Doug Jones has been a performer on the Upstate music scene since he was a teenager, so it’s not surprising he’s managed to pull in a full roster of musicians for his 50th birthday celebration at Gottrocks on Friday night.
Jones is probably best known as the lead singer for Cravin’ Melon, a group that followed artists like Hootie & the Blowfish and Edwin McCain into the national spotlight in the 1990s. The band may not have scaled the same platinum heights as Hootie or McCain, but they built a fervent enough fan base with hummable, sunny pop-rock tunes — like the seemingly immortal “Sweet Tea” — that Jones has been able to make a living as a musician for a few decades now.
His 50th party at Gottrocks will certainly bring some Cravin’ Melon bandmates onto the stage, including guitarist Jimbo Chapman, but Jones has some other guests on tap, as well. “It’ll be a lot of the different bands that I’ve played in over the years,” he says. “Bits and pieces of everything I’ve done. My sisters will be singing with me, doing a bunch of songs we’ve been singing our whole lives; we’ll have The Bankwalkers, which is myself, Jimbo Chapman and [guitarist] Tim White.”
Also on the bill are guitarist Charles Hedgepath and keyboard player Adam McFarlane (who play with Jones in a group called Simple Syrup) and singer/guitarist Jef Chandler, who works with Jones as part of Doctor’s Note. American Horse, a popular Greenville rock band that hasn’t played since the early 2000s, will reunite for the show, and Jones expects a free-for-all jam session to close out the performance.
Jones says that the idea for a 50th birthday party show originally came from Hedgepath, but he was intrigued because somehow, over a 30-plus year career, he’d never played at Gottrocks before. “We were always a Handlebar band,” Jones says of Cravin’ Melon. “And by the time it closed, we weren’t playing anymore. But recently, I’ve been hanging out and seeing shows at Gottrocks, because it’s become one of the coolest rooms in town. [Owner] Chuck Floyd has done a great job fixing that place up; it’s a really cool room with a good vibe.”
There’s a certain amount of perspective that Jones’ experience provides, and he’s a bit hesitant when asked about the Upstate music scene now and how it compares to the late 1990s. “The venues are there, the bands are there, but the acceptance of original local and regional music by the public isn’t there,” Jones says. “People just don’t seem to want to go out and listen to something they’ve never heard before. The mass crowd that I used to play to back in the day, they don’t really come out to see bands anymore. But maybe that’s because they’re older and they have kids. It’s something that all original musicians have to face, though.”
Despite that measured pessimism, Jones says he’s still thankful for what the Upstate music scene has done for him. “We were very lucky in the sense that right out of the gate, Cravin’ Melon was able to find popularity,” he says. “I think we were a great band, but we had a crowd before we had a band, because we’d gone to local high schools and local churches. We had a built-in audience that grew through word of mouth and people coming to shows. Thanks to that, as far as I’m concerned, I’m never going to do anything else other than music.”
Show: Doug Jones 50th Birthday Bash
Venue: Gottrocks, 200 Eisenhower Drive, Greenville
Date: Friday, Dec. 30, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15 (general), $30 (VIP)
Info: 864-235-5519, gottrocksgreenville.com