Jesse Dayton

Jesse Dayton
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For a country boy from the oil fields of Beaumont Texas, Jesse Dayton’s blue collar upbringing has served him well. He is about as indie/D.I.Y. as it gets. After being asked by legendary artists to record and tour extensively he knew that workin w/ the "new country" artist of Nashville was just not the way to go. He opened entire tours for Willie Nelson and Billy Joe Shaver, and played guitar for most of the country outlaws like Waylon, Cash, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Jessi Colter, Doug Sahm and the list goes on. He went on extended US tours w/ punk rock legends Social Distortion, X and the Supersuckers, sometimes not coming home for months on end. While out touring the world (US, Europe, Russia and Asia) he realized that there was a whole underground of people who loved his music that also were not into the ultra slick Nashvile sound. Dayton made a pretty gutsy move and asked the execs at the LA label he was then signed too if they would let him out of his contract so he could start his own label, Stag Records. Since then, this long tall Texan has taken the bull by the horns and created his own self-branded business. He runs his own publishing company, Hard Charger Music, which has licensed music to Film and TV. His own merchandising line. And in '06, he started his own festival, "The Jesse Dayton Honky-Tonk and Hotrod Festival", (Dayton owns a highly customized '50 Ford), combining music and car culture launching festivals all over the US. In the mid-nineties when Jesse Dayton released his debut solo record, Raisin’ Cain, New Country Magazine called it “the most promising country debut since the Mavericks' From Hell To Paradise." Europe chimed in when Mojo Magazine wrote, "It's been ten years, when Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam emerged, since country music launched a new artist this powerful." All the accolades caught the attention of the Nashville rebels who had to knock down walls to get that kind of praise. Willie, Waylon, Kris, and Cash all made time to hang out with this long tall Texan from Beaumont who was grabbing the headlines. Dayton was sitting alongside Kris Kristofferson on the highly rated Crook and Chase tv show. He was recruited by Waylon Jennings’ to play guitar on the critically acclaimed, Right For The Time (Justice Records). Johnny Cash drove to the studio to offer some life changing advice... “Your’re different son, which means you will have a longer career than the rest of these guys.” Willie invited him to hang on his bus, Honeysuckle Rose, before playing one of the most coveted slots at his infamous 4th of July Picnic. It was clear that Dayton’s musical heroes connected with his outlaw spirit. The next logical step for outlaw country’s new protege? Record your followup in Nashville and call it Hey Nashvegas! Even though he was in Nashville, Hey Nashvegas! was still 100% Texan. It was all Dayton originals (except for one Bruce Robison/Jim Lauderdale cover) and featured a checklist of stellar musicians, including the as yet unknown Dixie Chicks, Jim Lauderdale, Tex-Mex superstar Flaco Jimenez on accordian, and fiddle giant Johnny Gimble. "Daytons Nashville record would have to wait to see the light of day...after leaving Texas indie Justice Records for Californias' Hollywood Records, the artist became involved in typical back-burner label shinanigans...he still kept busy, playin guitar and touring w/ his roots-rock band the RoadKings, Mike Ness and Chris Issak. Once he was free and clear from record contracts, Dayton enlisted two partners and formed Stag Records. After releasing his songwriters record "Tall Texas Tales" to glowing reviews and suprisingly kick-ass indie sales,(for a record that cost 3000 bucks to make!), his first order of business was to pull "Hey Nashvegas" off the shelf and put into the hands of his ever-growing cult following. One Texas Music publication put it succinctly " Dayton’s music is that of the proverbial rugged individualist, and his work has presaged some of the most interesting musical trends of the past decade. It’s country with rock and punk sensibilities. Dayton describes his music better than anyone. “It’s pretty much a gumbo of American roots music. It’s all in there: rockabilly, honky-tonk, jump-blues and vintage soul and R&B. Recreating old music is not what I’m into. Creating hybrids of music with all the classic tones and sounds is what turns me on.” Ever the entrepreneur Dayton enlisted two partners and formed roots-oriented Stag Records. The first item of business at Stag was to pull Hey Nashvegas! (STAG-003; released Sept. 25, 2001) off the shelf and put it into the hands of his fans. Dayton was firmly entrenched as a do-it-yourselfer and flew the “indie” flag high. He now had his own label which was financed, and with international distribution. It was his chance to make music the way he wanted. His first true Stag recording