Known as the Appalachian Soul Man, West Virginia native Aristotle Jones has become a fan favorite in West Virginia, Central Appalachia and beyond. With engagement, connection, and passion, Aristotle Jones leaves it all on the stage with uplifting music influenced by artists like Bill Withers, Leon Bridges, Ray Charles, Darius Rucker, and other genre-blending musical pioneers. When he is performing as a one-man acoustic singer songwriter, Aristotle delivers a heartfelt folk-and-gospel-inspired repertoire that includes many entertaining anecdotes about life growing up in rural Appalachia, and spending time on his Granddad’s (Robert Jones) Farm.
On stage with his 9-piece “Amazing Appalachian Soul Band”, Jones captivates audiences with his range, emotion, authenticity, and originality. With his full band, Aristotle expands the arrangement to include a stellar horn section, a solid rhythm section, and feature soloists. The music is modern but the feeling of Aristotle’s full-band shows transport the audience with the nostalgic energy of Juke Joints found throughout rural Appalachia.
A central theme of Aristotle’s music and community projects is shedding light on the contribution to art in culture provided by Black Americans living in the Appalachian Mountains. He is the descendant of coal miners and farmers, who against all odds, made a life in the poor coal town of Osage, West Virginia.
Jones’ music reflects the values of courage, fortitude, and determination that were taught to him while porch picking with his grandfather, a regional gospel and soul singer who traveled to segregated coal camps performing for black coal miners in the mid 20th Century. Aristotle is proud to carry on the legacy of Soulful Folk music inspired by Doo Wop, Gospel, and Blues in Appalachia.
You can find music from Aristotle Jones on Apple Music, Spotify, CD Baby, as well as other major platforms, and at www.AristotleJones.com
What is your favorite thing about Charleston?
Downtown Charleston has a lot to offer in a cozy and organized footprint, plus it is flat, so you can easily walk between the restaurants and shops, all of which are totally accessible during events like Live On The Levee, FestivALL, and other fantastic events.
Favorite CWV restaurant?
Depending on my mood, for a fun evening meal in a great setting it’s a toss-up between Pies & Pints and Black Sheep Burritos and Brews both have a lot to offer and it’s hard to make a bad menu selection. For breakfast, on the go… I have to go with Tudor’s Biscuit World, it’s always fun to start my day the “homemade way.” When I have a little more time to savor the mornings I love stopping by First Watch for a sit-down hearty meal..
Favorite CWV shop?
My style is a bit of vintage mixed with a bit of modern so there’s one place in town that is a must-go-to shop for me… and that’s Sullivan’s Records. If you are into collecting vinyl, or just into having great conversations, Sullivan’s Records owner Sam Lowe has the best selection of new and used records in the state.
Another great shop that adds to the character of Charleston, WV, is Taylor Books. It’s a great bookstore mixed with an art gallery and a coffee shop. It’s also a great place to see local singer songwriters perform in an intimate, warm and fun setting.
Favorite CWV venue to see live music?
The Clay Center is really making a name for itself as a great place to catch a show in Charleston, WV. It’s a really beautiful venue and there are literally no bad seats in there. Of course when I get a chance to catch the Mountain Stage Radio Show at the Culture Center on the State Capitol Complex I jump at the chance to watch the top notch national talent they bring to Charleston. Charleston also has many tavern and pub sized music venues, like the legendary Empty Glass, Sam’s Uptown Cafe, and The Blue Parrot. All great places to see up-and-coming regional talent take the stage.
What is your Favorite CWV Memory?
Growing up in West Virginia I have many memories of school field trips to the State Capitol Complex. I can still remember the feeling of seeing the golden dome growing larger on the horizon out of a yellow school bus window. But while my favorite memory in Charleston happened on the State Capitol Complex and involved an educational moment that shaped my life, it had nothing to do with a school field trip.
I was in my early 20’s and had recently returned to West Virginia for summer vacation from my studies at Berea College in Kentucky. I was spending time with my parents at the Multi-Cultural Fest waiting for the 70s funk band WAR to take the stage (think “Cisco Kid”, “Low Rider” now you’re groovin’) Before the concert I spotted a handmade Djembe style drum for sale for $40, and I knew I had to have it.
After purchasing my new drum I found a seat on the ledge of a raised tree bed and as the legendary funk ensemble delivered a high energy concert to the crowd of thousands, I jammed along with them on my new drum completely in the zone. There were no complaints from the other audience members near me and I felt free, connected, and inspired. At that point my music career had not yet started. I wasn’t in a band, but in my own way, In my mind I was part of the band, along with the whole city. Seeing and feeling how music brought the community together at the Multi-Cultural Fest inspired me, and it was one of those moments I credit in shaping my musical confidence.
What do you wish others would know about Charleston?
I wish that people knew that the Mountains in our state’s nickname (The Mountain State) refers to the people that call it home. Positive energy growing around Charleston that is feeding the spirit of inclusion and empowerment. The residents are using that energy and opportunity to create a place they love to live, and that you’d love to visit. Charleston, WV, is a safe, friendly and welcoming place, that’s a blend of rural values and city charm. Along my travels I talk to lots of people both from other parts of WV and those from out of state, and Charleston is often a place that those folks say they “drove through or past.” I wish people would know that Charleston, WV, is more than just a place that’s on the way to your destination. Instead, for your next vacation, get-away, concert road trip, or new home, Charleston, West Virginia, could be your destination.