JESSE DAYTON & his full band
Jesse Dayton is the living, breathing, drinking embodiment of a cool country soul brother.
His first album 1995's Raisin' Cane included backup from Texas legends like Doug Sahm and Flaco Jimenez and was released on Willie Nelson's Justice label. His 2001 release on his own Stag Records label "Hey! Nash Vegas" also featured a stellar cast of players including Texas fiddle king Johnny Gimble, The Dixie Chicks, and Jim Lauderdale.
Dayton now has several more solo albums under his belt these days, and has also played on records by The Supersuckers, Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Tenderloin and three albums with his rockabilly group The Road Kings.
In 2005, filmmaker Rob Zombie recruited Dayton to create music under the moniker of Banjo & Sullivan for the soundtrack to horror flick The Devil's Rejects.
Dayton's talent is unmistakable & his all-american appeal is cross genre & generational, allowing him to tour with acts as diverse as George Strait, Mike Ness and Joe Strummer.
Jesse comes to Campus Jax in Newport Beach on a Wed. night along with his brother from another mother Ted Russell Kamp, and they are two of the most sought-after musicians in the Americana/Honky Tonk world today.
Appearing with full bands, the two will deliver a dynamite evening of their original brand of country rock, and Ted's opening set will include the talented Emily Zuzik as a vocalist.
Info on his most recent album: Mix Tape Volume 1
“A lot of this stuff was what I liked as a kid,” says modern-day outlaw country icon Jesse Dayton
of his new album of cover songs, Mix Tape Volume 1. “Some of it is from super-early on, before
I was even thinking about playing music. They're just songs I would hear on the radio in my
sister's old '62 Rambler she would take me to school in. I'm hearing Neil Young, Gordon
Lightfoot, stuff like that. Of course, when I got a little older, I saw The Clash in San Antonio at
the Egyptian Theater. Joe Ely opened that show. That changed my life.”
The dichotomy inherent in that Clash/Ely bill has ruled the Beaumont, TX native's career, either
with his own rockin' country music or playing guitar for everyone from Johnny Cash and
Waylon Jennings to punk standard-bearers X. He grew up, went through punk rock after that
eye-opening Clash gig and the obligatory late-'70s/early-'80s suburban American teenage heavy metal phase. He apprenticed in zydeco bands and honky-tonk outfits, and played on a session for zydeco legend Rockin' Dopsey produced by Texas music legend Huey Meaux. He moved from Beaumont to Austin, to play rockabilly. He eventually realized the stuff he grew up with – the vintage country music infusing his Beaumont childhood, from Johnny Cash, George Jones, Waylon Jennings - had an honesty, a passion and a rawness that modern country music didn't have, a spirit the best punk rock shared. He started relating to his roots again.
But to understand how Jesse Dayton arrived at Mix Tape Volume 1, you have to look to the five
years he spent being Thursday's entertainment at Austin honkytonk institution The Broken
Spoke. No matter how many strong LPs you've issued of your own material, when you are in that situation, having to play five sets-per-night? You can't rely on your original output.
"I was a human jukebox,” Dayton groans now. “But it's where I learned how to pace my sets. It's where I learned how to be a band leader. It's about watching the dancers - knowing where to play a polka, knowing where to play a waltz. Quite a bit of work and study went into that gig. It was packed every time. But I started having Groundhog's Day flashbacks. I wanted to kill some of those goofy dancers, after awhile." Thankfully, X's John Doe stepped in and asked Dayton to be his touring guitarist, showing him another way to play music. Otherwise, he might have been recording Mix Tape in prison!
Here and there, Dayton stays faithful to the original versions of his Mix Tape entries. For
instance, Dr. Feelgood's revved-up pub rocker “She Does It Right” remains in the same
neighborhood, with little renovation. It's when Dayton indulges his imagination that things get
interesting. He retrofits The Clash's reggae homage "Bankrobber" with a Bobby Fuller Four
arrangement, the way The Clash converted "I Fought The Law" into a furious punk anthem.
AC/DCs “Whole Lotta Rosie” morphs into something akin to ZZ Top playing Slim Harpo's
“Shake Your Hips.” Speaking of ZZ Top, their “She's A Heartbreaker” wouldn't have been out of
place on a Flying Burrito Brothers record. The Cars' midtempo chug “Just What I Needed”
becomes the sorta two-step, buckle-polishing Texas honky-tonk shuffle Dayton would've
whipped out on those Broken Spoke Thursdays. Bruce Springsteen's “State Trooper” becomes a Cramps-style punkabilly stomp.
"The world is filled with people aping Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings songs,” he says. “It's
so unoriginal. I had to make it sound like me, no matter where it came from."
But it's when he's lifting material from his older sister's '70s singer-songwriter records – Jackson
Browne's “Redneck Friend,” Neil Young's “Harvest,” Elton John's “Country Comfort” - and
making pure, achin' country music out of it that Dayton's redemptive powers really shine. It's
especially evident when he gives Gordon Lightfoot's “If You Could Read My Mind” the sort of
arrangement Waylon Jennings applied to “MacArthur Park,” or to Paul Simon's “The Boxer,” as
he did when Dayton played with him. It works.
"People think Waylon rode around in a pickup truck listening to Hank Sr. Waylon was cruising
around in a Mercedes, listening to singer-songwriters,” Dayton snorts. “He had a hit with 'Are
You Ready For The Country?' by Neil Young. George Jones had a hit with 'Bartender Blues' by
James Taylor. It might be his greatest vocal performance ever!”
"But now I look at the records my sister had - the Jackson Brownes, the Elton Johns - and I
think, 'Okay, now I get it.' There's a lot of great material there. It's all about interpretation."
And interpret, he does. Quite brilliantly, too. It was something Jesse Dayton's been needing.
“I'd done almost five years on tour,” he sighs, “doing two original records back-to-back. I played
on a lotta other people's records. I just needed to take the pressure off, just have some fun. And that's why this is Volume 1 – what if I need to do this again?”
Jesse Dayton Quick Facts
* 11 studio albums, 2 singles, and one EP as a solo artist
* Collaborations or guest appearances with Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, Johnny Gimble, The Supersuckers,
Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush, Glen Campbell, and John Doe.
* Past Tours with The Supersuckers, Social Distortion, and X.
* 3 soundtrack collaborations with Rob Zombie, for his films The Devil's Rejects, Halloween 2 (also featuring
Jesse in the role of Captain Clegg), and The Haunted World Of El Super Beasto.
* Over 50 songs licensed to film and television.
* Writer and director of the independent horror film Zombex, starring Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, Lew
Temple (from The Walking Dead) and John Doe.
Jesse Dayton - acoustic & electric guitars, lead & harmony vocals
Chris Rhoades - bass
Kevin Charney - drums
Matt Hubbard - piano, organ, harmonica
Nate Flemming - pedal steel guitar
Noah Jefferies - fiddle
David Boyle - string arrangements
Patrick Herzfeld - engineer
Mixed by Stuart Sullivan
Recorded in Austin, TX. at Signal Hill Recording Studio & mixed at Mosaic Sound Collective
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova Mastering