was titled Country Soul Brother (STAG-006; released November 2, 2004). It is a great example of what freedom and independence have done for Dayton the artist. Also heavily influenced by ‘60s soul artists and soulful country artists like George Jones, Conway Twitty, Charlie Rich, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Country Soul Brother mines Dayton’s blue-eyed soul side, yet everything is done within Dayton’s exciting and highly volatile turbo-country template, making for an entirely unique album that stands out from the mass of albums known collectively today as alternative country. While on tour promoting Country Soul Brother, Dayton got a call from hard rocker, Rob Zombie. Zombie invites Dayton out to L.A. to talk about music for his next movie, and the next thing he knows, he’s the man behind the fictional Devil’s Rejects band, “Banjo & Sullivan.” In a three day writing session Dayton describes as "sponsored by Jim Beam," he and actor/friend Lew Temple wrote 10 '70s influenced, honky tonk songs filled with edgey, double-entendre lyrics. Titles include “I'm Home Gettin’ Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed) and “I Don’t Give A Truck.” Dayton took the songs, and a decent recording budget, back to Austin and put them to music. Released through Universal, Banjo & Sullivan: The Ultimate Collection, continues to escalate in sales and he found himself a host of completely new fans. Dayton’s next release, South Austin Sessions (STAG-009; released March 7, 2006) draws a nod to some of his other influences including Townes Van Zandt, Jim Lauderdale and ZZ Top. He says it’s “one for the fans” and includes live show highlights such as “Mexican Blackbird”, “Why Do I Love You”, and “Loretta.” For his next recording, Holdin’ Our Own (scheduled for Nov. ’07 release) Dayton decided to pay homage to the classic country duets he grew up on in the 70's. He found the Tammy to his George in Austin songbird, Brennen Leigh. Dayton is quick to point out Leigh’s many talents. “Brennen grew up singing in Bluegrass festivals since she was a little girl and can play any instrument you put in front of her...sick talent.” Leigh’s most recent recording, Devil's on My Trail, has a time honored, country tinged sound and represents a departure from the bluegrass she cut her teeth on. She has a renegade musical philosophy and believes “people will get sick of glossy, overproduced pop-country.” This philosophy, and her “sick talent”, got her noticed by Jesse Dayton and it didn’t take long for them to begin writing and recording what as now become, Holdin’ Our Own. Holdin’ Our Own (STAG-011; streets November 27, 2007) is mostly Dayton/Leigh originals, with a few classic duets like Johnny and June’s “Long Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man;” and George and Tammy’s “Somethin’ To Brag About.” They enlisted some of Austin’s finest pickers, along with Dayton’s road band, to record a no frills, country to the core, album that showcases two of music’s brightest shining stars. And yes, it’s being released on his label, he owns the songs, and he is doing shows with Brennen at his own festivals.
Date Venue City State Note
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10/20/2010 - Jesse Dayton Visits Texas Dance Halls - Read More
01/12/2007 - The Honky Tonk Blues - Read More
04/06/2006 - Emerging US country singer to tour Vietnam  - Read More
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Average Rating : 0              Total Reviews: 19

Jesse Dayton  01/31/2005            
Apples and oranges, Kevin, I mean Tom. Just 'cause JD doesn't cater to the "beer and bong" crowd (even though his audience is into both) doesn't mean he can't sing and shred Fowler under the rug. What makes JD so much better, is he inserts a shot of Jim Beam in between the beer and the bong!! Like I said before, go see JD at a real venue, not some line dancin', strip center, poor excuse for a honky tonk.
Jesse Dayton  01/03/2005            
Hey JD, I mean Charles. I saw Fowler play on New Year's Eve. Fowler put more people in that club than JD probably puts in 10 shows. JD keep doing what you do and no one will buy your crap.
Jesse Dayton  12/24/2004            
Tom must have seen JD at the wHoresman Club in cow town. Strip center, line dancin', poor excuse for a country bar. I was there and talked to Jesse. He commented that he was treated like the janitor by the staff there, and the crowd was more interested in hearing Toby Keith covers than Jesse's music. Jesse's got more class than that entire crowd combined. Tom, do yourself a favor and catch Jesse at a real joint like the Continental Club or Gruene Hall. Country Soul Brother is the best real country record out right now. JD is not afraid to combine blues and r&b with country, you know, like Ray Price, Charlie Rich, Conway Twitty, etc... Everyone out there that is ready for a fresh slant on "Texas Music", well, first buy Willie's new one, THEN buy Country Soul Brother.
