Mark Jones Family Roots
Grandpa Jones (Louis Marshall Jones)
Mark Jones is the son of the famous long time music artists Louis Marshall (Grandpa) Jones and his mother Ramona Jones. Most people would recognize Grandpa from the “Hee Haw” television show and re-runs continue to air. But if you watch closely you will find Ramona and Mark in the back ground on many of the shows. Grandpa Jones was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978, and was a member in the Grand Ole Opry since the 1940’s. He was a singer/song writer from the mid-1930’s to his death. As a matter of fact he was working on the Opry and had just finished the second show when he had the stroke that eventually took his life just a few weeks later from complications caused by the stroke.
While Grandpa passed away in February 1998 Ramona continues entertaining by touring with the Jones Family Band and the group tries to publish a new CD each year. Mark joins them when he can for recording, but especially for the Grandpa Jones tribute concert held in Mountain View, Arkansas at the Ozark Folk Center every Labor Day weekend (read the story here). They also play in Norris, Tennessee just north of Knoxville in almost every October. Band members try to fit this in their schedule as well, however some of them have real jobs to help pay the bills and cannot get off from work to make all of the shows. But around these type of shows there are usually musician friends around to help fill in. After all, these are fun shows with veteran musicians and sometimes this could be a chance for an up and comer to fill in and gain a bunch of experience.
Jones Family Band
Grandpa and Romona’s offspring (Marsha, Eloise, Mark and Alisa) all played with the family band at one time or another. Marsha the eldest played auto-harp and sang (also deceased in 1998), Eloise helped with singing and helped with managing the families bookings. Still playing with the family band, Mark plays the 5 string claw-hammer style banjo like his daddy, guitar, bass guitar, and 5 string Dobro while Alisa sings and is probably the best hammer dulcimer musician in the world. Alisa’s husband is Ron Wall who also sings with the band and plays the auto-harp like a lead guitar. I have never heard anyone play an auto-harp like he does. Ron also builds and sells auto-harps in Nashville. I’m sure he has some pretty elite clientele.
Mark teaches in the Music Department at the Harrison, Arkansas Independent Living – Employment Training Center. The organization provides assistance and training for people with learning disabilities to help students develop useful skills they can use in everyday life which most of us take for granted. This training can allow these wonderful individuals to become fully independent with skills to contribute to the local community. Mark enjoys and has a passion for sharing music and his talents with anyone who is interested and has remarkable patience to deal with the students with social difficulties.
Mark Jones has been playing banjo since he was a kid (photo of Mark and banjo when he was 5 years old from the Falling Leaves CD?). Mark played the Opry for the first time at 15 years of age performing with Earl Scruggs (read the story here) demonstrating both playing styles of banjo.
Growing up in the midst of the classic Opry performers of the day such as Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Archie Campbell, Merle Travis, Tennessee Ernie Ford, his mom and dad, and all the fame that goes with it, Mark usually opts to be reserved and under the radar.
Mark Jones also owns and operates a recording studio in Harrison (Jones Recording Studio). I had the pleasure of hanging out with Mark one day while a Mountain View, AR ‘up and comer’ song writer was cutting a demo CD for distribution to song promoters. I have to admit that I really liked the technical aspect of the recording studio and plan to learn more about it from Mark when I become a permanent resident of Harrison.
When it comes to playing music in the local area, Mark Jones along with some other local talent play local gigs and many charity events to help the community.
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This article was a joint created effort by Jay Mueller and Mark Jones.