Newcomer Jace Everett's performing career started when his family switched from going to an Episcopalian church to an evangelical Methodist church. "They basically had a rock band up on stage, and I thought that was cool," he says. "That's when I started playing bass. I bought a bass on a Wednesday afternoon, and that night I played it at the youth service. I had no idea what the (heck) I was doing, but that's how I started."
In fact, he chose the bass guitar because it only has four strings, and he thought it would be easier to play than a regular guitar. "I didn't realize how hard it was to play bass and sing. I found out in short order," Jace remembers. But if you've heard his debut single, "That's the Kind of Love I'm In," off his new album, "Jace Everett," you know Jace did learn.
Jace's family moved from Indiana to the Lone Star State when he was 6. He calls himself a "born-again Texan." "Unless you're born there, you can't say you're a Texan, or the real Texans will draw and quarter you," Jace explains. That's where he was steeped in the Texas "outlaw country" tradition that allows artists to move from a Saturday-night rocker to a Sunday-morning ballad.
Jace says the album reflects "the typical backslidden Christian mentality: wanting to have my cake and eat it too." Songs like the wicked "Bad Things" and the self-centered "Everything I Want" are proof that the battle still rages.
In fact, his resume shows that he's singing from experience. He moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University, but soon quit to tend bar. Then he got a gig as a sideman in a cover band (that is, a band that only plays somebody else's hits) that was bound for a long European tour. While on that tour, he met his "future ex-wife," and the couple had a son.
Then, deciding that he was going to give up music, Jace brought his young family back to Texas, where he worked as a dump-truck driver, ditch digger, framer, photographer, truck washer, mover, waiter and busboy, and, he says, "Slowly began to hate my life."
That period of his life is where the ballads come from. "Half of My Mistakes" and "Nowhere in the Neighborhood" are both partly biographical. Plus, Jace who wrote or co-wrote six of the album's 10 songs even closes his debut with his literal life story, "Between a Father and a Son."
Some critics are even beginning to compare the redheaded Jace to the "Redheaded Stranger" (Willie Nelson). Jace will have nothing of it. "I'm the redheaded neighbor, maybe," he laughs. "You know, that (creep) down the street who doesn't mow his grass, and that they call the neighborhood association on."
In any event, his debut album proves that Jace Everett has finally found the right career.
QUIBBLES 'N BITS
Maddy 'n' Me Dept.: Clay Walker was the headline performer at the famed Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo recently, but what really thrilled him was to finally get to ride his mare Maddy in the cutting horse competition. "This is very special to me. I have owned Maddy for a couple of years and have performed at this event several times, but this is the first time ever that I get to ride in the Houston Rodeo competition," says Walker. He and Maddy were among only 14 entrants out of 69 to make it to the finals. Also, watch for a new album from Clay this summer.
What's in a Name Dept.: You might already have heard the debut single "Chicken Fried" from new group The Lost Trailers, but do you know how the band got its name? It's simple, really. The Atlanta-based band has been touring for years waiting for their big break, and along the way, the band's equipment trailer has been stolen no fewer than three times. Hopefully there won't be a fourth!
Rough Cuts Quote of the Week: "I could not remember a single word!" Martina McBride, on trying to fulfill a fan's request to sing her hit "There You Are" during the audience-request portion of her concert.
I'd love to hear from you, so please write me at P.O. Box 121438, Nashville, TN 37212.