When you think of country music, you think of George Strait.
When I think of Jon Wolfe, I think of George Strait. Call it a stretch, call it a compliment, call it whatever you want, but I use that comparison in the best possible way. Jon Wolfe is the real deal.
I sat down with him to get the inside story behind his upcoming album Any Night In Texas, his oil trading days here in Chicago, and of course Texas country music in general.
Although originally born in Oklahoma, Wolfe moved to my home city of Chicago after college to be an oil trader which he comically described to me as pretty intense.
“Have you seen Wolf of Wall Street? It was pretty much like that,” he says with a laugh.
Eventually the oil business took him to Houston, where country music and Jon’s passion for it really resonated.
“My heroes were George Strait, Clint Black, Garth Brooks… guys like that, but somebody gave me Pat Green album and it really inspired me. I didn’t know much about the Texas music scene, but it was such a welcoming place that I felt like I could really go for it.”
What was once a hobby became a full time thing in 2005 when he began playing local bars and open mic nights around town. He eventually cut his first album in Nashville, after a few failed attempts, but Jon’s determination never ceased and he has since recorded 4 albums including the upcoming Any Night In Texas.
“Any Night In Texas was difficult for me to get done, mostly because I just couldn’t find the time to record, but also because it really challenged what I needed in my live show. I didn’t want to make the same album I’ve made before, but I wanted to stay true to Jon.”
As a road warrior, it’s important to bring a lot of energy to your live performance. That’s what people pay to come see. Jon lives and breathes that philosophy, which was important to translate to the new album.
“I think Merle said something like “You want an old school country band in the studio and a rock and roll band on stage” and I really enjoy rocking out on the road.”
Despite being a labeled “Texas country artist,” Jon thinks there are two kinds of music.
“Music is either good or bad these days and it’s completely subjective. I just hope people think I make good music and I just happen to live in Texas.”
It’s not just good music, it’s great music. Jon’s voice is country music perfection, his energy is amazing and his songwriting is as authentic as country music gets. When I think of transcendent Texas artists right now, I think of Cody Johnson, Aaron Watson and Jon Wolfe. These are artists that resonate with all country fans, not just a section of it.
Any Night In Texas is set to drop June 16th (Click here to pre-order) and features 14 tracks of real deal country music.
“The new single “Baby This and Baby That” is that staple sound and there’s a duet with Sunny Sweeney, which I’ve never done a duet before. “A Country’s Boy’s Life Well Lived” is that fast ’90s country song that sounds really old school, there’s a waltz, the title track is a great storytelling song… so there’s a lot that I’m really proud of.”
It’s old, it’s new, it’s traditional, it’s mainstream, it’s a little bit of everything and whole lot of awesome. If you’re lucky, you can catch the album release party at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 16th, but until then, keep an eye out for Jon Wolfe. He’s a game changer.
Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.