in helping me to resolve some ongoing health issues I had been dealing with by introducing me to a more holistic way of living and maintaining my health, and the books she gave me were written by a holistic physician who had his practice in Kent. After going to see him, things really started to change for me (for the better). Also, I later came to find out that her husband had been one of the wounded in the shootings years earlier, which really shook me and made me feel more than a little strange.
In my subsequent bands, I have continued to play in Kent at various places, on and off campus, and I’ve always loved coming back and seeing familiar faces, and it has always felt like a warm and welcoming place.
Over the years, it has always been very important to me to try to be in Kent for the May 4th memorial gatherings, to commemorate not only the tragedy, but a pivotal point in my life, where I feel I “woke up” and crossed over into social consciousness. Even though I was not there that day in 1970, I have always felt sympathetic towards those who experienced it and have had to live with the aftereffects. And beyond that, it was very symbolic of the way those in power deal with those that dare to question and oppose that power and authority anywhere in the world.
My music has always been influenced by those who went before me, who chose to use their voices to convey messages of truth, social justice and more harmonious human interaction. Many of the songs I have written deal with these kinds of things. Through participating in the memorials, I became very close with some of the people who were directly affected by May 4th. Because of that connection, it led me to write a song that helped me (and others) deal with long held, deeply embedded feelings about the incident. Being able to share that with family members and friends of those that were killed and wounded really helped me to process the pain and sadness that had always accompanied the memory, and even though not forgotten, I feel as if I could fully breathe again and find relief from the heaviness. I’d have to say, that even though I did not technically go to school in Kent, I still feel like it is a place that has played largely in my growth and education. I must also mention that my youngest daughter went to Kent State, which has made me feel that connection even stronger. And what’s more, it’s a positive connection — one that has to do with life and moving forward.
My Reflections of Kent — Carlos Jones
My first awareness of Kent, Ohio unfortunately, came because of the shootings in 1970—I was 12 years old. I remember feeling the shock, disbelief and sadness surrounding the news of that event, and even though I had already lived through the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King; as a kid, those events seemed remote and almost dreamlike, and I don’t think I could fully comprehend their magnitude.
"This hit me especially hard because it seemed to knock out of me any remaining childlike innocence I had, and reveal the hard truths of the adult world. These were our own people, not some foreign enemy. And they were students—these were people’s kids! I don’t want to make it sound like that is my only way of identifying Kent as a place, but again, it’s unfortunate that the name became inextricably linked with the tragedy, and I’m sure that its place in history is something the whole town and school have struggled to come to terms with."
So Kent became this infamous and mythical place in my mind, where this profound tragedy had happened. It would be another eight years before I ever actually set foot in Kent. I had joined my first band in the summer of 1978, and we used to play a lot in a little off-campus bar called Mother’s (Junction). My first impression of Kent was that of a quaint and quiet little college town that seemed to have an atmosphere of laid back bohemian coolness, and was just a great place to hang out. I made many friends over the years playing there, and had lots of fun and some very profound experiences that added to my growth and development. There was a young woman that I had become acquainted with at Ohio University in Athens Ohio, who, as it turned out, had a very direct Kent connection. She was instrumental
Written by Frank Bubnick and Carlos Jones
CARLOS JONES has been on stage performing his own brand of reggae music and entertaining audiences since the late 70s. First as a member of the legendary I-Tal, then with the equally legendary First Light, and finally starting his own musical vision The PLUS (Peace Love and Unity Syndicate) Band, he has been a stalwart of the Northeast Ohio music scene. Constantly pursuing his vision for performing music with a meaning to his audience, Carlos has done what many musicians have failed to do. He has, through hard work and persistence, spent most of his adult life performing and spreading his own version of the reggae gospel as his sole occupation.
I first became acquainted with Carlos through First Light in the early 90s. My future wife and I (we have been married for 23 years this October) spent many nights at places like The Empire in Cleveland (now a parking lot across from Progressive Field), The Daily Double in Akron (they had old x-rays hung on the windows to darken the room), The Chuckery at the University of Akron, as well as various rib and outdoor festivals enjoying our favorite local band. Fast forward to the early 2000s and I was contacted by Carlos’ manager Larry Koval about starting a web site for Carlos. I said, “No, I don’t think I’m qualified.” He said, “When can you be done?” and the rest is history. Check it out at www.CarlosJones.com.
It’s that kind of support and loyalty from Carlos’ fans that have allowed him to continue to perform and entertain them. Just watching him for a short time, you can appreciate the stage is where he is meant to be. While “commercial” success may have eluded him over the years, that probably was not his main goal. His goal is to sing the songs that mean so much to so many people. If that’s reggae standards from Marley and others or performing his originals, you will not leave disappointed from any PLUS Band show. The make-up of the band and the crowd is a variety of ages, ways of life, and backgrounds. The music binds all of these people together. The music is what matters. It’s a testament to the quality of the performance and the messages behind the music.
Since this is a Kent based publication, I asked Carlos for some of his reflections of Kent from over the years. See his comments below:
To this day, whenever I go there, it feels like a homecoming of sorts. It’s a song called Truth & Justice (Kent State). I wrote it in May of 2014 for the family of Alison Krause, who had asked if I could come and play for the May 4th commemoration that year. I was having health issues at the time and couldn’t make it, but I wanted to give them something from my heart, and this song came to me. I wrote and recorded it all in one afternoon and sent it to them.
This is the first recording of the song that you can listen to at Sound Cloud. I have since added a new verse, so there will be an updated version soon. https://soundcloud.com/losplus/ truth-justice-kent-state Here are some of the accomplishments and honors that Carlos has received over the years:
• Carlos was honored with a Tribute concert in November of 2015; one of three artists to be honored for their lifetime achievements (Alex Bevan and Michael Stanley being the other two)
• Sold out Holiday Revival Show (Dec 26) at the Music Box Supper Club
• Was featured in an article in Al Jazeera (an international publication)
• Started up the Positive Vibrations Fundraising Program for schools and non-profits in the fall of 2015. Several schools came on board selling Carlos’ private label brand of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. Carlos also put together a Workshop/Clinic for students and did five to six performances during 2016 at area schools.
• Had the largest crowds ever at the Hessler Street Fair (5000) and Wade Oval (10,000).
• Once again, headlined the Midwest Reggae Fest at Clay’s Park.
• Receiving ongoing radio play on OWOWNOW.com and 91.3 The Summit with his single, “The Cleveland Beat” and also “Apartment Living”.
• Going back in the studio to finish off a new version of his holiday song Christmas the Way it Used to Be as well as working on new tracks with the PLUS Band. He should have a new single and video out before Christmas, with a full CD to be released in the spring of 2017.
If you get a chance, experience Carlos for yourself. You will not be disappointed. His connection to his fans is undeniable. His commitment to message music and his community is what separates him from others. I have enjoyed his music for many years and I am sure you will become a dedicated fan, given the opportunity. Here are some shows coming up soon. Do yourself a favor and experience it for yourself; you will not be disappointed.