‘Godfather of Americana’ Jason Ringenberg at The Varsity
CARBONDALE – Jason Ringenberg is returning to Carbondale and will be joined by local musicians featured on his new record at a concert at The Varsity on Saturday, March 9.
Ringenberg’s latest solo release, “Stand Tall” was recorded and co-produced by Mike Lescelius at Misunderstudios in Murphysboro and included local musicians Andrew Staff, Stace England, Robbie Stokes, Gary Gibula, Tom Miller, Adam Fletcher, Robert Bowlin, Beth Koehler, Kathy Livingston, Kyle Tripplett and Mike Kartje. Many of those musicians will be joining Ringenberg for the March concert.
“This show will be more than just a Jason Ringenberg concert,” the artist said. “It is celebrating the release of ‘Stand Tall,’ which was primarily recorded in Southern Illinois. Tom and Gary were in my first bands at SIU back in the ‘70s, so this is really a Southern Illinois project.”
Ringenberg, a northern Illinois native, moved to Nashville in 1981 to pursue his dream of “making a band that could kick American Roots music into the modern age.”
He formed Jason & The Scorchers and never looked back. Throughout the '80s and '90s, they tore up venues across the globe and became known as one of the most exciting live bands of their era. On classic LPs like “Fervor” and “Lost and Found,” they “singlehandedly rewrote the history of rock ‘n roll in the South” (Rolling Stone.) Their instinctive ability to combine traditional country music with high-energy punk rock has not been surpassed to this day. In 2008, they were awarded the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance.
In 1999, the “Godfather of Americana,” as Mojo magazine dubbed him, went solo. He has released five albums, with everyone from the BBC to USA Today lauding his songwriting. His high-octane, one-man show prompted The Times (UK) to call him “one of the most exciting performers of his generation.” In 2002, he created a children’s music character called Farmer Jason, winning numerous awards including an Emmy for his PBS video program, “It's a Farmer Jason.”
“Stand Tall” was conceived and penned in June 2017, while Ringenberg was commissioned as the artist in residence at Sequoia National Park in northern California. The National Park Service put him up in a remote mountain cabin for a month to write songs and do concerts there.
“I found that spending so much time alone in that primal wilderness did wonders for my songwriting,” Ringenberg said.
The result is a record filled with characters on a mission, from John the Baptist to John Muir to a disillusioned Confederate conscript. There is even a song about Ringenberg’s experiences opening for the Ramones across Texas in 1982. In addition to local musicians on the local recordings, Ringenberg enlisted the help of some of Nashville’s finest Americana musicians, such as Richard Bennett (producer of Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town”), Fats Kaplin (Jack White), Steve Fishell (Emmylou Harris's Hot Band) and Robert Bowlin (fiddle player for Bill Monroe.) The chemistry of those artists, combined with songs written in a place of profound natural beauty, yields one of the most authentic records of Ringenberg’s career.
The “Stand Tall” concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 9. Tickets are $10 in advance online at www.thevarsitycenter.eventbrite.com and at Plaza Records, 816 E. Main St., Carbondale. Tickets at the door are $15 and will be available beginning at 6 p.m., when The Varsity Bar opens.
The performance is presented by Cousin Andy’s Coffeehouse and produced by Black Acre Productions.
The Varsity is at 418 S. Illinois Ave. in downtown Carbondale. To keep up with events and movies at The Varsity, follow us at facebook.com/varsitycenter or go to thevarsitycenter.org.