Jamon Scott isn’t one to restrict himself to rules. Whether he’s juxtaposing bluegrass against rock or 80s New Wave against Celtic, he grabs novelty by the horns and refuses to let go, however unexpected the result. If the expectations are about what he can or can’t do with music, he tosses them out the window.
His affinity for unique cross-genre marriages of sound struck a few years ago when he began to work on assembling music he’d written over his lifetime. He’d already spent a decade (2005-2015) with Americana/rock outfit The Toluenes, and after a brief break from the biz, came back to it for that project. That album was a real exploration. He was amassing quite a bit of songwriting, assembling it into a substantial 18-track record titled Strange Devils. It included pop, rock, country, jazz…you name it.
Part of the development of that project included work on a bluegrass song called “The Fall.” His sojourn into exploring bluegrass with that single song actually resulted in the spinoff bluegrassy companion album, American Cemetery. That one song appears on both releases.
“I was trying to explore genres I never explored before. I did this one bluegrass song...I just had so much fun,” he recalled.
He played that first song for friends and family and said, “They were like…this makes me like bluegrass music!”
It inspired more; he continued in that vein and said the entirety of American Cemetery has a bluegrass vibe. Songs intended to be recorded as rock or country took on new life, perhaps relying on some of what he gleaned while growing up in southern Kentucky and listening to artists such as Ricky Skaggs, of whom he has always been a fan. He applied “traditional arrangements” to his “contemporary and sometimes quirky songwriting style.”
That record was recorded with backing band Chadwell Station, but Scott said most of his live shows – which happen primarily around his current home in eastern Tennessee, places such as Gatlinburg and Knoxville – are solo affairs.
He describes the studio rendition of the American Cemetery project in humorous terms.
“You could probably describe it [Chadwell Station] as the Steely Dan of bluegrass,” he laughed, likening it to the group known for its studio-only orientation. “It was kind of a studio band.”
More recently, Scott and Chadwell Station added another country/bluegrass record to the discography. “One Hillbilly Place” features six tracks of original music. Scott said, “At last count,” his music was on rotation at over 50 radio stations, at least that he is aware of.
An upcoming project is as unique as they come, with even more contrast and elements of the unexpected. He said it will be a collection of all-original music that’s “a real concept album,” as it will be an “80s New Wave and Celtic amalgamation.” It will also contain features of Biblical history.
“I’m gonna take this 80s music and blend it with a more Appalachian sound,” he said.
Not content to restrict himself to one way of making music, he’s as interested in the influences of Duran Duran and Bryan Adams as he is in that of Johnny Cash and Ricky Skaggs. “I like all those things,” he added, confessing he finds it “sad” when people limit themselves.
He’s been lucky. His love of music started when he was just a tiny kid, and he’s parlayed it into a way of making money and art. Through a story told often by his mother, he describes himself as a tiny tot absolutely enamored with music.
“It was back when a stereo was a piece of furniture, and you played records,” he said. When he was “two or three years old,” he would prop his chin atop the family stereo console and listen while watching the vinyl turn. “I would go to sleep standing up, watching the records,” he said.
It wasn’t long before he penned his first song at age eight.
Today, he considers himself lucky to live a creative life over which he has complete control. It sounds like he loves it and where he is right now.
“I’ve made most of my living making music for a number of years,” he said. “Being able to make a living with your hobby…what could be better than that?”