Not so long ago, when I wanted to speak to Jade Jackson about her newest recording or her next show, I’d just call her up, but these days the Santa Margarita native has “people,” as in “Have your people call my people and we can coordinate.” Of course, I don’t have “people,” so I called Jade’s management myself and was patched through.
“Wait, is this Glen Starkey from New Times?” Jackson asked, proving she’d been handling so many calls from so many publications eager to know what was going on with Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness’ new rocking country chanteuse protégé that she doesn’t even know what’s coming next!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JADE JACKSON
- SMALL TOWN SWEETHEART: Santa Margarita native Jade Jackson’s major label debut, 'Gilded,' will be released May 19 at Boo Boo Records’ meet-and-greet before Jackson leaves on a national tour as the opening act for Social Distortion
The bottom line is that Jackson is currently being groomed for stardom. She’s now label-mates with the likes of Tom Waits, Billy Bragg, Joe Henry, Joe Strummer, Kate Bush, Merle Haggard, Michael Franti, Neko Case, Wilco, and dozens more.
“I’m currently in Orange County doing press week and a lot of phone interviews, and I’m doing a podcast later, and a photo shoot with some magazines,” Jackson marveled. “It’s so exciting, just really great!”
It’s almost as if Jade is surprised at her impending success, something those of us who’ve been watching her evolve into a gifted performer since she was just a teenager always thought was inevitable.
“It’s true I didn’t expect it to happen, but I always dreamed about it and envisioned myself here. It feels right and I feel so grateful.”
Jackson is still the same sweet North County gal she’s always been, unaware of her radiant beauty and humble about her songwriting prowess. I can imagine the people populating the rough-and-tumble world of major label recording and national touring don’t quite know what to make of this untarnished, wide-eyed sweetheart.
“Um, I have been told I write too many thank you cards, but honestly, everyone is so nice to me. I’ve heard people [in the music industry] can be sharks, but everyone on my team and my campaign are so kind to me. It’s not like I’m renowned or famous or anything.”
Maybe not yet, but Jackson already opened one half of Social Distortion’s national tour, and after that leg went so well, Ness asked her to continue on to the next leg. That may be a little surprising since Jade’s music tends to be a fair bit quieter than the famed SoCal punk act.
“We just got back about three weeks ago from a five-week tour in the Western states, and everything went so well that we’ll go back in July for another seven weeks. We really had a great response, which was a little surprising because I was told how devoted Social D fans are, but I think it helps when they know Mike’s behind my music.”
Jade—along with bandmates Andrew Rebel (guitar), Jake Vukovich (bass), and Tyler Miller (drums)—begin the next leg of the tour on July 22 in Salt Lake City, tour the rest of the country to play 29 shows, finally ending on Sept. 6 in Albuquerque. All this road time is in support of Gilded, her new Ness-produced album, which will be officially released on Friday, May 19, the same day she’s scheduled to appear at Boo Boo Records in SLO Town (5:30 p.m.; all ages; free).
“Boo Boo’s feels like my hometown, so I wanted to be there for the release,” Jackson said. “But [the store doesn’t] have space for a full band, which would be too loud anyway, so we decided to just meet people and talk about the new album and do a couple acoustic songs with my guitar player.”
Gilded is an impressive major label debut for Jackson, and its first single, “Finish Line,” along with its accompanying video, has created a big buzz about Jackson in the lead-up to her CD release. The record will also be available on vinyl.
“Finish Line” is highly autobiographical song about Jackson’s coming of age and about leaving her small town life: “I don’t care about things cause they don’t care about me/ My skin’s a lot thicker than you’d think it’d be/ And I don’t need nothing to tie me down/ I don’t need no one to care should I leave town/ I saw the way they looked and I heard them laugh/ They couldn’t wait to talk until I turned my back/ Well, I won’t be that bitter taste in their mouth/ So I ain’t never going back to your family’s house,” she sings.
In the video, you see a tender goodbye featuring Jackson’s real-life parents who own the stellar Santa Margarita restaurant The Range, where Jackson grew up waiting tables. Santa Margarita ranch owner and famed character actor Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs, Shutter Island, American Gangster, TV series Monk), who’s currently filming an untitled Jurassic World sequel, makes a cameo in Jackson’s video as the town drunk smoking a cigarette on a picnic bench.
“That was amazing!” Jackson gushed. “I’ve known Ted a long time, and the video is about my last day in town before a tour. It meant a lot that he did that.”
