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Where Is My Mind?: Hezekiah Jones

- by Q.D. Tran

It’s strange to think that Hezekiah Jones a.k.a. Raphael Cutrufello was on the first bill that I ever booked for an artist some years ago (which also included Brooklyn’s O’Death and D.C.’s Exit Clov - a pretty sweet random bill at The Fire). I remember really digging his set, especially the song “Cupcakes for the Army”, and trading a little banter back and forth with Cutrufello from the audience. He later thanked me after his set for heckling because he admitted that things can get kind of boring on stage because the only people who come to see him are friends and family. Even though I was far from heckling him (he’d know it if I did), I knew right then and there what a genuine person he was/is. And you can obviously hear it in his tunes. It’s just great to see him headlining the big stage tonight at World Café Live. Though I’m sure the crowd will be filled with friends and family for his latest release Have You Seen Our New Fort?, I highly doubt they’ll still be the only people there to see him. It will also be a triple record release party with Up the Chain and Joe D’Amico. The New Fort album officially drops on March 29, but you can grab your advance vinyl copy at the show. We had a chance to throw a few questions at Cutrufello and Pepe Jones a.k.a. Phil D’Agostino before tonight’s party. Here is what they had to say.

The Deli: In our last interview, you said that the biggest influences on your music are people and books. Which people and what books inspired you when making your latest album Have You Seen Our New Fort?

Raphael Cutrufello: The New Fort material was written [over] the course of many years. But I kind of felt they belonged together for the most part. We also have a cover of Chris Bathgate’s on there. I’m a big fan of his music. I think some of this stuff was more influenced by my love of horror and science fiction films. Musically, I would say I’m very inspired by the Philadelphia music scene in general. I love our local music.

TD: What does the album title mean to you? We thought possible album names “Brocolli Jordache” and “Real Americans Speak in Codes” were interesting. What were the stories behind them?

RC: I like word combinations and phrases for what I think people might interpret them as or what might have the largest spectrum of interpretations. I feel like the listener is half of the art. Most of the time things get interpreted differently than I intended. I like that. Have You Seen Our New Fort? has been an album title I’ve been batting around for the past four or five years. I like conversational album titles for the most part and thought this one fit the album, considering the difference in production to some of our earlier work. “Brocolli Jordache” [were] two words that I loved next to each other for some reason. I guess it makes no sense, but the sound it makes is what I really liked. And I can’t recall what I liked about “Real Americans Speak in Code”, but I think it was part of some dialogue I read in a Norman Mailer book, and I liked the sentiment.

TD: What are you taking away from the recording process of this album that you didn’t know before?

RC: Andrew Lipke was amazing to work with. Most of the other albums we had done at home. Bread of Teeth was done at The Moonlight Forest, but over the course of two days. New Fort was the first album we had spent an elongated period of time recording that wasn’t done at home. Andrew Lipke is a big part of why it sounds the way it does. He wrote the horn arrangements and put some [of] these songs together. I learned a lot watching him work. The man is thorough. I like that.

TD: Would you rather spend more time in the studio or touring?

Phil D’Agostino: I'd rather be doing both equally. I neither like nor dislike the road more than the studio or vice versa. Both are awesome and annoying. A record like this, that we worked hard on and are proud of, gives going on the road a real purpose and gives everyone something to get behind. So I'm really looking forward to touring this year and seeing what it brings. Also looking forward to working on new music.

TD: What is your favorite city (besides Philly, of course) that you enjoy playing in most and why?

PD: We love playing in Michigan, and the music scene there seems to be statewide. We've done shows in Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Marquette, etc. If I had to pick one, the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor is probably my favorite.

TD: You do a cover on the album of “The Last Parade on Ann St.” from Chris Bathgate's 2007 A Cork Tale Wake. What song by another artist do you wish that you wrote?

RC: “Bottom of the Delaware” by Brad Hinton. Instant classic in my mind. Beautiful, beautiful song. And “To The Other Side” by Chris Kasper. Again, just a really, really gorgeous song all the way through. I’m jealous.

TD: How many Joneses are in the family now? Please name them all if you can.

RC: We never really take a person’s Jones name away from them even if they don’t perform with us anymore. At last count we were somewhere in the 50 person range for “members”. The actual band is usually about a 7-piece at this point. When we get the bigger stages, we can add the horn section too. So for Thursday the rundown of members is -- Pepe Jones on bass, Kiwi Jones on violin and vocals, Pocono Jones on electric guitar, vocals and slide whistle, Jones Jones on drums, Schuylkill Jones on electric guitar, Hez Jones on keyboards, acoustic guitar, and vocals, Flicker Jones on keyboards and trumpet, Eggroll Jones on trombone, Letscoolone Jones on trombone, Spit-Valve Jones on trumpet, Juan Thompson Jones on baritone saxophone and clarinet, and a yet unnamed Jones player joining us for the first time on drums for some songs. We gave him until Thursday night to pick his name.