Jesse Dayton  12/22/2004            
I went to see Jesse, I thought his music was o.k., but he had no class on stage.
Jesse Dayton  11/14/2004            
I’ve just received Jesse Dayton’s latest album, Country Soul Brother and Late Johnny and Waylon would be proud to hear that someone has so brilliantly taken over. CSB is certainly Jesse’s most accomplished album and I am pretty sure Jesse ‘telecaster’ Dayton has a lot more in store.
Jesse Dayton  02/19/2002            
Jesse Dayton. This dude was playing his own brand of Texas music before it became fashionable again. If you haven't seen him in concert, you are seriously missing out. Great shows, everytime. Everytime I see him, it always seems better than the last. Nuff said about that. As far as the albums go, maybe I'm a tad biased, but everything he's done is top notch. No weak songs on any of his albums. Raisin' Cane is still something I listen to today. A little honky tonk, a little blues, rockabilly, some tejano, you get the picture. Made me a believer. Tall Texas Tales is another great effort. A little more eclectic and homespun, but that's what's cool about it. Hey NashVegas! is the more polished pure country of the three. Great honky tonk stuff mixed with more great Jesse stuff you just can't quite put a label on. All three are must buys if you ask me. If you like rockabilly, try any Road Kings you can get your hands on, it's all good too. Here's hoping Jesse toes the line and keeps up the good work. Meanwhile, go see him live, you'll become a believer as well. Listen for "higher than a hippie on a helicopter ride".
Jesse Dayton  08/01/2001            
beka geitz
i'm not going to say as much as the other guys have said here, because i can sum it up in one sentence: Jesse Dayton is the best i've ever heard or seen. he is an amazing guitar player, and as my dad likes to put it, "he kicks some righteous butt". so all of you, buy "raisin' cain", and i swear you won't regret it. love, beka
Jesse Dayton  10/18/2000            
Fred Wilson
Generally, when an artist releases a follow-up album some five years after his breakthrough solo project it is called a “comeback” album. However, with TALL TEXAS TALES, to be released October 24th, the strange thing is Jesse Dayton never went away. In 1995, after years as front man for quality bands such as the Road Kings (Houston) and the Alamo Jets (Austin), Dayton released RAISIN’ CAIN on Houston’s Justice Records. The album was an exceptional work that walked a line through the Road King’s rock-a-billy past, the Jets’ borderline swing,and genuine country. Most labeled the release as “alternative country” but those who have followed Dayton for some time knew it was more an interpretation of Gulf Coast music he grew up with in Beaumont, where a trip down the A.M. dial still produces a wonderful mix of sounds and styles. If anything, RAISIN’ CAIN was a tribute to these influences and at the same time it was uniquely Jesse, providing soulful turns (Time to Go, Blood Bucket Blues), a Latin twist (Carmelita), and plenty of roots rock (Kissing Abilene Goodbye, Train of Dreams, etc.). Deservedly, RAISIN’ CAIN was critically acclaimed and received decent play around the State. Needless to say, the follow up album was anxiously awaited. So what happened? Well what happened is Dayton acted like a true musician and continued to write and perform. In 1997 he had a new solo album ready for release, tentatively titled HEY NASHVEGAS. As one who has heard many of the songs live along with a bootleg of the actual disc, I can tell you the album exceeded expectations. Along with the title track’s rocking disparagement of the Nashville music machine, the album demonstrated Dayton’s continued growth as a songwriter and chronicled the difficulty of living one’s life on the road - “I don’t mind you dancing with a stranger tonight, as long as you pretend that it’s me.” Unfortunately, the album has never been released. Somewhere in this period of time, Justice Records apparently went defunct and left its only legitimate star in the lurch. If there is any justice in the industry, this album will someday see the light of day. With the effort of creating an album wasted, one could understand Dayton walking away from the whole scene. He didn’t. Jesse simply traded hats and returned to his starting place, the Road Kings. The band had never really gone away as Dayton frequently brought out the alter-ego, rock-a-billy act in Houston clubs. Indeed, the band released a live album recorded largely at the Satellite Lounge around the same time as the shelved Justice Records recording. After Justice Records dropped the ball, Dayton moved the Road Kings back to center stage. In short order, Jesse took bassist Jason Burns and drummer Ritchie Vasquez into the studio and released a self-titled album on California’s Surf Dog Records. The album was yet another