Jesse Terry is an award-winning, internationally touring troubadour who has often been compared to the likes of Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams, and Paul Simon. Jesse tours relentlessly across America and throughout the world, from Europe and Greenland to the UK and New Zealand. Along the way, he has shared stages with folks like Paula Cole, Darrell Scott, and Liz Longley, among others.
He’s a winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, The International Songwriting Competition and the NSAI/CMT Song Contest and his songs have been featured on many network television shows, including ABC’s Forever, the CW’s Hart of Dixie and PBS’ Roadtrip Nation. Terry has released three full-length albums and is releasing a brand new EP in May 2015. Jesse was recently selected to perform at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music & Arts festival and was included on the Bonnaroo Mixtape 2015. While touing Europe, Jesse was kind enough to chat via email about touring, his new EP, playing Bonnaroo and more!
What has been going on professionally since we last spoke?
Wow, if I take a second to look back, so much has happened since we last spoke. I signed a management deal with an amazing person that has been a big boost for me. I signed an exclusive licensing deal with a wonderful company, Music Alternatives (Joshua Radin, They Might Be Giants and other greats are on their roster).
My song “Stay Here With Me” (co-written with brilliant producer/artist/engineer Neilson Hubbard) was recently featured on ABC’s new TV series Forever. “Stay Here With Me” was also included on the 2015 Bonnaroo Mixtape, available now for free on NoiseTrade.com. Also featured on the Mixtape are heroes like Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov, Trampled By Turtles and Guster.
I just keep touring, making music and meeting people. It’s a lot of joyful work and a lot of time away from home, but I love it. I love the journey, the travelling and the adventure. My wife and my pup can come with me on most of my tours, which is really the most important thing to me. They are my home and if they are with me most of the time, I’m cool.
Playing all of this music is taking me into some bigger rooms, theatres and bigger concert series. Now I’m starting to headline or co-bill at places where I’ve only opened in the past; classic venues like Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, NJ and Club Passim in Cambridge, MA. It feels really good because I’ve worked really hard for that. I dreamed of it and I visualized it. I can’t reflect for too long because there is much work to be done and lots of music to be made. And of course, these shows mean nothing without my wonderful audience showing up and supporting me.
Recently, you toured in New Zealand and Europe. How was the reception to the music?
Honestly, the international audiences and tours have been great. There is always the average gig occasionally, no matter where you are, but overall the international shows have been awesome. Don’t get me wrong I love American audiences and tours as well – but I feel like sometimes the US audiences are spoiled with so many great choices. How many stellar acts can you see on a Friday night in Boston, Nashville, Austin, LA or NYC? Or on a Tuesday night for that matter! If you’re playing in a smaller city in New Zealand or Italy, you might be the one of the only musical acts performing that night in the area. Sometimes it seems a bit more special to those international audiences and they seem grateful that you stopped in their town. I think it’s so interesting to meet these folks in different countries. And I think they are interested in where I come from, what I think about their country etc. They are eager to tell me about the best spots, the best places to eat and the most beautiful places to visit.
I just finished a great tour in Italy, one of the first times I’ve performed for folks and dealt with a really strong language barrier. Most Italians speak very good English (or at least much better than most Americans speak Italian!) but there is still a very clear language barrier. I had to remember to speak slowly at my shows. It changed the way I performed and the way I told my stories during my performance. Luckily I toured with a wonderful Italian violinist/singer Chiara Giacobbe and she would translate for me every night and teach me some Italian along the way. The crowds always cheered raucously when I spoke to them in Italian--I think they appreciated my effort and my respect for their beautiful country and language. I love Italy and the people there – Great audiences, great music lovers, welcoming, patient and passionate people. I met some new friends and fans that I know I will know for the rest of my life. The Italy Tour was a pure example of the universal language of music.
My first New Zealand Tour was stunning as well. My first show was outdoors and overlooked Lake Tarawera and a massive volcano. Not your everyday performance. Kiwis were very receptive to my music and enthusiastic. I met some great folks in NZ that want to have me back for festivals and they are starting play my music on the radio in NZ. We’re working on the next New Zealand Tour now and hoping to add Australia dates this time. I’ve played for Aussies before when I played on a cruise ship in the South Pacific. Aussies are great music lovers, fantastic funny people with lots of energy – and usually a very impressive tolerance for alcohol!
These international tours are great adventures for me. I love to travel and meet folks from different corners of the globe and different walks of life. I’m so grateful to see the world because of my job. I know that the characters, places and experiences I have out on the road will make their way into my songs. I think it’s very important as a writer to have enough input. It can’t always just be output. Eventually you run out of interesting stuff to write about.
Will there be new music in 2015 and what can you tell us about it?
YES!! There will absolutely be new music released very soon. I recorded an EP back in December 2014 with Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Glenn Barratt at his Morning Star Studios in East Norriton, PA. I can’t say the exact date yet but I will send out an email very soon to my mailing list with an update. Fans can sign up for the monthly newsletter here to stay in the loop. We’re trying something new with the release strategy this time and I’m really excited about it. I think my fans will dig too. I have a present and a surprise for all of my fans and friends.
