Wanda Jackson w/Jonny Fritz & Courtney Jaye
See Article: Magic Wanda
Rock 'n' Roll legend Wanda Jackson has unfinished business, and plenty of fuel lef tin the tank.
Oklahoma City OK | Country
“Here is a one-of-a-kind voice as fresh now as it was in 1958. This album made me smile, chased out a tear or two, and occasionally brought on the goosebumps. A voice this big will never be living in the past. Wanda Jackson really does have a lot of unfinished business.”
Wanda Jackson (born Wanda Jean Jackson, on October 20, 1937, in Maud, Oklahoma) is the first female rock and roll singer in the United States, releasing her debut record in 1956. She is often hailed as the "Queen Of Rockabilly."
Jackson was still in high school when country singer Hank Thompson heard her sing on an Oklahoma City radio show and asked her to record with his band in 1954. She dated Elvis Presley, who encouraged her to step away from the country-tinged gospel she had been performing since childhood and try her hand at rock and roll. She developed her own distinctive voice and performed in a variety of styles, from folksy traditional tunes to country twang and high yodels to throaty, suggestive ballads. She was a prolific singer of songs with wry lyrics such as "Fujiyama Mama," which contained many references to the World War II bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; ironically, it became a #1 hit in Japan. Her biggest hit was 1959's "Let's Have a Party."
Unfinished Business, the new album from legendary singer and “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” inductee Wanda Jackson, is out now on Sugar Hill Records. This is Jackson’s 31st studio album and marks the producing debut of fellow renowned musician and songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Of the release, The Wall Street Journalasserts, “Her twangy cap-gun voice and feisty confidence haven't dimmed much…,” while Relix magazine heralds, “Jackson teases, taunts and tells off bad-news guys during the album’s many youthful numbers…for a firecracker, she’s got phenomenal emotional range.” In celebration of the release, Jackson is currently in the midst of a nationwide tour in support of the new album, including a special show at New York’s Highline Ballroom on October 12 (see beow for complete details).
In addition to the LP, a special 7” of the album’s first single “Tore Down” (with b-side “California Stars”), which features artwork and packaging by Shooter Jennings, is now available. Moreover, the music video for the single recently premiered at GQ.com.American Songwriter calls the song a “…rollicking roadhouse rocker,” while the Onion AV Club asserts, “…finds Jackson turning on the sass full force, never mind the fact she’s in her 70s.”
Of working with producer Justin Townes Earle, Jackson comments, “From day one I really liked Justin’s idea to take me back to my roots and make a record of country, blues, and rockabilly songs. The band was extra tight and great to work with during the whole process. The record just sounds terrific and I’m hoping that my fans enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.” Recorded in Nashville at House of David Studios in early 2012, the 10-song album features renditions of “California Stars” (Woody Guthrie, Jay Bennett, Jeff Tweedy), “Pushover” (Billy Davis and Tony Clarke), “It’s All Over Now” (Bobby Womack and Shirley Jean Womack) as well as a duet with Earle on “Am I Even A Memory” (Greg Garing). See below for complete track-listing.
The new album follows Jackson’s 2011 Jack White-produced The Party Ain’t Over, which received both widespread critical and commercial acclaim. Of the record, NPR Music raved “At 73, she still exudes a youthful sound and spirit, and decorates her unique voice with an effortlessly deep and gravelly swoop at the most unexpected times,” while The New York Times noted Jackson “still sounds fantastic, and her gnarled, feisty vocals are a good fit with Mr. White’s scrappy production.” Moreover, the album found Jackson enjoying her first ever charting on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at #58. Jack White declared “[Jackson is] influential to every modern female singer, whether they know about her or not. She broke down those walls in the beginning, when it was the hardest to do.”
Widely known and respected as “The Queen of Rockabilly,” Jackson is credited with being the first woman to ever record a rock and roll song—“Let’s Have a Party” in 1958. In 2009, Jackson was inducted into the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and, in 2010, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Americana Music Awards.
Esmont VA | Country
Nashville songwriter Jonny Fritz’s work ethic and boldness have paid off in spades. It’s been a big year for Jonny, with opening stints for Alabama
Shakes, Deer Tick, Dawes, Shooter Jennings and rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson and kudos from CMT and Rolling Stone, among many others. He’s signed a deal with indie label ATO Records (he actually signed the deal with gravy at Nashville landmark Arnold's Country Kitchen) and Loose Records in Europe, and his third full-length album, Dad Country, is set for release on April 16, 2013 (April 15 in Europe).
Produced by Jonny and Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, recorded at Jackson Browne’s Los Angeles studio and finished up in Music City, USA, this is a breakthrough album, balancing Fritz’s earthy trademark humor and unfiltered worldview with some of his darkest material to date. The album has a Nashville sound kept aloft on a sure Southern Californian wind, no doubt from the influence of his backing band: Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Tay Strathairn and Wylie Gelber of Dawes, Jackson Browne, and his Nashville band of Spencer Cullum Jr, Joshua Hedley, Taylor Zachry and Jerry Pentecost.
Dad Country is also his first release under his real name, Fritz, with Jonny ditching the “Corndawg” moniker he’d carried since his early teens. Now a music veteran with a decade of touring under his belt, he’s grown into an accomplished, mature voice in country music. Says co-producer Goldsmith, "Funny as they can be at moments, his songs access realities and experiences that we’re all familiar with but sometimes fail to consider the depths of. I was really honored to work on the record. We tracked for two days and arranged the songs on the spot. Everyone really responded to each other's ideas and the whole experience was really inspiring and easy. I chalk it up to the quality of Jonny's songs on this record."
