Troubadours Recount the Life of John Paul Jones

Nov 22, 2013

In Charlottesville, the name John Paul Jones evokes thoughts of a large arena where basketball teams and rock groups perform.  It was named for the father of a big UVA donor, but for those who love American history, another John Paul Jones comes to mind, and now two musicians from the British Isles are traveling in America - singing the praises of this early American patriot.


Rob Van Sante and Alan Reid are a pair of troubadours from the UK who love telling tales through their music.  

John Paul Jones was one of this nation’s early war heroes - a Scot who, like Rob and Alan, traveled the world.

“He lived in France, he fought in Russia as well as for America,” Reid explains, “and he had the audacity -- the cheek to attack the coast of Britain not once but twice in the 18th century.”

At first, Jones was in business, but he got into a dispute in Tobago and had to flee the country, so he came north to visit his brother, a tailor in Fredericksburg. Alas, the brother had died, and Reid says Jones was broke.

“He ran out of money, and then the revolutionary war broke out, and him having no money and being out of work he joined the newly formed continental navy and so sided with the colonists.”

Indeed, John Paul Jones would become the father of this country’s navy, and in 1905 Rob Van Sante says an American diplomat had Jones’ body removed from a French graveyard for reburial here.

“His body was taken by train to the coast and then to Nantucket by four American official vessels and were joined by loads more from Nantucket to Chesapeake Bay, and he’s now buried in a sarcophagus in the Anapolis Naval Academy.”

Reid and Van Sante have resurrected his story through a multi-media show called the Adventures of John Paul Jones.  They’ll perform on 11/22 at the Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, after a Scotch tasting event.