Jason Morton and The Chesapeake Sons owes their geographical roots to the Atlantic seaboard, but its sonic heritage connects the band firmly to The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Marshall Tucker Band. With the new album, Jason Morton and The Chesapeake Sons, the four-piece ensemble blends effusive melodies, fierce musicianship, convicted vocals, and smart lyrics in a diverse song stew that dips – in Southern-rock fashion – into rock, blues, country, gospel, and even psychedelia. Here, front man Morton answers his Essential 8.
When/where do you do your best writing?
In the recording studio at night. I've always really enjoyed writing in the studio because there are so many different instruments available. I can't tell you how many times I would be playing chords on the guitar, but could not figure out a vocal melody for the life of me. So, I would put the guitar down, walk across the room, play the same exact chords on a different instrument, and the change in sound inspired a fresh new melody that I never would have thought previously.
What’s the best advice you have ever gotten from another musician?
The best advice I received was in regards to songwriting as an artist. They said, "As an artist, you're going to be out there touring and winning people over with your live show. If your live energy is what people love you for, then you need to keep that in mind when writing songs you plan on playing on the road. Are you writing for radio? Or are you writing for your fan base and your live show? It's always best, more fun, and less stressful to focus on writing songs that represent who you truly are as a live performer, as opposed to writing something "safe" that fits in with everything else that people are already doing."
What’s the best advice to give to a musician just starting out?
Be true to yourself, your music, and your overall brand. Put out a product that YOU are happy with. Remember...as a musician, it's the MUSIC you create that defines you more than anything else. So, make sure it's something that you're proud of. When you are proud of something you create, you naturally believe in it's ability to do well. That also shows on the outside when you're performing those songs. People can feel that and it's infectious. Fans and viewers are smart. They know right away whether someone is faking it or not. Don't fake it. At the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with it.
What do you love most about being on the road?
Experiencing different cultures and new cities/towns. It's so cool to me to fall asleep and wake up the next morning in a completely new and different place. That would drive some people absolutely insane. But, I love it and it keeps things exciting.
What has been your biggest success?
Playing with ZZ Top at Baltimore Arena in front of 15,000 people.
Which song of yours gets the best crowd response?
Track 2 from our new record titled "The Things I've Done." From the very first note, you think to yourself, "man, this tune is eerie." It starts out a little slow, but has a really outlaw biker/Sons Of Anarchy vibe. Once the chorus kicks in, people immediately start cheering.
Do you have a favorite gift from a fan?
Sure do. It actually goes back several years ago. The first band I ever had was called The Cheaters. We wrote a song about the Kentucky bourbon, Evan Williams. It became a fan favorite and people always bought us bottles of it. But, one fan actually took it up a notch and and got us a personalized bottle of Evan Williams single barrel with the band name on the bottle. That was almost 10 years ago and I still have never opened it.
Have you met any of your heroes? If so, how did it go?
Yes, I have been fortunate enough to meet several of them. But, my all time favorite was Dave Grohl. Not only because he's one of the nicest dudes on the planet, but also because I didn't even meet him in a music setting. I was in 10th grade busing tables at my first job. I got called into work and did not want to be there. As soon as I walked in, we were super busy, so I grabbed a bus tub and went right to work. As soon as I turned around Dave Grohl was right there. I was shocked...looked at him and all I could say was "you're Dave Grohl." He said, "Sure am!" and then walked away. I later got to talk to him for a few minutes and he was one of the nicest, most humble people I have ever met. He ended up signing a Foo Fighters CD I happened to have in my car.
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