We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Elmore and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I think that music is a kind of glue that holds civilization together. You can show up at a live music event and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves (pandemic aside) and nobody shows any concern or animosity for other people’s political leanings, gender, race, sexual preference, or any of those things that seem to be dividing society in almost every other instance. As a performer, its refreshing to look out amongst a diverse crowd with a wide array of personalities and know that they’re there to simply enjoy a performance and get lost in the music without troubling their minds about all the other stuff. I consider it a high privilege to be the focus of the room and having that music come out of our hearts, souls, brains, and hands, as entertainers. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly and I strive to give people an escape from all of those troubles, if only for the length of a song. Hopefully for the duration of the evening though. I’m proud that I’m able to keep my opinions on worldly matters to myself so that anyone who attends my shows can be comfortable in the fact that we’re there TOGETHER and they don’t have to think of me as being different than them, at least when it comes to matters that usually spur division and the “us vs. them” mentality.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
From a very early age, I was exposed to lots of different styles of music. When I was a baby, I have clear memories of mother would putting me to bed and playing the record ‘Raindrops Falling On My Head’ by BJ Thomas. I remember it giving me a sense of calm and wonder. When she would go to work, my grandparents would watch over me. My grandfather was a huge fan of bluegrass fiddle music, and my grandmother turned me on to Elvis Presley. I remember being lost in amazement listening to the Elvis record and looking at the cover. He looked like a superhero dressed in his sparkling jumpsuit and cape. That image and the association to the music struck a chord with me (pun intended) and I was fascinated by all things Elvis. Then, when I would go to my father’s place on the weekends, he would play the latest AC/DC, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Van Halen, and other hot rock and roll records of the early 1980’s. I was pretty much enamored with all music, all the time. Then my dad started taking me to concerts and to blues clubs to see local Dallas guitar-based blues/rock acts like Bugs Henderson, Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Mike Morgan & The Crawl, and Smoking’ Joe Kubek. That was it. I remember watching Bugs Henderson and telling my friend next to me that I was gonna be THAT guy when I grew up. From that moment on, I had pretty much made up my mind that I was destined to be a music maker, particularly a guitarist. Thankfully, my parents were open to the idea and they bought me a cheap guitar, and then realized that I was serious and somewhat quick to learn, so they got me a better guitar and some lessons. From there I just sat in my room alone for all of my teenage years, practicing and learning. I didn’t hang out much or go to parties, I just wanted to get good at guitar. Soon after high school, I started playing in cover bands and hard rock bands, but finally grew tired of the vocalists in these groups not being very good bandmates. I grew frustrated with their rockstar mentality and their refusal to help load out heavy equipment after shows, and always being late or too intoxicated. So I decided that the only way to work around that would be to learn how to sing. So I formed my current band ‘Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch’ around 2008 and soon learned that I could sing decently and that I also had a knack for songwriting. Since then, I have been releasing albums of original material. I was lucky to have grown up around all of those different styles of music because they stuck in me and they come out in the music I write and perform. It has been both a blessing and a curse though, because I don’t play just one genre of music. So if blues fans are in the house, I have to be careful to not play too much rock and roll, and vice versa. I was named ‘Best Blues Act’ by the Dallas Observer in 2012 and 2017 and that made many people who didn’t know better assume that I just play blues. So there’s a certain stigma attached to it because blues is not a popular style of music these days and many people who have never heard the band don’t know that we sound way more like a rock band than a blues band. Kind of like Led Zeppelin or ZZ Top did with the “blues” back in the 1970’s. My band strives to do the same kind of stuff but we’re also influenced by funk, swing, 60’s-era country, and heavy metal. We try to cater the songs to the particular demographic or preference of the venues we play at and usually people say that it’s refreshing to hear a band cover so much sonic ground, rather than the same style all night. Still, other people want a