Junkadelic Music for All Ages

Billy Jonas
Life So Far (Bang-a-Bucket Music)

By David Lilly

One day Paul McCartney, Bobby McFerrin and Jonathan Richman were walking down the street. None of them was too chicken to cross to the other side, so they did. But when they got there, they were no longer Paul, Bobby or Jonathan. Instead, they became Billy Jonas. And now this man, who has been entertaining and educating international audiences of all ages for more than 10 years, is on your street and in your living room, metaphorically speaking. He not only improvises during performance, but also improvises some of his instruments from found and recycled objects - what he affectionately refers to as "Industrial Re-percussion." He also uses conventional instrumentation throughout Life So Far, his first solo CD.

There isn't a single stick of bubble gum here, but there is plenty to chew on. All the material is accessible. Much of it is thought provoking, comforting, and clever. Some of it is inspirational, and Jonas's voice is as friendly as the bell of an ice cream truck. The CD is mostly folk music, and there are several delightfully eccentric moments. It starts with the Calypso flavor of "One" and rocks on with "Late." The award for "Most Charming Song" goes to "God Is In," which embodies all the previous adjectives. Runner-up would have to be "Sleeeeeeeeping," a rare song about "sleeping together" as a platonic source of comfort. One of many lyrical gems refers to the Carl Jung school of psychology - "I thought: `bears in the attic / That's like demons in the mind / But they're `care bears,' so my demons are benign," from "Hit The Bottom." About halfway through, the positively irresistible "Coup D'Etat" boogies and could surely motivate kids from two to 92 into a frenzy of kinetic energy.

In a fast-paced age where gratification takes too long to wait for, the fact that Life So Far, the first Billy Jonas solo CD after he spent at least a decade as a globetrotting troubadour, is a gentle reminder of the theory that certain very worthwhile things sometimes just take their own good time to happen.