I’ll also announce the EP release soon on my FB Artist Page. Make sure to give that page the ole’ “Like” so I can keep you posted. And check out some gorgeous photos of Italy while you’re over there!
I’m not on a label right now. I’m independent and might start my own little label. I’m not sure which path I’ll go down. Right now I’m thrilled to have a manager, licensing company, publicist and entertainment lawyer that I love. Some extremely successful artists choose to not work with a label at all. I think it’s all about the artist, the particular label and the relationship there. You can outsource stuff now like radio promo, publicity, advertising etc. The things that labels can provide – or used to provide. I would like to find the right booking agent...or have them find me. I enjoy booking but it’s a full time job. I want to spend even more of my time writing songs and recording more albums.
Did you write everything yourself on the new project?
The original plan was just to go in and re-cut one song (a song from my first record “The Runner” that we wanted to approach differently). Releasing only one song sounded a little boring and too safe for me, so I started writing more and I unearthed some old songs that I fell back in love with. I recorded my first cover, because I had such a great response to it at my live shows. I couldn’t have made this record without the generosity and support of fellow musicians, friends, and producers.
I co-wrote half of the songs and wrote the other tunes by myself. It was my first time co-producing a project. It was great to produce this EP with Glenn and have that experience. He did a fantastic job and really made it happen.
The EP features an incredible bunch of players, including Maia Davies, my great friend on Warner Canada. She has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard and I’ve wanted to work with her for many years. My father Michael Terry also added some piano and acoustic guitar to the project, which was really cool for us. I’m so proud to have him on my recording. We’ll be doing a father/son tour in August and I can’t wait for that.
It was recently announced that you will be playing Bonnaroo......excited?
Ummm YES!! I’m about as stoked as a person could be. Playing Bonnaroo is a dream come true. I can’t believe I’m going to be in the same festival as Billy Joel, Robert Plant, My Morning Jacket, Mumford and Sons, and Gary Clark Jr.
Now I have to put together my dream Bonnaroo band. I have some friends that are playing there and we’re working on schedules. It’s going to be epic and the experience of a lifetime. I am humbled by this Bonnaroo slot, but at the same time I know I’ve worked very hard for this and I know that I’m ready for it. I’ve been turned down many times by festivals that are attended by 500 people, not the 80,000 that are attending Bonnaroo. I can’t make sense of everything but I’m so amazed that I was booked to play and that Bonnaroo also included me on the 2015 Mixtape. I completely freaked out about both things and screamed a little bit.
This music thing is all about perseverance, hard work, humility and the constant desire to get better; to be great. At least that’s how I see it. I’m not chasing folks down anymore. I want to work with folks in the music business that love what I do and are fantastic people. And I want to be there for my fans above everything because the fans are what make everything work and what enable me to do this full time.
Is there one thing you want to accomplish this year or that you are looking forward to the most?
Wow, I want to accomplish so much, but I also want to enjoy the journey and enjoy every moment. I trust that I’m on the right, unique path for me. I’ve seen so many folks get caught up in comparing themselves to other artists or constantly longing for something bigger – something greater. My goals are very lofty but I also want to enjoy where I’m at right now, which is a great place. I’m really excited about the new EP and I’m looking forward to that making some waves out there. I’m excited to start writing the songs for my next LP. I’m not going to record the next LP until I feel like I have a classic bunch of songs. Undeniable songs.
I want to have more songs placed in Film/TV/Commercials this year and hopefully get a major label cut. That’s a big ambition. I’m about to announce a bunch of new Co-Bill tours and Theatre dates with wonderful friends and artists. I can’t wait to work with all of these inspiring artists and share the journey and the road with them.
The thing about the music business is you never know what’s around the corner. That’s the frustrating thing and the beautiful thing about it. So my mind is open for the next opportunity. The best opportunities seem to come out of nowhere. They are always a result of hard work and making music, but it’s unpredictable; it’s usually not an instant gratification thing.
Recently I had this epiphany about music and this career that sounds so elementary and painfully simple: HAVE FUN! That’s all that matters. If it’s the biggest show of my life, or the smallest show of my life, I’m always going to remember to have fun and connect to the music. When I’m sitting in my pajamas, drinking coffee, returning emails and booking shows I’m going to have fun doing that as well. Otherwise it’s not worth it. I suppose enjoying the journey is just a good overall mantra for life in general.
Watch "Empty Seat On A Plane" here
Watch "Stay With Me" here
To join the mailing list and for more information including photos, free music, & more visit: www.jesseterrymusic.com - www.facebook.com/jterrymusic - www.instagram.com/jesseterry
For all of his tour dates visit here
Upcoming Local Tour Dates
Apr 29, 2015 Mohegan Lake, NY The Winery at St. George - Jesse Terry & Friends Concert
May 1, 2015 New Haven, CT Folk First Fridays - "Tribute to Neil Young"w/ Rebecca Loebe
May 6, 2015 New York, NY Rockwood Music Hall Stage Threew/ Rebecca Loebe
May 7, 2015 Cambridge, MA
May 9, 2015 Franklin, MA
May 15, 2015 Montclair, NJ