After nearly a decade spent on the road (since his late teens), it was well-earned luck that brought Jonny together with dream team that would bring Dad Country to life – including none other than Jackson Browne. Originally scheduled to record at another Los Angeles studio, Jonny and co-producer Taylor Goldsmith were left scrambling for a backup plan when their original producer flaked. As it happened, they were playing a show in Hollywood that week and Browne was in attendance. After the show, Browne approached Jonny and, learning of their troubles, generously offered up his studio. Just three weeks later, they were all holed up at Browne’s, recording the new record.
Fritz and Goldsmith had rehearsed most the songs together, but the rest of the band had to learn them run-and-gun style in the studio, nailing many of the songs on the first time ever playing them together. In just four days, they pounded out 14 tracks in one long, inspired rush and this excitement pervades the results. “It was really spontaneous,” Fritz says.
“We just pulled it out of our proverbial asses as we went along.” Fritz later re-recorded two of the songs that had evolved significantly on the road since the studio session – the Red Simpson-esque “Fever Dreams” and down-home lament “Ain’t It Your Birthday” – using his own band back in Nashville. With these, the record was ready and dead-on with Jonny’s vision of Dad Country.
Like his songwriting heroes Tom T. Hall, Michael Hurley, Roger Miller and Clint Black, Jonny can turn phrases 'til you’re dizzy, all while plucking your heartstrings or capturing a sharp, lonesome vulnerability that never seems lost or brooding. For Jonny Fritz is no tear-in-the-beer sap moaning over his lost love and troubles. He’d rather cry running marathons than sitting on a barstool. Rather than Outlaw Country, he prefers we think of him as “someone’s weird Dad” and a musician of his own bent. He writes his every song with that deep country-music impulse to turn real experience into lyrical form.
Born in Montana and raised in Virginia, Jonny grew up in the middle of mountains and weirdos of every allegiance, developing a blind man’s ear for the slightest turn in a tale or human voice. He dropped out of school and left home early, totally undaunted, and toured the country on his motorcycle, selling just enough music to keep his freedom and stay ahead of bitterness. “If I could sell three CDs a night, I would have enough for gas and to make it to the next town.”
Cramming six lifetimes into six years and collecting triumphs and heartaches every corner of the globe, he eventually wound his way toward Tennessee. "Not because I wanted to break in over on Music Row and 'make it,' because I knew I didn't really belong there," he says. "I wanted to learn the ways of country music ... to get my education in this cool old world that exists only in Nashville."
While immersing himself in the music world, Jonny began running marathons from Philadelphia to Barcelona and pounding out his signature leather works- the dog collars and guitar straps- seen all over Nashville and half the musical universe. He found himself in NYC for year trying to save a relationship, and its slow, painful unraveling (and demise) inspired Dad Country's bleakest, heartrending tracks, including "All We Do Is Complain" and "Have You Ever Wanted to Die."
These days, life has never been better for Jonny Fritz. He's back in Nashville again and putting down roots- and has even gone and bought himself a house. "It just keeps getting better. Now, the band is getting paid, I'm getting paid, everybody's happy, and we're packing 'em in when we play."
"This is the dream life. I couldn't really ask for anything else."
Nashville TN | Rock
"Courtney Jaye's wonderful throwback voice makes for splendid grooves. In a business where you don't think there are any more authentic crooners left, you stumble across a record like this & have faith that the tradition will be carried on. "Box Wine" has become a theme song of mine when thirsty and looking for haziness. Courtney Jaye is a talented recording artist with real style, class & talent. Unlike most of the jerkoffs in her business. I so adore this record."
With songs that take their cues from ’60s pop and Hawaiian folk, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye falls somewhere between the sock hop and the luau. There’s a bit of countrypolitan twang thrown into the mix, too, a product of Jaye’s time spent in Nashville, and the album’s biggest asset is its ability to jump between cultures with each tune, evoking tropical living one minute and Southern bar culture the next. Tying the disparate package together is Jaye herself, the sort of unsung musical hero who regularly wins the approval of her indie cohorts (Neal Casal, Ryan Adams’ guitarist and an unsung hero in his own rite, gets credit for the album’s cover art, while Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell joins Jaye for a campfire cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always”) but has yet to amass a similar following. That’s a shame, since songs like “Don’t Tell a Girl” and “Sweet Ride” are almost aggressive in their tunefulness, with the former suggesting the glory days of Brill Building pop and the latter setting itself up as an old-fashioned drinking song. There are some pleasant diversions along the way, too; the mostly instrumental “Maru Maru” focuses the spotlight on Jaye’s backup band, and the breezy ballad “Sweet Ride” is far more contemporary than the rest of the record. Even so, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye is mostly a vehicle for Jaye to create her own retro-leaning world, one in which the Laurel Canyon, Music City, and the Kaua’i coastline are just minutes apart.
"Blending the rhythms and slack-keyed guitars of the islands with country-politan arrangements, Jaye presents a sound that’s both refreshing and vintage. The tracks are stacked with breezy pop melodies, lush instrumental textures and disarmingly sweet vocals that do more to channel the mod sirens of the ’60s—with their giant eyelashes and come-hither grins—than any guitar-toting beach-bums she might have stumbled upon strung out in the sands of Kaua’i."
Ashley Melzer-Paste Magazine
"My feel good record...no matter where I am, when I Iisten to it, its 75 and sunny in my mind."
- Nathan Followill/Kings of Leon
"What to say about Courtney Jaye. The Exotic Sounds and lovely twang. She's your last best friend, telling you why."
- Peter Hayes/Black Rebel Motorcycle Club