success. Critics across the country praised the work and soon tunes from the album were making their way to the big screen, namely Hurdy Gurdy Monkey Shine appeared in the somewhat successful movie HAPPY TEXAS. In 1999, Eric Tucker, Dayton’s lifelong friend and the original drummer of the Road Kings, joined Dayton and Burns on a blistering tour across the country, into Europe, and ending with a raucous gig in Irvine, California on June 30, 2000. That show, on the side stage of a festival featuring several acts, drew a crowd worthy of the main stage and kept them there while the main act, a reunion of John Doe and the Knitters, wondered what all the fuss was about. However, the band was obviously road weary as was demonstrated by Burns pushing his doghouse bass into the crowd after it shorted out. The tour ended, the band took a break from each other, and Dayton once again was left to plot his next course. The result is TALL TEXAS TALES, the long-awaited follow-up to RAISIN’ CAIN. TALL TEXAS TALES, recorded for Bullet Records at Ernie Wells Studio in Houston, is yet another progression for the singing, skinny kid from Beaumont. Although the album is a step forward, familiar faces appear on the credits, namely the welcome return of Brian Thomas’s pedal steel and Charlie Sanders back-up vocals and bass, essentials in Dayton’s previous solo work. More notable is the transition of Eric Tucker from the Road Kings to drummer on the new album. Apparently, Tucker is resigned to leave studio work behind and permanently join his friend. It’s a wise move. On TALL TEXAS TALES, Dayton establishes himself as a leading Texas songwriter. With this album, Dayton comes into his own as an artist at ease with his craft. Indeed, after seeing Dayton play at the CD release party at Houston’s Continental Club it appears that he finally has stopped "performing”. No longer is he being the front man for a rock-a-billy band or a liner photo representation of what is supposed to be alternative country. Now he is Jesse Dayton playing his music, call it whatever you want, and playing it strong. Part of this transition is Dayton’s growth as a lyricist. His lyrics at times rambunctious and fun, at times remorseful and sad, are always moving and genuine. With songs such as Jumped Head First, a cathartic revelation about an alcoholic grandfather, the listener gets to know more about Dayton than they may want. With The Creek Between Heaven and Hell, one clearly understands the dilemma between what’s right and what’s fun. And,with Every Now and Then Dayton makes it clear that it’s nice to have someone to tell you its OK to be angry at the world. Dayton throws in a re-worked classic (Lynwood Smith’s Black Jack) for good measure, and lightens the mood with a jab at the thieves who stole his guitar (Harris County Blues) and a handyman’s lesson that duct tape can fix anything from a cracked window to a broken heart (Arkansas Chrome). Even more indicative of Dayton’s progression is the use of his voice as an equal to excellent guitar work. The album allows Dayton to showcase a voice that has often been shadowed by stellar guitar work. The guitar is still there and Dayton is still one of the best, but other instruments, including Dayton’s voice, make for a more complete recording, a damn good recording. It was a long wait, but it was worth it. As for the Road Kings, Dayton and the boys played the Satellite Lounge less than a week before the release party for TALL TEXAS TALES. I guess Jesse is not one for burning his bridges. Considering his experiences over a decade of recording and touring, I don’t blame him.
Jesse Dayton  09/23/2000            
Where to begin? Well, the best explanation is that this CD is still a fixture in my player FIVE YEARS after it came out. Raisin Cain is a simmering stew of spicy Texas roots styles, with an emphasis on bluesy honky tonk. Impeccable playing and creative songwriting make "Raisin Cain" an album you could listen to everyday for your entire life- it's just that good at capturing those elements of the "human condition" laughing, crying, winning and losing. Dayton cut his teeth with a variety of bands from the rockabilly of the Road Kings to the straight ahead country as guitarist to Pam Tillis and learned to play from an old Texas bluesman. He puts the styles into a blender and comes out with a winner on 12 counts. Standout tracks include the Johnny Gimbel fiddle driven "Gutbucket Blues" and the barroom stomp of "Angel Like You" played with a guitar fury which hasn't been seen on a real country album shy of Shaver's "Tramp on Your Street" or some of Dwight's more rockin' sides. Find it. Buy it. And enjoy the truly original talent that resides within. And hopefully Randall Jamail will find it somewhere in his heart to release that unreleased sequel to this 'un "Hey Nashvegas"
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