Preview | Jesse Dayton – UK & Ireland tour
By Cara Gibney
Jesse Dayton has relatives from Ireland. The Sullivans. “They initially came through the port of New Orleans in the 1800s. I think they got malaria because they were digging ditches. So they said ‘Fuck this, we’re going to Texas and we going to become firefighters.’”
Guitar shredding, punk-country-honkytonk-rock, and rolling Jesse Dayton has a lot of history actually. He played lead guitar together with his hero Glen Campbell, after Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He has recorded with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson; played live with Kris Kristofferson. All of the lead guitar on Waylon Jennings’ Right For The Time was played by Dayton; same on Ray Prices’ Prisoner of Love.
But that’s just the some of the story. When Jesse Dayton was 15 years old he went on a trip to another town to see a band called the Clash. Punk entered his life, in sound and attitude, and it never went away. Brought up in the 70s on the Texas Louisiana border, he was surrounded by an amalgam of music. From Cajun to rhythm and blues, country to rock and roll. From George Jones to Joe Strummer, Dayton’s tastes were open to whatever music had to offer.
“Genres are a marking tool,” he told me. “I think that people who only listen to one kind of music are almost like musically racist, and they’re missing out on so much.” Attending a Jesse Dayton gig takes in the full gamut of the musics that he has absorbed over the years. “Our shows have the energy of a punk rock show, but I am also a storyteller. I grew up with all these Texas songwriters like Van Zandt and Guy Clark. So there are stories in [my] songs …. I am writing about personal vulnerable things that have happened.”
He went on to play with American rock band Supersuckers, American punk band X, and tours/performs with musician and X frontman, John Doe. Metal-rocker turned filmmaker Rob Zombie asked Dayton to write soundtracks for a few of his horror films. Never one to stand still, Dayton took what he learned from this and ended up writing and directing his own horror – Zombex, starring Malcolm McDowell and Lew Temple, (Walking Dead).
He “ran back into the arms of the music business” after that and recorded his 9th studio album The Revealer – a mix of country-blues, punk, rock and roll, a lot of attitude, and a deep vein of honesty: the real man beneath the swagger. The Revealer is a collection of songs piecing together key elements of the Dayton family over generations.
Songs like ‘Mrs. Victoria (Beautiful Thing),’ a warm ballad describing his relationship with the black housekeeper who helped to bring him up. “It’s a civil rights song,” he explained. “I didn’t think about that when I was writing it. I just wrote about this old woman who helped to raise me. I don’t think about that kind of big picture stuff when I’m writing. I was just being completely honest and vulnerable, and leaving my heart on the page.”
‘Daddy Was A Badass’ is another personal take on the people who helped form him. It’s also another highlight on the album. A selection of memories and family legends about two generations of men who had a mighty influence on Dayton. It pieces together their life-and-times through key characters, decisions, attitudes, and events: not least the Korean War.
“I wrote ‘Daddy Is A Badass’ and ‘Miss Victoria’ on the same day” he recalled. “I wrote ‘Daddy Is A Badass’ that morning, and then my brother sent me a picture of this old lady holding me as an infant. She was Miss Victoria. I just sat down and wrote that [song], and I haven’t really changed anything [from the original]. I started realising these songs were, not to get too Eastern or metaphysical, but sometimes these songs just come to you. That is when you are supposed to do it.”
“Holy Ghost Rock n Roller’ is about a Pentecostal tent revivalist I used to see at the grocery store,” Dayton went on to explain about the second track on the album. “He would say ‘Hello you – you are that rock and roll boy, you need to be a Holy Ghost rock and roller.’” He may have been a young boy at the time, but there was only one word that Dayton wanted to say to this revivalist: “science.” Dayton’s voice slowed down as he spoke the word, falling into a loud, deep, whisper. “When you’re a little kid and you’re rolling your eyes. When you feel absolutely no fear and you are not intellectually challenged by a guy that you know is a total fucking redneck. I am like ‘Yeah, sure, God talks to you … you’re the one who knows. It’s not Nelson Mandela or the President; it’s you that he knows.’ Idiot. I knew that when I was 12.”
Jesse Dayton and his band of Hardchargers are presently touring Europe with the new album. They will be hitting various venues in Ireland and The UK over the next ten days or so. Visit the Jesse Dayton website for info.
23 Oct Nottingham – The Maze
24 Oct Sheffield – Greystone
25 Oct Glasgow – Stereo
26 Oct Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
27 Oct Newcastle – Gosforth Civic Centre
28 Oct Kilkenny – Cleeres
30 Oct Belfast – Errigle Inn
31 Oct Dublin – Whelans Halloween Party
01 Nov Winchester – Railway
02 Nov London – Borderline – Folk and Roots