We had the good fortune of connecting with Jordan McEwen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jordan, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?

Growing up I had the typical 90’s childhood of playing outside until the street lights came on, and being in a small neighborhood with several other neighborhood kids, we had to be creative to pass those long summer days without getting bored. I believe my creative roots can be traced back to those summers building a clubhouse with my friends, who later became my brothers. We would collaborate and wouldn’t mind tearing it down and starting from scratch. One summer we had a four-story clubhouse that leaned over the alley just by a foot or two and the city made us tear it down. The next summer we started over and made a clubhouse that was even better, although it was only two stories tall this time.

As time went on and we got older and we were okay with the “final” clubhouse, we would spend our time in the clubhouse listening to music, spray painting, skating, and we finally branched out into the scene. That is where I really jumped into the music realm. My first concert was Pantera on the Official Live Tour and that’s the moment we decided to start a band. My brother had decided to pick up bass, and our childhood friend that lived down the street decided to pick up the guitar. That left me stuck with drums if we wanted to start a band, so I saved up $500 bucks from working with the family moving business during the summer and bought a pawn shop drum set when I was thirteen years old. I also had a guitar that my parents got me for Christmas the previous year, and I would write some of the guitar parts for the band. We found a singer and in just a couple of months we were playing at our singer’s grandparent’s Mexican restaurant, “El Jalepeño.” We passed out flyers at the high schools and would bring in 100 kids at the door for a one-dollar cover charge. We later got to play a show at the iconic Depot Warehouse, which is where all of our favorite bands would play. The high from playing music was addictive. That was my first experience of making money with music, but it has never been about making money for me. I have spent much of the past decade in the education field, which is where I make much of my steady income, but I have been fortunate to balance both careers and maintain a connection to music.

The feeling of creating art, along with the camaraderie and sense of community brought together with our shows struck a chord that has stuck with me to this day. After our first band fizzled out after high school, I spent more time working on my own solo material. My dad and I spent lots of time on the road moving people all across Texas during the summers, and he introduced me to all kinds of music. It wasn’t until he took my brother and I to a Flatlanders concert that I really began to appreciate the craft of songwriting. That is where I found my inspiration to be a songwriter. I can remember Butch Hancock introducing a song that came to him in a dream, and I wanted to one day be able to have a dream, wake up, and write a song. That day still hasn’t come, although I’ve had some glimpses of songs in my dreams.

I guess the short answer to the question of why I chose to pursue an artistic or creative career is that being creative became a part of who I am as a result of some of the childhood experiences that I’ve mentioned. There is something about the endless challenge of writing and creating music that draws me in. It stems from that moment I saw the crowd going wild at the Pantera concert. It was a result of growing up in Lubbock, Texas and having to be creative to avoid boredom. It was the joy of seeing people come together for a good time, bobbing their heads, head banging and dancing. And at the root of it all, there is the fulfillment of looking at a blank sheet of paper, collaborating with other musicians, and hearing the final master manifested on vinyl. There’s something magical about the process, and that’s where I find the most joy. Making music is much like building a clubhouse.

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.

I’ve never really done well staying inside a box and my music is reflective of that. I’ve played in rock and metal bands, but I also enjoy writing an occasional sad country song. I used to write and record all my stuff, but it wasn’t until I assembled an all-star team to help with my debut album that my music really manifested and I found my voice. I’m really proud of that first album. It took me longer than most to release my solo stuff because I was a perfectionist and didn’t have the confidence or vision to feel comfortable releasing anything. I would over think and it ultimately prevented me from progressing. If I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self a lesson, it’d be to care less about what people think and assemble a team to help fulfill a vision. It is much more fun to collaborate with folks you admire and trust than to try and do everything on your own.

My musical path hasn’t come without obstacles. In my college days I got to play some awesome shows, and then my path seemed to reach a dead end when I started a family. It wasn’t until I got out of a toxic 7-year relationship that I picked up the guitar again and got back into playing and writing. I had lost myself in the relationship, but I try to find the positive in bad situations. I once hit a deer in the hill country, flipped my car, and picked up a banana that had fallen out and told the sheriff, “At least the banana isn’t bruised.” I got two wonderful kids from the relationship and a lot of material that was the foundation of my debut album, “Fail in Love”.

Another challenge I faced was the timing of my debut album release, which was released right after the pandemic began, in April 2020. I used much of that time after the release shows were canceled to go back into the lab and try a different approach. I went back to recording on my old 16-channel recorder and then sent the tracks off to be recorded remotely. Drums were recorded by Kris Killingsworth in Knoxville, Tennessee, and then the tracks were sent to David Beck to produce in Austin, Texas. It was a much different process than getting into a studio and recording live with a band, but I’m really stoked to release what we came up with on this new project.

Despite the challenges and obstacles I’ve faced, these past few years have been a fresh breath of air since I quit drinking in 2020. Being in the music scene it’s easy to fall into drinking too much. I think I wasted a lot of time and opportunities in the past because of my alcoholism. The clarity I have gained has made life much more enjoyable. I feel like I am in my prime, and it’s amazing how life can turn around when you start taking care of yourself. Things start to fall into place. I am excited to see what the future holds.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Although I am a west Texas boy, my mom was born in Fort Worth and I’ve spent a lot of time in DFW. I’m a baseball guy, so a Rangers game is a must during baseball season. For art and music, there’s a great thing happening in Deep Ellum and I think anyone in the area should visit. And then of course there’s The Stockyards to go listen to some live music in Fort Worth. I’m also a history guy, so I enjoy going to museums. There are plenty of options to find whatever piques your interest.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone who has been involved in my musical journey thus far. I’m blessed to have parents who have never swayed me and encouraged me from the moment they bought my first guitar and keyboard. I am also grateful for my grandparents for inspiring me to continue my education. There’s too many mighty fine pickers and grinners I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stage with to mention, but my first album wouldn’t have come about without the help and guidance of my songwriting mentor from my Texas Tech days, Andy Wilkinson. Sean Frankhouser and Alan Crossland also had their hands in helping me discover the record production process, and the amount of knowledge I’ve gained from working with them is priceless. Some other folks who have encouraged me and supported me throughout the years and are doing great work themselves are: Brandon Blair (cinematographer, musical artist Aura Gaze, and former bandmate in Slobula and Dragg), Neil Barrett (music video director, musical artist Pornohelmut), David Beck (producer, musical artist David Beck’s Tejano Weekend), and my wonderful girlfriend, an awesome singer-songwriter, Amelia Presley. Finally, I’d like to give a shoutout to my two kids, Brazos and Maize, who I believe are my two biggest fans, as I am theirs.

Website: www.jordanmcewen.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordanmcewenmusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jordanmcewenmusic

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0EPr8EUh0NRdSKULOgqQ8A

Image Credits
Amelia Presley, Chris Richburg, Charlie Stout, Bryan Wheeler

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