Interview by Joyce Peters
Reprinted courtesy of Taconic Press
I caught up with Jonathan in person before his performance at the Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD. He and his wife were feasting on a seafood dinner at a cozy, candlelit table while their dog, Latte, was curled up on a nearby sofa.
JP: How did you end up living on St. Croix?
JE: I’ve been doing gigs in St. Croix and the Virgin Islands sporadically since the 70s. I have a bunch of friends who migrated there from where I went to school in Ohio. I’ve kept up those connections all these years. We felt like we had a friend base there and that we could start off a life there. We knew we wanted to go somewhere warm and nice and summery all the time.
JP: When we spoke last year, you mentioned you wanted to get together with local musicians in St. Croix.
JE: I’ve done a little bit of that. I want to do more. It’s a wide-open area to understand.
JP: At that time, drumming was also a particular interest of yours. Is that still an interest of yours?
JE: I love percussion. I would love to sit in the back of a band and just play percussion. That would be a blast.
JP: What about painting and drawing? Are you still doing that?
JE: Gee, you sound like the voice of my conscience [laughs]. I hear these voices in my head that say, “Come on. Do something today!” I do some work; some painting and drawing for my own pleasure and fun.
JP: So, what’s holding you back from doing more of that if that brings you joy?
JE: Well, I don’t want to take it too seriously. I would just as soon keep it as something I go to when I see something I’d like to draw or paint rather than make it something serious.
JP: What’s it like traveling while on tour?
JE: We usually rent an SUV–big enough for this one [pointing to his dog] and her cage and some CDs and a guitar. We hit the travel pretty hard–but there’s a lot of down time.
JP: Do you get out on the water while you’re here in Annapolis?
JE: We sailed through here in the fall. We didn’t get a chance to get out [on the water]. We’re spoiled in St. Croix.
JP: Brag a bit; what are your best qualities?
JE: I make a really good spaghetti sauce [laughs]. I feel at home in front of an audience.
JP: And of course I have to ask…your worst qualities?
JE: You can’t answer that! [laughing and pointing to his wife] I’m a really lousy correspondent.
JP: On “Shanty,” you sing about putting a good buzz on. How do you put a good buzz on these days?
JE: I don’t drink anymore. I would say enjoying friends and family. Enjoying people and nature. Two letters: be.
JP: What did I forget to ask you?
JE: Oddly enough, I’ll say the question I dread the most: What are your plans for the future? I take one day at a time. Next summer we want to put together a final sort of tour. A first annual farewell tour to this touring business.
JP: Tell me more about this farewell tour.
JE: I just want to do other things and not feel the pressure to be somewhere all the time. It’s been almost 30 years since “Sunshine.” I want to live more in the moment. Spend time with family and friends — my daughters. Continue to enjoy life. Help other musicians along the way if I can — through encouragement or actual hands on help. Keep my ear out for people who I think have something that needs to be heard.