabilly scene, his solid blues influences infused Jones' writing with deep rhythms. Jen's voice has developed into a rough/smooth testament, a kind of living proof of both Country influence and dues paying.

           It was with the move to a tiny TN hill town, an hour out of Nashville, that Jen’s writing became something to contend with. All of a sudden vulnerability is so glaringly obvious a listen to the newest release, ‘Not Just a Heartbreaker’ is like the inevitable pull of your face towards a car wreck. She’s still sexy, but tired of playing boyish games, and embarrassed to admit it, but what she wants is Love- less longing, less anger, no bitterness. Thanks to the true southern influence the band is now as traditional in sound as it is in tone. Carco Clave’s steel guitar work, in particular, bring the rich soaring rush of melodic counterpoint- not mixed so far back to be almost non-existent, but right up front- like Country music used to be. His stint with Asleep at the Wheel is obvious in all that swings about is sound. Producer Scott McKwen also plays up-right Bass and holds down the rhythm entirely, at times, since several of the tracks are drum-free (just like most country music was until ’65). There are a number of guitar players on the record. Guthrie Trapp played on four tracks and now works with Patty Loveless. Chris Cassello brings the Rockabilly, on four tracks now tours full-time with his own Starlight Drifters. Bart Weilburg’s stunning playing was particulary important to the band’s new sound. Now The Camaros are happy to have Rich Gilbert (Frank Black and the Catholics) playing both guitar and lap steel, bringing a rocking originality to the newest songs.The band plays every Wed, at The Bluegrass Inn, down on lower Broadway. Usually John McTigue (Dale Watson), plays drums, and sometimes Steve Latanation (Agent Orange). 'Not Just a Heartbreaker' reflects the kind of true collaboration that happens when a band is devloping a new sound live. The current lineup is the best yet, as the live show proves. Not only a stunning collection of talent, but a shared vision about the direction they're taking as a band. The show features plenty of Webb Pierce, Hank Williams Sr., and Patsy Cline, but it's still the original songs and Jen's charisma that separate them from the pack.


"The Camaros rise above typical retro-revivalism on the stenghth on Jones' voice, her flashy band, and the terse punch of the songs they play."
--Michael McCall, The Nashville Scene


Photo by Christine Lozano / 310-288-8807

"Jen Jones, Live at The Rodeo Bar"
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