Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Working Musicians, TX: Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch

In this blog mini-series, I'll be focusing on working-class musicians from three cities close to my heart: New York City, my home; Dallas, my birthplace; and New Orleans, my favorite getaway. These are guys who grind it out several nights a week, three-hour sets, and twice a day on weekends, while working a 9 to 5 or getting by as best they can from music. I call it the American Blues Dream, and these are it's heroes...

I wish I had a great story to tell you of how I was introduced to Jason Elmore's music, but the truth is, while searching Facebook for potential names for my own band, The Voodoo Blues, I came upon Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch, and immediately thought, "Damn, that's a cool name, why didn't I think of that!", so naturally, I clicked, and listened, and liked. Discovering that Jason is based out of Dallas, my birthplace, made him that much cooler, as the unspoken bond among fellow Texans is as strong as the blues that has emanated from our great state (ok fine, i just thought it was a pretty cool coincidence).

Jason Elmore performing with Hoodoo Witch

While the sound of Texas blues is alive and well in Jason's music, it goes much further than the SRV and ZZ Top influence that no Texan, or modern bluesman, can ignore; Jason's sound hearkens back to deeper roots... to Lightnin' Hopkins in Houston's Third Ward, to Deep Ellum Dallas and Blind Lemon Jefferson, to the early rock'n'roll of Buddy Holly from Lubbock, with a hint of Hank Thompson's western swing, and on top of all that, the smooth legato phrasing and impeccable touch of Austin's Eric Johnson. Jason has cooked up all of these influences in a pot of Texas chili that's been simmering for quite some time, along with a charcoal-smoked voice that would make the Reverend Billy F. Gibbons proud, and served up three albums worth of great material to date.

Jason & Hoodoo's first two albums, Upside Your Head and Tell You What, are both great examples of that classic Texas blues-rock sound, with foot-stompin' shuffles anchoring sizzling double-stops, crying string-bending leads on tunes like "All It Does Is Rain", and some great slide guitar that may as well have been played with a Lone Star bottleneck. This is equal parts BFG, SRV, and EJ, with longer hair and some Lockhart's dry rub left over in the beard. 

On their latest album, the recently released Champagne Velvet, Hoodoo's sound has grown considerably, from the Memphis soul of Stax on "Shine Your Light", to the '50's Scotty Moore rockabilly and western swing of "Cross Eyed Woman", all the while still hanging on to those deep Texas roots, as relished on "Green to Gone". It's an incredibly complete album, covering a great range of territory while still retaining the band's traditional sound. Everything's bigger in Texas, especially the power trios, and this one is no exception, featuring 
the incredible rhythm section of Brandon Katona on bass and Mike Talbot on drums (Brandon is also an excellent guitarist in his own right).

For the gear geeks out there (like me), Jason plays his Strats, Teles, and occasionally Les Paul through a Mesa/Boogie Lone Star combo, '72 silverface Super Reverb, and a Marshall DSL50 with 2x12" cab, along with a vintage Ampeg Gemini VI and blackface Fender Vibrolux in the studio. He also uses a Wampler Euphoria overdrive, T-Rex Replica delay, and Vox Big Bad Wah pedal as needed. 


Jason playing his Tele

Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch have evolved considerably over the course of three albums, due in no small part to performing nightly in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, as well as travelling to Austin, Houston, and all points in between. Always finding new inspiration while paying respect to their roots, you can find Jason and Hoodoo Witch on Facebook and of course their own website for more information on tour dates and purchasing their albums. In addition to their originals, you might even be treated to a great cover like this at one of their shows...

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1 comment:

  1. Working Musicians TX" by Jason Elmore is a captivating exploration of the Texas music. A Compitition Create Through interviews and anecdotes, Elmore provides a vivid portrait of the challenges and triumphs faced by musicians in the Lone Star State.