Like most first generation New Orleanians, Jon Cleary, a.k.a. that funky gentleman from the Ninth Ward, has a thoroughly idiosyncratic story of how he came to live in the city and absorb its musical culture. He grew up in England and arrived in New Orleans just in time to hear and meet some of the city’s best known piano players — James Booker, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and others. Back then, Cleary was almost exclusively a guitarist. But he knew enough about the piano to know that he could learn to play it well. And he did. Now he tours the world as a New Orleans piano wizard. But that’s not all he is.
After years as a sideman, working with the likes of Earl King, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Eric Clapton, Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe and Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Cleary is a Grammy award-winning multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and band leader. His live shows and recordings — many featuring the aptly-named Absolute Monster Gentlemen — are splendid feats of musicianship and funk. Following his first appearance on Music Inside Out, Cleary was awarded a 2016 Grammy for the album he described in our interview. It’s called Go Go Juice, and won in the “Best Regional Roots Music Album” category. In 2018, he released Dyna-Mite. He’s since been on perpetual tour, with regular stops in his home town.
You can purchase Dyna-Mite from Amazon here.
You can download GoGo Juice on iTunes here