The last time most folks saw flashy Phoenix blues-rock guitarist Carvin Jones in person, he was shredding his six-string in a sequined shirt while walking across a local bar top.
But if you see him in person these days, it's likely he's pushing a grocery cart full of bottled water, toilet paper, and other supplies down a grocery store aisle early in the morning. (And he'll be sporting a sequined face mask.)
For a few weeks now, Jones has been shopping for supplies every day to deliver to senior citizens all around the Valley. It’s become a full-time day gig for him during the coronavirus pandemic. As his good deeds hit Facebook, more requests for help have started coming in. He arrives at stores with lists every morning and then spends his days dropping bags off at people’s doorsteps.
We recently caught up with Jones to learn how this all started, where it’s going, and how he’s keeping the music alive.
Phoenix New Times: Why did you start shopping for and delivering groceries to seniors in our community?
Carvin Jones: I saw a buddy of mine in England make a post on Facebook about people taking elderly people's money to shop for them and then never coming back with the groceries. Then I heard the same thing happening here and about people stealing things out of the elderly’s carts at the stores.
I was raised by my grandmother and her blind sister, so I knew I had to do something. I started shopping for some elderly neighbors with my own funds, and it has gone on from there. Now I have fans messaging me with elderly neighbors, family, and friends who need things and people sending in small donations to help with the shopping. It's become bigger than I expected. I’m delivering all over the Valley, so we welcome the donations!
What’s a typical day like for you doing this? How many people do you deliver to?
I try to get to stores in the mornings before the necessities are gone. I have people send me lists of the things they need the most, and I do my best to find everything they request and deliver the same day. It varies how many deliveries each day, but lately I've had to enlist some helpers because there have been more and more requests.
What are the things you usually buy?
They usually just request the basics — bread, fruits and vegetables, milk, ground beef and roasts, rice, butter, eggs, things like that ... and, of course, toilet paper! I've been lucky that I have fans who give me heads up about where they see toilet paper, so I try to get to it before the hoarders do.
What have been some of the reactions when you stop by?
They have all been so thankful and kind. Lots of, “God bless you, Mr. Jones,” and “Stay healthy.” One cute lady was scolding me for not having a mask on, so I immediately had some sequin ones made to go with my trademark sequin stage shirts — since I couldn’t find any masks in the stores.
How long will you continue to do this?
As long as I'm needed. I get so much joy out of brightening up these people's days and seeing their smiles. I may continue even after this quarantine is over.
I'm staying connected with my fans through Facebook and Instagram. I've been doing virtual concerts on Facebook Live once a week, mostly to give people a way to experience attending a live show in some way since we can't do it in person. But I'm in a great position, so I'm not hurting as bad as some other musicians. My career will still be in a good place when we get through this.