more predictable night of music, so it can get tricky trying to please everyone and still enjoy playing what I have to play. Overall though, we are lucky that we are able to play all these types of music and not get burnt out playing the same songs night after night. I’m extremely fortunate to have bandmates who share my vision and who are extremely adept and appreciative of different styles of music as well. Mike Talbot has been playing drums with me for several years, and Brandon Katona has been playing bass with me for many years also. They are the backbone of my shows and without them and their musical expertise, I would not be able to do what I do as well as I do. To date, we’ve released 3 studio albums, and one feature-length live concert on DVD and BluRay. The albums have been a mix of styles, but primarily in the Texas blues/rock vein. We are currently working on an album of hard rock songs in the style of Van Halen, Soundgarden, Richie Kotzen, etc. Eddie Van Halen was a HUGE influence on my playing, and since he recently passed away, I want to make a record that pays tribute to his style and virtuosity, as well as a good vocal record since I have really grown as a vocalist in the last 3 years since my last album. I’ve been really inspired vocally by Richie Kotzen, Sammy Hagar, and Chris Cornell. My career choice was an easy one to make, but it is more difficult than I expected since the internet lets people experience music without having to be present or even purchase it, but I’ve been doing it too long now to turn back, so I shall trudge forward in hopes that roots-based rock and roll will come back in style one day. And if not, that’s okay too. I’m still very fortunate to be able to write, record, and release original music that is pleasing to me. And if I make enough money to keep the lights on for another month, then I call it a win. I’m very fortunate to be able to make a living doing something that I love, though it’s not exactly what I had envisioned as a 12 year old boy, watching live music when it was in it’s prime and the whole world seemed to be as excited as I was about it. Still, I count myself lucky to be able to do it and to have amazing bandmates and the support of so many people worldwide. My music can be purchased directly from my website at www.jasonelmore.net or on iTunes, amazon, etc.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This one’s tricky because I’m pretty much a homebody and I don’t get out and experience the city as much as I’d like to. If I’m not performing live someplace, I’m usually at home working on practicing guitar or writing songs. If I had to pick though, I would say that I would take them to several of the many excellent Tex-Mex restaurants that we have during the day. At night I would probably take them to one of the superb music venues that we have, such as Kessler Theater or Granada Theater, or The Sanctuary in McKinney, or maybe The Goat, which is a favorite dive bar in Dallas. We would sip Buffalo Trace whiskey and listen to whatever performer was at said venue that night. We have a pretty diverse music scene in the DFW area, so that’s really great unless someone big is playing on the same night that I have a show in a smaller venue. lol Ultimately, we would probably spend the majority of our time at my house, having refreshments, listening to music, watching MMA fights, and just enjoying conversation. I much prefer hanging out with a smaller group than being around a large mass of people, which is odd for the occupation that I chose, I suppose.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Obviously I have to thank my parents for exposing me to good music and encouraging me to learn how to play guitar, once I showed an interest. My family has always been very supportive to this day, even though they may have expected that I would someday be rich and able to enrich their lives in some way. I’ve been lucky enough to be encouraged by my idols (at least the ones who I had access to) when I was young and upcoming. I was a huge fan of Bugs Henderson, Jim Suhler, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, and Andy Timmons, all of whom are from the Dallas area and made a huge impression on me as a young pre-teen. Aside from that, lately I’ve been working on myself and dealing with the pratfalls and mental pressure of trying to make music independently for a living. I’ve had a lot of success through hard exercise, studying a couple of martial arts styles (another love that I developed as a kid), hot yoga, and most recently; trying to learn how to meditate (I use some apps to help guide that). I got started down this rabbit hole of making positive change after becoming a fan of several comedians’ podcasts. I feel that there are a lot of similarities in the struggle of being a musician and being a comic, so I’ve been able to feel like I’m not the only one who is “flawed” by listening to other people talk about their struggles, which are often much worse than my own.
Facebook: Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch
Youtube: The Official Jason Elmore Music Channel