A well-known name on the Texas scene is making exciting new music. Jay Boy Adams, who toured with ZZ Top, The Band, Jackson Browne, The Marshall Tucker Band, Joe Cocker and other arena-filling acts in the 1970s and 80s, is back with a new album, The Shoe Box. The new CD has already become a Top Five hit at Americana Radio and also spawned an extensive tour as special guest for the legendary Stephen Stills, not only opening the show, but also playing some guitar and singing back-up vocals as part of Stills’ band.
The independent Rockin’ Heart/Smith Entertainment Records release represents the first new music from the West Texas native in several years. The album also features guest appearances by Lee Roy Parnell, Jack Ingram, Marty Stuart and Asleep At the Wheel’s Ray Benson.
“When I was running hard in the seventies and early eighties, I never dreamed or planned that I would walk away from music, and in 2007 I never dreamed that I would be walking back,” mused Adams. “I wrote ten of the 12 songs on The Shoe Box. The songs are on a CD of course, but this is a true ‘record’ of the important things in my life. Hopefully, one of these songs will strike a nerve with some of you.”
Chances are, more than one of the songs on The Shoe Box will resonate with listeners. The album is a chronicle of both growing older and growing up, of good memories of good friends, and life’s lessons learned—some of them learned the hard way. It’s a record, in other words, of the ups and downs in a singer/songwriter’s life and the costs that roller coaster ride can impose.
Jay Boy Adams’ music has always represented a resonant mixture of country, rock and blues, while remaining steeped in tradition. A native of Colorado City, Texas, in the South Plains of West Texas, Adams grew up with the same influences that fueled the music of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Terry Allen and Butch Hancock, all of whom hailed from nearby Lubbock. Earlier West Texas musical icons much as Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and Bob Wills also left their mark.
In 1972, Adams was signed to a management contract by legendary Texas music Svengali Bill Ham, of Lone Wolf Management. Ham, who also kick-started the careers of ZZ Top and Clint Black, put Adams on the road opening for ZZ and caring for Billy Gibbons’ guitars.
After that apprenticeship, Ham arranged for Adams to be signed to Atlantic Records, and he recorded two albums for Atlantic: Jay Boy Adams (1978) and Fork In the Road (1979), which included an appearance by Jackson Browne. Those vinyl albums have been compared to the legendary first album by another Texan, Willis Alan Ramsey, and have become much sought-after by collectors. And though they generated considerable sales and radio airplay, Jay Boy’s unique music was neither country or boogie rock, as his record company tried to market him; rather it was closer to the sound of the West Coast rock bands of the ‘70s, steeped in what has now come to be known as Americana music.
Adams toured from coast to coast with some of the biggest names in the business, but he continued to live in Texas, where he felt grounded, and where artistic inspiration lay always close at hand. But then, in 1982, Adams got off the merry-go-round and left the music business behind. But he never left the music itself behind - just the spotlight.
He married and fathered children and, as the saying goes, got on with his life. But he never put down the guitar entirely, and he had friends who never stopped rooting for him.
In March of 1997, Lee Roy Parnell invited Adams to join him onstage on the spur of the moment at a show in San Antonio. Adams found himself with a guitar in his hands, facing a concert audience for the first time in five years, and his love for live performance was re-kindled. Soon after that show, he decided to back home, dust off the cobwebs and get back to work.
The result is The Shoe Box (produced by Jay Boy Adams and Bakersfield, California-based Monty Byrom, perhaps best known for his work with the under-appreciated group Big House), and Adams’ first sustained tour in 17 years.
TOP 50 AMERICANA CHART/RADIO CDs OF 2007:
1 - Lucinda Williams WEST -- Lost Highway
2 - Ryan Adams EASY TIGER -- Lost Highway
3 - Kelly Willis TRANSLATED FROM LOVE -- Rykodisc
4 - Son Volt THE SEARCH -- Transmit Sound
5 - Patty Griffin CHILDREN RUNNING THROUGH -- ATO
6 - Marty Stuart COMPADRES -- Superlatone
7 - Jay Boy Adams THE SHOE BOX -- Smith
8 - Joe Ely HAPPY SONGS FROM RATTLESNAKE GULCH -- Rack 'Em
9 - Subdudes STREET SYMPHONY -- Back Porch
10 - Gurf Morlix DIAMONDS TO DUST -- Blue Corn
Coming June 9, 2009:
Brothers of the Southland CD
The Brothers of the Southland are part of the great Southern Rock tradition. Some of them played in Southern Rock bands since the 1970s, but all of them carry the South deep inside them. Their music is a powerful, rumbling Rebel yell, from an aching moan to the wide open joy that only Southern Rock can bring. When you listen to the Brothers of the Southland, you're hearing more than just songs; you are confronted with an emotional truth whose roots is planted deep in Southern soil.