Gilded is filled with emotionally charged songs that were all written over the last four years. She played song after song for Ness, who helped her whittle her many possibilities down to the carefully curated selection they decided on. In preparation for the recording, Ness gave Jade some homework, handing her a copy of Lucinda Williams’ 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
“He told me to listen to this and only this for the next three months,” Jackson recalled. “And it did help me with my vocals. I didn’t really understand about straight tone and I didn’t recognize that I was using vocal inflections where they weren’t needed. Mike really helped me craft where to emphasize and when. I realized I had become too obsessive with reverb, I think because I fell in love with the reverb of Mazzy Star. In the studio Mike said, ‘I want you to do bone-dry vocals,’ and my heart broke because I thought I needed reverb.”
Jackson was wrong. Her voice has never sounded more beautiful. On the opening track of the album, “Aden,” Jackson sings, “I grew up my father’s daughter/ He said, ‘Don’t take no shit from no one’/ You’ll never see me cry/ ’Til now I’ve had no reason why/ I’m alone/ ’Cause my baby, he’s gone/ Ain’t no place feels like home to me/ Aden, please/ Don’t make me move on/ I’ve never loved anyone/ Can’t you see you are tearing me apart?/ Don’t you know you are breaking my heart?”
Her voice carries many of the same qualities of Williams’, and meanwhile, guitarist Rebel, another Santa Margarita resident who Jackson met in church where he ran the music services, seems to be channeling Ness’ muscular guitar style. Throw in the Social D-style chorus, and it’s easy to see Gilded is an album that’s benefitted from the synergy of multiple artists working in concert. From stunningly emotive ballads such as “Back When” and “Bridges” to the galloping rhythms of “Troubled End,” Gilded is going to make Jackson a household name. Nothing can stop her now, certainly not writer’s block.
“Yeah, that’s my thing,” Jackson admitted. “I can’t stop writing! I’m already ready for albums two, three, and four. The songs on Gilded have been done for a year and it’s been marketing and all that stuff, but I’ve been writing every step of the way.”
Out of the woodshed and into the spotlight
There’s a massive amount of talent on display on Wood’s exquisite new eponymous CD, which is filled with engaging ’70s-style folk rock songs, stunning vocal harmonies, and unbridled musicianship.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF WOOD
- OLD PROS, NEW BAND: Wood, featuring members of Twinkie Defense from 30 years ago, releases their exquisite debut studio album on May 19, at D’Anbino’s in Paso, followed on May 20 with an outdoor concert at Sea Pines Golf Resort in Los Osos.
Featuring Steve Kindel (vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin), Paul Steven Silva (vocals, guitar, mandolin, resophonic guitar), Dahlan Richenberg (vocals, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica), Rob Strom (bass), and Barry Johnson (percussion, tin whistle), this is a band with decades of experience. Several members used to be in Twinkie Defense, a popular local band 30 years ago.
That group’s vocal harmonies really enrich their sound. Do they sing well together naturally or did this take a bit of work?
“Paul, Steve, and I used to sneak some harmonies in while on break from our regular band rehearsals,” Richenberg recalled. “Somehow we ended up in the same band, and when the bass player quit, Rob joined up. It was always just a supernatural fit. When we started up again 30 years later, Berry was there, and it just seemed like we had always played together.”
“It seems like it used to be a lot more natural,” Silva added. “These days it can be a bit of a challenge.”
“I’ve always been moved by great harmonies and it was probably a major draw for us to play together way back when,” Kindel concluded. “It definitely takes a focused effort to find the right harmony, but when we do it’s pretty magical.”
Their new album lists specific songwriters for each track, but how much of their efforts are collaborative?
“Steve and I have written together,” said Silva, “but for the most part we bring a song to the group and everybody does their thing on it. I think it adds depth to a song that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you wrote out all the parts yourself. The challenging thing is letting go of control of the thing and letting the guys do that.”
“It’s fun to collaborate,” Kindel added. “But [it] doesn’t seem to happen very often. I usually bring a fairly completed song to the group—at least in terms of what I would play—but we are very much a band and part of the fun, and the challenge, is that everyone brings their own contribution to fill the song out. No matter who wrote the song, it becomes Wood.”
What have these guys been doing since their band of 30 years ago—Twinkie Defense—was the toast of The World Famous Dark Room?
“Witness Protection,” Silva quipped.
“Life,” Kindel said. “Music was always there on some level. Careers and family took priority. But I still made sure the kids new Neil Young, Dylan, and The Band. It was pretty great when Paul and I hooked up again eight years or so ago that we could still do it and it could be a more evolved version of our younger selves.”
Wood has really recaptured the ’70s folk sound. Are there certain artists they can point to as influences?
“Oh man, so many!” Silva enthused.
“Yeah, well, that’s what we grew up to—late-’60s and early-’70s American music that melded folk, country, and rock music,” Kindel added. “For me it was CSN&Y, The Byrds, Eagles, The Band. But also equally The Who, Led Zeppelin and, yeah, more Neil.”
