Amy Winehouse had her breakout U.S. hit, “Rehab,” in the summer of 2007, and I was planning to see her perform in New York in September of that year. But the concert, along with her entire tour, was canceled for health reasons. And I never got a chance to see her again.
Relatively few Americans were able to see her perform in a concert setting before she died in 2011, at the age of 27. Which is one of the reasons it’s so intriguing that Remember Jones will perform her Back to Black album — including “Rehab” as well as songs such as “You Know I’m No Good,” “Me & Mr. Jones,” “Love Is a Losing Game” and the title track — in its entirety, Saturday night at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, in a show titled “Back to Back to Black.”
Another reason is Jones’ theatrical stage presence, and his ability to put exciting new spins on cover material. (Check out his versions of Van Morrison’s “Caravan” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” below).
Jones, who lives in Asbury Park, says the Winehouse show came about because he and his bandmates were talking about covering one of her songs, “and I said, ‘You know, all of that stuff fits so well in my voice, in my range. How cool would it be to do that whole album.’ And we were just like, yeah, why not? Let’s do it. There’s no one doing anything like that. There’s no Amy Winehouse tribute band or anything. And there’s no Amy Winehouse. Nobody’s getting a chance to see this music done live, the way you want to hear it, as true to the sound, true to the feeling.
“That’s really important to me: Just doing an authentic performance of this music, not just another cover band doing ‘Rehab.’ We’re doing the whole thing, and we’re doing it pretty much note-for-note.”
To enable him to do that, Jones will cram 25 musicians — including an eight-person choir, a horn section and string quartet — onto the Asbury Lanes stage. “We’re bringing in extra lighting and risers and things like that to accommodate it,” he says, adding that he may present the show at other venues, too, if it goes well.
In addition to featuring the album’s 11 songs, the show will include the six songs that Winehouse recorded as B-sides for the album’s singles, including Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” and The Specials’ “Hey, Little Rich Girl.”
Jones’ real name is Anthony D’Amato, but he now performs exclusively as Remember Jones. In part this is because there is another musician named Anthony D’Amato who also happens to be from New Jersey, but assuming a persona makes sense, anyway, for the kind of performer he is.
“It does allow me to have this open book,” he says. “It allows me to do whatever I want, really.
“The other Anthony D’Amato and I have known each other for years, and kind of joked about when the time would come when enough is enough. Well, the time has come. He’s on New West Records, and he’s doing stuff all over the world at this point. The tricky thing about it is that we would do shows and have similar turnouts, and all of the online press would confuse us. The last straw was they booked him to open for Nicole Atkins at the Stone Pony (in December), and the crew from the Stone Pony called me, assuming it was me.”
He says “remember” has always been a favorite word of his, and one of the things he likes about “Remember Jones” is that it makes people curious.
“If you think about ‘Lady Gaga’ on a piece of paper, or ‘Bruno Mars,’ you’re like, ‘What is this?’ It kind of looks crazy on paper. But then you see the live show and it just is their own theatrical thing. It’s not a real name for them, either.
“So that allowed me to say, ‘Okay, I can pick a name. Like, “Remember” as a first name. And something that flows with it, something that’s easy for it to sit on, so “Jones.” Remember Jones. And as soon as we said it, me and a few friends, it just rolled of our tongues.
“It gives it the flavor, it gives it a soul throwback. It’s not black, it’s not white. It’s all things.”