Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rev. Johnny L. Jones, the Hurricane that hit Atlanta

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

Quietly tucked away along the outskirts of the southern most arc of I-285 and hidden inside a maze of beige and unremarkable suites lies Second Mt. Olive Baptist Church and its vibrant leader, the Rev. Johnny L. “Hurricane” Jones. At 75 years old the Hurricane still hits his congregation like a force of nature with a one-two punch of gospel singing and preaching that’s bursting with the passion and fervor of a man who’s eternally living in the prime of his life.

Jones is the second-oldest Baptist preacher in Atlanta, and the only living Atlanta-based artist to have released his music via Dust-to-Digital Records — a label profiled in last week’s CL cover story, Soul Searchers: Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital Records unearths the origins of blues legend John Fahey.

Dust-to-Digital Records' co-owner Lance Ledbetter first learned about Rev. Jones from Cole Alexander of the Black Lips. "Cole found one of Rev. Jones’ LP’ from the 1970's at a thrift store and tracked him down at WYZE Radio, 1480 on the AM dial," Ledbetter says. "Cole took the album cover into the radio station and asked the woman up front if she knew if Rev. Jones was still around. She said ‘yeah,' and he was able to meet him.’”

In November 2009, Jesus Christ from A to Z, an LP compilation culled together from more than 50 years of reel-to-reel tape recordings of live church sermons, appeared on Dust-to-Digital’s Parlortone vinyl imprint (see CL's feature story, The Rev. Johnny L. ‘Hurricane’ Jones makes a spirited comeback). Soon after, a sprawling 2xCD collection titled The Hurricane That Hit Atlanta arrived, giving the archival label a living, breathing act to get behind. Jones had released a handful of records throughout the ’60s and ’70s for the Jewel Records label. But after a 31-year gap between releases, these latest two offering through Dust-to-Digital have suddenly carried his fiery sermons beyond the black, Southern church circuit and into the realms of blue-eyed hipster record collectors across the country, and across the world.

Jones sees this renewed interest as all being part of God’s plan, and through it all, he is still preaching the Gospel at Second Mt. Olive every Sunday morning with the same explosive energy that he’s wielded for nearly 55 years.

This CL original video, directed by Joeff Davis and shot and edited by Dustin Chambers captures the essence of what earned him the nickname, the Hurricane.

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