Los-Angeles singer/songwriter thrives as Music City embraces his style

Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:00am

Three years ago, singer/songwriter Craig Jackson doubted whether he’d made the right decision when he relocated to Music City from Los Angeles.

It wasn’t that he didn’t feel this was a good area for his sound, or that he couldn’t find the right musicians to work with on projects. Instead, it was more wondering when and if he would fit in, making connections and becoming comfortable.

Now Jackson couldn’t be happier about the decision. He’ll perform selections from his new disc Damn the Roses Tuesday night in a CD release show at The Basement. And, last week he received a nomination in the category of Best New Band in Nashville’s “Toast of Music City 2009 Awards.”

“There’s so much more going here for all types of music than the person looking in from the outside would ever know,” Jackson said. “I had an idea that there would be a scene here for the kinds of things that I do, but I had no idea just how wide open it could be, or how many great writers and players in every style of music live and work here. It’s made things relatively easy to find good people to play and write with and also for recording.”

Damn the Roses was recorded here at Cabin in the Woods studio and its array of styles and influences reflects the willingness of Jackson, a confident and gritty vocalist, to stretch his voice and try his hands on different types of things.

“Don’t Mean Nothin” and “Every Time You Leave” qualify as the closest to straight rock on the disc. They feature stinging, assertive guitar lines and accompaniment, surging vocals and strong arrangements. “Every Time You Leave” also has fine harmony support from Megan Whalen.

Whalen is also prominently featured on “Cryin Game,” while Jackson’s intense guitar gets a major role on several tunes, most notably “1941” and “Every Time You Leave.” While not being overly enamored of having his work categorized, Jackson acknowledges that Americana is currently the best place for him.

“I think my style is very roots-oriented, very much in a Tom Petty or John Mellencamp mode,” Jackson said. “The Americana genre allows you to do some things both with your music and lyrics that might not be accepted in some other forms.

“I’m not really a country-style singer or writer, though I very much admire that music. But the things that I want to say in my songs and lyrics also aren’t generic, and aren’t that much in the country camp, so Americana works well for now.”

Jackson is aware that getting the nomination is just one more step on the pathway toward success.

“I’m planning on doing some more shows in the area, and getting out in the regional market. That’s another good thing about Nashville, the proximity to other places like St. Louis, or Little Rock. Right now, we’re really looking forward to the show, getting the disc out there and seeing what the reaction will be. If we later win an award, that’s good also, but right now I’m mainly interested in getting these songs out and seeing how they are received.”

What: Singer/songwriter Craig Jackson’s CD release show for Damn the Roses
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: The Basement, 1604 Eighth Ave. S.
Cost: free
Info: 254-8006, thebasementnashville.com