Born Bradley F. Jones in Ames, Iowa, he first became known after entering Guitar Player Magazine's International Reader's Soundpage Competition in 1988 on a whim. He submitted an original composition, titled Back Porch Boogie, as well as a cover of Salty Dog Blues, recorded using a reel-to-reel recorder and then transferred to cassette using a boombox. Jones came in first place out of nearly 900 entries. He went on to win the National Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield, Kansas in 1990.
In 1995, Jones became a spokesman for Godin guitars, playing a custom instrument he named "Pearl" for the mother of pearl inlay of his name on the neck. He toured often, earning the nicknames "Le Machine Gun" and "Pistola" for his fast playing style. That same style earned the notice of Chet Atkins, who described Buster by saying; "Buster B. Jones is the best fingerpicker I've heard since Jerry Reed... He plays like he's double parked."
Buster B. Jones passed away at the young age of 49. He will be very much missed. He was a warm hearted, generous man and an incredible guitar player. His mind was always active, whether trying to design a perpetual motion machine or composing a beautiful melodic ballad or a finger-busting rhythmic instrumental. Buster was always shining bright.
In 1988 he entered Guitar Player Magazine’s International Guitar Competition with his own composition Back Porch Boogie and a rendition of Limehouse Blues. He entered on a whim, at the last minute, using a $1.50 K-Mart cassette tape and a boom box. There were almost 900 entries, and he won on the first ballot. In 1990, he won the National Fingerpicking Championship at Winfield, Kansas. He performed with Chet Atkins, Tommy Jones, Tommy Emmanuel, Marcel Dadi, Thom Bresh and John Knowles as well as many others. He was a regular at the annual conventions in Nashville and France of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society. In France they dubbed him LE MACHINE GUN.
Buster loved to perform and teach. He recorded ten instructional DVDs that passed on his knowledge of the fingerboard and the playing of the great country legends Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. In this DVD we present Buster playing and talking about his life, influences and music. The footage spans almost two decades of Buster’s life. The DVD also includes Buster’s last taped lessons. And as Buster would say at the end of each lesson: “If you ever see me anywhere, I hope you come up and shake my hand so I can tell people I know you.”
Titles include: Guitarville, Wild Turkey, Walk In The Park, Just Us, Medley: The Prelude/Funky Fingers, Fingers In Flight, Au Revoir Mon Ami, Live At Five, Pierpaolo, Sandy, My Darlin’s Livin’ End, B and Me
The Final Lessons: Sandy, My Darlin’s Livin’ End and B and Me
Running Time: 88 minutes
Review: The high level of playing that marked Buster B. Jones, who died of liver failure in 2009, makes the fact that he managed to fly under the radar all the more inexplicable. Most of his exposure came via a series of instructional videos, and this DVD captures the highlights of those.
After zipping through a funky fingerpicked opener, Jones explains how he developed his style. Whether it's true or not, his tale of not knowing the record player was set at the wrong speed while he was learning guitar parts is funny and as he demonstrates some licks, it's an easy story to believe. His walking through a song in the styles of his biggest influences (Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed) gives insight into how his playing reflects all three.
A series of songs videotaped in what appears to be a livingroom or den highlights not only his playing ability but his compositional skills. While the feel of the three players named above is evident, his use of chords with jazz influences on "Just Us" and "Pierpaolo" tie perfectly into the intricate arrangements that show off his obvious knack for melody. In fact, while all the songs he plays are spellbinding displays of virtuosity, they all have memorable, humable melodies that make them immediately likeable.
The tail end of the DVD features Jones and protege Brooks Robertson performing three songs before Jones takes the viewer through the songs and explains how they're played. He also shows his guitars and his theories on playing and a bit of the technical side that, among other things, lets us know he had a physical problem with his pinky finger that caused him to change his technique a bit. His humbleness shows throughout the DVD, but especially here where he points out every player has a problem of some sort that they have to fight through. His attitude is basically "no big deal" and he moves on.
Aficionados of Jones will likely have seen most of this, but for those never exposed to the majesty of this brilliant guitarist, this is the perfect introduction. – John Heidt/Vintage Guitar