Check out Wood this weekend when they play D’Anbino’s in Paso on Friday, May 19 (8 p.m.; 21-and-older; $10 tickets include a CD; call 227-6800 for reservations).
“The evening will begin at 8 p.m. with a performance of the CD in its entirety,” the band said. “Then we’ll loosen up and boogie with our friends for the second set. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged.”
The following day, Saturday, May 20, Wood plays the Sea Pines Golf Resort’s Barefoot Concerts on the Green series, opening at 2 p.m. with Los Osos singer-songwriter Shannon Savage and followed by Wood from 3 to 6 p.m.
Jazz juggernauts descend on SLO Town
- PHOTO COURTESY OF PANCHO SANCHEZ
- CONGA MASTER!: Latin jazz superstar Poncho Sanchez headlines the fourth annual SLO Jazz Festival on May 20, in the SLO Mission Plaza.
Now in its fourth year, the SLO Jazz Festival is bigger and better than ever, bringing world-class jazz artists to SLO Mission Plaza this Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (all ages; $40 general admission or $90 VIP, available at slojazzfest.org, at Boo Boo Records and all Vallitix outlets, or by calling 888-825-5484).
This year’s headliner is the amazing and seminal Latin jazz superstar conga player Poncho Sanchez, a Grammy Award-winner who’s performed with the likes of Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaría, and Tower of Power among others.
The Purple Ones: Insatiable Tribute to Prince, a Bay Area 11-piece pop-funk ensemble that features guitarist Levy Seacer, who played with Prince during the New Power Generation years, co-headlines the festival.
Also scheduled is Airto Moreira and Eyedentity featuring Diana Purim, the Peter Horvath Group featuring Bay Area musical heavyweights Ray Obiedo and Peter Michael Escovedo, local favorites Inga Swearingen with the Cuesta Faculty All-Stars and special guest vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake of George Shearing fame, and many more. Visit the festival website for all the details!
More music …
- PHOTO BY NATHAN RIGUARD
- UNSTOPPABLE: Reggae act Na’an Stop returns to Frog and Peach with a fun new album on May 18.
High energy, Boulder, Colo.-based reggae and rock act Na’an Stop returns to Frog and Peach this Thursday, May 18, and they have a new album in tow! The self-titled release is full of the band’s signature sound—a breezy, island vacation-style romp. On “Lazy Susan,” vocalist and trumpet player David Halvorson sings about the overwhelming feeling of romantic love over a super danceable rhythm. “Why You Runnin” has an amazing horn-driven intro and chorus with crisp percussion and bright guitar work throughout. “Positivity” gives you a little taste of the band’s socially conscious massage: “Positivity has got a hold on me. Life can be hit or miss, bleak or bliss, hard to find true happiness. It’s not always easy. It’s not always easy.” But it’s easy to listen to this awesome party band!
- PHOTO COURTESY OF JASON BONHAM
- LED ZEP AGAIN: Relive Led Zeppelin’s iconic music with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience on May 19, at Vina Robles Amphitheatre.
Vina Robles Amphitheatre hosts Jason Boham’s Led Zeppelin Experience on Friday, May 19 (8 p.m.; all ages; $36 to $46 tickets at vinaroblesamphitheatre.com). The acclaimed drummer, son of Zep drummer John Bonham, plays hits and weaves tales from the iconic band’s entire career.
Good Medicine Presents hosts Hawaii singer-songwriter Anuhea at Tooth & Nail Winery on Saturday, May 20 (6 p.m.; all ages; $18 presale at ticketfly.com or $20 at the door). The Kicks open. Anuheake’alaokalokelani Jenkins was born on Maui and is a self-taught guitarist who plays super hooky, breezy island pop and folk songs.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF ANUHEA
- ISLAND BEAUTY: Hawaiian-born singer-songwriter Anuhea plays Tooth & Nail Winery on May 20.
Eighties superstar Bryan Adams—perhaps best known for “Run to You” and “Summer of ’69”—plays Vina Robles Amphitheatre this Sunday, May 21 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; $56 to $86 tickets at vinaroblesamphitheatre.com). He’ll perform songs from his 13th studio album Get Up as well as hits such as “Heaven” “Everything I Do (I Do It For You),” and “Please Forgive Me.”
Keep up with New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey via Twitter at twitter.com/glenstarkey, friend him at facebook.com/glenstarkey, or contact him at email@example.com.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF BRYAN ADAMS
- ‘RUN TO YOU’: Eighties hit maker Bryan Adams plays Vina Robles Amphitheatre on May 21.