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““Because playing the Blues, to me, is like saying a prayer. It’s a salve for your soul. Me being able to play in front of people is me helping myself, taking all the hate and abuse of my previous life and turning it into something that I can heal myself with, and hopefully other people, too, by encouraging them to be free. And that speaks volumes about why Jon Worley cuts such a strange and—whether you love him or hate him—compelling figure when he gets on a stage, wailing on his harmonica or hunkered over his keys, chanting into a mic like some bastard hillbilly spawn of Edgar Winter or Leon Russell…"”
“He said where and how he grew up and his music are one and the same thing. Music is a way for him to speak out against injustice and find healing. “The music I play I like to call blues, Afrillachian, footstompin craziness. I’m playin’ this music because it affirms my life. It’s the only part of this world I live in in East Tennessee I can control. I heal with this music. I play to live,” he said.”
“Worley says he is not quite in control when he performs: “It’s like strapping yourself into the cockpit of a runaway TIE fighter. I have to be so, for lack of better concept to the Western mind, Tathāgata. It means feeling one’s feet within one’s own shoes, the sound of one hand clapping. I have to totally shut my mental processes down to play tambourine with my foot, play keyboards, blues harp and sing and be the bandleader and front man. If I think about it, brother, it ain’t happening." ”
“Jon Worley plays a musical genre he calls Foot-stompin' Afro-Appalachian Blues. Worley, a terrific storyteller who seemingly draws from a deep well of knowledge. "I like to come in and kick down musical barriers," Worley says, "and have purple-haired ladies and gutter punks and gangsters and bikers and a bunch of hippies all hanging out in one room together and everybody getting along. "Music is one of the only things that really can do that. Well, that and a lot of beers." ”
"We found eternity," Worley sings. "We were dancing naked." It's one of those deceptively simple lines, stripped bare, sung over unapologetically unornamented rhythms, backed by a clear, understated flute, like a medieval pastoral ballad—like a psalm, maybe. This is yet another one of Worley's corn-bred spiritual exercises, the hope being that his music will allow audiences to experience some form of shared consciousness. "It's eternal," Worley explains, "and it's never going to happen the way it's happening then. It's the most supreme feeling of being alive, to know that you're so connected to somebody else, that you don't have to think, it just is."
“Well, let’s be honest: There isn’t anything quite like Jon Worley — anywhere. Worley is a Morristown-raised singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist who can reference local history, the Bible, Zen Buddhism, Friedrich Nietzsche and who knows what else in answer to a question like “How’s it going?” He’s a combination of peace-loving hippie, disgruntled malcontent and general rabble-rouser. Fellow musicians attest that to play with him can be a mind-and-chops-expanding experience. Currently, his songs last upwards of 12-minutes and may begin as originals but blend in traditional numbers and covers before the piece is over. A recent number combines an original “about excommunicated Mormons on drugs” with Everlast’s “What It’s Like,” Neil Young’s “Ohio” and a version of “Backdoor Man.””