Ace Jones performs in downtown Iowa Metropolis. — Christopher Hunter/courtesy of the artist

Guitar in hand, foot tapping a tambourine, Ace Jones is a one-man present for all who go by the Iowa Metropolis Pedestrian Mall. That is the place the Marion-based artist has come for years to apply his set in a low-pressure atmosphere.

“It’s an excellent place to only work on songs, or I’ll freestyle a tune and see if it sounds good,” Jones stated. “You get some good suggestions from individuals and other people appear to take pleasure in it.”

Describing his music as an “eclectic combine,” Jones enjoys performing folks, oldies, various and punk rock, which he says he was raised on. His music typically prompts passersby to gradual their routine and sit for a tune or two.

It took years for Jones to succeed in the purpose he’s at now: a full-time unbiased performer.

His musical profession started in Southern California, the place he was born. Jones says he grew up surrounded by music. His Filipino mom appreciated to sing and do karaoke, and his father, initially from Chicago, had beforehand been in a band. When Jones was 12, his dad purchased him a guitar, which led to him writing his personal songs.

However Jones’ first paid gig as an entertainer wasn’t in music. At 15 years outdated, he bought a job dressing as costume characters at a Nickelodeon theme park.

“I did SpongeBob, Chuckie and all these guys from Rugrats,” Jones recalled. “After which I bought into juggling, so I turned a juggler there.”

A good friend at work helped Jones good his juggling abilities. “I came upon that he might play the piano,” Jones stated. “I used to be like, ‘Dude, I can play guitar. You possibly can play piano. Let’s do one thing.’”

They recruited extra gamers and fashioned a band referred to as Uncommon Breed Romantics. The group toured the South Bay space, attracted a fan following and ultimately modified their identify to The Technique.

“We had been signed on a small report label,” he stated. “I didn’t like doing that, you recognize, as a result of they sort of attempt to mildew you … And typically the course that they need you to go is the course that I don’t wish to go or the bandmates don’t wish to go.”

After about six years of performing, the band members had been rising in several instructions, and determined to interrupt up. Jones continued to carry out acoustically on the streets in California whereas working a full-time job. It was a strategy to hold training his music whereas making some more money, and it was throughout this section of his life, on a visit to Chicago, that he met his spouse, Shayna.

Shayna was from Iowa, and when Jones visited to fulfill her household, he stated he was blown away by how good everybody was. Whereas in Iowa, at 23 years outdated, he noticed snow for the primary time.

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The couple lived collectively in San Jose, California for some time, then moved to japanese Iowa to start out their household. Music remained a aspect hustle for Jones — and his ardour.

“I labored for a pair pc tech corporations and I labored with some college districts and issues like that. And I used to be like, ‘You realize what? Music is the one factor that actually makes me completely satisfied. I don’t like being behind a desk,’” Jones stated.

He pursued his musical profession in earnest by getting on stage at native gala’s and festivals. A few of his first venues had been NewBo Metropolis Market and the St. Jude Candy Corn Pageant. Jones stated he felt properly obtained by the viewers, and with that affirmation, he pushed ahead.

Jones elevated his efficiency charge to 50 gigs a 12 months. At this level, he might handle his household off of music alone whereas his spouse was caring for his younger son, so he dedicated himself to music full-time, performing some freelance running a blog on the aspect.

“A number of extra individuals respect music [in Iowa],” Jones stated. “I imply, all people strikes out to California to turn into an actor, a comic, a musician … You don’t see it as typically out right here.”

Ace Jones performs on the Iowa Metropolis Ped Mall in August 2019. — Natalie Dunlap/Little Village

When requested if he’s chasing a selected milestone, Jones stated he’s glad the place he’s at: supporting his household whereas making music. He additionally enjoys the liberty that comes with being an unbiased artist.

Simply as his mother and father fostered an appreciation for music rising up, his household encourages his musical pursuits as an grownup. His spouse schedules his tour dates, and when Jones sat down to speak with Little Village within the Ped Mall, Shayna and his son, nieces and nephews had been seated at a bench close by.

“Right here, you are able to do the enjoyable stuff, or you are able to do the sadder songs,” Jones stated of downtown Iowa Metropolis. “I can’t play a tragic tune at a good or pageant. Folks would throw tomatoes at me — like, ‘Dude, I’m attempting to have a very good time right here, bro.’ [But] individuals come right here to calm down and meditate. Any individual might be able to relate to it.”

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