See Jason Scorching Past
What do you get when you place Americana music legend Jason Ringenberg in a grove of Giant Sequoias? You end up with an inspiring new record called Stand Tall, the long-awaited follow up to Empire Builders (2004) and his first collection of new songs, outside of his Farmer Jason project, since The Scorchers’ Halcyon Times in 2010. But Ringenberg is no stranger to making inspired records. As far back as 1984 Rolling Stone said that his Fervor record (with Jason and the Scorchers)“singlehandedly rewrote the history of rock ‘n’ roll in the South.”
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 perform concerts there. “I found that spending so much time alone in that primal wilderness did wonders for my songwriting,” said Ringenberg.
The result is a record filled with characters on a mission; from John the Baptist (‘John the Baptist was a Real Humdinger’) to John Muir (‘John Muir Stood Here’) to a disillusioned Confederate conscript (‘I’m Walking Home’). There is even a song about Jason’s experiences opening for the Ramones through Texas in 1982 called ‘God Bless the Ramones’. It speaks volumes that Jason would write a song about the Ramones while standing in the shadow of the Charles Young sequoia, named after the first African-American national park head ranger and US Army Colonel.
To record the album, Ringenberg returned to his old haunts in the backwoods of Southern Illinois. He and the core rhythm section from his first rock band, Shakespeare’s Riot, hunkered down in a studio with a tin roof and a rural soul. That down-home environment gave Ringenberg the freedom to dig deep into his musical heritage. Fleshing out the sound, 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, John Prine), Steve Fishell (Emmylou Harris’ 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. “Writing songs while standing under 2000-year-old sequoias does tend to give you a leg up,” said Jason.
Stand Tall indeed.
by Andy Thorley
Maximum Volume Music