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Ask Jason Wesley to describe himself onstage, and he’ll give you a modest shrug and say, “I don’t know – explosive, maybe?” His enthusiastic fans will gladly throw out a few more adjectives, though, when they talk about his performances. Try “no holds barred,” “high energy,” “through the roof “and “pedal to the metal” just for starters.
But no matter what you call it, when you talk about Jason Wesley, it all comes down to the music. It’s in the songs he writes and the way he delivers them. He’s a performer totally at home onstage – and the more revved up his audiences are, the better he likes it. From the moment Jason grabs the microphone and starts singing, it’s all-out full throttle overdrive, and he rarely slows down.
Jason was born January 1st in Pontiac, Michigan and grew up just outside Detroit, but he’s lived in the South a lot of his life. You can hear his Southern roots rock influences in just about every song he does. Whether he’s fronting a cover of “Midnight Rider” or growling his way through an original like “Bad News in Baton Rouge,” Jason is clearly a guy who knows who he is and what he wants to do.
Jason first got interested in music around 8 years old, but it wasn’t until high school that the bug of performing vocally infected him. “I was in the marching band as a freshman playing trombone -- not the sexiest instrument in the world -- and I wanted to quit because I didn’t like the teacher. Mom made me stay with music and join the high school choir. At the end of the year, we got to do solo concerts, and I came out to do this bluesy Gulf roots thing. I remember the auditorium was totally packed with people. When I threw my sunglasses on, everybody started screaming and I almost had to tell them to be quiet because I couldn’t hear the intro on the tape. When I finished and walked offstage, I couldn’t believe the response, and I knew right then, OK, this is what I want to do!”
But it wasn’t a direct route to stardom. Along the way, Jason played hockey for 16 years, worked as a horse runner and groom at a thoroughbred racetrack. Jason also competed on the college and pro rodeo circuit as a bareback bronc rider, earning enough broken bones and injuries to fill a medical manual. (“I guess it’s a miracle I can still play the guitar,” he says.) After majoring in music at the University of Tennessee at Martin, outside Memphis, Jason ended up in Atlanta where he began sitting in with the house band at Cowboy’s. “At that point in my life, I’d written maybe two songs – ‘Someone to Turn To’ and ‘Redhead Long-Neck Bottle,’” he laughs. “But I knew tons of other bands’ songs. I was never shy about sitting in!”
Jason describes his sound as very rugged, strong and to the point. “Kinda like early Montgomery Gentry with some Waylon, Hank Jr. and Chris LeDoux thrown in for good measure.” Jason adds, “I’ve always absolutely loved Chris, of course cause we’re both bareback bronc riders and country artists but, for his 80’s hair metal style of country music and because of his wildness and explosion pyrotechnics onstage.” Jason says his dream billing would be sharing the stage with Bob Seger or Gregg Allman, as Jason states he is a “major” 70’s fan. “Probably because my mother was at a Bob Seger concert when she was pregnant with me, just about to pop.” He laughs. “People often tell me after one of my shows, ‘Hey, I don’t listen to country music but I really love what you’re doing,” he explains. “I love country and am country to the bone, but I drive it a lot harder than what mainstream country would expect. You could call it outlaw, maybe. It’s rock and blues and Southern roots, and the more I sing, the broader range it gets. I don’t do anything half-ass.”
Jason says his number one rule with his band is, “Crank it up, kick some ass and let’s have fun!” “I don’t try to be a sticker for ‘OK, here’s what we’re gonna do,’ but I do strongly encourage professionalism and their ideas. But most importantly, we need to be having fun. I want us to have more fun than the crowd. Obviously it depends on the size of the stage, but the more I have to work with, the wilder it’s gonna get. I try to be as dynamic as possible, but give me enough room and maybe explosive would be a better description!”
“I could have the absolute worst day of my life, but when I get up on stage, I couldn’t even tell you what happened before,” Jason says. “For me, performing is one of those things that’s unexplainable. There’s nothing like it. It’s pure emotion. And right now, everything is going just the way I want it to, kind of like a nice, slow uphill climb. I think small steps are a lot better than going straight to the top, because you can fall down just that fast, too.”
Jason is in it for the long haul. “In five years, I hope to be on my second or third album, touring pretty heavy and starting to make a really good dent in my career,” he says with a determined glint in his eyes. “But what I hope most of all, is that wherever I go, my audiences know that I’m gonna be around a while, and they can count on me to give the best show I can possibly give them and leave them with the, ‘I can’t wait to see him again’………….feeling.”
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