Sunday, January 16, 2011

Feature Artist: Jason Jones

Introducing Jason Jones

Jason Jones is a believer. He believes life and love don’t have to be as complicated as we make them and that life is what you make it. Those philosophies are reflected in Jason’s music as well.
Born in Tallahassee and raised in Wakulla Station, Fla., Jason got his first taste of the real world at a very young age. When he was 3 years old his parents divorced. “My earliest childhood memory is of them arguing and my mom leaving,” he recalls. “She put my sisters and me in the back seat of her Camaro. I jumped out of the car and ran to my dad and hugged his leg.
“She left with the girls and I stayed with my dad,” he says. Father and son formed a close bond, even though Jason’s truck driving dad was frequently gone for days at a time. “I spent a lot of time riding with him in trucks or getting covered in grease from head-to-toe helping him fix them,” Jason remembers.
He spent summers with his mother, who had remarried and moved to Georgia.
It was his father who gave Jason his first guitar, a Christmas gift at age 13. “I wanted a big, rockin’, electric guitar, but I got a short, student, acoustic guitar,” he remembers with a laugh. “My dad didn’t think I’d stick with it.”
But what he gave up was football. “When I got that guitar, I was done,” Jason says. “I played it constantly. It was the only thing that really made sense to me. Nothing else had clicked like that before.”
At age 14 he moved to Georgia to live with his mother for a year. “I didn’t know anybody there, so all I did was play guitar,” he says. He also wrote his first song.
When he got back to Florida, Jason formed a band with some high school buddies. “We performed at talent shows and different events but we were too young to play in bars,” he recalls. While the band focused on alternative and hard rock, Jason’s passion continued to be country music. “I’d go home after our band practices and get out that old acoustic guitar,” he says.
While Jason had a passion for music and undeniable talent, he couldn’t imagine himself on the big stage. “It seemed so out of reach,” he says. But ultimately, he knew he had to try. A visit to Nashville at the invitation of a talent scout sealed the deal.
When Jason returned home he told his father he was making the move he had dreamed of. “He was really supportive,” Jason says. “He didn’t want me to have anything to do with the trucking business. It’s a hard life.”
The then 21-year-old got a job waiting tables near Music Row. “I came up with a plan and I was focused,” he says. The plan was to get his voice on some song demos, which he could then use as a calling card of sorts to get his foot in the door of Nashville’s publishing companies.
“It took a lot of cold calls and persistence, but my little plan worked,” Jason says with a satisfied smile. “Nine months after moving here I had my writing deal. It was a blessing for sure.”
A writing deal with prestigious Music Row publisher Warner/Chappell secured, Jason began looking for opportunities to perform. “I put together a CD of some of my demos and a press kit,” he says. “Every bar I saw, I dropped them off. I only got three gigs out of that, but they were gigs I ended up playing regularly.”
Word spread and eventually Jason Jones and Breakaway, as his band was known at the time, became the house band at Nashville’s famous Wildhorse Saloon.
The gigs at the Wildhorse and other clubs lead to more and more bookings as word of Jason’s solid stage show spread. The group soon hit the road where they played as many as five sets a night. “Sometimes we’d play until 4 a.m.,” Jason recalls. “Then we’d jump in my Chevy Suburban and haul the trailer with our instruments and equipment to the next gig. We’ve beat the hell out of that truck.”
The performing bug bit Jason hard early on. “If I go two or three weeks without playing, it really gets to me,” he says. “I gotta get out there and play. I’ve been playing 100 shows and writing 50 songs a year for the last six years.”
All the hard work finally paid off with a call from Warner Bros. Records. Jason’s dream was coming true.
And when it came time to start recording his first album, the label helped reconnect him with noted country producer and songwriter Brett Beavers, who had expressed interest in working with Jason years earlier.
Out of the collaboration came a shared vision for the music and a process that is as challenging as it is rewarding for Jason as a singer and a songwriter. “Brett has a clear cut vision for how he wants everything to sound and exactly what we need to do in the studio to make it happen,” Jason says of Beavers.
In putting together the record, the blue-eyed tenor looked back to his influences for inspiration; a group that includes George Strait, Garth Brooks, Shenandoah, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill and John Mellencamp. “They made incredible albums filled with great songs,” Jason says of his heroes.
Some of Nashville’s best songwriters [I think we need a few names here] contributed to the project. “I never set out to write all the songs on my album,” Jason says. “I believe in the power of great songs and I just want to have the best album I can have. Period.”
In the end, Jason is extremely happy with the results. “All the life experiences I’ve had—coming from a broken home, growing up in a small town—I wouldn’t change any of it,” he says. His hard work and life experience comes through in what he hopes is the first of many records.
Down to earth, honest, upbeat and fun are some of the words that Jason uses to describe his debut album. They are words that could be used to describe him as well. "I try to keep it pretty positive. I would love for my music to inspire people. To help them get away from the everyday hassles of life," he says. "It’s not really all that complicated: people should live their lives. Just be happy and enjoy the moment. And I hope that my music can be a part of that."
You can find Jason online:

Bio and photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Nashville

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