( Doors: 8:00 am ) SHOW: 9:00 am PST
“If you open your arms to the world, it’s amazing what will come back atcha,” drawls East Texas native, singer/songwriter/filmmaker/author Jesse Dayton, who has a bunch more homespun wisdoms where that came from. A veteran of more than 30 years as a musician, Dayton was discovered as a young teenager playing “a toilet dive” in his hometown of Beaumont by legendary club owner Clifford Antone, who booked him into his famed Austin venue, then immediately shifted him over to the honky-tonk Broken Spoke, where the likes of Willie Nelson, George Strait and Ernest Tubb have had residencies.
“When I first got to Austin, everybody else sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but I sounded more like Jerry Reed. I didn’t think I was cool, either, because this was before every punk sported that image of Johnny Cash flipping the rod.” Equally steeped in Texas/Louisiana blues, old-school country and punk-rock, Dayton is the music world’s best-kept secret, hiding in plain sight as a guitarist for Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Ryan Bingham and L.A. punk pioneers X, as well as touring alongside Social Distortion, the Supersuckers and John Doe.
After releasing 11 studio albums and an EP as a solo artist, Dayton’s new album, Mixtape Volume 1, is a series of 10 cover songs he thoroughly makes his own, reinterpreting and revisiting them in a brand-new way. On the first track and single, Jackson Browne’s “Redneck Friend”, Dayton takes the song to a place where it would be equally at home on the first two Eagles albums or as a Rolling Stones collaboration with Gram Parsons. He transforms Neil Young’s “Harvest” into a country plaint complete with pedal steel guitar and hurdy-gurdy piano, while offering a majestic take on Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind”. Brought up on his older sister’s Laurel Canyon folk records, the FM album rock and punk he listened to as a teenager plus the array of country acts who used to tour through Beaumont – including Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, David Allen Coe, Conway Twitty, Hank Jr., and George Jones – Dayton has managed to create a genuine hybrid that takes alt-country and Americana in new, exciting directions.
“The world doesn’t need another outlaw country singer covering Waylon Jennings,” he says of his stylistic mix. “Everyone where I was growing up had no idea Neil Young wrote Waylon’s ‘Are You Ready for the Country?’ or that George Jones’ ‘Bartender’s Blues’ was written by James Taylor, a stoned junkie at the time.”
Turned on to the music’s possibilities by attending an early Clash/Joe Ely tour, Dayton transforms the U.K. punk icons’ “Bankrobber” into a kind of Bo Diddley shuffle, just as The Clash similarly turned Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law” into a three-chord rave-up. He relocates the roots of ZZ Top’s “She’s a Heartbreaker” on the Texas/Louisiana border with some sawing Cajun fiddles, while AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie” gets the harp-honking Jimmy Reed treatment.