TD: What concerns you that you see is happening in the music industry, and what makes you hopeful that things will get better?

RC: Can I tag this video in for an answer?


TD: Are there any local bands or solo artists that you are really into lately that you personally don’t know? How did you discover them?

PD: One of the best shows I've ever seen in my life was The Jef Lee Johnson Band at the Grape Room last summer. He's obviously a legend on a far grander scale than "local act", but he's from Philly and I don't know him personally, and he blows my mind. I also really like Buried Beds and Blood Feathers, and don't know any of those guys to my knowledge.

TD: You recently participated in the Folkadelphia series. How was that experience, and what did you learn from it?

RC: That was a really cool thing. Those shows were all put together by Fred Knittel. He’s an interesting guy. He runs the Folkadelphia show on Y-Rock. We shared the show with The Spinning Leaves and had Biff Kennedy come up in between our sets and interview us on stage. It was our first time doing anything in that kind of format before - a very unique thing for us to be a part of. It was early in the day. A one o’clock show. That’s something I’ve never really gotten used to. Playing in the early part of the day - that’ll take some getting used to.

TD: We love documentaries. If you ever had a documentary made about yourself, what would it be called and why?

RC: My day-to-day life is pretty boring. Not sure if people would want to watch it. But maybe “Brocolli Jordache” - unless we find another place to use that title.

TD: You talked about how this album is the one that you’ve been “dreaming of making for the last ten years”. What’s the best dream that you’ve had related to music in the last ten years?

RC: That my mother invented that instrument that Ben Franklin invented, The Glass Armonica.

TD: What are your plans for 2011?

RC: We have some touring coming up in April w/Chris Bathgate throughout the Midwest. We are going to be recording a couple albums this year. Releasing an album with Mad Dragon Records that we had worked on with The Spinning Leaves entitled The Spinning Leaves & Hezekiah Jones Performing as Hezekiah Leaves and The Spinning Joneses. Love the album - some really great songs on it. Probably do some more touring come fall too. I haven’t seen the ocean in a while so I’d also like to take the hour and half drive to do that at some point.

(Philip D'Agostino Photo by Lisa Schaffer)






Hezekiah Jones
Have You Seen Our New Fort?



RSVP to XPN’s “Free at Noon” w/Kurt Vile

XPN’s “Free at Noon” concert series will be hosting our very own Kurt Vile at World Café Live this Friday, February 18. Besides the fact that free is always a good price, it should entice you that Vile is set to release his new full-length, Smoke Ring For My Halo, on March 8th via Matador, and you’ll most likely get a sneak peek at some of those tracks. Never afraid to indulge both the gnarly and mellow sides of his classic influences, he’s successfully made the switch from bedroom tinkerer to full-fledged rock troubadour. This show is just the beginning for the hometown crowd, of course. Expect Vile to stop by World Café Live again on March 23rd with Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis. You can also hit up AKA Music on March 4th for a more intimate setting with him and the Violators. To RSVP for “Free at Noon”, go here. World Café Live, 3025 Walnut Street, 12pm, FREE, All Ages (Photo by Tim Griffin) - Joe Poteracki

Jesus Fever by Kurt Vile


The Legendary: A Film About The Roots!

Below is a mini-doc about 4-time Grammy winners The Roots that was filmed last year during the “Hennessey Artistry” tour. The intimate footage was gathered by Cam Be (director/editor) and Jeff Baraka (interviewer/co-producer). Cam Be stated about the video called The Legendary: A Film About The Roots, “In this film I wanted to not only highlight the versatility of a group that has played with most everyone in the industry. But also capture candid moments of real human beings just trying to share the gifts they have been given to the best of their abilities.” Special thanks to Okayplayer TV, Cam Be, Jeff Baraka and Bradley Murray for sharing it with us. Enjoy! (Photo by D. Savini) - The Deli Staff

The Legendary: A Film About The Roots from Cam Be


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Univox would like to bring you into their strangely disjointed but melodic world with UNIVOX TV (below). We’re still not really sure what they are talking about or why they are talking about it sometimes, but we are lovin’ the tunes and performances. Look out for new episodes every other Thursday here. Enjoy! - The Deli Staff


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