Interview: Jerrod Niemann hopes to ‘Free the Music’ on his new album, plays Oklahoma City show tonight at the Diamond Ballroom
A version of this story appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Jerrod Niemann hopes to ‘Free the Music’ on his new album
Column: The country singer-songwriter, who has Oklahoma ties, is playing Friday at the Diamond Ballroom, and he will bring along a horn section for the show.
“Think of all the restaurants we went into that had music or your car or working out or whatever it might be. So I just was saying ‘Hey, tell everybody, it doesn’t have to be our music, just let music be a part of your life.’”
In fact, “Free the Music” is more than just the title of his recently released sophomore album. It is the country singer-songwriter’s mission statement.
“In Nashville, labels don’t usually have a whole lot of faith in new artists, especially to use their road band on their albums,” Niemann said in a phone interview this week from Music City. “But since our first album was independently done and Sony picked it up after the fact, they gave us the kind of go-ahead to just continue recording. Since we had that rare opportunity, I thought it’d be fun to challenge myself and, of course, all the guys I play with to really dig deep and try to see what we could come up with.”
For the follow-up to his chart-topping 2010 Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville debut “Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury”, Niemann, 33, dug bedrock deep into country music history and came up with a surprisingly adventurous and engagingly eclectic 12-song collection that fuses country, rock, honky tonk, Dixieland jazz and reggae. The funky title and opening track encourages people to “free the music/you gotta free your mind/it’s party time,” and Niemann said he hopes listeners do just that — particularly when they hear horns on every track and in his live show Friday (tonight) at the Diamond Ballroom.
“You know I love the history of country music more than life itself, to the point that I made this album so I could argue with anybody to the point of what is country and what’s not,” he said with a laugh.
“What I realized is that in 1938, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys brought in horns to country music when he invented Western swing. So I thought, ‘Wow, it’s crazy to think that horns were in country music 10 years before the pedal-steel guitar that we all think of as the epitome of country music was even invented.’”
With “Free the Music,” the Kansas native — who considers himself “half-Okie” since his mom hails from Hooker — and his band favored classic country instruments like acoustic bass, acoustic guitars (occasionally plugged into an electric amp) and fiddles. But his sophomore effort thrives on cross-genre experimentation, from the jazzy horns on “Honky Tonk Fever” to the Beatlesque Mellotron on “Get On Up.”
“For everything we did that was crazy, we tried to offset it with something organic to kind of just try to yin and yang it, you know,” he said.
“If you listen to ‘Real Women Drink Beer’ again with your headphones in on the verses, take out one headphone and you’ll hear a reggae band in one ear. Put it in the other ear and take out the other one, you’ll hear a rockabilly band. Put ‘em in together and you’ll never know the difference. And it’s just my point of showing just how similar we really are, as much as we hate to all admit it,” he added with a laugh.
Buy Tickets View all
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 24190Oklahoma baseball: Joe Simpson 'thrilled' that Sunny Golloway left OU
- 13456Classen School of Advanced Studies valedictorian disappears while hiking with family in Ecuador
- 11113Tom Ward is out as SandRidge's CEO
- 10453UPDATE: I-40 reopened at Shields after fatal wreck
- 7895Oklahoma State football: A stunning success story at the box office
- 6976Oklahoma State football: Mike Gundy lifts Wes Lunt restrictions, but too late
- 6568Prosecutors say stolen car was at heart of 2011 fatal shootings in Oklahoma City
- 6301Get App-y: Google Glass to offer heads-up computing
- 6165Team Blake's Danielle Bradbery wins "The Voice"; The Swon Brothers finish in third place
- 4992Will Oklahomans get on board with new water toy?
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients